There are some fantastic free SEO tools available to assist you in optimising your website. Given that they are Google’s own tools, we should be confident that if we use these and follow their recommendations then our website will perform better in the search results.
Before you pay for any SEO tools, I suggest you look at the various Google SEO tools available and gain an understanding of how they work. So here a few things you can do using Google’s free SEO tools that will help with SEO.
Google webmaster tools
Very detailed information on how Google crawls and indexes your site is available at webmaster tools. Here you’ll find notification of any errors or site problems that Google encounters. It’s important to resolve these as if left alone they will affect your position in search.
In the following example you see that there are no errors with title tags (very important for SEO), but there are duplicate meta descriptions and short descriptions. Review this section regularly and fix any errors you may have.
In the Search Traffic section you will find a list of keywords that have been used to find content on your website. There are a few things you need to watch out for as this is another really important area.
- Is your click through rate (CTR) low on some relevant keywords? This could be as a result of the position you appear in search results or it could be that your title or description doesn’t motivate people to click. The later is easy to change using the SEO plugin we include with every website.
- Are there irrelevant keywords? If keywords are not relevant to your business then you need to investigate why people are finding your site using these keywords. You may inadvertently be targeting these by including them too many times in your content, or including them in important areas such as the page title and headings.
In the following screenshot you can see examples of keywords that have very high click through rates and some that are very low.
One that sticks out is ‘google keyword planner’. The CTR is listed as 0% because it’s less than 1%. The average position is 8.4 so it’s low down on the first page, but you’d still expect a higher CTR than that. To achieve a better CTR on relevant keywords you can:
- Improve the description to be more compelling. Remember, the description is like a little advert and should entice people to click.
- Try to get backlinks to the content to improve its position in the search results.
- Improve optimisation of the post, for example, by looking at keyword placement in title tags
Google keyword planner
Recently Google retired the Google keyword tool and replaced it with Google keyword planner. This Keyword Planner is all you really need for your keyword research. The keyword research process helps you identify relevant keywords that you can focus on within your pages and posts to get traffic.
Here is an example of a search for social media tools. When you select the keyword ideas section you will get a list of similar keywords.
Google analytics (the most important free SEO tool!)
Google analytics provides a raft of information that can help you with the optimization of your site and is an important tool is without doubt the best free SEO tool you can have. For example:
- If you connect up your Google webmaster account to Google analytics you can view the SEO data that you can see in Google webmaster tools. You can see the keywords that bring you traffic, the conversion rate etc.
- Content Overview will show you which pages get the most visitors (see below). If you know which pages are the most popular that will give you ideas for new content, which will help increase traffic further. You can optimise this new content using similar (but not the same) keywords.
Popular content will give you ideas for more similar content that will help increase traffic.
Google analytics will also show your bounce rate. A bounce is when someone arrives on your site and then leaves without going to any other page. There are many possible reasons for a high bounce rate e.g.
- Your site isn’t optimised for mobile devices site so bounce rate is high for mobile users
- The content is not what the user expected so they leave
- There’s no clear call to action to get them to engage with you or view other pages
It’s worth investigating bounce rate as the longer a visitor spends on your site the more likely they are to become a customer. A high bounce rate also has some effect on your position in the search results.
Google advanced search commands
There’s much more to Google than just typing a phrase into the search box and getting results. Google advanced search is a powerful tool to help you find content and analyse your site an others.
Here are 3 examples of how you can use Google advanced search to help with SEO.
Site: < name of website>
This will show you a list of the top indexed pages on Google for any website – yours or a competitors. You can see what the page titles and descriptions are for page content, which can help you identify ideas for keywords you should be researching. It’s also useful for spotting duplicate titles or descriptions.
This searches for websites that have included the keyword in their website address or URL.
If you are looking for links from external websites think about the type of pages that may link to you. You may be able to contact them and have them add a link from their page to your website. If you were looking for websites about fly fishing you may type something like the following: allinurl:fly fishing.
This returns a selection of websites that link to the named website. Knowing what websites link to your competitors can help you identify possible backlink opportunities.
Learn to use these free SEO tools and you’ll see an improvement in your rankings.
By Aaron Enright