SEO is everchanging and what might have worked for you before may not work for you now. However, improving your organic rankings and traffic can be a challenging and daunting task.
This guide is going to give you an insight on what to do terms of SEO in 2019 and discover why services like Google Analytics, Google My Business, and Google Keyword Planner are essential to successful SEO, how you can master quality content, and the importance of the difference between ‘black hat’ and ‘white hat’ SEO…
What Is SEO?
It’s a harsh truth that unless your business has good visibility on the Internet, you probably will not be competitive. According to Hubspot’s 2019 digital marketing statistics, 81 percent of online shoppers and 89 percent of B2B buyers turn to Google first to look for products, services, and ideas. (Other search engines are available! – but for our purposes, everything we tell you about Google pretty much applies to them too).
So your business needs The Ultimate Guide to SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – to make sure it appears high in search results when a potential customer does a Google search for products or services in your market. This Ultimate Guide to SEO will give you everything you need to know to improve the effectiveness of your digital marketing – it’s not a mystic art, but SEO is complex and ever-changing.
Why Does Your Website Need SEO?
SEO strategy serves simply to deliver Ranking and Visibility in search results – but these aren’t an end in themselves. The end point is to turn searches into digital traffic to your website, and then convert this into a sale. The likelihood of that happening depends very much on the freshness and quality of your website content, a subject we’ll return to.
Ranking is a process used by search engines to determine where your website appears on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – while Visibility describes how prominent it is.
A 2017 survey by DemandGen found that 61 percent of B2B buyers start the buying process with a broad web search, rather than going directly to a vendor’s website. Any guide to SEO in 2019 must take into account that this behaviour is likely to increase.
Search engines such as Google are designed to do only one thing – to provide users with the information or links they find most relevant.
Search engines use two main criteria to compile their search results – Keywords, and Authority. Keywords simply match the words used in the search to those on your website, while Authority is rated according to how popular your website is, and therefore presumably how helpful or valuable it is.
As part of your digital marketing strategy, your organic, or natural (i.e. unpaid for) SEO strategy should be designed to work with the search engine algorithms to improve your rankings and search visibility.
There are three main ways to do this; high quality website content, technical setup, and links. Before we get on to those, let’s consider why SEO is still worth it in 2019.
Is SEO Worth It In 2019?
No guide to SEO in 2019 would be helpful without explaining why Search Engine Optimisation is still crucial. It’s sometimes argued that ‘SEO is dead’, that it’s no longer effective in comparison to paid search; but the organic, unpaid traffic from SEO can be cheaper and lead to more conversions that traffic from PPC (pay per click). Admittedly, organic Search Engine Optimisation is slower than paid search, as it takes time to build.
In the early days of the Internet, there were ways to get around this problem – it was quite simple to improve search ranking by stuffing your website with keywords, and the quality of the content wasn’t really taken into account. This practice pretty much came to an end in 2011 when Google introduced an algorithm called Panda, which was designed to downgrade low-quality websites.
In its Webmaster Guidelines, Google says that the job of a webmaster is to
* Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines
* Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings, such as hidden text or links
* Avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web
* Not use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc
* Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first
But it is certainly possible to build website traffic using Search Engine Optimisation, while at the same time making no more profit from your website; you could for instance be adding search traffic from overseas territories which would be of no real use to a local business. This SEO guide will teach you how to avoid that pitfall.
The rule is, you can tell if your Search Engine Optimisation is being done properly if your business is growing at the same rate as your visitor numbers; if not, you’re just generating irrelevant website traffic. Perhaps they are looking for information, but aren’t likely to buy from you; or perhaps they’re not genuine visitors, but bots crawling your site.
Check your Google Analytics under Acquisition/Referrals to find out where your website visitors are coming from. If you find they are from spammy websites, you’re doing SEO wrong! This Ultimate Guide to SEO will set you on the right course.
Below is a video from SEO expert Neil Patel, this Youtube video explains what SEO skills will and won’t work in 2019.
So Search Engine Optimisation is worth the time and effort, but only if you understand how it works and are using it to generate valuable leads and conversions. One of the best ways to ensure this is keyword research.
What Is Keyword Research?
Example of Keyword Reseach on Google Ads.
Keyword research is the process of finding out which keywords are related to your website, and analysing which ones would yield the best response to web searches (or, if you are using paid-for search, the highest return on your investment).
There are three major steps in keyword research. The first is to discover the keywords relating to your website – online tools will help you to check their relative search popularity.
The next step in keyword research is to find the most valuable keywords for your website. The most generic keywords are the most commonly searched for, but they are also the most competitive in terms of organic or paid-for searches, so using them may give mediocre return on investment (ROI). You need to find phrases that most accurately describe the specific qualities of your site to yield the highest ROI.
The last step in keyword research is to analyse the strength of your competitors for potential keywords. Factors in competitiveness include how much attention sites pay to optimization, and the number of relevant inbound links they receive.
A marketing agency will tell you that there are many keyword research tools, the main one being Google AdWords Keyword Planner. This free utility helps you search for relevant keywords, get historical statistics and traffic forecasts, use statistics like Search Volume to help you decide which keywords to use for a new or existing campaign, and make forecasts like predicted clicks and estimated conversions, giving you an idea of how a list of keywords might perform for a given bid and budget.
Another useful free tool for Search Engine Optimisation, Google Correlate, uncovers keywords with similar time-based or regional search patterns to the data series or search query you provide. In other words, instead of keywords producing patterns, the patterns point to keywords. It’s certainly useful for digital SEO marketing purposes, but also has applications for anthropologists, economists, and many others to study and predict human behaviour.
To help you generate a list of ‘long-tail’ keywords, the free utility Ubersuggest takes whatever keyword you enter and lists all the suggested searches for that keyword from Google. It can produce hundreds of suggestions in seconds. Using phrases such as ‘How to’ or ‘Best for’, Ubersuggest will come up with useful suggestions for blog posts subjects which should attract traffic. Ubersuggest can also calculate scores to determine search volume, SEO difficulty, paid difficulty, and cost per click, each derived from separate data sources to provide the most accurate results.
Finally Wordtracker Scout, a free Chrome browser extension, “turns the web into a huge keyword generator” – just choose a successful webpage that’s attractive to your target audience, and Wordtracker Scout can uncover the high-performing keywords you need to attract targeted, profitable traffic to your site. Using big keyword data from Wordtracker’s huge database of real search terms, Wordtracker Scout has a cool graphical interface, and can deliver keyword performance metrics organised by age elements and tags at a glance.
Is Keyword Research Important For SEO?
Arguably, Keyword Research is the most important factor in SEO, with link building and content marketing following behind. Essentially, the difference between a website that gets a lot of organic searches and one that doesn’t is the quality of its keywords. The sheer size of the internet means that whatever market you operate in, you probably have tens, hundreds, or even thousands of competitors online; if your Search Engine Optimisation is inefficient, you will not compete, and keyword research is crucial to that process.
Really effective keyword research tools help you to settle on a profitable niche, find related markets, rank well in search engines for specific topics, drive traffic to your site, and enhance your marketing effectiveness in promoting your products or services. Using keyword research to find out what people are actually searching for puts you in a better position to help them and to help yourself.
So the vital questions to ask yourself when doing keyword research are:
- Do my keywords target what people are actually searching for?
- Will searchers who using these keywords find my site useful?
- Will their traffic improve my ROI?
One of the most essential aspects of keyword research is that it helps you to identify not just obvious, generic keywords, but also long-tail phrases which might bring back a lower number of searches, but which are more likely to be close to what the searcher was looking for. Keyword research helps you to eliminate traffic which isn’t interested in your website content, improve your ranking against rival sites not optimised for those keywords, and find out whether your keywords will rank well in the search engines. But there’s more to a complete guide to SEO than learning about keywords.
What Is Black Hat and White Hat SEO?
Derived from old cowboy movies, the phrases ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’ (or even ‘grey hat’ for something in between) describe whether a hacker or SEO expert uses ethical, legal, approved methods, or is willing to break the rules to get what they want. Any good SEO guide will steer you away from ‘black hat’ techniques which might quickly damage your website’s reputation.
Black Hat SEO refers to techniques and strategies used to get higher search rankings, by breaking search engine rules. It’s typically used to get a quick return on a site, rather than as a long-term investment because it can have terminal consequences – using black hat SEO techniques can result in a site being banned and de-indexed.
Some of the common techniques used in Black Hat SEO include:
Keyword Stuffing, where the webpage is loaded with keywords or numbers, often in a list or group, or out of context, in an attempt to manipulate the site’s ranking in Google search results.
Link farming, where a group of websites all hyperlink to each other to boost their search engine rankings.
Hidden texts and links, using techniques such as white text on a white background, locating text behind an image, positioning text off-screen, setting the font size to zero, or hiding a link by linking only one small character.
Blog content spamming, filling your website or blog with a constant stream of low-quality content
In contrast, White Hat SEO refers to the use of legitimate techniques and strategies, such as the use of keywords and keyword analysis, posting quality content, rewriting meta-tags to make them more relevant, backlinking, and legitimate link-building. All these techniques are relevant to a website which is expected to make a long-term return on investment.
What Are Backlinks?
Example number of backlinks using MOZ’s Link explorer.
An essential subject for any SEO guide, Backlinks are a vital part of Search Engine Optimisation, and if used properly a legitimate ‘white hat’ technique for improving your SEO rating.
Backlinks, or Inbound Links (IBL’s), are links that are directed towards your website, and can be the building blocks to good Search Engine Optimization. Search engines like Google give more credit to websites that have a larger number of quality backlinks, and will rate these websites as more relevant in a search query.
Of course, it’s not enough just to have a large number of backlinks; they need to be relevant, quality links connected to the subject of your website. Reciprocal linking between websites is acceptable if they are relevant, but if not it will decrease the relevancy score of your website.
‘Black hat’ techniques such as hidden links, or automatically generated pages the purpose of which is to generate inbound links to other web pages (so-called “link farms”) could be harmful to your site.
Tools such as Domain Stats and Backlink Builder will help you to keep track of your backlinks, as well as giving you information about your website such as how many pages have been indexed, your listings in the Open Directory, and Alexa traffic rank.
What Is On Page Optimization?
On-page SEO is the technique of optimizing each individual web page on your site in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. This can be done using both the content of the page, and its HTML source code.
Originally, On-Page Optimisation consisted of little more than keyword placement, making sure that search engines found keywords in certain locations of the HTML code to help indicate a page’s relevance for each query. But search engine algorithms are now much more complex, and far more tied in with reading times, links and social media content sharing.
SEO expert Rand Fishkin says “Personally, I’m happy to sacrifice “perfect” keyword placement in the title element or a URL for better user experience, a higher chance of having my content shared on social networks, or a better click-through rate in the search results.”
What is Off Page Optimization?
Off Page Optimisation, or Off-Site SEO, refers to techniques used outside your own website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs).
The main Off Page Optimisation technique is to get other reputable places on the Internet (quality blogs, websites, social media influencers and so on) to link to or promote your website, effectively vouching for the quality of your content.
The value of Off-Site SEO is that while search algorithms and ranking factors will change over time, Off-Site SEO is pretty much of consistent value in improving search engine and user perception of a site’s popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority, and so improving a page’s ability to rank.
How Important Is Content In SEO?
If you learn anything from this Ultimate Guide to SEO, it should be that there’s now nothing more important than content quality for SEO – search engines have developed in such a way that they now use content quality as the most important factor in determining search rankings. In effect, any guide to SEO in 2019 is incomplete without an explanation of the importance of content marketing.
Writing quality content for SEO involves a few basic techniques.
- Do your keyword research to determine what words and phrases your customers will search for.
- Ask yourself what is the quality, relevance and value of your content. If you are not giving the readers and search engines what they want, your content serves no purpose.
- Promote your content through social media and encourage backlinks.
Quality content which delivers value to customers encourages backlinks and engagement through social media. This appears to Google as validation and makes it rank your links higher. Don’t forget that Google will also rank image and video content, not just text.
Although it’s not entirely clear how it is used, it’s also known that Google ranks web content according to its ‘freshness’. Not all web pages are ranked for freshness, but certainly those involving recent events, regularly recurring events or frequently updated reports are; for instance, news reports, business results, new product reviews and so on. Google may rank freshness by monitoring search volume, news and blog coverage, and social media trends. So while not all content needs to be ranked by freshness, it is important to update your posts, create new pages and add links from other sites rated highly for freshness. Cyrus Shepard, SEO, and founder of Zyppy, says the mantra for freshness best practice is: “Be fresh. Be relevant. Most important, be useful.”
Have a detailed SEO Strategy
There’s a good deal more to SEO strategy than simply choosing the right keywords. Keywords should be the starting point of an SEO strategy aimed at improving your ranking in SERPs, but content quality, technical factors and backlinking all play a part.
1.Content that ranks
A web page optimised around topics first, then keywords within that topic, makes your site look more expert to a search engine and improves your ranking for long-tail keywords related to your topic. Choose keywords that your potential customers will actually be searching for, target words with lower competition, and include a combination of local keywords, long tail keywords and short tail keywords. A Schema Markup code on your website can help the search engines to return more informative results for users, such as a list of events at a venue.
An SEO audit and regular site crawls will tell you whether your site is user-friendly, easy to navigate, and reliable, will identify faulty links and issues causing it to load slowly, and will help you to measure the effectiveness of changes.
Use an SEO-friendly URL which is clear, doesn’t have any random letters or numbers, and if possible incorporates some of your keywords.
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly – increasing numbers of searches (particularly local ones) are done on smartphones, so your site will lose business if it does not work well with portable devices.
One of the best ways to improve your SERP ranking is by using backlinks to sources regarded as reliable by search engine algorithms. Add links from your website to credible outside sources relevant to your content, and reach out to authoritative sites, working together to create mutually beneficial backlinks. This will drive additional traffic to your site and help to build your business.
4.Track Your Progress
No SEO strategy will be effective if you don’t track and assess your progress. Apart from Google Analytics, useful tools such as Monitor Backlinks, Dead Link Checker, Cognitive SEO Dashboard and Majestic.com will help you to follow the improvement of your search engine ranking for various keywords, see how web traffic increases and decreases, check whether your web presence compares to that of the competition, and show what content types perform best, so you can continue to follow your content strategy.
New SEO tools and techniques are being developed all the time, so SEO is not a one-time-and-it’s-done process. But as a regular part of your overall marketing efforts, a detailed SEO strategy is essential for boosting your website’s digital presence.
How Do You Write Content That Ranks In Search Engines?
Writing good content is one of the most effective SEO tools, and in many ways the easiest. Great content can improve your search rank, generate leads, build your brand, and create long-term connections with your customers. Here are a few good tips for writing quality content which is guaranteed to improve your SEO:
Conduct Keyword Research Before You Start Writing
You should work this way rather than writing content then trying to shoehorn keywords into it.
Use Keywords Consistently Throughout Your Content
Use keywords in the title of the web page or blog post then strategically throughout the content. Also use alternative phrases known as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords which are related to your main keywords. This gives you an alternative if you are over-using your main keywords.
Create In-Depth, Interesting And Useful Content
To be valuable, original and actionable, the content has to be relevant to your audience. Presumably, you know about the market covered on your website, and understand what your customers are looking for in the way or information, products, and services. If you don’t, be prepared to pay a specialist writer of a digital marketing agency to help with your content. Quality content doesn’t have to be text-only; it can come in the form of visual content like an infographic, a video, a meme, a podcast or a short report.
Create Accurate And Informative Title Tags And Meta Descriptions
- and don’t forget to use your keywords as anchor text when you are linking to other web pages and blogs on your site.
Add Internal Links To Your Content
When a search engine such as Google crawls a website, it follows links, internal and external, starting from the homepage. This helps to determine the structure of the website and the way different pages are related. Google will divide link value between all links on a web page, often assigning the homepage the greatest link value because it has the highest number of backlinks. Your newest blog posts will be found quicker and will get the most link value if you link to them from the homepage, not just from a category page.
Essential SEO Tips For Better Rankings
In this Ultimate Guide to SEO, we’ve discussed how you can optimize search traffic using tools to improve and monitor your website’s SEO performance. Now we’re going to give you a definitive list of SEO tips for better rankings.
Optimize Your Website For Mobile
At least 50 percent of web searches are now from a mobile device, and the figure is growing. In some regions, desktop use was barely established before mobile took over. If your website is not designed to be ‘mobile first’, you are likely to experience a high bounce rate, where the visitor leaves the site after viewing only one page.
Improve Your Website’s Page Load Speed
Example of a website’s page load speed score on GTmetrix.
Optimize Your Website For Voice Search
Marketing analytics company comScore estimates that by 2020, 50 percent of all Internet searches will be done via voice. Like mobile search, voice search is on an upward trend with the use of services such as Alexa and Siri. Since voice searches tend to have longer word counts than text searches, it has been suggested that using long-tail keywords is one way to change the way you optimize so you get results to show up on page one of the SERPs for voice searches.
Build Profitable Backlinks
Backlinks function as votes from other websites telling search engines that your website is valuable, useful and credible, so the more of these votes you have, the better your website will rank. Backlinks are certainly in Google’s top three most important search engine ranking factors, but you must develop quality backlinks from sites with good domain authority, which haven’t linked to your site before, which are topically related to your site, and ideally using your target keyword in the link’s anchor text.
Ensure Your Website Is Optimized For Local SEO
Example of a Google My Business listing for TRON Media.
Over 50 percent of searches are now from mobile devices, and Google’s search algorithms now assume that any search from a mobile device is looking or a local result. Local SEO is a search engine optimization tactic that helps you to reach customers based on location. Implemented properly, it can help small local companies outrank larger competitors, but it can also be of use to online businesses.
Local search marketing demands that you provide accurate, consistent NAPU (name, address, phone number, URL) to the most important directories, so that search engines know where your business is located and what you do. If there is any inaccuracy or inconsistency, Google will give you website a lower search ranking, and your local competitors will benefit.
So or effective local search results you should always have a consistent name, address and telephone number information in the footers of your website pages so Google gets a consistent idea of your location. The free tool Google My Business lets you enter information which appears when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search or Maps.
Add Visual Content
While long-form text posts, around 3,000 words, usually outperform shorter articles in search rankings, traffic and engagement, such huge chunks of text are likely to put off all but the most avid readers. The solution is to break them up with visuals. Social Media Examiner’s 2018 report concluded that 51 percent of B2B marketers prioritise creating visual assets as part of their content marketing strategy. Good advice is to embed a visual every 400 words or so.
Still images are the obvious go-to source of visual variation; keep image sizes under 1Mb and use JPG compression. For screenshots, charts, vector graphics, and infographics, PNG format gives clearer results. You can also jazz up a pull-quote with a graphical background.
Where relevant, you can embed a social media post, GIF or meme – this can add an element of humour, but make sure your references are up to date.
A Hubspot survey showed that 54 percent of people want to see more video content in marketing material – original video content is best, but if making it is beyond your abilities, there’s nothing wrong with embedding relevant content from other sources.
The final essential type of visual content is the CTA (Call To Action) button – and this has the added value that it takes interested viewers through to other pages on your site, boosting engagement, click-through rates, and conversions.
Submit a Sitemap and Robots.txt file
Example of a submitted sitemap on Google Search Console.
Creating a sitemap, a simple directory or guide that holds information on the pages on your site, helps search engines to find all the information applicable to a specific search query. The pages in the site map appear in a logical hierarchical order, with the most relevant at the top and least relevant pages towards the bottom. The two main forms of sitemap are XML, which works directly with search engines, and HTML which is more attuned to the end user. The sitemap can be submitted to Google via the Search Console.
A Robots.txt file, which tells search engines to ignore duplicate pages and sensitive documents, should be placed in your website’s main directory to avoid search engines penalising you for duplicating data.
A canonical tag (also known as a “rel canonical”) is used to tell search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. When you use the canonical tag, it avoids problems which can be caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs. The canonical tag tells search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results, and avoids you being penalised for duplication.
Create Engaging Videos
Shooting and editing digital videos are easier now than ever before, with affordable Digital SLR video cameras, smartphones, LED lighting and free editing apps making it straightforward for anyone without any great videomaking experience to produce a watchable product.
Here are our SEO Guide top tips for videomaking:
- Create a script and a storyboard first. Even rough sketches will help you to plan your shots and time your piece.
- Prep your presenters – make sure they know what’s expected of them, don’t give them too many lines to memorise, and get autocue software to help them polish their performance.
- Shoot plenty of B-roll. This is background material you can edit into the main sequence when you want to cut away from the presenters. Stock B-roll is available for anything too ambitious for you to shoot yourself.
- Frame the shots. Learn the ‘Rule of thirds’, the basic law of composition, and stick to it.
- Control lighting. Light evenly, don’t mix natural and artificial light sources, and set the colour balance of your camera manually.
- Control sound. Make sure there’s no distracting echo or boom where you’re recording, and check for background noises such as traffic or roadworks.
- Choose music carefully. Select something in keeping with the subject, and don’t violate anyone’s copyright. Public domain and royalty free music is available online.
Once you have a superb video, you need to optimise it for SEO, which is a skill in itself. Here are a few tips for making the most of your video SEO:
- Choose the right hosting platform. The obvious move might be to host your videos on YouTube or Vimeo, but there’s a danger that they might cannibalise traffic from your website. Consider less obvious options like Wistia.
- Add transcript text to your video. This makes it more searchable by bots.
- Create an engaging thumbnail. If the first frame of your video is black, that won’t attract much attention as a thumbnail.
- Apply keyword research to your video description and metadata
- Embed the video you want to be ranked first on the page – Google typically only indexes one video per page. Make sure it appears above the fold to guarantee higher play rates.
How Web Design Can Affect SEO
It might not be intuitively obvious, but one of the foundations of great SEO is web design. Users are likely to exit slow or outdated sites quickly, but the same may apply to unnecessarily ‘busy’ or modern-looking sites. If a visitor reverts back to the SERP after seeing the landing page of your site (‘bouncing’ or ‘pogo-sticking’), Google RankBrain will pick up on it and reduce your ranking. Readability should be the priority and navigation made as easy as possible. Google Optimise is a useful testing tool.
Make your website design reflect your brand, and apply the design consistently throughout the site. Don’t clutter pages, and leave some (not too much) white space.
Make sure your fonts are clear and readable – WebpageFX has a useful readability tool.
Don’t open with a large image on the landing page which pushes text ‘below the fold’.
Optimize and compress your images for faster loading, and make sure they are relevant to the website and are properly titled and captioned.
Minimise the use of pop-ups and certainly don’t present them as soon as someone lands on your site.
Provide shareable links to social media, and optimize your website design so users can find what they need, and they will be sure to return. Remember, search engines respond to good design and clear navigation too!
The Best SEO Resources and Tools For Beginners
One of the good things about applying SEO techniques to your website is that there are plenty of tools, free and paid for, to help you optimize it. Let’s have a look at some of the front-runners.
This is the big one – if you’re not using Google Analytics, you’re missing out on a lot. Google Analytics is free if your website has under 5m impressions per month, and is easy to install. The free version will report on data such as whether a visitor to your website is a repeat visitor or new, the language of their browser, type of device and screen resolution, which pages they view and for how long, and so on. The paid-for version of Google Analytics, which costs $150,000 per year, adds direct support, account management, greater data processing abilities and more. While Google Analytics can be complex to use, there are plug-ins available which will present its reports in more manageable forms.
This free search terms comparison site shows how frequently a given search term is entered into Google’s search engine, relative to the site’s total searches over a given period of time. You can use Google Trends for comparative keyword research, and to discover event-triggered spikes or cycles in keyword search volume. For instance, if you run a gardening business, you would be able to find out what times of year search terms relevant to your business are trending, and adjust your AdWords spend accordingly.
Google Search Console
Another free website, Google Search Console helps you to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. Among other things, it can confirm that Google can find and crawl your site; fix indexing problems and request re-indexing of new or updated content; display Google Search traffic data for your site; show how often your site appears in Google Search, which search queries show your site, how often searchers click through for those queries, and more. Google Search Console can also show alerts when Google encounters indexing, spam, or other issues on your site, show you other sites which link to yours, and troubleshoot issues for mobile pages and other search features.
AHREFS Backlink Checker
This website ‘helps you learn why your competitors rank so high and what you need to do to outrank them’. Though it’s best known as a backlink checker, showing you what outside websites link to yours, it actually offers several tools including Competitive Analysis, Keyword Research, Backlink Research, Content Research, Rank Tracking, and Web Monitoring. There’s a free 7-day trial for $7, monthly subscriptions start at $99/month (personal) and $999/month (agency), and annual subscriptions start at $82/month (personal) and $832/month (agency).
AHREFS SEO Toolbar
Like the Backlink Checker, AHREFS SEO Toolbar is an excellent time-saver for SEO professionals; it’s a free add-on to the Chrome and Firefox browsers which gives a real-time display of SEO metrics and backlink counts, with immediate access to both Page and Domain metrics such as AHREFS Domain Rating, AHREFS URL Rating, AHREFS Rank, number of backlinks, number of referring domains, estimated organic search traffic and number of ranking keywords. It can give instant keyword metrics including cost-per-click, and a SERP overlay shows instant SEO metrics for the top ranking pages in the SERPs.
MOZ Link Explorer
Formerly Open Link Explorer, this website helps you to find successful content on the web, analyse its ranking keywords, show inbound and linking domains, show anchor text in backlinks, and thereby ‘reverse engineer’ your competitors’ marketing campaigns. Moz offers a free 30-day trial, while a full subscription costs from $79 per month to $599 per month, depending on the number of campaigns managed, and the number of pages and backlinks crawled per week.
Google Keyword Planner
Another free Google website, Keyword is like a workshop for building new Search Network campaigns. You can use it to search for keywords based on terms that are relevant to your product or service, website or landing page and see how a list of them might perform, choose competitive bids and budgets to use with your campaigns, get historical statistics and traffic forecasts, and use statistics such as search volume to help you decide which keywords to use for a new or existing campaign. There are also forecasting functions for predicted clicks and estimated conversions which will give you an idea of how a list of keywords might perform for a given bid and budget.
Google In an Incognito Window
Google Chrome has an ‘incognito’ mode, activated by CTRL-SHIFT-N on a PC, CMD-SHIFT-N on a Mac, or, on iPhone, go into the Chrome app settings and choose Open Incognito Tab.
Using Incognito mode, Chrome will not remember your browsing history, cookies and site data, and information entered in forms. But your ISP and the websites you visit will have access to some of this data, so for most people its only real application is to keep websites out of your browsing history, or to log into a single website on multiple accounts in the same web browser. But if you want to check your own Google ranking, Incognito mode can be useful because it stops Google from adjusting its results according to what it knows about you, such as your location and the type of device you are using.
SEO Web Page Analyzer
The free SEO Web Page Analyzer website (also available as an iPhone app) takes a snapshot of a page to see how it can be improved, breaking down the structure and content of your web page and assessing the build quality and content quality from an accessibility, usability and search engine point of view. Where appropriate, a pass (green tick) or fail (red cross) icon will be displayed for each section of the report, with question marks indicating areas that cannot be scored and need further human interaction.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Though we talk mainly about Google in this blog, other search engines are of course available, one of them being Microsoft’s Bing. Bing Webmaster Tools (previously the Bing Webmaster Center) is a free service as part of Microsoft’s Bing search engine which allows webmasters to add their websites to the Bing index crawler. The service also offers tools for webmasters to troubleshoot the crawling and indexing of their website, Sitemap creation, submission and ping tools, website statistics, consolidation of content submission, and new content and community resources. You don’t have to sign up for BWT to be included in the Bing search index, but the toolset will provide insights on your website’s visibility so you can optimize it to improve rankings, engage with customers, drive sales and generate leads on Bing.
Bright Local Google Mobile-Friendly Test
In an attempt to make more sites mobile-friendly, Google announced a couple of years ago that it would start prioritising websites in rankings based on suitability for use on mobile devices, whether the results are appearing on mobile devices or not. Ultimately, this means that sites that aren’t delivering the same content on mobile and desktop will suffer (not the same layout of course, but the same content).
Google has its own free website to rate your site’s mobile-friendliness at https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly, but the Bright Local Google Mobile-Friendly Test, also free, gives advice on text spacing, fonts, regular testing and more.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed is a family of tools designed to help a website’s performance optimizations. There are four main components of PageSpeed family tools: PageSpeed Module, PageSpeed Service, the PageSpeed Chrome DevTools extension and PageSpeed Insights. All of these components are built to identify faults in a website’s compliance with Google’s Web Performance Best Practices, as well as automate the adjustment process, while PageSpeed Insights provides suggestions on a webpage’s optimizations, and suggests overall ideas of how to make a website faster. This free tool can be accessed directly in any browser, and grades webpage performance on a scale from 1 to 100, providing a report on suggested optimizations, divided into categories of high, medium, and low priorities.
This free tool tells you a lot about your website performance including Google PageSpeed and Yahoo! YSlow scores and recommendations, Page Load Details (time, size, number of requests), various analysis options, waterfall, video and report history. Its reports give you the full picture on how your site loads and helps you detect where bottlenecks are. PRO Bronze, Silver and Gold users paying from $14.95 to $149.95 per month get access to the Developer Toolkit, which provides even more advanced analysis options including device simulation, screen resolution testing and Adding a custom domain name for testing.
OnCrawl is designed to do daily SEO audits, detecting orphan pages, identifying pages that are not linked to your structure to optimize internal popularity, monitoring crawlability and indexing, understanding how search engines are visiting your website and if strategic pages are correctly indexed, spotting near duplicates, and optimising for mobile-first. Its intention is to ‘support your entire search engine optimization process with accurate and comprehensive data’. There’s a 14-day free trial option, with Pro options costing from $49 to €5,990 per month.
Thanks for reading this Ultimate Guide to SEO. You should now be able to tell your Backlinks from your Bounce Rate, your Black Hat from your White Hat and your Local Search from your Keyword Research. But if it’s all been too much to take in, you could always ask for the help of a Digital Marketing Agency. For a complete guide to SEO strategy, advice on the difference between ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’ SEO techniques, guidance on how to optimise your ranking in search results, and information on how to make the most of backlinks, how to decrease your bounce rate and how to use services such as Google My Business, a Digital Marketing Agency is the place to go for a complete guide to SEO.
TRON Media can help with all your SEO requirements. TRON Media has a highly qualified team of trained specialists in SEO, website security, email marketing, paid search marketing, PPC, Google Ads, content marketing, web design, digital strategy, and social media, and can work with you to develop your ideas and build a website security protocol perfect for your business.
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