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    "The Best SEO Tool is the One Between Your Ears"


    Automated tools are awesome! They do the menial, time-consuming work that you just don't have time to do. They make our lives easier.

    BUT! At the same time, tools are machines. Machines are programmed to do a specific job, and they often do that job flawlessly - but they lack context. Context is something that you must supply.

    We've been getting a lot of questions from newbies lately, asking if they should be worried because Google Analytics, Yoast, Search Console, or another such tool is throwing a red or yellow warning light at them. "What does this mean? How do I fix it?" Sometimes these issues really are urgent - but not always. Sometimes, they're only being shown because the tool is programmed to point them out...even if they aren't anything worth worrying about.

    One example is 404s. Search Console's Crawl Errors Report is designed to look at your site and display all of your crawl errors to you. Thing is - sometimes a crawl error is in place for a reason. Even Google's help section about the Crawl Errors Report says that the first step in evaluating a 404 error is, "Is it worth the time it will take to fix it?"

    I'll give another example: Yoast has a neat feature called the "Focus Keyword." If you haven't set a focus keyword for a piece of content, Yoast will warn you about it. But the focus keyword is a Yoast tool and it has nothing to do with Google.

    Basically, you put a keyword that you want the page to rank for into the Focus Keyword box. Then Yoast will look at the page as you write it and make suggestions about whether you should use the keyword more or less often. But you can write a perfectly good page without this tool! Just because Yoast warns you that you're not using it doesn't mean that you have to - it's just a machine, and it has no sense of the context under which you are writing.

    Likewise, even if you set a focus keyword, you don't have to follow Yoast's suggestions. That's all they are - suggestions - and they're based on Yoast's tool, not Google. You need experience and knowledge to evaluate whether Yoast's suggestions are worth your time.

    So don't let yourself be led by the nose by your tools! Evaluate their suggestions critically, using your own experience. And if you have questions about how a tool works, by all means ask the tool maker! The best tools keep their help sections up to date, and they're very forward about how they work. Moz takes a lot of guff around here, but you can't fault them for being totally open and honest about how DA and PA (which are tools of theirs) actually work.

    This thread wasn't made to preemptively shut down people with tool questions - it's just here to remind people that they shouldn't blindly listen to or follow their tools without thinking critically about how they work.

    EDIT: The thread title comes from what may as well be the SEO Chat mantra. I've seen it used a lot - here are some historical threads that use the phrase and are probably related to this topic!

    1. Which Seo is best

    2. Is there a utility/site to analyse my text before I use it on my site? (terriwells makes the excellent point that sometimes it's not the tool between YOUR ears that is best - sometimes it's the tool between a friend's ears! See post number 5)

    3. https://forums.seochat.com/google-op...ls-447121.html (Posts 14 and 15 are brilliant)

    4. Can anyone explain Structured Data?

    Add a thread where this mantra was well used, or where you learned something new about tool use, or just a rant/rave/whatever below!

    Comments on this post

    • Hikin Mike agrees
    • Test-ok agrees : Nice read Mark
    • Prof.stan agrees : Great :)
    • therealaleech agrees
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    Subdomain SEO questions >> I have seen many times new bee ask about subdomain SEO and read Chadders reply this is one of best response for this specific concerned.
    You do your business I do mine because you are you and I am I If we meet it is nice.
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    'the one between your ears' I thought that was an interesting way to put it. You make great points. I am no SEO guru by any means but while using the Yoast plugin, one can easily become obsessed with the green buttons. I've had to pause and resist the temptation to almost stuff my main keyword in the blog post, because I want to have as many green buttons as possible. What you said made a lot of sense.

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