Today is the final day of our ‘Learn Seo free in a week‘ tutorials. So far, we covered all the SEO and SEM essentials from understanding the functions of search engines up to how to increase traffic to your website by using internet advertising methods.
You may now have begun to feel a little empowered and started dropping jargon and terms in your conversations. You should now be beginning to plan how you will get traffic to your site over the coming weeks and months. You’ve come a long way over these last few days, but there are a few more points to discuss.
Today you will find out how to:
- how to use monitoring software to check your progress up the rankings
- make your job a little easier with some automated tools
- outsource the job completely if you wish, or if you don’t have any available staff on hand
Some of these were mentioned earlier in the week, but they’re important enough to discuss again in detail.
SEO Monitoring Software
Now that you have your website up and running and ‘the link juice’ flowing, the users should be starting to tickle in. How will you know how well you are doing and whether you are progressing or regressing? Now, you will find out about the different types of monitoring software out there including with free and paid for options.
Google Analytics (Freeware):
Free monitoring software from Google is great to get you started with and should be what you go for first, whether or not you want to pay for this assistance later on. You install these tools on your site and they get you aligned with Google.
While they really shouldn’t be used by Google to track your site usage or help with ranking, you should assume that they probably are. This is because it’s obviously easier for them to track you by just aggregating the data from the free tools already installed on your site without having to send out their spiders and bots all the time.
This is the online tracking software that shows you how many visitors you have, where they come from (their country of origin), how long they stayed on your site and where they go throughout your site. Go to the page and follow the instructions to install the GA tracking code on every page of your site and you are done. As always I say if you are not keen of doing this, you can hire a geek from oDesk or Elance or any other freelancers community.
Many of the CMS out there have apps and plugins that make this step easy. WordPress has a few plugins for adding analytics to your site, including:
This is where Google provides you with reports, data about your website’s ranking and the number of pages you have indexed in Google’s search engine results. All you have to do is sign up for an account (using existing or new Google account), add your website URL, verify that you are the real owner of the site and then Google will start crawling and logging data about your site, such as the number of pages it has indexed and which keywords you are showing up for in search results.
To speed things along, you can upload your sitemap.xml file, mentioned earlier. Google Web Toolkit (GWT) will also show what links Google has found that point to your site and whether you have any serious errors on your web page – such as bad code or missing/broken URLs.
Be sure to check GWT often, especially in the beginning, to make sure that your SEO efforts are on track. If pages start showing for different keywords from what you were expecting or you start having serious website problems, you’ll be able to fix things very quickly.
They will take a really long URL, for example;
and turn into a nice, tidy and short url, such as:
This is especially good for emails, where the long URL would go over multiple lines and possibly ‘break’ in some email software and where you are restricted to the number of characters you can use, as on Twitter – although they will automatically shorten links with their own t.co URL shortener. Some URL shortening services will also count the number of clicks each link gets if you sign up for an account with them.
There are 2 important points you need to bear in mind before using URL shorteners;
#1. Emails containing shortened links are being increasingly blocked by ISP.
This is due to fears that they are SPAM (unsolicited commercial emails), as a result of high abuse from spammers. For more on this please see this blog post from blog.wordtothewise.com.
#2. Use only URL shorteners that use 301 redirects.
A 301 redirect is one that tells Google that a page has permanently moved to a new location. So, for instance, if for some reason you are setting up a new domain and have to change the URL.
to this one
you wouldn’t want to lose the SEO benefits from all the links pointing to your old page URL, so you setup a 301 redirect on your old server that tells Google and the other search engines that here is the new URL to use. Once Google and the other search engines know about this permanent redirect, they will pass any SEO benefits from linking to the old page to this new URL.
The same is true for using shortened URLs. IF you spend time creating linking campaigns pointing to shortened URLs, you need to make sure that any search engine benefits are passed from your shortened URL to the destination URL on your server, not Bitly’s or TinyURL’s. Since you don’t own Bitly or TinyURL, don’t spend time and money getting those domains ranked and not getting yours ranked.
If you don’t use an URL shortener that is a 301 redirect, setup your own shortening URL system on server you control. For WordPress users, there are plugins you can use easily to create shortened links on your own domain that will act as 301 redirects. Do a search on the WordPress plugin directory to see how they work.
Paid-for Monitoring/Analytics Tools:
While the Google Webmaster tools are particularly good, even they – while showing recent changes – don’t tell you how you were doing with those keywords months ago.
Here is a list of the tools you can buy that do track your rankings over time:
This all-in-one tool not only tracks how you rank over time but gives you research tools that help you know what keywords to go over. It even promises to tell you exactly what you are missing on your website and what to do to get it to rank.
Some people find it offers information they don’t need but, if you can afford it, get it, because it will tell you pretty much exactly what you need to do.
#2. Keyword Blaze:
This tool is mostly a research tool and doesn’t tell you what you are missing on your site, but it has many features that automate the process of finding keywords. It even has some features that don’t require you to do anything before it pops up and says it has found some related keywords offering you an opportunity.
#3. Majestic SEO:
Back in the old days (before about 2011), if we wanted to see how many links were pointing to a specific page on our website, we would go to Yahoo.com and enter a ‘linkdomain:mydomain.com/page.html’ command. Although Google had (and still has) a similar command you can use ‘link:mydomain.com/page.html’, but it doesn’t show all the links pointing to a particular URL. This is to stop people from trying to manipulate the search results.
It was strange to have to go to Yahoo to see how many links we thought were pointing to our pages in Google, but that all changed in 2010 when Yahoo finally retired their Link Explorer function and so third-party services stepped in to take over. Majestic SEO is the biggest and best known of these.
Majestic SEO is another excellent tool that is much easier on the pocket. Majestic works in the same way as Yahoo Link Explorer did, in that it’s Backlink Checker that tells you everything you will ever need to know about who is linking to you, and from where. This will show you more about the URLs linking to you than pretty much any other similar tool. Once you register, you can compare yourself to other sites in your niche, which gives you a clear picture of what you need to do, with many other useful reports and charts.
This is a suite of tools that covers keyword research, competitor analysis, organic search positions for various keywords, backlink checker and many other useful SEO and Online Marketing services. It also tries to find any PPC ads by your competitors, with an estimation of what they’re spending and approximate CTR of each ad. It displays SEO data for your site in nice, easy-to-read graphs too.
MOZ (formerly known as SEOMoz) is another similar suite of tools that gives you excellent data, not only on your own social and SEO efforts but also on those of competition. Open Site Explorer (one of the MOZ tools) will display all links from Mu can OZ pointing to the various URLs on your website (just like Majestic SEO), and you can run competitive analyses, get recommendations on hoe to improve your on-page and off-page SEO and run reports charting your progress.