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.
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.
Many small business think they can get away with not using social media to promote themselves, but this is not the case – just as many business owners think SEO less effective than “traditional” marketing methods such as TV, radio, or newspaper advertisements, though this is not true.
The fact is that even if you have great SEO, you might not be making the biggest possible impact if you’re not utilizing social media to its fullest potential. Even if the rest of your SEO or SEM package is great, you might not be getting all the customers you possibly could if you combined SEO/SEM with a strong social media presence – because a social media presence compliments SEO.
“How does social media help my SEO?” you might ask. Well, here are the answers.
A strong social media presence can help your SEO by providing valuable backlinks (or “external links”) to your company’s main site. How does this work? It’s simple.
You’ll link your profiles on social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google Plus to your company website directly. This can be easily done during the initial setup of your accounts on these sites.
That provides your main site with a few backlinks and a little more legitimacy. But you can really put your SEO through the roof with the following technique:
Every single time you post new content on your main site (which you should do frequently, perhaps through a blog), share that fresh content (or an excerpt from it) on social media with a link to your main site. This will boost your SERP rankings not only the first time it is posted, but even more with each share, forward, etc.
Why does this happen? I’ll make it simple for you – one of the primary ways Google and other major search engines determine what appears in their SERPs at all and where these things appear in their SERPs is backlinks or external links.
Every time another site links to your site, that’s a backlink or external link. And each and every one of these is considered a sort of “vote” for you by that other site – which makes you appear more legitimate, relevant, and interesting to Google and its competitors in the search engine industry.
Backlinks (or external links) are considered the single most important factor determining where your site lands on a SERP by many prominent SEO experts – and that means that the more backlinks you have to your site, the more customers you’ll get on autopilot.
If you’re interested in creating a major social media presence for your business, please check out major social media outlets like Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, and Instagram. A presence on any of these sites will almost certainly boost your SEO – and will help you in other ways as well, which I’ll be sure to document for you in a future post.
With a strong SEO presence, you’re sure to dominate at SEO – and in the hearts and minds of potential customers everywhere.
The end of a year is usually the time when SEO professionals like our team here at SERP Ability take a breather and look at what has worked in the past year and what hasn’t, as well as where new trends in the complex world of SEO are pointing. Why? To see what will work best in the next year, of course!
Although SEO is constantly changing, it’s often at the beginning of a new year that the biggest changes become apparent. Here are three of the top methods we’ve learned will still work in 2017 from studying trends and looking back on our own activities in 2016.
1. Link Building
Link building is probably the most controversial entry on this list, because Google has changed its policy on the importance of links every time it has released a major algorithm update.
The fact is, though, that their deepest, most fundamental stance on links hasn’t changed. Quality links will always boost your site’s traffic and SERP standing. What has changed over the years is how much low-quality or spam links can help – and those aren’t the type of links real SEO professionals use anymore anyway.
Quality links from established, authoritative sites that are relevant to yours are one of the single most important factors in determining where your site lands on a SERP.
2. Quality Content
Yes, it’s easy to keyword-stuff and use other gray hat, black hat, or spamming techniques to get to the top – but no site without quality content ever stays there. While it’s true that “no one stays at the top forever,” you’ll be there a great deal longer if you prioritize well-written, meaningful, and relevant content, no matter what field you’re in.
With Google’s algorithm becoming more advanced and focused every single day, and the rise in importance of semantic search, the quality and relevance of your content are going to be more important than ever when it comes to your SERP standings.
Don’t forget that quality content is also historically proven to be the best way to get customers to stick around after they’ve clicked on your site.
3. Keywords, keywords, keywords.
This is another one that might be controversial, but shouldn’t be.
It seems that every new year some SEO “guru” predicts “20XX is the YEAR THE KEYWORD DIES!” or something just as dramatic.
However, the importance of keywords to Google and other search engines has never changed. Remember the early AOL days? Keywords were important then, and they’re important now. The only things that have changed are how much better the search engines have gotten to understand keywords in context.
This means that keyword stuffing probably isn’t a viable option anymore, or at least won’t be for long. However, keywords still have a huge role as part of a site’s high quality content – and the rise of semantic search may make them more important than ever, even as it totally changes the way search engine algorithms look at them.
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.
Most of the hard work for SEO marketers seems to be on your website – but what a lot of business owners and SEO marketers miss is how important other sites can be to your online visibility and reputation – sites like Yelp and Google Maps especially, as these often appear at the very top of search results and can easily be the only sites customers actually look at when searching on a smartphone (which, as you know, is more common than ever).
There was a great article on exactly this subject on SearchEngineLand back at the end of 2014 – let’s see what the SearchEngineLand staff got right and whether anything has changed in the past two years.
The main thrust of the old SearchEngineLand article is this: you need to set up a Google business account and claim your business on Yelp now. This is as true as ever going into 2017 – so if you haven’t done it yet, you’re already behind.
The SearchEngineLand article also details the importance of reaching out to your customers and keeping your accounts on Google and Yelp updated with the latest and most appealing information. That is also even more true now than it was back at the end of 2014. SEO is a long-term investment, not a one-off thing. That’s the big difficulty of SEO, but it’s also what makes SEO more viable than any other marketing form available today.
So it’s definitely important to follow the advice of the SearchEngineLand article – but there are also a few things they missed.
In addition to Maps and Yelp, Google also prioritizes news information. In fact, in one of the pictures going along with the SearchEngineLand article, a news article is right below Yelp and Google Maps, and above the main site of the business in question.
This brings up an additional important point – press releases still matter going into 2017. They were huge several years ago, seemed to dwindle by 2014, and are now coming back stronger than ever. Press releases can get your business noticed by news outlets, and often boost your search results faster than anything else.
Writing a press release and having it used to write a story is no easy feat, though. Press release writing is so specifically formatted, in fact, that there are several marketers out there on the web that specialize only in press release writing – and we have done a lot of work here at SERP Ability to make sure we can write great press releases too.
Press releases, Yelp, and Google Maps aside, it’s important to remember the fundamentals of SEO. In other words, your site and your social media profiles will still matter in 2017, and on top of that we never know when the next big change from Google is coming.
What this means is that you have to brush up external properties that mention you on the internet while also maintaining your own site to the highest degree of professionalism.
It seems that as time goes on and the search engines get more advanced, SEO gets harder – but it’s important to remember that as it becomes more difficult, it also becomes more rewarding.