We often get asked how to boost SEO with no budget, so I thought it would make sense to blog about this. There are several really good free tools available to help small companies boost their SEO and explore what their competition is doing.
We feel the tools listed below are the best-of-the-best for ease of use and general functionality. It always helps to have the right tools for the job, so ready carefully and see which of these would fit well for your company.
Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics
These are two separate tools that work well together. Both are free from Google.
Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales. The product is aimed at marketers as opposed to webmasters and technologists from which the industry of web analytics originally grew. It is the most widely used website statistics service. The service is available to anyone with a Google account.
GA can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines and social networks, direct visits and referring sites. It also displays advertising, pay-per-click networks, email marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents.
Ease-of-use and the ease of integration with your website or blog make Google Analytics a must-have for all websites. We run Google Analytics along with HubSpot’s analytics as they really look at two separate things. Together they are a great pair!
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their website. It shows traffic for each keyword separately and gives more information about website performance according to Google search query. Unlike Google Analytics, this tool does not cover search results from other search engines, such as Bing, Yahoo, etc.
Google Webmaster Tools let the webmasters:
- Submit and check a sitemap
- Check and set the crawl rate, and view statistics about how Googlebot accesses a particular site
- Generate and check a robots.txt file. It also helps to discover pages that are blocked in robots.txt by chance.
- List internal and external pages that link to the site
- Get a list of broken links for the site
- See what keyword searches on Google led to the site being listed in the SERPs, and the click through rates of such listings
- View statistics about how Google indexes the site, and if it found any errors while doing it
- Set a preferred domain (e.g. prefer example.com over www.example.com or vice versa), which determines how the site URL is displayed in SERPs
Webmaster Tools combines nicely with Google analytics, and should usually be used together. Both are free and very well-tested and stable. Google has extensive information and help available for both products.
You can find a great overview of Google Webmaster Tools by Simon Heseltine, Director of Audience Development at AOL, on SearchEngineWatch.com.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Microsoft’s Bing has its own Webmaster Tools which lets you see how your site is performing from a Bing point of view. While this is not a tool that we use, it is one to consider as it’s free and it gives you another perspective on your website traffic data.
Again, Simon Heseltine an overview of Bing Webmaster Tools on SearchEngineWatch.com.
IIS Search Engine Optimization Toolkit
The IIS Search Engine Optimization Toolkit is a downloadable (Windows computers only) tool from Microsoft that allows you to analyze your site’s content, structure and URLs, and identify page-level issues on your site. The IIS SEO Toolkit includes the Site Analysis module, the Robots Exclusion module, and the Sitemaps and Site Indexes module, which let you perform detailed analysis and offer recommendations and editing tools for managing your Robots and Sitemaps files.
Together, these tools can improve the volume and quality of traffic to your Web site from search engines (Site Analysis), control how search engines access and display Web content (Robots Exclusion), and inform search engines about locations that are available for indexing (Site Maps & Indexes). Here is a good getting started with Search Engine Optimization Toolkit page.
This is also a great tool for competitive analysis as it allows you to scan any website. I think this is likely the best reason to use the SEOT.
SEOmoz Tools is a combination of free tools and subscription tools. Instead of drilling down in into search engine data, these tools take a different approach to several aspects of SEO.
GetListed helps you claim your local U.S. business listings on Google+ Local, Bing Local, Yelp, and other prominent local search engines. Just put in your company name and zip code, and you’ll get a list of where your business has a listing and what listings are missing. The more places your listing information is available and accurate, the easier it is for customers to find you.
FollowerWonk allows you to take a deep dive into Twitter metrics and analytics. Analyze and segment your followers, compare users, and find out how to engage your audience.
Open Site Explorer lets you research and compare backlinks with competitors for intelligent, targeted link building. Additionally, you can identify top pages, view social activity data, and analyze anchor text.
MozCast is your daily “weather report” showing turbulence in the Google algorithm. this tool lets you track day-to-day changes and fluctuations in your Google rankings
Like everything SEOmoz does, these tools are easy to use and have great tutorials, blog articles and videos supporting them. They address aspects of SEO that are not covered by any of the other tools mentioned above. All of these free SEOmoz tools should be part of your toolkit.
A Word to HubSpot Users
We use HubSpot as the foundation of our SEO work, and I find this is true of most savvy HubSpot users. Their keyword and analytic tools are easy to use and understand. However, HubSpot does NOT cover all the same ground as the tools mentioned above, so specifically, we recommend that you use Google Analytics, and the SEOmoz Tools alongside HubSpot to address a wider range of SEO opportunities.
Whether you’re just getting started with internet marketing or you want to brush up on the basics, our free ebook, “The Guide to SEO for 2017,” can serve as your guide to setting up and implementing a successful SEO strategy, step by step.