If there is one thing that strikes fear into the hearts of marketers and webmasters, it is a change in the Google algorithm. Just when you think that you have developed a positive way of working and a great deal of confidence in what you do with respect to your website, you can feel as though your world changes overnight.
It is not as if Google hide the fact that they make changes and the fact that they believe that they make these changes for everyone’s good. In the long term, all of these tweaks and changes should help to bring better search engine results, which will mean that the people that eventually find you will actually want what you want. Of course, if you are experiencing short term pain, the notion of long term gain can seem very far away.
One of the biggest problems with respect to these changes is that they carried out behind closed doors. There is a level of secrecy behind the way that Google evaluates websites, determining ranking and how people searching for information are provided with websites and information.
You don’t have to be completely in the dark though as there is a range of tools available, some are available for free, some cost money, that can help you to evaluate your website in the manner that Google would evaluate your website.
When it comes to creating an organic search strategy for your site, these tools are crucial because they help you to understand what aspects Google wants to see and what they don’t want to see on your site.
Google Webmaster Tools
This is a free tool and if you want to understand how Google evaluates websites, you want to get as much information from Google as you can. You will also find that Google has a number of Webmaster Tools that are easy to use, they are genuinely novice-friendly, and using these tools will help you to understand the basic fundamentals of searching on Google.
One tool that is worth looking at is Google Fetch. This enables you to see a website in the way that Google views it, which is of great benefit if you are looking to resolve any SEO issues. The information provided by Google Fetch can help you to make amendments and adjustments to your pages and if you think that you have been hacked, this is a great tool to uncover and then isolate any code that has been causing problems.
Every user is allowed access to 500 fetches per week and if you start to near this total, you will receive a warning that you only have a limited number of Fetches left.
For Google Fetch alone, the Webmaster Tools would be worth checking out but you should also look at PageSpeed Insights. This enables you to examine the speed of your mobile and desktop sites. As we move to a society that uses mobile devices more and more to access the internet, it is essential that businesses provide mobile users with a speedy and effective service.
The score for PageSpeed ranges from 0 to 100 points and you want to aim for a score of at least 85 points. PageSpeed Insights is a tool that is continually being improved and developed so you may find that your score evolves over time, even if you don’t make any changes to your site.
Check My Links
This is a free tool and it helps you to verify that all of the links on your website, both internal and external links, work. If you are editing or publishing a site, this tool makes it really easy to check links before you make a page live. The tool will highlight all effective links in green while marking all ineffective links as red, which makes it really easy to change, update or remove these links.
Moz Pro Tools
This is a tool that comes with a free 30 day trial but then involves a plan, with costs ranging between £99 and £599 per month. When you opt for the Pro Subscription, you receive an all-in-one service to boost the search ranking of your business. Moz had a collection of tools that provides their users with everything they need to uncover SEO opportunities, to measure their growth, to create reports and to improve their overall working efforts.
An example comes with the company’s web crawler, RogerBot, which can analyse up to 3,000 links on any URL and once it has analysed these links, it creates a report with information and data on every page that your site is linking to.
When it comes to staying on top of crawl able aspects like redirects and duplicate content, this is a highly effective tool that can have a real impact on your SEO performance.
SEO Report Card
This is a free tool and it is ideal if you want to compare and contrast your website with rival sites. You do need to provide some contact information to receive your report but it doesn’t cost any money and the report contains:
• Current Indexing: This provides an indicator of how many pages on your site have been indexed.
• Link Building: This provides a detailed report of the number of sites that link to your site.
• On-site analysis: This tool provides you with information on how well you incorporated your main keyword in your site.
• Rank Analysis: This gives you a quick overview into where Google, Yahoo and Bing rank your site. This is based on the main keyword you provide when completing the request for information.
• Trust Metrics: This provides an overview of the level of authority or trust that your site has.
• Website accessibility: This tool looks at your site load time and how easily crawlers can access your site.
HubSpot’s Website Grader
This is a free tool and it has been available since 2007, although it has evolved and changed greatly since it was first created by HubSpot. This tool provides you with a personalised report based on the following aspects:
• Mobile friendliness: This tool analyses your site to determine if it is mobile friendly with respect to responsiveness and viewport settings.
• Security: The tool will look for an SSL certificate, which is a great way to indicate to visitors that your site is safe for them to provide information and that it is an authentic site.
• SEO: The report examines aspects like page titles and meta descriptions to ensure that your site can be easily found by humans and robots.
• Site Performance: Aspects like page size, speed and requests are analysed and then recorded.
All you need to use this tool is an email address and the URL of your website. You will receive a detailed report and a score of between 1 and 100 within a few seconds. If you find this tool to be of benefit and that HubSpot is a company to trust, you will find that there are a number of paid SEO tools that can boost your SEO.
The HubSpot Blogging App provides users with SEO suggestions that come up as you type. This is a great checklist for any content creators at your company. Other apps include:
• Keyword App
• Sources Report
• Page Performance App
There is also the HubSpot marketing platform that will allow you to undertake keyword research, monitor performance, track any organic search growth that you have and help you to diagnose any pages that may not be optimised.
This tool is available for free for the first 14 days as a trial and it can then be used on trial. At the last time of checking, the Pro Plan was available for £49 per month and the Premium Plan was available for £149 per month.
Your report is split into the following sections:
• Marketing Checklist
With over 70 metrics covered, if you are looking for opportunities to improve your site, this is a great tool. There is the added bonus with Woorank making it very easy for users to obtain their PDF reports with their own company branding on them. This can speed up the process with respect to disseminating vital information to staff members.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
There is a free version of the tool (The LITE version) but this has limitations while the paid plan is available at £160 per year. This is a tool that has been designed to help you with SEO and it can save your hours or even days in evaluating your site or sites. The free but limited version allows you to scan 500 URLs per website, so if you have a big site or work for a big company, you will need to upgrade to the full package. The full package also provides configuration options and features relating to source code.
There are options to export data into Excel (or similar) spreadsheet packages and the main program, which uses Java, is simple enough to use but provides a great level of insight and reports.
Found’s SEO Audit Tool
This is a free tool and it can help you to rise above your rivals when it comes to search engine page results. If you want to find and then resolve SEO errors and issues on your site, this is a great tool. The tool can provide support for:
• Content issues like meta data or keywords
• External link issues and the tool will evaluate quality and quantity of external links
• Technical issues which consider aspects like XML sitemaps or domain canonicalization
You will receive the information as a PDF and again, this can easily be branded and shared as a company document.
This tool costs £249 for every domain or you can take a subscription which begins at £99 per month. If you have made mistakes in the past with SEO, such as buying links or spammed comment sections, it may be that you’ll eventually be punished by Google. Even if you haven’t been caught out or punished just yet, there is no guarantee that you will evade punishment in the future. If you have unnatural or artificial links, you could damage your site, so you need to clean them and this is where Remove’em steps in.
The tool will examine your backlink profile and it will provide you with contact details for the domains and links. This means you can reach out to the people who you want to remove links to your site. There is also a tool that provides you with the chance to export the list to be disavowed by Google, which essentially means that when Google crawls your site, they will not take account of these links.
Varvy’s SEO Overview Tool
This is a free tool and it provides you with a number of ways in which you can audit your SEO practices. This tool provides assistance in the following ways:
• The strength of your domain
• Image SEO
• Social mentions and counts
• Page Speed
• Technical SEO
The report takes less than a minute to compile and it provides a deep analysis of the performance of your website. The tool is very easy to use and it employs green checks, red crosses and yellow exclamation marks to draw your attention to the performance of the issue.
One great aspect of this tool is that it looks at the strength of the images on your site. It does so by analysing the alt text, notifying you with issues like using too many words, missing out alt text or using alt text that appears weak or unrelated to the keywords for the page or site.
It is difficult to improve or solidify your rankings on Google, and there will always be things that you don’t know about how rankings are created. However, when you use as many of these tools as you can, created by professionals that have spent a considerable amount of time reviewing and analysing how Google works, you will find that you will significantly improve your chances of being ranked positively by Google.