The Best SEO Tools to handle the essentials

On by Ron Piper.

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Whether you’re looking to launch a full scale online marketing campaign, or simply want to do the essentials for a website to get the Google love it deserves, this set of search engine optimisation tools is a life saver for each of it’s purposes.

In this article you will learn about the best tools for:

  • On-page site audits (checking your website for technical and content issues you need to fix).
  • Keyword research and analysis (finding what keywords you should be targeting).
  • Search result rank tracking (tracking where you rank in google for your keywords).
  • Competitor research and insights (reverse engineering your competitors winning strategies).
  • WordPress plugins you can’t live without (bonus tools for you WordPress users).

As you look at the different purposes of this set of top SEO tools in 2015, you’l find that not only is SEMrush my favourite tool across all of these categories, but it’s one of the only all-in-one solutions that does such a brilliant job at SEO. It does this in a way that allows you to research, manage and monitor things in a holistic, project based way.

Website SEO analysis & Site Audit – The Quick Wins

There are hundreds of on-page factors that can impact a search engines ability to crawl your website or reduce your website’s value in the eyes of the search engine. These factors include having the correct HTML structure, no duplicate content, no broken links, technical issues, no speed bottlenecks and much more.

Not only do these need to be checked before launching a new site, but it’s critical to check these periodically as new content is added to a site to ensure your website gets the google ranking it deserves.

Best Option: SEMRush
What does it check?

  • Meta descriptions, headings, HTML to word-count ratio, image attributes
  • Page Speed
  • URLs, broken links, link counts
  • Doctypes, redirects, iframes
  • Robots.txt, sitemap.xml
  • Crawl issues
  • More
How does it present the data?

  • Audit’s the whole website and shows overall information as well as page-by-page breakdown.
  • Allows exporting via a beautiful PDF report, or using excel.
  • Shows a history of reports.
  • Can email a regular report.

Keyword Research and Analysis

If you’re writing content or looking to attract more traffic to your site, the first thing to consider from an SEO perspective is what keywords to focus your content on. Many people think they already know their keywords, but until you do a proper analysis with solid data you could be missing out on a number of opportunities.

Best Option: SEMRush
Where does it get data from?

  • An analysis of your website content, backlinks and keywords.
  • An analysis of all your competitors website, backlinks and keywords.
  • Google’s keyword planner tool.
What data does it show about a keyword?

  • Number of searches per month.
  • Search trend over time.
  • Related keywords.
  • Keyword difficulty –  how hard it would be rank in the top 10 for that keyword based on the other sites currently there.
  • Other extended information such as how other websites use the keywords.
  • Shows a history of related paid advertisements.

Keyword position tracking & Google rank checker

Chances are there is a number of keywords you’d like to rank high in google for, and it’s nice to be able to check or get updates on how you’re going for each keyword. Whether you’re making regular changes and trying different SEO techniques, or simply letting things grow organically, these SEO tools will allow you to view and get reports on what position your website is for each keyword, and the changes over time.

Best Option: SEMRush
What does it show you?

  • What position each keyword is in the search results.
  • The change in position from yesterday, last days, month, ect.
  • The trend over time.
  • Overall visibility score for all keywords on your site.
  • Comparisons against your competitors.
How does it present the data?

  • An overview table/list of keywords and their data.
  • Multiple graph and visual representations and comparisons.
  • Allows exporting of reports.

Competitor Research

The easiest and fastest way to develop a search marketing strategy that works is to reverse engineer what your successful competitors are doing online. Competitor research is the forte of SEMrush. Almost all of the tools in the SEMrush suite has a partial focus on spying on your competitors, and here are some of the things you’l be able to see:

  • A competitor positioning map showing you where you stand against top competitors for particular keywords.
  • An organic competitors table to find all your top competitors who you have keywords in common with.
  • Competitors top performing keywords and content.
  • Competitors history of paid ads and copy.
  • Where they are getting their backlinks from, including links and referring domains.
  • Much more..

Use this awesome competitor research guide from moz.com to learn to do your competitor research more effectively.

WordPress Plugins You Can’t Live Without

If you work with WordPress the following plugins can save you a lot of time, and dramatically improve your on-page SEO and google ranking. Many of these should go on your starting list of plugins for any WordPress site.

  • Yoast SEO – Yoast are experts in SEO. Not only will their built in tools guide you through all aspects of your wordpress content SEO, but it also allows you to do some important tweaking that would otherwise be quite difficult and time consuming even for a developer.
  • W3 Total Cache – Speed is a very important ranking factor for SEO, and a caching plugin is the second fastest way to get a quick win here, right after choosing the best wordpress host.
  • iThemes Security (formally Better WP Security) – Getting hacked will not only hurt your image and repuation, but it will also hurt your google rankings. Use iThemes security to quickly and easily harden your site from attacks. This comes from the creators of BackupBuddy, has been around for a while and is very easy to use yet very effective. I use the free version on all sites but you may want to consider Pro if relevant to you.

Summary

There’s a lot to research, track, monitor and report on when taking care of a website’s search engine optimisation. If you’re a digital agency, some sort of web professional or the person in charge of SEO for your organisation, a suite of tools such as the ones offered by SEMrush is vital in your quest to get the right results and report on these in a way that inspires your stakeholders to further action.

Did you find this useful? Let me know what you think or join the conversation below.

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