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Search engine optimization or SEO is needed to achieve the highest rankings in search results. SEO activities can be divided into two groups: on-page and off-page. Both are needed for a successful website. Unfortunately, to manually check what needs to be done or what tricks the competition uses is a very time consuming operation. Therefore, inventive internet marketers have developed sophisticated software tools to automate repetitive tasks and to speed up the analysis. There are many very different tools available, each is specialized for one task. Before you decide for specific tool it is good to know which functionality is mandatory and what modules are really important.
Keyword research is the first step of any SEO. It is extremely difficult if not impossible to optimize a page for keywords that has very strong competition. In fact, the optimization itself is possible but there will be no effect. Therefore, you should target keywords with low competition and high search volume. To find such keywords you need specialized tool that can generate a list of keywords or search phrases related to some market niche and analyze each keyword for parameters needed for keyword selection. The most important parameters are the number of daily or monthly searches, the number of competing pages, the number of advertisers, the cost per click and search trends.
This module has two major functions. You need to evaluate competition for each keyword found with keyword research. Search phrases with strong competition are not worth much and should be discarded. The second function of SEO competition analysis is to discover methods and tricks used by the competition. Using their approach with additional efforts can usually result in higher rankings in search results. SEO competition evaluation is not an easy task. There are many parameters that need to be considered. Therefore it is not possible to calculate some magic number and make a decision on it. The best way is to display relevant parameters for top competing pages in one table and to use some common sense for judgment.
SEO efforts are worthless if you can not monitor progress or show results to the customer. This means that you have to periodically check ranking of optimized pages and associate significant changes with SEO activities. Manual check is out of question. You need a tool that can check page positions for specified keywords. In addition to ranking it makes sense to track the number of backlinks and PageRank. From this information you will be able to see how the SEO efforts were successful over time. Doing SEO without having the possibility to confirm success is a waste of time.