An Easy Guide To Getting Starting At SEO
This has got to be one of my favorite parts of working on the web – measuring online brand presence, monitoring search engine success and seeing how well your site is actually performing. After all, you want to be sure that site of yours that you’ve invested a lot of time and money into is giving you a return.
Unlike the previous two posts in the freelancer compilation; which focused more on improving a websites performance in terms of speed and load time; this is more aimed toward performance in Search Engine ranks. Hopefully, these will equip you with the necessary tools for you to move your Search Engine Optimisation efforts to the next level, particularly if you’ve reached a plateau. These can be great at giving your traffic the extra boost it needs.
Search Engine Optimisation
What is Search Engine Optimisation – Google Webmaster Answers
What is SEO? Want to get to grips with the SEO basics? This tool will help explain if you’re not quite sure where to begin. The help section of Google Webmaster Tools is a great place to begin when starting out in the world of Search Engine Optimisation. As the largest search engine in the world; their advice is reliable and sound.
TRAFFIC / SEARCH LISTING
Google Analytics allows web masters or marketing people to properly tap in to many of the websites statistics and metrics in order to measure performance with near pin-point accuracy. You are able to check who’s visiting your site right now, from what country and which pages are used the most. These are just the basics, but once you really get the hang of Google Analytics you’ll soon be on your way to maximising your marketing efforts and value for cost.
Alexa – The Web Information Company
The Web Information Company, Alexa, used to be a huge entity on the web and what they said about your site’s popularity was usually set-in-stone. Nowadays, although their data is usually quite accurate, they’re not always 100% as the ways in which they collate your data are sometimes from quite limited data-pools.
Google Webmaster Tools
The main portion of Google Webmaster Tools allows web authors and website content managers to track performance on a slightly more basic level than that of Analytics, which is more aimed at marketing. Instead, Google Webmaster Tools allow you to ensure you’re getting the most out of your website. It’s via this tool you can add the schema.org rich-text snippets to your site such as reviews, business & product info and articles. Marking up your text in this format allows for search engines like Google to display this information to their visitors, as you sometimes see when searching. Furthermore, you are able to add and manage your authorship; which is how you get your profile mugshot to appear in search results. The more important features to note; are that you can submit your website to the search index (particularly when you’ve done a major update), add your sitemap, manage which URLs are hidden from search results, check inbound links, spam warning messages and much more. This is Google’s primary way of warning a responsible person of any penalties their website may be subject to in the eyes of a search engine.
Google Places for Business
Have you ever noticed when you search for something like “web designers in Eccles”, you suddenly see a fancy map in the search results with some markers and matching business listings? Well, if you’d noticed them – then Google Places for Business is how you can go about getting yours listed. It involves signing up and giving Google important details about your business. Once you’re signed up, they usually ask you to verify your business address by delivering you a postcard with a PIN number on it. Upon entering the PIN number your business listing usually goes live immediately. It can take up to three or four weeks though.
Yahoo! Advertising Tools
Yahoo’s webmaster and advertising toolkit is ideal for tapping into search engine audiences other than Google. Particularly Yahoo and Bing. They have advertising tracking, web analytics, a small business suite and local listings much the same as Google does.
PAGE RANK ALGORITHM
Positionly – World-Class SEO Keyword Tracking
I’ve touched upon Positionly before in one of my web offer posts, although it’s definitely worth it’s weight in gold for this particular topic – so I can’t miss it out! Positionly allows you to define your own keywords (or import them from Google Analytics) as well as enter details of your main competitor websites and search engines of choice and geo-location. Once you’re all set up, and left it to track for a few days, you’ll start to see your keyword positions change. You’ll never miss a keyword rank position again. Positionly averages out similar terms in order to provide the most accurate data based on what your visitors would be presented with. It notifies you of keywords that appear in the top 10, as well as let you know when they fall out. If you haven’t tried it, or you’re unsure, there’s currently a 14-day free trial – so you can start tracking your keywords with Positionly today!
MozCast – Weather Forecasting for the Google Algorithm
This is a fantastic visualisation of the shifts in the Google search results rankings. If it’s currently showing particularly hot or stormy weather, this signifies that the search result rankings have had a big mix up and have suddenly changed significantly. If, however, the weather is relatively cool; we know that not much is going on and things seem to be as normal. This is fantastic for trying to spot when Google release their new search engine algorithms.
Benjy.co URL Shortening – Friendlier URLs to Share
Sometimes, particularly when managing blogs; we’re often faced with long hyperlinks that aren’t very memorably or easy for people to share in short messages. That’s why URL shortening has become increasingly more popular – so I made my own! It’s free to use, friendly (Benjy!) and you’re welcome to share it with your friends too!
Open Site Explorer – Backlink Tracking Tool
It’s a good idea to keep track of the website linking back to your site and content. In some instances, you could have really spammy websites linking to you which might damage Google’s view of your brand reputation and as such your site may be penalised. By keeping an active watch on your backlinks, you can ensure you maintain trustworthy recommendations and disavow (tell Google you’re not affiliated) spammy links as soon as you spot them. It is important that you try contacting the site yourself first in order to make this request politely and establish an on-going understanding so it doesn’t happen again. Failing that, you should tell Google that you are not affiliated and cannot vouch for the quality of the spammy site by disavowing it.
SOCIAL NETWORKING AND BRAND ENGAGEMENT
Google+ Brand Page Integration Audit Tool
Now that Google+ is becoming more popular, web authors and bloggers have turned to it as it really appeals to people who like to share engaging content. The idea of “plussing” or giving “+1″ to a page is your way of recommending that content. As such, it’s vital that modern websites are plugged into social networks particularly Google+. By setting up authorship and defining your publisher; you have a chance of having your mugshot appear in the search results!
FollowerWonk – Track Social Interactions and Mentions
This one doesn’t really need an explanation as hopefully it’ll be quite straight forward. It simply monitors your social interactions and mentions them so you can see how you’re performing over time.
Klout for Business – Grow Your Social Influence
Klout is sensational. It’s the modern-webs take on standardising the measurement of brand influence and engagement. Your Klout Score is a score from 1-100, the higher numbers being substantially more influential. You’re able to plug-in all of your social profiles and pages, although it’s worth mentioning that it’s not based on the amount you publish – rather the amount of engagement (or interaction) with that content. So sometimes less could be more! You can also give other influencers K+ or Klout which is your way of high-fiving them for what they do. Believe it or not, you can find me on Klout too!
SITE SEO PERFORMANCE AND MARKETING RESEARCH
SEO Site Checkup – SEO Performance Audit
SEO Site Checkup is a free web-based tool which will perform a pretty comprehensive audit of your website’s performance, right from the load speed and down to the nitty-gritty such as meta, title and keyword optimisation. It’ll suggest some ways in which you can reliably improve your site’s performance without really impacting on it’s functionality. This tool is great if you want to check in on a website’s performance once in a while.
Fresh Web Explorer by MOZ
This is a great free tool for keyword research in order to see which terms actually get used by visitors on the web. It also allows you to easily compare brand or individual mentions by others on the web.
SEO Workers – Search Engine Optimisation Analysis Tool
A similar tool to above, SEO Workers allows you to analyse and monitor your search engine optimisation efforts and will also suggest ways in which you can further enhance or improve your website from a search engine’s perspective.
MOZ – On Page Grader – Insight Into Keyword Usage
This tool will check any URL for particular keywords to see how relevant your content is for any given term. This is useful if you want to ensure that a search engine would appropriately match the keyword density of your articles. Keyword-density is no longer the be all and end all, but it is a good way of checking if your articles contain the relevant trigger words that are going to help ensure it matches up with the relevant search terms.
MOZ – Keyword Difficulty Tool (Identify Keywords Quicker)
This tool is a fantastic time-saver. It’ll help you to identify the difficulty in attaining a particular keyword position for any given term. This will help to quickly and easily judge how costly this move would be, and should help you to decide whether it is feasible to persue or not. It’s a great way of checking the popularity for certain keywords, particularly to ensure your website is targeting the keywords that your audience are using.
Bing SEO Analyser – Best Practice Checkup
Bing SEO Analyser is a tool which will check your site in accordance with all of the current web-standards and best practices. Usually, failing to follow bad practice could either be an annoyance to your users, or be penalised by search engines. In an ideal world, although not always realistically achievable, you want your markup to be valid; which will minimise the cross-browser bugs and issues you might be experiencing.
Bing Keyword Research – Stop Guessing for Keywords
Similar to the other keyword research tools, this version provided by Bing allows you to tap into keywords and hopefully helps you to stop guessing by showing you what your audience is really using. A must-use tool when planning any real online marketing campaign. The more effort you put into properly analysis which keywords are used; the better the returns on your rankings because your content will be appropriately designed.
COMPREHENSIVE SEARCH ENGINE CONTENT OPTIMISATION
Sitebeam – Fully Comprehensive SEO Tool
Sitebeam is perhaps one of the most fully-comprehensive SEO tools on the web, and is priced accordingly. It’s certainly not the cheapest, but it is a very powerful tool to have at your disposal when trying to perform search engine optimisation maintenance.
MOZ – Comprehensive SEO Tools
Moz (formerly SEOmoz) is another comprenensive SEO marketing tool. It provides you with detailed analytical and performance data which can help you to perform really kick-ass online marketing campaigns and truly optimise your content to perform the best it can in the search engine result pages.
WooRank – Online Marketing Software
WooRank is a very popular online marketing service. You can do a free review right now to audit your site performance. The analysis which it presents to you is quite impressive, and considering it’s free; very welcome.
That’s the end of my Search Engine Optimisation tools and resources list… for now anyway!
That just about draws a close to my quick list of Search Engine Optimisation tools I think every webmaster, freelance website designer or developer (or even business owner) should have at their disposal. It’s always important to remember that content is central to the success of any website; so, although it’s a good idea to use the above tools, sometimes focusing on delivering more engaging content would better serve you. If you believe in your content, then I’d certainly recommend fine-tuning it for optimal performance, but I’d never advise participating in forceful and brutal SEO campaigns.
As always, I love to hear what you guys have to say, and I’m very welcoming of suggestions or additions to this list. Please do share with us in the comments section below if you use a publicly available SEO tool that you couldn’t do your online marketing without!