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6 essential web tools for search engine optimisation

Author: Ben Jeffery

We've used a lot of different tools to improve search engine ranking for our clients, but there are some that we rely on time and time again. In this quick list, we'll explain which services you should be using, what they do, and how to get the most out of them.

1. Know your search terms - Google Adwords

You probably have an idea of which search terms you'd like your website to appear higher for, but how do you know if people are really using them? It's better to have a decent first page listing for a popular search term than be number 1 for a search term no-one actually uses.

Although Google Adwords is a paid advertising tool, it has the added bonus of telling you how many times the search terms of your choice have actually been used. This comes from the number of "impressions" that each keyword shows in your Adwords account. Start with a broad list of possibilities, be very specific in the keywords you choose, and run a small budget on Google Adwords to find your best search terms.

Visit Adwords (min £10 spend)

2. See where you are now - SEO Moz

SEO Moz provide a range of simple tools and free advice that will help anyone looking to perform better on search engines. One of these tools is the on-page keyword optimisation tool (catchy!), which tells you how well a particular page is optimised for a chosen search term by assigning a grade from A to F. Most importantly, it will also tell you how to improve that grade with up to 36 changes to the page.

It's that simple: follow their instructions, improve your grade, and you should see your ranking improve.

Find out more about the SEO Moz on-page optimisation tool (paid monthly subscription)

3. Improve your content - Google Reader

Google search

Want to know the real secret to search engine optimisation? Content. Not just any content but useful, unique and relevant content that people want to read. With better content you'll naturally perform better on search engines, gain links and get more repeat visitors.

The best way to get better at writing is to read more. Find an aggregate news provider that can combine different sources to provide relevant articles, or just check your favourite websites on a regular basis.

4. Get more links - Open Site Explorer

Another invaluable service from SEO Moz, the Open Site Explorer tool tells you which domains are linking to any website. Enter your own website or a competitor's domain, and you'll get a 'domain authority' score (how well this website compares to others) and a list of all domains that link to it.

Enter your competitors' website addresses, see where they're linked, and try to get a link for your website.

5. Track your improvements - Raven

You can't manage what you don't measure, so it's important to have a consistent tool that will tell you what's changing. Raven provide a number of tools including a regularly emailed report that tells you where your website currently appears for any particular search term.

Set up a monthly report that tracks your target search terms on multiple search engines for both you and your competitors. Over time you'll be able to see if your work is paying off.

6. See the results - Google Analytics

The ultimate goal of search engine optimisation is getting more relevant visitors to your website. Google's free statistics software will tell you if this is happening, and a lot more besides.

Set up Analytics on your website and track two or three statistics every month, such as how many visitors you're getting for a particular search term, and how many of those take action like submitting a contact form.

Learn more about Google Analytics (free)

Need help with search engine optimisation tools?

If you'd like advice about any of these tools, or just someone else to take care of all this boring SEO stuff, ask us.