The Google Tools: Don’t Overlook Built-in Help
Most website owners perceive Google as the gatekeeper to great search results, but not necessarily as a provider of tools to make top-notch rankings happen. This is a big oversight. Ever since Google became the biggest game in town for SEO performance, the company has worked hard to provide website owners and SEO specialists with a basic set of tools that can provide key insights and make website administration a bit easier. Several of the best tools in search engine optimization come from Google:
- Google Analytics: Data is a key part of analyzing and managing search campaigns, and the gold standard for many people is Google Analytics. First unveiled roughly a decade ago, this key piece of cloud-based software has come a long way. Today, Google Analytics can provide information about everything from click-through and conversion rates to customer locations, operating systems, and choice of devices. The software is so advanced, in fact, that it has its own certification program.
- Keyword Planner: Google’s Keyword Planner software is simply the best way to analyze the impact of incorporating and targeting certain keywords. Whether it’s for general, local, or hyper-local rankings, the Keyword Planner tool makes it easy to calculate impact, effectiveness, and return on investment, without investing in a third-party subscription or tools that don’t have access to the full array of Google data points.
- Webmaster Tools: One of the oldest Google tools in the online toolbox, Google Webmaster Tools lets website owners look for crawl errors, scan mobile pages for any issues that might impact mobile SEO, and submit a comprehensive XML sitemap so that search engines index the most important content. The tool is basic, but its features are absolutely key to great search campaigns from day one.
Third-Party Efforts: Enhancing Search with New Tools
Google’s tools are a great place to get started, and they’ll get the job done for most novice and intermediate search engine optimization professionals. Beyond this introductory set of tools, however, is a vast array of third-party options that can make the hard work of ongoing optimization just a bit easier to oversee. The best tools, as ranked by actual SEO professionals, include the following:
- Open Site Explorer: Developed by Moz, which has long been one of the leading names in SEO education and industry insights, Open Site Explorer promises to provide an exceedingly large amount of data on inbound links. Think of this service as Google Analytics on steroids. Though Moz does not offer this key service for free, it does make the subscription fee well worth the while of website owners who need granular data on every click.
- Long Tail Pro: Created largely as a competitor to Google’s Keyword Planner software, Long Tail Pro offers a unique interface that makes keyword research even easier. As might be guessed by its name, Long Tail Pro also excels in providing excellent long tail keywords, along with insights as to the likely ROI and impact of utilizing long tail keywords for certain products, services, local areas, and much more.
- SEMRush: What’s better than basic analytics data? Insight on what competitors are doing with their clicks and keywords. That’s what SEMRush provides, and it’s why the company is often ranked as the most important, comprehensive search engine optimization tool outside of Google’s standard options for SEO professionals.
Excellent Avenues to SEO Success
From Google’s free tools to the premium option offered by the competition, SEO professionals will find that it’s pretty easy to launch a successful search campaign with this kind of information at their fingertips. Whether free or paid, granular or general, these tools are just the right match for today’s optimizers and analyzers.