How to optimise your site with free SEO tools and resources
If you need help optimising your site but are overwhelmed by the volume of tools and resources available, then you’ve come to the right place.
This tried and tested guide features five of the best SEO tools that you can start using today to boost your search presence.
Google Trends provides a useful way to compare the popularity of search terms over a given time frame. It works by analysing how many searches there have been for a specific keyword relative to the total number of Google searches in the same period. It’s possible to change the location, category and type of search (web, image, news, shopping or YouTube) to get more more granular, meaningful data.
You can enter up to 5 search terms simultaneously and the results are displayed in a graph showing interest over time. A search for ‘AdWords’, 'SEO' and 'Social Media' over the last five years in the UK reveals the following trend:
You can see that in 2014, Social Media (yellow) overtook SEO and AdWords as a search term and has continued to rise in popularity.
Google Trends will also help you identify trending topics and search terms related to the information your target market is searching for. This is key to the success of providing relevant content that your customers and prospects want to read about. A search for the phrase ‘video marketing’ reveals the following related topics and queries:
These lists will provide inspiration for topical subjects that you can write about in your blog posts and marketing campaigns that will help drive more traffic to your site.
If you’d like to monitor how your site performs for specific keywords, the SEMrush Position Tracking tool is ideal. You can track performance of up to 10 organic keywords and observe how your competitors rank for the same keywords.
With the free version of SEMrush, you can enter a single domain within the Projects section which will give you access to all the SEMrush tools available. These include:
- Site audit - identify any issues such as broken links, missing or duplicate titles and descriptions and missing alt text.
- Backlink audit - discover and remove potentially toxic backlinks which can lead to penalties by search engines.
- Link building - find and analyse the most powerful sites in your niche, rate them and discover how you can acquire links.
The Screaming Frog SEO spider is a desktop tool that you install locally on your PC. With the free version, you can crawl up to 500 URLs and it will analyse links, images, scripts and onsite page elements for SEO. It will help you find and fix broken links, duplicate pages and issues with page titles and meta descriptions. It will also generate an XML sitemap which you can add to your Google Search Console so that Google can more easily find pages on your site.
Screaming Frog will help you optimise your content efficiently and will eliminate the risk of missing critical issues from manually checking individual pages. All the information is usefully organised in separate tabs and you can export data to Excel for further analysis.
Google Search Console
Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, the Google Search Console offers a suite of SEO tools that provide valuable information about your site at a glance. It will assess your site’s performance and inform you of any issues such as broken links that lead to 404 error pages. You can also remove content from Google’s search index that you’ve taken down from your site so that broken links won’t be delivered in search results.
One of the best things about the Search Console is that it tells you which search terms people are using to find your site. This is useful if you’re looking for new or alternative keywords and synonyms to use in your web copy.
A NEW BETA VERSION OFFERS A NUMBER OF IMPROVEMENTS
In January 2018, Google launched a beta version of its new Search Console which is currently under development. The new Search Console will offer a number of improvements including 16 months of search data compared to the previous 90 days which will enable year-on-year comparisons.
Usability of the new Console is much improved with more prominent headline figures including total clicks and impressions and average CTR (click through rate) and position. It is also now easier to switch between queries, pages, countries and devices using the four tabs below the graph.
Google will continue refine the beta version based on user feedback and will keep adding and improving functionalityover the course of the year until the new version is complete.
Moz Keyword Explorer
Moz’s Keyword Explorer takes users through the entire research process and provides metrics and scores to assist with keyword selection. You start with the discovery of keyword ideas and can apply filters based on volume, keyword difficulty and CTR. The user can then create categorised keyword lists to assist with sorting and retrieval. The free version of Moz Keyword Explorer enables up to 20 keyword, domain or exact page queries per month.
This is is just a snapshot of the wealth of SEO tools available online. You may need to try out one or two before you decide on the best one to help you achieve your search objectives.
Web Foundry are experts in SEO. We help companies implement search strategies to improve their Google results postition on a daily basis. Contact us for more information.