There are hundreds of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools that you can use to help your small business website show up higher in search engine results. While the best ones do tend to charge subscription fees, if you’re just getting started or have only a few minutes to spare, try one of my favorite free SEO tools for small business.
SEO Keyword Research and Suggestion Tools
Knowing what words people are likely to type into a search engine to find you is essential. There are usually dozens–sometimes thousands!–of possible word combinations for every search. Keyword research and suggestion tools help you generate ideas for keywords that might not occur to you on your own. The tools use a variety of methods, so it’s worth using more than one tool to compare results. It’s a good idea to export the results into a spreadsheet to make it easier to decide on the best ones.
- Google Trends. Type in one or more search terms to see the volume of organic search over time. Is it increasing or decreasing? How does one search term compare with similar terms? Which have the most potential?
- Yoast Google Suggest Expander. Begin typing a keyword and this tool will show you the words that Google suggests to users to complete the phrase.
- Keywordshitter. Terrible name, but simple to use. Just type in a keyword or phrase, hit “shit keywords” and it will spit out tons of related keyword phrases.
Search Volume and CPC Tools
Once you’ve generated a good list, try to find out the estimated number of monthly searches for each keyword before you create content around it. In addition to search volume, SEO tools can tell you the estimated Cost Per Click (CPC) if you care to advertise, and the estimated level of competition or difficulty for getting a high search engine ranking for that keyword.
If you have a newish site with few sites linking to you, your content on the most popular topics is unlikely to show up in the search engines. Look for keywords with no more than 40 or 50 level of difficulty/competitiveness (out of 100) to build articles around.
- The Moz Keyword Explorer is an easy-to-use, versatile tool. There’s a renewable limit of 30 keyword searches, but one search will provide tons of data, including monthly search volume, estimated difficulty, the organic CTR, priority, and list of top ranking URLs.
- The SEO Book Keyword Research Tool shows you the volume of monthly searches on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, as well as estimated CPC.
- Keywords Everywhere is a free browser extension. It shows CPC, search volume, and competition.
Competitor Research Tools
Knowing your competitors’ visibility on the web, what keywords people are using to find them, what page titles and descriptions they’re using, what sites are linking to them, if they’re paying for Google AdWords, etc., can be useful. While some of the best tools cost a lot of money, you can get plenty of helpful info for free.
- SEMrush. Enter a site into the search bar and it will show you comprehensive marketing information about any site, including side by side comparisons. Free version allows you a limited number of uses.
- Webpage similarity comparison tool. Compares the page titles, meta information and phrases that show up on pages.
- The Moz Tool Bar is a free Chrome Extension you must register for. It displays info about any site, including their page title, meta description, keywords, page load time, etc.
Building Links to Your Website
You want to go for both quality and quantity here. Links from influential sites are more valuable than links from obscure blogs, but as long as the link is from a reputable site (as opposed to a paid service that is selling links), it will have some value. Look for sites that link to your competitors that may be willing to link to yours, too.
- SEO Quake is a free browser extension that you have to download. It shows you the # of pages on the site that Google has indexed, # of links to that specific page, # of links to that entire website, the age of the site, and monthly traffic to the website.
- Google Search Console. If you’ve installed this free tool (formerly Google Webmaster), you can download a list of backlinks to your site. While Google may not always give you the full list of links, getting Google’s list provides you with perspective about how their search crawler is evaluating your site.
- Moz Open Site Explorer. Identify links to your own site or any sites you want to explore. Click on the “Compare Link Metrics” tab to see link metrics for up to 5 URLs at a time.