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Too Many Seo Tools

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#1 cre8pc


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Posted 21 August 2016 - 10:22 AM

MOZ is not the only company that has let go of staff.  I know of 2 others who are not in the news but are in the SEO Tools space. 


Over the years I've been in debates with SEO's about their tools who tell me the data is the end goal.  The data has the story. The tool is the detective that hunts for clues and the software gathers up the clues and spits out a report containing the stats.  From that, an SEO delivers the mystery novel to their client.  This is all the tool can do.


There are a lot of SEO tools out there.  I just found another one yesterday that advertised in Facebook.  It's headline.."Submit your site to search engines and directories, including Google, Bing and ASK.  ASK is now Reference.com and not something you submit to.  And like in the 90's, the list of directories is not provided.  This site has a blog that provides inaccurate information that's poorly written. It has tools for PR scores, keywords, backlinks...nothing that is different from all the countless other SEO tools out there.  


A tool is an assistant.  It doesn't actually fix an issue without additional information such as how, when, why, where to make a change, repair or enhancement.  A clue needs an experienced person to put it into context.


SEO's will take their reports generated by their tool of choice and deliver a handsome report that lists all the issues.  If a company hired the right people, that report will come with recommendations on how to fix the problems.  And this is also where I have debates with SEO's.


They are not trained to make UX/UCD/HumanFactors/Accessiblity/Mobile user interface, standards, guidelines, and functional recommendations. They tell me they are.  Some of the SEO companies who swear they have an UI "expert" on staff are the same companies who make SEO tools that don't pass my tests.  


I know I sound like a broken record and figure everyone is fed up with me.  I was recently asked to provide recommendations for landing page designs for a famous brand that rebuilt a section of their massive site.  I could not do it because of my own personal ethics against sending people to web pages and sites that will not convert.  A landing page has a big enough job as it is.  It's incredible to me that marketers will take money from companies asking for landing pages created to take users to a place inside their website that will bounce them off when they arrive.  It's wrong and I can't do it.  


When I try SEO tools and am confused within 3 seconds, to me, that's an issue but more than that, proves the SEO tool was not tested properly during development, staging and in production. What marketers tell me is they are selling tools and everything is fine.


How can a tool, that does not provide actionable recommendations with specific how-to fix answers, be helpful to companies wanting to increase conversions?  And once the code is fixed, do they re-test? How do they know what users are thinking and experiencing?  Who are the customers that didn't convert and WHY? What environment are they when they use the tool? (Not the sales funnel.) What is being done to save the bounced user?  


Last I checked, Google Analytics didn't record screens or have audio for user feedback.  I do.

Edited by cre8pc, 21 August 2016 - 10:39 AM.




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Posted 21 August 2016 - 12:11 PM

People in the SEO space are addicted to tools.  They don't want to work.  They don't want to think.  The just want to use a tool that will barf out the answers and make them buckets of money.


To meet this need an army of tool makers has emerged.  Some of them are programmers who think they can code a tool.   Some of them are SEO wannabes who hire cheap programmers.   Some are marketers who hire cheap programmers and cheap SEO wannabes.   Occasionally the stars align and you have a good SEO who can put together good programming, good marketing, make a nice tool that people appreciate.  Then, while keeping their face in front of their audience some of them kinda move into inventing some kinda rocketfuel and allow their original masterpiece to fall out of relevance.   Search changes, website-making evolves, visitors want different things, and the client's needs fall from focus.   


I think that the best tools are the ones that collect and provide raw data.  I don't want a programmer or a marketer or an SEO wannabe looking at my data and giving me recommendations.  I want to filter the data through my own brain, make my own interpretation and place my own bets.  Why?  I got my own methods and most SEOs are only going to argue with them.  I don't want to argue with a toolmaker.  I want to make my own calls and do that after sometimes getting an interpretation or a second opinion from a trusted person who knows my sites and my philosophy well.   


If you are getting your answers from tools your results are going to be average - at best.  Mark my word.     

#3 iamlost


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Posted 21 August 2016 - 01:33 PM

I was fascinated on the Moz decision - basically they have decided that even they can't make the SEOs who worship at their tools' feet take up anything but ye olde standard SEO crap that stopped working well a decade ago. So, to please/retain their audience/market segment they have been writing convoluted reasons why ye olde standard tools are still relevant.

Not that their 'new' tools, now being dropped, were anything special - but - they were a step in a new direction. Apparently even the Google kool-aid Moz fanbois  believe in going down with last decades ship.

Basically, the vast majority of extant SEO focussed tools absolutely do not work as originally intended and most don't do much if anything actionable at all. Even the link builder focussed companies are having a hard sell - primarily because the rates for what works have gone up so much most webdevs can't afford them.

I'd feel sympathy if both the tool makers and the tool addicts hadn't been told and been told and been told.

The black humour in other fora as members whine instead of adapting is exaserbated by the fact that the vast majority simply are unable to comprehend WHY they need to to change. They may be nice folks but they surely are incompetent ignorant idjits.

I'll say it - once again: One decides what one needs to accomplish and then determines what one needs to do and then FINALLY one picks the tools that will aid that need. Tools serve a purpose, they are NEVER the purpose.

And a corollary: unless one knows, ahead of time, how to analyse, synthesise, and otherwise manipulate the output of the tool(s) being used to accomplish a predetermined required action in support of a known goal one shouldn't even start. If not one is simply viewing everything as a nail because one happens to be holding a hammer... one is a typical SEO/webdev hammering at everything while building nothing.

#4 glyn


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Posted 21 August 2016 - 01:47 PM

I bulid my tools with ubot studio pretty much as described by iamlost. Oh the fun i used to have :)

#5 earlpearl


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Posted 21 August 2016 - 02:30 PM

As to tools applicable to local seo:   There are a lot of them.  I tend not to use them.  I agree with EGOL and Iamlost above.  Generally the tools that are available don't tell me or help me with sales.  That is always where I need help.


Now I know some of the tool builders on the local side.  I simply haven't criticized the tools.  I don't want to do that.  The buyers of the tools are mostly local seo's.  They want to show their clients "something". 


I also know a lot of small business owners.  Wide variety; very very small to pretty damn large and with ample revenues and resources.  A few of the larger one's have devoted significant resources (often in house) to get great web visibility and presentation.   Very strong and impressive.  Of the ones I know...none of them have told me how well they are doing with the great visibility.  (hey its their money---they don't need to tell me).   But they put in the resources and efforts to generate revenues.  Maybe the also use seo tools.  I could see where some would be helpful as monitoring devices and tools that could show where sites are weak or not.


But I do know in those cases their goals are to increase revenues and profits....not to have tools for the purpose of tools.


Also I know a lot of smb's that are either too small or simply too disconnected to the web to have any freaking idea what to do and whom to trust.      Who knows...possibly many of them could be purchasing worthless tools and/or using local seo's who are giving them information...that doesn't do squat.  But maybe they are getting real help. 


Mostly I agree with EGOL and Iamlost above.  You better know what you are spending your money on...otherwise it all flies out the window.

#6 Doc Sheldon

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 05:23 PM

@Iamlost, your final corollary really says it all, IMO... Tools can be extremely useful in gathering data, but even then, a lot of people chase their own tails because they don't have enough understanding of the nature of the data to be able to comprehend what it's really able to tell them.
For the first three years I worked as an SEO, the ONLY tools I would use were for harvesting a link profile. Moz, Majestic, Ahref... I used the hell out of them and still use Majestic. But I refused to use tools like ScreamingFrog or SEMRush until I had a good understanding of how to gather that data. Sure, manual was 1000 times slower, but I wanted to know what the tools could really show me. I'd even say that especially applied to GWT, because there's so much knowledge available there that isn't served up on a platter... you have to dig for it.

As a result, now I can do 90% of what I need to do with Majestic, SF, GSC  and Excel. (being a cheap SOB, y'know :P ) I really think that if I hadn't learned not to depend on tools from the beginning, I'd be behind the 8-ball now. 

@Kim - I've never looked for ANY tool to make recommendations... in fact, those that do, I almost universally distrust. Case in point: backlink classification as good/toxic... nope! All I want a tool to do is to efficiently gather the data I need, so I can come to my own conclusions.

#7 Black_Knight


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Posted 21 August 2016 - 05:53 PM

This discussion has rather become on of sweeping generalisations through trying too hard to cover everything wrong with anything one can give the hashtag #seotools to. :)


The thing of UI in tools is a valid topic, and has absolutely not one single thing to do with the issues at Moz, nor the usefulness or otherwise of automated data-collection and delivery.  Trying to mix three fascinating but entirely separate discussions into one just creates a garbled mess.


UI is, like almost everything that involves the tastes and preferences of its users, highly subjective.  A UI that is perfect for older users with poor eyesight and a set of tastes formed in the 70s almost invariably is rejected by users who are young and outright looking for something that doesn't look, to them, like one of those telephones with ridiculously gigantic buttons for people with myopia, arthritis, and shaky hands all at once. :)  Things that my kids rave about often leave me absolutely scratching my head as to how they can possibly even tolerate it, and vice versa.  Great UI experts are a lot like great market researchers of other types - they are trained simply in how to observe and devise tests, and then they monitor people of the correct demographic perform those tests, and conduct interviews.  Their truest skill is in the way they eliminate all of their own tastes, biases, and preconceptions from the data.  It is a rare skill indeed.


Tools covers a lot of ground.  Wordpress is largely a 'tool' for easily managing content as it is created.  It is an exceptionally popular and widespread tool.  In turn, wordpress extensions are largely additional tools to tweak the engine in (sometimes) useful ways, and add all sorts of additional functionality to the 'output' (or input) of the Wordpress tool.  Google Analytics is a tool, and might be even more widely adopted than Wordpress.  Of those so far, only analytics is fitting the description of outputting data for a report.  In the specifics of third-party SEO tools, not all only spit out data that is akin to analytics.  There are tools that can scrape the content from other sites, at scale, and with a high degree of configurable accuracy.  Those scrapers are not always for nefarious or questionable uses - they can be used to take a huge old static site and populate a new database-driven dynamic version, for instance.  They can be used in real-time to perform comparisons of specific information from sites that don't provide easy APIs for their data.


Moz, meanwhile is a story about finance.  A story of a company that took $30m in investment (over multiple rounds) and has currently spent almost all of it, and is running at a loss.  The 'official statement' about a pivot, about "doubling down on search" is merely a rather poor attempt to put positive spin on the fact that they have investors breathing hard down their necks, and have to cut 28% of their workforce in one fell swoop just to have any chance to survive.  Moz never, ever stopped focusing on SEO.  It added some social media tools only at a time when many misguided SEOs were posting article after article about how social signals were ranking factors.  Many of those misguided SEOs posted those articles on Moz.  The only other tool not entirely and obviously SEO based was their content tool ... um ... because we all know that Content Marketing has nothing to do with SEO ... Yeah, right.


My greatest disappointment with Moz was always that it failed to ever deliver on the rebrand - it never did broaden its horizons beyond pretty basic SEO metrics and viewpoints into the broader marketing and usability factors its members so desperately needed.  Only a few factions of the community managed this broadened conversation, via articles.  Choices over direction or breadth of cover are not what has caused the issue.  Its simply one of taking investment, which is supposed to be giving back a tenfold ($300million) or better return to its investors right about, um, now, on the old 5 year exit strategy investors love, and instead of that is running at a loss, with almost all of the investment spent and gone.

#8 cre8pc


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Posted 21 August 2016 - 06:42 PM

Ammon wrote: 

UI is, like almost everything that involves the tastes and preferences of its users, highly subjective


User interface design is expected to be more in my personal experience.  The design is "what the boss wants".  With some education, that has graduated to "what our customers want" and then they fall off the cliff because nobody bothers to find out exactly what that is.  I face this every single time I'm hired. And if they manage to figure what their customers want, they don't have the experienced programmers and designers to build it.  If they manage to hire the right programmers and designers then they need to perform testing and then they fall off the cliff again.


I do user testing. It's not free.  Participants are not free. Nor is the software or equipment. Participants are often not the intended end users so the information is bland but provides clues about what will interfere with conversions.  Split testing too.  Clues.  Not a one size fits all methodology that everyone should follow.


I have tested and do continue to test SEO tools. I won't talk about something I have no experience with.  Recent testing of one failed my functional, UI, mobile and IA.  I was able to break it. That I could do that, while it is being promoted as being ready, is the same behavior that has existed since I experienced it for the first time in 2000 for the company I was with.  They sold software before testing it and didn't survive past 3 years.


Their truest skill is in the way they eliminate all of their own tastes, biases, and preconceptions from the data.



I can't even relate to this.  Test methodology and metrics are requirements based, traced to requirements, and assigned metrics.  Pass/Fail/Needs Improvement. Future enhancement.  I do human behavior research, comb case studies, sweat the details.  It's why when someone asks me if they like their web site, I refuse to answer and wish them a nice day.  


MOZ changed.  I can't comment on them because the community kicked me out years ago.  I'm sorry for their losses, but they are not the only SEO company experiencing it.


Is there something else happening in the industry?

Edited by cre8pc, 21 August 2016 - 06:42 PM.




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Posted 21 August 2016 - 09:51 PM

Is there something else happening in the industry?

Nope. Nuthin.

The winning sauce is all about the website and how it pleases and engages the visitor. It's the bundle of text, images, and presentation - consistently built and consistently delivered.

The tools (other than those that help with presentation and produce the metrics of engagement/delivery) don't have a lot to do with it. They simply produce numbers that SEOs drool, cuss and argue over. They are the decoy away from what is important.

In the end, it is all about how and what the website delivers to the visitor - and how the visitor responds to it. Google is watching the metrics of how the visitor engages the site, how they spread the word about it. Tools deliver a portion of this data but these things are largely off the radar of the SEO.

You probably want an SEO to keep your technical details tidy, but after that hire the best authors and photographers that you can afford and produce a design that presents your content without competing with it.

The battle is for the eyes and mind of the visitor. Tools can give you some information about this, but you need to be watch the engagement and approval that your website produces with visitors of your industry.

Furthermore, tools that monitor how the item-by-item costs of what you are doing balance with the revenue you are producing are needed to gauge the long-term sustainability of your website. A few people realized this before most of the current tools were invented. A few people "get it" post penguin and they are working these numbers in private - not with a tool that anybody is selling. Those who don't "get it" will keep blowing their dough on tools and bad SEO/SEM.

Edited by EGOL, 21 August 2016 - 09:56 PM.

#10 Black_Knight


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Posted 22 August 2016 - 01:40 AM

You probably want an SEO to keep your technical details tidy, but after that hire the best authors and photographers that you can afford and produce a design that presents your content without competing with it.

The battle is for the eyes and mind of the visitor.


There's certainly some truth to that, but, the flipside is that web technologies are still evolving so quickly that the big boys are doing rolling redesigns and upgrades almost constantly, and that certainly keeps a few in-house or external technical SEOs very busy.  Technical SEO hasn't gotten any less technical, and if anything, every day something else to consider is added to the list.  Of course, if you merely want a site to be basically accessible to search engines, that's a whole different thing to 'optimized', and here yes, a bit of technical for accessibility will suffice.


Of course, what you and I and all people worthy of the title of SEO already knew years ago is that the final battle is, was, and always will be for the eyes and minds of the visitors, and most especially, the customers.


The perfect aim of SEO was to only have to appear in the search results for tough terms the first time for each customer, and that after that, that person's search term next time would be for the brand.  We've certainly been saying that here at Cre8asite since we opened in 2002, and Kim will tell you I was saying it a few years earlier in other places. :) 


A couple of years back I was saying that one of the most important metrics most companies (and agencies) are not watching is the brand search, and making sure to increase it YoY.  Many of the most successful sites I've worked on have over 80% of their traffic arrive from brand words, from direct traffic (bookmarks), or from typing the domain into search.  Many find that when it comes to actual sales, that can go up to about 90% from brand and direct.  Those are good, healthy signs.


But 'loyalty' is rather a misnomer.  If we were all inherently 'loyal' customers, then none of us would be buying online for ease, range or low-prices, we'd all still be loyally using the stores locally we used before. ;)  Familiarity and trust are the real key words, rather than loyalty.  Human laziness can also help.

#11 Black_Knight


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Posted 22 August 2016 - 01:53 AM

MOZ changed.  I can't comment on them because the community kicked me out years ago.  I'm sorry for their losses, but they are not the only SEO company experiencing it.


Is there something else happening in the industry?


Yeah, quite a lot of people found the community became rather exclusive and cult-like.  If you didn't entirely buy in to the kool aid you were made pretty unwelcome.  Which of course, robbed them of honest and fair criticism, and made them the poorer for it.  Zealotry is the word that springs to mind.


As for what is happening in the industry, well, in all truth, the fallout from the shifts into semantic search, personalised search, etc is still rippling out.  You know there are firms out there that take years to actually notice that the crap they're trying to sell doesn't work anymore.  A huge proportion of SEOs have never really adapted to the fact that link spamming doesn't work today the way it did back in 2005.  It can still move the needle enough, for a time, that some have persisted with that one single trick, but they are dying a death.


Others have simply not kept up with other changes.  And SEO isn't exactly a field renowned for staying the same for long.  While the core best practices have changed very little, let's face it, most of those companies never did anything with core best practices, only quick tricks. 


Just as some chased the 'green pixie dust' of Toolbar PageRank for years after it was known to be ridiculous, many of those have simply replaced that old first-hand pixie-dust with the new third-party pixie-dust of tools, and chase Domain Authority as if it were a real thing.


You know how it is - SEO is always changing, yet the more it changes, the more it stays the same.  Mostly goldfish sailing around and around in their little bowl, with an attention span just shorter than each lap of the loop. :)

#12 cre8pc


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Posted 22 August 2016 - 09:16 AM


You know there are firms out there that take years to actually notice that the crap they're trying to sell doesn't work anymore. 


They are the ones I refer to as the "smoke and mirrors" SEO companies  :emo_gavel:


It's one of the reasons that education is so important to some of us.  Since the 90's, some of us (Ammon being one of them) were constantly out there battling the rip offs and clueless and those who tried to get rich off of them. 


The bottom line for me is that for our work, both SEO and UX audits/testing/review, it helps to have certain tools to perform the work.  The tools are highly competitive.  There are free and fee ones.  Some expensive.  All have a learning curve. Client needs change. Technology changes very fast. When I see tools that don't provide benefits, competitive value and are confusing to use, I don't recommend them because customer experience is important to me. 


And getting the sale in no way means that the customer will be loyal, renew, or refer.  For companies that just want the first revenue bites, but are not planning on keeping the customer, they are risking the company and their employees.

Edited by cre8pc, 22 August 2016 - 09:16 AM.

#13 earlpearl


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Posted 23 August 2016 - 02:53 PM

A little more on the local side and with tools and analyses:   In SEL there was a recent quick article referencing a survey that stated that small and medium business operators simply don't analyze their data vary well for ROI (return on investment) 


Following that article a discussion by two noted local seo's ensued reviewing the results of a particular local business that is often referenced, their business results over the past several years and then an effort to try and connect web activity and the various data and tools to financial results.


It made me NUTS!!!! :dazed:  :dazed:   I'm a business operator and the seo/web guy/social media guy.   Here is what we want to know.  Are our sales up or down, are our leads up or down, and how is all this web stuff affecting it.  Then...should we put money and resources into certain web "stuff" that can help us make more $$.  That is it.  That is the most critical and helpful information...and really all the other elements of tools and graphs etc...don't do squat for us unless it helps us get more leads (quality leads) and more sales.


In the particular business at hand, purchases are not made on line, there is a web contact form, and specifics, but I would strongly bet that every single purchase of these services/products are done on site and there is a lot of customer/business person to person contact.


In the last 4 years business volume(revenues) have exploded reportedly tripling in that 4 year period.  It is presumed the web "stuff" was what made that occur.  The business operator concurs.


So how can you help this business operator with tools and the reports from tools including tools such as google analytics?  


Frankly, from our experiences and from what I see with other such businesses...to get great ROI or to turn reports from seo's into something useful the operator has to take the web data and buttress it with their own information.   Frankly all the web tools in the world are NOT going to give this operator good information unless they merge their own info with the web data.


But that doesn't stop the SEO and "tool makers" from telling everyone the web tools solve ALL.   


Anyways...stuff like that burns my butt.  Local SEO's show off their reports and ensure the operators that these tools and stuff will help.   It just aint so.

#14 earlpearl


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Posted 23 August 2016 - 04:22 PM

....and a new tool for seo's and agencies to purchase---the latest and greatest


Honestly I don't know anything about it.  I saw in a different discussion that an seo referenced this new tool and in so doing mentioned that the developer is one of the best SEO's of all time  (in his/her opinion)


Might be.  I don't know.  The good news is that its only $29/month.

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