Today’s ProTalk tip is brought to you by Ish Laos, founder of Webstuffguy.
If you were to go see a doctor, how strange would it be if the doctor just handed you a bunch of prescriptions before he/she even gave you an examination? Yet that is what often happens when we try to make our website search engine optimization (SEO) friendly. The key to success is to first diagnose where your website is falling short, or lacking. Fortunately for us, there are some wonderful free tools out there to help us do just that. Wait… Did I mention they were FREE?
What I want to do is share with you some of my favorite tools that I use whenever I want to evaluate a client’s website. While researching your own website, it is important to know who your toughest competitor is as well. That is, which competitor of yours is ranked higher in Google searches. Go ahead, do a test. Go to Google and enter in the keywords that your prospects are most likely to enter in order to find your website.
**Please note: If you have an active Google account, it is important that you sign out of Google before running any search results. Google is biased, and if you are logged in, it will pull up your website way ahead of where it would normally be to the unsuspecting client. So make sure you are signed out.
So how bad is it? Or how good is it? If you are at the very top, then congratulations! You can now stop reading this. For everyone else, let’s carry on!
Now that you know who your competition is, let’s move onto my top 5 free SEO tools to help you diagnose your website.
Tool #1 - Open Site Explorer by SEOMOZ
What it is: To put it short, it’s a backlink investigation tool. Your site’s backlinks play a vital role in your site’s ability to rank well in search engines. Backlinking is like a popularity contest. Picture the days back in high school. If the star quarterback went around telling everyone that you are the coolest kid in school, how would that raise your popularity amongst your peers? Now what if the most unpopular kid in high school said you were the coolest? How much would that do for you then?
It’s the same thing with websites. Think of a monster website that receives thousands of hits per day. If they were to backlink to you, that is, if they were to leave a link to your website on their own website, Google would consider you very relevant. This in return will catapult you into search engine relevancy. The idea is to have as many reputable websites backlink to yours. Got it?
How it helps: See who is linking to your website, and how it’s helping you. More importantly, put in your top competitor’s website instead and see who links to them.
How to use it: Find out who links to your competitors website. After all, there is a reason why they rank so high. It may be because of the link juice they are getting from other big time sites. Find out who those sites are, and why they are linking to your competitor. Get in on that link juice. Figure out how they could link to you as well. Be creative, give them something in return, or figure out a reason for them to backlink to you. Keep it fun.
Tool #2 - Google Adwords Keyword Tool
What it is: When attracting potential prospects, it’s important to speak their language. What keywords are your prospects entering into Google in order to find your company? If your website is not optimized with the correct keyword phrases, you could be missing out on potential customers.
How it helps: This keyword tool will help you understand what keywords your prospects are typing in, in order to find a business like yours. Use this tool to get the right keywords and put them directly into the content of your website, preferably on your homepage. This way Google has a better understanding of what you sell/offer and in return will hopefully pull up your website the next time those keywords are entered by a prospect.
How to use it: Once you select a querying method, the tool allows you to break down the results using a variety of filters, match types and keyword term inclusion/exclusion lists. Familiarize yourself with this panel. I promise it will come in handy. For more information on the Keyword Tool, click http://goo.gl/1TEMd
Tool #3 - Rank Checker
What it is: One of my favorite tools! Find out where your site ranks for certain keyword searches. You decide which keywords to use, then see how your site does alongside your competitors. Rank checker will not only give you Google results, but Yahoo and Bing as well!
How it helps: When armed with this knowledge, you know where you stand, and where you need to improve. You also see where your competitors stand.
How to use it: Put in the keywords that would be used in Google to find you, then put in your actual website address.
Tool #4 - Meta Tag Analyzer
What it is: This tool will give you a meta tag analysis of your website. It grades your website on things such as overall visibility, title tags, meta description tags, meta keywords, etc…
Titles and Meta Tags are special HTML tags that are inserted into your web page and are often not directly visible to your visitors. Since this is the same material that is displayed in your search results, it is very important that your title and meta tags are search engine friendly.
How it helps: When Titles and Meta Tags are used properly, you will have much more control over what is displayed in search results. Not only that, but these are tags that Google spiders search for when indexing your site.
How to use it: Get this information and show it to your website designer. Your designer should be able to show you your current Meta tags, and should be able to easily place the suggested ones.
What it is: Have you ever wondered what Google themselves have to say about Search Engine Optimization? Not many people know that they have actually released a handy publication to guide you in the right direction. They don’t exactly make it easy for you to find it either. Perhaps it’s because they make most of their money from Google Adwords, and would much rather you pay to get ranked instead of growing your site organically. But that’s just a theory. Anyhow, I’ve located it here for you!
How it helps: While this is NOT a diagnosis tool for your website, I feel that every website owner should have their hands on this manual. You will definitely come away with learning something new. This pdf. file has lots of friendly images to make learning easier. Discover what Google considers to be ethical SEO practices so you can stay away from the non-ethical approaches. Unethical SEO practices could have bad consequences, such as being banned from Google Search results indefinitely.
How to use it: Download this pdf file, print it, READ IT! LEARN FROM IT! It’s a must have for any website owner who’s conscience of their search rankings.
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