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by Michael Rolfe on 16th November 2011
Today I’ll go through my favourite SEO tools. First up it’s keyword research. This ss a common list of things that need to be addressed if you’re looking at a website from an SEO perspective, and the first one is keyword research. Most people start with the Google Keyword Tool, which is a great place to start. You can put in a keyword, and it will come down with a list of alternative related terms. Alternatively, you can put in the name of a URL of your site or a competitor’s site and get another list of relevant terms.
Some slightly newer features are the keyword grouping and the searching by category that you might be interested in, but do be aware that a lot of the number of search query result numbers are not as accurate as you might think they are. I’ve seen some research that says that this could be out by a factor of ten or more, especially with the low volume search queries.
Something else that you can use to tie into this is Google Insights, which will show you graphs of the search queries over time, but they don’t give you figures. So it’s just for finding relations between the sets of keywords.
Next, once you’ve got some keywords and you’ve got them grouped, is to look at some competitive analysis. So, you can look on Google and find what the chances are of you ranking compared to your competitors, how many other competitors are trying to rank for that term, and the strength of those competitors’ sites.
So, go into Google, type in the term, have a look at the search engine results pages. Are they large sites with hundreds of thousands of pages that they may be difficult to compete against, or are they small niche blogs and you think that you might be able to outrank them? That’s always a good common sense place to start. Then, you can put the term in quotes and have a look at the number of competing pages, and it will give you an idea of the size of the market for the size that are competing on that term. Then, you can type in “all in anchor:” and then your search term, and you can find the amount of links that are linking back for this term. So you can find out if these sites are really focusing on link building campaigns to rank for these terms.
If you type in “all in title” and then type in the search term, then you can see the number of sites that look like they might have some on-page SEO. They’ve optimised the title for that term. They might again be serious competitors.
A tool you can download for free is called Traffic Travis. There’s a free and a paid version, so just stick with the free version. It’s all you need, and that will give you a competitive analysis. If you type in a key term, it will show you the search engine results page in Google for your location, and then it will show you the number of backlinks and the on-page optimisation for that site as well. So, check that one out.
If you can, try and buy a domain with the key term that you’re trying to target in the domain. It is a ranking factor, although it is less of a ranking factor than it used to be. A tool you can use for that is called Domain Samurai.
There are lots of free CMS’s and website designers and so on. One that I personally like is WordPress. It’s very popular and for a good reason. Whether you’re new or quite advanced, there’s usually something in WordPress there for everybody, including a lot of free themes so you can customise the look and feel of the site as well as free plug-ins so you can change the way the site works and the functionality that it can offer. One thing I would recommend is always keep the plug-ins and WordPress itself as up-to-date as possible because there may be some hackers who can take over your site, put in bad links, and ruin your rankings.
The biggest tip I can give you about content tools is not to use them. The quickest way to get good content is just to write it first hand, unique, get it done, and then you don’t need to worry about it. If you are using scraping and rewriting tools, then you often find that you need to learn how to use the programs, which takes a long time, and then the results don’t come out the way that they should do. And then, you have to go back and you have to fix them all, and that’s arduous. And then, after it’s all done, Google and the other search engines get smarter, and they don’t rank that content as highly as they would if you just did original content to begin with. So, don’t take shortcuts there. The quickest way is to write unique quality content.
For those of you who have used Photoshop before and you know it’s a great tool, but you can’t afford it, there’s a very similar version which is open source. It’s called Gimp, G-I-M-P, and it’ available at Gimp.org. If you don’t know what all the buttons are because you’re used to Photoshop, just go onto YouTube and type in a tutorial for what you’d like. So, banner making tutorial, buttons, logos, and so on, and you will be able to see someone actually doing it, and you can follow it step-by-step and you can get really professional results in a small amount of time for free.
On Page SEO
You can use some tools to check the on-page SEO is reflective for the keyword that you’re trying to optimise for. Traffic Travis does this as well as other tools, such as Woorank.com. There’s the URL there.
I recommend CuteRank. You can only look at one domain at a time, but I think the keywords are unlimited and the results are accurate.
You really want to have a look at the analytics from your site so you can benchmark your performance and further optimise where people are spending the most time on the site, which source is driving the most traffic to the site and so on. Use Google Analytics. It’s very easy to install and it is free.
Check the site speed of your site at Tools.pingdom.com. Again, it’s free. It will give you tips on which images you can compress, which ones you can load in a different order or load from a different place in order to improve your site’s speed. Improving your site’s speed with all other things being equal will rank you higher in the search engines vis-à-vis other sites.
Finally then, look at Majestic SEO for a backlink report of your site or your competitors’ sites and see where they’re getting backlinks from. However, there’s a paid version with most of the great features from Majestic SEO. So, for a free version, you can use their free version, or for a free alternative you can use LinkDiagnosis.com or Traffic Travis that we mentioned before, which will show you backlinks, the number of .edu, the number of .gov links. And you can then go to those sites, and if your competitors have links from these sites, you can probably try and get a link there as well. So, it’s is a good place to do some link building research.
Also, if you have a look at my previous post on how to find the hottest niches, then there’s a search string that you can use, again, to find relevant places where you can post links back to your site. If there’s anything else I can help you with or for further information, please visit Koozai.com.