Key to workflow optimisation – why use SEO tools
Can you dig a 30-feet-deep hole, using only your hands? Perhaps you can, but the effects of such a venture would be modest, to say the least. Both in terms of time spent and the hole’s quality, the outcomes achieved would be miserable if compared with using a shovel or an excavator. The same holds true for any industry and domain, including SEO.
Analogically, we could ask, “Can we ignore special tools and still optimise websites so that they rank higher in search results and generate more traffic?” Some SEO experts would probably grin mysteriously and answer, “It depends”, as Google – first and foremost – considers the overall quality of the website and published content. In practice, however, this would be groping in the dark – a task having more in common with throwing coins in a fountain than with actual optimisation that yields desired results.
What can tools do that I can’t do on my own?
SEO tools help gain upper hand in terms of optimisation, partly due to the fierce competition among their providers. This “arms race” (such as between Ahrefs and Semrush) makes developers bend over backwards to offer better and better analytical options, as well as data that helps obtain insight into a website’s needs, a market’s competitiveness, and the required course of action. Acquiring such information single-handedly would consume a lot of time and money, and for most specialists would be simply impossible.
Examples of such data include:
- data on the mean number of searches of respective key phrases,
- the profile of a website’s inbound and outbound links,
- the overall technical condition and the load speed of subpages.
What are the key factors in SEO?
Over the last two decades, SEO has changed drastically. Gone are the days of a once popular keyword stuffing technique (think catchy headers such as “Want to go on holiday Greece, Corfu vacation, Greece trips, Greece trips cheap?”), and the optimisation itself has become a lot more complex. An expertly conducted optimisation campaign encompasses a range of factors, including:
- website’s security,
- website’s load speed,
- the ease of navigating website using mobile devices,
- the quality of content,
- website’s topical authority,
- the number of inbound links (URLs on other platforms that link to your website),
- technical optimisation.
What features should we pay attention to?
Since the SEO jigsaw puzzles come in many elements, it’s worth considering which aspects we would like to focus on first, and whether we would be able to handle them all by ourselves. Before we choose our tools, however, we need to determine what kind of data and what analytical options we need, and how much money we can spend on auxiliary software alone. For this reason, it would be worthwhile to ask ourselves some questions.
What are the business objectives of optimisation?
The first step is understanding why the website has been created in the first place and what goals it should reach thanks to optimisation. Are we bent on generating traffic? Increasing conversion rate? Or maybe expanding our brand globally?
Who is the target group?
Next, we need to identify our recipients. Who are our potential customers? What are their needs, behaviours, and preferences? By pinpointing our target group, we can select relevant key phrases and adjust our content – and this, in turn, is related to basing our choice of tools on keyword analysis.
How does our competition act?
Yet another essential phase is understanding our competition and current market conditions. What strategies have been employed by our rivals? What are the latest trends in our industry? Having analysed the range of operations undertaken by competition, we should find it easier to choose suitable software and services.
SEO tools – which ones to use while positioning?
Tools for work organisation
Using tools such as Trello, Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel to organise work can significantly improve such SEO-related processes as planning, monitoring, and analysis.
Trello, as a project management platform, allows us to create boards on which we can monitor the progress of work on various SEO campaign elements. Thanks to Trello boards, we can compile to-do lists, assign tasks to specific team members, and set priorities and deadlines. The tool lets us manage any SEO project in a transparent manner, which is extremely important in the context of teamwork.
Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are excellent tools for SEO-related data analysis. In spreadsheets, we can gather and process details related to search results, keyword analysis, website traffic, conversion rate, and many other aspects. Thanks to features such as filters, sorting, and charts, we can easily present information and draw relevant conclusions. We can also draw up customised SEO reports, which help measure operational efficiency and adjust strategy according to the collected data.
Tools for visibility analysis
Yet another feature of SEO tools is the analysis of a website’s performance in search results.
Ahrefs is an immensely popular SEO tool that lets us carry out in-depth analyses of outbound and inbound links, assess competition, and keep track of keyword rankings. Admittedly, it isn’t exactly the cheapest, but the sheer multitude of options and powerful analytical functions it offers definitely justifies the price.
Senuto is a tool allowing for website visibility analysis – chiefly limited to Poland, but it can also be used quite efficiently in other markets. It lets us monitor search result rankings, assess competition, and determine the popularity of respective keywords. If we require help with adjusting SEO strategy to respective markets and keeping track of the results we achieve, this might be just the solution we need.
Google Search Console is an invaluable tool that lets us analyse website visibility in Google search results. It’s definitely one of my favourite solutions in this respect, and for two reasons: first, it’s free, second, it helps us find out – at least to some degree – how Google perceives our website. Thanks to this platform, we can monitor how respective subpages fare in terms of views and visits, check mean ranking positions in search results, and identify any indexing errors or other minor faults. Of all free tools, I find GSC the best, especially if we want to optimise our website in terms of Google search results. We should keep in mind, however, that we can benefit from GSC only on the websites we own or administer.
Tools for keyword analysis
One of the most prominent tools is Google Search Console, which not only offers information about views and clicks, but also provides invaluable data about keywords used by people visiting our website. It’s worth noticing that Keyword Planner, available to Google account owners, can be useful in terms of identifying potential key phrases and seasonal analysis. Despite certain limits as to data accuracy, the collected information can be fully used once we have invested a small amount in paid advertisement.
Another tool that’s worth considering is AnswerThePublic, which analyses actual search data and generates potential queries related to a specified keyword. Thanks to this solution, we can check what questions are asked by users in regard to a given phrase.
Ahrefs, although not free, offers advanced keyword search options, allowing for identification of multiple phrases used by potential customers; it also delivers precise topic-relevant results. Ahref’s Keyword Explorer, on the other hand, helps monitor keywords and competition, which proves invaluable in the process of content optimisation.
As yet another paid tool, Senuto boasts a repository of over 20 million key phrases which can be searched through in many different ways – this, in turn, allows for even more precise keyword and competition analysis. Furthermore, the developer offers a free 14-day trial – it lets us conveniently check what keywords appear in Google search results and scrutinise our competition.
Google Trends is a service providing information and statistics related to tendencies prevalent in the most used search engine in the world. It perfectly complements keyword analysis, helping determine what topics enjoy the greatest popularity in a given field. It also allows us to follow shifts in respective industries and adjust our SEO strategy accordingly.
Ubersuggest is a free tool that lets us search for long-tail keywords that can be used in international SEO. The solution helps identify keywords appearing in various result categories, such as the entire internet, news, images, shopping, or videos. Ubersuggest proves extremely useful also in terms of finding inspiration for content, be it intended for a website, a blog, or a guide.
We can’t forget about Helium 10, a tool which comes particularly in handy when dealing with Amazon. Helium 10 allows for conducting platform-specific keyword analysis and receiving feedback regarding ASIN codes – this, of course, helps optimise product and marketing strategies. Thanks to this tool, we can effectively compete in the e-commerce market, analysing rivals and adjusting our actions to the changing trends. When used together with other tools for keyword analysis, Helium 10 provides invaluable support to professionals dealing with e-commerce on Amazon.
If we know what SEO-related actions will be taken, it would be worthwhile to adjust our choice of tools to our budget. Instinctively, we might lean towards the “heavily loaded” options – in this case, Ahrefs or Semrush – but by no means are they cheap. Even though we can’t possibly question the worth of such complex solutions, it’s good to remember that there are multiple free alternatives (or at least options with free trials), for example:
- Google Analytics,
- Google Search Console,
- Google Keyword Planner,
- Screaming Frog,
- Yoast SEO / All In One Seo (WordPress).
It might turn out that the features they offer are more than enough for our current purposes. If, however, we do feel the lack of certain options, we may consider a somewhat larger investment – also one that consists in entrusting all SEO processes to a professional translation agency that not only benefits from the latest software, but also boasts relevant knowledge and experience.