An SEO is only as good as his tool set.
OK, this isn’t necessarily true, but the tools we use do play a large role in how effective and efficient we are. Every SEO has a list of tools they use, most on a daily basis. These tools range from widely used tools that are well publicized, to tools that are much less talked about, and in some ways “industry secrets.”
Today, I thought I would write about the tools that I find the most useful in the world of SEO.
Stay on Top of the Latest in SEO
With the coming death of Google Reader, many people are scrambling to find a replacement RSS reader. For me, Feedly fits the bill.
Feedly integrates directly into my Google Reader account so I can maintain my feed. Feedly is accessible via the web or mobile apps, and also comes with browser extensions.
No matter what reader you use, it’s important to stay on top of the latest happenings in your industry. Subscribe to relevant and influential sites and blogs.
Analytics and Tracking
Let’s start out with the obvious choices.
Every SEO is well aware of Google Analytics and it’s benefits, but perhaps if you’re just starting out you may not realize the wealth of information it provides.
In the last few years, a handful of other analytics software packages have hit the market. Still, Google Analytics remains as the go-to free web analytics software for webmasters, web developers, and SEOs alike.
I won’t go into detail about it’s features for the sake of brevity, but you can read about them here. In the shortest, broadest sense, Google Analytics allows you to track and analyze the visitors to your site. You can track referrals, organic search keywords, location information, device information, and much more.
Google and Bing’s webmaster tools are also necessities in SEO. The ability to track how search engines index your site, track inbound links, and be notified of any potential penalties – are invaluable assets to webmasters and SEOs.
I check my webmaster tools accounts a few times a week mostly to stay on top of my inbound links. Often times I’m unaware that a new site has linked to my content, and I am first alerted to the link through my webmaster tools accounts.
Another huge advantage to having a webmaster account is the ability to submit a sitemap so that the search engine will be notified when you post new content, and be able to index it quickly.
Open Site Explorer is one of my favorite tools. If you’re not familiar with it, here is how SEOmoz describes it.
SEOmoz created Open Site Explorer because we believe in the transparency of link data. Here you can find link data about your websites, and link data about your competitor’s websites. Wondering what you can do with all that link data? Here are some ideas:
- Find out what type of sites are discussing and linking to your website.
- Find and fix errors or omissions on the links that point to your site.
- Investigate where your competitors are getting links, and target those areas for earning press or attention in your marketing efforts.
- Compare your link metrics with those of your competitors to assess your competition and develop strategies for improving how your site stacks up against the competition.
- Learn which pages on your site are the most authoritative, and find pages with broken links or that redirect to another page.
Open Site Explorer allows 3 free reports per day. If you’d like to run more reports, you need to sign up for an SEOmoz account. You can sign up for a 30-day trial here.
Keyword Research is a huge part of SEO. You need to determine what keywords you should target, and which ones will produce the largest ROI.
I’ve written a few articles regarding this topic in the past, check them out for more options.
At any rate, getting Google’s data on keywords can be a huge help in determining which keywords are important to you, and which ones you shouldn’t spend too much time on.
Screaming Frog is an awesome tool that I came across some time ago. It’s a downloadable software with a free and annual subscription version. The free version will crawl up to 500 URIs and return a lot of useful information.
The most valuable use I get is finding 404 errors on my site and correcting them. If I have 404 errors, search engines could penalize me for it, so finding and fixing them as soon as possible is a huge plus. I run a scan of my pages about once a week. The scan can run in the background, and you can sort by response code to see any 404s. I also look for 302 redirects, and see what I can do about changing them to 301s.
Another huge benefit of Screaming Frog is crawling other sites to look for 404s. Have you ever heard of “broken link link-building?” It’s a tactic many SEOs use to find sites that link out to similar content, directories, reference pages, and link pages, and crawl these pages for 404s. Once you find one, you reach out to the webmaster to notify them of the broken link. Out of the goodness of your heart, and to no benefit of your own, you’d just like to help the webmaster out, right? Then you suggest that instead of the broken link, the site link to this great new content that you find that answers the same question.
You would be surprised how often this works – and many SEOs have successfully built many links in this way. Screaming Frog is a huge time saver if you want to use this link building tactic.
Google Alerts has supposedly been fixed, but many SEOs and marketers have had a frustrating time with it in the recent past. Because of this, I switched to a free service called Talkwalker.
I’m a big fan of Talkwalker Alerts. You specify what keyword you are looking for (like a branded keyword), how often you want to see a report, what type of page the keyword would appear on (news, blog, etc), even what language you are targeting. The form to create an alert is very straight forward an easy. By creating a Talkwalker account, you can monitor your alerts and see when the alert was last triggered. They even offer text alerts!
Even if Google Alerts is fixed, I would still suggest using Talkwalker as a replacement, or on top of Google Alerts.
Marketers and SEOs everywhere spend a lot of time on different social media sites. More often than not, they are sharing the same content across their multiple platforms. Some platforms integrate with one another, but there has to be a better way to consolidate your social media campaigns in one, concise location, right?
Of course there is! You may have even heard of it – it’s HootSuite. HootSuite describes itself as.
The leading social media dashboard to manage and measure your social networks
- Manage multiple social networks
- Schedule messages and tweets
- Track brand mentions
- Analyze social media traffic
- 6 million+ satisfied users
Essentially, HootSuite allows you to consolidate your social media efforts in one place, and easily share content between the different platforms. It’s also a great place to monitor your followers across each social media platform in one place.
BufferApp – just like HootSuite – allows you to schedule social media updates beforehand, and send them out at preset times. If you’re a marketer with a time budget, spending 15 minutes before you call it a day to schedule your updates for the following day can be a huge timesaver.
I ran a large social media campaign for a client several months ago, and frankly didn’t have time to spend on several social media platforms all day. I spent a short amount of time prescheduling my social media updates the day before, and had them sent out at peak times for maximum exposure.
BufferApp even notifies you when your buffer is empty, and reminds you to add more updates. This reminder is sometimes necessary when you’re nearly automated your social media updates. Remember, there is no replacement for live updates, and it’s important to interact with your social media following. Use BufferApp as an assitant, not a crutch.
Social Site Explorer is a great and little known tool. It’s really unfortunate it doesn’t get more exposure, as it’s a great way to track social media shares for specific pages.
Head over to Social Site Explorer and enter in a URL of one of your popular blog posts. Social Site Explorer will then give you the number of social media shares across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit and StumbleUpon. I’ve found the numbers to be very accurate. The one downside is that it doesn’t track Pinterest pins, but the data that it does provide is very useful.
If This Then That is a great website for saving time, and we all know how valuable that is. IFTTT works by setting up recipes that require a trigger and then perform an action.
IFTTT has many preset recipes that you could find useful. Take a look over their most used recipes list
This is just a broad overview of some of the tools that marketers and SEOs could benefit from. There are tons more tools out there that are useful and valuable, I just can’t write about them all.
Do you know of another great SEO tool? Leave a comment below and tell me about it!