HubSpot SEO without the Keyword Tool?

When I decided to take up Digital Marketing I knew my affinities would draw me to the content and strategizing side of things. But little did I know that I would be introduced to the confusing but invigorating world of SEO too!While SEO seems like a beast that needs to be tamed, Znbound has it down to a science. To begin with, we do a comprehensive Keyword Research and then move on to building plans about our hero keywords, but how do we zero in on these keywords?There are a number of factors that are in play but one of them is using the HubSpot Keyword Tool for a relative difficulty score. But this isn’t the only way this tool has been leveraged! It’s been a small but significant part of our Keyword Strategy for the longest time.

How has the Keyword Tool helped us?

Weekly Page Rank Tracking

With SEO it is integral that we constantly track exactly how each of our small incremental steps is impacting the ranking of pages/blogs. With the Keyword Tool, we can track how our ranking has progressed and which pages are performing the best. Obviously there are other tools that can do the same, namely Search Console and other rank checkers but having it on a single dashboard definitely saves us a lot of time.

Weekly Page Rank Tracking

HubSpot Difficulty

The HubSpot Difficulty is a metric that HubSpot gives for all keywords that signifies exactly how hard it will be to rank for it. The number ranges from 1-100 and the lower the score, the easier it is to rank. We use this as a marker to figure out what the low hanging fruits are in our keyword research. This is something we’re definitely going to miss!

HubSpot Difficulty

Bulk Export/Import of Keywords

As a HubSpot Agency Partner, we’ve had the privilege to work with many inbound marketing clients. Some of whom prefer using the Free HubSpot Software till they’re sure about the feasibility and ROI of this sizeable investment. Being HubSpot power users we use The Keyword Tool for client Keyword Research. While doing so, the bulk import/export option allows us to work much faster to build a comprehensive research document.

Keyword-Campaign Association

As someone who truly enjoys using a single tool for analytics, associating a keyword to a campaign allows users to view all campaign analytics on a single dashboard. While this may seem like a small leg up in the larger spectrum of things, it is very useful for inbound marketers.

Keyword-Campaign Association

Why is HubSpot drawing the curtains on it?

When we first heard the news that HubSpot is sunsetting the Keyword Tool through the Partner Newsletter we were blindsided. But recently they’ve written a blog about why they felt the need to do so. To summarize:

Voice Search is Upon Us

The advent of devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple Home Pod the keywords people are inputting is extremely organic. They aren’t just entering “Restaurants in Gurgaon” they may be saying “Amazing restaurants near me”. But HubSpot feels that Keyword strategies are not evolving at the same speed that search is transforming. According to eMarketer 71% of 18-29-year-old Americans and 39% of people older than 44 are using a mobile personal assistant. This survey was taken way back in 2014 and the adoption of mobile assistants has only increased at an increasing rate since then. By eliminating this tool HubSpot wants to push users to the topic clustering approach that they feel is much more effective.

Ranking Maybe Volatile

There are studies like this one that has found there is a 0% reliability in Google Ranks. Although this is debatable, HubSpot feels that Rank No.1 is overrated. With the emergence of local search, these rankings may become redundant as 2 people searching for the same keyword at the same time may get different results. Since HubSpot only gave us updated rankings every week, it is unlikely that it would be able to keep up with these tuning fork fluctuations.

SEO Masters

HubSpot wraps up its official statement with the acknowledgment that they aren’t SEO wizards and don’t want people to rely on HubSpot for their Keyword Tracking efforts. They are very clear in the fact that tools like SEMRush are masters in this arena. They feel that Voice Search is pushing us towards the future of content that answers questions comprehensively. For that purpose, they feel their Content Strategy Tool is much more effective.

Are we Ready to say Goodbye?

We are Inbound Marketers and constantly have our ear to the ground to understand how the Internet is transforming with each passing day. By constantly reading we do try to keep updating our processes. But we aren’t really ready to bid adieu to the HubSpot Keyword Tool just yet! Why? We do have a few very concrete reasons:

Ranking in Specific Geographies

All clients aren’t really looking to rank on the Global results of Google. They too are cognizant of the fact that local listings are very important and target certain geographies. With the ability to track data from different geographies, whether it was ranking, CPC or difficulty, HubSpot was very useful in this endeavor.

Volumes of Keywords

As we’ve mentioned previously using topic clustering approach is phenomenal for a small number of highly correlated keywords. But what if the business has 4 different verticals with a Keyword List over 1000+ keywords large? We can prioritize and bring it down to the 200 mark but even correlating these many keywords can be a task our team is too small to do. This where we feel that the HubSpot Keyword Tool is much more suited to our unique requirements.

Individual Analysis

Have you noticed when 2-3 pages of your website rank very closely for the same keyword? We have and we do try to remedy this situation by ensuring that we optimize the each of the pages for the most relevant keyword. The only reason we can do this is that the Keyword Tool shows us which of our pages are at what rank for a single keyword.

Pouncing on The Low Hanging Fruit

It is human nature and logical to try to capitalize on an opportunity that is a low investment and high return. With HubSpot Difficulty, you can look at keywords that you could potentially bump up really high with just minimal legwork on your end. They are few and far between but certainly opportunities we look to capitalize upon.

We aren’t Loaded

As a small organization, we have limited resources but huge dreams. We’ve invested in HubSpot because we are entirely dedicated to the cause of Inbound Marketing. But investing in an additional SEO tool like SEMRush may lead to a huge drain on resources and unnecessary complexity. Though the HubSpot SEO Tool has not been our one-stop shop for SEO it has been really helpful for a few markers.

Change is hard but Rewarding?

HubSpot is an innovative tool that is constantly evolving. Znbound has been exploring how interlinking can be taken a step further with deep linking for a while now. Though we’ll miss the Keyword Tool we can see how the Content Strategy Tool can help us evolve for Voice Search. We do understand that HubSpot wants to market the Content Strategy Tool with more rigor. But we also feel that certain markets still haven’t evolved enough to do without the concept of SEO. Perhaps it would be much less damaging to our SEO efforts if both tools were still in our arsenal. As HubSpot Partners we truly wish that the decision to say goodbye to the Keyword Tool was a more inclusive decision-making process, but hey! We roll with the punches and who knows? HubSpot might usher us into the new era of Voice Search Optimization!Do let us know in the comments below if you think that the HubSpot Keyword Tool will be missed. Maybe if we have enough voices of apprehension HubSpot might let us keep our beloved tool?

Rajagopalan Chandrashekar
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