You are a successful service business owner with a website
You may have DIY in your blood and think that you know your way around SEO because you’ve been able to do so much on your own so far.
A respectable level of ambition, but you may be wasting your time and leaving it on the table by try to do everything by yourself.
If you are using Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Yoast SEO, Screaming Frog, and Google Keyword Planner without the proper training, i’ve got some unfortunate news.
You just won $10,000 in monopoly money.
Don’t get it? I’ll explain.
Monopoly money feels great to have when you’re playing the game. You get to feel like you’ve accomplished something, and brag a bit, but in reality, it’s doing nothing for you in real life.
Using software without a proper understanding of it for SEO is a lot like that. Spending time looking at the reports might feel good, but if you don’t know how it’s moving the needle for your business….
Then it’s probably not.
Enter in my top 5 FREE tools for SEO and some techniques for how to get the most out of them.
Yoast SEO Plugin
To start, keep in mind that this WordPress based tool should be used as a guide.
Yoast is not a magic wand that will magically boost your site and business into making millions of dollars from the installation.
When using it, keep the following in mind:
- Consider “why” it’s suggesting each factor.
- Don’t spam keywords to get a greenlight, the goal is to develop user and search engine friendly content
- The best way to write your title tag is the following – [ primary keyword + secondary keyword / benefit | brand ]
- The best way to a proper meta description is to include the following – [ Primary keyword, Brand, Geo if local, call to action, and speak in users language ]
Enter in a primary keyword (this should be no longer than 3-4 words for most pages) in the keyword focus box.
Remember to use a single topic or focus keyword per page. Your page will involve the addition of multiple related topics and keywords, but the page shouldn’t have multiple or unrelated keywords as the focus.
Stick to similar topics.
Lastly, fill take the time to analyze each factor until the light is green or orange, and when you’re done, read your content out loud and view it live.
This will ensure that your optimizations are friendly from a technical perspective, but are useful in real life as well.
Google analytics is a great tool that Google offers to check how people are coming to your site, how often they are using it, which pages are getting the most attention, and much more.
However, if not set up correctly, or if not understood, it can be an overwhelming or non useful experience to try and use it regularly.
Here are some pro tips to keep in mind:
- Set up a dashboard by logging in and then going to customizations > dashboards in the main navigation.
- You should add all the important metrics that make sense to measure your brand’s performance
- Check reports regularly. Bi monthly at least. The more aware you are of how your site is trending, the more you’ll know how your efforts are mapping to progress.
- Focus on organic traffic. This can be done by going to acquisition > all traffic > source/medium > and then filtering by “organic”
- SEO is mostly about organic traffic coming to your site. You’ll want to know how these efforts are producing separate from other marketing channels like paid ads or social media traffic.
- Set up traffic filters for yourself, employees, etc. Out of the box, Google records all the data for your site. If you don’t filter traffic of your own site usage, you’ll get skewed data that won’t be as helpful.
- Select the settings cog then go to views > create view > title it “internal filters” > then select “filters” from the menu > add filter > name it > select “exclude” > “traffic from ip address” > enter your ip address. (can be found with a google search)
- Analyze engagement metrics. Engagement is the new most important way that Google judges your site. Check metrics like bounce rate, avg session duration, and pages visited to get a gauge for how users are interacting with the site and make changes where there is low engagement.
- Create Goals to get a tangible ROI on your efforts. Go to settings > view > goals > new goal. Traffic metrics are important to understand if your site is healthy, but the real win is understanding which pages and channels are driving more business.
- Check the Behavior tab to understand which pages on your site are performing the best. Make sure that your efforts are matching up to results. Check the “landing pages” , “content overview”, and “behavior flow” reports
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a powerful tool that allows you to analyze free data about how your site shows up in search and what phrases users are typing in to arrive at your webpages.
Search Console can give great insight into what kinds of content you should include on your site, how your site is performing over time, and if your web property is healthy or not.
Take a look at some of my top things to keep in mind:
- The first thing you need to keep in mind is to install the correct property. You will want to make sure that you are using the correct url, with the www subpath and/or https in mind.
- Analyze which terms are showing up but not converting. Search console shows you which terms users are using to arrive on your site under the performance > queries tab.
- Sort these queries by clicking on the impressions filter from high to low. Look at the terms with high impressions but low clicks. These are terms your site is potentially very relevant for, but not quite enough to generate clicks. Update your title tags / meta descriptions, add updates to existing content, or create new content around these topics.
- Find queries that have low average ranks but that still are showing up. Find the terms that your site should be ranking for based on your provided service, and working on improving the average position of these.
- Select your top landing pages under the “pages” report. Once you have a selected page filtered, check the “queries” tab again. Make sure that the right pages are targeting the right terms. If you have terms that users are using to come to an unrelated landing page, you have to either change the content of the page, or create a newer, more relevant page to bring those unrelated target terms in.
In order to know which opportunities you should target on your site, and what kinds of content to make, you’ll need a good grip on keywords.
But assessing which keyword opportunities to pursue is not as simple as making a list and going with your gut feeling. It’s a process and involves a fair bit of playing to work out long term.
Luckily, Google themselves has created a free tool ( you will have to make an account though) that gives you insight into valuable keyword data that can inform your efforts.
You’ll want to make sure and do the following:
- Login to the google planner > find new keywords > enter in a few broad terms you’re interested in > get started
- Create a new plan by going to “add to plan” and “create new ad group”. Add all of the keywords you have, then continue to type in phrases in the search bar and add them to the plan until you get a few thousand queries to start.
- Download spreadsheet and read through keywords. This will give you insight into the intent of your users and allow you to get a feel for the language they use. .
- Look for keywords with a medium amount of volume per month but low competition scores of 0.30 or below. For small to midsize businesses this is the targeting sweet spot.
- Look for similar topics and group them together within your sheet. These keyword pools will become new content if the terms aren’t present on your site – either blogs, landing pages, etc. If you are already targeting some of them,look for related keywords and get them woven into your site in a meaningful way.
This last tool is geared towards the technical aspects of SEO but is extremely powerful and can be the difference in your site appearing correctly in search or not.
Screaming frog is a tool that crawls your site (much like Googlebot does) and gives you insight into how many of your pages are included in Google’s index, which have the correct meta information, their word count, and much more.
You can download the screaming frog software for free, and simply enter in your url and click submit to get started.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Make sure you don’t have any broken pages. A 404 error is when you have a web page that was previously live, but got deleted yet is still visible in google search. You want to take care of these if possible with a 301 redirect. Find 404s by going into screaming frog > Response codes > 404s
- While you’re in response codes check out the “Blocked by robots.txt” tab to see if any of your pages on your website are being prevented from showing up in search.
- Under internal > Page titles check to make sure that you don’t have any “missing” or “duplicate” title tags. Title tags are one of three chances you get to communicate information about your web page in search.
- Like the title tags, under internal > Meta description and internal > H1 make sure that there are no “missing” or “duplicates” for any of your pages. Your meta description play an important part in letting users and search engines alike what your webpage is about.
- Under Directives > noindex , make sure the number of pages is 0. No index tags prevent search engines from including your web pages in their results. People can’t give you money if they can’t find your site.
And there you have it, my top 5 free tools training. I guarantee you your SEO efforts will be a lot more productive and effective with these strategies and tips in mind.
Also, if you’re tired of doing this all yourself or have any questions, schedule your free consultation and strategy session today and we’ll make sure we get you to where you need to be.