September 1, 2014

Optimizing Your Website: Ten Powerful SEO Tools

Optimizing your website is mission critical, but it isn’t a black box. You can do a lot of it yourself with any of these search engine optimization (SEO) tools. If you are a small business owner that has dreamed of showing up on page one of Google or Bing, this post is for you.

SEO

To show you a bit of how the professionals optimize, I left the phrase or keywords that they use when titling and organizing their own websites. You’ll see that most of these savvy firms open their website title with what they do and not their company or brand name. I’ve bolded their company name for emphasis.

As usual, the tools listed here are web-based and do not require a phone call to the sales team to “schedule a demo” (transparent pricing) nor do they mail you a software CD:

SEO Software.  Simplified. | SEOmoz is one of the 800 pound gorillas in the web-based SEO software market. They have a robust (serious understatement) community and blog. They provide many free tools in addition to their paid plans starting at $99/month with a 30-day free trial. Open Site Explorer lets you check which domains are linking to your site and their corresponding authority. It offers a few results as a free tool, but most of the power comes with the paid plan. Their MOZbar is a free add-on for Firefox and Chrome to quickly see page level details like how content is organized (keywords, titles, etc) and ranking details.

SEO Book.com ~ SEO Training Made Easy positions itself as an SEO training program, but it is rich with useful tools that come with your membership. Founder Aaron Wall is one of the anchor experts in the professional SEO community and shares a lot of insights and expertise. He also authored one of the most successful DIY SEO ebooks that has sold over $1,000,000 in volume. When you become a member of SEO Book, you get access to Aaron and his team of experts. They have many free SEO tools, as well.

Internet Marketing Tools for SEO and Social Media | Raven simply has a cool brand name and you have to check out a company that aligns its positive image a bringer of light, truth,  and goodness. I used this service for a few months on a client project and was super impressed with how it helped me figure out keywords to focus on and cut down on my research time. Interestingly, their research assistant tool taps into SEOMoz and Majestic SEO applications. Plans start at $99/month with a free 30-day trial, no credit card required.

Simple SEO Software – Scribe is from Brian Clark of Copyblogger fame. If you haven’t seen his blog and the tools/services that his company provides, then you’ll want to head over there today. Brian and his team know how to keep things elegantly simple for small business owners. Here’s how Scribe explains the first three steps:

  • Keywords – Scribe shows you the language searchers use before you begin to write. Once your content is created, Scribe reveals other profitable keywords.
  • Content – Scribe analyzes your natural, reader-focused content, and tells you how to gently tweak it to spoon feed search engines based on 15 SEO best practices.
  • Links – Scribe helps you build back links, crosslink the content within your own site, and identify influential social media users who want to share your stuff.

Scribe plans start at $17/month with a 30-day money back guarantee. Copyblogger Media is also the creator of StudioPress, a premium WordPress theme and framework product that I’m going to review soon.

Majestic SEO : Site Explorer  is one of the largest link indices that is publicly available. You can test it out immediately by simply typing a web address into the search bar on their home page, but you need to register for a free account to see much detail. Paid plans start at $49.99 per month.

BruceClay – SEO Tools – Search Engine Optimization Tools, SEO Software is another well-known brand in the SEO, PPC (pay-per-click) and Internet marketing circles. They appear to be more consulting and service focused and less a web-based software provider, but I did discover this monthly option under SEO tools on their site starting at $29.95/month per domain with 30-day money back guarantee.

SEO Software | SEO Tools | SheerSEO is free for two months, and then light plan starts at only $7/month. Their first page of content spells out why a small business owner will want to use an SEO tool. “Research shows that 60-70% of the users of search engines will only use the results in the first page. This means that getting to the top 10 results of the search engine is critical for your business.”

SEO Software for Your Small Business | DIYSEO is unique with its do-it-for-you SEO level plan in addition to its DIY namesake option. Monthly DIY plans start at $33.25/month and $149/month when they do the SEO tasks for you. I was intrigued by their Local Report Card that will analyze your local presence on Google, for free. You have to enter your contact details to get it, though. Fair enough.

SEMRush – service for competitors research, shows organic and Ads keywords for any site or domain immediately highlights why many small business owners pay for tools like SEMRush – you can see what keywords your competitors are using on their posts, buying in pay-per-click, and more. That can help you to better position your own site content. Their paid plans start at $79.95 per month with a 7-day money back guarantee. They are also the makers of the free SEOQuake for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari which lets you see SEO parameters (ranking, links, and more) when you do a search on Google or Bing or Yahoo.

The Keyword Tool for the Long Tail | HitTail is one of the newer (started in 2006) SEO software players on the field, but shaking things up with affordable plans and real-time focus. As each new website referrer (or visitor, if you prefer) comes to your site, it will show on your screen as it occurs. You can click through to view the referring page or, even better, re-create the user’s search.  Pretty cool. Plans start at $9.95/month with a 30-day free trial. HitTail Owner Rob Walling is also the author of a popular ebook and email newsletter for software startups at Software by Rob.

Here are a few media/blog resources that may also help you to understand search engine optimization and search engine marketing.

Here on Small Business Trends, Lisa Barone is our resident expert on the stuff SMBs should think about around SEO (and many other content areas, too). This is a great primer:  4 Ways SMBs Can Get More From Their SEO.  Tom Demers also wrote a great piece in May:  How to Choose the Right SEO Tactics for Your Small Business.

BlogWorld posted on:  Link Building: The Best Marketing Strategy You’ve Never Heard Of.

Search Engine Land is one of my favorite sites for keeping up with SEO, search engine marketing, social media marketing, and more. It is worth a bookmark.

Last, don’t miss this controversial and popular post by my colleague at Forbes, Ken Krogue, who writes: The Death Of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, And Real Content.

From building links to monitoring your keywords, these SEO tools can help your site show up in the search results. You may choose to hire consultants or contractors to help you navigate this space. Buyer beware is the last bit of advice as there are many who treat this specialty like the dark arts and you’ll want to be incredibly careful as you consider vendors.

But these tools are all about the do-it-yourself mindset and many of them offer the tutorials and education that any small business team can use to become proficient at search engine optimization and marketing.

SEO Photo via Shutterstock

27 Comments ▼
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TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue is the Product Editor for Small Business Trends and an entrepreneur who publishes Tech Biz Talk. TJ is a former Wall Street Journal columnist. He also writes for Forbes and American Express OPEN Forum. He loves learning about technology apps and software services - share yours with TJ.

27 Reactions

  1. Thanks, TJ!

    You know how much I’ve been into learning SEO, lately.

    This post is just the ticket to explore even more.

    Thanks!

    The Franchise King®

  2. Personally use SEOmoz and Raven right now. Have used Majestic with great results. Great roundup TJ!

  3. I remember I first started out reading articles on SEO Book a couple of years ago. They would send a newsletter with tips. Now I’ve got several of my sites on the first page. It’s been a lot of work, but it all starts with the tools above to get learning.

  4. Oh I absolutely love SEOMoz, it does exactly what you need and does it perfectly well.

    I am a bit intrigued by HitTail, I heard some good things about it so might give it a try.

    Overall, yes, all of these are some really nice tools of the trade.

  5. SEOMoz is also great for uncovering potential technical errors with your site. Without a tool like this you may not even know that you have a duplicate content or meta information issu. Technical errors such as these are frowned upon and can result in penalties.

  6. I am new to SEO so these reviews are quite helpful since it seems there are a plethora of companies offering very similar tools. I have been using some of the free tools on webconfs but they are a bit limited so I think I will check out SEOmoz. Thanks for the tip! :)

  7. google webmaster is great place to check your website errors.

  8. You can learn a lot about your site’s SEO optimization level and the keywords to target with the one month SEOMoz trial. I took a trial earlier in the year and I’m still writing blog posts targeting the keywords SEOMoz helped me discover.

  9. Very useful tools.I already used 2 of them.And bookmarked 2 more. Thank you.

  10. TJ this is a great list and descriptions you’ve put together. One aspect that businesses overlook is that SEO analysis can help guide content marketing – figuring out how to title and tag content so that content is discoverable takes time and effort. The best tools should let you connect the keywords to a particular page in the site, especially if the site in question is a blog or media site. Content needs monthly if not weekly review.

  11. Nice article. SEO Optimization is not very complex but at the same time, it is very time consuming. That alone is often worth letting someone else do it for you that specializes in that task, so you can focus on your core business. Great list of tools you have here.

  12. Great suggestions in your list. Sometimes it takes an outside set of eyes to objectively find the areas in our sites that need the most work. In the, the past I found myself with too much pride to allow anyone else to comment on all the hard work I felt I had done in terms of optimization. Turns out, once I got past the ego, it really does pay off to loosen the reigns.

  13. Pierre, thanks for the comment. I completely agree and use tools like these for exactly what you said: Content Marketing. It takes a ton of time, but if you can rank, for a longtail keyword or phrase, in the number 1 or 2 spot on Google… Well, then it is worth the effort. Presuming, of course, that your term/phrase has enough search volume to help you get traffic/eyeballs to your website. But all of that is part of the fun process of SEO and content marketing. SEO to me is about figuring out what customer pain points exist and designing your strategy, content, and website around that specific target.

  14. Hey TJ,

    Great list you have here. I personally find HitTail be extremely helpful for building out content and identifying juicy opportunities to scoop up extra traffic when working on client websites. I work with a SEO software company called serpIQ and we recently chatted with Rob about his product and how he built it out – very interesting stuff and he seems like a very friendly guy.

    P.S. We actually use 2 of these sources for data in our own tool!

    Thanks again for the post,
    Kevin

  15. TJ,

    Fantastic Post! I’ve been using a range of these tools, but recently found this site using HitTail, and by Kevin’s account above, I’ll probably have to give it a shot!

    Thanks,
    Clay

  16. Very useful article. I was looking for a seo solution and after reading this article I made my choice SEOmoz. Thanks for sharing and keep doing great shares guys.

  17. A great list TJ, I use many of these tools and I am going to look into a couple I’ve not know about prior to your post :-) (e.g. I’ve not heard of Scribe and SheerSEO)

  18. Great post TJ, but is there a chance to find a free SEO tool for my site?

  19. Nice article. SEO Optimization is not very complex but at the same time, it is very time consuming. That alone is often worth letting someone else do it for you that specializes in that task, so you can focus on your core business. Great list of tools you have here.

  20. Great seo tool list.. i heard that Moz is very good service provider..

  21. Solid choices for your list. I am a big fan of Moz and find myself there every day checking stats. The membership to join is worth it, in my opinion!

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