SEO Tools For Beginners
SEO is always evolving as search engine algorithms change, so it is an art that requires consistent attention to detail to get right. But once it works, it pays off in organic search traffic to your website.
Here is a set of ten tools to help you get started as a star SEO strategist.
In the age of smart phones, it's not enough to know how your website looks on one screen. Sure, testing on mobile can seem tedious and fruitless at first. But it is a good practice to get into, and a tool like this that makes it quicker is great to have in your SEO tool kit. Searchers who use their phone are more likely to leave your website if it isn't user-friendly, so make sure all your pages look top-notch for that next potential customer.
Great for: Testing pages, including landing pages, emails, and blog posts, to be sure your pages look right on mobile with the convenience of using your computer screen.
Get closer to what your audience is asking. Answer The Public helps you reverse engineer the questions searchers are typing into search engines and helps you translate it into keywords that will help your website gain visibility. While there is a free version of this tool, you do only get a limited number of topics to search per day.
Great for: Content marketing, specifically for writing blogs, ebooks, white papers, and other pieces to answer those questions.
3. Can I Rank?
This tool answers the simple question, "Can I rank for this keyword?". Of course, this is at the heart of all your SEO work—establishing the keywords. But optimizing your content is also about assessing which specific keywords will work the best for gaining exposure, and also finding an audience who is exactly in the market for what you're offering.
Great for: Cutting your work in half and funnel your efforts into keywords you have a higher chance of ranking for, instead of blindly choosing keywords and trying to rank for them without more insight.
Another big part of your keyword strategy is asking when searchers are asking about a specific topic. Some topics flare up seasonally, while others remain relevant year-round. For example, fitness-related keywords may trend higher at the beginning of the year, when many of us make resolutions to get into better shape. While others, such as university- or school-related keywords, may trend in September or in May/June as the school year ends or starts. Google Trends is a free tool to track these changes with ease.
Great for: Seasonal content forecasting, and planning out keywords for times of the year with higher search volume pockets.
SEO isn't just about what's visually on the pages of your website. It's also about how viewers behave on the page, and how smoothly pages transition from one to another. A website crawl using a tool such as Screaming Frog will help you get a better understanding of how viewers navigate your website, and what needs to be fixed. It will find broken links, duplicate content, meta data, and other patches to fix up.
Great for: In-depth website crawls to find potential issues that could negatively affect your SEO score
Ever wonder why so many articles now included detailed lists? There is a reason for that: they boost your chances of getting ranked higher by Google. Search engines like content that relates nicely to the query at hand, and has since implemented a 'People also asked' feature on the search engine page. AlsoAsked will help you see which topics are linked to those questions people also asked, so you can rank for those terms, as well.
Great for: Content planning, and internal blog linking. Use this to build lists within your content.
7. Yoast SEO Plugin
You have a rough idea of what makes your page's content good: length, linking, images with alt text, and so on. But trying to remember everything, and thoroughly checking each page can get time-consuming. That's where this plugin comes in handy. Yoast SEO analyzes the readability of the copy you wrote and calculate the Flesch Reading Ease score.
Great for: Providing helpful insight while writing content on the website, to ensure it is optimized for search engines.
One sneaky way that SEO scores go down is through duplicate content. Search engines are intuitively adapted to avoiding spam, so if you share content which reads way too similar to another page—either on your website or another one—you stand to lose your chance to rank higher with that page. Enter Copyscape: a quick way to see how much of the same content is out there. Intended for plagiarism, Copyscape is also helpful at seeing how much duplicate content is on the web.
Great for: Pinpointing duplicate content on the web, and pivoting to create an original spin on an already-existing piece of content.
How long searchers stay on your page largely depends on how long the page takes to load. Did you know that the average visitor will wait three seconds for a page to load—and bounce if it's any longer than that? Yikes, huh? To see if you have problems with page loading times, check out Google's PageSpeed insights tool. It will run a test, and determine how long it takes to load for the average browser. There are other factors that play into this, such as internet speed for each user and such. But it does tell you if you need to look into solutions for this issue.
Great for: Determining if loading speed is affecting your search rankings.
Having trouble coming up with keywords that work? This tool will help, just 'select a business type and city, and it will automatically generate local keywords for your industry that potential customers might use to find you.' It takes into account factors such as your location, specialities, and other key points that will connect your key audience to you.
Great for: Coming up with original keywords to match your audience.