If you haven’t already heard, getting a small business or startup off the ground is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. In today’s increasingly competitive markets, a great idea alone is rarely good enough. You need hard work, dedication, great staff, and no small amount of good luck. Oh, and a website of course.
However, once you’ve got that website, you’re going to want to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find it—and you don’t want to go bankrupt doing it. Thankfully, learning how to market your website doesn’t have to be rocket science, and it doesn’t have to eat into your profits.
Easy-win SEO tactics are the best place to start, but you’ll also find literally hundreds of free SEO tools for small businesses and startups that are easy for beginners to get to grips with. Read on to learn about a few of our favorites and get your website off the ground and up the SERPs list.
Google Search Console
When we talk about SEO, we’re basically talking about Google—remember Ask Jeeves? No, we didn’t think so. Making use of Google’s free SEO analysis tools then is a bit of a no-brainer. Despite their notoriously covert operations, you can still get your hands on a whole suite of free Google SEO tools in Search Console. Here, you’ll find tools and reports to help you measure site traffic, performance and generally understand and improve how Google sees your site. It’s probably the best place to start when you’re new to SEO, and there’s hundreds of tutorials available online to help you hit the ground running.
Keywords Everywhere is a fantastic, free SEO keyword tool that installs directly into Chrome or Firefox. Keywords are important to your ranking as they allow Google to associate your website with terms important to you. For example, if you operate an organic cosmetics store then you want to find keywords such as organic soap, organic shampoo, or organic moisturizer. Once integrated onto the associated pages of your website, Google can match up your website with anyone who searches for organic soap.
Keywords Everywhere is perfect for scouting KW ideas for your website, and it provides loads of information directly within your browser. Simply take a keyword that relates to your business and do a quick Google search. With Keywords Everywhere installed you’ll be shown how many people are searching for that KW directly underneath the search box. Additionally, on the right of your browser, Keywords Everywhere also provides a breakdown of the top related searches along with the keyword volume. It’s a great way to start identifying the keywords that matter to you without requiring complicated tools.
When it comes to SEO, content is king. So, when you’re building your website, it really pays to have interesting content that captures the attention of potential visitors. Your content should also include the previously mentioned keywords, and a few useful links to other, related pages on your website can help Google identify what your website is about and why it is useful to potential visitors.
Here, Yoast is the ideal free SEO tool for WordPress users. Use Yoast to check the readability of your content and scan for any duplicate content (a big no-no in the SEO world). Google likes fresh, unique content, and as it’s bots crawl the Internet, they “index” websites based on the quality and age of that content. Yoast can help you optimize this, but also allows you to improve indexing in other ways by automatically checking and correcting technical page elements like robots.txt, .htaccess files, clean permalink URLs and sitemap. For beginners, it’s the perfect way to improve a website without going too deep into the technical stuff.
SEOMofo Snippet Optimizer
If you’ve already got your pages set up and some great content for your visitors, it’s important to optimize those pages with relevant meta data. Meta data looks like this:
However, it’s much more than just a preview for users whenever they see your website in the Google search engine results pages (SERPs). Meta titles and descriptions tell Google what your website and pages are about. It is the first thing scanned by the bots and so it’s important you get it right. Thankfully, writing meta data is pretty easy; you just want to include something that grabs the attention of your visitor, a keyword relevant to your business, and perhaps your brand too.
They do need to be of a certain length to ensure they don’t get truncated and become nonsensical in the Google SERPS. The Snippet Optimizer from SEOMofo is ideal for measuring the word and character lengths of your meta title and description. It also shows you a graphical preview of your meta data, allowing you to refine and perfect how it appears to users.
Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Ahrefs is top of the pile when it comes to SEO, and their backlink checker is an important weapon in any arsenal. A backlink is basically just a link from another website to yours, and they’re important for how Google sees the authority of your site. Get a lot of high quality backlinks and Google will assume what you’ve got to say (or sell) is important and has value for its users. Backlinks can appear anywhere from blogs to news outlets and even on social media.
To check your current status, just type in your domain name into the search bar of this free SEO checker and Ahrefs will tell you the number of backlinks and referring domains (the websites where the links appear) for your site. You’ll also get a list of the top referring domains and the title of the page where your link appears. Ahrefs’ crawling software is the second most active after Google, so you know you can count on quality data to base your strategy for improving and growing your backlinks in the future.
For any new business, startup, or freelancer, a range of high-quality, free SEO tools is a surefire way to give yourself a leg up in a competitive market. However, not all data is created equal, so ensure you use a range of tools to gain a complete overview of your website so you can really rock your SEO strategy. For more information on SEO and much more, stay tuned to the Spike blog.