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The primary difference is that Long Tail Pro is a big time saver over MS. With Long Tail Pro you are able to enter in multiple seed keywords at once (rather than just 1 with MS). So, instead of entering in 1 seed keyword, waiting five minutes, then going back and entering in one more; you can enter 5 seed keywords (for example), hit generate and then see all the keyword ideas at once!
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I use Ahrefs to find ideas for keywords to add into content, and content to create around keyword opportunities. I like how Ahrefs shows keyword difficulty, search volume, traffic potential (how much organic search traffic it’s possible to get when you rank #1 for a parent topic keyword) and lets you group keywords together to create lists. It’s really useful.
Great article again. I was just thinking why can’t I find an article of yours on keyword research and then boom here it is. Thanks again. On another subject are your articles on link building still relevant ?. As I have been guilty of as Brian Deane calls it the publish and pray method. I would really like to know what is method of choice for link building. Thanks again Ian.
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.
Once I have a list of phrases, rankings, and volumes from these tools, I'll look to internal tools (maybe Excel, Access, or another database) to organize, classify, and forecast opportunity. This is where I'll estimate a competitor's traffic based on volume & position CTR, set goals for a target position, and estimate traffic based off that position's CTR and keyword volume.

I was paid approximately 2/3 of the funds upfront and will receive about 1/3 over the next 2 years.  It's now been almost 7 months since we closed the deal, and I've received the first couple of seller financing payments for that final 1/3 on time and am very confident that will continue for the next year and a half until I'm fully paid that final portion.