I’m writing today to let you in on one of the SEO industry’s biggest secrets. The best SEO marketing professionals know quite a few things that the average person doesn’t, but this is one of their most important pieces of SEO knowledge.
The best SEO professionals know that you can’t do SEO on your own. Without a few tools and techniques to help you better understand and observe how your SEO related actions are impacting your site, there’s no way for you to be truly successful with SEO.
Luckily, there are quite a few great SEO tools out there. These tools can help you with various aspects of SEO, from keyword research to checking your site’s design. Even better, many of these tools are free and simple.
If you become highly invested in SEO, the more expensive and advanced tools are better. These are the types of tools we often use on your behalf here at SERP Ability. However, some of the simpler, free tools are great too. This is especially true for beginners. Also, we and other SEO professionals rely on a few free tools as well. Sometimes, the free option really is the best.
Here are three free SEO tools that are sure to give your SEO a boost. Most are fairly simple to use, too! If you take the time to get to know what these tools do and how they work, you’re sure to find SEO success.
1. Xenu LinkSleuth
This free and easy to use tool will spot any broken links on your site. Broken links make your site much harder for Google’s spiders (AKA the Googlebot) to crawl. If your website is hard to crawl, it won’t rank very well on Google.
Although this isn’t necessarily an everyday use tool, it’s great to check your links every once in a while. Fixing a few broken links can make a huge difference to your SEO – and it’s fast and easy!
This tool is especially useful for very large sites, or sites that have been active a while.
This simple tool allows you to check for copies of your content on the web. It can help prevent others from plagiarizing your material. It can also help you ensure that any work your content writers produce is genuine and original.
3. Google PageSpeed
This simple tool does just what it sounds like it does. That is to say, it measures how quickly your web page loads. Web page load times are important to both user experience and SERP ranking, so this is good information to have.
It’s 100% free and available directly from Google, meaning you can use it worry free. It’s an important part of every SEO professional’s arsenal.
Once you’ve mastered the use of these three very basic SEO and web presence tools, do some research and find more tools. Also, continue reading our blog – one of our writers may post about some more advanced tools sometime in the future.
Every time you hear, read, talk, or even think about SEO, linkbuilding is going to be a huge part of that. And most of the conversation around linkbuilding revolves around the ever-elusive external links – which we’ll be sure to post on in the near future. However, that’s not what we’re going to talk about today.
Today I’m here to let you know all about an often overlooked but extremely important aspect of SEO that I just mentioned in my last post, about the value of blogs – internal links and site organization.
Look at the picture above and imagine each of those letters is a page on your site, and the lines are paths – created by internal links (which simply means links that refer to pages within the same domain – AKA your site) – that Google’s spider (or Googlebot) can travel along.
Remember, if you want a page on your site to give you any value at all when it comes to SEO, it must be 100% discoverable by Google.
Googlebot does not use the search bar on your site or fill out forms – and, truth be told, a good number of your potential customers won’t bother to do those things either.
That is why every page on your site (except for pages like payment confirmations, which obviously have to come after the submission of a form and won’t have an impact on your SEO anyway) should be linked internally to at least one other page – and preferably more, if you want Google’s spiders to be sure they’ve indexed all your pages and your site visitors to stick around longer than a few minutes.
Wherever possible, you also want your pages to have a hierarchical structure. This obviously won’t work with blogs, where every post is equal in value to every other post, but it should work for the rest of your site – with the HOME page at the top, a few big CATEGORIES under that, and possibly SUBCATEGORIES under that.
Of course, internal links between CATEGORIES and other CATEGORIES (or SUBCATEGORIES and other SUBCATEGORIES) can only help – but make sure your site is arranged in a basic hierarchical structure first!
When thinking about the benefits of a hierarchical site organization and a plethora of internal links, you might also wonder about the benefit of including a sitemap. I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely worth it.
Like internal links and a hierarchical structure, inserting a site map is simple, free, and not time consuming. It’s something you most likely won’t need to hire an SEO marketer for, and even though it doesn’t have the biggest impact in the world when it comes to SEO, it has a big one – and if you’re not set up right in the first place, other SEO strategies likely won’t help you much.
Don’t own a site like the one in the picture – if you’ve come so far already that you’re ready for customers to see your site, you’ve worked too hard to throw it away over something as simple as good organization.
Anyone who’s studied SEO for a while can tell you that a well-written, search optimized blog can have huge benefits for you or your company when it comes to marketing online – but what about writing content for other individuals’ and companies’ blogs?
This can also be a good way to hugely increase your traffic and further build your online brand. It’s called guest posting, and it’s been relevant to SEO for a while, but looks to become hugely important in 2017.
How does this help your online presence? There are quite a few ways:
- Your name and your company name are attached to the blog posts you write for others – meaning that searches for those names can turn up these well-written, informative blog posts and make your brand look good.
- You can backlink to your main site (and possibly your social media pages, Yelp page, or other external properties related to your brand as well) from the guest post – either in the byline or in the text of the article. These backlinks, especially if they come from popular, reputable blogs, are hugely effective in boosting your SEO. Many SEO gurus say (and there is significant evidence from Google supporting them) that links from other sites are the single biggest factor in determining your SERP ranking.
- Writing guest posts for others’ blogs can provide networking opportunities that often lead to business partnerships, employment, and other tangible benefits.
If you’re sold on the benefits of guest posting now, and you think you have the writing skill and industry expertise to do it, here’s how to get started:
Put yourself in contact with bloggers in need of guest posts. Many popular blogs have a submission process for guest posts that’s not unlike submitting queries or finished articles to a newspaper or magazine – and even if they don’t, you can always contact the blogger directly.
You can also consider using services like myblogguest.com, which directly links bloggers in need of guest post with writers who can provide those posts for them. This approach works best if you have quantifiable expertise in particular fields.
In addition, the opposite approach – having guest posters write for your blog – can also be beneficial to your online brand. How does this work?
Every time a guest poster writes an article for you, she or he provides a unique perspective that you might not get if you write all the posts alone or use only staff writers. This can make your site look more varied and interesting both to site visitors and to Google’s spiders – for example, the guest poster might use a lot of search terms that you hadn’t thought of yet!
This content is free, which means that you can update your blog more frequently without spending any extra money. It also means that you’ll have more free time to work on other aspects of the company, whether marketing-related or not.
Last but not least, those potential networking relationships described above run both ways – meaning you might find an expert to review your product or a great new employee through being open to guest posts.
2016 is ending… will you survive in 2017?
“Complacency will easily destroy your rankings… this will be dangerous for any business interested in surviving…”
– Jim Yu, Search Engine Watch
You might know all about SEO basics like keywords, tags, social media marketing, and linkbuilding – but search engines’ algorithms are always changing, and intrepid SEO marketers are always coming up with new techniques for search engine optimization. Here are 3 of the newest, most actionable lesser-known SEO tips out there today – to keep you and your site relevant throughout 2017 and beyond.
1. Use an SEO plugin for all your WordPress sites.
WordPress has some amazing, easy to use features by default that will allow you to manipulate features search engines look for to your benefit – however, installing one of their SEO plugins (such as Yoast, a free and highly functional SEO-focused plugin available direct from WordPress) can put your SEO management capabilities through the roof.
The folks blogging over at Kinsta.com know a thing or two about blogging, and just put out a highly useful list of tips for SEO in 2017 themselves. One of their first and best tips was to use Yoast or a similar SEO plugin if your site is WordPress based – this can have a huge impact for little to no financial investment, and might actually save you time as it brings you traffic!
The Kinsta article is also great in that it details some of the best features of Yoast and shows you how to use them – so if Yoast is the way you’re going, be sure to check them out!
2. If you’re not already using Schema markup, you need to start.
No one speaks the language of search engines better than Schema.org, and if you’re not already using their markup codes on your website, you could be missing out not only on page rankings, but also a better, “rich” display of key information from your site (instead of the normal search result, using just the first few lines of text from your site).
Google and other search engine industry leaders are using this “rich” display method more often every time they update their algorithms to make their results pages more attractive and informative. If you want your page to fit in, you need to familiarize yourself with Schema or find a marketer who can work it into your site code for you.
There’s a great article on Search Engine Watch that introduces readers to the basics of Schema, and we may post on Schema here in the future – it may just be the next big thing in SEO, setting itself up to change SEO big time in 2017.
3. If you can, make your website or your posts smaller.
Why would you want less content on your website? It makes pages load faster, especially on mobile – and there will be more mobile users than ever in 2017.
To downsize your site, use smaller and less complex images, minimize cookie usage, and compress your site if possible. This will certainly make it load faster (which in turn makes it rank higher!) and may enable it for Google’s new AMP feature – something we’ll definitely be delving into on this blog before the new year.