Every business that is online knows it needs Search Engine Optimization to expand its web presence. After all, building user awareness is half the battle of doing business online. SEO isn’t necessarily difficult in practice, but it can be time consuming and tough to stay abreast in an ever-evolving field. For websites and businesses that don’t have a large support team, devoting extended time and resources to address SEO can be a distraction from primary responsibilities. Luckily, there are a plethora of free tools that ease the burden and keep track of all the search engine performance and ranking factors for you. We’ve gathered some of the best below.
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console provides users with insight into how Google accesses their content and incorporates it into Google search results. Search Console reports an evolving list of search terms that return your links. It also produces metrics that include clicks, impressions (how many times your link shows up in a results page the search user sees), click-through rate (clicks divided by impressions), and the average position of your top ranking search result. All of these reports can be filtered to show data based on region, device, and more.
The other really important thing Search Console monitors are crawl errors, which are technical issues that prevent Google from accessing your site. These errors can hurt your ranking, or exclude you from search results entirely. Search Console informs you when you have crawl errors and tells how you can address them.
Search Console details how the Google search engine interfaces with your site; Analytics does the same for the your site’s users. Customizable reports measure everything from traffic acquisition to audience data, like location and demographics. It also analyzes and measures conversions based on definable events, like clicking on a video, or purchasing. Google Analytics is critical for understanding who your customers are, and how they behave in relation to your site’s structure and content.
For WordPress users, the Yoast SEO plugin in a must. Although WordPress is generally SEO friendly, Yoast can dramatically improve your results. Most notably it allows users to quickly build and modify XML sitemaps that help Google’s web crawlers interpret rich content like images and video, which can go unnoticed if they are not properly tagged with appropriate descriptions and keywords. Another handy feature is Yoast’s ability to preview how Google will display your links in their results. Analytics and Search Console can be integrated into Yoast, allowing you to pull insights from Google’s data and make changes using Yoast’s various templates, without ever having to leave the WordPress Dashboard.
While most of its features require a subscription to the premium service, Moz Local still offers business owners a valuable tool to drive up their ranking among search queries that include your city. Its simple search tool returns results that point out inconsistencies in, or the absence of citations for your business that show up in search results across a variety of networks. If you move the physical location of your business and update it in your google listing, other networks, like Yelp, or Yahoo, may not pick up on it, which might cause your ranking to slide because the existence of multiple addresses confuses Google’s web crawlers. Moz’s free tool simply shows you where your citations are inconsistent, incomplete, or nonexistent, which is valuable information to have if you want to boost your visibility.
This suite of tools is a wonderful place to start if you’ve never implemented an SEO strategy. They are all relatively simple, cover most basic SEO needs for the majority of users, and are consistently updated to reflect changes in SEO principles. And, best of all, they’re free! There’s no risk in trying to utilize them to improve your business’ web presence. More than likely, you’ll be quite happy with the results.