Integrated marketing platforms such as HubSpot include tools for keyword research and SEO recommendations whether your blog is hosted on HubSpot on another CMS. If the blog is hosted with the HubSpot CMS, you can even edit the articles directly and add meta tags to them directly from the same dashboard. In an earlier article, we looked at the advantages and drawbacks of using HubSpot as a CMS. Tight integration with all of your marketing tools is the primary advantage, but the HubSpot CMS (formerly COS) may not have all of the functionality that many organizations need.
Within one to two years of launching their business, many organizations graduate to a website built with a full-featured, open source CMS such as WordPress or Drupal. Fortunately, there are similar plugins for WordPress or Drupal that provide SEO recommendations and the ability to edit meta tags and descriptions. In fact, many of these plugins are free. For keyword research, you can leverage online tools such as AnswerThePublic for blogging ideas. In this article, we’ll take a look at both SEO plugins and keyword research tools for open source CMS.
Yoast SEO (and similar plugins such as All-in-One SEO Pack)
Yoast SEO is one of the oldest, and most well-known SEO plugins for WordPress. Once you’ve installed Yoast, some additional menus and panes for SEO will be added to your WordPress dashboard. Although SEO authority figures such as Matt Cutts, the former head of “web spam” at Google, regard WordPress as one of the most SEO friendly blogging platforms, the default configuration of WordPress still leaves much room for improvement. For example, one should always make sure they are using SEO friendly permalinks containing the keywords of the articles, rather than just date and/or post ID based URL structures. Also, many taxonomies such as authors and month-based archives should be hidden or excluded with robots.txt, as they can result in duplicate content penalties from Google. Yoast SEO can help you apply all of these SEO best practices, and much more.
Aside from improving the overall configuration of your WordPress website for search engines such as Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo, Yoast also provides a helpful interface for authors and editors to optimize the SEO of their articles while they write. You can set a “focus keyword” which is the primary keyword (or long-tail keyword) that you want an article to rank for. When you write the meta description for a WordPress post or page using Yoast, the plugin provides you with an instant preview of how the description would look like on a desktop vs. mobile Google search results page. Since the optimal length of a meta description is between 50 – 160 characters, the intuitive interface makes sure that your description is neither too short or too long. Writing a compelling meta description can greatly impact click-through rates from search engine results pages, so it’s well worth the time to follow Yoast’s recommendations.
As anybody who’s used WordPress for any length of time would tell you, submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) is essential to getting your pages indexed by Google. Yoast generates a new XML sitemap whenever you publish a new post or page in WordPress, and automatically pings Google, Bing, and other search engines with the updated sitemap. Using Yoast’s simple, dropdown options, you can set certain pages to “noindex” and “nofollow”, which requests all the major search engines to exclude a certain page from its index. This can be helpful for pages with duplicate content that do not have a canonical tag referring back to the original source of the content, and for pages that are not ready to launch yet.
Alternative Keyword Research Tools to HubSpot
One of the best ways to get new blogging ideas is from Google itself. When you perform a search for a popularly searched keyword and scroll down to the bottom of the first results page, you will see a list of longer-tail keywords marked as “Searches related to…” This is a list of search terms that other Google users have searched. You should consider writing blog articles to target these terms, as they are typically easier to rank for than a short-tail keyword – while still generating considerable search volume.
Another resource that one can use for keyword research is AnswerThePublic. When you enter a keyword into AnswerThePublic, it will automatically generate a list of expansions of that keyword – based on questions, prepositions, and comparisons that are related to that keyword. The tool is refreshingly simple and doesn’t require a registration to use, but there is a Pro account for advanced users who want to narrow down the list of search queries by region.
One of the much-overlooked ways to come up with blogging ideas for inbound marketing are social media platforms such as Quora. Quora is a question-and-answer platform where you can find a list of discussions about questions that have been asked about virtually any niche. Many of the people who answer questions on Quora are qualified experts in their field, meaning that you can often research the information for the content of your blog article from the same place as well. If you have a well-written answer to contribute, you can write an answer of your own and leave a link back to your website – for link building. Quora answers frequently rank well on the first page of Google search results, so writing thoughtful answers to questions is an excellent way to attract traffic to your website. Eventually your blog article on a related topic might outrank the Quora result, but it’s an effective way to generate relevant traffic in the meantime.
HubSpot is not the only game in town when it comes to SEO for your content marketing website, in fact far from it. Even if you are using HubSpot for inbound marketing, it doesn’t always make sense to use the HubSpot CMS to host your website. Almost all of HubSpot’s SEO features can be easily achieved using free and open source tools such as Yoast SEO with self-hosted blogging platforms such as WordPress or Drupal. When you can store any number of contacts and send unlimited emails using open source alternatives to HubSpot Marketing Hub like Mautic, you don’t necessarily need expensive subscriptions to assemble a potent digital marketing toolkit. Whether you are a marketing agency or an in-house marketing department, contact us to discuss some of our cost-effective solutions for inbound marketing.