Upon entering the world of online advertising, I was bombarded by three letter acronyms (TLA). Every metric and process seemed to have at least one for me to learn, but one of them stuck out – SEO. SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization,” basically determines how visible your site is on search engines. Every search engine uses an algorithm to determine what websites show up and what order they are shown based on what was looked up. SEO is the practice of building and promoting your website in order to be placed as a top result. You could pay for to be one of the “sponsored” results but SEO is all about producing organic, unpaid results through keywords and link referrals. Through my research of SEO I found a several free tools that were repeatedly recommended by professionals and online communities. I listed a few below as I believe they are useful in both implementing and understanding SEO.
Keyword Tool tells you what keywords are commonly associated with a search. These keywords are what form the autocomplete suggestions when you start typing something into the search bar. Including these words and having them be prominent on your website will allow the search engine to find you as well as make it seem more relevant.
Example: You run a website forum for surfers and you want to improve your ranking in google’s search results. You enter “surfboards” into Keyword Tool and most of the searches involve buying surfboards. It is only a discussion based site but people sometimes sell/trade their equipment on the message boards. Adding a “for sale” section and including these keywords throughout your site will make your site appear more relevant to these searches and thus raise your rank.
Buzzsumo analyzes topics and domains and tells you how many times specific pages are shared. This can be used to assess competitors sites, track your own sites, or observe social trends in sharing.
Example: You want to start a cooking blog but you don’t know what content people are interested in. Searching cooking on Buzzsumo returns the pages and articles that have been shared the most about cooking. Using this information you can identify potential competitors and learn from how they set up their site. You can also see what kinds of articles are being shared the most which should influence what content you produce.
Along with keywords, websites are ranked by link referrals. Search engines check how many pages are linking to the site and if there is a suspicious amount of backlinks (links to the page) the site can be demoted in rank. Open Site Explorer lets you see which links are triggering warning flags and what site they are coming from, making it easier to find and remove detrimental links.
Example: When you started your website it seemed like a good idea to put the URL everywhere but now your site isn’t showing up high enough on search engines. Through Open Site Explorer you can easily find these bad links and remove them, improving your position in a search engine.
Note: Moz is an excellent resource for all things SEO. They have a few free tools available but membership is required for a lot of the more sophisticated functions.
Internet Marketing Ninjas were nice enough to put their SEO tools online for free! If you want a one stop place for free SEO help then this will be your best bet. They have tools to manage links, discover keywords, compare search engines, and analyze every part of your website in order to maximize SEO.
Hope you find these tools helpful and that you now have a little more knowledge about SEO!