You have correctly determined that search engine optimization (SEO) is important for your business or organization.
However, SEO covers a lot of ground, so you should ease into learning best practices and strategies in phases. You might be familiar with some of these terms and tools already, but if not, here’s how you can dig in.
Onsite vs. offsite
There are two big umbrella terms for SEO: onsite and offsite.
The foundation of SEO is onsite, where you focus on tuning up your website (on the backend) so search engines can understand the content and structure of your website. The more your site adheres to search engines’ criteria regarding relevant content, keywords, meta-tags and other features, the higher you will rank on their indexes and ultimately meet the goal all of us have of being on page one of their search engine results page (SERPs).
Offsite SEO includes functions performed outside of your own website to impact your search engine rankings. These tactics range from backlinks in articles from well-respected and higher authority websites to your site to blogger mentions and links.
Both on and offsite are critical for site optimization.
Here are the tools you will need to maximize your SEO:
One of the first tools in your arsenal should be Google Analytics.
This is a free service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. This is your main tool to assess your site’s performance from data about visitors, traffic, bounce rate, etc. Plus, Google offers some helpful online courses for Google Analytics beginners, so you can get started.
This tool breaks down your site’s data into more digestible chunks than Google Analytics, with a dashboard featuring information such as link traffic to your site, keywords and crawl errors.
To use Google Webmaster Tools, you must join it first. Then you will need to go through the verification process, so that Google knows you are the legitimate owner of the site. It is a free service, but you give up some privacy.
For a keyword planner you could use Google Keyword Planner, but you will need an Adwords account. Instead, SEMrush is a better long-term tool, especially if you don’t use Adwords.
SEMrush has several functions, but foremost is the ability to check out your competitors’ ad strategies and budgets while discovering which keywords are benefitting your competitors.
You can also collect in-depth information, including cost-per-click (CPC), volume, trends, long tail keywords and other data. SEMrush also analyzes the common keywords found on the top 100 domains for a search term on Google and Bing. These related keywords show synonyms and other proposed variations.
The Mozbar, a part of Moz.com and its digital marketing services suite, helps you analyze your site and other sites you want to benchmark. It resides in your toolbar where you can conveniently output a report on any site, from tags and titles to other descriptions necessary for you to be a true SEO specialist.
Once you begin to get a handle on onsite SEO you can further audit your site or your competitors’ sites with Majestic’s tools.
One big feature Majestic offers is analyzing a site’s “trust flow.” Majestic defines “trust flow” as the score based on the traffic that flows through a link, the relevancy of the linking site and the links leading to that site.
By looking up how trusted a site is, you can determine whether you want to work to get that site to link to your site and you can analyze how many links and the type of links your competitor(s) have scored.
Cyfe integrates all of the online marketing analytics you have collected in one dashboard, helping you see all of your information in one place with real time and historical data. You can also generate reports and integrate custom data sources, such as custom widgets or APIs.
Holly Rollins is the president of 10x Digital.