Module 07 – Software Pt1
In this module, and again, I’ll split this one up, because there’s quite a bit to get through in terms of software … as you can see, my hardware setup in my office is pretty straightforward, but in terms of software, there’s a lot of software that I use within my business, and I wanted to try and get through all of it. And rather than babble on for 30 minutes within one slide, I’ll split it up into two.
So in this module, I’m gonna take a look at the software that I use within my SEO business. This is software that I use heavily, and this is software that I strongly recommend that you start using within your business.
Okay. Firstly, for just about everything that I do in terms of web builds and SEO, I’m usually always working with WordPress. Every now and then I’ll have a client that’ll come through, and they’ll be using some weird Russian content management system. I usually turn those people away, because I’m really not interested in having to relearn systems, and for the majority of clients that I work with, WordPress is more than sufficient. Every now and then I might get a really big e-commerce site, but for lead gen, I’m working with electricians, plumbers, pest control companies and so forth. WordPress is absolutely fine.
One thing that I do like about WordPress is that it’s pretty flexible. It’s easy to use, the client can get in there, they can make changes, they can keep it updated. I don’t need to have a team of developers. I can have one guy that works right across the board for all of my client’s sites, who can make simple changes, design changes and customise plug-ins and so forth. Outside of that, WordPress … straight out of the box, it’s easy, it works with a plug-in like Yoast for SEO. It’s an absolute no-brainer. If you’re not using WordPress, and I’d be quite surprised for anyone that isn’t, then I’d strongly suggest that you start using it, because it just saves an enormous amount of time, especially in terms of web design and SEO.
Okay. Next piece of software, and I use this tool a lot. I use this piece of software just about everyday. It’s called Ahrefs. Chances are, you may have heard of it. If you haven’t, definitely check it out. Of course, most of the software that I’m about to show you comes at a cost. Initially, you know … again, I don’t know where you are in your business, if you’re just starting, if you’ve got the funds to cover the cost of this software, but at some point you’re gonna have to sign up and start paying for these tools. But typically, you get one or two clients you’ll be fine. You can use their money to pay for them, and once you’re up and established, that won’t be a problem. I think I pay about 70 bucks a month to use this tool, and again, this is an absolute must.
Ahrefs is a tool that I use to assess link profiles. It helps me prepare disavows for toxic links, I can see unnatural linking patterns. This tool is strictly used for off page purposes. They do have a couple of other built-in tools that do other things, but I typically use Ahrefs to monitor links and so forth. SEMrush is another tool that I use quite a lot. In fact, I may actually use this tool a bit more than Ahrefs, and I use it mostly for reverse engineering.
A lot of what I do within my own business is built around reverse engineering, and by the end of this training course, you’ll be able to understand why. But the simple fact of the matter is I wanna try and eliminate guesswork, and I want to be able to hit the ground running in terms of what I need to do when I sign up a new client and commence a new SEO campaign.
SEMrush is really good for reverse engineering competing sites, and it’s one of the questions that I ask as part of my onboarding process. I ask the client who their competitors are, and let’s face it, most business owners know who their main competitors are. In fact, when I pre-qualify the client, they usually always say, “It doesn’t matter what I type in within Google, these guys keep popping up.”
So by using this tool, I can actually reverse engineer competitors and look at things like the way in which they’ve structured their site. I can look at their site structure, I can look at the content they’ve created. I can look at terms that their site’s performing for, and I can also see search value around those terms, so they might have a handful of terms that are bringing in 90% of their organic search traffic.
So having those insights is really valuable, because it helps build put together a plan or a structure that will help you move forward much, much quicker than just sitting around, rather than just sitting around with a blank whiteboard thinking, “Where the fuck do we start?” So SEMrush is a tool that I use almost everyday, if not everyday.
Okay, so Screaming Frog. This may or may not be a tool that you’ve heard of. It certainly has an unusual name, but this is a tool that’s been around for quite some time now, and I use this tool for on page optimization. It’s essentially a piece of software that crawls any given website. This tool, unlike the other two that I’ve just shown you which are web-based tools where you log in on the web, this is one that you download and install locally to your local machine, then you can just fire it up.
You can enter in a URL, and you can pretty much look at any on page element when it comes to on page.
So you can check title tags, you can check meta description tags, you can look for missing meta description tags … anything that’s more to do with on page. Ahrefs is a tool that you use for off page, and Screaming Frog is definitely a tool that you use for on page. This is definitely the go-to tool for doing this. Whenever I finish working on a client’s site, I usually always scan it with Screaming Frog, just to make sure I haven’t missed anything or made any silly mistakes. And also, I use this tool a lot for reverse engineering, so I can push competitors’ sites through this tool and I can look at site structure and things like that. I use this tool a lot for doing that, just like I do in conjunction with SEMrush.
This isn’t a cheap tool, though. I think the last time I bought a used licence for this is about 179 pounds, which I think is about 300 dollars Australian. Certainly not cheap, but again, if you’re providing a quality service, you shouldn’t be selling $500 websites. So $300 should not be a problem.
Okay, I use Xero for all of my accounting stuff, sending out invoices. This all ties into the financial side. This is more the business side of running my SEO business. This certainly is not a part of my business that I enjoy, but it matters. I’ve got a Xero account set up, too, that is tied in … or is integrated, rather, with my bank where I do my actual banking, so when a customer … this thing spits out invoices monthly, sends them over to the clients, the clients pay their invoice and it goes straight into my bank account.
I don’t use any sort of weird payment methods. I’m certainly not doing anything fancy. I strongly recommend, depending upon where you are in the world. For me, personally, my preference is internet banking for payments. I don’t have a merchant account set up. Here in Australia, getting a merchant account is just a nuisance, so I’ve just stuck with sending invoices out through Xero, clients make payment and the money goes straight into my bank account. But for handling all of that, I use Xero. I think it costs me about 50 bucks a month, so it’s not much at all.
Okay, Asana. This is a tool that I use for campaign or project management. It’s a project management software. I’m using the free option over at Asana, where I think you can have up to about 15 staff or something, and once you grow outside of that, you’ve gotta start paying.
For what I’ve done, I’ve done half a million dollars’ worth of revenue last financial year, and I’m using a free tool to manage all of my campaigns. Seems like a good deal to me. I’m not sure if there’s a cap on the campaigns you can have running. This is a tool that is built in a generic sense. It’s not built specifically for SEO, but it’s certainly one that I’ve been able to use to manage all of my campaigns. You can check it out over at Asana.com.
Okay, here’s another tool that I just started using recently and was … a friend of mine, who also runs an SEO business … actually a coaching client that worked with me about four years ago, and he threw this in my face and he said, “John, you’ve gotta check out Slack. It’s great. It’ll move everything outside of e-mail.” As we all know, you get 15, 20 clients and they send you two or three e-mails a day, you can lose information big time. It just gets buried in e-mail.
I try and keep on top of my e-mails and sort out … I’ve got set folders and everything else so I can try and keep on top of it, but information can get lost big time within e-mail, so interaction especially … well, at the moment I have to say I’m only using Slack for my staff to interact here, rather than via e-mail, though all of my client stuff still comes through e-mail.
But where I can, I leverage slack to try and take some of the load off of e-mail for the simple fact that stuff gets lost in e-mail, and it can lead to a really uncomfortable conversation if you’re on an end-of-month strategy call with a client. They say, “Oh. John, where’s this? I thought we were gonna do that this month.” You say, “Shit, sorry. I forgot about that. I must’ve missed it in my e-mail somewhere.” So take a look at Slack. I guess you could probably give your clients access to this, just for communications. That’s where this tool’s really good. It’s good for just quick messages.
I mean, let’s face it, who wants an e-mail where there’s two lines of text? I used to push a lot of messaging like that through Skype, but trying to find stuff in Skype is just impossible. At least within Slack, you can have a staff member ask you a question or you can give instructions via Slack, and it’s all there and it’s easy to find. Yes, you can do this within Asana, but again, if I set a task for a staff member within Asana, I don’t want that task to get clogged up with general chit chat.
So I try to keep all of the general chit chat over here in Slack, and Asana’s purely for work-related messages and so forth. And then outside of that, I’m still using e-mail, but Slack I’ve found is a bit of a weird tool when you’re first using it. But once you start using it, this thing comes alive, once you start getting people in there and start interacting.
Again, be careful. You don’t want this thing to become a distraction. As I said, I use it for general chit chat and quick messages, but it certainly does help take a lot of the load off of e-mail. Okay, Serpbook. This is a tool that I use to track rankings. It’s a keyword performance tool, and this is web-based. I think I’m on the … I’m not sure which plan I’m on now, but the plans vary depending upon how many keywords you want to monitor.
Look, over the years, I’ve tried just about every keyword ranking tool there is in the market, and this is by far the best, and by far the best one for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s simple. There’s so many tools out there. Majestic is another one of them, and Ahrefs is starting to go in this direction as well. They start implementing all of these additional features, and in the end they just become clogged up with too much noise.
One thing I like a lot about Serpbook is it just does one thing and it does it well. You come in here, you enter in your URL, you’re entering the keywords, it runs a scan and it tells you where you are in Google for those terms. That’s it. And of course, you can see historical data, so you can see how the keywords are trending. You can see movement over one day, 30 days within the lifespan of the actual campaign itself. You get to see the monthly searches on the right hand side there. It’s just simple, and it works. And it’s clean. This is a tool that I use when I send over keyword performance reports to my clients during end of month. So definitely check this one out, serpbook.com.
Okay, last slide for this module, but Microsoft Office. It goes without saying. I’m constantly using Office products. PowerPoint, of course, for all of my slides and so forth. I don’t use Office for e-mail, but certainly I use Office heavily within Word, and for my Excel spreadsheets. I use Word a lot for content, because I’ve got two content writers that handle all of my content of course.
All of that stuff is processed using Microsoft word within Asana when they’re uploading files and so forth, and a lot of the off page stuff that I do I’m using Excel, Microsoft Excel for my spreadsheets through reverse engineering exporting data Ahrefs and SEMrush and so forth. So Microsoft Office, if you don’t … I think I pay about 12 dollars a month or something for that. It’s not even something worth thinking about. If you don’t wanna use Microsoft Office, I think Open Office might be a good alternative.