They say a worker is only as good as his or her tools. This is especially true for those working in the SEO (search engine optimization) space. Due to the nature of SEO, certain tools and software are essential in carrying out certain tasks. Whether this is checking daily rankings for keywords or measuring traffic performance on a weekly basis, these tools are the backbone of a successful on-line marketing campaign. So whether you work at an agency or perform in-house SEO for a Fortune 500 company, you are more than likely using several SEO tools on a daily basis.
When I first dabbled in SEO as a hobby, I quickly realized that acquiring some of these tools would be an expensive affair. With monthly subscriptions and charges for regular software "updates" meant that I had to dish out a handful of cash each month.
Hopefully, this article will show how to use professional tools, free of charge. You can finally perform tasks like a pro, without having to fork out a fortune. This article will be of great help to those wanting to make in-roads into the SEO space, but without incurring some of the high costs associated with the profession.
Here is a list of the top 5 SEO tools you will need in your arsenal to successful implement and analyze an SEO campaign (without spending a dime).
Ahrefs.com: one of the best backlink analysis tools on the market.
This tool can be used for your own personal site or to analyze the backlink profile of a competitor. The sheer amount of information provided by this tool is outstanding. It provides (and graphically displays) a plethora of data at a click of a button.
The trial version is more than enough to analyze a website or two on a daily basis. The amount of data provided in the free version will certainly be more than enough for the novice to moderate SEO expert.
More advanced SEO professionals would require a monthly subscription, which starts at $79 per month. Well worth the money.
Rank Tracker: part of the well known SEO Powersuite family, Rank Tracker is one of the most trusted rank tracking tools on the market. The tool provides extremely accurate ranking results for selected keywords. It also allows you to track keyword rankings in multiple country specific search engines such as Google.co.uk or Google.ca.
The free version of rank tracker provides you with all the data. Only drawback is that the data cannot be exported (PDF) in the free version. To generate actual reports (for yourself or for clients), you would need to pay a monthly or yearly subscription. For a beginner, this tool is more than adequate to analyze keyword rankings.
Google Analytics: one of the most powerful (and free) SEO tools is provided by Google itself.
With Google Analytics, one can analyze a website's traffic in tremendous depth. This includes information related to visitor demographics, time spent on site, bounce rate and much more. To add icing to the cake, Google constantly adds new features to GA and this tool will only get better in the coming months.
Google Webmaster Tools: another powerful freebie tool from Google, GWT helps analyze the actual website itself. Where Google Analytics focuses on visitors, GWT tools focuses on the site and backlinks. This allows website owners to analyze which parts of their site and URLs need work. Broken links or redirects can be analyzed using this tool.
Again, like all Google products, this tool is constantly updated with new and improved features. Recently Google added a Disavow Links tool to help you get rid of bad links pointing to your site.
Advanced Google Queries: not really considered an actual "tool", advanced Google queries help SEO professionals find industry specific resources like forums and guest posting opportunities. Its much similar to regular searching, but with more specific and advanced operators. For example, if one were searching for guest posting opportunities in a particular industry, you would type the following into a Google search: keyword + "guest post." This would find pages where your keyword is combined with the word "guest post."
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