Our fave tools for SEO
We talk about the digital world being fast-moving but when you get into the nitty-gritty of search engine optimisation (SEO) and algorithms, you soon realise that that’s an understatement!
Google changes its algorithm hundreds of times a year with the simple aim of providing people with the most relevant results for the search queries they enter. In other words, the search engines want to give people the best search experience possible, hence the constant updates and improvements.
Only a handful have been major updates (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon, and Fred), but even very minor tweaks can affect a website’s rankings.
Luckily there are plenty of helpful online tools that can be used by SEO newcomers and experienced professionals to help you implement, monitor and evaluate your SEO strategy to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Our Six Favourite SEO Tools
Here are six of our favourite SEO tools which can help you achieve your digital marketing objectives. The funny thing is, many of these are right under our noses and easy to use (and free!), yet it’s surprising how often they’re overlooked.
Google Analytics is a must for every website. There are no two ways about it. If you aren’t using it yet, drop EVERYTHING and set it up! It’s one of the most powerful and versatile tools for tracking and analysing your website data and is an indispensable yardstick for the performance of your SEO strategy and digital presence.
The information provided by Google Analytics will give you in-depth understanding and insights into how people are using your website and apps, and you can then take the appropriate action to improve their experience. It does have a bit of a reputation for being complicated but if you simply ignore that and push on, you’ll be rewarded.
Baby steps will lead you to a wealth of information on your website traffic and customer behaviour, including the amount of website traffic, websites that visitors came from, traffic to individual pages of your website, number of converted leads, where your leads came from, what terms people search for on your site, location demographics on your site visitors…and so much more.
A great report within Google Analytics can be found under Acquisition>All Traffic>Source/Medium this gives you a comprehensive report of exactly where your website traffic has come from. You can then move on to more advanced features and reports. Have a read of our blog post for advice on how to make sense of Google Analytics.
The search result pages themselves
Sometimes the simplest things are the best…and the search result pages you see right in front of you can be a treasure trove of information on your website, your competitors, keywords and more.
Here are a few things you can do:
Simply type in site:(your website’s URL).com and check out which of the pages of your website are indexed. This allows you to quickly see which of your pages may not be indexed so you can dig deeper to find out why.
If you are struggling with keyword research ideas, take inspiration for keywords and content ideas using Google’s autocomplete and the ‘People also ask’ section. Type in the keywords that you think is most relevant to your business and see what else comes up here.
Lastly, your position on the search pages themselves also gives you the clearest indication on how your website ranks and whether your SEO strategy is actually helping you move up the ladder. Type in some of the keywords you would like your business to rank for see if you already appear in Google for these keywords.
Use the Chrome browser
Chrome extensions are really helpful if you’re looking for ways to improve your SEO and look more closely at the analytics of your competitors. There are plenty to choose from (have a look at the Chrome Web Store) with some of the favourites among the SEO professionals being:
- SEO Meta in 1 Click- to see all the metadata sitting behind the web page
- Google Tag Assistant- to see if you have correctly installed Google Analytics
- Redirect Path from Ayima- this shows if your pages have been redirected from another page.
- Keywords Everywhere- a great browser extension for keyword research as you Google.
Most of these extensions are compatible with Firefox and Safari and each keeps track of most of the analytics for you, helping you to amp up your SEO success.
So if you aren’t yet using the Chrome browser, now is a good time to start!
Yoast SEO Plugin (for WordPress)
The Yoast SEO Plugin is a really worthwhile tool to help webmasters with their SEO. It won’t implement your SEO for you but it does have a host of useful features which can help you make your site as search-engine-friendly as possible as well as flag where you could be improving your SEO. You can use this plugin to add your SEO work to the website and add title and meta descriptions (use the Snippet Preview section for this), set your targeted keywords and track how often you use them, manage sitemaps.
They say that a picture tells a thousand words….and in the SEO world, choosing the right image for your website can be an important asset in your SEO story. But if you make the wrong choice…there’ll be no words!
You’ve probably spent a lot of time and effort building your site for speed (because slow loading is one of the biggest turn-offs for visitors), so why risk losing out on traffic because your images are too large?
Make sure the images you use on the website are uploaded in the size they will actually appear in on the website and also compress the images so they are as small as possible. You can use a tool like TinyPNG or Optimizilla to compress the images. If you already have images on your website you can see which images are too large by running individual pages of the website through GTMetrix.com
Check out our Image Optimisation For SEO post for loads more details.
SEMrush is an SEO tool that specializes in keyword research, competitor analysis, traffic analytics and Google Ad campaign optimisation. Webmasters and SEO specialists love it for many reasons, not least because of the huge amount of data that it provides and because it’s a great source of content ideas. It’s also extremely useful for highlighting problem areas in a website and providing solutions.
In conclusion, it’s fair to say that the dynamic SEO world can seem a bit overwhelming and the pace of change can compound those perceptions. But you should know that SEO is very do-able and if you start slowly and carefully, taking things one step at a time, it is possible to build a highly successful SEO strategy.
The tools outlined above are all excellent options to help you understand, analyse, implement and improve your SEO strategy and give your rankings a boost. Why not give them a go?
Check out my new online, self-managed course, The SEO School, which takes you through all the key tools and techniques of a successful SEO strategy. The course is great for business owners, website managers and anyone who wants hands-on learning about all the essentials of SEO from an industry expert. Find out more about The SEO School here.
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