10 SEO Tools and Plugins You Need in 2014

Content Marketing Trends 2014Seo is more different today than it was one year ago, 6 months ago or even 3 months ago. The right tools will prepare you for this evolving landscape. These tools will also help increase your online visibility.
My previous post dealt with content writing tools. This post focuses on the types of SEO tools we need as we move further along the semantic web. Also, as content marketing, SEO and social media merge, the right SEO tools will allow us to monitor all three aspects in a more seamless way.
The recent changes to SEO mean that you should be focusing your efforts on:

  • Building up your author rank
  • Increasing the social signals your site sends to search engines
  • Preparing for the semantic web and semantic search
  • Link-building the right way
  • Using keywords the right way with focus terms and synonyms

#1. Tools to track your author rank

Google and other search engines are constantly trying to control web spam. Their efforts spell good news for you and most of us who are engaged in building our online reputation. Google uses Google authorship among other signals to verify that you are a trusted source for information.

Most marketing blogs advise that the easiest way to increase your author rank is to write good quality content on great sites. That’s partially true. It’s interesting that currently your author rank is also loosely determined by the number of +1s and shares your content receives, your number of circlers, as well as your page rank, comments and authority on non-Google networks. As you can see, it also means how active you are on Google+. There is no evidence yet, that Google is using author rank to influence search results. Most experts are predicting that it will soon be included. The only tool right now that seems to measure all these factors is Virante’s author rank tool. It’s still in beta. Virantes author rank tool measures factors such as:

  • Use of Google Authorship
  • Diversity of sites to which an author contributes
  • Link value of sites to which an author contributes
  • Volume of content produced by author
  • Link value of content produced by author

#2. Tools that monitor your social media analytics

Social signals are an important way for search engines to ensure that your content is of good quality. Social signals are getting to be almost as important as other traditional trust-building signals such as the number of inbound links that a site has accumulated. It’s also an important trust signal for visitors landing on a page. Currently, you need to pay for most social metrics tools.

I like to review the social media section of Google Analytics. It’s a free and easy way to check my social media activity. I also like the new Social Analytics tool in Moz Pro. You can add in your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ account. You have a dashboard where you can easily see the percentage of visits from social media including a traffic breakdown by network. My favorite tool to organize and schedule my social media content is Hootsuite. In addition to these tasks, Hootsuite digs into what your social media activity means with its own set of analytics tools. The company also recently partnered up with Brandwatch to extend the reach of its analytics, bringing it more in line with what enterprise customers would expect. Other social media analytics tools include Sprout Social and Social Report.

#3. Xml site-map generators

You’ve taken the time and effort to produce great content. It’s now important for search engines to find this content and index it. With schemas and structured data being the future of the web, all content on your site must be indexed with an xml site map. Google Webmasters even recognizes this as a critical issue. If you don’t have an xml sitemap for your site, besides indicating that as a critical issue, a red button allows you to add one, instantly.

Most good sitemap generators are paid but cost little. I use Sitemap Generator which is a free tool. Sitemap Writer Pro is good as well and only costs $25. XML Sitemap Inspector validates your sitemap, repairs errors, and pings all search engines.

#4. Link-building tools

Traditional inbound links are an important way for search engines to determine the relevancy of your content. Many people are talking about link-building losing its importance. What they mean is that spammy link-building methods are no longer relevant and can harm your site. Like getting links from link farms or buying other low-quality links. What still counts are links from trusted and high authority sites.

I love Moz’s Open Site Explorer. It allows you to enter a domain and view that domain’s backlinks. As a free user, you can only see detailed information (link anchor text, page authority, and domain authority) for the first five backlinks of a domain. Free users are limited to three reports per day.

#5. Keyword tools

Yes, keyword-stuffing is dead. Hummingbird looks for natural language queries, intent, variations of words and synonyms to determine relevancy. The keyword tools of the future will need to take into account these changes and provide you with a list of keywords and focus terms. I like Google’s keyword Planner and Inbound Writer. Both allow you to see a range of keywords and focus terms that will suit your document. Hit-tail is a paid tool but is good for finding long-tail queries.

Plugins for WordPress

#6. Great all-purpose plugin

WordPress SEO by Yoast is a good all-purpose SEO plugin for WordPress. It offers you mostly everything you need to optimize your site. Here are some of the nice features of WordPress SEO by Yoast:

  • It helps you to write optimized content with built-in content analysis
  • You can easily optimize your site’s titles and descriptions with the snippet preview.
  • You can also automatically generate XML Sitemaps
  • It automatically adds canonical tags to your posts

#7. Schema Creator Plugin for WordPress

Semantic web and structured data are the future of the web. Google, Bing, Yahoo! and other major search engines rely on structured data to present better search results, and they have endorsed schema.org as the proper markup vocabulary to use. Local businesses, customer reviews, medical information such as drug types, disease types, events are just some of the types of content that will largely benefit with structured data mark-up. The schema creator plugin for WordPress makes it easy to add schema.org microdata to pages and posts in WordPress.

#8. Plugin for in-depth articles

Google is now showing a special search result for selected searches that go deeper than usual into a subject, and which appear on the sites of trusted publishers. In-depth articles are a recommended technique for those authors who want to establish their expertise in a particular subject. These articles usually run between 1,250 to 2,500 words.
The In-Depth Articles Generator plugin, once installed in your WordPress blog or site, will automate the schema markup of any of your posts or pages with the Schema.org Article markup properties recommended by Google to qualify your content for its in-depth article search results feature.

#9. Google’s Publisher Plugin

Google announced just last week that they have a new plugin for publishers. It’s still in beta. The Google Publisher Plugin enables you to use Google’s products – including AdSense and Webmaster Tools.

#10. Plugin for setting up Google authorship for multi-author sites

Google authorship helps Google identify you as a verified author of the content you posted.
You can manually verify authorship. Several plugins help you to verify your authorship. What do you do if you are a multi-author blog?

The Google authorship plugin for multiple users is a simple solution. This plugin adds a new Google+ field to every user profile in the WordPress database. Your authors can copy-paste their profile link into that field. The plugin then automatically links back to the profile on every article they write, as defined by Google’s instructions.

Your Turn

Which SEO tools are you using to improve your site’s visibility? Please share in the comments below. We will all benefit from the info. Thanks.

Comments

  1. says

    I use just about all of the tools you mention for optimization plus the following analytical tools: Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools (yes, really), SEMRush (for keyword research & competitor analysis), Screaming Frog (great for finding technical issues with a website), RankTracker and SERPSrank. I also just started using the Squirrly SEO plugin for WordPress.
    Marilyn Moran recently posted..Digital Marketing Spotlight: Chef Dennis LittleyMy Profile

    • says

      All great tools. I like SEM Rush and Screaming Frog. I’ve been hearing good things about Squirrly SEO plugin for WordPress. I’ve yet to try it. I wonder how different it is form the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin? Thanks for your feedback and list of tools.

    • says

      Yes, The Publisher plugin is brand new. Google just made the announcement last week. All the best with it. Let me know how you like it. Thanks for your feedback.

  2. says

    Building off your Authorship tools … have you used AuthorCrawler? It’s a good tool that connects authorship with linking. It examines your backlinks and provides information on who is linking to you and what their social standing is (who they are and how “popular” they are). Based on this data you can identify true influencers already linking to your content and form connections with these influencers.

    Nice job on the list Gazalla!

    • says

      Looked up AuthorCrawler. It’s by Ann Smarty who is a recognized name in SEO circles. It looks like an interesting tool. I’ll have to try it. Thanks for the addition to this list.

    • says

      There was a conflict with my previous theme. I was getting ready to deactivate. At that moment, I changed themes and lo and behold! Everything’s fine and it works well with my current theme.

    • says

      That’s an excellent question, Adi and very topical too. I think that many seo’s were misusing the guest blogging for SEO and making it so spammy that they forced Google’s hand on this issue. Google is going to enforce the rule that guest bloggers’ links need to be nofollow.. That will force the spammers out of the running as they will no longer get any benefit in the form of backlinks which is what they want.
      I actually believe that guest blogging will improve as a result and thrive and grow to be used for what we bloggers need to use it for – to reach new audiences, establish our expertise, increase our brand name and develop relationships with other bloggers.

      • says

        Thanks Gazalla. Checked out that AuthorRank tool Frederic mentions below. Must say I’d never really looked at AuthorRank a great deal previously as I’m not active on G+ at all.

        AuthorRank: 7.29
        AuthorTrust: 6.67
        AuthorExternalRank: 7.37
        Avg Page Authority: 48
        Avg Domain Authority: 66

        are my scores though. I presume it’s easy enough to compare yourself to others if you know their G+ profile?
        Adi Gaskell recently posted..Can maths predict the rise (and fall) of Facebook?My Profile

  3. says

    Some really interesting tools here, Gazalla. I just went to check out Virante, pretty cool. But I wonder, though: what does it mean if I have a Google AuthorRank of 6.88 and AuthorTrust of 6.52. Is this on a scale of 10? It would be interesting to see how this compares with other authors, or leading sites such as Mashable or New York Times, to get an idea of ranking.
    Cheers,
    Frederic
    Frederic Gonzalo recently posted..3 Tips To Rank Higher On TripAdvisorMy Profile

    • says

      That’s an excellent AuthorRank, Frederic. Congratulations. Yes, that’s on a scale of 10. To give you an example: Danny Sullivan has an AuthorRank of 7.57and AuthorTrust of 6.6.
      The tool is currently in beta. Virante insists that they are still testing and debugging it. So scores may change in the future as they make corrections and add new data capabilities.

  4. says

    That’s a darn good list Gazalla and although I use quite a few of these as well I quickly noticed some that I think I might have to take a quicker look at.

    I had to go check the author rank and I’m not as good as some I guess but I’m over a 5 so I’m a little over halfway there. Looks like I have more work to do but what else is new right! LOL!!!

    Thanks a bunch for sharing these and now I get to go and play a little more.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..Guest Blogging Is NOT Dead Says Matt CuttsMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for your feedback, Adrienne. Yes, anything over 5 is a good score. I think that this tool also gives importance to your activity on Google+ so for authors who are well known authorities in their subjects but don’t use Google+ too much, I think they will get a lower rank. Which doesn’t sound fair.

      I think that I’m dreaming when I say that I hope there comes a day where your author rank is not influenced by what you go on Google’s networks! Hope you have a great week ahead:)

  5. Atanas Lambev says

    I think it’s very good collection for plugins and tools, only one missing SEOSpyder i start using, very good tool for mac-s. Gives very good statistis for your site or client site. Very good for schema checking, authorship cheking and 404 or redirects. You must find in apple appstore.

  6. says

    Thanks for a great list, Gazalla! I’m co-founder at SiteCondor, a cloud-based crawler. In line with your recommendations, the tool helps audit Schema.org microdata, Authorship, and Twitter Cards markup across entire sites, and also generates XML Sitemaps.

    • says

      Thanks for informing us about this tool. Will give it a try. Looks like it’s in keeping with SEO requirements of the future if it helps with schemas, authorship, XML and social media.

      • says

        Sure thing! We’d love to learn what you think. There’s a free trial available, but let us know if you’d like some additional free credits.

  7. says

    OMG!!
    I am here on the right time!
    I just launched my new site via wp base
    This is indeed a useful page to me and I am on time :-)
    My friend made my page for me and migrated all my contents from blogger, and I am here to stay.
    My goodness, such a lot of vital links and plugins for a word press user
    Thank you so much for your wonderful efforts to put all in together in a systematic order
    Keep informed
    I am book marking this for my further study
    Best Regards
    Philip
    Philip Verghese ‘Ariel’ recently posted..facebook facebook facebook !!! How much time you spent (wasted) on facebook and few hidden secret fb tricks.My Profile

  8. says

    I would highly recommend the W3 Cache Plugin. it helps your site load faster. It can give a better impression with Google and you’ll give your visitors a good browsing experience. Also, Greg’s High Maintenance SEO plugin is great for on-page Seo. It’s light in weight and won’t take much space in your site. Even if you’ve optimized a lot of pages, your site will still load faster. This is what I learned when I researched about Greg’s Vs All in one SEO.
    Jen B recently posted..Pricing per Linear Foot for Vinyl Banners?My Profile

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