When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), using the right tools is 80% of the success equation. The other 20% involves following up with those tools on a regular basis to implement a solid SEO strategy. Many tools are available from which to choose. While some are free, all require time and commitment on your part to be used effectively.
Having the right tools in your SEO toolbox can make all the difference between a good website that produces some financial benefit and a great website that continually makes you money. And the more tools you use, the more optimized your site will be to attract customers who use search engines. Always verify the reliability and validity of SEO tools before relying on them too heavily. Tools should be helpful but are not intended to replace sound judgment when it comes to optimization techniques.
SEO Site Planner
Not all website designers are SEO experts. For this reason, you want to consider using a site planner which is a tool or a service offered by an SEO company. Whatever direction you go, a site planner can make sure your site design meets SEO best practices by incorporating keywords in title and meta tags, creating a site that is easily indexed by search engines, and developing a site that customers will like. This entails making sure you are using HTML source code that can be validated and employing appropriate site navigational techniques. These are all factors that contribute to higher search engine results pages (SERP) rankings. Site planners can also help you if you already have a site but need a redesign. Using this type of tool or service, you can easily maintain current traffic while protecting search rankings during the transition period. More site owners are transferring their sites to content management systems like WordPress. Without a site planner, it is possible to lose search rankings and revenue that can take between six and twelve months to recover.
If you already have a website, you can conduct a site audit to get recommendations for improving SEO and getting more search traffic driven to your site. These audits provide useful information on the overall usability of your site as well as details on each page. Most site audits can be conducted on sites that have as many as ten thousand web pages. You will get reports on the effectiveness of your landing pages, title tags, and anchor texts. Audits can tell if your site has broken links, duplicate content, improper page redirects, and server errors. You will also learn how fast your site loads. These are all contributing factors to SEO because search engine algorithms include them when calculating a site’s rank.
Once you have your site designed, you can begin focusing on content. To do so you will need to establish a good list of keywords from which to work. These keywords will be used in all on-page and off-page SEO content. You will also use keywords in the title and meta tags for each web page. Many options are available to help you build your keyword list including keyword suggestion tools and keyword list generators. Many site owners still rely on tools such as Google’s Keyword Tool associated with their AdWords program. You simply enter a keyword and see how frequently it is searched to decide if it is a possible keyword for your site. A list of top related keywords will also be generated for your review. Keyword density analyzers are particularly helpful to prevent accidental keyword stuffing which can cause your site to be penalized. You want a fairly low (less than 10%) keyword density on your web pages. And your keywords should be spread throughout your text rather than bunched together.
Duplicate Content Checkers
One of the biggest problems with websites at the moment is their use of duplicate content. With the launch of Google’s Panda update last year, many sites have been dropped on SERPs or de-indexed altogether because of their duplicate content. Even if you have not suffered this fate, don’t assume your site is safe. Take advantage of duplicate content checkers to see if you have content on your site or are linked to such content that can cause harm to your site. Immediately remove the content and replace it with original content.
Sitemaps have many SEO benefits and they are available in various formats. Sitemap generators can help create XML sitemaps that you can submit directly to search engines, especially Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, to help them index your site faster and with better results. An HTML sitemap is published on your site, typically on page footers, to help your visitors navigate your site which can be helpful if you have lots of web pages.
Want to know how your competitors are using keywords? You can use keyword list comparison tools or keyword density analyzers to learn how your competitors are succeeding and to identify areas of weakness. You can see how much traffic is driven your competitor’s website and what other sites are linked to theirs. There are many tools you can use to gather detailed information on your competitors. Most simply require you to enter their URL into the search bar to generate reports. You can use these tools to gather data you can use to create a blueprint of sorts that tells you what direction your competitors are heading.
Page Rank Tools
Of course you want to monitor your PageRank score. A high score reflects your site’s importance to search engines. It takes time and lots of hard work to get a high PageRank. What you are really looking for is a sudden drop in PageRank or a PageRank with a gray bar. Both scenarios are bad news for you. A drop in PageRank can occur when search engines update their ranking algorithms. We saw this happen with Google’s Panda update. Along with your PageRank numeric score, a progress bar is visible to visually represent that number. A bar that is grayed out typically corresponds with a PageRank of “0” which indicates your site has no PageRank. And without a PageRank, your site is not indexed so it will not be included on SERPs. If you have a new site, it could just be that your site has simply not been indexed yet. Be sure you submit your site to search engines for faster indexing.
Link Analysis Tools
Many tools exist that help you analyze your link performance. Links are important for SEO because the more quality links you have, the higher PageRank and SERP listings you earn. And they most certainly must be quality links. Search engines are now penalizing sites that use excessive paid links, link farms, and link schemes to artificially inflate their rankings. Additionally, if your site links to a site that has been banned or de-listed from a search engine, you risk your site following the same course of action. With backlink checkers you can see who is linking to your site. You can also use link analysis tools to generate a list of all links to and from your site so you can eliminate links to bad neighborhoods before you get penalized and receive a drop in rankings. Linking to high authority sites improves your search engine rankings and helps establish your own site as a high-trust domain.
Spider Test Tools
Want to see how your site will be indexed by a search engine? Look no further than spider test tools. With this tool you can make sure there are no barriers that will prevent your site from being indexed in its entirety. Search engines do not always index an entire site. When this occurs it is frequently because something happened on the site that interrupted the indexing process. Search engines don’t hang around to see what the problem is – they simply leave and go to the next site. This can cause major problems by reducing the number of your web pages that will be included on SERPs. By using this type of tool, you can address any potential problems so that your site will be fully indexed faster.
Knowing as much as possible about your traffic is invaluable. Traffic audits are tools that determine the extent to which your SEO efforts are actually driving quality traffic to your site. You will learn about your bounce rate for each of your keywords. If you are using paid ad or affiliate marketing programs in addition to traditional SEO, traffic audits clearly delineate whether your traffic is organic or paid so you can see which is more successful. In addition to bounce rates, you will see your conversion rates for the various traffic streams based on keywords. You can then reduce your SEO efforts at low-performing publisher sites or select different keywords to use.
These are just some of the must-have tools for your SEO toolbox. Myriad others exist that can help you build or fix a website so it is properly optimized for search engines. You can learn about even more SEO tools at SubmitEdge. Because websites are different, it is a good idea to review as many of these tools as possible before selecting the ones you want to use. Also, new tools are introduced all the time so it is necessary to stay up-to-date on these options for your future SEO efforts.