There are a number of Keyword Research tools on the market, the most popular now being Market Samurai and Micro Niche Finder. I’ve talked about Micro Niche Finder already and now I figured it’s worth reviewing Market Samurai on its own terms, rather than as a side comparison to Micro Niche Finder.
Market Samurai is really more than just a Keyword Research tool; it’s a full blown internet marketing suite. You can do everything from check your search engine ranking to analyzing your competitor’s backlinks to finding suitable affiliate programs that match your niche. There are basically nearly a dozen or so modules in Market Samurai, and each module does something different.
Now fair warning, this Market Samurai review is nearly 4000 words long, and I break down every module and discuss why it’s good or not good. If you are the impatient type, then here’s my conclusion: Market Samurai is probably your best bang for the buck out of any keyword research tool. It’s not as good as some of the specialist software programs for specific tasks, but you can do a bit of everything with MS. For many, it’s a program worth buying.
Anyways, if you still want to read my massive review of Market Samurai (and I can tell you that it’s probably the most comprehensive on the web), then grab some java — you’re going to need it!
There’s a number of different modules you’ll find in Market Samurai. Each module functions as a sort of separate program, all accessible from Market Samurai itself.
Rank Tracker Module
This is a pretty decent rank tracker program as things go. Mind you, it’s not the only such program out there.
The Rank Tracker is pretty simply to use: you simply add a list of domains to the program and a list of keywords (you can easily past say keywords from the Google Keyword Tool in). You hit the button and Rank Tracker will show you the following information:
Ranking of each keyword for each domain (and page/post on domain) in BING, YAHOO, and GOOGLE
Now what I really like about the Rank Tracker is that it’s so damn easy to use. Simply put in the domains you want to check the ranking for, past in a bunch of keywords, and hit the UPDATE button. The program will automatically check the ranking of both the domain index AND ALL PAGES ON THE DOMAIN for the specified keywords. This makes it REALLY easy to check what pages on your domain are ranking for what – no need to manually put the pages in. This saves you a lot of time. It’s also great to be able to see the number of backlinks and page rank of the pages/domains at a glance too.
Also, another thing I like about the Rank Tracking tool is that if you have a lot of exact match domains, it’s very easy to check the ranking of every single one of them. I’ve yet to find another tool that can do just this. To do this, simply past a list of all your exact match domains in, then use notepad and the REPLACE feature to eliminate the “.”and domain extension. Then go through manually to ensure there is a space after each word in each domain (i.e. you don’t want “testexampledomain”, but “test example domain”). Once you’ve formatted this list, simply past the list of converted-domains-to-exact-keywords as the keywords and hit update. Rank Tracker will match all the exact keywords with the exact domains and you can tell in a single glance what your entire empire of exact match domains are ranking for their keyword.
Other Rank Tracking Programs
How Does Rank Tracker module compare to the competition?
Market Samurai’s Rank Tracker model is better than the SEOBook Rank Tracker but not as comprehensive as Link-Assistant’s Rank Tracker program. So put it square in between the two programs, which makes it pretty useful indeed.
All in all, the Rank Tracking module is pretty sick and it’s something that you’ll use ALL the time. It’s much better to use than the SEOBOOK free rank tracker tool. Now if you want a more comprehensive rank tracker tool, then I recommend the paid version of Link-Assistant Rank Tracker. The pro version costs 99 bucks, but beats the MS Rank Tracker in every way EXCEPT you can only track ONE domain at a time – and you have to add that domain as a new project. MS let’s you just past a ton of domains in, past a bunch of keywords, and check the ranking for them all in one fell swoop. This means if you have a lot of exact match domains that you want to check are ranking for the keyword in the domain, MS’s rank checker is better.
So, I quite like this module. It’s damn useful.
SEO Competition Analysis
This module is your “backlink research” tool. In a nutshell, it allows you to add a bunch a domain URL’s and retrieve a matrix with the following information for the top 10 ranking websites:
You can also tinker with what features you want to search by. Once you retrieve the above date, you can further drill down and either choose to view the ANCHOR text of each backlink or look at the PR of each backlink. Mind you, it will take some time to retrieve that information, so be prepared for a wait.
If you choose to view the ANCHOR TEXT info, you get to see an overview of the number of the anchor text count and a list of the individual sites sending links to the URL with that anchor text.
If you choose to see the PR info for all links to a domain, you see a nice overview of the anchor texts sent to your site with the associated PR from the site linking to you with the anchor text.
You can export both PR and Anchor info to a CSV spreadsheet as well.
One glaringly missing feature when you analyze the individual links is that you DON’T get to see if the links are NO FOLLOW or not. It also doesn’t show the “link strength” of incoming links like some of the other tools out there do. Not a make or break, but that feature makes it a bit easier to determine where your stronger links are coming from so you can backlink them to make them even stronger.
And finally, you can look at the following:
Basically, there’s enough information here to satisfy even the most demanding of persons. It’s all displayed in a really easily presented format. Needless to say, it’s all really easy to use.
Other Ways to Get SEO Backlink Information
Now, again, you don’t have to buy MS to get this information. You can use SEOBOOK’s free SEOFireFox addon and pretty much get all that information every time you type a keyword in Google.
The Keyword features (keyword in title, keyword in meta, etc) you’ll have to eyeball. However, since all the information is laid out in a nice matrix in MS’s SEO Competition Tool, you save a lot of time. So between using SEO FireFox + manually looking at all the data or just using Market Samurai’s SEO Competition module to make it all so easy, I’ll take MS any day.
Now, there is also the option of using the free LinkDiagnosis.com tool which pretty much does the same thing online. It can take forever to retrieve the information (like a LOOOONG TIME), but you get a complex backlink analysis of any URL – more so than MS’s built in tool. That’s not to say that MS’s tool does a bad job — you really get enough information to make all the informed choices you need — but LinkDiagnosis gives you MORE information, which may be better for some people, especially if you are deep into SEO.
However, if you want to best of the best in terms of back linking research tools, then Link-Assistant’s Pro version of SEO SpyGlass software gives the most backlink information out of any program, hands down. If you are dealing with a lot of micro niches sites that don’t rank for a lot of terms, I would say using MS or LinkDiagnosis.com is just fine. IF you have some big authority sites that get thousands of people a day and rank for hundreds or thousands of keywords, then it’s worth spending the dedicated 99 bucks to buy the pro version of SEO SpyGlass. You could also use the free version of SEO Spyglass, but the scaled down limitations really kill a lot of the program’s functionality.
Final Word on the SEO Competition Module
So the SEO Competition module is pretty damn good. It’s not the “best” out there (the best being SEO SpyGlass) and it doesn’t show what links are no follow, but it’s pretty comprehensive and for the average person, is good enough.
Remember, for $149, you are getting a full suite of tools, so while MS’s SEO Competition Tool might not show as much information as LinkDiagnostic.com or the SEO SpyGlass tool, MS has a lot of OTHER Tools too.
Keyword Research Module
Keyword research is the foundation upon which internet marketing / niche marketing rests on. Without proper keyword research, you are wasting your time or certainly selling your make money online potential way short. There are a number of keyword research tools out there:
Now as keyword research tools go, MS’s version ain’t bad. But it’s not that good either. You can basically add a bunch of keywords and get the following information:
Now this is a lot of information you’re presented with. And truth be told, I don’t even bother with most of those calculations myself, other than a couple. In fact, I don’t even know what a bunch of the really mean. I’ve found many of these “formulas” for Seo Value and SEO Competition are pure bullshit. If you know what you are doing, you can rank and make money no matter what these things say – so don’t put too much on the numbers. But if you are the kind of person that basis your keyword research around the SEO Competition value or the SEO Value number, then you’ll be happy.
Is the Keyword Tool any good?
Well, personally, I don’t really like it. I find the keyword research tool module the weakest of the “big three – SEO Competition module, Rank Tracker module, Keyword Research Module). It’s not very intuitive to use and you spend half your time hitting buttons, doing the wrong thing. I particularly despise the fact that you’ve got to go to your project settings and add a list of keywords there. From what I’ve seen, any “new keywords” you add directly to your keyword list from the GENERATE KEYWORDS section, get kicked out as soon as you hit the Keyword Analysis button. This may be a bug, but it’s pretty much kills this tool for me.
There are some cool features like the ability to add negatives and positives to keywords and to automatically generate permutations on the keyword. You can also sort the keyword matrix by exact, broad, and phrase. Some interest filter options (you can choose to show only long tails or generics, etc).
For some reason, it seems to be HARD to just import a bunch of related keyword tools from the Google Keyword Tool. I want to be able to just type in a keyword and all the related keywords from the Google Keyword Tool to be added to the keyword matrix. You can do this, but you have to sign into adwords or something.
Market Samurai Keyword Module Compared with Micro Niche Finder
In one word: Micro Niche Finder is way better. Go here to read more about why.
The Keyword Tool Verdict
I give the Keyword Tool a D grade. Really, it’s clunky as hell to use and nowhere near as intuitive to use as the other MS tools. I’d rather just use the Google Keyword Tool. The cool keyword generation features (like ability to make permutations on keywords, add positives and negatives to any keyword, etc) don’t make up for the clunky interface. What really annoys me is that I can’t seem to add NEW keywords to the keyword list without the program resenting to the default keyword I added to the project. You also (at least in my case) are not able to have all the standard similar/related keywords pop up in the keyword matrix when you do a keyword search. This really kills it for me.
My recommendation is that if you want the “best” keyword research tool, just buy Micro Niche Finder. It’s a keyword research tool on steroids and exponentially better than the Market Samurai Keyword Module.
If you just buy the Market Samurai Package for all the tools, then you can live with the weak Keyword Tool module – it still can be used after all. But let’s hope they fix it up in an update.
A surprisingly useful module in the right circumstances. Domain Samurai comes as part of Market Samurai, but it’s also available for free as a stand alone download from their website.
There are basically two parts to it: new domains and aged domains.
New Domain Module
You basically put in a keyword and MS will give you a list of available domains. If the exact keyword domain is not available (and these days it won’t be), you’ll get a list of other domain suggests which is basically the KEYWORD + OTHER STUFF. You then have the option to buy any of the domains. Useful in a way, but nothing you can’t do on your own through Godaddy or Namecheap.
Aged Domains Module
Now this is what’s useful. You can search for AGED domains containing your keyword. Domain Samurai will return a list of expiring domains that have that keyword in. Basically, this module is a lite version of Freshdrop.net. The program will show all the domains in a matrix with the following information:
This makes it easy to buy expiring domains with your keyword THAT HAVE BACKLINKS TO THEM. That’s the good news, very good news.
The bad news is that to see ANY of that information, you need to sign up for a 30 dollar monthly DomainFace.com membership. So unless you are willing to pony out the money to join, this module is worthless. Still, if you are willing to pay the money, then it’s pretty useful. You can do the same thing directly from DomainFace.com (if you are a member), but it’s nice to have this feature integrated right into Market Samurai.
And, of course, if you don’t own market samurai but you want to get into buying expiring domains and you don’t mind paying 30 bucks a month for the service, you can just download Domain Samurai directly.
A module that basically helps you find related affiliate programs for your niches AND generate affiliate ads.
This module is actually pretty useful. Nothing you can’t do yourself, but it can save you some time finding the right affiliate programs and creating some custom ads for them.
I especially like the ability to easily generate Adsense-looking clickbank ads (see first picture above). The amazon and ebay ad generators basically only let you create a banners with some related products – sort of useful. You can also modify the ads you create at any time.
The affiliate search can save you some time. You can search pay.com, amazon, CJ, and clickbank for programs related to your keyword niche.
I would not buy MS based on this program, but it’s got some uses, especially if you are a raw beginner and don’t know what the major affiliate programs are or how to search out related products.
Find Content Module
Basically you can search a number of top Web 2.0’s and article sites for information about a topic. You can also look at the number of backlinks to each article source, and I suppose, use that to judge the “authoritative value” of that content source. I suppose once you find an appropriate source, you go about rewriting that content for your own purposes.
This is more of a filler module. Really, there’s no reason to really use this when you can just type the keyword into google directly and get more results. Useful? Not really. I’m sure some people will use it, but not me.
Publish Content Module
You can basically write articles directly from Market Samurai for wordpress.com blogs andfor your own wordpress domains. I can see some use for it if you have a lot of wordpress blogs and want to just directly write posts from Market Samuari. But then again, I’d have to ask what’s the point? Just go to the site directly and create a post.
So, more of a filler module than anything else.
You can basically use this module to try and snoop out backlink sources for your niche. You can see the number of backlinks and PR each potential source has.
This module has some uses. Again, most people would just use google directly, but I do like how you can see the backlinks and PR in a list format. I can’t say I use this and I suspect most of you probably won’t, but it’s better than the Find Content and Publish Content modules because you might actually use this one, once in a while.
If you are trying to find potential backlink sources, I would say something like Link Assistant is WAY WAY better, since it sort of automates some of the process (helps line up link exchanges for you in your niche, etc).
Overall, I will say Market Samurai is a good buy. You pretty much have all you need to get started with your internet marketing career with a single piece of software. Many of the modules are not as good as DEDICATED programs that do the same thing, but as the program is like 9 programs squeezed in one, this is understandable. So valuwise, Market Samurai is very good.
Some of the Modules are Very Useful
I like these modules and think most people will get good use out of them:
Easy to Organize Around Keywords
I also like how you can organize projects by keywords. This helps you keep track of niches. Modules like Rank Tracker also remember your previous searches so you can keep a timeline of how your are progressing in a niche.
A Lot of Different Functionality in One Program
This program is really the “jack of all trades” of internet marketing software. It does pretty much everything in one program. This means it’s easy to switch between keyword research, seo competition research, and checking the ranking of your websites targeting said keyword, all with a few mouse clicks. Sweet.
Lots of Updates/New Modules Being Added
MS has been around for a few years now. I’ve had my copy for over a year now and there’s been quite a few new Modules added during that time. There’s also a new patch or so every two weeks to a month. So these guys are pretty serious about keeping the program updated and in working order. So it’s safe to say that you can probably expect new functionality to be added each year. In fact, as this is being written, there is a new Adwords module been added.
Free Lifetime Upgrades
Yup, you get free updates and upgrades for life.
Market Samurai is Cost Effective
At $149, you get access to a full suite of software. This is a pretty good deal — quite a lot of IM software costs between 99-149 and such software usually only does one thing, not 9-10 things like MS.
While there’s a lot to like about Market Samurai, there’s also a few flaw with the program too. Before you decide whether to buy or not to buy, you should look at these cons.
The Keyword Research Module Sucks
I REALLY don’t like the Keyword Research Module. Seeing as this is one of the major modules, it’s a pretty big deal for me, personally. I suspect for most people, it won’t be a deal breaker as you can certainly still use the module to conduct keyword research. My recommendation, if you can afford it, is to just buy MS and Micro Niche Finder and you won’t have any issues here.
A Bunch of Useless Filler Modules
Seems like the developers opted for the “throw as many features as possible to convince people to buy the product” strategy. There are 9 (soon 10) modules, but only 4-5 of them are actually worth using. I’m sure if you are really keen to get your “value” out of the program, you could use them all, but often it’s just easier to NOT use them.
These are completely worthless in my opinion:
It Can Get Clunky Adding Keywords as Projects
I see the logic behind how you have to add a keyword as a project to help keep track of your marketing activities, but this can make it a bit of a pain sometimes – especially if you just want to randomly check out say the backlinks of a new keyword. You might now want to have to go create a new project just for that keyword. Now fortunately, you can tab between different keywords, but I still find this way of doing things a bit restrictive.
Because there seems to be a lot of confusion between the two programs, I’ll try and make it simple for you. Market Samurai is a completely different program than Micro Niche Finder. They both do keyword research, but Micro Niche Finder is a keyword research tool on steriods and Market Samurai’s Keyword Research Module is pure crap. If you want to read a deeper comparison, I talk about the differences here.
To Buy Market Samurai or Not to Buy. My overall recommendation is that yes, the program is worth buying, if only because you basically get a Keyword Research Tool, a Backlink Analysis tool, and a Rank Checking Tool for 149 bucks + a bunch of filler modules that may or may not be useful, depending on the person. That’s basically 49 bucks for each of those programs + some bonuses. As things go, that’s a pretty swell deal, especially in the age of 99 -199 dollar single purpose software.
If you are NEW to internet marketing, then I highly recommend this program. It’s got everything you need to get started. If you are on a budget or a cheap ass, then Market Samurai is for you.
If you are a veteran Internet Marketer and want the BEST or do SEO for clients, then I would suggest you seriously consider getting the SEO PowerSuite Pro (or the more expensive Enterprise version if you need to give clients formatted SEO reports) + Micro Niche Finder over Market Samurai.
SEO PowerSuite has a more comprehensive keyword Rank Tracker program, a much more comprehensive Backlink Analyzer, a Link Management tool for automatically scrounging up link exchanges and keeping track of your backlink exchanges, and a Website Optimizer (helps you with onpage seo suggestions). It lacks a keyword research tool, but if you get Micro Niche Finder, then you’ve got all bases covered.
So in parting, Micro Niche Finder is a great piece of software with some limitations (and a shitty keyword research tool), but offered at a really good price.
If you are interested in buying Market Samurai please use my affiliate link to show your support for the site. This blasted review is almost 4300 words and took me HOURS to write.