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I know this post is going to offend many bigshots …. Oh Yeah…. That’s the aim.
Most of the bloggers will tell you that in order to succeed at blogging you need to do keyword research and for that, you need paid tools like Ahref, Semrush, KWFinder, or Moz.
But I am telling you that you don’t need any of these paid tools to succeed at blogging.
Because I built Candytech.in without any of these tools and managed to reach more than 1 million page views per month without ever paying for any of these tools.
The major reason every top blogger promotes these tools is boatloads of affiliate money they get from selling these on blogs. Even I promote these to my readers but these are not the right fit for everyone.
What other bloggers won’t tell you is who should actually buy these tools? Will these tools be effective if you a beginner or still not at the top of the game?
Can these tools tell you about future keywords that you should target as the competition is low?
They don’t. The ill advice is to buy these tools if you want to be successful at blogging. Many users buy and spend money and then they don’t get successful. I will tell you why that happens in a moment.
The answer is No. These tools are good and even can help in improving your web traffic. Moreover, can help you monitor keyword positions and steal your competition keywords.
The pricing is steep $99 per month for Semrush or Ahref. The key question to ask before deciding to go for these tools is – Can you earn those $99 per month extra from your blog if you invest your hard-earned money?
If you can justify that $99 purchase, may be these are right for you. For most bloggers who are starting or even have been blogging for couple of years it is hard to justify the yearly investment of $1200.
There are other essential expenses like writer salaries, hosting, CDN, development costs, plugins, themes, etc without which you can’t even run a blog.
Also, with revenue dipping across the board due to COVID-19 is it prudent to get an expensive service that probably you won’t be able to fully utilize.
Let’s deep dive on what purpose these tools serve and what actionables we can act on.
For multiple reasons – to monitor backlinks, to disavow the bad backlinks, for keyword rank monitoring, keyword PPC and volume checking, competition tracking and some more tasks.
I have used Semrush Pro, Ahref, and a couple of other tools and have later stopped the service. There is a lot of data that you can analyze and we get a concise view of the information using these tools. It is excellent if you want to save time in finding the information.
But for most bloggers, I don’t think so they are even using the free available tools.
The best free keyword research tools are
Let me explain it a bit.
Google Trends can give you information about keywords that are starting to rank and new keywords that you can target.
You can use the Google Search bottom of the page keywords to know the related keywords to use in your articles.
For monitoring your keyword ranking the Google Webmaster Search Console is an excellent free tool.
Also, deep dive into Google Analytics to see on which posts you are getting users and what are the most profitable keywords and pages that you have.
(Check the Google Publisher reports in GA and see the posts that get you most revenue and optimize these posts further).
For On-Page SEO use free tools like Yoast SEO and even Grammarly to make your text more user friendly and easy to rank.
So after spending all this time on these tools do you still have time … hmmm, I don’t. There are other more pressing issues like content publishing, bulk emails, and social media marketing, Youtube Videos, website development, and Ad optimization that keep me occupied mostly.
If you are a blogger with even 1-2 writers team, you still have a lot on your plate. Aforemention daily tasks of adding new content, reviewing and editing team members content and posting on social, email marketing and web development etc is going to keep you busy for the most part.
Also, you need to monitor latest happeings in you niche, follow trends and quickly write about these to ensure better search visibility.
Even if you still find time to dig deep into the keywords analysis by ahref what are the actionables that you will actually implement on your website. You can monitor all the backlinks you want but how is that helping. For most people you don’t need to disavow links even if you do it once a quarter, just use the Webmaster console and excel to sort the links and upload the disavow file.
The main issue that I find with the approach of paying 1200$ for getting the data from these tools is the actionables that we can get out of it.
Even if I get all the actionables, I am in a position to implement those and then monitor if I have been able to improve the rankings.
Second big issues is these tools work on the historic data and historic volumes of the keywords.
Most big publications and bloggers have access to that data and the keywords are already competitive at the time a small guy like me find them and write content on it.
What if I want the future keywords and trends that I can catch early on and blog about. You know that Google values content written first on any topic and will rank it higher even if your blog is not having a high authority or backlink profile.
You can find trends from Google Trends and if you can even predicts some keywords on your own that you think people will search down the line. I have done this and have seen massive traffic growth.
Say if you wrote a detailed post on Covid-19 very early it could have exploded and given you immense returns. But if you wait for the keyword checker tools to tell you about volume for a month and then blog about it, you won’t even rank anywhere.
To Sum Up, the three major issues:
If your answer is no for most of the above questions, you don’t need to get these tools yet.
If you have time and bandwidth and you are already making good money from your website, you can buy these tools. Also, if you have an SEO specialist for your website and have a high volume website, it makes sense to invest in the tools. Undoubtedly, you can fine-tune your SEO strategy and get precise information for better content writing.
But on the other hand if you are struggling to produce high quality content regularly, you first need to fix the basics before venturing to buy these tools.
So What Do you think about Purchasing these tools, Share with me in the comments below.