Have you ever wondered how to get your website to come up in search results? Of course you have. Every small business wants to be found online, but it isn’t always an easy task.
Website traffic doesn’t follow the Field of Dreams mantra, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ You can create a killer website, but if you aren’t using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, your online bleachers will remain empty.
What’s SEO? It’s a way to improve your website’s visibility, so it appears in search results. By making specific changes to your website you can organically increase traffic and please the Google Gods so your site is listed when people use certain keywords.
To help boost your rankings without calling in a webmaster, here are six free SEO tools for the time-strapped business owner:
1. Google Trends
Google Trends is a go-to keyword tool. You can see how search queries change over time when people search for your keyword and compare different words or phrases to see which is best.
Let’s say you run a hardware store and you want to ramp up sales of shovels this winter. When people search for a shovel online, do they search for winter shovel or snow shovel? Compare the two using Google Trends. Here’s what you’ll see:
According to the chart, people search for snow shovel more frequently than winter shovel. The chart also shows you when people search for the term. In this case, it’s no surprise that the winter months are when this term is most popular.
You can also take a look at a regional breakdown that shows you where the search terms are most popular.
With this knowledge, you can use the phrase ‘show shovel’ on your website and blog posts to increase traffic.
This tool shows you how a search engine sees your site. It strips your site down to a base level, without any fancy fonts, headers or images, and displays relevant SEO information. By looking at your site this way, you can see what needs improvement.
All you have to do is enter your URL into the site, no additional downloads necessary.
3. Screaming Frog
What SEO problems does your website face? Aren’t sure? Turn to Screaming Frog. This free tool crawls your site looking for SEO roadblocks and provides a report of problem areas.
The tool looks for broken links, missing metadata, oversized files and pictures, duplicate pages and internal links, just to name a few. Think of it as an SEO audit. You can use the results to improve your site and SEO.
How fast does your website load? Do you have a page or two on your site that takes too long to come up? Sluggish page speed can hinder SEO. Site speed does play a role in search engine rankings, so you’ll want to double check the speed of your site with GTmetrix.
Just enter your URL into the site and you’ll get a page speed score and a list of ways to improve it. For example, it might suggest resizing images to improve load times.
5. Rank Checker
Where does your website land in search engine results? Find out with Rank Checker. This tool will show you where your site shows up and give you tips to improve it.
You can install a button on your toolbar so you have easy access to this information whenever you’d like. It will take time to move your site up the ranks, but with this tool you can keep an eye on where you stand.
6. Responsive Design Checker
How does your site look on a smartphone? Search engines give preferential treatment to websites that look great on all devices.
To make sure your website looks sharp on every device, use a responsive website design. This design adapts to every device, so you don’t need to create multiple sites.
Not sure if you have a responsive design? Put your website into the Responsive Design Checker to find out. If you don’t have a responsive design, consider updating your site or getting help from designers at Deluxe.
Want to learn more about search engine optimization? Check out this video that focuses on SEO Tips for 2015.