SEO Tools to Help You Improve Your SEO
In this post, we take a look at a range of SEO tools that not only help improve organic performance but can also expedite the learning process. When starting out in SEO, there is a lot to learn and depending on where or how you are learning there are often multiple processes and tools available.
Unlike PPC, there is no central system or software to manage everything from, which often means that everyone in SEO uses different techniques or methods.
Its worth noting that to be truly educated in SEO, you should be able to manually perform the automated tasks that many tools perform. Tools can help with the learning process and are essential for aspects of the work like data collection but should not be entirely relied upon. Making recommendations or implementing changes that you do not understand could lead to undesirable results.
Areas That Tools Can Help
SEO Tools can help in a large number of different areas, we cover these below, but the primary function of all SEO tools is to reduce the workload for the user. This can be achieved in a range of ways, such as data collection, which is performed manually could become an impossible job. As well as data collection, tools also automate aspects of the processes, provide analysis of data, recommendations, reports, and visualisations of data.
In terms of learning SEO, this can be useful as it provides a framework and structure for consuming and analysing SEO data. It should be noted that its easy to become pigeonholed in using a specific tool, you should always try multiple tools within any area of SEO to see which best suits your needs. Some tools are easier to use or have more accurate data, some provide insights or analysis that other tools do not.
Using multiple tools can help to expand your perspective, expose you to different interfaces and data, over time you will start to easily identify themes in data. This can open your mind to new concepts, ways of analysing and visualising data.
When analysing a website for improvements there are really two categories of components, with technical SEO being one. Many tools perform technical audits of a site nowadays but there are only a few that really specialise in this area.
Tools are essential for collecting data from sites, if you are crawling a site with more than a handful of pages and logging tens of data points per page, the job becomes impossible to perform manually. However, the real benefit of technical auditing tools is in providing a framework and structure to this data. Breaking the technical components into categories and telling you what passed or failed.
For someone new to SEO, you can use technical SEO tools to discover problems, often these are highlighted within the tool making analysis easier. Even experienced SEO’s might learn something new because of using a program like this.
This is the second component of most SEO audits, in addition to the technical components, this area looks at how well optimised a page is for a set of keywords. Not many tools do this well, but there are a lot of plugins such as Yoast for WordPress that can perform some basic checks to ensure a keyword is used throughout the page and its SEO components. For SEO novices, this can be a useful tool to learn where keywords should be used.
It is not uncommon for page speed to be considered a part of a technical SEO analysis but there are a set of tools specific to page speed that provide a lot more data and greater functionality within this component.
This is one of the most complex areas in SEO as it often relates to a lot of technology and code and can only be implemented by web developers. Tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights provide very good descriptions of the specific issues that they have identified. Whereas Pingdom Tools provides a much more granular and technical analysis of the raw data and is meant for more advanced users.
This is a huge part of SEO and the foundation for a lot of other SEO work; you can’t optimise a site for keywords unless you know what keywords to target. As such keyword research can feed into audits, strategies and content plans. There is a range of tools that can provide you with keyword data; but the process of filtering, reviewing and boiling down this data to a concise list of valuable keywords is often very manual.
When learning SEO, you will need to understand the data surrounding things like keywords in order to perform research. Keyword Research Tools provide you with the data and some visualisation, but this is one area where most of the work will be manually performed. Tools are essential to the process but may not provide much by way of tutoring or learnings.
Tools are essential for this, tracking keywords manually is unreliable and extremely time-consuming. The visualisations within such tools can help in the learning curve, but there is often not a huge number of datasets to understand. All data is explained within most tools, and as such this can provide a good framework for novices.
Traffic Tracking & Analysis
Analytics programs are more complex to set up and use than most other tools, that said they come with a huge amount of documentation, descriptions and video tutorials. Reading about analytics data without the practical component is quite abstract and so using the program itself will make learning much easier.
This is another aspect of SEO that can’t be done without a tool, most tools that collect the data necessary will also provide visual breakdowns of the data and charts. This can make the data easier to digest than when it’s in its raw format. The important metrics in these tools are proprietary, as such, each tool provides a different value based on their algorithm.
You can use tools like keyword research or backlink tools to analyse components of your competitor’s SEO.
Reporting is something that can take a lot of time but reading reports can be a great way to build a picture of what the end result of the work is. Seeing how recommendations, insights and analysis are derived from the components and data can help tie together seemingly disparate aspects.
Most tools will allow you to export a report of some kind, but the quality and value of these can vary significantly.
All-in-One SEO Tools
All in one solution provide the full range of SEO functions and mean that you need to use fewer tools.
Types of SEO Tools
SEO tools come in various shapes and sizes:
Some tools are free to use, these are often quite basic but can nonetheless perform a valuable function well.
Other tools have a free version, which is capped at a limit of usage. Often these limits are too low for a serious user, but ideal for very small businesses. This provides you with the ability to use the tool on a small scale, test and determine if it is what you need.
Its very popular for tools to provide a free trial, something like 30-days is very common. These will usually be capped at a maximum usage but provides enough usage to enable you to determine whether the tool is for you.
Most tools use a subscription or license-based service, where you pay monthly, quarterly or yearly. In some areas you will find a large difference in cost, more often than not higher costs are due to better data.
Browser extensions are often free and are limited in use often performing a niche specific function. IP or device spoofing would be a good example of a browser extension for SEO.
SEO Tool Suites
With increasing, popularity SEO tools are often expanding into new areas and provide a suite of functions in different areas of SEO. You will often find a keyword ranking tool also providing technical audits for example. In some cases, you are better getting tools specific to a particular SEO component to get the best functionality.
Great SEO Resources for Learning
The following resources are a great place to learn more about SEO:
- Google Webmaster Central Blog
- Search Engine Journal
- Raptor SEO Knowledge Base
- Search Engine Land
- Search Engine Round Table
- The Moz Blog
Free SEO Tools
Google Search Console
This is provided by Google for website owners and webmasters to provide valuable information about how your site performs and is indexed by Google.
This is provided by Google for website owners and digital marketers and is an almost ubiquitous solution to tracking web traffic.
This is provided by Google for digital marketers to get information about search trends for keywords.
These guys provide a great website crawler that has free usage, this is capped at 500 pages/resources.
Responsive Design Test
This tool allows you to test the responsive design technology on a site.
Pingdom provides a great free page speed tester, as well as a very comprehensive paid subscription service.
Google PageSpeed Insights
This is provided by Google and provides insights as to the category failures regarding page speed.