Bamboozled with the most thrown around term on the internet (and off)? SEO or Search Engine Optimization has eluded many a bloggers, especially those just starting out, to spend hours thinking, formulating and wondering where to start or pay hundreds of dollars to an SEO professional to drive their growth, or, be where no one wants to be – not on the first-page search results.
The right SEO strategy can propel your business, e-commerce or not, to dizzying heights. However, it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket. It is possible to make a start in the right direction, on your own, without hiring a professional, by simply leveraging these fab free tools that I will introduce you to in some time.
I was 16 when I started dabbling seriously with my passion for websites and technology. Understanding SEO has been a long journey for me; starting out with multiple blogs at 16, I observed, learnt and implemented various SEO techniques and continually improved and improvised in time. From here, I found my first few clients (and this number has only grown due to honest and consistent results) in the European and Indian markets, whom I advised on gadgets, e-commerce applications and improving and implementing latest SEO strategies to bring them closer to their business goals.
First-time bloggers, especially, may struggle to write posts that are great in content as well as SEO-friendly. Yet, this is the biggest contradiction I find in the world of digital marketing. Good content is always SEO friendly – who wouldn’t love to read a well-written piece that is well structured into paragraphs, with titles and subtitles to easily direct the readers, and adds real value to the lives of people reading that content? I would certainly like, share, repost or tweet such a piece, increasing its search rankings automatically!
SEO is for everyone
Beginner or not, SEO is for everyone; which is why it is the most common form of online marketing strategy adopted by everyone. But before I get you acquainted with my favourite free tools that will kickstart your online marketing campaign at no cost with great results, let me just, once again, tell you some top benefits of SEO:
Creating a stellar brand – The right SEO strategy can propel your website to the first page of search engine results. This not only generates more traffic for your website, it also helps users associate with your brand, better; as users consider top ranking websites to be more user-friendly and trustworthy.
Increased traffic – While top search engine ranking automatically generates more traffic to your website, SEO also focuses on creating and using relevant keywords, meta tags and descriptions, directing relevant traffic to your website leading to higher conversions as well.
Better user experience – SEO works not only to make your website more searchable by search engines, but also easier to navigate by users through better structuring and interlinking pages, making information easier to find. Further, sophisticated analytic tools can be employed to analyze user behaviour on the website and demography of users, amongst other things, to enhance user experience and reach out to customers with personalized content than eating into their time with useless ads and content.
Now, you must be wondering how much of your budget must you set aside for SEO.
So many benefits, and more, for free? Is it possible? Yes, certainly. I will discuss with you 8 SEO tools that will help you propel your online marketing strategy absolutely free. And while these free tools may not guarantee the first rank on searches, they will definitely start you in the right direction and increase your reach, manifold.
Google Search Console is must for every website owner, providing important insights on whether your website is heading in the right direction or not.
You don’t need anything fancy, but only this powerful free tool to monitor your website’s performance. With search console, you can analyze the position of your queries, update content for searches, remove content you don’t want and even monitor backlinks.
You can manually submit your URL on using the Fetch option on the Search Console to have Google crawl your website quickly.
My favourite part, though, is the “Search Analytics” section, where you will obtain numbers such as traffic from searches, click-through rate and the average position of your web page.
Now you may wonder that these numbers don’t really increase your rankings. Well, they don’t. But they do tell where you are going wrong, and what to do right. Nothing is more powerful than this knowledge to propel in the right direction for SEO.
Everyone wants to use keywords for better search-ability, yet, many are not aware of the keywords most suitable to their industry. Use the free online expert, Keys4Up, for generating meaningful keywords around your industry. For example, for my tech portal, AndroGuru, I decide to search for keyword “android news” :
See the volume of results, below. Notice that the keywords generated are not random, but generated after understanding the meaning of the word punched in by me – android news.
You could also sort the results according to 1 word, 2 words or 3+ words option. Explore all, I say, for more powerful content!
SEMRush, one of my favourites so far, provides a flood of data that can be overwhelming, but ever so useful, nonetheless. The most powerful in its category of tools, it makes life so very simple by allowing users to search competitor URLs for their top keywords!
Voila, just type a competitor URL on SEMRush, and hit ‘search’ for all the keywords they rank for. Jackpot, I say.
Apart from in-depth competitor analysis, the backlink analysis tool is also an interesting one.
Your website must be mobile friendly, period. And how do you know if it is?
Simply use this free tool to determine in a second whether a website is mobile friendly or not.
If the answer is yes, congrats. If no, do not waste another second and build a mobile friendly website; for there is no future without it.
Falling within Google’s guidelines or not? You don’t have to second-guess or pay a lot of money to find out; Varvy SEO Tool gives you useful information on whether your website falls within Google’s guidelines or not.
Simply enter the URL in this simple audit tool, and find useful information across 14 categories revealing, most importantly, any technical SEO issues on your page.
Appearances matter, don’t they? With Slerpee, know exactly how you appear to users on Google search results. Review your title and meta description, as users would, apart from finding suggestions for improvement.
With this free tool, apart from knowing how you currently look, it is possible to check variations and preview them before making a change. With Slerpee, you can exactly know how a page will appear in Google search results even before it goes live.
If there is only one tool you are going to use, let Google Keyword Planner be it. When doing SEO, keyword research is a substantial part of it, and there is nothing better than knowing from the mighty Google itself.
A part of Google Adwords, Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that helps you find the right keywords for your blogs and articles. Simply type the target keyword on the home page (shown below) that you want to search for (you can choose targeted results by setting location and other parameters as shown below) and get a comprehensive list of keyword ideas, as below.
Tip: Beginners may choose keywords with high traffic and low competition, while long-term bloggers could go for keywords with high competition.
In addition to the basic keyword tools, Keyword In is a free tool that can help you discover long tail keywords for your website or new blog posts by simply throwing in any keywords that come to your mind.
Not a staple keyword research tool, but definitely a handy one for more creative and unique content. See for yourself, below:
Some parting words
SEO can intimidate many bloggers who continue to believe it is a domain reserved for only trained professionals. While that is partly true, anyone can leverage these free SEO tools and make a positive start in the right direction. If you are just starting out, or have been ignoring SEO since quite some time, pick up one, or few, of these tools listed above and see the power of SEO transform your blog or website. That said, remember that SEO is a constantly evolving space and it is important to be in the know to be successful. So stay updated for best results! All the best !!