No budget to buy a keyword research tool? No problem!

Here are the best FREE tools to use to get insights into what your audience might be looking for online 👀

  1. AnswerThePublic.com
  2. Google "People Also Ask" Section
  3. AlsoAsked.com
  4. Google Autocomplete
  5. Google Search Console
  6. Reddit / Quora
  7. Google Trends / ExplodingTopics.com

#1 - AnswerThePublic.com

Overall, keyword research is OVERRATED.

You don't need to know how competitive keywords are or how much they are search a month (also called keyword volume).

What you need to know is how to help your ideal client/customer.

That's where Answer The Public comes in. This is a tool that shows you queries that someone might have about your business/industry/niche/vertical.

#2 - Google "People Also Ask" Section

Google "People Also Ask" Section

Here's a Google hack for you.

Piggy-backing off the idea that long-tail keywords that answers questions are a great place to start with keyword generation, try this.

The "People Also Ask" section of Google search is a valuable feature that provides users with common questions related to their original query. As an SEO specialist, this section can be an incredibly useful tool for performing keyword research on a given subject.

Simply click one of carets to bring down the answer to a given question. Then, keeping doing that. Soon you will have over a dozen questions that you can answer on your website or blog.

Google "People Also Ask" Section

By analyzing the questions and topics that appear in the "People Also Ask" section, we can gain valuable insights into the types of queries users have related to the keyword we are targeting for SEO optimization. This allows us to understand the nuances of user intent and tailor our content to address these specific questions and topics.

This can all lead to increased organic traffic and better ranking for our targeted keywords.

#3 - AlsoAsked.com

AlsoAsked.com

AlsoAsked.com is another SEO tool for conducting topic cluster research...similar to AnswerThePublic. However, they'll give you 3 queries per day, which should be enough for a small business to effectively map out topics and construct an SEO content strategy around the results.

With AlsoAsked, you can visualize how people ask questions on a given topic and see how you can directly addresses the needs and questions of your potential customers.

If you decide to pay, one of the key advantages of AlsoAsked.com is its potential for API access, making it a powerful tool for conducting massive SERP analysis across different niches and regions. This API access opens up the possibility for advanced data extraction and analysis...but that's more for the experts.

As a free tool, AlsoAsked.com is accessible to businesses of all sizes when conducting their keyword research and is definitely worth a look.

#4 - Google Autocomplete

Google Autocomplete Section

Another Google hack from yours truly.

Google Autocomplete is a feature provided by Google's search engine that offers suggested search terms as you type in the search bar. You can use these to get even more long-tail keywords based on your existing ones.

By simply typing in a relevant subject or topic, you can observe the suggested search terms that appear, providing insight into popular search queries and long-tail keywords.

Unfortunately, it's a manual processing of transferring these autofill results into your Google spreadsheet, but it'll be worth it when you're driving more organic traffic and improving the visibility to your website.

#5 - Google Search Console

While this one won't give you many new keyword ideas, Google Search Console is still a powerful tool for SEO specialists nonetheless.

It helps to identify Opportunity Keywords and optimize existing blog posts for Google Search. By analyzing the performance of your website in Google's search results, you can see the specific keywords that are already bringing the most traffic to your site.

To start, log into Google Search Console and navigate to the Performance report. This will show you the pages on your site with the most clicks from Google and the specific keywords that brought users to those pages.

(Look for keywords with high impressions but low click-through rates, as these may represent opportunities to optimize your content and attract more traffic)

To gain even more in-depth keyword data, consider combining Google Search Console with Google Analytics. By integrating these two tools, you can get a comprehensive view of how users are finding your website and which keywords are driving the most traffic.

Once you have identified Opportunity Keywords, use these insights to optimize your blog content. By incorporating these keywords strategically into your posts, you can increase your chances of ranking higher in organic search queries and attracting more organic traffic to your site.

#6 - Reddit / Quora

Two valuable platforms for gaining insight into what your target audience is searching for and discussing are Reddit and Quora.

Reddit is a popular discussion platform where users engage in conversations and share information about a wide range of topics. By exploring subreddits relevant to your niche or vertical, you can identify common user queries and topics that can be used as keywords for your research.

Quora, on the other hand, is a question-and-answer platform where users ask and answer questions on various subjects. It will be harder to find relevant questions asked on Quora, but if you stumble upon them, you'll gain valuable insight into the interests and concerns of your target audience.

Utilizing these platforms will not only provide you with valuable keyword ideas, but also help you understand the language and terms used by your target customers. This will enable you to create content that resonates with them and improves your overall SEO strategy.

#7 - Google Trends / ExplodingTopics.com

Exploding Topics for Keyword Research

This is for keyword research as it relates to trends.

Yes, Google Trends is a great way to see if the interest in your vertical is waning or rising. But you can use a tool called Exploding Topics to further boost your keyword research.

By using Exploding Topics in conjunction with Google Trends, you can stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on rising topics and trending keywords that are gaining popularity at the moment.

Simply input your subject or industry into the platform and it will provide you with data on rising topics and keywords that are gaining traction. You can then compare this data with Google Trends to make informed decisions about keyword selection for your content and business strategy.

This tool allows you to identify emerging search trends and capitalize on them before they become mainstream. By monitoring these trends, you can adjust your content and business strategy accordingly, ensuring that you are always one step ahead of your competition.

Paid Keyword Research Tools

And if your budget changes, you can upgrade to a tool that rivals the best of the best with a paid keyword tool.

After using free ones for years, I do have to admit...the paid ones are way better!

However, it might not be worth it for your current budget right now, and I get that. I hate paying for services unless they are absolutely worth it.

That being said, SEMrush and Ahrefs probably are! I'll have a more detailed write-up of both in the future! Keep an eye out 👁️

A Millennial's Guide to TikTok SEO and Why I'm Bullish on It This Year

What's up fellow kids?

For better or for worse, it is the job of an SEO to keep up with the ever-changing culture. We track user behaviors and adjust our marketing strategies accordingly.

It is literally our job to be the Steve Buscumi meme.

In short, why I'm excited about devoting resources to TikTok SEO for 2024 is the platform has:

From there, I will dive into what to do to optimize your TikTok SEO including:

good content ✅

In my attempt to see what’s hip with the kids these days, I found TikTok.

It’s not exactly a secret. TikTok is one of the fast growing social media platforms. With over 1 billion active users worldwide, TikTok provides ample opportunity to boost your brand's visibility.

Source: semrush.com

And over 100 million users are in the US alone…me being one of the most recent additions to that big total.

Anecdotally, I have been shocked how much I've been using TikTok lately to find content. I am not alone. Gen Z in particular loves TikTok and they're using it to find short content.

I took a page out of their playbook. I was sitting with my wife wondering one of life's many mysteries: why are we supposed to use olive oil as opposed to alternatives like vegetable oil? Why was there a war on seed oils?

Normally, this would have been something for a Google search. But again, maybe Gen Z was onto something here. I decided to search ‘why are seed oils bad’ on TikTok instead of Google.

What I found was a quick and concise 2-min video. It gave me the answer I was looking for quicker than YouTube (which promotes long-form content) and faster than if I were to scan through the top search results on Google…all of which seem to have been generated with AI.

We ALL want answers quick these days (that is not exclusive to Gen Z) and TikTok has an entire platform built around the “quick-bites” concept (I would say most everything I see in my TikTok feed is in that 30-second to 3-minute range). 

Now whether that’s good or bad for society is up for debate (I'll talk more about that in a bit), but you cannot deny the passion of the TikTok content creators.

They aren't trying to deluge you with too much information. They aren’t making money from ads (yet)…so they are trying to amass views and likes. This means making digestible and catchy content. It's why they are taking so much search away from Google. It's accessible.

trust ❌

The biggest factor to becoming a legitimate threat to Google is user trust. Because it's the industry standard to "google that", internet users do as such. When they have a question online, Google is the authority they trust to find them an answer.

In that regard, Google will always have a stranglehold on search. Let's call it what it is...a monopoly.

Do people trust TikTok nearly as much as they do Google? Hell no.

https://riseatseven.com

In fact, this report from SEOClarity shows that it's the opposite. People greatly mistrust TikTok...almost as much as a social network that influenced an entire US election. Yikes.

That is not promising. However, if I were to guess as more flock to the platform, the authorities will at least appear more trustworthy. We are all skeptical of new technologies initially.

user-friendly ✅

TikTok makes it easier for the “content creators” too…because they don’t have to spend days editing a 12-minute long video.

Instead, TikTok and their app CapCut make editing user-friendly. Within the TikTok app, you can create your video, add captions, and music all in a matter of minutes…all without the help from a professional.

This ease of use gives TikTok a very interesting userbase…it’s full of (seemingly) real people providing (seemingly) authentic content.

It brings me back to the days of niche blogging.

People are super passionate about creating content around one hyper specific subject.

That's a good thing for the long term sustainability of TikTok. And the longer that TikTok is around, the larger your TikTok SEO efforts will become. You can turn a few minutes of work into a pipeline that lasts you YEARS.

addicting ✅

I follow people who live full time in RVs and also follow runners who give me tips on the best stretches and exercises to improve my 10K time.

It’s dare I say it…addicting.

All the good content makes for an enjoyable place to waste time. Instead of doom scrolling, I’m learning things on TikTok. I’m even getting inspiration from TikTok (that DIY coffee bar will be built any day now). 

But it’s that one simple idea (and its surprising effectiveness) for why I'm bullish on TikTok search in 2024.

Let's be clear, TikTok is not a search engine (yet). It's a social media platform that just happens to do search really well.

But that’s exactly it…it does search really well. The more people use TikTok, the more people will start trying to find videos on there. They won't just be taking in what the algorithm gives them. No, they will be active participants. They'll be engaging with everything on TikTok and taking initiative by trying to find good videos on their own.

When compared with Instagram Reels, on TikTok I'm more often able to find the exact video I was looking for. Naturally, with confidence in their search bar, I then started to broaden my search queries.

Instead of looking for exact videos, I started researching entire subjects. This will happen to millions of others too. So what's your niche? How are people going to find you?

The search is already getting more sophisticated on TikTok. They're adding search analytics to the creator dashboard that helps get more insights for them. I have no doubt that TikTok SEO will be a burgeoning industry in 2024.

And as more youths flock to TikTok, I’d imagine only more quality content gets added to their platform. From there, it’s just a matter if TikTok’s search algorithm gets more trust and traction over time.

That makes me excited. It means that developing a good content strategy for TikTok right now has the potential to pay off BIG time down the road.

How Do I Optimize My TikToks for SEO?

hashtags

Remember hashtags? It used to be a way that social media organized content. Hashtag spamming was all the rage as people tried to get as many eyeballs on their tweets as possible.

Well, I regret to inform you that hashtags are back.

I recommend using three to six keyword hashtags for each piece of content, strategically including high- and low-volume keywords.

Source: buffer.com

Of course, I'd imagine that it's rather short-lived. I wouldn't invest too much of your time researching popular hashtags. But it might be time to dust off some of those old hashtags from the early Instagram days and recycle them for your niche on TikTok.

answering queries

The simplest SEO strategy has always come down to one simple question: how can my blog help people?

You should be asking the same thing with your TikTok content. While funny content is sure to give you engagement and boost your TikTok visibility in the short term, answering questions and helping searchers is what will ultimately help you in the long-term.

TikTok SEO is simple. Just help people by answering questions they have about a particular subject. Lead the video with the question you're answering and give your expert opinion on it.

captions

Keyword stuffing was an SEO strategy where you'd pepper the keyword you were trying to rank for throughout your blog post. You'd to do a nauseating level. Instead of using objects like 'it', you'd replace it with the keyword instead...hoping to get a post.

TikTok is using your video's captions to find the subject matter you're talking about. I'm not suggesting you go and say your target keyword 100 times in your video. Instead, I'm merely saying...make sure that you actually talk about the subject you want to rank. It's not enough to just have it in the caption and in the hashtag.

You need to make sure your video has context. Auto-generating the captions and playing the video back to yourself will help you better identify what the video might rank for.

Also something to consider is that not all your users may be watching with sound on. If you want them to engage with your video they might need captions to even understand what it's about!

utilize hooks

You have only a few seconds (at best) to capture a user's attention on TikTok. If you get some hooks in, it is more likely that users will watch the majority of your video.

There is an important user metric in the SEO world called 'bounce rate'. Bounce rate measures how often your users leave your website after 30 seconds. This metric provides a good indicator to Google on how relevant your website is to the search. If they "bounce" back to the search result, they clearly didn't find exactly what they were looking for.

TikTok has a similar feature. But instead of a bounce, TikTok SEO has the "swipe". Yes, if a searcher is looking through TikTok and yours gets swiped immediately, then it obviously didn't fit the criteria of what they were looking for.

So out with it.

Get to the point, but also have a catchy starter to get users interested in you and your video immediately. Then, provide them the content they're looking for.

You'll fly up the TikTok rankings if you can ideally do those two things.

innovative content

How will you stand out when competing against thousands of other videos on the same keyword?

The key? Be unique (I know it's rich coming from a guy writing about TikTok SEO).

Don't be someone that you're not, but using editing tactics and close-ups to make sure that TikTok users don't swipe away. You'll want to keep them engaged.

It's easier said than done, of course. Studies suggest that attention spans are down to around 8 seconds. That means you that much time and probably even less to get and keep your user's attention. Wild.

An SEO's Guide to Give Your Website More Trust

Google is all about trustworthiness in 2024 (it's all about EEAT after all). In order to combat AI-generated content, they want to sure they are sending their users to authority websites. If you're not an authority website in the eyes of Google yet, this means it's going to be tough to get your content to rank.

Luckily, convincing your users you are a trustworthy source is a bit easier. Here are some tips on how to make your website look like the authority that you are!

trustworthy website

1. Use HTTPS

A dead giveaway to a website that doesn't know what it's doing is not having HTTPS implemented. It's 2024 for god sakes! If you are still rocking an unsecure version of your website, you clearly don't care about your online business.

Plus, if you aren't using HTTPs not only are not going to rank as well, but there's a chance that certain browsers won't even allow users to use your website without a few extra clicks. Extra clicks is always a bad thing, as you want to low click depth for your users and for search engines!

2. Write personal stories

The single easiest way to be trustworthy is to write personal anecdotes that users can relate to. In the age of AI, content can be generated at scale with ease. The only thing that AI can't write currently is personal stories. That's how you can reach out and attract readers to buy your product or service.

Include a byline and maybe your face at the bottom of your post or website. That way, people know they're buying from someone real. With the personal story you've told and maybe a video, it will make users feel a lot more comfortable with you.

3. Have a clean website structure have good website design

If you are organized, you look more trustworthy to others. It implies you took the time, energy and patience to plan out your website as opposed to someone who just haphazardly throws posts on their website.

If your website looks janky, people are going to be skeptical buying products from you. So in this case, it might be worth it to pay for some good design or a WordPress theme. The first impression someone has of your website could be the biggest factor in their decision to buy. You want to appear clean and professional right from the jump!

If your website is still rocking the same theme as it was in 2016, it might be time to give that website a facelift to appear more trustworthy!

Website builders make it super easy to create well-designed websites with templates, drag-and-drop editors, and plenty of tools and plugins for extra features.

Source: tech.co

4. Display customer reviews and ratings

It's easier for others to make a decision on your services or products if they know someone had a good experience with them before. For that reason, showcase positive customer reviews and ratings on your website. It'll provide the user with the social proof they need to commit!

There's a few WordPress plugins that will pull in your Yelp and Google reviews. From there, you just add some shortcode to your website and you can have a slider of your best reviews right on your website!

trustworthy website

5. Get testimonials from existing clients and customers

If you have customer testimonials that showcase your product or service, be sure to include them on your landing page.

Source: firtherdesignco.com

Taking it a step further, could you message someone who has given a good review in the past and ask them to be a subject of a testimonial? I think testimonials will have a secret sauce in search engine rankings for 2024.

If you can show the growth and satisfaction you gave a customer, it will provide the user with even more proof that you're the place to go with.

6. Showcase trust badges

Do you have any certifications, degrees, or accomplishments? If so, putting badges on your website that convey that visually to users will be super helpful. If you're the member of an association that has a logo, slap that on the "about" section of your website. Little things like that will help build trust with users immediately.

I recently did this for a client. If you didn't know he was a member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, now you do!

To build credibility even more, you can show badges that showcase your website security. This is particularly important if you are an e-commerce website.

7. Don't be afraid to mention competitors

Sometimes you have to acknowledge what the reader/user is thinking. If you're talking about your services, you'll have to acknowledge at some point why they should choose you and not some other schmo on the same block.

Mentioning your competitors doesn't send business their way. Trust me, they were going to find out about them eventually. Every buyer these days is an informed one, especially when you can just google your company + competitor and get results.

An effective landing page I've been employing for clients these days is a 'compare page', where they can see what they get with your service or product as compared to competitors. Even if they have a few boxes ticked that you don't, users will respect that you disclosed that with them prior to purchase. This is an easy and effective way to build trust.

A guide for niche bloggers and small business owners on constructing your website around 'pillar pages'

Right now, I'm obsessed with organization.

Around this time every year, I realize that I have too much junk around the house and I start watching that Marie Kondo Netflix show again. Then, I get even more crap during the holiday season...I guess that's why "spring cleaning" is a thing.

However, while my personal life gets cluttered, so do my websites.

So for 2024...it's back to basics. I got to clean it all up. What "sparks joy" on my websites? And what needs to go in the trash?

I'm not going to completely reconstruct my websites, but I am going to reorganize them and make sure I'm using "pillar pages" again.

What are Pillar Pages?

Constructing websites are no different than constructing a house. It requires a solid foundation (meaning a good domain and quality content). And also much like a house, you need some pillars to hold it upright.

Pillar pages are the bones of your website on which everything else is constructed. Depending on your niche or vertical, you'll have 1-4 pages that you'll build most of your content around.

Let me give an example. Saying you're starting a website all about cold plunges (a popular trend in fitness right now). Your pillar pages would be something like:

Or you could just go with a single pillar page:

(I'm not an expert but this sounds like it would be the right way to go here)

Now, with my pillar page(s) in place, I can begin to construct the rest of my blog posts and content around these. Everything on the website is under the umbrella of one of these pillar pages. This is good for the organization of the website. Users and search engines will be able to understand and process your site better.

You can get more specific deep down in the posts, but the pillar pages are intended to be general and accessible. Ideally, most of your traffic will be going to these pages, so you want to make it easy for your users to understand what your website is about.

If you're a small business, your pillar pages maybe will be for the services you really want to promote. If you're a lawyer, you'll showcase the areas of expertise you have, for example. If you're a marketing agency, you'll pick what you're really good at.

What should a pillar page look like?

The next question is what a pillar page should look like. Again, we want these to be accessible, which means you'll want them to be catchy. Big and clear headings will help your users easily jump around to what they are looking for.

You'll also definitely want to include images. While having a lot of quality text is good, visuals will help everyone understand better what you're selling. If you are really creative, you can include a video so that users can not even read at all! That's all the rage these days...video content is reigning supreme.

But if you're like me, you'll want to write it all out for everyone. Do not be afraid to brain dump on this page. You'll want to be editing the pillar pages constantly, so don't be afraid to have too much in the beginning. Over time, you'll test and perfect the pillar pages, but in the beginning just have them be a lot of specific and relevant content.

Oh yeah...and be sure to include some calls to action on these pillar pages too. You have to try at least to convert some of these people! You never know what might come from your pillar pages, so definitely throw some non-intrusive CTAs on there.

Get to working on your pillar pages and I can guarantee you'll start to see more traction to your target keywords in 2024!

Resources:

🎶 In the SHALLOW, we're far from the deep end now 🎶

Both in karaoke and SEO, being in the shallow is preferred.

What is Click Depth and Why Is It Important to SEO?

An underrated part of constructing a website that is SEO-friendly is click depth (also referred to as page depth or crawl depth sometimes).

It's a rather easy concept to grasp. You want all of your content to be floating in the shallow (🎶in the shhhhaaaaaahhalow🎶)...in that it doesn't take too many clicks to find it.

From the homepage of your website, you want the number of clicks to be low (ideally less than 2, but definitely under 3) in order for your users to reach your best pages.

If you think about it, this makes sense. SEO is all about making it easier on the users of your website. Google and other search engines want to reward websites who make it easy on users, so they are more likely to go back and use their search engine again. To reward you they move you up their rankings. Yay! That's what we want.

(It's all about trustworthiness and authority after all.)

So it is logical that an important metric in SEO would be click depth.

A shallow click depth...where important pages are easily accessible within a few clicks...can improve user engagement and make it easier for search engines to discover and index content.

It's a win-win all around.

How To Improve Click Depth

So you want to improve your click depth? It's relatively easy, but could require some technical legwork. Here's where to begin:

Website Architecture

Always have a plan.

Obviously, it's easier to improve click depth with a new website as opposed to an older one. If you are in the process of designing your website, keep its architecture top of mind.

If you're website is on the older side, its construction might be chaotic already (to say the least). You might have orphan pages floating around, or have pages buried deep in the site's graveyard.

However, getting it organized is worth the headache.

Building a URL tree can help you visualize the click depth and keep the restructuring clear to everyone. A URL tree also requires you to plan out your website with thought and logic taken into account...which is never a bad thing.

How as a user would you navigate your website? What's wrong with it currently? Does the flow make sense to you?

The cleaner the structure, the shallow the page depth. Additionally, Google will be able to crawl your website more efficiently, which bodes well for your rankings in the long-term. If Google can navigate your website smoothly than it's likely that a user will too!

If you're in the process of building a new website, however, you're in luck.

You can approach click depth with a blank slate. You can start constructing the website's architecture from scratch, which will be much easier for you and your developers. I usually recommend having 3-4 pillar pages. From there, you can extend off of those pillar pages.

Internal Linking

Internal links are a powerful SEO tactic...even if they didn't help you improve click depth. It allows users to find important pages of your website while they're just browsing around.

It improves click depth but also improves your discoverability. Another underrated metric is 'page views per visit'. This will improve that while also shallowing up your website.

Menus

The most obvious (but most important) way to improve click depth is have a really clean and simple menu.

Since your menu appears on every page of your website, it's the best way to point users to certain areas or pages on your website.

For that reason, menus play a crucial role in improving click depth. We already talked about the website's structure, but the menus are how users navigate through that structure you've just setup. By strategically organizing your website's navigation menus, you can guide users to important pages with minimal clicks.

(Dropdown menus provide easy access to subcategories and related content too. Don't be afraid to add those. As long as they're aren't too many, it won't overcomplicate your site's structure too much)

Search Bar

Additionally, incorporating a search bar within your menu can further enhance user experience. It won't improve the click depth of your website, but if it's about improving the user experience, this is a must. You want people to at the very least find specific pages or topics of interest.

Remember, the goal is to make navigation intuitive and efficient for both users and search engines.

Got questions about click depth or anything I've written about here? Leave me a comment or email me at [email protected]!

I have been helping a friend out recently. She owns a dental office and had been using Godaddy to get marketing services…in particular SEO.

She came to me when I was getting my cleaning saying that she thinks GoDaddy has been ripping her off. I took a look because she’s helped me a lot over the years with her expertise, so it was exciting to finally get to return the favor.

I was expecting to see some monthly fees and some generic work, sure. I know that GoDaddy is such a large company, and one with a not so stellar reputation when it comes to their domain management and shady practices.

However, even despite all that I was appalled to see what the actual work being done was. If you are using GoDaddy SEO services, you will want to watch this video and really reevaluate that decision!