SEO can involve a number of complex tasks including identifying the current issues, finding solutions for them, and measuring the success of the strategy you’ve implemented. Sometimes the most time-consuming part of an SEO’s day can simply be identifying the issues and collecting performance data. Luckily, there are tools from both Google and third parties that can record data and identify issues so that you can focus your time on solving them and improving the performance of your website.
Here are some of the top tools you can use to make your SEO activity more efficient.
Tracking & reporting tools
Google Search Console can help you track the average position of your site in SERPs as well as the position against a particular keyword or the position of a particular page. Since you’re probably aiming for a first page ranking, this is one of the key tools you’ll need for your SEO activity. Within Search Console you can also measure the Click-Through Rate (CTR) of your web pages in SERPs which can help you determine when title tags and meta descriptions need updating.
Google Analytics can help you dig deeper into the behaviour of users on your site including bounce rate, average pages per session and how often users are converting. Understanding user behaviour can help you to improve user experience which will result in lower bounce rates and higher conversions all of which will factor into Google’s ranking of your site.
Google Tag Manager is a great way to measure more complex actions on your site that aren’t picked up by any of the standard reports in Google Analytics. This can include tracking a particular user journey as an event or creating a conversion action that involves the click of a button rather than a destination URL. Read our Beginner’s Guide to Google Tag Manager to get you started.
If you’re looking for reports that combine data from multiple platforms, Google Data Studio may be the perfect solution. Here you can create custom reports using data from any Google platform with your own layout and designs – these are especially useful for reporting to clients or business stakeholders. You can also include data from non-Google platforms using a paid connector from a third party provider.
As well as using the keyword reports in Google Search Console and Google Analytics, it can be helpful to explore other related keywords using different research tools to enable you to achieve more rankings and reach a wider audience.
If you are also using Google Ads, the Keyword Planner can be particularly effective at finding similar keywords to a specific search term or analysing a competitor URL to identify what keywords they’re using that might be relevant to your business.
If you don’t have a Google Ads account, Ubersuggest can help you identify similar or competitor search terms – although note that the results are limited until you sign up for a paid plan.
Google Trends is another useful tool to help you track the popularity of a search term over time and determine if you could benefit from a topic that is increasing in popularity.
If you’re researching keywords for an audience that operates across multiple platforms, Soovle can be a great tool since it scrapes the top search engine suggestions for a given keyword from multiple sites including Google, Amazon and YouTube.
Page speed tools
Page speed is a huge ranking factor for Google because it’s looking for results that will provide a great experience for users as well as the most relevant answer. A slow page speed can result in users leaving before the page fully loads and may deter them from returning to your site in the future.
There are a number of tools you can use to measure page speed including PageSpeed Insights, GT Metrix, and Pingdom. These will all provide you with a score based on the total page load speed and the time it takes for the page to load any content. These tools will also provide you with specific advice for how and where to improve your page speed that you can action instantly either on your own or with the help of a developer.
Redirects are a crucial part of ensuring your site is optimised for search engines and users. Incorrect redirects or redirect chains can result in a poor user experience and low rankings. The Redirect Checker allows you test a URL to see where it redirects to, any redirect chains it leads to, as well as whether it uses a 301 or 302 redirect. This is especially useful if you’re checking redirects that you weren’t involved in setting up e.g. checking for a client who has their own developer.
There are a number of SEO plugins that can help you quickly analyse elements on a page without having to dig into the source code or backend of the website. SEO META in 1 CLICK allows you to check meta data and other main SEO information like headers, images and links quickly and easily across your own and competitor sites.
Google Optimize allows you to A/B test elements on your website including colour palettes, page layouts and call to actions (CTAs) to determine which version of your website provides the best user experience and results in the highest performance. This tool is especially useful since it enables you to easily test variables on your website without involving a developer. Once you have your results you can pass these on for developers to implement permanently.
Structured data tools
Once you have the fundamental SEO activity completed on your site, you should consider implementing structured data that will help Google understand what type of content you have created as well as key information about it.
Depending on the build of your website, some structured data may be automatically generated – you can check whether or not a page has structured data already by using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. This will display how many structured data items are on that page, what type of content they represent as well as any errors within the code itself.
If your content does not automatically generate this markup, you can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to create common structured data types by simply highlighting elements on your page. Once you’ve done this you can check your work in the testing tool to ensure you didn’t miss anything.
If you run a website in multiple languages, your hreflang tags will be a key part of your international SEO strategy. Using Merkle’s Hreflang Tags Testing Tool you can check for errors within your hreflang tags to ensure your site runs smoothly in all available languages.
Combined reporting & crawling tools
With so many different issues to be on the lookout for it can be useful to have a single tool that can identify and report on multiple areas relevant to your SEO efforts. There are a number of paid tools you can use to further improve your time efficiency.
Screaming Frog is a piece of website crawling software that you can use to identify the properties of URLs on any site including title tags, meta descriptions, redirect chains, images over 100kb, header tags, structured data and response codes. While the software doesn’t provide you with a list of issues and solutions, if you already know what common SEO issues are Screaming Frog is a quick way to get a list of every URL where that issue is present.
Platforms like SEMRush, MOZ or Ahrefs can help you perform regular crawls on your site to identify issues and potential solutions – the fact that these run regularly can help you catch issues almost as soon as they arise rather than waiting for you to manually initiate a crawl. These platforms also provide a number of other useful reports and tools including keyword position tracking, backlink monitoring, keyword research tools and competitor benchmarking tools.
If you have the budget to pay the subscription fee, these paid platforms are well worth it as they can improve your response time to issues and aid your research for future SEO activity as well as generating automated website performance reports. Using these as well as a combination of the manually triggered tools to dig deeper into issues will ensure that you have a solid understanding of where improvements are needed to boost your SEO performance.
To summarise, here are our top SEO tools to make your life easier:
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Google Tag Manager
- Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest
- Google Trends
- PageSpeed Insights, GT Metrix, and Pingdom
- Redirect Checker
- SEO META in 1 CLICK
- Google Optimize
- Structured Data Testing Tool
- Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper
- Hreflang Tags Testing Tool
- Screaming Frog
- SEMRush, MOZ or Ahrefs
For more information about improving SEO performance read our Beginner’s Guide to SEO or feel free to get in touch with our team.