Perhaps one of the most confusing and difficult parts about developing a website is understanding SEO (search engine optimization). On the internet you will find hundreds of conflicting statements on how to best setup your site to maximize traffic. It can be difficult to discern the truth.
This list provides a set of tools, no matter your level of expertise, which will further your understanding of SEO and what it is all about. These tools provide you with quantifiable metrics on how effective your SEO campaign is so you can tweak it to best suit your needs.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool
Google Adwords is a tool primarily used to calculate pay per click costs. It is a useful tool to determine the popularity of search terms and find out how much competition exists for those terms. Another useful feature is when you type in a keyword it will provide you with 100 alternative keywords and phrases. It even allows you to search based on region, category, language, and devices. By incorporating the right keywords in your content you can increase your search engine rankings and ultimately drive more traffic to your site.
Google trends displays search information from around the world on how often a particular keyword is searched for. If you go to the Google Trends website and enter in a keyword it will take you to a results page showing a graph of where most of the searches related to that keyword are coming from. Another valuable feature of this tool is it suggests to you related keywords so you can work them into your SEO strategy.
Hubspot Marketing Grader
Hubspot’s Marketing Grader is a great free tool that provides a detailed analysis of your website’s marketing effectiveness. All you have to do is enter your websites’s address and in a matter of a few seconds the Grader will provide you will an overall score on a scale from 1 to 100 on over 30 different factors. Best of all, it breaks down each way to improve into easily digestible chunks and gives you explicit action items on how to improve your SEO.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools is pretty much the same tool set offered by Google Webmaster Tools, but for the Bing search engine. Too many websites these days are missing out on the ability to capitalize on search traffic from Bing, which accounts for nearly 15% of all search traffic. In order to maximize your visitors you will want to make sure you are regularly tracking your ranking with Bing, as well as, Google.
Search Status is a popular plugin available for Firefox. Search status provides an easy to use toolbar which provides you with valuable SEO metrics for each site you visit. When you visit a site the toolbar populates with information such as Google Page Rank, Alex rank, mozRank, and Compete Rank.
SEO Quake is a plugin compatible with most major browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, which offers users a great set of SEO tools. Essentially whenever you perform a search on Google it brings up a toolbar which lists common SEO related metrics for each site in the results. Some of the metrics it shows includes Google Page Rank, number of pages indexed by Google, number of backlinks, keyword density, overall rank, Twitter tweets, Facebook likes, and the age of the domain for each result in the search. As a warning, doing a large number of searches with all the parameters selected in SEO Quake can result in a temporary ban from performing searches.
Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer provides a clean and lean way of checking a website’s backlinks. Out of the many other tools that exist that provide the same purpose, Open Site Explorer has one of the nicest and simplest interfaces and doesn’t have any annoying popups. It provides a number of filters for the search results showing you the top pages, linking domains, and the anchoring text. You can even compare backlinks and link metrics for up to 5 different websites, which can be a useful tool when comparing a site to its competitors. When trying to build quality backlinks, Open Site Explorer is a priceless tool to analyze the fruits of your labor.
Copyscape is a plagiarism checking tool. This tool essentially allows you to check for duplicate content and detect if articles are original. This is a great way to make sure people aren’t stealing the valuable content you have worked hard and invested time in writing. It is also a very useful tool if you allow guest writers on your site. You can run their articles through the check to make sure you aren’t violating any copyrights.
Google Webmaster Tool
Google Webmaster Tools is a free service provided to webmasters which allows you to check and monitor the indexing status of your site. Some of the tools offered include the ability to check and submit a sitemap, check how often the content on your site is crawled by Google, get a list of internal, external, and broken links on you site, and see what keywords people are using to reach your site and the average CTR (click-through rates) for those keywords. Recently Google Webmaster Tools has been integrated with Google Analytics, meaning once you sign up you can access the Google Webmaster Tools directly from your Google Analytics account. Perhaps most useful of all, Google Webmaster Tools shows you clicks and impressions for each keyword individually. With this information you can determine what keywords you want to target in your SEO strategy.
Google Analytics is the flagship tool for measuring and analyzing SEO. It allows you to track nearly all dimensions of visitor activity on your website. Each aspect is neatly categorized into different tabs. The audience report provides you with detailed information about your users such as where they are located geographically, what types of technology they are using to access your site, how many visitors are visiting your site with a mobile device, and how many of the visitors are new visitors rather than returning visitors. The traffic sources tab provides you with information about how visitors found your website. This includes whether the traffic was direct, a referral, or came from a search engine, the queries that visitors used to arrive at your site, the number of visitors that arrived as a result of a social media referral, and any advertising you may be performing. The content tab shows you what content your visitors are looking at. It will show you the number of page views for each page viewed on your site, the speed of your side, and whether users used any site search features you may have integrated in your website. Best of all it keeps a running history of all this information meaning you can perform reports based on varying time frames and can even compare weeks, perform year-over-year analysis, and setup custom goals to track.
Featured Image: Flickr by Jim Rush