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content, SEO, strategy, websites

The Least Sexy, Totally Free SEO Tools That Can Transform Your Business

These free SEO tools can help you transform your website and your business. After reading this blog you’ll know how to discover:

  • If you’re getting website visitors and how many
  • How your visitors got to your website
  • What pages on your website are most popular
  • Whether your website loads quickly
  • How you can fix slow pages
  • What keyword phrases are driving traffic to your website
  • Where Google is sending visitors on your web pages
  • What sites are linking to your website
  • If you have broken links or pages
  • Whether your site is mobile friendly
  • If you have a Google My Business page
  • How to conduct an overall audit of your website

1. How many website visitors am I getting?

Google Analytics is a robust, free tool that can answer this question. Because it is so robust, you may not know where to look to find the answers you need.

Google Analytics Tip

Be sure your website developer has given you administrative access to your own data! If your web developer should win the lottery, “get hit by the bus,” or if the relationship sours, you want to be able to access your data yourself and/or assign a new user to do so.

The Pathway

Go to: Google Analytics > Acquisition > Overview

Choose the time frame in the calendar. You can choose specific day(s), weeks, months, or years. You can even compare your data to an earlier time frame. For example, if you sell swimsuits, you may want to compare this June to last June.

Below the pie graph, you will see a table with users, new users, sessions, and more. Your “users” are visitors to your website. “New users” are unique visitors that went to your website during that time frame.

Why Google Analytics Users Matter

Although Google Analytics won’t be able to account for every visitor to your site, this free tool is a good approximation of the health of your site. You invested money and/or time to build a website. Now, you need to track your data regularly: daily, weekly, or monthly. Generally, Google’s RankBrain (machine learning and artificial intelligence) may cause a site that users visit and stay on to do better in the search engine return pages (SERPs). A SERP is the page you get back after you “Google” a phrase.


2. How did website visitors get to my site?

Users can get to your website from a variety of sources including:

  • Search engine return pages (SERP), i.e., they “Googled” it (Organic Search traffic)
  • Typing your URL (web address) directly in the browser (Direct traffic)
  • Social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram (Social traffic)
  • Paid advertising that you’re running (Paid Search traffic)
  • From email or other campaigns that you’re running (Referral traffic)

Google Analytics Tip

If you don’t know how to set up Google Analytics, your web developer can help. It’s usually a straightforward task that shouldn’t take them much time (budget).

The Pathway

Go to: Google Analytics > Acquisition > Overview

This is the same pathway as the first answer above. This time, you’ll click on the blue word in the table. This blue text might read:

  • Organic Search
  • Referral
  • Direct
  • Social
  • Display
  • Paid Search
  • Affiliates
  • Other

When you click on the blue link, you’ll be able to see more detail. For example, you’ll be able to see which social media channels drive traffic to your website.

Why Your Traffic Source Matters

You can track the number of organic search visitors you get from day to day or month to month. Is organic traffic increasing? Great! There’s a good chance you’re making progress. How far can you optimize it? Here are some tips for getting website traffic. How much more traffic can you get?

On the other hand, is organic search decreasing? If so, you likely have SEO roadblocks you need to address.


3. What pages on my website are most popular?

When you’re developing content for your website, you want to know which content is most successful.

Google Analytics Tips

Be sure to set the calendar in Google Analytics to the date range you want. Be consistent in how you measure and record data from one week or month to the next.

The Pathway

Go to: Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Content >All Pages

You’ll see the 10 most popular pages. These exclude your domain name. For example, “/” is the home page. Similarly, “/about” is the about page. At the bottom right of the table, you can adjust the data to show up to 5000 rows. You can also export the table.

Why Popular Website Content Matters

If no one is visiting specific pages, you need to figure out why. A page that no one visits is like a tree that falls in the forest. Silent.

Do visitors not find this content? Optimize the page for search. Is it old? Dull? You may need to update or add content to those pages. Content is one of the top 3 Google ranking factors.

Is the page buried too deep in the navigation? You may need to move it. Do you need to showcase it on social media with a link to give it more visibility?

Keep your content fresh by monitoring its success.


4. How quickly do my pages load?

Users won’t wait for slow pages to load. Google recommends that your website page load in less than two seconds. At Google, they aim for a half second or less! You may have certain pages that are bloated and slow.

Google Analytics Tips

Clicking on the small “?” in the headings will provide definitions for any terms you don’t know.

The Pathway

Go to: Go to: Google Analytics > Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings

You’ll see the average speed of your website at the top right of the table. Any pages that are significantly slower appear in red.

Why Site Speed Matters

Google prioritizes faster loading sites. They want users to have a good experience and quickly find what they need. If your website is slow, you will not find it high on the search engine return pages (SERPs).

Site speed is one of Google’s ranking factors.


5. How can I fix slow pages?

Fixing slow pages often requires tapping a web developer. To see if that’s necessary, you can use this useful tool.

Page Speed Insights Tip

This tool analyzes individual page—not the entire site at once. You will need to put in the specific URL for the page that you believe may be slow. Additionally, you can set the tool to focus on desktop or mobile. Choose mobile.

free-page-speed-toolThe Pathway

Go to: https:developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Enter your URL and choose “Analyze.” You’ll get a colorful result in the red, yellow, or green. Green is optimal. Red is very slow.

Under “Opportunities,” click on each bold black opportunity. For example, these might read:

  • Eliminate render-blocking resources
  • Remove unused CSS
  • Reduce server response time
  • Serve images in next-gen formats
  • Efficiently encode images

When you click on the bold, black word under opportunities, you will find suggestions for helping your pages to load faster. You can then see if it’s a server problem, an image (photo) problem, or if technical code changes need to be made.

Why Page Speed Insights Matters

Google prioritizes site speed and mobile search. Mobile search has been used for the SERPs since 2018. You can also check on your competitors’ websites this way.


6. What keyword phrases give me website traffic?

Wondering what “Googlers” are “Googling” to find you? This tool will provide the answers. It’s called Google Search Console. Formerly, it was known as Google Webmasters Tool. But it’s not just for webmasters. It’s important for you to know how to access it and what it offers.

Google Search Console Tip

Don’t ignore it! In my experience, few web developers even set it up. It’s relatively easy for a webmaster to set up, so you can see your data. 2 days admin access

google-search-console-performance

The Pathway

Go to: Google Search Console > Performance > Queries

Click the date range that for which you want to see results. You’ll see a large graph with 4 headings:

  • Total clicks (visitors to your site)
  • Impressions (number of times your site was somewhere in the SERP—whether or not the user saw it)
  • Average CTR which stands for click-through rate (the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions)
  • Average position (where your content appeared in the SERP)

You can click on any or all of the four boxes to see a color graph. Below the graph, it reads “QUERIES.”

Queries are the phrases that the potential website visitor typed in the search box in Google. Click on “QUERIES.” A list of 10 pages appears. You can increase the number of pages you see online or export the data.

Why Website Performance and Queries Matter

You can see what keyword phrases are “working” to get you traffic. You can also see the position in which your page was shown. Position 1-5 is optimal as it gets the most clicks. If you’re in position 6 to 10, you might want to see what you can optimize to move up.

Positions 11 to 20 are “low-hanging fruit.” They may provide an opportunity to go to the first page, where your pages with these keywords are much more likely to be seen.

Perhaps there are keywords that could drive more traffic but you haven’t thought of using them in your content.


7. Which pages of my website is Google showing to users?

Although Google doesn’t show which keywords are leading to which pages in the SERPs, they do show which pages are being shown.

Google Search Console Tip

It takes about two days before the data in Google Search Console appears. What’s more, if you haven’t installed Google Search Console, you won’t have data for that time period. admin access

The Pathway

Go to: Google Search Console > Performance > Pages

Be sure to choose the date range that for which you want to see results. Click below the graph on the word “PAGES.” You’ll see 10 pages. At the bottom right, you can expand the number of pages you see. You can also export the data.

Why Page Performance Matters

You can see what pages are “working” to get you traffic. You can also see the position in which your page was shown. Do you need to better optimize specific pages?

If you’re getting a lot of impressions on the first two pages (position 1-20), but not getting clicks, you may need to look at the meta description you are using. Is it compelling? Are you focusing your page content on the appropriate keyword phrases?


8. What websites are linking to you?

Links are one of Google’s top three algorithm factors. If authoritative websites choose to link to your website, it signals that you have expertise, authority, and trustworthy (EAT) content.

Google Search Console Tip

Be sure to ask your web developer for administrative use of your own data. This gives you control over the data and who has access to it, should you need to make changes.

The Pathway

Go to: Google Search Console > Links

You will see two columns here. On the left, it reads “External links.” These are links from outside your website going to your website. In this left-hand column, you’ll see three tables:

  • Top linked pages (the URL that the external link goes to in your website and the number of links)
  • Top linking sites (the sites that are linking to your website and how many times they link to you)
  • Top linking text (the text that the external website is using when they link to your site)

On the right-hand column, you’ll see which pages on your site you created links and the number of times you’ve linked to them.

If you click on the blue word “MORE,” you can expand the table and export it.

Why External Links Matter

External links are extremely important for SEO. You can export the list of top linking sites, and consider opportunities from other EAT sites. Reaching out to expert, authoritative, trustworthy sites that are willing to link to you can build your own EAT.


9. Do I have broken pages (404 errors) or other errors on my site?

You can discover if you have pages that aren’t loading properly or have other errors.

Google Search Console Tip

Click on the boxes above the graph in “Performance” or “Coverage” to see a complete graph in color.

The Pathway

Go to: Google Search Console > Coverage

Similar to the layout that you saw in “Performance,” you’ll see a graph with four boxes at the top. If you click on the first box on the left, it’s red. These are errors. Below the chart, these errors are described in black bold text. When you click on the black bold text, it expands. From this view, you can export the data.

Why 404 Errors Matter

Not only do errors and broken pages create a poor user experience, they also negatively impact your ability to get found by Google and other search engines. With a list of problematic pages, you can go to your web developer to have the errors fixed.


10. Is my website mobile friendly?

Two simple methods can help check if your site is mobile friendly.

The Pathway

Go to:  Mobile Friendly Test and enter a URL

OR Go to: Google Search Console > Mobile Usability

The first method checks one URL at a time. The second, in Google Search Console, allows you to see all errors at once.

Under “Mobile Usability,” click on the error box. Below in bold black text you may see errors. These might include:

  • Text too small to read
  • Clickable elements too close together
  • Content wider than screen
  • Uses incompatible plugins

Any of these can be clicked to expand and exported.

Why Website Mobility Matters

First, mobile errors give visitors a bad user experience. Second, Google prioritizes mobile search. By exporting your list of mobile un-friendly pages, you can ask for them to be fixed.


11. Do I have a Google My Business page?

Any discussion of Google’s free tools without mentioning Google My Business would be remiss.

Google My Business Tip

About once a week, we get a robo call reporting that our Google My Business page is not verified. It is. These calls sound very official. If you have any questions about your Google My Business page, call Google directly. They will help you for free.

The Pathway

Google the name of your company.

The page may already exist. If so, you may see a window that looks like the image here.

sample-google-my-business

If the page isn’t verified, you’ll need to verify it.

You’ll need to create thethe page if it doesn’t already exist. If you’re unsure how to do this, you can call your online digital agency or Google.

Why Google My Business Pages Matter

Google My Business pages are a free Google product, and a great way to get your business on Google. These pages are usually shown singly or in what’s called a social pack. Social packs feature similar businesses in the same frame. If you want to stay current, you need a Google My Business page.


12. How do I get a free overall SEO report?

A thorough audit is like a health checkup for your website. You can get a free SEO audit at the bottom of this and other web pages at nancyburgess.net.

Free SEO Tool

Be sure to look at the On-Site SEO section of the report and the Appendix. In our opinion, these have a lot of valuable data.

The Pathway

Scroll to the bottom of the page and look for this image.

free-seo-audit-report-tool

Enter your information, and run the report. You’ll want to take a close look at the “On-Site SEO” section. Address the areas that are shown in red. The green shows a good result. Don’t ignore the Appendix. Instead, review and fix the following:

  • Page Titles that are too long, missing, or duplicates
  • Meta descriptions that are too long, missing or duplicates

Why an SEO Report Matters

As its name might imply, onsite SEO is important for search engine optimization. You’ll also be able to see your “Local Business Listings” and any reviews. These are important for local search and your reputation.


Summary

Monitor and track your analytics with Google’s free SEO tools at least monthly. Fix parts of your website that are broken or less than optimal. You’ll find that a well-optimized site is a healthy website with increasing numbers of visitors.

Want More? Read  Google Trends: 15 Tips for SEO in 2019

Need Help? Visit Our SEO Services or Contact Us

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