The 16 most useful free SEO tools all business owners should be using

 

There are literally hundreds of SEO tools out there, some paid, some free. As a small business owner or a start-up, you will most likely be looking to keep costs low until you get to a certain point. With that in mind, I?ve put together a list of the 16 more useful free SEO tools that your business can use to add value:

Keyword Research Tools

 

Always start with keyword research. If you don?t know what your potential customers are searching for, how can you optimise your website accordingly? Keyword research will enable you to understand what users search for, the competition and the volume of those keywords.

1. Keyword Planner for Google

 

Sure, Keyword Planner was created to help those creating ad accounts. However, it's a great tool for any SEO and can give you a great indication of the amount of impressions each keyword would potentially generate.

 

This is Google's own data, so it can be trusted compared to other tools. It has great filtering that you can take advantage of when researching your keywords.

 

One thing to be wary of with this tool is any metric that is related to a paid campaign such as competition and volume.

 

2. AnswerThePublic

 

AnswerThePublic is a fantastic tool where you essentially enter a keyword and it will give you hundreds of suggestions for that keyword and what people could search.

 

Their data is based on questions, blogs or social media questions that users ask, whereas most other tools use Google data. Those questions are then turned into keywords. It also has an export function, making it extremely user friendly. Plus it looks super cool.

 

3. Moz Keyword Explorer

 

Keyword Explorer by MOZ has a free version where you make a certain amount of queries. While using Google's monthly data volume, they have their own metrics that can be very useful. Difficulty essentially looks at the domain authority of the top 10 results for the keyword you search, the higher the authority of the websites, the higher the difficulty. You might want to find variations of your keywords with lower difficulty, making them easier to rank for.

 

4. Ubersuggest

 

Ubersuggest is a tool created by SEO influencer Neil Patel. Again, it gives you great insight into keyword data and volume of search. My favourite thing about this tool is its competitor analysis and content ideas. Not only does it help you find the keywords you need your website to optimise for, but it also suggests what content and what optimisation you should use to rank for them.

 

Analytics

 

The below tools should be used to monitor search performance, keywords and trends in traffic. They also provide great insight into attribution and what channels generate conversions for your business.

 

5. Google Analytics

 

Again, we start with a Google tool. In all fairness Analytics is a fantastic tool that every business should be utilising as much as possible. It?s the most used analytics platform on the market and is completely free. It connects with the other Google products such as Search Console and Data Studio, which makes it fantastic for insight and reporting.

 

6. Google Search Console

 

This is my favourite free SEO tool. Search Console is the holy grail of free SEO tools. There are plenty or really useful tools and insights within. Search Console provides reliable keyword data, position of your keywords as well as a view of impressions and your CTR across the SERPs. Not only this, but it also has great features sitemaps, structured data and internal linking.

 

7. Keyword Hero

 

Are you frustrated at seeing 'not provided' in Google Analytics? Keyword Hero effectively works to ease that pain by using machine learning to give an estimate of what keywords generate organic traffic. It?s not 100% accurate but uses a hypothesis that enables users to take value from it. It's completely free for sites with 2,000 sessions a month.

 

Crawling, Indexing, On-Site & Speed Tools

 

The below tools will help you make sure your website is crawlable, being indexed where it needs to be, is optimised correctly and finally is as fast as possible.

 

8. Screaming Frog

 

Screaming Frog is by the far most popular tool for crawling websites. This is a great tool for smaller websites as the free version can be used up to 500 URLs although not as advanced as the paid version. Here you?ll be able to see a full crawl of your site, title tags, h1s, meta descriptions, response codes, canonical links and the rest. It's a great place to start when auditing your site.

 

 

 

9. Tag Manager

 

Another Google tool, Tag Manager does exactly what you would think it does. It manages your tags such as those you use for analytics - essentially anything you need to inject into your website as HTML. It makes life a lot simpler than diving into the code constantly.

 

 

10. PageSpeed Insights

 

Yes, shock, a Google tool. Ok, so PageSpeed Insights is a fantastic way to understand how Google views your site from a speed perspective. This is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor as user-friendly sites are what Google looks to provide to its users. It?s completely free and easy to use, although some suggestions you?ll need help from a developer to implement.

 

11. GT Metrix

 

GT Metrix is very similar to Google PageSpeed but has a different interface. It automatically visualises historic data for each page it analyses.

 

Backlink Analysis & Link Tools

 

12. Disavow Tool

 

Although notoriously difficult to find, the disavow tool can be a very powerful tool to use. It is a fantastic way to fight off any negative SEO or spammy links that are aimed towards your site. You simply upload the domains and Google won't take those links into consideration. It's a handy tool for getting any link-related penalties removed.

 

13. Moz Link Explorer

 

This is a great tool when reaching out to potential publishers and understanding not only the quality of their site but also the value from getting a link from them. It is a reliable backlink checker and provides a quality score in value of ?domain authority? which has since become a bit of a buzzword in the industry. They also have a chrome extension, 'Moz Bar', which is super handy.

 

 

Local SEO

 

14. Google My Business

 

Google My Business is by far the best free tool for local SEO. It has numerous features enabling you to connect with customers around your store or physical location. You can manage your business listing and respond to reviews, among other things.

 

Content & Research Tools

15. Siteliner

 

Siteliner will scan your website for issues such as broken pages and redirect issues, but its best feature is detecting duplicate content. As we all know, duplicate content is a big no from a search perspective, as it doesn't add value for the user in most cases.

 

16. Buzzsumo

 

Buzzsumo is one of my favourite research tools. It?s a great tool for getting inspiration for content, content marketing or even PR ideas. You simply add a topic and it gives you a list of the content that generated the most engagement from social platforms and links.

 

 

These are all tools that I use day in, day out, and that can be used by those who have time to develop their own strategy. If not, I offer SEO consultancy to anyone who wishes to generate a positive ROI from organic search.

 

Let me know if there are any tools I missed that would be worth adding!

 


Why you should work with a freelance SEO consultant rather than an agency or hiring in-house

 

I worked firstly in an agency environment, as an in-house SEO manager and now as a freelance SEO consultant. They all have the pros and cons depending on your business needs, but having worked in all three areas for several years, I?ve written a list of reasons why I think working with an SEO consultant is the best way forward for the majority of businesses.

And OK, yes, maybe I?m slightly biased?

1. Affordability

 

For a business owner, every cost has to be analyzed. All business owners need to get the maximum value from any spend, and this includes SEO. Typically, working with a large SEO agency, you will most likely be spending anything from £5,000 to £15,000 a month. Agencies have a lot more overheads than SEO consultants, which tends to lead to an increase in price. From an in-house perspective, you have to factor in the cost of tools, which makes this an expensive option. SEO consultants will already have their tools ready to go.

 

2. Flexibility

 

When you work with an agency, most of the time, you?ll be a number on the list of clients your account manager is working on. One of the main reasons I left agency-side to work in-house was so that I could spend the time needed on a website to maximise SEO results. Freelance SEO consultants tend to have four to five clients that they work on, which gives a lot more value to those who work with them. Not only this, but 99% of agencies will tie you into a contract for a certain period, whereas most consultants will have a monthly rolling contract that is easier to cancel if your business doesn?t have the budget. When being a freelancer is your only income, you work longer hours to ensure the job gets done.

 

3. Business depends on the success of a campaign

 

As a freelance SEO consultant myself, I know that my business depends on the success of my clients. A lot of my leads come from referrals where I?ve achieved great results. A freelance SEO consultant?s reviews will also be scrutinised by potential clients, so it?s vital that for every campaign they take on, they?re confident they can get the results. Agencies will take on as many customers as they can, whereas consultants only have a certain amount of time in the day in which they can provide work for their clients. They will therefore only take on clients that they believe they can achieve results for.

 

4. Time

 

The most important reason to work with a consultant is time. To maximise results from SEO, those who work on a given campaign need to fully understand the business operation, what makes the business tick and what type of leads are the most important to the business. I am a consultant who works on-site for all of my clients. Wherever it?s one day a week or two, this is vital to ensuring the best results are achieved. It?s important to spend the time and make sure you know what products or services you need to push if you are to achieve the highest return on investment (ROI).

 

If you?re looking to generate more leads from organic search this year, please contact me today to discuss how we can work together to accomplish this.


How Digital PR can supercharge your SEO efforts in 2020

 

In the world of SEO, we're so often busy talking about the new buzzword within the industry, whether it's domain authority, ROAS or link juice. Over the past couple of years, one that really caught my attention was digital PR. Essentially using PR as a means to create effective content marketing campaigns that get natural & authoritative links. Or creating insightful and inspiring content in turn, resulting in links. However, you like it I guess.

In this post, I?m going to show you how I used digital PR to supercharge a client SEO efforts & also provide a guide to how best to do this yourself.

1. Why?

 

Firstly, you need to understand why you're doing this? What are you're goals?? PR provides several beneficial results, so it?s important you layout your KPI?s for this campaign so you?re able to track the success of the campaign. They could be any of the following and more.

  • Backlinks

  • Data (e.g for email marketing)

  • Traffic

  • Brand Awareness

  • Increased Social Following

  • Reputation management

  • Leads

 

What we did? we decided our main KPI was generating natural links to the homepage of our site to increase authority across the site. As an FYI, this was for a travel company specialising in travel to Florida.

2. Idea Generation

 

All successful digital PR campaigns start with a brainstorming session. Within these sessions there are no wrong idea's, this is the part where you should let all your creativity flow. Make sure you remember why you're doing this and what your KPI?s are. You should be creating ideas around maximising success against this metric. Here are some great tips on brainstorming.

 

What we did? After many a spider diagram, we decided to go with a campaign which we named the 'Theme park tester'. The idea was simple, we wanted to recruit someone who could spend 3 weeks travelling around the various theme parks in Orlando creating insightful content for our customers. This was a genuine role we had planned but considering the employee would be tasked with testing rides & trying all the snacks Orlando has to offer, we believed it had legs.

3. Ideas & How To Track

 

After creating a job spec & a specific page for potential candidates to apply, we saw the following results.

  • 339 pieces of coverage

  • 316 of these pieces were linked

  • Of those, 51 are unique followed links

  • 9 No follow linked pieces

  • The average domain authority across those placements was 67

  • 59766 applications for the role

  • We even got TV coverage in US News: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM1kjyPvfsk

 

Aside from links, we wanted to understand what other value we got from the campaign, so I decided to keep a report in changes to the following.

  • Domain Authority : This increased from 42 to 53.

 

  • Citation Flow & Trust Flow ? CG increased by 31% & trust flow 17%.

 

  • Overall Site Links: The campaign helped us increase overall site links by 78%.

 

  • Organic Visibility?

 

Below shows how the above has affected our visibility across all the keywords that we track, from the campaign go-live date we?ve seen a 42.24% increase in visibility.

 

  • Keyword Changes

 

Below was the movement of our highest volume keywords that we track.

 

 

The below graph also shows the impact on impressions & clicks form our largest volume keyword (Source: Search Console)

 

 

Social Following

 

We also saw some great increases across our social following within this time period.


Twitter / Facebook / Instagram?

Data Gathered

 

We?ve gathered over 35,000 email addresses from the campaign.

 

Brand Awareness

 

We had 14,359 users come through a brand term on the 10th of Jan!

 

When carrying out a campaign such as this, it?s vital to track absolutely everything you can to understand the full effect a PR campaign can have, especially one which aligns with your SEO strategy.

4. Final Note

 

My last tip to maximise your SEO strategy through Digital PR, has nothing to do with PR.

 

Make sure your on-site strategy is nailed, and that you have completed a thorough website audit beforehand. This is vital is to ensure the links that you generate have the biggest impact they possibly can to your keyword visibility.

 

I offer a free SEO audit, take advantage of this if you're looking to maximise your results this year.

 

Please let me know any questions you have in the comments below.