Today we’re featuring all-around-amazing person, Fraser Cain, editor of Universe Today, a hugely popular astronomy blog, and co-founder of one of the best keyword management tools: Keyword Strategy. I hope you’ll find the interview as useful as I did:
1. What brought you to search marketing? And could you please tell our readers a few words about yourself?
I had always been interested in astronomy and journalism, and so I started up Universe Today 12 years ago as a hobby while I was working as a software developer. I quickly realized that I absolutely loved writing and publishing, and I really wanted to figure out a way that I could do it as a full time living.
For the first 9 years it was a constant struggle to bring in new readers. I would write news articles and see a flurry of readers, but then it would die down a few days later. But I would occasionally notice that some articles would go viral, and get slashdotted, etc. And other articles would bring in a lot of search visitors. Once I really started to analyze why some articles were bringing in search visitors, I was able to replicate the process and really grow my traffic.
Over the last 3 years, I went from receiving 3,500 search visitors on a good day to days where my search traffic has gone past 100,000 visitors. And this is with a content-only strategy, so I don’t spend any time linkbuilding. The site now gets over 3 million unique visitors a month, with around 70,000 RSS subscribers.
2. As they say, the best tools we build are the ones we would use ourselves. You’ve been using Keyword Strategy for your own blog “Universe Today” – How would you sum up your promotion strategies and explain its boost? How has Keyword Strategy helped you draw in such huge search traffic?
My promotion strategy is to purely write the content related to my website that my audience is looking for; this content brings in search visitors who I can turn into subscribers.
In other words, when I just wrote news, it was impossible to attract any visitors from the search engines; I had to build fans one-by-one through social methods. But when I started added related content to my site that people were searching for, my traffic grew substantially. For example, we’ve run series on the basics of cosmology, articles about buying telescopes, the constellations, or why Pluto is no longer a planet – interesting topics, but also topics that people are searching for. This method scales up, so the more content you add, the more search visitors you attract.
I’m a keyword pack rat, so Keyword Strategy purely automates the methods I used to keep myself organized. It connects with the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, SEM Rush, and several other tools. It helps me keep track of which keywords I’ve targeted, and which I still need to do. It helps me search through tens of thousands of keywords to find opportunities.
3. Can you give a background info on your keyword management tool, Keyword Strategy? Which features can the users find inside?
Keyword Strategy automates the processes that SEOs go through during their campaigns: keyword discovery, sorting and filtering, site optimization and tracking results.
We have a direct connection with the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, SEM Rush and other keyword databases, so you can discover all the keywords which are appropriate for your site; keyword ideas that might never have occurred to you. You can also extract keywords from your competitors, the keywords people are using to find your site, and the keywords you already have in your site.
The coolest part, in my opinion, is the filtering system. It allows you to put filters into each column to see the keywords that match your criteria. For example, “show me all the keywords with more than 6 words in them, that don’t contain the word ‘free’, with more than 1000 monthly search visitors, which have sent me a single visitor in the last 30 days, and I don’t already rank in the top 10”.
And then we help you track. We show you the number of visitors who have used every keyword to get to your site, the number of internal links you have for every anchor text variation, the Google rank, the number of backlinks, twitter mentions, etc.
4. What makes Keyword Strategy different from other keyword management tools?
I think it’s the depth of the functionality. We let you discover 10s of thousands of keywords, and organize them into groups that make sense for you, but we also fully index your website and automate the process of matching keywords to pages within your site. We help you see the complete internal linking structure of your website, and uncover the pages and keywords that need more help.
Instead of trying to just focus in on just a couple of keywords, we make it possible to stay organized while you optimize a website for 10,000 longtail keywords. Instead of building links, you can create the kind of content your audience is looking for; the approach that the search engines want you to do anyway.
5. I know developing tools from scratch is exciting – you find out which features prove useful and which seem to be less popular with users. Could you describe your tool evolution? Which new features have been recently added and why? How do you test usability?
Like many SEOs, I started my efforts with a collection of spreadsheets. But because I was pulling in so many keywords, I quickly realized that I needed to have a database, which removed duplicates, and blacklisted keywords that I didn’t want to see again. There were many other tasks that I needed to automate as well, like accessing the Adwords API to get keyword information. I worked with my co-founder Alex to create a prototype tool for my own computer that made me as productive as I could be, automating each part of the SEO process, and finetuning my methods.
When we made the public version of the tool, we went through all the features and threw out everything that wasn’t getting used as much as we thought it would be. And then we built up all the functionality we knew it really needed. We started beta testing about 9 months ago, getting heavy usage from a dedicated group of about 150 testers who rely on the tool. They helped us find the bugs, and really verify that the features made sense from user standpoint.
It’s really gratifying to see their income growing every month, validating the tool and the methods.
Our most recent features including our WordPress plugin, full international support, and several improvements to how we get keywords.
We’ve got a 30-day free trial, so anyone can take for a spin and see if the methods work for them.