Sentinel Keyword Research Made Simple

We at IFTF have just released our brand new tool called Sentinel, which was built with the intention of making both our lives and our client’s lives easier when dealing with keyword research. What we found was that there are several phenomenal tools out there built for scraping and compiling keyword research, but at the end of the day, all that data just gets dumped into an Excel document and it is up to the user to sort through the mountains of data to find relevant gems of data.

Well, fret no longer about whether or not your computer is going to crash because you have a massive excel document eating up all of your space. Sentinel is a brand new web user interface we have created to host your keyword research and will allow you to easily and efficiently sort through thousands of lines of data to find impactful information.

If you are looking for assistance with gathering keyword data, Nick Eubanks issued his process in a 7 day course that can be accessed here.

However, for the purpose of this post, we are going to assume you already have your keyword research done, and you have signed up to use Sentinel. This post will delve into the data upload process and the overall layout of Sentinel and discuss the options that are provided for you to sort through your data.

Access Sentinel

The first step after you log in to your account will be to upload your data. You should see a screen similar to this one:


Upload Screen

What you will need to do is click the “Upload File” button and select your keyword list file. This will fill in the filename automatically, but you can change this to whatever you want.

Upload Screen Complete


For this example I named the file “SEO Terms Matrix”, and then you have the option to edit the search intent keywords. The informational, commercial, and transactional fields are pre-filled with a large set of the most common keywords for those categories. The brand field is left blank by default, but can be filled in with the relevant brand names for your keyword list. Here I added “Sentinel” as an example. Once you have selected your document and are done naming and tagging to your liking, simply click the “Submit” button, and you will be taken to the sentinel dashboard where you can view all of your data, which looks like the below screen:


Sentinel Layout

You will immediately see many additional features, but don’t get overwhelmed, the interface can be easily explained by breaking the page into three segments.

Keyword List Filters

The first section of the page contains filters that allow you to narrow in on specific data sets. This part of the interface looks like this:



The filters include:

  • Keyword Search: Type in any word, phrase, or abbreviation and the keyword list results below will sort through the data and limit the responses to only show results that match your entry.
  • Ranking Position at/or Below: This drop down will allow you to only view results that are in the top position, top 3, top five, etc. This becomes useful when you know you want to rank in the top 3 for a primary keyword but need to see what URL’s stand in your way for the select term.
  • Links to Page: This drop down box allows you to sort the results to only show URL’s with a limited number of backlinks to it. The fewer backlinks to a page, the easier it will be to outrank that page, so finding URL’s with a low number of backlinks will be low-hanging fruit.
  • Links to Domain: Similar to the previous point, with the distinction that this incorporates links to the domain as a whole, not just the page. The best way to highlight the difference between these two ideas is to use an example:
    • Home Depot is a well-established site with an incredible amount of backlinks and trust. A specific product page may rank for a keyword, but only have 10 backlinks to the page. However, this page ranks well due to the fact that Home Depot has thousands of backlinks to their domain, so the link equity and trust scores are passed down to the product page.
  • Word Count: This drop down limits the results to only show URL’s that have minimal content. Having good content on your page will help to rank the page, so minimal words on page will indicate an easier URL to outrank.
  • Average CPC (Cost per Click): This is not a typical organic search measuring stick, but can be used to find the competitiveness of a certain term. The higher cost per click, the more competitive a term is.
  • Average Monthly Search Volume: Drag this scroll across to raise the minimum number of searchers per month. High search volume means higher traffic potential, so terms with high volume are more ideal to rank for.
  • Negative Keywords: Type in any terms that you do NOT want to include in the results below. If there are select terms in the universe of keywords in the list that you do not want to see due to irrelevance or any other reason, enter them in here and the keyword list will exclude those results.
  • Search Intent Keywords: Click the edit button to add, remove, and/or edit the search intent keywords for the Brand, Informational, Investigation, and Transactional search intent fields. After editing you can click the save button and the search intent labels for each keyword will be updated. You can also click the cancel button to abort any changes you made.

Left Sidebar

The left sidebar is open by default, but you can hide this bar by clicking the “X” on the tab. You can also reopen it by the clicking the mobile menu icon that appears in place of the “X” when closed. Here you can add a new keyword list by clicking on the “Add New Keyword List” button and you will be taken to the upload screen. Below that button will be a listing of your current keyword lists. Clicking on any of these will open that keyword list in the dashboard. Below that you can see what plan you are currently signed up for and how many keyword lists you have used and how many remain. If you need more, you can always use the “Upgrade” button at the bottom to upgrade your subscription plan.

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Tabs & Keyword Data Segments

The second section of the page is the tabs underneath the filters that look just like the tabs within an Excel sheet. These tabs look similar to this:

Sentinel New Tabs


Each tab provides terms from the keyword list, all except one of which have been filtered already to narrow in on a specific segment. The tabs that are standard in Sentinel include:

  • Master: This is an unfiltered tab, which includes all data and keywords from the entire universe of terms.
  • Low Hanging Fruit: This tab displays the pages that are ranking for the specified keyword that has less than 30 Page Backlinks, a Domain PageRank between 0 and 3, and no keywords in the title, URL or headings. These filters are predefined as they tend to display the easiest terms to rank for, based on our research.
  • High Value – Low Cost: This tab displays the pages that are currently ranking for terms that fall into the “Commercial Investigation” and “Transactional” categories, with an average CPC under $1 and a search volume of 50. These are terms that will move the needle, if a site ranks well.
  • Position 1: All of the page URLs that are currently ranking in position 1 on search results pages for the specified term.
  • Position 10: All of the page URLs that are currently ranking in position 10 of page 1 on search results pages for the specified term.

Keyword List

The third section of Sentinel is the Keyword List itself, underneath the tabs. This part of the interface looks like this:

Sentinel New Matrix


At the top left corner, there is a filter to limit the number of results per page. You can expand the number of results to give a bigger picture of the keyword layout in one view.

Additionally, there is a search bar at the top right which acts as your Finder within the tool, ensuring you can quickly find any term or URL you are looking for.

Finally, please be sure to scroll to the right in order to see all of the columns and data present within this tool.

You can sort the data by each column by clicking the arrows to the right of the column label, and you can sort by several columns at once by holding down the Shift key and clicking on more column’s arrows.

As for columns you should pay special mind to, please see a brief list of high impact data columns. While all of the data present is used to formulate opinions and drive decision-making processes, these are some of the more notable aspects to keep in mind.

  • Avg. CPC: As mentioned above, this is a good way to measure the competitiveness of a particular keyword, with a high cost indicative of a higher competition level.
  • Keyword in Title: This column reflects any URL’s that contain the highlighted keyword for that row in the page title.
  • URL Contains Keyword: This column reflects any URL’s that contain the the highlighted keyword for that row in the URL itself.
  • Headings Contain Keyword: This column, like the previous two, reflects URL’s that contain the highlighted keyword for that row in the heading on the page.
  • Total Word Count on Page: This is a total word count for the page, which works to outline how much content you should target on page in order to compete for said ranking.
  • Relevancy Score: This is a score that identifies how search engines are viewing the content found on the URL and how well it addresses the needs of those searching for this keyword.
  • Page Backlinks: As mentioned above, this is a tally of the number of external sources linking to the URL. This score is a measure of trust and strength, and the higher the number, the stronger the page’s link equity will be and tougher it will be to outrank.
  • Domain Backlinks: Similar to above, this is the measure of external sources linking back to the domain as a whole. This is a more powerful signal in the eyes of search engines, and should be considered strongly when looking to outrank certain URL’s.
  • Trust Score: You will notice, the following three columns are highlighted in blue. This is because they are scores that our software creates that help to identify how search engines view each URL based on their level of trust, the strength of the links flowing into the URL (i.e. DA 80 sites that are linking to a URL will carry more strength than DA 15 sites), and how difficult it will be to outrank those URL’s.
  • Link Strength: Please see Trust Score
  • Difficulty Score: Please see Trust Score

Processing the Data

This is a topic for a completely separate post as there is so much valuable information to be learned from this data. If you have any questions regarding the upload process or the initial features of Sentinel, please don’t hesitate to create a ticket..

Otherwise, enjoy combing through your keyword data in a faster and more efficient manner!

Happy Optimizing!