As you no doubt know, search engine optimization can be a time consuming endeavor. You have to do thorough keyword research and market analysis, deploy solid on-page optimization, and do extensive link building. And none of that includes the time it takes to actually build a website and get it online in the first place!
Luckily, there are many tools and aids out there that can help you streamline your workflow and make quick – or at least quicker – work of the necessary SEO tasks you must complete in order to dominate the SERPs.
This is undoubtedly the most important part of SEO. It is the starting point. If you don’t know what keywords to target, then you can’t optimize at all. There are two benefits of keyword research: 1) uncovering all of the keywords you should be targeting in your market, and 2) discovering if your market is worth being in, in the first place!
When you start looking at keywords you will start to see how competitive your market actually is. You may find that the level of competition is so high that the work and money you would need to put into your SEO to rank well far outweighs the profits you might bring in. At first this might seem like devastating news, especially if you really had your heart set on your niche, but this is actually very good news. It is much better to find out something like this before you begin work, than to find it out after you have dumped a lot of your time and budget into ranking for a market you cannot possibly dominate with a positive ROI.
The Google AdWords Keyword Tool is the best FREE keyword research tool to use. You don’t need an AdWords account to use it and the data it gives you is supplied by Google, which is where you want to be ranking anyway! This tool will show you tons of useful information from related keywords you might want to optimize for to competition level for any given keyword. You can compile lists and export to CSV files, too, which is great for dumping into rank monitoring tools such as RANK Checker by SEO Book.
Naturally, you’ll want to monitor how your keywords are ranking in the search engines once you begin your optimization efforts. There are plenty of paid-for solutions out there for keeping an eye on your rankings, but you can do this for free with RANK Checker.
RANK Checker is a Firefox Addon that lets you easily check the Google, Yahoo, and Bing rankings for up to 100 keywords at a time. You can save keyword sets and export them as CSV files. The admin area lets you set a time delay so that your search engine pings don’t swallow up a lot of bandwidth.
We all know how important back links are to SEO. Every back link is like a thumbs-up vote for your website. But not all back links are created equal. Some carry more value than others. It is key for you to do extensive back link research on other sites in your niche to find out where they are getting back links from. In many cases, you can probably get a link from some of the same places. Being able to take a peek at others’ back links cuts out a lot of blind hunting around that you would have to otherwise do to find places to get back links.
One of most thorough places to check up on a site’s back links it at Yahoo’s search engine. Simply type in this syntax “link:example.com” without the quotes and replacing example.com with the site you are researching and Yahoo will return tons of sites linking back to that site.