Editor’s Note: This is a section of our completely redone SEO Guide. Enjoy!
As you begin to focus on your SEO and digital marketing campaign, you’ll need to regularly make updates and changes. The way we think, act, and talk about SEO continues to change. You’ll need to stay up to date on the latest trends in the industry and utilize numerous tools and resources to get the most of your digital strategy.
Learning and understanding SEO is something any marketer or business owner can do if they remain passionate and driven. Further education will always be required to increase your presence in the search results.
While the previous chapters have provided top-level information to get you started down a path to success, you will undoubtedly need further education to continue learning. Create a strong brand and continue to maintain value.
As you focus on a particular aspect of SEO to hone your skills, whether keyword research, link analysis, social media, mobile, on-page optimization, website performance, or are simply looking to enhance your understanding through metrics and tracking, utilize these tools and resources.
The one constant in SEO is that it’s always changing. Follow best practices and implement the right approach while you continue to learn and grow.
You can determine how your SEO campaign is functioning and performing with a number of tools. Review your metrics with these platforms and figure out areas you can improve to get the most of your marketing strategy.
Google Analytics: (FREE) Google provides you with the most valuable data to dig into your user behavior and understand how your overall website is performing. Are there certain pages where users consistently drop off? How long are they on your site? How many pages did they view?
Google Analytics does a fantastic job at providing the data that will improve your bottom line. While many of the keywords shown will be “not provided,” you can get an idea of how users are finding and landing on your site. This tool is one you can depend on and is free to install tracking on your website.
Important metrics you’ll be able to see include audience insights, traffic sources, content that is engaging, and conversion metrics.
Audience insights allow you to dive into the number of visits your site has received, the pages viewed, how long visitors stayed on the site, visitor flow, new and repeat visitors, and bounce rate. Traffic sources include organic, paid, referral, and direct.
Consistently review your metrics to see your traffic grow, and make adjustments to your campaign as you see high bounce rates or pages that have high exit rates. Track and test your performance to increase leads and sales.
Google Search Console: (FREE) Formerly Google Webmaster Tools, the Search Console delivers reports and data to control your site in Google. Monitor performance and be notified that Google can access your content, remove any content you don’t want to appear in SERPs, and resolve malware issues.
You can see how users are discovering you through Google Search, including specific queries that resulted in your site appearing in front of users. Determine which queries brought traffic, and review your backlink profile to see which sites are linking to your website. This is a perfect tool for webmasters, marketers, and business owners to help make informed decisions to optimize your performance and increase your traffic.
Get alerts for any issues found on your site, and analyze clicks from search. Google gives you the diagnostics you need to gain a better understanding of how your website is performing and where to make adjustments.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test: (FREE) Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. The importance of having a mobile website continues to increase, and the number of searches on mobile has surpassed those on desktop. With mobile domination, you must take advantage of this to determine if you pass the mobile-friendly test. See a screenshot of how Google sees the page and receive feedback based on whether the site is ready for mobile or not.
Google PageSpeed Insights: (FREE) One of the most vital aspects of your user experience is the speed of your website. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool measures how the page can improve its performance on both desktop and mobile. Plus, it will tell you if you’re doing well by showing a green check mark. Google alerts you of issues that could be a huge impact with a red exclamation point, or those that you should consider fixing with a yellow exclamation point. Implementing the suggesting you see on the tool will improve the performance of your site and the user experience.
GTmetrix: (FREE) Similar to Google PageSpeed Insights, GTmetrix plays a critical role in your SEO toolkit. A free tool that examines your page speed and informs you of areas for improvement, GTmetrix notifies you with scheduled monitoring to keep track of your campaigns performance. The reports and features deliver you data to improve your user experience.
Screaming Frog Spider Tool: (FREEMIUM) This website crawler checks for proper indexing and provides on-page elements from a complete SEO perspective. Crawling your website in minutes, you’ll see data for every URL on your domain. Find and identify redirect loops and issues, find 404s and server errors, review URLs blocked by robots.txt, and generate XML sitemaps. Plus, gather insights into the meta descriptions of each page, adjusting those that are too long, short, or are missing from the page.
Panguin Tool: (FREE) Log into the free tool through Analytics and analyze the data to see organic traffic, as well as fluctuations in rankings. The best thing about the Panguin tool is you’ll see when Google updates have struck and if your site has been affected. Filter between Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, or structural (Phantom) updates. If there’s a significant drop in rankings after an update has struck, you’ll know that your strategy must be altered to increase your web presence.
QuickSprout Website Analyzer: (FREE) Connect your Google Analytics account to analyze your visibility and content performance. You’ll be presented with insights on how to create better content and grow your traffic. See page shares per social media platform, competitor analysis, page load speed, and more. Use this tool for content marketing and SEO alike.
WooRank: (FREE) A Google Chrome extension, WooRank’s “SEO & Website Analysis” gives you a deep analysis and SEO tips to improve your performance on Google, Yahoo, and Bing. As you click your extension, you’ll see a report detailing your visitors, including traffic estimations and AdWords traffic, your social impact, a mobile report, and SEO basics and usability factors. Download your extensive report in a PDF.
The tips and techniques provided in your report are invaluable as you enhance your understanding of website performance. You’ll be able to report on a few sites before the extension asks you to pay to move forward. The free version is ideal for marketers and webmasters looking for a thorough report of the website before beginning an optimization campaign.
Use WooRank for competitor analysis, and understand the criteria you need for better SEO. You can get a 14-day free trial, and pricing begins at $49 per month. The Pro level includes keyword tracking, technical analyses, backlink analyzing, monitoring, and alerts.
Raven Tools: (PAID) While the site auditor is free, its marketing insights start at $99 per month. Designed mainly for agencies, it’s one of the most proficient auditor tools, alerting you of any and ALL issues that appear on your site. Log in and quickly see what aspects of your website and overall digital campaign are working and what’s not to adjust your strategy.
With 30 tools combined in the single platform, you can manage and monitor all aspects of your strategy, from organic to paid and social. Find issues within your site, monitor your rankings, view your competitors, and run reports on this powerful platform.
Varvy SEO Tool: (FREE) Use this site auditor to see recent Twitter and Facebook mentions, external links, social shares, and technical SEO issues. See if your Robots.txt files are found, if your site is secure, mobile friendliness, page speed, and accessibility. Completely free, this tool is an educational resource with free information available that most paid sites only offer.
Social Media Marketing Tools
Social media is one of the best ways to ensure you stay in front of your target audience. Through sponsored posts and campaigns, or engaging posts that generate sales, you can see a massive return on your social media marketing investment. Each platform delivers a unique audience. Leverage your profiles to attract new customers and utilize these tools to fine-tune your strategy.
Buffer: (PAID) Try out all the features with a 30-day free trial, then get started for as little as $10 per month. Set up your profiles, posts, and content, and let Buffer share your posts at the most ideal times throughout the day. Select which accounts you’d like to post to, and the content that you want delivered to your audience on those platforms.
As you’re browsing and come across an article you’d like to share or add to your queue, download the app and enjoy the convenience of sharing while saving time. You can upload your videos and share your images. Buffer offer the convenience to allow you to get the most of your social campaigns.
SproutSocial: (PAID) Manage your social media profiles and find opportunities to engage with your audience when they’re active on a particular platform. As you begin to publish and schedule posts across the platforms, download reports that show various metrics and data outlining the success of the post. Starting at $59 per month, you can manage your calendar, export reports, link up to five profiles, and monitor keywords all from one platform. Similar to Buffer, measure analytics and monitor engagement for each post you publish.
Link Analysis Resources
Links remain a vital component of your SEO campaign. Without a link profile, you’ll be hard-pressed to rank above your competition in the search results. You consistently have to check your profile, creating a strategy to build links back to your website while approaching and reaching out to others in your industry. How can you analyze those links? By utilizing these advanced tools that deliver answers to all of your questions.
Open Site Explorer: (PAID) Presented by Moz, Open Site Explorer helps you find opportunities for backlinks from authoritative and reliable sites. This improves your link profile and bolsters your SEO campaign. Learn what links your competitors are gaining, and those you can get for your website.
See the anchor text of the links to your site, as well as the page and domain authority of the linking site. Research the backlinks, find opportunities for improving your link profile, and see which links are damaging.
The free version allows you to see limited information—the first five backlinks for your domain. See whether they are dofollow or nofollow links, and run up to three reports per day as a free user. The paid platform allows you to run unlimited reports and use the other SEOMoz tools for $99 per month.
Majestic SEO: (FREEMIUM) If you want the best data available to analyze your link profile, Majestic SEO is the premier tool for backlink analysis. Presented with both a free and paid version, the free tool gives you limited information.
See insights into external backlinks and referring domains, the anchor text, and the trust ratio of your domain. The trust flow divided by the citation flow results in your trust ratio, or the strength of your backlinks—and your site as a whole. All of Majestic’s unique metrics are defined in their glossary. Understand the industries and websites that are linking to your website by looking at the growth of your link profile over time.
Ahrefs: (FREEMIUM) One of the most reliable link analysis tools on the market, Ahrefs gives you a detailed and advanced backlink profile. Track your link growth over time, seeing which websites link to yours and how strong they are. Plans begin at $99 per month.
More than just a backlink analyzer, research your competition and discover content that is working for you and others in your industry. Identify top-performing content and see which keywords were used in the content. Their data is of the highest quality and it’s easy for users to read the reports. Find all of your link targets and content ideas with Ahrefs.
Buzzstream: (PAID) Stay organized and manage campaigns across multiple projects. Send personalized outreach and gather metrics for your benefit. Email outreach and link building is made easy with this tool, helping you to focus on your business while the platform shares task progression with your entire team at the click of a button. Structure the account well, or you’ll end up frustrated.
Content and Copywriting Tools
Well-written copy and topics help you rank higher in search. Content adjustments and tweaks remain a core component of your search engine optimization strategy. Many of the SEO tools mentioned above deliver insights into your content’s performance, helping you adjust to get the most out of your campaign.
How are you going to leverage your content to generate clicks through to your site and engaging your audience? These tools show you topics you can leverage, as well as if you have any internal or external issues with the content on your site.
Google Trends: (FREE) View trending searches, top charts, and explore what’s popular. Learn how to use hot topics to your advantage and generate traffic to your website through trends. A way to get unique keywords ranking for your site, you can get ideas and potential suggestions on topics and phrases you can leverage in an effort to have your piece of content go viral.
For your targeted keywords, you can analyze search trends to ensure you take advantage of the most valuable keywords for your brand. With charts that show changes for query volumes, keep up to date with the market to get ahead of your competitors. Business owners and marketers should test and analyze queries that are driving traffic to see if there are similar terms or phrases you can be targeting.
When you understand what is trending, this tool can give you a powerful advantage.
Siteliner: (FREEMIUM) Siteliner is a valuable tool that gives you insights into your content, as well as underlying issues within your pages. Offering you more than just content analysis, Siteliner will let you know if you have any broken links, related domains, or redirects that cause the tool to skip a page.
Duplicate content can be detrimental to your website, and Siteliner lets you know which pages you should adjust and update to minimize the duplication. It checks for duplication within your website, not external sites, so you can easily make the changes to avoid lowering your search engine rankings.
Broken links affect the user experience, and should be fixed to ensure they are working. Working must like a search engine, when you place your URL into Siteliner and the tool skips a page, chances are Google will too.
Analyze up to 250 pages of your site, or pay for Siteliner Premium to analyze up to 25,000 pages.
Portent’s Content Idea Generator: (FREE) As you’re just starting out with your SEO campaign, you may not know how to write blog posts frequently enough to build a following. Perfect for the beginners, you will receive ideas on topics to post about. It suggests some clickable, catchy titles for you to utilize in your blog posts. Create attractive headlines and understand how to appeal to your audience.
Buzzsomo: (PAID) Find the content that is appealing to your target audience. Type in a topic and see which articles have the highest amount of shares and backlinks. It highlights the major influencers and has become a must-have tool for marketers. See what works and what is trending in your industry. For content and SEO, Buzzsomo provides compelling data that you can use to boost your search presence. Through Buzzsomo Alerts, see whenever a keyword gets mentioned around the web.
As you launch your campaign, it starts with the selection of keywords. How do you know which keywords will help your campaign? You could think of a great industry term, but it could have zero searches on the major search engines. Through research, you’ll learn which keywords will have the highest impact for you. It starts with these tools and resources.
Keyword Planner: (FREE) The relied-upon tool among marketers, the Google AdWords Keyword Planner helps you get a sense of how competitive your keywords are in Google search. You’ll see the volume per month in which a particular query is searched. Your SEO Campaign should begin with keyword research, and the Keyword Planner is the place to start.
Depending on the query you want to rank for, the planner will show you relevant keyword ideas, as well as ad group ideas centered on a particular search. Ideal for starting your AdWords campaign, the Keyword Planner is a vital tool for SEO marketers looking to get an idea of keywords that will help beat competitors. Learn what people are searching for, and exploit those searches for your benefit.
SEMRush: (FREEMIUM) Browse through your competitors top keywords, see the landing page each keyword is ranking to, and the value of the keyword for PPC reasons. Free users can run 10 keywords per report. You’ll find the domain’s organic ranking, search volume, percent of traffic generated, ad competition, and trends from the last 12 months.
Full reports show the domains ranking, if it has been hit by a penalty and how it has recovered over time, and how many keywords it is ranking for over the past couple years. The paid version delivers this full report, and the PRO Plan begins at $69.95 per month.
AuthorityLabs: (PAID) Take advantage of a 30-day free trial to receive reliable keyword insights. Keep tabs on your keyword rankings and recover the (not provided) keywords through this software. Track your rankings and competitors side by side and share your reporting with the entire team. For small businesses, AuthorityLabs tracks local results for granular data at your fingertips. Pricing starts at $99 per month.
SpyFu: (FREEMIUM) Research what is working for your competitors. Learn what keywords are generating a profit for them and what can you take advantage of to grow your campaign. Look at data from the last nine years to see every keyword your competitors have bought and the places they’ve ranked organically. Find the profitable keywords to benefit your campaign and outrank your competition.
SECockpit: (PAID) If you want an advanced tool to measure keywords and find suggestions, you need SECockpit. Starting at just $40 per month, the features and capabilities within the platform are endless. Find keywords in seconds, from low competition to the lowest CPC in AdWords. Get up to 200 keywords per minute to keep your SEO campaign on track. Find more keywords that lead to better results and stay ahead of your competition.
Übersuggest: (FREE) Enhance your keyword research and learn new queries that are relevant to your search. If your keyword is “seo services,” you’ll see results with long-tail keywords coming from every letter of the alphabet. For example, you can navigate to the letter “M” and see that Übersuggest provides “seo services monthly” and “seo services montreal” as other relevant keywords. Copy and paste the keywords or download them in a CSV and choose the ones that will benefit your strategy.
Its Word Cloud query allows you to visualize terms associated with your query. As you filter the results you’re presented, view Google Trends data in real-time to see how that query is trending. This free tool is easy to use and contributes valuable information to identify if you can be doing more with your campaign.
Keywordtool.io: (FREEMIUM) This tool provides plenty of insights based on the autocomplete function in Google search. Find out which terms your audience is looking for with hundreds of suggestions for every query. In many ways similar to Ubersuggest, you’ll see a list of keywords based on autocomplete examples from Google, Bing, YouTube, and the App Store.
You’ll be presented with many long-tail queries that you won’t find in Google’s Keyword Planner due to the very low volume of search. Long-tail helps you narrow your audience and draw traffic from clients closer to the end of the sales funnel.
Use the Keyword Tool for SEO, content creation, PPC, and more, covering more ground and leveraging your website for more visitors. You can choose to see results based on a single Google domain and language combination. Expand your keywords groups and begin targeting more long-tail keywords.
Blogs and Resources
While you’re testing these tools to enhance your campaign, read up on the latest strategies and changes in the search marketing industry. The only constant is change, so you can gain valuable intel by reading these blogs and resources to enhance your understanding.
WordStream: Focusing on PPC and social advertising, the WordStream blog is filled with useful information. You’ll learn all the news associated with Bing Ads, Google AdWords, Social Advertising, and Content Marketing. WordStream remains a steady source of valuable search marketing information.
Moz: The inbound marketing company has a blog that offers some of the best insights and advice on the web. With Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday series and informative posts to enhance your online marketing, there is an archive of data that you can use to your advantage. Learn the tips and techniques that have helped many businesses become success with online marketing, and learn how to influence your brand for search. Browse by topic to read relevant articles to your industry and strategy.
QuickSprout’s Advanced Guide to SEO: Written by Neil Patel, this extensive guide goes in-depth for the modern search marketing to gain a better understanding. In an infographic style, it’s easier to read and retain the information you’re seeing. This guide helps you perform better on the web when you implement the tips into your strategy.
Content Marketing Institute: Building your audience and advancing your content strategy is the focus of Content Marketing Institute’s blog. Learn about the latest news in content, social media, and how to enhance your overall strategy. With contributions from the industry’s top influencers, these posts will help you fine-tune your strategy and master your content marketing campaign.
Social Media Examiner: How are you utilizing social media? With the rise in live video, instant articles, and AMP, social media continues to advance. It can be difficult to stay on top of all the changes. Social Media Examiner is one of the most informative social blogs that help businesses discover tips and techniques to bolster their campaign. Connect with more customers and drive brand awareness by implementing the helpful hints from this platform.
Utilizing These Tools and Resources
Digital marketing and SEO continue to evolve and advance. Their importance lies on various aspects of your campaign. You’ll constantly be testing, making adjustments, and diving into the metrics to understand how your website is performing.
Make sure your SEO campaign is helping users who are looking for you. Provide real value with your site structure, user experience, and content. In today’s digital era, your customers are searching online. If you find yourself behind your competition, analyze the reasons why. Is it a poor backlink profile? Are you targeting the wrong keywords? Is your content thin or duplicated across the site? Do users have difficulty finding what they need on your website? It could be any number of reasons, and these tools will help you understand how to alter your approach.
SEO is complicated. There are many tools that you can use to leverage your success and ensure you stand out online. Utilize some of the tools mentioned to learn how your website performs as compared to your competition.