1) Yoast SEO Plugin
If your website is hosted on WordPress, the free Yoast SEO plugin is an absolutely must have. The plugin makes it a breeze to register your website on Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. It allows you easily manage your title tags and meta descriptions, with no coding. It allows you to easily set up a canonical (301 redirects) and create XML sitemaps for your website. Not only is the plugin extremely useful, but it is regularly updated and improved upon by its creator.
2) Screaming Frog Web Crawler
We’ve spoken about this powerful software before (link to 5 mistakes). What is a web crawler? It is essentially a software/robot that sifts through your site’s content word by word, page by page. Search engines like google actually use web crawlers to index and rank your site. Software like Screaming Frog work in a similar fashion, but instead of giving information to search engines, they give you powerful insights on your website.
Screaming Frog has both a free, and a paid version. If you’re just starting out, I recommend you go with the free version, which is still pretty robust. It allows you to find broken links, redirect chains, find duplicate titles duplicate content, and generate XML maps. Performing weekly or monthly web crawls can help you prevent problems like broken links, and avoid penalties.
3) SEO Link Vine
Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors in SEO. They give your blog authority and demonstrate that others find value in your content. Backlinks are one of the most important signals that search engines use to evaluate your website.
The more backlinks you have, the better. However, you want to ensure that your backlinks are high quality. Spammy backlinks, or from websites unrelated to your niche can actually hurt your ranking.
However, if you’re just starting out, you may find it is difficult to generate high-quality backlinks. Linking back to your site in comments on other’s blogs is time-consuming, and many times ineffective. People may also be reluctant to allow for guest posts.
Luckily, there is an alternative. SEO Link Vine is a software that automatically gives you premium rankings, and increases your Google rankings. It’s great investment that can help you see results today.
4) Google Keyword Planner
The Google Keyword Planner is an unparalleled resource for bloggers and internet marketers. It helps you get an idea of what keywords you should be trying to rank for. It can also help you to figure out whether the keywords are low or high competition.
It is always best to pursue specific, long-tail keywords. Although they may receive less traffic, they are more targeted. People searching for long tail keywords usually need a solution to a specific problem, and many times are willing buyers. Check out this tutorial on how to use the Google Keyword Planner.
5) Google Analytics
Our second Google product on this list. Analytics are absolutely crucial for an online business. Not only is Google Analytics free (at the standard level), but it is a market leader in data collection and analyzation. Google Analytics can give you insights into things like:
- Number of visitors to your site
- How long they spend on your site
- Bounce Rate (amount of people who exit your site after visiting 1 page)
- Demographics of visitors
- Locations of visitors
- Set and track goals
- page load time
- Mobile vs. Desktop Users
- And much, much, more
Without these insights, you are running your business blind. Knowing this information can help you optimize your site and your content. It allows you to see what you are doing well, and what you need to improve on. And as time passes, you can see how your performance and your website grows over time.
In 2016, social media is absolutely essential to ranking a site properly. However, there are many different social media platforms to stay on top of: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
Hootsuite allows you to post, monitor, and optimize all your social media from one platform. When you log into Hootsuite, you can schedule a post on Facebook, reply to someone on Twitter, and monitor your Instagram growth without ever leaving the website.
SEMRush is a competitive research and data firm for online marketing. SEMRush is particularly powerful for competitor research. By looking up the web pages of other sites in your niche, you can see how your competitors are doing. You can learn things about your competitors like:
- How many visitors they receive
- Keywords they are targeting
- How many of their leads come from paid/organic traffic
- Their backlinks
- Other competitors in the niche (hopefully you are listed as one)
- Many other insights
While SEMRush is a paid service, they do offer a free service! As a free user, you get up to 10 competitor searches per day. Not a bad deal for free, and 10 searches a day should be sufficient for most beginners. You can also get 10 keywords to track, and 100 web pages of your own site to crawl. Check out the service here (link).
Whether you are first diving into the world of search engine optimization, or you are an experienced marketer, leveraging the proper tools is invaluable. Software and services like the ones listed above can give you a competitive edge over your competition. They can also save you a lot of valuable time, and give you insights you would have never expected.