8-MINUTE READ · By Elizabeth Price
When it comes to search engine optimization, it’s easy for marketers to get lost in the swamp of SEO tools, technologies, and products available. This leads to a situation where you spend more time worrying about what software you should use rather than focusing on the actual SEO work itself. So this article introduces 13 foundational SEO tools available to marketers and we’ve organised them into the four stages of the content marketing process:
- The Keyword & Topic Research Stage
- The Content Creation Stage
- The Optimization Stage
- The Analysis & Improvement Stage
Stage 1: Keyword & Topic Research
The very first step of reaching out to your target audience is finding proper keywords. Keywords are the foundation of a good article. In order to find organic visitors, you have to think the way your potential clients do. One does not need to make guesses here; the following tools will help you to find the exact words people use in their search queries.
1. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer allows content and marketing specialists to look for multiple aspects of keyword research which include:
- Keyword variations: exact match, phrase match, search suggestions, parent topic, newly discovered keywords
- Keyword metrics: total search volume and search volume in different countries, average number of clicks, price per click, keyword difficulty
Remember, that besides Keywords Explorer, Ahrefs also has a great function of link intersect and content explorer allowing you to see what content and backlinks your competitors have.
2. Keywords Everywhere is a free Google Chrome add-on which shows search suggestions similar to your search query and related keywords. Remember, however, that this tool requires complete registration. You are supposed to enter the company name, amount of budget you have, and other marketing campaign details.
3. Moz Keyword Explorer is another useful prewriting alternative. Apart from showing the keyword total volume and competitiveness, it also features such user-friendly metrics as:
- Average organic CTR: the analogue of CTR parameter
- Average priority: a combination of difficulty, importance, opportunity and volume so that you don’t have to look for each parameter manually
Instead of copying & pasting multiple columns or extracting CSVs, massive keyword databases from Moz can be filtered and analyzed through Supermetrics platform. Its convenient system integrated with Moz is particularly advantageous for quick customized reports.
4. SEMrush offers a similar set of tools allowing you to find keywords. Luckily, this service can also be used to monitor your competitors’ ranking keywords and link building activities, as well as improve your marketing campaign due to the following options:
- PPC (pay-per-click-advertising)
- Content marketing
- Social media and public relations
- Competitive analysis
Supermetrics offers an integrated connector service allowing to fetch and analyze SEM and SEO data from SEMrush. To use this add-on, simply activate your API key from SEMrush and you will get access to your competitors’ organic and paid search results, as well as their prepaid Google ads in Google docs. Below is an example of SEMrush keyword explorer:
Stage 2: Content Creation
At this point, you want to take into consideration the chosen keywords but put the main focus on your potential user. Unlike marketers used to think before, successful content managers of today agree that thin content is the biggest enemy of high ranking. Take time to proofread and edit your piece of content thoroughly.
5. Grammarly is a trusted application available as a free browser extension for minor content corrections and a comprehensive paid tool with premium functions such as human proofreading and plagiarism test. Grammarly is commonly used around the world; however, it only covers UK spelling and offers optional changes, for instance removing passive voice constructions. That is why it is not necessary to rewrite each and every highlighted piece of content.
6. Hemingway App seems to deliver the same function as Grammarly, right? Both apps improve text readability but unlike Grammarly, Hemingway Editor was designed to create more user-oriented content. For example, it will mark such sentences or constructions which are too lengthy, too wordy, or weaken the whole message. To start editing, simply delete sample text you can see on the screenshot below:
7. Plagiarisma is a free tool that allows you to check the originality of your writing in 190 languages. Even if you write your content by yourself, it is sometimes highlighted as duplicate content. Usually, the words marked as plagiarism are commonly used expressions, therefore, no need to worry or blame plagiarism checkers – just rephrase those to avoid the misunderstanding. Being completely free, this application has a lot of advertising and is sometimes blamed for relatively low performance.
8. Copyscape is a premium plagiarism detection application that has a great function: you can track if ANY page matches any other page. This way, a business owner can run all their pages through this tool or even check if their competitors have any duplicate content. That is what Copyscape will show you once it recognizes duplicated wording.
9. Essay Pro offers various paper writing services including editing, proofreading and rewriting help for those marketers who want to save their time or energy working on other tasks. Another reason for getting your content checked by experts is if your content manager is not a native English language speaker but your product is targeted for North American, Australian or UK residents.
Stage 3: Optimization
Having written the main body of content, take care of metadata and check keyword density (try to reach >3%). The following tools will help to create competitive meta titles and meta descriptions, crawl a new page, check mobile friendliness and cover some additional search engine optimization options.
10. Google Search Console is an essential part of any content marketing plan. Here the fundamental functions it offers:
- Manual submitting pages for indexing
- Tracking search queries
- Creating and editing of robots.txt file
- Improving mobile friendliness
- Notifying website owners if they receive any penalties or malware attacks
11. Among many of Screaming Frog options, there’s a useful tool that will help you to analyze page titles and meta data, which is crucial at the stage of uploading new content. The chances that the searchers will get to see your on-page content are considerably higher if the metadata is properly optimized. A premium pack allows the user to integrate Frog account with Google Analytics & Search Console and set crawl configuration.
12. Yoast SEO plugin is a free WordPress add-on popular with both experienced marketers and non-professional content managers. The main benefits of this tool include:
- The ability to review of your content before publishing through a deep SEO-friendliness check
- Mobile and social media page preview
- Internal linking and sitemap optimization
- Bulk editor for massive actions like drafting or redirecting
Stage 4: Analysis & Improvement
Analyzing the performance of your content is undeniably the most important thing each marketing specialist has to do. Even if everything was well planned and executed, SEO trends change almost every minute; next month people might search for other keyword combinations, Google might introduce some changes to its’ ranking system, and at the same time your competitors might do a better job promoting their content by the same search queries.
Remember to track organic metrics such as search positions, click-through-rates, organic visits, average on-page time and bounce rate at least once a month. Once you get the updated results, check if your web pages correspond with the new data. Pay close attention to both on-page text, image title attributes and meta data.
13. Supermetrics will come in handy to measure the performance of your content, especially since multiple metrics can be tracked simultaneously. Synchronizing your Google Analytics, Google Ads, Moz and SEMrush accounts with Supermetrics will allow you to retrieve all data at once. The full list of integrated platforms can be found here. A free 14-day trial will let you see how easy it is to work with massive data sheets in one tool instead of opening four to five browser tabs every time you need to check your positions in different platforms.
Conclusion: Put Time and Efforts and Get Guaranteed Results
All tools, extensions, applications and plugins featured in this article are the prototypes of what a solid SEO-specialist toolkit should have. As time goes by, these apps might be replaced with their more useful counterparts. The point is that every person working with web content should pay enough attention to the following stages:
- Picking keywords relevant to their niche, product or service
- Planning user-friendly content that is based on real search queries
- Editing not only grammar and spelling, but also text readability
- Imbuing the text with the keywords but avoiding overspam
- Writing metadata that will reflect the page content
Remember to track the search queries from time to time in order to update on-page content, metadata, and image title attributes. Unfortunately, no SEO-optimization is infinite. Continuous work is the key to success.
About Elizabeth Price
Elizabeth Price is a freelance writer interested in education, marketing, and business-related topics. A former Psychology student of Montclair State University, she is particularly interested in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Currently expanding her horizon by undertaking an online journalism course, she regularly works as a content creator and assistant editor.