9 Free SEO Tools We Can’t Live Without
Here at Source, our digital marketing experts have a long list of useful online tools that we use on a daily basis to ensure our clients’ websites perform to the best of their ability. Today, we’re giving you a small insight into our work lives by telling you how we use a few of them in our SEO work. So if you’re carrying out in-house online marketing and these aren’t already on your list, then hopefully we’ve given you something new to consider.
Note: Some of the following tools may have the option to upgrade to paid accounts, enabling access to more features. But for the purposes of this blog post, we’ll only be referring to their free elements.
Kicking off the list of extremely useful tools is Copyscape. As a plagiarism checker, it scans the internet to identity whether or not a piece of content is unique and, if it’s not, highlights where else this content is appearing.
How we use it: Search engines are big fans of unique content. So much so that websites using duplicated content could even be penalised.
Using the free section, we cherry-pick pages with good chunks of content (usually the ‘Home’ and ‘About’ pages, together with one or two category and blog pages) to see if it’s appearing anywhere else on the internet. If not, everything’s hunky-dory.
But if Copyscape turns up any results, you’re given the URLs in question and can then review them to assess how strong the duplication is, together with whether or not to take any action in order to protect your own website from a potential penalty.
To be quite frank, Google Analytics is full to the brim with useful information. We’d strongly recommend taking the time to have a play around the whole platform to see what you can find. But for now, we’re just discussing the Insights section.
To access this, log into your Google Analytics account and select the ‘Insights’ button located towards the top right of each page.
How we use it: There’s no one answer here, really. GA Insights offers so much information that we use it in countless ways. Want immediate information on what your goal’s conversion rate was last week? How about the trend of your average page load time over the past three months? Or even why your users changed last week? GA Insights will tell you all that and more.
It even bookmarks the questions you’ve read and enables you to save those that are most important to you.
Seriously, just go and have a play about with it – you’ll soon get lost in a GA Insights wormhole…
SEMRush Writing Assistant
SEMRush is another one of those online resources that you can get lost in. Today, though, we’re going to focus on their SEO Writing Assistant which is particularly handy if you’re copywriting on a regular basis.
How we use it: If you’re new to copywriting for SEO, this tool provides gentle nudges in the right direction. As well as giving you an overall score on your content’s performance, it also indicates other useful metrics such as readability (determining the quality and ascertaining how advanced your language is), words (literally, how many words you’re using and an approximate reading time – a particularly useful feature), target keywords (determined by you before you start), recommended keywords, title and paragraph length.
We’d advise writing your piece of content and then pasting it into SEMRush’s tool. From there, you can ascertain how well it would perform for SEO and determine whether any tweaks need to be made.
Moz’s Title Tag Preview Tool
If you’re big into digital marketing, Moz’s entire website is definitely one you should bookmark. But on this occasion, we’re going to discuss Moz’s Title Tag Preview Tool which is designed to help you effectively optimise the meta title tags of various pages of your website.
How we use it: Search engines will only assign so much space to the display of metadata. As one of the most important indicators in SEO, you need to make sure the meta title tags on each page of your website are looking their best.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to write titles that are between 50-60 characters but, typically, Google will not display titles over 600 pixels in length.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not 100% confident I could judge pixel length by sight! Thankfully, this tool means I don’t have to. Simply write your proposed title into the tool, click ‘Check’ and Moz will immediately display how it may look within the search engines. If it’s looking particularly short, or the end’s being cut off, it’s time for a rewrite.
Yoast SEO Plugin
When we build any website, we need to ensure that it is ready for SEO. However, the job of optimisation is not finished when we hand over the keys, so to speak.
Instead, ongoing SEO is a must for any business if they want to reach new customers and be found online. Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that makes SEO implementation just that little bit simpler, including an easy-to-use traffic light system that helps you determine how well individual pages are optimised.
How we use it: All of our website projects are designed and built using WordPress and we make sure to add the Yoast SEO plugin. It is so good that we even use it on our own website.
Yoast helpfully gives you a breakdown of your SEO performance on every page. It can tell you if you have a good URL structure, if there are any issues with metadata, provides keyword analysis and can even offer advice on sentence structure to improve accessibility. Yoast is an absolute must for anybody looking to optimise their WordPress website.
Don’t be alarmed by the name; this is a tool that every marketer should have as part of their arsenal. As a spider crawler, it follows all the links on your website to collate information on individual pages which can then be assessed and audited for optimisation purposes.
How we use it: Screaming Frog is another one of those tools that can be used for an abundance of useful things. But in-house, predominantly, we use it to get quick information on multiple pages’ metadata.
Pulling this information down into spreadsheet format, we can ascertain whether meta elements are missing, too long, too short, unoptimised, duplicated…and then work on those pages accordingly.
Let’s turn to social media for a minute – particularly Twitter. We all know how important it is to promote your business on social media, but we understand that not everyone has the time available around the clock.
TweetDeck collates all the information on Twitter into one place. On one screen, you can see your profile’s news feed, notifications, messages and activity.
How we use it: The beauty of TweetDeck is it also allows you to schedule tweets. So, for example, if you know your account will need to send out a tweet at a specific time when you won’t be available, TweetDeck can help. Internally, we use it to schedule tweets for when the office is shut, such as bank holidays and over Christmas.
Additionally, try downloading the BetterTweetDeck Chrome extension – this will enable you to use advanced features (such as emojis) to ensure your tweets stand out from the crowd.
Test My Site
We all know how important it is to be mobile-friendly in today’s world. But do you know how well you’re performing in that area?
How we use it: Google’s Test My Site basically does what it says – it runs a test of your website to see how well it performs on a mobile device and, more specifically, how fast it is to load on these devices. After running this test, if it highlights that there are any problems, our digital marketing team sends it straight over to our in-house technical team who work their magic to resolve any issues.
Looking for a basic checklist-based assessment of how well your website’s current SEO is performing? Woorank will run a test on your website and come back with your specific performance in the very basics of SEO, including your XML sitemap, robots.txt file, home page metadata, domain age, social media etc.
How we use it: Whilst Woorank will provide you with a plethora of information, we mostly use it to determine a client’s Woorank score for benchmark purposes whenever we begin a campaign. As the campaign progresses and the months roll by, we periodically check back with this score to see how well the website is performing and assess whether there’s room for improvement.
Digital marketing comes in many shapes and sizes and these tools are great for checking your performance. But to ensure your business succeeds online, it’s vital to make sure these form part of a strong ongoing strategy.
Working out which methods will work best to promote your business can be tough. If you’d like to discuss the available routes in more detail, contact our team of digital marketing experts who are here to help.