Update: University IT was able to ensure all students can use a Chrome Extension on all machines… I am moving forward with Keywords Everywhere.
Spring 2021 I will be teaching Digital Marketing for the 4th spring in a row. I’m rewriting the course to meet the virtual learning requirements set by the university. This is a great opportunity to improve the course.
One significant change I’m making is to place a greater emphasis on Search Engine Optimization (SEO.) We covered it before. Now SEO is the centerpiece of the final project.
Below is my journey to compare SEO tools. Matching tools with student’s needs, experience, and time constraints. During my comparison, I noticed differences in how my top choices were offering evaluations of their tools. Here are my short impressions:
Keywords Everywhere - Used to have a free tier (they offer a free tool now but don’t provide KW metrics.) Now $10 will unlock the full version. More than enough “credits” to understand the power and value. Low friction; low barrier.
I’ve found success using Keywords Everywhere in the past. This is the best tool to complement my curriculum. I recognize KWE is not a complete tool, lacking backlinks and intelligence - but I am balancing time, learning goals, and objectives.
Unfortunately, the chrome extension poses a challenge for University IT and further testing is required.
Ahrefs, my preferred and goto SEO tool. Ahrefs offers a 7-day, $7-trial. This is a clever way to give an all-access pass to test the software.
Free diminishes the value. Conversions require credit cards.
Whoever balks at testing an enterprise-grade tool for a dollar a day is not your target customer anyway.
I’d love to use Ahrefs as the primary learning tool for this course. It would mirror our approach in the MIX Lab to use professional-grade software (Fusion 360). If my course was exclusively SEO, I would use Ahrefs.
Mangools - A solid SEO tool niched for SEO beginners.
Their guides are very straightforward and easy to read. Their tools are simple without unnecessary options for the beginning practitioner.
What I find as curious is their evaluation model. 10 days free with many plugs to “buy now” to lock in a lifetime discount.
Mangools must be experiencing a problem with long term retention. Beginning SEO users leave to level up to pro-grade tools - must be a lot of churn?
The more curious part of the free evaluation is you only get 25 keywords in your search results + I was throttled for overuse after 5 clicks. It was challenging to use. And challenging to compare results to Ahrefs.
I understand Mangools is trying to prevent users from signing up for free - doing their keyword research and never coming back. Or worse, coming back with another email address.
But this approach creates friction in all directions. Unnecessary multiple steps, frustration for the end-user, and poor evaluation of the tools. They might find inspiration in how their competitors are managing evaluation challenges.
I’d like to use Mangools as the SEO tool for the course - and still might. Perhaps I need to pay for a month of premium to complete my evaluation.