Find your SEO pitfalls using these 5 free tools
Right now there are almost 2 billion active websites on the internet. That’s some stiff competition! How could you ever win the coveted spot on the first page of Google with that kind of saturation?
In the most basic sense, using a combination of technical SEO, and content strategy, you can compete with almost anyone. If you want to improve your website’s SEO and your search engine ranking, you need to know where you’re falling short. Fortunately, there are a number of free tools available that can help you identify your SEO pitfalls.
In this article we will look at 5 tools to do just that, but first, there are a couple of things you need to know.
1st – Improving your SEO is NOT a magic formula to make you more money tomorrow. It involves
- Time creating
- Time building
- Time waiting
but it pays off in the long run. A strong SEO strategy is absolutely necessary for your brand to fully harness the power of the internet, but before you waste a ton of time, ask yourself this: are you sure it’s SEO you’re talking about? What do you expect it to do for you? It could be that your website performs fine and what you really need is a total marketing strategy, of which SEO is just one piece.
2nd – Using these tools will either make you aware of problems that you can fix, or make you more confused than you already are. These tools are used by people who nerd out on this stuff. It’s OK that you don’t know everything. Often, you need to leverage other professionals to help you.
3rd – These tools do a lot of the same things. There are many overlapping features in these products, so most of it boils down to your preference. The interfaces are drastically different, so look out for the ones that are easiest to read. You don’t need to use all of these tools to audit your website all the time. Find one or two that make the most sense to you and blast off.
Let’s look at the 5 free tools for assessing your website in no particular order.
1. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
It’s not a creepy as it sounds. Screaming Frog is piece of software that scours your website and compiles a ton of data into a relatively easy-to-read format. The report points out pieces of your website that might require optimization.
Discover your H1 and H2 tags, how many you have, how long they are, and if they’re used correctly. Screaming Frog detects images that are slowing down your loading times, non-optimized page titles, and meta information that needs tweaking. Plus, any potential security issues will be brought to light.
This is a great place to start so you know what needs immediate technical attention on the backend of your website.
TIP: Sort the overview tab according to the “issue type” column to view and work on the most important things first.
2. Google Search Console
The Google Search Console is a completely free tool from our friends at Google. Insights about your traffic, pages that are indexed (showing up in Google search results), and pages that are not indexed and why are summarized in one location.
All you need is a Google account and access to your domain’s DNS settings in order to verify site ownership. Once you’re set up, it takes a month or so to really build analytics on traffic and other key insights. There’s plenty to do while you wait, though.
First, upload your sitemap. This will help Google know where your pages are. You may find pages that have been crawled but not indexed. Once you fix the issues, click “request indexing”, and that page will be crawled again. You will also see mobile usability reports, page performance reports, and any unused code that is slowing down your website inside the “page speed insights” section. Fix these items to boost your speed.
TIP: You may receive emails from Google about an indexing issue due to a redirect error. Check which version of your web address is mentioned in the email. If it says “http” (without the ‘s’), you have nothing to worry about. This is simply redirecting an un-secured version of your site to the secure version. If the email says “https”, you will need to find where the redirect is causing problems. You can do this in Screaming Frog.
3. SEM Rush
SEM Rush is one of the most in-depth tools for strengthening your website’s performance. It’s also the most expensive one I use. There are features within SEM Rush that are free and don’t require a subscription.
For example, the on-page SEO checker combs through specific pages and offers suggestions for improvement. The Keyword Magic Tool tests your site against keywords that you enter, and compares how you stand up against a competitor’s keyword ranking.
One of the best free features is the Content Audit tool. Plug in keywords, select a geographic region, and SEM Rush shows you top-ranking sites along with a list of questions people Googled to find these sites.
The paid version adds local SEO, social media, content re-writing, and whole slew of incredible tools and insights for constant monitoring to improve your SERP (search engine results page) rankings.
TIP: In the content marketing tab, click on “Content Research”. This is an easy way to research topics you already have in mind, and find new content ideas in line with your specified keywords. If you’re blogging on your website, this is especially advantageous.
The Similarweb Chrome extension gives you a free look into the demographics of your site visitors. Metrics include which age groups are likely to visit your site, what sites they like to visit, and their social media interests.
See how your site ranks in different geographic regions, and compare your site to similar sites.
As a browser extension, it doesn’t require much work to use it. Pin it to your extension bookmarks and click the logo after your site has loaded. There is a paid version of this, however using the extension by itself is suitable.
TIP: After clicking the extension button to scan your website, an orange button appears at the top with “More Insights”. Typically this means, “clicking here will redirect you to our pricing plans”, but that’s not the case with Similarweb. There are loads of additional free insights when you click the orange button.
Moz.com has many of the features other tools have. Moz, however, includes a score for your domain authority and page authority.
These terms have become a massive deal in recent years as Google is constantly updating its algorithms. Domain authority is how they describe your knowledge of the subjects that you write about on your site.
To put it generically, “if you know what you’re talking about, and you talk about it a lot, your domain authority will increase.” There’s a ton of technical factors like link building and update frequency, which all play in to domain authority. Moz presents it in an easy-to-digest number format (your score).
The free version provides 3 reports per day.
TIP: If your website is less than 3 months old, there probably will not be any data on here. This is a great tool to see if what you’ve been doing is actually working once you’ve been doing it for a while.
To wrap up, these 5 tools can help you identify your website’s shortfalls. Since there’s no magic formula for building SEO, be patient and consistent in your strategy. If you find yourself overwhelmed after auditing your website, schedule a call with me and I’m happy to take a look.