Seo 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.
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.