SEMrush is a very useful tool for both researching competitors when starting a site or for growing an established site. I really like to find weaker niche sites that still seem to be ranking for lots of keywords; SEMrush helps me see what they are ranking for and what I can potentially target. You can also see what keywords you’re on the cusp of ranking for with your established site - another very useful feature.
This might be the easiest way to make Long Tail Pro pay for itself. I’m pretty sure that the affiliate program is open to anybody (even if you don’t currently own the product). Simply get signed up and then promote it any way you see fit (within the Terms of Service, of course). If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been doing this for quite awhile via this blog and I’ve earned a healthy sum of money over the years as a result.
In order to know which keywords to target, it's essential to not only understand the demand for a given term or phrase, but also the work required to achieve high rankings. If big brands take the top 10 results and you're just starting out on the web, the uphill battle for rankings can take years of effort. This is why it's essential to understand keyword difficulty.
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Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. Are there search advertisements running along the top and right-hand side of the organic results? Typically, many search ads means a high-value keyword, and multiple search ads above the organic results often means a highly lucrative and directly conversion-prone keyword.
3. Finally, there's just good old research through trends and news. Google Trends, keeping up on industry news of the business, and even newsjacking (if there are relevant topics). These all require different resources depending on the business, but once you find the leaders in their news you can not only leverage them for keyword research but also glean insights into how you can become an industry leader yourself (and dominate SEO).
For the first few months, there was certainly a transition period. However, the new team was able to take over the reigns fairly quickly. A big reason for the quick transition is because I had automated most of the business already. So, the fact that I was stepping away didn't make a huge difference since all the sales, marketing emails, and many other details were already happening on an automated basis.