The number of tools available for SEO can look daunting if you are relatively new to the world of website optimisation. This is due to the dynamic nature of the search marketing industry which is evolving at a rapid pace. 'Ranking' and search advertising has changed so much to adapt and improve the experience for users whilst trying to be fair to businesses fighting for it.
Performance is not just limited to classic listing and ranking anymore, especially on Google SERP. Therefore, use of the following tools has become an absolute must to ensure there are no blind spots left when carrying out SEO.
To give you a head start, we have listed some of the most essentials tools to use when doing SEO. Please note that although we use these tools ourself, we are in no way affiliated to them or got paid to include them in our list.
Google Search Console
If your client’s website is not connected to Google Search Console, then do it now. It will provide you with a list of URLs which it had difficulty crawling, including the error that Google received when it tried to access these URLs. Within Search Console, you can also submit an XML Sitemap that helps Google to identify all URLs on your website and test your robots.txt to see if anything is blocking Google from crawling your site.
Search Console even provides information on what keyword searches led to the site being listed in various Google’s SERPs (web, video, images), and the click through rates of these listings.
As the majority of search engine searches are now performed on mobile devices, it is essential that you check the mobile friendliness of your website. Screaming Frog is an SEO crawler that allows you to simulate the mobile search crawler behavior when accessing your site. Screaming Frog finds broken links, audits redirects and review directives, and analyses page titles and meta data descriptions.
Google’s Pagespeed Insights & Structured Data Testing Tools
Another “absolute must” for SEO’s should be Google's pagespeed insights tool and the structured data testing tool. These are important as page loading speed is a key factor for SEO and implementing structured data markup for content allows the page to gain additional SERP real estate by being able to feature in the knowledge panel and features snippets. Studies by leading tool providers show that the enhanced SERP visibility leads to improved CTRs which is, again, an important SEO factor.
Mozbar, HTTP Redirect Chrome Add-on, Web Developer Chrome Add-on, Inspect Element on Chrome or Firebug
Now and then you will need to inspect your website’s pages to identify code level issues. These issues may have caused errors that normally go unchecked in the website development lifecycle, but must be rectified to achieve the best results organic search performance results. This is where the browser add-on tools such as inspect element, Firebug, Mozbar and redirect identifier comes handy.
Competitor Analysis & Visibility Monitoring:
Like Google’s robots, SEMRush continuously crawls the web and collects valuable SEO data about the websites it discovers. The many data types allow you to slice the data to identify any SEO strategy deployed by a competitor. Combining this data with traffic metrics may uncover opportunities to improve organic visibility. Whilst there are many tools at varied pricing, SEMRush stands out to be one of the most cost-effective tools for analysis and also monitoring.
CMS & Technology Identifier
Whilst this is not a core SEO requirement, it always helps to understand on what platform a website is built. This enables you to be able to provide a customised technical solution/recommendation for implementation. For example, if you know that the web server is powered by IIS, then a particular issue resolution may not include guidelines to update the .HTACCESS file, but consider changing the configuration settings with the server and/or the cache management system. Plus, this information always makes you look good in front of a client.
SEMRush, Moz Keyword Planner, Google Keyword Planner, Google Suggestions, Answerthepublic.com and Hitwise (for audience)
Perhaps the most important aspect of SEO planning is keyword research. As the search engine algorithms evolve, so do the requirements for the keyword research. Using data from SEMRush and combining metrics with Google search data will allow you to carry out comprehensive keyword research. Be sure to cover the most important aspects of the client's product/services and map it to the user's search intent/journey.
Analytics & tracking
Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager & Query Explorer
This is a basic minimum requirement for today’s digital marketers. The digital marketing world had a pivotal moment with the launch of GTM in October 2012 as it facilitates marketers to implement tracking of important actions that a user takes on the website. Query explorer coupled with GA enables you to dig through GA data that is normally not presented in the default UA of GA.
Outreach & Content
Screaming Frog, Buzzsumo + Buzzstream, Google Sheets
Outreach and community building is an important factor that must not be ignored for any SEO campaign to be successful. Whilst traditionally 'link building' was the order of the day for SEO managers the focus has shifted from building mere links to reaching your audience. Understanding what your audience is talking about and curating content from the client’s existing archive can be gold. Further, using that content to reach your target audience helps your site gain valuable natural inbound links that impact the way search engines start to value the content and hence the website that hosts the content.
Thinking of audience rather than search engines is the secret recipe! All the tools mentioned above will help you accomplish this.
Want to become an expert in search marketing? Find out more here or call us on 1300 725 628.