Do you think the strategies required for bringing rankings in Google and other major search engines has changed drastically over a period of half a decade? If your answer is an emphatic NO, then be ready to be surprised.
The Google’s algorithm for influencing rankings are now much more complex than ever before and it will continue to change even more so as search engines will keep on refining their core algorithms to emulate a human perspective about a site.
Performing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) effectively requires an analytical approach. With so many factors being taken into consideration for ranking, it can become extremely difficult to focus on each of them. In our previous article, we discussed about the WordPress Tools for optimizing website’s parameters. Our aim in this article is to provide some useful free tools for performing SEO in the best possible way.
We are going to list out 10 quality tools for doing SEO but before that let us give you a brief idea about it.
Search Engine Optimization consists of three important things:
- On Site Optimization.
- Off Site Optimization.
- An X factor (Described below).
What is On Site Optimization and why it is important?
On Site Optimization is all about making your webpage and its content readable to the bots of search engines. Search engines like Google do not get any idea about a website like we humans get. They understand the content of any site through HTML. However useful and good a site may appear to a human eye and its perspective, if it is not understandable to the Search Engine Crawler, it will not bother to index it for the searchers [Setalks].
What is OFF Page optimization and why it is needed for SEO?
Offsite Optimization is all about quality link building in one or the other way through Bookmarking, Press Release, Infographs (extremely useful these days), Business Listing etc. Quality backlinks are like a vote of confidence from other site owners towards one’s website. Having more quality backlinks gives a strong signal to search engine that your website is pretty useful to the people [Audiology Design].
Is there anything more important other than On site and Off Site optimization?
We mentioned in the introduction paragraph that strategies for doing SEO has changed drastically in the last 5 years. You might be wondering what is the X factor, which is now considered by search engines like Google that strongly influences a site’s ranking? It is Content. Not just any content. Content which is unique i.e. not plagiarized, well written (because content written with incorrect grammar causes higher bounce rate) and most importantly answer people’s queries [In Technic].
If you doubt that content itself can produce a huge shift in rankings especially in Google SERP’s, then we would like to let you know that Google has created a separate algorithm (apart from its core ranking algorithms) that specifically influences a Website ranking solely based on the quality of its on site content. Google call this algorithm by the name of Panda [Search Engine Land].
Now we have given you a brief idea about SEO, let’s get started to know more about top 10 tools for doing Search Engine Optimization and understand their importance.
SEO Analyzer tool provides SEO score for many important metrics, like Meta tags, title, description, no of backlinks etc. Neil Patel, the founder of SEO Analyzer, is one of the prominent experts in the area of Search Engine Optimization. His tool can be considered to be highly reliable for Site’s Analysis. If your website is missing any important on site factor (there are many), then this tool can highlight it for you. And yes, it’s FREE to use.
Another important benefit of SEO Analyzer is its recommendations like shown in the below image.
What are Meta tags?
Meta tags are sort of like commands of the programming language HTML, which contains data that needs to be displayed primarily to the crawlers of the search engines and secondarily onto the actual page of any website. Like for e.g.
<meta name=”description” content=”A powerful and easy to use Brand Monitoring Tool, ideal for Startups, Small-Medium Businesses and Personalities. Find out what they say about you. Try FREE!”/>
The above Meta tag tells search index that the page http://www.mentionlytics.com contains information about a tool, which is powerful and easy to use for monitoring a Brand.
If the above example Meta tag is absent from the HTML code, search engines displays any random text from that particular page, which generally does not provide any benefit.
So Meta tags are very important. In order to check, if your site has all the relevant Meta tags, you can check out Meta Tag Analyzer. It displays the result like the below image.
This online tool provides some really useful information, like size of HTML page (the smaller it is, the faster would be the load time of a website which Google really likes), meta title, meta description, heading structure (they are like title of a content which lets the search engine know clearly about the content).
Why it is important to have a proper heading structure?
Proper heading structure will help the search engine know the content posted onto the site and therefore a page having proper heading structure will get indexed more easily than one which does not have.
The SEO Web Page Analyzer tool also provides key information about the number of external links on the website. It displays results of heading structure like the following image.
A side note: The number of external links should be low. If there are a lot of external links, they need to be relevant to the content of the site or else Google might consider your site to a Link Baiting one and may lower its rankings.
This extension for Google Chrome checks for all links on to a website and shows which are working and which are broken. Google puts a lot of weightage on the broken links since every time a visitor ends up visiting a broken URL, it proves to be of no value to him. Therefore, it is vitally important that a web page does not contain any broken URL and if it does, then this tool can easily let you know. You can download this tool from here. This extension displays results like the below image.
SEO Profiler is a very powerful online tool for complete analysis of your website. It has various options regarding auditing a website like finding backlinks, finding anchor texts (these are Words which are hyperlinked to any web URL) etc. This online tool in our view provides great SEO value. Limited number of projects can be added in the free version.
The best thing we like about this online tool is its ability to calculate the influence of backlinks as shown in the below image.
SERP Lab is also a free online tool that one can use to monitor the rankings of keywords for any URL. Imagine, if you are trying to check rankings of 100 keywords, it would be extremely tiresome. This is where SERP Lab can come in real handy. A lot of projects can be added in the free version.
All the ranking data can also be exported to the CSV file in the free version.The keywords are displayed in various categories like Top 3, Top 10, Top 30, Top 100.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a powerful tool that provides insights into a lot of factors, like meta keywords, URL issues, external links, hreflang attributes, broken links, follow & no follow links and much more. Even the Free version provides a terrific amount of data for analysis. The Free version lasts for one year for a device. We have used this tool extensively and found it to be extremely useful.
Ask any SEO guy about the importance of Business Listings and he will always list it amongst the most important ranking factors in search engines.
Why are Business Listings Important?
Business Listings are done so as to rank higher in local searches. If your business provides a service whose potential consumers are from the local city or nearer, then in that case business listings will help you to rank your website higher in search engines [Moz].
If you are looking for websites for local listings, then with the help of Local Citation Finder by Whitespark, you can easily find out many websites. The Free version provides only a limited search results but we believe that something is better than nothing.
XML Sitemaps are the easiest way to let search engines bots to crawl through a website. A sitemap contains all the webpages of a domain. The sitemap can be generated on this website and then it can placed on to the webserver. Sitemaps also tell crawlers on how often to index a particular page. Overall, for better crawlability, sitemaps are a must.
Google Analytics provides a comprehensive data about the website performance on the World Wide Web. It tracks some important metrics, like number of sessions per month (i.e. number of unique visitors), country of visitors, bounce rates (total time on website. Bounce rate should be lower always for better SERPs) and many more. Google Analytics is 100% free provided by Google. The Analytical code can be generated from a Google account and then needs to be placed on the files of the webpage. Once the code is properly implemented on to the website, it tracks all the data for that particular website. Below we are displaying all the other important metrics from Google Analytics.
Popular search engines like Google have stated very clearly that the emphasis for creating valuable webpages for people should be the most important priority for anyone, who wants to rank well. Search Engine Optimization is not some rocket science but it does require lot of hard work and patience. In the end, the results are always worth it. With time, the search engines will become even smarter and then the competition to achieve top rankings would get fiercer. With so much competition to be anticipated, we can also expect some more quality tools to spring up in the future.