What are SEO Backlinks and How to Build more Backlinks in 2020

Everyone and their dog are looking into SEO Backlinks, but you don’t know where to start? The most comprehensive backlinks guide for 2020 is here! 

Whether running a small startup or a Fortune 500 company, you’re probably familiar with the benefits of Search Engine Optimization. 

Having your website appear on top of the search results of Google means just one thing -- free traffic! After all, there are 3.5 billion searches processed by the platform every day. That’s at least a few hundred thousand FREE leads in your niche. 

These leads can be yours, but you’d be right to think competition is fierce. To be able to rise to the top you must implement and be familiar with the latest SEO strategies and have a stable foundation in the process. 

And what’s a founding pillar of SEO? That’s right -- backlinks! 

But what are SEO backlinks and how you can use them to snatch some of that free traffic up for your business? That’s what I am here to cover! 

Table of Contents

What are SEO Backlinks?

How to build your SEO Backlink Strategy in 2020? 

Step 1: Check Existing Backlinks

Step 2: Find Link Leads for your Specific SEO Case

Step 3: Outreach/Link Exchange/Guest Posting

Best Outreach Strategies for 2020

Step 4: Ensure the Technical Stability of Your Pages

Step 5: Stay up to Date with the Industry

What are backlinks? More than an SEO tactic for sure!

Let’s start simple. A backlink is a link coming from a third-party Website that leads to another website. 

For example, if a Lifehack article links to your website, it is said that you have a backlink coming from Lifehack. 

An SEO backlink simply refers to the comprehensive strength that backlinking has to your search rankings. 

Often called inbound links or incoming links, these links are a part of the process used by Google and other search engine algorithms to determine the authority of your website. 

Let’s say you have a website about selling car parts. If all of your local mechanics refer (i.e. they link to) your website, it would mean that your authority in the car repair niche will increase. 

The bigger the authority of your website is in a particular niche, the greater the chance that it will rank for a specific keyword in that particular niche. 

Once the backlink was added as a factor to the search algorithms, link spamming and other backdoors were immediately found. They allowed some websites, and particularly scammy ones, to improve their ranking quickly and without much effort. 

In response, search engines continuously improved to be able to present genuine information to inquiries by users. 

The authority, nature, and ranking of the website linking to your page became an important factor in link building. 

In addition, in recent years, things such as link recency, niche specificity, backlinking keywording, machine learning sentiment and more were hypothesized to play a significant role in the strength of a backlink. 

Let’s say the most infamous auto mechanic referred to your website, while 10 small auto repair shops link to your competitor. Due to the authority of the infamous mechanic, your website will have higher chances to rank. 

With all the different factors in play, backlinking in 2020 is not as simple as getting as many links to your website as possible. 

Want to rank high? Let’s go through the process of how to properly manage your SEO backlink strategy. 

After all, what are backlinks without a proper SEO strategy? 🤷‍♀️ 

The active implementation of a backlink strategy often requires a combination of technical SEO skills, PR, and link building experience. 

However, I've tried our best to simplify the process. Do you know that YouTube is also an SEO beast of its own? Check it out!

STEP 1: CHECK YOUR EXISTING SEO BACKLINKS 

The first thing on your list should be to check your existing backlinks. You might be thinking that any link to your website is good for your rank, but it’s not. 

If your website has links from directories, domains with low domain power or generally weak domains, your website can hurt in the process. 

That’s why performing a backlink audit is a must. 

In fact, even Ad campaign URLs to your site might have an impact, so check out how to create a proper campaign URL right here.

Powerful SEO tools, such as MOZ.com, Aherfs and SEMRush.com all have their own version of a backlink audit. 

How to do a backlink audit?

One of the best tools in the industry that allows you to perform an easy backlink audit is SEMRush. 

All you need to do is visit the Backlink Audit Tool of SEM rush, enter your domain and follow the steps to register an account with the tool. 

Once you register for your account at SEMRush, you will need to integrate with Google Search console. 

Simply click the integration button within the tool and add your Google account. 

This allows SEMRush to perform a more comprehensive audit of your subdomains, URLs, and subpaths to help you avoid rank penalties. 

After the audit is done, simply check the Toxic Score of the SEO backlinks and decide how to proceed. 

If a link has a Toxic Score that is too high, you can do one of two things. 

STEP 2: FIND LINK LEADS FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SEO CASE 

Once you are certain that your website has a clean slate, you can transition to the link building strategy. 

You need to consider the place, audience, and competitiveness of your niche to find the right leads. 

THE PLACE 

Where is your business located? Do you operate locally or globally? Are you targeting ONE specific local area or a few? 

These are all questions you need to have the answer to if you want to build out your link base. 

The reason is that in 2020 and beyond, it is becoming more apparent that the machine learning algorithm integrated into Google Search is building out connections that are interconnected with location, search activity, goal activity (i.e. whether a person has purchased from a website, after searching for a specific item and clicking on that website) and more. 

To take advantage of this deep learning network, you need to establish your business as an authority in specific locations, based on your overall marketing strategy. 

It’s suggested that you try to rank locally at specific locations, instead of globally, due to the high competitiveness. 

THE AUDIENCE 

The second item on your research sheet should be the audience and in particular -- their digital habits and interests.

Similar to how you would build out a Social Media strategy, for SEO in 2020 and beyond, you need to consider all aspects of the marketing equation. 

Once you have a clear picture of your audience, you can use it to build out a strategy around the biggest high-reward/low-effort link building tactics. 

THE COMPETITIVENESS 

Last, but not least, you have the industry/niche competitiveness. 

This portion is extremely similar to how you would pick and choose your keyword base depending on the algorithmic competitiveness of the words. 

You will need to take a note of the biggest high-rank competitors that you have in your niche. 

Analyze their business and backlink performance. Do they have press coverage? Do they often share blog posts? 

There is a lot you can learn from your competitors to understand what works for your specific niche. 

Are we good to go? 😜 

Once you have the founding research and analysis in place, you can start building your lead base. 

How to build your cold link building lead base?

Based on the decisions about the market positioning of your website, the nature of the leads that might help you out the most will differ. 

CATEGORIZE THE LEADS YOU WILL BE LOOKING FOR 

You can think of them in three main categories. 

FIND THE RIGHT LEADS FOR YOUR SEO BACKLINKS

Based on your specific SEO case (as explained above) and the categories of leads you will be searching for, start your search. 

Google is the best way to do your research, when it comes to this step. 

Search for terms related to your business, audience or industry. Check out the “news” tab for your local press authority websites. 

CHECK THE AUTHORITY OF YOUR LEADS 

Once you’ve found your targets, you should check their domain authority. 

You can do so via different tools, but one amazing free tool is Moz Domain Authority tool. It showcases the domain authority of a target website. 

Building up a base with leads for link building can be as simple as putting up names and emails in a spreadsheet. 

STEP 3: OUTREACH/LINK EXCHANGE/GUEST POSTING 

Once you have your leads, it’s time to start thinking about your outreach strategy. 

That’s where the hard part comes in. 

Link building is a recognized SEO tactic and I’ve had over a decade to get used to it. This comes with its own benefits. 

Primarily, when you reach out, you will find that it’s relatively easy to get a link to your website, as long as you provide value back. 

The question becomes -- what’s the value you are able to provide? 🤔 

Here are a few general tips about the best backlink outreach strategies for 2020. 

Backlinking Outreach Strategies for 2020 

Usually, there are a few different practices that can improve your chances. 

Direct Connections 

Do you have a direct connection you can ping to help get you a link? Direct connections can go a long way. 

Don't have high-ticket connections? Here's a quick guide to help you get some!

Product/Service Value 

If the product or service you provide is widely recognized, reaching out to a media website in your industry with a simple inquiry might do the trick. 

This will allow you to get relevant SEO Backlinks while improving brand awareness.

I’ve successfully built out backlinks in the past, just by sharing an exciting case study about how our business helped others. 

You can check out this guide on writing the perfect Press-Release that is bound to get you some coverage!

Guest Blogging 

A lot of websites provide the option or will allow you to post on their blog, as long as you are able to offer relevant content.

Contact the website owner and offer to write an amazing blog post. When you do, simply provide an Author's bio that includes a link to your website.

You don’t even have to include the link in the content itself. You can simply use the Author’s Bio as a leeway to your website. 

Reclaiming Old Links 

Sometimes, in the process of updating content, your link might have been removed from a previously linking page. 

Depending on the tool you use, you should get regular updates about the status of your links. 

If you notice you’ve lost a link, it’s best to check in with the previous website owner and fix the issue. 

Broken Link Scouting 

Another tactic that is becoming more popular is scouting for broken links on a particular website. Sometimes, high authority websites will have huge blog libraries with dozens of links. 

And sometimes, these links get broken. 

Finding such a link on a website can allow you to instantly provide a replacement value for that particular link. 

https://ahrefs.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/dead-link-quicksprout.gif
Providing Amazing Value 

You can often get SEO backlinks SIMPLY by providing amazing value on your blog. The story of Houston reaching over 100 million views on LinkedIn helped us get backlinks, just because of the sheer value it provides. 

Using an Outreach Tool 

Of course, there are also PR and outreach tools that can also help you land some great backlinks to your website. 

I recommend Ninja Outreach and BuzzStream as the best SEO Backlinks outreach tool in the industry. 

If you decide to use either of these tools, simply use the training tutorials, explainers and steps provided by each tool to improve your outreach. 

PR Hacking will also work. Check out my tips on how to get some awesome press for your startup!

STEP 4: ENSURE THE TECHNICAL STABILITY OF YOUR PAGES 

Once you have set up your backlink acquisition and outreach process, it’s time to ensure that everything is running smoothly on your end. 

In particular, there are a few rules to follow to ensure you don’t negatively impact your SE backlink rank benefits during a website update. 

You can use Google Search Console and check the crawl errors section for issues with your website. 

Here are a few common questions and cases, alongside tips on how to deal with them. 

Common Link Building Redirect Questions 

Q: I have a post that a lot of people link to, but want to update my blog subdomain? 
A: Use a 301 redirect from your previous blog to your new subdomain.
Q: I want to migrate to HTTPS, will that hurt my SEO backlinks? 
A: No. HTTPS migration won’t hurt your backlinks, as Google doesn’t penalize 301 redirects. 
Q: I want to update the URL of a blog post to increase my SEO, but it already has SEO backlinks. Will it hurt my page rank? 
A: Depending on the blog CMS you are using, this shouldn’t be a problem, as the URL is automatically redirected to the new one. 
Q: I want to remove an old blog post, because the information in it is obsolete. What should I do? 
A: The best practice would be to create a new blog post with updated relevant information, redirect to it and contact previous website owners who have linked to this blog post. 

STEP 5: Stay Up to Date with the Industry 

Last, but not least, make sure to stay up to date with the industry. 

Search engine algorithms and trends are always changing and what might have worked in the past, won’t necessarily work in the future. 

SearchEngineLand.com is one of the oldest and most respected SE resources out there.

Granted, with the growing movement towards machine learning, the natural SEO movement (where tactics meet actual benefits) is seeing great results. 

Providing value, being press-worthy and building connections and relationships with people are still the best ways to do business. 

Granted, you should always think about how to get a few backlinks in the process. 🦸‍♂️🦸‍♀️  

And hey, if you can't get the right emails, here's a quick guide to help you extract the emails of your Facebook friends!

Stay up to date and regularly check your website, as backlinks require an active determination to help you get natural traffic to your website. 

Link building is a rollercoaster ride. It starts with a simple idea, but transitions to a network of intertwined marketing tactics. 

I get it. At first, Link Building may sound daunting. 🤯 

However, once you get used to it, it becomes a major part in your marketing decision making process. 

Will this blog post achieve authority in the industry? 

Will this marketing tactic increase my chances to get PR coverage? 

Will this connection help me get authority links to my website? 

All of these questions and more become a daily driver for your decision. 

The reason? 🤔 

It helps out! Link building keeps you up on your toes to provide the best value you can possibly create with the business or service that you provide. 

Having SEO backlinks is more than an optimization tactic for ranking your website. It’s a way of thinking! 

Featured Image: Travis Saylor, Pexels.com
Other Image Sources: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

3 Free Tools To Track Your Website Rankings

If you want to get ahead of the competition, you need to track your website’s rankings.

It helps you identify what keyword campaigns are working well, which keywords you should be focusing on and the progress of your SEO campaign. Tracking is an essential part of your growth campaign and you can’t leave it out.

In this guide, we take a look at three free tools that keep you up-to-date with your website’s organic rankings.

Table of Contents

Why Track Your Rank?

The Problem With Free Rank Trackers

Candidate 1. HothRankTracker

Candidate 2. SEO PowerSuite Rank Tracker

Candidate 3. Traffic Travis

Takeaways

Why Track Website Rankings

Your keywords are the most important part of your ranking equation.

Tracking your rank is essential to monitor the progress of your organic and paid SEO campaigns. By following what keywords you are ranking for and where your website is positioned with keywords you want it to rank for, you can efficiently allocate more marketing resources to that keyword.

The Problem With Free Website Rankings Tracker Apps

If you’re in a niche of your own and monitoring only a handful of keywords, using a free rank tracker could be the right approach, but we doubt that you’re only going to stick to monitoring five keywords or less, for instance.

You will soon want to expand the number of keywords you’re tracking, be able to track changes on a more frequent basis, get ranking reports for an entire week for your organization (or your clients), and get a bunch of other features that are only available on paid tools.

Going down the free route is a good idea in the beginning, but you’ll find that paid rank trackers won’t break the bank.

Candidate 1. SeoLocalRank

SeoLocalRank has a free rank tracker that you can use to monitor your keyword positions.

website ranking

The great thing about this tool is that it also comes with an SEO metrics analyzer to check out other things about your website, such as page speed insights. However, it does come with its limitations.

Once you create an account, you are taken to the dashboard where you can input your website’s domain. Click on “Add your first keyword” to start the tracking process.

Add your keyword along with the location.

It will now take you to its ranking screen, where you have to give it a few moments to process your keyword.

Now that your keyword is being tracked, it will give you a graph showing the keyword’s position over some time

                                              

It will also show you the list of websites that are competing for the top 10 positions.

Read More: Growth Hacks for Your Online Marketplace

The only issue that we have with SeoLocalRank is the number of keywords that you can track. After creating an account, you’ll only be able to monitor five different keywords, and this will surely prove to be limiting, especially for growth hackers who have multiple offerings and require tracking various keywords at a time.

Candidate 2. SEO PowerSuite Rank Tracker

You’ll then get an email from SEO PowerSuite. Click “Create your first project.” You’ll be taken to a page where you can download a trial of their software

Type in your email address and name again.

Click on “Download” and install the file on your computer. We’ve downloaded the one for Mac, but Windows has its version as well.

Once you install the application suite, you’ll be taken to a wizard where you can input your domain name.

The next page will allow you to bind your Google Search Console and Google Analytics account.

Stick in the keywords you want to track on the third window.

You can pick which search engines you want to use to track your keyword rankings. They even have custom tools for you to use to give you an edge in local SEO.

It will now take you to a dashboard where you can track all your ranking activity.

But there’s more.

You can even do keyword research and competitor analysis on the platform itself. We like the SEO Power Suite not because it’s free but because of the amount of work you can do with it. It offers an alternative to having to use different applications for different tasks, and it’s UI is pretty intuitive even for advanced users.

It does have a catch.

You can’t save your work on it since you’re not paying for it, but if you’re up for downloading it on a regular basis – or keeping the application on perpetually – it is workable.

Candidate 3. Traffic Travis

This tool is another application that you can download that offers several other features, such as the SEO PowerSuite application.

After you give them your email address, they’ll send you a link to download their app. Install the app, and you are good to go. Make sure you grab the registration code from the email they will send you.

This will take you to a wizard where you can input your keywords and your domain address. There are a couple of search engine locations that you can use and it doesn't just limit itself to Google.

After you save the project, give it a few moments to run and it will give you the rankings of your keywords. We found that if you're ranking far from 100 in the search results, it won't give you your exact rank.

You can find their rank tracker in the SEO tab.

It also has a host of other features just like SEO PowerSuite.

Like the other members of this list, the application has a bunch of limitations for free users.

You can only have a maximum of two projects and track 30 keywords. It will also show you the top 10 sites ranking for your keyword as well as 100 keyword suggestions.

And, as per usual, you can’t save reports unless you pay for the professional version. This tool is powerful if you want to run a few keywords. They do not have a version for the Mac.

Takeaways

Tracking your rankings is crucial if you want to gauge the growth of your company.

At the same time, your rank tracker can also give you actionable information when it comes to Google updates that are hitting your keywords or competitors getting the upper hand in particular campaigns. This gives you the leeway to adjust your marketing efforts effectively and do something about it.

Here’s what.

We love free rank trackers, and they’re great when you’re first starting, but the issue will remain the same, it’s limited.

As you growth hack and expand your business, you’ll want to keep track of more and more keywords because it’s a measure of how you’re doing in other “markets.” Say for example you have a business that’s all about pets, you might want to rank for “pet food,” but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to rank for “pet toys” either.

Most of the free keyword monitoring tools on our list are limited to only a handful of keywords at a time for convenient tracking.

Then, there’s the issue of the powerful tools that might not be available to you when you need them.

The good news is that we have a lot of these tools to choose from.

We advise that you still go out and get yourself a paid ranking tool when your budget allows it. When you’re first starting, the free versions of website rankings tools can definitely give you an edge, but as you take your growth to the next level, so should your tools.

Read More: Free Keyword Research Tools

YouTube SEO: A Step by Step Guide to Rank Your YouTube Videos

Videos are powerful.

A lot of marketers have turned to video to create content to supercharge their campaigns, and YouTube has turned into a powerful content delivery system for a lot of people.

In this guide, we take a step-by-step approach to optimizing your videos and getting them to rank online.

From keyword research to boosting your CTR, we’ve got you covered!

Table of Contents

YouTube SEO

Inbound marketing relies on the power of great content to drive in traffic and push for more conversions.

Video is a great way to bring interactive content to viewers, and you can have tutorials, product presentations, reviews, webinars, and even original content on the platform.

This is why video has grown to be one of the most potent ways to drive engagements.

It All Starts With Keyword Research

YouTube SEO is a lot like regular organic SEO – which makes a lot of sense since Google owns YouTube – you start with keyword research. Most of the searches done on Google are via text searches, so if you want to rank, you’ve got to do your research.

           Using Tools

There are a couple of keyword research tools that you can use to generate similar and related keywords.

All you have to do is enter your seed keyword, switch out the standard search engine for YouTube’s search engine and presto! You’ve got a list of keywords that you can use.

However, it doesn’t just end there.

You still have to filter out the results

Just as with regular keyword research, it would be wise to run the other interesting keywords through the tool again to get a good overview of the subject at hand.

           Manual Method

The natural way to fish for keywords is to use YouTube’s autocomplete feature – and yes, it’s the same as Google’s autocomplete feature.

Once you type in your seed keyword on YouTube’s search bar, you’ll get a bunch of suggestions on what other keywords you can target for your campaign.

These keywords are essential to make sure that you only use terms that are relevant to the campaign and that you’re optimizing for maximum exposure.

As you can see from this example, the suggestions on Google and YouTube are different. This is because they are on two distinct platforms, and people have different searching habits and interests on YouTube.

Keyword research is different on YouTube and Google.

This is what you do.

Start playing around with the autocomplete feature of YouTube and start listing down the keywords that are being suggested. If you find another exciting keyword, then type that down, too, so that you can get more suggestions around that keyword.

If you want to get more suggestions you could try this:

“keyword” + “any single letter” – this is so that you can find alphabetical keyword suggestions. E.g., Growth Hacking A

Before long, you can build yourself a list of keywords that you can use on your YouTube video title, tags, or description.

Only keep the keywords that have been gaining a lot of momentum, such as those with a least a hundred searches. However, if you are covering a popular topic, expect that number to go higher.

Alternatively, if you’ve found a market for a niche, you’ll find that more than a hundred views could be topping the scale for keywords that you should be using.

You’ll find that there is a substantial market for “How To’s” or tutorial videos because sometimes it is easier for many people to watch a video than it is to read a guide. Tutorial videos are also great because they are engaging, and they show viewers practical applications.

Set your keywords aside because we will be using them extensively later on.

Creating Your Video

There are a lot of ways to create a video, and there are a lot of formats for you to choose from.

The production values matter a lot, and this means going all out – of course, as long as it is still within your budget. Here are a few things to remember.

Optimizing Your Title

Remember that keyword list you built a while ago?

It’s going to be very handy in the next steps.

The most important rule in creating your title is to include your keyword, and the same rule applies to organic search engine optimization, too.

However, YouTube is completely different.

With Title Tags, we’re used to sticking our primary – sometimes secondary – keywords in along with a little bit of branding, but with videos, they just won’t work.

Your titles on YouTube have to encourage potential viewers to click on them even if they are official videos from your company.

This means getting a little creative.

A title such as “Introduction to YouTube SEO – Growth Hackers” might work on other platforms, but throwing in a little flair such as “YouTube SEO: The 30-Second Method” would probably gain more traction if you were to ask us.

Another thing that you have to keep in mind is the title length. The last time we checked, it’s best to keep your titles under 60 characters, although you can push this limit in some cases.

Say you want to make use of the ellipses (…) that are used when your titles are too long to generate some mystery, then, by all means, go beyond the limit and add other keywords along the way.

Your title is the most essential part of the optimization process because it identifies your video and helps it stick out above the rest.

Optimizing Your Descriptions

Your video description is kind of like the meta description of your content.

And it holds a lot of weight.

This is your chance to start effectively using the rest of the keywords that you’ve gathered in your list and start structuring them. Back in the day, one could be tempted to just list down all your secondary keywords and LSI in your description, but we all know that’s spammy.

So how do you go about it?

Descriptions are supposed to add value to the video, but not go overboard to distract the viewer and appear spammy. You want your video description to add to the main point of the video that you’ve published.

Write a keyword-rich description that summarizes the point of the video on the first line or paragraph. Make sure you the primary keyword is in the first line.

Use secondary keywords and LSI, but make sure that it fits in naturally into the description that you’ve made.

You can use the remainder of the description to put in links that you have to your other material, extra notes, and how people can reach you i.e., your social media profile or your website address.

Optimizing Your Tags

YouTube tags are used to help categorize where your video belongs to, and they can help you optimize your video to increase your exposure.

The platform will also help you out in this regard by giving you a couple of suggestions that you can use.

Do you want to gain an edge?

Check out what tags your competitors are using and throw those into the mix, too. There’s a reason that they are ranking, and you want to take advantage of those opportunities.

Add Cards

Your videos have to drive engagement.

You can think of cards as resource links within the video to help your viewers get more information during the video’s playback. These cards appear as little bubbles that give out suggestions to the viewers as the video plays.

For example, you can tell your viewers to check out another video explaining something that you’re currently discussing and have a little bubble appear on the video. This adds a lot more value to your content.

There are a couple of cards that you can use in your video:

Suggest that your viewer watch another video or playlist

Check out an external link

Check out another YouTube Channel

Support a non-profit

Invitation to answer a poll

But, here’s the catch.

It might be super tempting, but you don’t want to use too many cards, you want to stay relevant to the topic that is being discussed. You also don’t want to appear spammy and distracting.

Add Subtitles

Imagine Netflix without subtitles.

Wouldn’t that be terrible?

It’s the same with videos on YouTube, people like subtitles because it helps them follow what you’re saying. However, the CC (Closed Captioning) feature of YouTube is intended to help those who are hearing impaired.

Subtitles are excellent because they make sure that your viewers are accurately interpreting what you’re saying.

And guess what.

They’re not at all the difficult to make.

YouTube will try to auto transcribe what you are saying, but if you were using a script in the beginning, you can just easily upload the text, and the platform will match out the words and the audio.

There is also the option to upload, and auto transcribe, which is very useful if you often find yourself going off script or adding something out of the blue while filming.

Oh, and did we tell you the most important part about all of this?

Marketers agree that captions get crawled.

This means having keyword-rich captions might have the effect of being ranked higher than standard videos.

So in effect, you better be mentioning your keywords when you do your video in the first place.

Read More: How to Reach Millions of Views on LinkedIn

Ending Your Video Well

Don’t just say goodbye.

You can still optimize your video until the last second.

YouTube allows you to place a couple of suggested video links towards the end and an option to place a link to subscribe to your channel. However, if you want to make use of these features creatively, then you will want to create an overlay at the end of your video.

Provide some room on the overlay in order to be able to put two video links and the subscribe button from YouTube. You can even get creative with this process and place extra text or have an overlay that still plays a portion of your video telling your viewers to like and subscribe.

Thumbnails

Ever picked out a video just because the thumbnail looked interesting?

Of course, you have.

And, this is the reason why picking out a proper thumbnail is extremely important when optimizing your video. If you think about it, the thumbnail takes up more space than the video title and its description. This is why it is as critical as the rest of the text itself.

It can be considered to be your video’s call to action. The thumbnail gives your viewers an idea of what the video is going to be like.

You could have the most exciting video in the world, but if it has a boring thumbnail, nobody will want to see it. Your thumbnail has to get people to click the video in effect, improving your video CTR rate.

There are a few types of YouTube thumbnails.

We recommend that you use a custom YouTube thumbnail for all your videos because it gives you room to be more creative with the way you call for people’s attention.

Here’s what you do.

Note:

Whatever you do, don’t use the standard thumbnail that YouTube provides for you.

Read More: 5 Tools Every Growth Hacker Should Be Using

Drive Engagement (Share, Link, Embed)

Your video needs to gain momentum after you publish it, and there are a couple of ways of doing this.

Ratings, Comments, and Views

First start with getting people to comment on your video, if you can’t get a crowd on it, ask your team or friends to check out the video and leave a quick comment. This not only drives engagement for the videos, but it makes it a look like a video has a following.

It serves as social proof for the worth and effectiveness of the video. People want to get onto a video that is popular because it just goes to show how many people are agreeing to the video’s content.

At the same time, ask people to leave a rating for the video.

           Sharing and Embedding your Video

Take a look at all the mediums that you have online for sharing media: email, social networks, etc.

Now decide what type of buyer personas these mediums cater to, and start crafting posts and emails that encourage people to check out your video.

You should look into sharing your video on different platforms such as Facebook, Reddit, LinkedIn, and even Quora. Now Facebook and LinkedIn are pretty straightforward, and you can share your video immediately with a short description.

However, Reddit and Quora require a different approach. In these two platforms, you should aim to share your video when a question is being asked.

For Reddit, you could share it as a link on a thread to drive conversions. However, the caveat is that you have to be an active member of a thread for people to take your video seriously. If you aren’t, they’ll know that you are just engaging in everyday old marketing tactics in order to get views.

Quora is a different platform to work with, as well. You can embed your video in answer to a question, so that you may be able to support it. But, as mentioned, you need to answer the question via a text answer first before the embed.

Just like Reddit, you might be misconstrued as someone who just wants to build links.

Try sharing your video as much as possible on different platforms; you need to be able to generate traction as soon as the video is published.

           Linking to and Building Links

Building links to your video can involve asking people to share it on their web properties and sharing it on your website as well. Links to your video increase the video’s authority because there are more people referring to it. The more authority a video has, the more likely it is to rank higher.

If you’re going to build links and link to your video, do not forget to link to your channel as well. Your channel mainly relates to all the videos that you have, so you will want to feed it some link juice so it will trickle down to everything on your channel.

Create Playlists

Playlists are another great way to drive engagement because they group videos. The reason we love it is that it tells the platform that videos are related and in turn, keeps people on a channel for longer.

In a way, it’s conversion rate optimization.

The following video in the series will usually be suggested to your viewer, and it increases their tendency to consume more of your content.

Now you want them to do this often.

Why?

Not only does it give your other videos more views, but also it establishes you like a channel that helps them with their needs. This type of inbound marketing helps drive conversions and gets you noticed by search engines.

Pay Attention to the Metrics

Growth hacking means proper tracking.

The YouTube platform has its signature analytics platform that you can use, but there are also other tools out there that can help you track your progress.

You need to track the performance of your video to find out what works and what doesn’t in your channel. It makes no sense to invest in videos that garner less engagement than those that really appeal with your audience.

Once you find your unique formula – almost every channel has one – you can then proceed to make some more videos of that caliber.

Your analytics and insights will help determine if you are ranking well, should you find out that switching out a particular line improves your rankings then you better document it so you can do it again.

You can even throw your video in a rank-tracking tool like SERP Robot and find out how it’s ranking for different keywords daily. This helps the monitoring process.

Alternatively, do a quick Google and YouTube search of your video's keyword and see how you’re ranking; this should give you a good picture of your content’s visibility.

The notes that you get from here will paint an accurate picture of your propensity to rank higher.

Takeaways

If you find yourself still a little confused about what keywords to use or what kind of content you should be releasing, look at your competitors. Growth hacking involves competitor research. You need to be able to determine and study what works for other people and apply those successful lessons on your own videos.

YouTube has turned into one of the most potent video delivery mediums in the world. It’s come to the point that if you want your videos to do well, they have to be on the YouTube platform, too.

Now, this doesn’t mean that Facebook or LinkedIn don’t offer great content as well, but YouTube already has an established base, and its database has become a powerhouse search engine on its own.

To this date, if anyone were to think of online videos, we will always think of YouTube first. Just like it’s parent company Google, it’s become part of our vocabulary where we “YouTube tutorials of…” when we don’t know how to do something.

But, here’s the catch.

It’s a competitive world, and you can’t win with great content alone. You don’t just need to optimize to come up on top; you need to be able to monitor and adapt to changes, too.

Remember: Improvise. Adapt. Overcome?

On YouTube, it’s Optimize. Adapt. Overcome.

Read More: 5 Free Keyword Research Tools

5 Free Keyword Research Tools That Squash Keyword Planner

Good keyword research = excellent visibility.

There’s no other way to put it.

The fundamentals of search engine optimization and digital marketing rely on useful keyword research. And, even if you’re on a tight budget, there are a lot of options that are so much better than Google Keyword Planner.

In this guide, we take a look at the top five free keyword research tools that you can start using today.

Table of Contents

Keyword Research: A Brief Overview

The Problem With Keyword Planner

Candidate 1: Keyword Surfer

Candidate 2: Google Trends + Google Search Console

Candidate 3: Wordtracker

Candidate 4: Answer The Public

Candidate 5: Ubersuggest – app.neilpatel.com

Takeaways

Keyword Research: A Brief Overview

There are 3.5 billion searches done daily, and they all start with a search for a specific phrase or keyword. It’s by aligning your web properties around these terms that you can get good SEO and brand visibility.

Keyword research starts with a seed term, the general search term that your customers will use to look for your content, product, or brand.

From this seed keyword, you can derive various secondary keywords that are related to it.

There are a lot of tools that can help you pull alternate and related keywords.

Once you find out what keywords you’ll want to be aiming for, the next step is checking for volume. You won’t be able to rank for every single keyword, so it’s only logical to prioritize a few of them.

But that’s not all.

There are other metrics, too, such as CPC and other details dependent on the tool that you’re using.

This helps you determine what keywords you want to focus on to take your business to the next level.

We used to be able to do all of this with Google Keywords Planner until…

The Problem With Keyword Planner

Back in the day, Google Keyword Planner was the bomb when it came to checking out what keywords to start taking advantage of.

A growth hacker could quickly type in a keyword, get suggestions via “Keyword Ideas,” determine competition, and they would give you the exact number of average monthly searches.

However, this all changed.

Now Google Keyword Planner just gives you a ballpark figure. And, to make matters worse, the ranges they give you won’t provide any insight if you’ve got two keywords within the same scale.

Let’s say you’re torn between prioritizing keyword A and keyword B.

Keyword A has 80,000 searches, and Keyword B has 11,000 searches a month. There’s a high chance Keyword Planner is just going to display both with a search volume of “10K-100K”.

You could run the risk of putting all your resources into creating content for Keyword B when you could have been taking advantage of Keyword A.

A bad proposition for any growth hacker.

They say Google did this because they found out people were using the tool to align their organic rankings instead of what it was built for- planning ads.

Candidate 1: Keyword Surfer

One of the handiest keyword research tools available today is Keyword Surfer.

Why?

Keyword Surfer is a free extension that displays search volume as you type your keywords down on Google.

It’s pretty nifty if you want to do keyword research on the search engine itself.

Its settings are tucked away in its extension button, and it has a couple of display panels that integrate quietly into the right-hand pane of the search engine results page (SERP).

This tool is also useful if you’re the type that likes using Google’s autocomplete functionality to find out what Google decides are related keyword

Imagine automatically getting the keyword search volume along with suggested autocomplete keywords.

Once you type in the keyword, you’ll get the number of searches around the world (the number after the globe icon) and how many searches are being made in the country you’ve selected on the extension itself.

Once you scroll down on the SERP, you’ll automatically get a list of similar keywords and their search volume in the country you’ve preselected. You also get a similarity score percentage.

However, people say these numbers aren’t absolutely precise, but they do paint a good picture of search volume for related keywords. It’s also a free way to generate keyword volume compared to purchasing a paid tool.

Keyword Surfer comes with graphs to show a marketer how backlinks have been structured towards the keywords that you are using. It details how many quality backlinks have been built.

The second graph gives you a visual note of the estimated traffic.

These two visualizations are not absolutely essential for keyword research, but it is a great tool to have if you want to determine if your keywords pull enough weight to generate traffic.

We all know this.

In analyses done by search engine optimization experts, backlinks remain to be one of the best ways webmasters have gotten their websites to rank. So having this information readily available helps with the overall SEO effort.

As you scroll down the further, you’ll find the last pane to the right with related searches that correspond to your keyword. These associated searches form the secondary keywords that you can work with to generate content.

They come with their respective search volumes as well, so you know which keyword you should be prioritizing.

We like the Keyword Surfer extension because it adds keyword research functionality in our Google searches, it remains to be one of the few feature-rich extensions available today, and it’s free.

Sadly, there is no option to download the data you get from Keyword Surfer, and the number of similar and related keywords are limited. However, if you do want to expand your list, you can always rerun the searches.

Another issue is that there is no bulk tool for you to analyze keywords.

This isn't necessarily an extension but more of a built-in tool.

Pros:

Embedded into your browser for quick keyword searches

Shows keyword volume

Switch out geographical focus easily

Unlock more features using the paid option

Graphs to show “some” backlink analysis

Cons:

Limited keyword research features

No bulk export, import, or research functions.

Great for on the spot searches

Candidate 2: Google Trends + Google Search Console

If you’re looking for a more “Google” approach to handling keyword research, then you can use Google Search Console and Google Trends to do your keyword research. You don’t exactly have to use them in conjunction with each other, but they make for a pretty potent powerhouse duo.

  1. a) Google Trends

One of the best-kept secrets of the content marketing world is Google Trends. What the Google service does is to identify current trends and display interest on a particular topic over a given time.

Here’s why it matters.

90.46 percent of all searches are done on Google, and if you want to produce content that matters, it’s best that you consult actual company data on what’s trending to find out what interests people. Google Trends tells you exactly how much interest people have over a particular keyword.

Another great thing about it is that you can bind it to a specific timeframe, geographical locale, and it hosts other features that you can explore to come up with keywords and look for content topics.

It has an inbuilt explore feature that you can access by hitting the submenu on the upper left side. This will bring you to a clean, intuitive interface where you can type in your query.

As you’ll see, it will immediately give you suggestions on the keyword that you are trying to explore. It might not be much, but it will provide you with a quick picture of what Google is relating your keyword to.

We usually pick out the keyword as a search term, but you can also check to explore the search as a topic, for instance.

There are options for you to filter your search, depending on the geographical locale that you are trying to target. There’s also an option for you to limit the search to a specific time period, ranging from the last hour to custom parameters.

There are categories to choose from, and there’s an option to pick what Google platform you want to base the search on, e.g., YouTube, Image Search, etc.

The graph shows the popularity of the keyword. On the Y-axis, you’ll find the 0-100 range with 100 representing the peak popularity of the search term.

The issue with this graph is that it does not give you the search volume of the keyword, but it does show its popularity.

But, the best part is its compare feature.

It might not be able to show you the actual volumes, but it can help give you an idea of two different keywords. If you want to compare two competing keywords, it can give you a good idea of how one has been trending over the other.

Of course, it makes sense to pick one that’s ranking or trending higher than the other.

An example is if you want to compare the buzz between two different products, such as phones that have been released on different years.

If you scroll down, Google provides you a visual of what countries are interested in your product.

Finally, we get to related topics and related queries.

Here’s what.

Related topics give you an idea of what other issues are complementary to your keyword, and related queries can be used as secondary keywords.

This immediately gives you the lowdown of what Google is relating to what you are searching for.

Google Trends is excellent if you’re looking for what Google considers trends that are related to each other. It’s great for content marketers who need a quick idea of what they should be focusing their efforts on.

You can download this data on spreadsheet form, so it’s easily integrated with the rest of your keyword research.

This is useful for growth hackers who are reliant on spreadsheets to organize their data – it also helps with keyword grouping.

A lot of marketers used to use a similar service called Google Correlate to find related keywords, but it’s shutting down on December 15, 2019, because not a lot of people are using it.

  1. b) Google Search Console

Google Search Console is another great tool to use because it also harnesses the company’s data on keywords that are being searched for. As long as you have a website, you probably already have access to Google Search Console.

It’s got an intuitive interface, and it provides data a ton of data. You get everything from average click-through rates (CTR), impressions, total clicks, and average position.

That’s not all.

People have praised its performance report, which gives you a visual representation of what is being searched along with pertinent details that aid you in forming an opinion on a keyword.

It has one flaw.

You can only check out the keywords you’re ranking for, but this is a good thing.

Growth marketers can now capitalize on the keywords they are already ranking for and use it as a guide to finding more keywords.

Go to the menu of Google Search Console and click on “Performance.” Here you’ll find your total number of clicks, impressions, average CTR, and the average position of your keywords.

You’ll find that visualized performance report here where you can track “Total Clicks” and “Total Impressions.” It gives you your website performance at a glance.

As usual, you’ll get the option to adjust the timeframe that you’re looking at, making it helpful at isolating specific periods.

That’s great if you want to check out marketing campaigns and the like. (Remember that you can use Google Search Console with Google Analytics to pack a more powerful punch.)

Now, we get to the juicy part of Google Search Console, which is where you can see what you’re ranking for.

If you click on queries, you’ll get a downloadable list of keywords that you are already ranking for, plus their clicks and their numbers of impressions.

This data paints a good picture of how a keyword is faring. Say you have a lot of impressions but only get a few clicks, its probably excellent time for you to switch out what details you’re displaying on Google Search, i.e., your title tags and meta descriptions.

It makes your pages more “clickable.”

By analyzing this data, you can start working on getting related keywords using what you’re already ranking for. This is helpful if you’re working to make the most of your current rankings.

Use Google Search Console to check out what keywords you’re already ranking for and then work on expanding those keywords using Google Trends.

You’ll find that you have a powerhouse combination than using their sibling Google Keyword Planner.

Pros:

Great for exploring keywords

Harnesses Google’s data

Good visual representation of data

Feature-rich

Cons:

Hard to determine real keyword volume

The reliance on two tools makes things confusing

Google’s Search Console is not precisely designed for keyword research

Candidate 3: Wordtracker

Getting keyword volume is essential to prioritize your optimization and content. However, it’s almost always available only to paid tools or those that require you to sign up before you can use essential functions.

If you want to do an initial keyword search with all the bells and whistles of a paid tool, you can always opt for Wordtracker.

Wordtracker is a keyword research tool that offers you 12 free keyword tool searches without you having to sign up.

If you need a couple more free searches, they offer a 7-day free trial that you can always cancel once you’re done doing what you’re doing. The free version gives you 50 free keywords right off the bat.

Word tracker allows you to use your seed keyword to build similar and related keywords. You can use the tool to create lists for Google, Amazon, YouTube, or eBay, four of the highly sought-after markets.

Once you pick out what you need, you can then pick the geographical locale you want to do research for.

There are also options to include or exclude specific keywords from the analysis so that you can focus on your particular search.

The actionable way to use this feature is to grab all the keywords that you already have data for and throw them into the exclude list so that you can generate a new keyword list.

However, this will require a paid subscription since it’ll use more keywords.

There are filters which you can set to limit the results, a lot of SEO specialists opt not to include keywords with no search volume.

However, there is still some benefit to add them for keyword density purposes or to use as synonyms when you don’t want to overload content with the same keyword.

And, there’s more.

The competition field shows data about organic competitions, and IAAT stands for “in anchor and title.” The latter is useful to determine if other SEOs are using the keyword as part of their on-page optimization strategy.

It even comes with little graphs to show keyword volume searches over a 12-month period.

To save keyword lists, one will need to get a subscription with them. This proves to be a useful tool for non-intensive keyword research with all the features.

Pros:

Full feature set like other keyword tools

Keyword suggestions at bulk

Keyword volumes and other statistics displayed

Cons:

You need to pay to unlock the useful features

A limited number of keywords

Candidate 4: Answer The Public

Looking to generate longtail and related keywords?

Answer The Public is a tool that generates keywords with other modifiers appended to your keywords.

Longtail keywords are a powerful way to rank for specific phrases that users are looking for. The reason that growth hackers like them are due to the fact that there is less competition for more specific topics.

Take, for example, generic searches such as “iPhone” and “iPhone 11 256 GB Space Gray”, you know from the onset that more people will be searching for the former because it is broader in nature.

Specific keywords can give any marketer leverage in saturated markets, especially for popular broad form keywords.

The interface is relatively simple to use, input the keywords you want to generate long-tail keywords for, and it presents its results in visual form.

You can turn the visuals off and just have the results in the list form.

If you want to crunch the data, you can even download the results into CSV form so that you can start sifting, sorting, and grouping them for your search engine optimization needs.

We like Answer The People because it saves a growth hacker time messing around with Google’s autocomplete feature and generates a seed list of various keywords.

But, as always, there’s a catch to all of this.

The keywords might not always be related to the topic, but it’s faster to use the tool than instead of inputting terms manually. It might also be utilizing some of Google’s tools when generating data.

The most significant advantage and disadvantage of this tool are that it just its job a little too well. It’s absolutely perfect for generating permutations of searches for a keyword, but that’s all it does.

It does not provide anything else apart from that.

Pros:

Absolutely free to use

Useful for exploring keywords

A lot of keywords

Cons:

It has to be used with another tool to determine keyword volumes

The feature set is concentrated on displaying keyword suggestions based on autocompletes

We don’t know if it relies on Google’s data or not

Candidate 5: Ubersuggest – app.neilpatel.com

A powerful all-in-one SEO tool that’s been making waves is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. It was already a free keyword research tool before it was acquired in 2017, but since its acquisition, it's gotten a lot of upgrades to make it even more powerful.

The platform is robust enough to do both keyword research and some SEO work. If you don’t mind seeing the legendary guru come up with tips in the tool, then it’s a great alternative to paid tools.

You start by inputting the keyword that you want more information on, then picking out what country and language you wish to bind that search too.

It will automatically draw out the search volume of the keyword, it’s perceived SEO, and paid campaign difficulty, and they also stuck in the Cost Per Click (CPC).

The CPC rate is an excellent addition because it also helps you understand how people (and Google) value the keyword you’re trying to rank for.

You’ll notice that keywords related to high revenue niches will cost more to rank for. Higher CPC rates are also indicative of keywords that are competitive – since Google requires you to pay a premium to gets for that keyword.

As you scroll down, you’ll find a visual representation of the volume of the keyword you’ve been analyzing over time.

They’ll give you almost a year worth of data, which is enough for a growth marketer to check out the trend.

Right under the graph, you have a list of keyword ideas that you can use alongside your keyword.

They give you an extensive list of metrics such as CPC, paid difficulty, SEO difficulty, and, most importantly, the volume of searches. It even comes with a little graph to visualize trends over time.

If you click “View All Keyword Ideas,” it will expand your list of searches.

You’ll get a longer list of keyword ideas, all organized with the fields mentioned earlier.

It doesn’t just give you keyword suggestions; it also lists down related keywords, questions, keywords suggestions using prepositions, and comparisons with other relevant keywords.

The tool comes with a filter option, but you can only access that when you log in with your Google account.

Sign in, and you can download all these results onto a CSV file.

If you were to click on any of the keywords being displayed, it would show you the top 100 websites ranking for that particular keyword.

It’s also got the estimated visits on the website, the number of inbound links going to the site, the domain score, and even the number of social shares.

You can also throw these into any spreadsheet because it also has an option to export the results to CSV.

The free tools also include an option for you to explore content ideas that are related to your keyword.

Why is this helpful?

A lot of growth hackers know their keywords, but getting fresh content ideas consistently can be an exhausting task.

We like the content tool because it can help you figure out what other marketers are writing about using a particular keyword. This can also lead to additional keywords for you to look at.

It seems as if it extracts this data by looking at the page titles of the articles. There are a lot of ways to filter this data. It’s got estimated visits, backlinks and even gives you a look at social signals from Pinterest and Facebook.

Read More: How to Extract Your Competitors Emails from Facebook

This is one of the most feature-rich free tools that we’ve seen in a long time.

You know this tool means business because instead of getting you to pay for anything to view the other keywords, all they’ll ask you to do is sign in with your Google account.

For growth hackers with limited budgets, this is a great way to stop “accidentally” getting charged by “free trials.”

However, since we are talking about your Google account here, it’s best to check out their privacy policy. When we tried it out, there was an option for it wanting to check out the Google Search Console data for verified sites that you have.

You could use it with a different Google account, though.

Pros:

It’s free, except for additional features where you have to sign up with your Google account

A number of powerful features even without the sign-up

Content ideas tool helps in generating new ideas

Rich feature set for general SEO tasks

Provides a lot of statistics on the research being conducted

Cons:

Binds to Google account (you can deny it the option to do so)

Free Keyword Research Tools Takeaways

There is no universal tool for everyone to get the same powerful keyword research options.

Keyword research is an art as much as it is a science, there are some tools that are favored more than others, and some are based on personal preference.

Another issue is that they’re free.

This might prove to be a problem, as some tools won’t have full functionality unless you pay or sign up. Free tools are usually limited because their developers aren't adequately compensated.

But remember this.

Growth hackers don’t just stick to one tool; they usually leverage multiple ones in order to generate the best results.

Keyword research is the foundation for optimizing your rankings online. There is no excuse for you not to give it all you’ve got. Use everything in the arsenal and develop your own creative style of keyword research.

It’s one of the best investments that you can ever make. Go ahead and use one of our free keyword research tools today!

Read More: Hacks to Grow Your Online Marketplace