The best SEO tools aren’t easy to find—unless you know where to look. Too many companies want to charge you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year for services of dubious value. I personally have tried many SEO tools only to find that they never actually do what they promise. I have ended up with a short list of my best SEO tools and hopefully this will help you avoid the same mistakes I did.
Best SEO Tools #1—Google AdWords Research
Choosing the right keyword phrase for your site is, in my opinion, the most important part of keyword optimization. Choose the wrong keyword and you could spend months chasing after traffic that doesn’t exist. Or you could attract a lot of traffic but discover none of it converts into revenue. To choose the right keyword, you need to know what people—real people—are searching for. Google knows what people search for and they’ll give you that information in one of the best free SEO tools if you sign up for an free AdWords account.
How To Use Google’s Free SEO Tools
Log into your Google account and access the AdWords page. Then load the Keyword Planner tool. Now you can enter a keyword phase and see statistics for it. The key statistic is how many people search for that phrase every month. Pay close attention to the related phrases. I write down keyword phrases and the number of monthly searches as I do my research and then choose the most searched phrase at the end.
Google also tells you the amount of competition for the keyword phrase. Note that competition is the number of people bidding on AdWords ads for that phrase—not the number of people using SEO sites. But there’s usually a correlation: sites that spend money on AdWords will often spend money on SEO, so heavy AdWords competition means heavy content-based competition. Of course, where there’s heavy competition, there’s also usually great opportunities. Also note that I have bought software such as Keyword Elite and it is fantastic but you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. I always seems to end up back at the Google keyword tool.
Best SEO Tools #2—WordPress Split Test
What SEO features on your site make it the success or failure it is today? If you can’t answer that question with confidence—and hard data—then you’re almost certainly not making as much money as you could be. Your website is a marketing tool and smart marketers have been testing their ads since at least ancient Egypt. It’s ok not to understand effective ads if you just read them—but it’s almost a crime not to understand advertising when you’re an advertiser. You can read about SEO and copywriting all day, but until you test it yourself, everything you read or hear is the other kind of SEO—Somebody Else’s Opinion.
The Best Of The Best SEO Tools For Testing
The gold standard for testing your SEO techniques—or any advertising technique—is split testing. (Also called A/B testing.) To split test your site, you need a special tool that redirects half your traffic to separate two versions. One version is the original; the other is a modified page that includes a new SEO or other feature. Then you need to choose an action that visitors should take for the test to be successful. For example, if you want visitors to stay on your site for longer, the action you want them to take is to click any internal link. Here are some other common actions for SEO:
- Click on an ad. Ad-supported sites should frequently test their ad layouts. Only testing can reveal the ideal number and placement of ads on your site.
- Newsletter sign-up forms. How can you get more people to sign up for your newsletter? Only testing one sign-up form against another can tell. Try testing free giveaways with newsletter subscriptions, longer or shorter “we will not spam you” guarantees, or different call-out styles.
- Home page layouts. Every SEO expert I’ve ever read has suggested that you try to make the front page of your site its most popular page, but only testing can tell you what home page layout gets the greatest number of visitors to click the next link (or fill out a form).
You may think that you don’t need any fancy split testing stuff—you can just test the old fashioned way by making a change and checking your Google Analytics statistics after a week. If that’s what you think, then I wonder how often you do check your Google analytics account. Most sites I’ve seen have traffic variations between 10% and 30% every week, making it almost impossible to see the effects of all but the most dramatic changes. Split testing with enough traffic can reveal traffic increases or decreases as little as 1%. And, before you scoff at the value of tiny changes, note that it only takes 71 tiny 1% improvements to increase your total traffic by over 100%. (That’s because results are cumulative in the same way as compound interest.) Implementing split testing is easy if you use a popular content management system such as WordPress or Drupal. Just search for a split testing plugin and follow the directions to configure it.
Best SEO Tools #3—SEO Plugins
Yes SEO WordPress plugins are the absolute best help for any WordPress website builder. I have been using SEOPressor and Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin for a long time now. Recently I added Scribe to the armory of SEO tools and I guess I am set for life now!
Here is a video showing how and why I am using Scribe as one of my SEO Tools
Best SEO Tools #4—SEO is a Tool Itself!
Without SEO I would not be getting free traffic and earning money online like I do. Having the skills to perform SEO is one of the most important aspects of this business. Of course you can pretend that you do not need it, however when you do use it you will NEVER turn back! During the holidays the blogs that had been SEOed had continual traffic and sales whilst the blogs that required traffic generation died off during that period. For example I have built blogs that get traffic from guest posting, however I was not doing this during the holiday season so the traffic suffered.
Best SEO Tools #5—The Reason We’re Here
Google didn’t invent Web searching, but they made it effective. Before Google, I kept hundreds of bookmarks just so I could re-find useful sites. Now I only keep bookmarks for sites I visit often. SEO wouldn’t exist if Google hadn’t made searching easy, quick, and effective. There’d just be no reason to optimize our sites for search engines. Google’s qualities make it the search engine most used by your visitors, so use it often to find your own site. When Google analytics tells you what keyword people used to find your site, don’t just look at that statistic—open up Google Search and type in that query. See what your visitors see as Google Instant guesses what you want; see what your competition is and figure out why that visitor chose you. (And decide whether other visitors may have chosen your competition.) Google is the grandaddy of all free SEO tools, so use it often.