SEO-optimisation-tools

Top 25 Free Tools For Mastering SEO in 2019

Competition for the top spot in search engines is becoming increasingly fierce, with new websites popping up all the time. To make matters worse? Competitors aren’t the only thing you’re…well, competing with. Thanks to Google’s ever-changing algorithms, you have the search engine itself to contend with, too!

Staying ahead of the field can be a full-time job, so when it comes to building a solid SEO strategy it pays to make the most of the tools available to you. From researching your site’s keywords and monitoring its traffic, through to finding relevant content ideas and building high-quality backlinks, here is our list of the top twenty-five (free) tools you should be using right now:

1. Google Keyword Planner

Keywords are an essential component of SEO. They tell the search engines what you, your website, and its content is about so that it’s found when people search for these terms. Google Keyword Planner shows how different keywords perform, their search volumes, and competitiveness, making it easy to choose the right keywords for your site.

2.Integrity Link Checker

Broken links lower the quality and usability of your website and, in turn, your SEO. Apps like Integrity help you identify, find, and repair these broken links so you can improve your site’s performance and ensure users aren’t left staring at a 404 Error Page.

3.Spider View Simulator

Have you ever wondered how Google views your website? Spider View Simulator allows you to see your website exactly as Google does by simulating a search engine spider. This allows you to see the source code of a page, your inbound and outbound links, main keywords, and phrases.

4.Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the most well-known SEO tools, and rightly so. This allows you to track and report on conversion rates, search traffic, and pageviews from a variety of sources. To name just a few! It’s a super handy tool to have in your digital toolkit.

5.Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker

Backlinks are the hyperlinks that point back to your website from another webpage. High-quality backlinks build authority in the eyes of Google and improve your rankings.

Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker makes tracking these links easy. You can easily check the number of backlinks and referring domains to your site, as well as monitor important metrics like Domain Rating, URL Rating, and AHREFS rank.

6. Remove’em Over Optimised Backlinks

Over optimizing can be as detrimental as under optimizing. Over-optimizing the links back to your site is now seen as a spammy, black-hat practice by Google which is harmful to your SEO. Remove’em makes it easy to identify and then remove these over-optimized links that may be damaging your site’s rankings.

7.Google My Business

If you think local SEO isn’t important, you should think again! Google My Business is the holy grail for local SEO. You can claim your listing, share your location, respond to reviews, and connect with customers across the web.

8.Page Speed Insights

If your page load speed isn’t up to scratch, then your visitors are going to leave. So too will the search engines! Page Speed Insights from Google analyses the load speed of your webpages and generates suggestions that you can use to speed up the slow ones.

9.MobileMoxie SERP Test

Mobile phones serve as the largest platform for searching and browsing the internet, so it pays to make sure your website is performing at its best. MobileMoxie allows you to search for individual terms on different devices, see results for specific locations, and view page variations by location.

10.Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Looking for another option? If MobileMoxie isn’t what you’re after, you can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to put your site through its paces and test its usability across a range of mobile devices including tablets and phones.

11.Moz SEO Toolbar

Master the basics of SEO with MozBar, the industry’s leading SEO toolbar. MozBar provides you with SEO research on the go, so you can quickly and easily view page metrics, authority scores, and so much more while you’re browsing the web.

12.SEMrush

Do you need insights for SEO, paid campaigns, social media, content, and PR, or marketing research? SEMrush can help with it all. This versatile site runs the gamut, providing tools for everything from checking keywords and traffic through to analyzing competitors and their content.

13.Portents SERP Preview Tool

Want to visualize your webpage’s snippet in Google Search before it goes live? Portents SERP Preview Tool shows you your proposed meta title, description, URL, and bolded keywords in a preview SERP. It’s a great way to measure your ‘clickability’!

14.Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Yoast is one of the most popular WordPress plugins around, and for good reason. It provides a sweeping range of tools that plug right into your WordPress website that makes managing your SEO, simple.

15.Google Search Console

Google Search Console allows you to check your site’s ranking as well as which of your web pages aren’t indexed so you can improve and track your SEO performance.

16.Smush Image Optimisation

Images are the top culprit for slow page load speed due to large file sizes. Smush is a great plugin for WordPress which helps compress, resize, and optimize images so you can speed up your site and improve performance.

17.Answer The Public

Do you want to create content that people are actually interested in? Answer The Public provides you with queries that people are searching for in search engines like Google, which can help you create content that users are actually interested in within your industry or niche.

18.BROWSEO

View your webpage in plain HTML as a search engine does without the distractions of styling and CSS with BROWSEO. It’s the perfect way to check your page’s structure, and ensure that it’s set up in such a way that makes it easy for search engines to see what you’re all about.

19.Keywordit

Keywordit searches and extracts keywords from the popular US discussion site, Reddit. This handy tool generates hundreds of popular keywords and monthly search volumes so you can quickly and easily identify your audience’s major interests.

20.SEO Web Page Analyser

SEO Web Page Analyser provides a snapshot of your website’s SEO, breaking down the structure of your website and analyzing usability, content, and built quality from a search engine’s point of view. It’s a great way to improve both on- and off-page SEO.

21.SERPROBOT

SerpRobot checks your ranking in Google’s search engine quickly and accurately to show you where you stand amongst competitors and how you can best optimize your website for search.

22.Screaming Frog

This industry-leading SEO web crawler allows you to analyze your onsite SEO, making it easy to manage broken links, page titles, metadata, redirects, duplicate content, and so much more.

23. Where Goes?

Check the path of your redirects and meta refreshes with Where Goes. It’s the easiest way to troubleshoot and diagnose any problems you might be having with links, as well as ensure redirects are up and working.

24.Keywords Everywhere

Reduce the amount of time you spend researching keywords with Keywords Everywhere. This add-on for Chrome shows you cost-per-click, monthly search volumes, and Adwords competition right there in your browser.

25.Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is a free tool created by Google that allows you to manage HTML and Javascript tags, without the need for any coding. It integrates seamlessly with a range of Google products, including Google Ads for easy conversion tracking and remarketing, as well as a variety of third-party vendors.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a lot of useful free tools out there that can help you master the fine art of SEO, whether you’re just starting out or an industry veteran. By adding one, two, or even all of these to your digital tool belt, you’ll be finding keywords, writing content, and promoting your site more effectively than ever before in next to no time!

office view for copywriting inspiration

Anatomy of effective cold direct mail

I love getting really timely direct mail messages that are relevant.

This one came just in time to help me navigate a change to podcast categories.

Let’s analyse the direct message

Hello podcaster,

[Small fail here as they don’t know my name.  Implies a purchased list rather than an opted in CRM database.]

In case you missed it, Apple Podcasts have changed how they categorize podcasts. In short, new categories like True Crime have been introduced, old categories have been rebranded and lots of new sub-categories dedicated to sports, comedy, TV and more have been added!

[Opening paragraph – helpful link to contextualise in case I haven’t seen the news.  It’s a blog post on their website…. that’s good because it drives traffic and cookies my browser.  Nice bold text for likely interesting new categories to draw my eye.]

Unfortunately, some services as SoundCloud don’t support them yet. Spreaker is a platform dedicated to podcasting and we put the podcasters’ needs first.

[Natch!  a snipe at a popular competitor.  I use SoundCloud for my podcast and so this is relevant to me.  Could be a merge field – but not likely.  I think they may have targeted me from the SoundCloud platform.]

For this reason

  • our podcast platform already fully supports the new Apple Podcasts categories so you can improve your show’s discoverability
  • Spreaker allows you to set three categories – your podcast will rank in more than one category on iTunes at the same time – and fully customize the RSS feed tags
  • our service enables you to earn money with your podcast thanks to the Spreaker’s Monetization Program.

[Small quibble about supplying 3 reasons and not numbering them… and referring to “this reason” when it should be “these reasons”.  However, their nimble coding enabling the new categories quickly is encouraging when considering an alternative hosting platform.  Hopefully they keep up the speedy work.]

If you want to start using the new Apple categories and are curious about what Spreaker could do for your podcast – why not give us a try with our FREE, no strings attached, month-long trial.

All you need to do is click this special code: GETAPPLECATEGORIES

[Simple offer, clear time limit and a coupon code so they can identify subscribers from this campaign.]

If you need instructions to move your podcast over to Spreaker, you can follow this guide.

[More useful user guides to smooth a transition.]

We hope to see you on Spreaker sometime soon!

Template your own message

Follow the same paragraph structure when approaching your own prospects and try this for yourself.

Read more of our articles on copywriting and learn tips for your own marketing.

Podcast marketing

What are the key essentials for promoting and marketing a podcast to grow listeners so you can improve monetisation?  This article runs through some of the fundamentals and also asks some important questions so you can find out if a podcast is the right marketing tactic for your brand.

Brand suitability for podcast marketing

Here are some simple questions for you to review before deciding to start a podcast.

Microphone for podcast: Photo credit Neil Godding on Unsplash

  • Who is the target audience?
  • Are they are already listening to podcasts?
  • What does your brand want to get out of the podcast (leads, brand awareness, thought leadership etc)
  • Which channels to market do you already use?
  • What headcount / analytics are in each of the existing channels?
  • What will success look like?

These are all questions worthy of a full day workshop.  Now, assuming you have robust answers to each of them, let’s dig into the tactics suitable for marketing a podcast.

Podcast marketing tactics

  1. Cross-promote through all existing channels controlled by the brand
  2. Select guests who have a large audience on the understanding they will cross-promote
  3. Add listeners by adding podcast into existing marketing tactics e.g. record a live episode at a trade show / a conference stage
  4. Get other podcasters to do a mutual episode with each broadcasting the same episode to their feeds
  5. Record in video and audio so you can use YouTube as a distribution channel
  6. Advertise
  7. Use clips and short video as content for social sharing
  8. Run campaigns which include the podcast e.g. contests where you have to listen to find out how to enter
  9. Use the podcast shownotes on your website and blog as SEO

Plus take a look at all the Quora questions I’ve answered and articles I’ve written about podcasting.

Customer Reviews – a reality check

The New Zealand Commerce Commission is investigating online retailers who they claim have manipulated customer reviews and testimonials in

“…conduct that was liable to mislead consumers by creating artificially positive impressions…”

NZ Commerce Commission website

What actions constitute “misleading consumers”?

Read more

Is Guest Posting Dead?

In 2014, Matt Cutts, former head of the Web Spam team at Google, wrote the following:

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”

Ever since the state of guest blogging has been debated heatedly. Indeed, guest blogs with low-quality content have truly been dead for decades.

On the other hand, high-quality blogging is an effective strategy to create backlinks, and drive traffic to your website. Even Cutts eventually published a correction, and said: “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.)”

So, the question is, how can we create quality guest blogs every time?

Here, we have outlined three easy and effective strategies to create guest posts that are sure to attract links, and bring in traffic:

The Robin Hood Technique

The Robin Hood technique, as suggested by SEO Gold Coast, is a quick and effective way to write guest posts with good quality content. This technique involves recreating great content from popular blogs and offering them to platforms with a low ranking, and less credibility and traffic.

Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean plagiarizing the content – instead, you must only take inspiration from the blog to recreate ideas for your own post.

The following steps can be undertaken for this technique:

Ahref’s Content Explorer Tool contains one billion pages and can be used to find blogs you can write a guest post for

Ahref’s Content Explorer Tool

Source: ahrefs

  1. Enter a keyword corresponding to your chosen topic to find similar articles
  2. Check the “one article per domain” box to find unique blogs related to your keyword
  3. Sort the results according to Language, Shares, Domain Rating, Organic Traffic, and Number of Words to truly find a customized blog post idea

Note the importance of Domain Rating (DR) that showcases the popularity level of a backlink, based on a scale of 1-100.

While it is tempting to only work with high DR blogs, low DR blogs are also worth investing your time and energy in, as they usually have a niche following and are bound to grow.

What’s more, low DR blogs usually receive fewer pitches and have less strict editorial standards – thereby making it easier to get featured or published.

Finally, you can move on to step 4:

4. Read the content of your chosen blog piece, and recreate it by adding a unique spin to it –  conclude by pitching it to low or high DR blogs through email outreach

Splintering Content

Another effective way of guest posting is by splintering or breaking existing blogs into shorter, but authoritative posts.

The point of splintering content is to dive deep into a topic that you have already researched before, as it is easier to recreate, revise, or rewrite.

After writing detailed individual posts, you can then pitch the pieces to online magazines and platforms that would publish it as guest posts, whilst still re-directing the reader to your original blog post – thereby creating quality backlinks.

The Perspective Technique

A small change in perspective can lead to a completely new, and unique piece of writing.

The trick here is to use a previously written blog post and turn it into multiple guest posts by simply tweaking your overall perspective.

For instance, if your previous blog post was on the “The Future of Link Building” – you can now write on a variety of topics by changing your viewpoint, such as:

  • Future of link building for small business
  • Future of link building for E-commerce
  • Future of link building for startups, and so on

Effective Guest Posting

The techniques outlined here are a good way to get you started. Keep in mind, however, that once you start pitching your guest posts, you may be faced with some problems.

For instance, editors and bloggers may routinely reject your pitch, negotiations may take months, or the link to your article may be taken down suddenly and without prior notice.

To address this concern here is what you can do:

  • Focus on creating good quality content for your blogs
  • Pitch to multiple blogs at the same time
  • Include links to your other guest posts to generate more traffic
  • Keep exploring and writing for new platforms and sites

In short, by following the techniques outlined above, you can defy Matt Cutt’s claim that guest posts are dead. Indeed, guest posts are thriving and can be used to generate traffic and brand awareness for your business in the long run.

How to Successfully Market Your Website

How to Successfully Market Your Website

Digital marketing is very finicky. You are not just contending with customers; you have impartial algorithms to contest with, the attention market, your competitors, technological glitches, and so much more. Knowing how to successfully market your website means more than simply knowing the basics. Yes, email newsletters help. Yes, social media marketing is an option. Knowing how to successfully implement these tactics is the real challenge, and to help you overcome the common hurdles of these marketing hurdles we have put together a great beginner’s list to guide you: 

Improve the Quality of Your Website 

The first step to successfully marketing your website is to improve your website. All marketing efforts will be wasted if you do not improve it. Consider this – if you have a treasure map, and went through the effort of following it, how would you feel if you turned up to an empty field or a busted down house? Your customers follow a similar path to your website. Sometimes it is direct, other times it takes several attempts to get them to your site, but if your site is not worthwhile, they will leave immediately. 

Example: A Slow Website 

If your website is slow, then all the marketing efforts in the world will be a waste of money. That is why one of the first steps you should take is to switch to Krystal, which offers 300% faster speeds than most other competitors. 

Improve Your Social Media Approach 

To improve your social media approach, you need to understand how each platform works. Optimizing a post is standard practice, but you will want to go beyond and see how your competitors have succeeded or failed. Once you have that information, work on creating an account that provides users with the experience they are looking for in a company such as yours. 

Example: A Technical Social Media Account

Take a company that offers technical service, like computer repairs. How can you possibly market such a company on a social media site like Instagram? What if you were an accountant? 

The answer is to provide information. Create simple yet well-designed text posts. Be unique with your photography – a computer repair company has plenty of interesting textures you could photograph, for example. Try to be a source of information so that people follow you to get tips and tricks daily.  Collaboration and PR is one of the best ways to market your company, as it gets your name out there and brings in high-quality inbound links. 

Example: Collaborating With Another Business

To collaborate with another business, you will want to first see if there are any opportunities in your business model. If you sell high-quality phone cases, for example, partner with local artists that have a healthy, dedicated, and real community of their own. They create phone case designs for you, you give them a healthy chunk of the profits (after costs), and in turn, their fans know about you, buy from you, and then go on and advertise your product to their friends and family. 

There are so many ways you can improve your marketing efforts, and hopefully, with these examples, you have a more concrete idea of how you can grow your community and reach. 

Apple Podcast analytics beta

Apple has launched a beta service to analyse listenership of your podcast episodes on Apple devices and via Apple services.

I took a quick look – log in to iTunes Connect and select the drop-down next to the header. [Note the URL – since podcasts are being split off from iTunes, it’s now got its own URL podcastsconnect.apple.com]

The service obviously only works on Apple devices and so this will in all likelihood be a small segment of your audience. But the data has all the normal data points [#devices, #total time listened, time listened per device] defaulting to a past 60 days view.

The most interesting data point for me is the percentage “Average Consumption” measure defined as

The average percentage of the episode that was played across all devices. Playback duration is compared against the episode duration as reported in the podcast feed. If a device plays the duration time of an episode more than once, the consumption from that device will be greater than 100%

Apple podcast analytics beta

Trends, episodes and overview

Neatly summarising most of what you’ll want to see – the Apple Podcasts Analytics beta has a nice dashboard showing Total time listened, a country analysis and split of subscribers and ‘not subscribed’. This is neat as I’ve always wondered about the proportion of my listeners who are not subscribers but do listen.

Partial audience analysis

In the analytics help documentation I noted the following:

  • Podcast Analytics begins gathering data as soon as users play content in the Podcasts app (iOS 11 or later), in iTunes 12.7 or later (macOS and Windows), or on HomePod. [NOTE only recent app versions]
  • Apple only displays data from users who agreed to share their diagnostics and usage information with providers. [NOTE Reduces total audience size]
  • To collect data, the duration of a play event must be at least five seconds. [NOTE fair enough]
  • To display data, more than five unique devices must play the show or episode content. [NOTE fair enough]

Final thoughts

Get on to Apple and take a look at your stats. Compare it to other analytics services [I use Podtrac] and compare the data points and your absolute numbers.

My Apple numbers and Podtrac numbers are not directly comparable as one is included in the other. But for me the average consumption metric is pretty neat and will be something I add in my media pack for advertisers.

The images below show the respective analytics for 7 recent episodes.

Podtrac podcast analytics
Apple podcast analytics

Podcast RSS automatic update

The RSS feed helps people subscribing using a podcast app (like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts etc) to receive your episodes.

Each time you upload a new episode, the RSS feed updates the app.

Then the listener downloads a local copy of your episode to listen to.

So you don’t need to do anything else.

NOTE: I always subscribe to my own podcasts so I can check the feed is working. I had a client recently whose feed stopped working and I logged into Apple Podcasts Connect [https://podcastsconnect.apple.com/] and you have the option to refresh the feed manually.

This “force refresh” re-started the downloads for my client.

How to refresh the RSS feed in Apple Podcasts