You can pay tens of thousands of dollars for great SEO help (and not-so-great SEO help!!). But if you’re willing to learn the ropes and do some research, you can get great search engine traffic on your own – for free or for very little $.
These are some of the SEO tools I use daily and some I dug up just for this post. Either way, your Google Juice drinks are on the house ’round here!
This is a nifty little tool that let’s you know exactly where you rank for any term. It will also let you know the top ten results that your competitors might have. So for any search term, it will let you know if your site shows up at 10 or 1000 – and anywhere in between.
When I first started putting up web sites, I used to go through the thousands of results to see where I would find my site because I didn’t know these tools existed (embarrassing, I know!!) . By the way, you’ll have to click the Keyword AnalysisTool link in the sidebar because the site uses frames.
Most people know that the anchor text you use makes a big difference in how a page or site is ranked for certain terms. But until now, there was no single place to go to analyze the anchor text people have used to link to your site. This is a fascinating tool and I bet you get lost there for a long time… like I did!
Creating and submitting a sitemap to the search engines is one of the best ways to get your entire site indexed (the only way?). This is something I hadn’t done until recently because I 1 – didn’t understand how important it is and 2 – didn’t understand that it is the easiest thing on the planet to accomplish!
The WordPress plugin is a no-brainer – you turn it on, set it up in about 5 or less clicks, and you never have to think about it again. the non-blog version entails a few more steps, but is still easy. If you haven’t done this yet, take 20 minutes and just get it over with. The search engines will love you for it.
If you want to know what keywords people use the most, then the Keyword Suggestion tool is for you. Before I start any new category on my site, pick a new domain name, or sometimes even write a headline, I will check this tool to find out what exact keyphrase or keywords will get the most search hits. This is because sometimes the words I use to describe something aren’t the same as the masses. There have been times when the difference between my original idea and the most popular phrase has been hundreds of thousands of searches – so it pays to know what people are searching on.
The SEO for Firefox Extension is a tool that pulls relevant marketing data for each search result right into your search window. It displays page rank, bookmarking links, .edu and .gov links, Alexa and Technorati rank, plus almost 20 more data points for each result – and it works in Google as well as Yahoo.
If you’re still on IE, it will probably make you switch to Firefox just to get the extension!
I use HitTail all of the time to track both the terms people use to find my site and incoming referrals. Although you can do this in Google Analytics, I find their user interface to be a big pain in the behind to get to the info you want, plus there is a time delay.
With HitTail, the data is in real time. But even better, you can get an easy, clear view of your long-tail search hits on one screen. You can then flag phrases to follow up on, by including them into page titles, post content, and the like.
Although Shoestring Smarts is all about free, there are times when it is worth it to drop the few extra bucks to get the right tool or information for the job. These two recommendations really can’t be beat, and they really are affordable and will pay for themselves several times over:
Aaron Wall’s SEO Book has all of the information you need to put these tools into action – and then some. The SEO Book is both for entry level and experienced web masters, and it is the top selling SEO resource on the internet. It’s also endorsed by Seth Godin, The Wharton School of Business, and Darren Rowse himself (and eMom!!).
KeyCompete.com is a PPC user’s dream tool – and for those of you selling products or services, it is essential. For as little as $19 dollars, you can find out exactly what search terms your competitors are bidding on. You can then take this knowledge to launch your own PPC campaigns, or optimize for natural results so that you can get free traffic that your competition pays for. It’s a beautiful thing.