Monday, 30 January 2017

Honestly? Jaaxy: Keyword Research Tool Review

Jaaxy is a keyword research tool that follows in a similar tradition to Market Samurai and other tools that try to find keywords that are both relevant and low competition. They have some unique measures, and pride themselves on quick results, but is it as good as the hype would have us believe?

What is Jaaxy?

First and foremost, Jaxxy is part of the Wealthy Affiliate training package and online revenue generation system, and created by the same folks. They developed it to help people get more from their keyword research, and speed up their results.

Think of it this way: the faster Wealthy Affiliate members get money coming in, the more likely they'll subscribe. By having subscriptions in place for all the components of Wealthy Affiliate (including Site Rubix, and various Word Press plug-ins, I suspect), the creators can make a healthy living whilst helping others to do the same.

So, it's laudable, if a little self-serving.

This would all be moot if it didn't work. But here's the rub: Jaaxy is actually quite good.

How to use Jaaxy?

Using the tool is pretty easy for anyone who's being into keyword research for any length of time.

Give it a root keyword, and it will generate a bunch of variations; each of which reflects actual search traffic. So far, so familiar.

The next step, though, is in finding those keywords that stand a chance of making a return.

Since this is something of a holy grail in online business, it's nice to see that Jaaxy goes a bit beyond the usual hit-or-miss approach that other tools have adopted. On the surface, there's nothing really very novel: you get an estimate of the average search volume, then the expected search volume, and an attempt to quantify the number of competing domains.

From these freely available numbers, Jaaxy then returns a value, which is evaluated and encoded as a red, yellow or green dot. Green, in this case, meaning that the keyword phrase has a chance of survival; if you're in any doubt, it also gets a score from 1-100, with 100 being the most likely to rank on the first page of search engine result pages.

Subscribers also get a peek at the apparent fierceness of competition for domains, too.

For each search, you also get a bunch of related keywords, but without any indication as to why they've been picked. There's also a Brainstorm facility to help you pick even more keywords to test.

And that's the goal: to get you to exhaust the initial 30 free searches as quickly as possible, and convert you into a paid customer.

Nothing wrong with that, but is it worth the upgrade?

Is Jaaxy Accurate?

The first thing that a tool needs to be is accurate. It's nothing but a time-saver on the face of it: performing tasks that you could otherwise do yourself, given the right mix of time, patience and keyword research training.

I've compared Jaaxy's recommendations to my own keyword research (using my own formulae) and they come pretty close. Anyone who has followed my keyword research and SEO training for profitable niches, or who has read my niche profits book will recognise that there is a different skew at the level of choosing the root keywords, but after that results are comparable.

However, that's purely at a red/green level.

The numbers themselves are always questionable. Even my numbers will be: the truth of the matter is that they're only ever going to be accurate within an order of magnitude, and as long as the final analysis is correct it shouldn't matter whether they report a few hundred page hits either way of the "correct" figure.

So, for its own purposes, it is accurate.

Is Jaaxy Good?

For the pure keyword research tools, Jaaxy is no better than Market Samurai, for example.

However, there are some very well thought-out additional tools that make it a whole lot better:

  • Alphabet Soup: Jaaxy's own version of what the free tools AnswerThePublic.com and KeywordTool.io provide;
  • Affiliate Programs: Jaaxy will search out products for you on various platforms, to help profit from your web site;
  • Brainstorm: guided brainstorming with input from major social media sites and online retailers.

Added to the rest of the platform, along with the in-depth training, these tools give affiliate marketers and content marketers the possibility to go beyond just finding keywords, and actually making money.

It's these additional tools that give it the edge for a certain kind of online entrepreneur.

How Much Does Jaaxy Cost?

The basic subscription is $19 per month at the time of writing, with the Pro version coming in at a discounted $49 per month.

There is a free trial, however, which lets you sign up and try out pretty much every feature for 30 searches: however long it takes you to get through them. Given the amount of data available, that might take a while!

So, is Jaaxy any good? Is it worth the subscription fee? The answer is yes, and maybe...

For myself, my own tools and processes identify the same basic basket of keywords, and are a little more in line with my own keyword research philosophy. That philosophy is based on mining for questions; this is an aspect that the Jaaxy programmers might consider adding to the results.

By signing up for a free Jaaxy account, you'll get 30 searches to find out if it's a good fit for you. I'd recommend it for anyone who likes convenience and is willing to trade a one-size-fits-all approach against having all your tools in one convenient place.


Disclaimer: As an affiliate for both Wealthy Affiliate and Jaaxy, if you click any of the above links to those two services, I'll get a small reward. Should you prefer not to reward me for taking the time to use, experiment, and review these products, you can access them on the following two URLs: WealthyAffiliate.com and Jaxxy.com

Friday, 20 January 2017

Why Search Engine Privacy is bad for Search Context

Mention search, and a discussion of privacy usually isn't far behind.

Whether it's Google's (in my opinion unnecessary) masking of search queries for logged-in users, or concerns about using your browsing history to suggest products or even web sites you should visit, it seems everyone has an opinion.

Now search engines are starting to use enhanced privacy in their market differentiation.

Here's how Search Engine Journal's Matt Southern ("Qwant, a French Search Engine, thinks it can take on Google.") puts it:
Like search engine DuckDuckGo, Qwant’s competitive advantage is privacy. It protects users’ privacy by not tracking what they’re doing or searching for online. Qwant doesn’t use cookies, collect browsing data, or do any kind of data profiling.
Sounds great. My privacy is protected.

But that also means that the search engine doesn't know anything about me.

It doesn't know where I am located. Nor does it know the kinds of sites and search results that I've visited in the past.

In fact, all that the search engine has to go on is the page I visited last (the HTTP Referrer) and the query I've just entered.

Search Engine Context, Choice & Privacy


The job of a search engine is to act as a librarian/gatekeeper for all the content in its index.

Whether the engine is responsible for finding a product (i.e. Amazon, eBay, etc.), a person (i.e. LinkedIn, Fiverr, Facebook, etc.) or a resource (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Qwant, DuckDuckGo, et al), the users -- you and me -- expect a result list that contains the most relevant, highest quality, useful and valuable items that they know about.

But what's useful and valuable to me, might not be useful and valuable to you for the same search query.

It's to be hoped that a real world librarian, when asked for a "romance" book, isn't going to give the same recommendations to a teenage girl as they do a middle-aged housewife.

By the same token, knowing the search context is vital to a search engine's success. Building a competitive advantage out of treating all queries (with the same keyword phrase) as identical, to my mind at least, misses the point.

Enhanced privacy has the power to remove context, and thereby render results less relevant to the end user, leading to lower quality results.

It won't just hit organic search, either. It's across the board -- taking paid inclusion and sponsored entries as well as the various AdSense / AdWords style PPC services into account, too.

Squaring the circle requires giving end users the chance to activate more private -- i.e. context-restricted -- browser sessions. It's one area where I agree with Alphabet: making users login to get the most out of a search engine like Google is a good thing.

At the same time, giving users the option to start a private browsing session also solves a lot of the issues that Qwant and DuckDuckGo appear to be building their entire competitive advantage upon.

However, users need to both be educated, and use the private browsing features, as well as encouraged to view access to things like location, language, browsing data and subsequent data profiling as a way to help the search engine better serve their needs.

A Simple Example of Search Context


One example is the "near me" query. As in: "bank near me".


  • My usual logged-in Google session gives me a list of banks that I am a customer at, near my location.



  • Qwant gives me a list of reasonably random US based sites that include the term "bank near me" in their web page. None of them are "near me".



  • A private browsing session with Chrome, using Google, gives me a slightly different list of banks near me -- probably because it doesn't have access to my browsing or search history, so doesn't know which one I favour.


That's the effect of removing context.

As mobile search becomes ever-more popular, the chances of using, say a search engine like Qwant, and getting a reasonable local search result seem, if not remote, then at least less likely.

It's not a reason to drop privacy concerns completely, but it is an argument for education and choice over blanket removal of all search context; something that Qwant ought to take into account if it wants to challenge the established players going forward.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

SEM KWR SEO Plan Template for 2017

Having a coherent SEO monthly plan is all part of running a successful SEM strategy for volume (hits) and value (cost/revenue).

This free PDF resource provides an SEO strategy plan template that both looks to the results of 2016 and helps to look forward into 2017 with a monthly breakdown.

To fill it out, I suggest you get a pen -- yes, a real pen -- and write on a printed copy: preferably expanded to A3 and stuck on your wall near where you work.

Actual physical writing helps with personal engagement and accountability; and the higher quality the pen, the more successful the process will be.

(Time magazine did a great piece on the benefits of hand writing, available on their web site.)

The PDF is divided into the following sections:
  • Traffic - three core statistics about organic traffic;
  • Content - three important things you should have tracked in 2016;
  • Activity - three sets of guidelines that look to the past and inform the future (2017);
  • Keyword Calendar - 12 months of stats relating to ongoing SEO/SEM activities.
The idea is to follow startegic management theory and use the past to inform the furture whilst developing new insights from managing and applying your resources (keywords and content).

Creating Your SEO Plan of Action for 2017


Here's how to best fill out the sections of the SEO plan:

2016 Organic Traffic

These are three important numbers:

  • raw number of visits - how many eyes on your pages;
  • number of return visits - how many came back for more information;
  • bounce rate - how many clicked away without engaging.

These numbers will have different meanings for different people. For example, this site has a low bounce rate (high engagement) and reasonably high return visit rate. Traffic, though, is considered to be low -- by comparison to other blogs.

However, other client's sites are the opposite: mainly because they are keyed towards getting lots of visitors to take immediate action, which takes them straight out of the site and off to the order page provided by their partners!

2016 Content Statistics


Knowing the numbers is linked to:

  • Entry Pages - how people get into your site;
  • Exit Pages - where they leave;
  • Keyword Phrases - how they find your site.

The PDF suggests listing the Top 5 in each category, but feel free to add more. The point is to know whether the site is delivering the value that you expect.

If you are an affiliate for (say) 5 products, then you'd expect the "landing pages" to list high, as well as the pages that take the consumer away to a third party order page.

You could consider swapping the idea of an "Exit Page" for an "Exit Link", if that's the case.

2017 Activity Plan


This section starts to bridge 2016 into 2017 by looking at activities that worked, those that didn't and new ones that should help to improve your SEM either by volume or value.

If you catch yourself doing something that you did last year 'just because', then you should probably swap that task for one from the third column.

On the other hand, if you feel that you are neglecting the first column, then take moment each week to address that.

This section is both an action plan, and a reminder!

2017 Keyword Calendar

The Calendar is an attempt to help you plan tour SEO and keyword research activities for the year ahead. Those with multiple sites, will need multiple PDFs: that's okay -- print as many as you need!

(I have one per client; numbers vary, but by the end of the year, I'm wallpapering with these things!)

Each month, you want to note down a new Root Keyword to create content for or research around.

Set these out by quarter if need be, but try to at least have an idea of what should go in each month: use the Keyword Planner and publishing schedules from niche magazines (for example) to pick out seasonal trends.

Then, each month note the number of Items presented, how much traffic was generated, and what the Return Visit percentage was. Also, note the Estimated Earnings for that month, from that site.

It's to be hoped that the annual trend is upwards, or some course correction will be in order!

The free PDF can be downloaded on this special SEO, SEM and KWR planning page. If you find it useful, be sure to share this resource using the social share bar below.

Monday, 2 January 2017

3 Hot SEO Topics You Missed in 2016!

One of the perennial SEO tasks that hits in January is the usual debate over which of the hundreds of search signals you should pay attention to for the coming year.

2016 has been interesting for a lot of reasons, and in search there have been some trends that might have passed you by.

Firstly, though, I'd like to pull out the usual advice that I give clients in January: make a search engine marketing plan. That includes, as always, three things that you didn't do last year, and will do this year, and disposes of three things that didn't work out.

If tyou don't find three things that didn't work out, then either you weren't paying attention, or you haven't been tracking your SEO and SEM activities.

At least that gives you something to put on the 'To Do More Of' list in 2017.

Here's the three things that are most common to my search clients for 2017 and which everyone should continue to do, or start doing in earnest.

Mobile & Local


Right off the bat, making web pages mobile friendly has to be a priority if, like many, you have sidestepped the topic over the past year.

It's more than just moving to a responsive theme on your blog; embracing mobile properly also means:

  • checking the mobile-friendliness of advertising network partners;
  • double-checking plug-in mobile compatibility;
  • creating content with mobile in mind, selectively published for mobile devices.

This last goes hand in hand with local search.

There are a lot of searches that tend to be done on mobile platforms that are also local. The image I like to use is that of a person in the street, using their mobile device to compare prices and make bookings for beauty treatments at neighbouring, competing salons.

It happens. It will happen more frequently in 2017 than 2016, so get used to it.

User First


For 2017, everyone needs to put their users (readers, customers, clients or audience) first in their SEO and SEM activities.

Not the search engines. There are still too many people who look at this as a technology issue, when it isn't any more. The symptom is putting search engines first (i.e. white hat optimisation and near keyword-stuffing) and the cure is user-first SEM.

That means:

  • better content;
  • responding to needs;
  • testing the balance of information-to-sale.

The first one is easy. Have a content plan, based on keyword research, using the full plethora of tools available, and apply it every step of the way. Make it interesting, personal, and relevant.

That means responding to the needs of the audience. If video works best, give them video. If it's how-to PDF files they're after, then create a content plan around that. Check out the questions they are asking, and then give them best-in-class content to answer the questions, and a best-in-class product to go with it.

Of course, that means paying attention to tracking results. It's time to install trackers, pay attention to Search Console and Analytics and make sure you know what works every step of the way, and then replicate it across the content delivery platform.

Keyword Research for RankBrain


Google's gotten smarter in 2016.

The introduction of RankBrain means that your content has multiple meanings to a search engine. The best bit about this is that you don't need to create different pieces of content for different audiences, when they are semantically close in search space.

The slightly troublesome aspect is that you should be a lot more attuned to concepts for your content, and concentrate much less on exact words to represent it.

Yes, you can still use keyword research to uncover your audience's needs, but when it comes to content creation, use the full richness of language to get your ideas across, rather than trying to target a single phrase. It's a tricky balance, but with practice one that is fairly easy to get right.

So, as you go into 2017 with your content marketing plan rolled up under your arm, keyed to topics that you have proven will attract traffic, just remember that it's about the end user, not trying to get free organic traffic at any cost to quality content delivery.

If you want one-on-one help building a search engine marketing plan for 2017, then please use this form to request a free web site evaluation.