Working in SEO is very similar to working as a carpenter, painter & decorator, builder, or a mechanic. How so, you ask… Well, you are only as good as the tools you have at your disposal. Bad tools lead to bad craftsmanship, and this will ultimately lead to poor conversion rates, wasted money, and unhappy clients.
One of the biggest problems when selecting the right tools is the cost. There are some fantastic tools available for keyword research and analysis, with the leading players being Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery. Both of these tools provide extremely useful data on keyword search statistics and can help to identify long-tail keyphrases for your business to target. The one problem is the cost. Small online marketing agencies, freelancers, or people carrying out their own SEO for their business may not be able to justify paying between £200 and £2000 per year, and will therefore be resigned to using the free tools available online. So, that leads us to our next question – Which free tools are available and are they any good?
Lucky for you, our investigative team has been busy locating the best free tools available online to carry out quality keyword research, competitor diagnostics, and enable you to plan a comprehensive link building campaign.
Google Keyword Tool – https://adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal
This is an obvious one, and is likely to be used in some capacity even by the larger online marketing organisations. Google keyword tool allows you to measure the monthly global and country-based search numbers for selected key phrases over a 12 month period, view monthly search trends, and find out the relative competitiveness of each key phrase. The one problem with this tool is that it is potentially biased, as Google will benefit from inflated numbers. Wordtracker and Keyword Discovery on the other hand have no ulterior motives to inflate their numbers, as they are purely research tools.
On the whole, this is one of the most frequently used free keyword tools, and while it may not have the same depth of features as the paid tools, it is an essential component in any SEO agency‘s armoury.
Link Diagnosis – http://www.linkdiagnosis.com
Link Diagnosis provides a really useful tool for checking backlinks to your competitors’ websites. It allows you to enter a URL and then produces a report with information about the pages linking to the site. The report shows which links are “Do-Follow” and “No-Follow”, the anchor text used, page rank for each page, the number of additional outbound links on each page, and also a link strength score. This tool is a great starting point to help identify quality sites which are linking to your competitors.
Link Voodoo – http://www.linkvoodoo.com/score_site.php
This tool provides a report on how trustworthy a site is, which is essential when determining which sites to approach for your backlink campaign. Rather than providing a single Trust Rank score, which many tools can do, it gives you an overall “trustworthiness” score based on a number of factors which are shown in the report. The factors include Alexa rank, backlink profile, domain age, Google page rank, inbound links, social bookmarking profile, and title search. This tool is also useful to check how your own site is progressing over time.
Link Hub Finder – http://www.seosean.com/seo-tools/link-hub-finder
This tool took a considerable amount of investigation to find. There are a number of hub finder tools which were previously free but are now subscription based, so fingers crossed that this doesn’t go the same way. Hub sites are crucial to the success of your SEO campaign, as they can provide a strong “vote of confidence” for your site. Each industry consists of “hub” sites, which the search engines consider to be authorities on their specified topics. If your competitors all have links from the main hub sites, but you do not, you will struggle to compete. This tool helps to identify the hub sites which are linking to your main competitors, so you can target these in your campaign.
So there you have it, a selection of SEO tools which will help you on your way to online success. There are numerous other tools available which can also assist the process, far too many to discuss in this blog post alone. However these tools will provide you with a good basis to identify the right key phrases for your business, locate the key sites in your industry, and carry out diagnostics on your competitor’s campaigns.