“I just don’t have time for SEO.”
Have you ever said this to yourself? It’s not an uncommon sentiment for small business owners. You have more than enough on your plate tending to your customers, your finances, and everything else that comes with running a business.
But if your website is an important part of your marketing strategy, neglecting search engine optimisation could be detrimental to your bottom line. In fact, 61% of marketers believe that SEO is the key to online success, according to Safari Digital.
So what is a busy small business owner to do? The answer may lie in the many free SEO tools available to you online.
We’ve assembled some of the best SEO tools and their uses below, so you can find the ones you need to simplify your own SEO strategy and make your business more visible online.*
SEO tools to help you improve site speed.
How quickly does it take for your website to load? If you don’t know the answer, there’s a chance you’re losing potential customers every day. In fact, according to Akamai, even a small 100-millisecond delay in load time can cause conversion rates to drop by 7%.
Fortunately, there are some simple tools you can use to figure out how quickly your site loads and how to improve your site speed.
GT Metrix is one of the best tools around to diagnose any site-speed issues your website is facing. All you need to do is enter the URL of your website and hit go. You can create a free account that will also let you choose a server location closest to your customers—for example, if most of your customers are in Australia, you could select Sydney as the location.
After a minute or two, it will give you your results. These will include load speed, a letter-grade showing how well you perform, and the most important part: a list of existing issues that are slowing down your site.
Depending on how well-versed you are in web development, you may be able to fix some of these issues yourself by installing plugins or making tweaks to your site. Otherwise, you can speak to an SEO specialist to fix these one-off issues and watch your site speed increase.
Google has a number of valuable free SEO tools and this is one of their best. Note that Google’s suite of tools used to be known as Webmasters tools, but are now simply known as Google Search Central.
Unlike GT Metrix, this tool tracks your mobile site speed—a vital element of your business, given how many people use their phones and tablets for searches.
The tool is very simple to use. Enter a few URLs from your site and click the button at the top to generate a report. It will include an overview of how your site compares to the top-performing mobile sites and a list of ways you can improve site speed.
This report will appear on screen, or you can opt to have a PDF version sent to your email, which you can easily share with a developer or your IT team.
SEO tools for keyword research.
Keywords are one of the most fundamental parts of SEO. You need to understand what terms and phrases your customers are searching on Google if you want a chance to appear in the top search results. Unfortunately, most of the big keyword analysis tools, like SEMRush or AHREFS, come with a hefty price tag.
Luckily, there are a number of free keyword tools that work well enough to get you started on a clever and effective keyword strategy.
Ubersuggest is a popular keyword tool created by Neil Patel, one of the leading voices in the world of SEO. This tool is simple to use, and while it may have a few bugs from time to time, it can help you get the keyword reports you need to start improving your on-site copy.
Simply enter your domain, the domain of your competitors, or a keyword you suspect your users are using into the search bar. Select the country where your customers are and hit ‘Search’.
The report gives you a lot of information and it’s worth clicking around to explore a bit. But the most valuable information is compiled on the ‘overview’ page. If you enter a domain, you’ll see a list of keywords and the top content pieces that that website ranks for on Google. If you enter a list of keywords, click over to the ‘keyword ideas’ tab, and you’ll see related keywords sorted by their overall search volume.
You can download these reports into an Excel document, which will come in handy when it’s time to start inserting keywords throughout your website content.
SerpStat is a great tool for SEO, but their free Chrome plugin gives you plenty of valuable information and it’s 100% free. Once you set up your free account after downloading the plugin, you’ll be able to run a quick SEO analysis on any site—including your own and your competitors’.
The SerpStat extension provides three different reports. Once you’re on the page you want to analyse, click the icon for SerpStat in your browser, and you’ll see the three options right there on screen. The second tab, ‘Page analysis’, gives you the top 10 keywords of the page you’re looking at.
The other two tabs are also useful, giving you insights on the volume of traffic, the number of backlinks and other important SEO data relating to the site you’re looking at.
Grading your website content.
If you’ve been studying SEO for a while, you’ve probably heard people say ‘Content is king’. There is truth to this statement; the quality of the content you put on your website is vital to how well it performs on search engines.
How do you know if your content is of high quality? There are a number of free tools out there to help you do just that.
SEObility has a number of paid subscription options, but for many small business owners, the free platform will be more than enough. This tool gives you a tonne of useful SEO information, but its best feature is the content analysis it provides. Within the report you’ll see:
- The most commonly used keywords
- Pages that are lacking keyword optimisation
- Pages with little to no content
- Typos within the copy on your site
- Pages with duplicate content
- Competitor pages that feature similar keywords
All of this information will guide you to create content that’s better than ever (and better than your competitors’ content).
Ahrefs backlink checker.
Backlinks are an important ingredient in the SEO mix, and the first step in making improvements is to understand your current position.
To do this, use the Ahrefs backlink checker. This powerful tool claims to have the best backlink database in the industry, with more than 29.7 trillion known links, and 7.67 billion pages crawled each day.
It checks for:
- Number of referring domains
- Number of backlinks
- Domain Rating (DR) & URL Rating (UR)
- Ahrefs Rank (AR)
You can also use this tool to see what kind of backlink profiles your top-performing competitors have, so you can take inspiration for how you might improve.
Moz domain authority checker.
Your domain authority is a good indicator of how well you will rank in search engine results pages. It uses machine learning to generate a score of 0 to 100, which can help you to get a good idea of the overall SEO ‘health’ of your website.
Moz’s domain authority checker is the most trusted in the business, and it will also show you how many linking root domains and ranking keywords you have.
While your domain authority is not a factor in your Google ranking, it can be used as a guide to improve your SEO strategy overall.
Have you heard of ‘content decay’? It’s something anyone who is focused on SEO should think about. Content decay is when a piece of content—a landing page or blog, for example—loses SEO value over time. This happens because Google values fresh content.
The best way to combat content decay is to regularly update old pieces of content with new information and text. Unfortunately, figuring out which pages need to be updated can be a tedious task … unless you’re using the Revive tool from Animalz.
This free SEO tool plugs into your Google Analytics account, which allows it to sort through all of the content on your website. It takes about 24 – 48 hours for the report to come through to your email inbox, but once it does you’ll have a clear list of top targets for spring cleaning.
The best SEO plugins for WordPress.
If your site is set up on WordPress there are a number of free extensions you can use to improve your website’s SEO performance. These plugins help with many of the issues you may have identified in the reports above.
Yoast is by far the most popular SEO extension for WordPress, and for good reason. The free version of the plugin will provide you with heaps of information, including a readability check for content, an analysis of any page’s top keyword, and previews of what your page will look like. All of this is built right into your WordPress interface, making it easy to check your content as you create it. A word of warning: Yoast is not the be-all/end-all of SEO analysis and its reports should be taken with a grain of salt. But it is still useful, especially if you’re doing most of your SEO work yourself.
If you want to help Google find, understand and index your web pages, you need to routinely submit sitemaps to their database. This may sound overly complex but this plugin automatically submits sitemaps as needed. Every time you create a new page, the tool will alert all of the major search engines about your new copy, without you having to do anything. It’s that easy.
Are you worried that your site doesn’t look good on mobile? Then this is the plugin for you. With WPTouch, you can customise the appearance of the mobile version of your site—and it’s so easy to use, you won’t have to hire a special developer to help you do it.
SEO may seem overwhelming when you’re doing it on your own, but with these tools your approach to SEO will be a lot simpler. You may not need to use all of these tools but, since they’re all free, there’s no harm in test driving a few to see which ones suit your needs.
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*This information is provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; it does not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Yellow Pages.