Did you know that Google itself offers website owners free SEO tools to help their sites rank better? It’s true and I’ll show you 5 of the best ones.
I personally use these same 5 on all my sites and while there are a bunch of other ones available from both Google itself and other services out there (here’s some examples), we’re going to keep it simple and make sure the ones on this list stick to the following checklist:
- They need to be free.
- They need to be provided by Google officially.
- They need to actually help with SEO.
And with that checklist…
Here is the list of 5 SEO tools (free) from Google:
Now before I breakdown each one and explain how they help, I know there will be some of you who understand this topic and know about other options, that will wonder why I’m not including them (The Keyword Planner is one example). Here is why:
- I’m a minimalist when it comes to SEO tools and the following 5 I picked are essential in my experience.
- Second, some of the other options available, aren’t really that good (the keyword planner is bad).
- With the other options, also from Google, I feel like there’s other companies that provide better options.
Details on each one (And why they help with rankings):
I’ve got some additional good news about this list before I give you the explanations and that is some of these options need only be used once, but that one time you install or use them plays a vital role in SEO, and all of will be explained. Let’s get started.
1) Webmaster Tools (AKA Search Console).
- It helps Google see and understand your site more intimately.
- It helps you see exact keywords that your page ranks for on Google (see 4 other options too).
- It helps you see how much traffic your pages get from those keywords that are ranking.
- It offers you services such as warnings and updates on how your site is doing organically.
- It allows you to manually get Google to crawl your page faster (the second option on this list).
- Just having the search console connected with your site already offers your site more trust from them.
- Having it also provides you with a lot of amazing information and progress reports on organic rankings.
This feature is a special part of the search console that deserves it’s own mention on this list and the reason why is that it actually improves the speed of ranking by letting you manually tell Google to crawl your page when it’s published (or updated and it needs to be analyzed more quickly for ranking).
I have explained here why using fetch helps cut down on ranking time and the main point is that for most people with new websites, crawling happens very slowly and when you implement the fetch tool, you can cut down on what takes days and weeks from Google to do, to about a few hours.
One thing to note is that your page, when new will be stuck in a specific “trust stage” known as the sandbox which can last up to 6 months. But never the less, even when it’s in it, make sure to always fetch new content you publish to save on the crawling time, it may actually cut down on that 6 month time when you post more content and fetch it every single time.
When the site gets out of the sandbox (you will know because your organic traffic will basically start going up and you will see that through the search console), then you will start seeing Google crawl your site faster, but never the less, I would still advice using the fetch method. I have a number of authority sites and to this day, I still use the fetch option when new content is published.
This is one of the options on the list which indirectly will help improve your organic rankings. The analytics program is also free, and is set up by first getting an account with it, getting a code from it, and putting that code in the proper place in your website.
If you have plugins like the All in One SEO, it makes putting in that code very simple.
But regardless, what this program does is that it carefully analyzes people who visit your website and how they interact on it (time on pages, which pages they visit, and so much more). The data you get from all of this will help you make more intelligent SEO decisions.
For example, if I see that a certain page I wish to see rank higher organically is:
- Not getting a lot of people to it.
- Or the people aren’t staying on it for longer.
Then I can use that data and do the following things:
- I can interlink other pages on my site to the specific page I want to see more traffic on.
- I can improve the content on the page to make it more attractive (quality improvements), causing the users to stay on it more.
Both of these changes would have positive effects on the page’s SEO and ranking and it would be thanks to the analytics program that I’d be able to see the faults and make the changes.
And on the note of changes and improvements to pages, I have a 15 point guide on this, where if you follow these points, you can basically optimize any page on your site to help it rank as best as it can organically, on every search engine (Bing for example).
4) Running a mobile friendly test.
There are many website platforms, all of which have their own list and choices of templates. But many of them aren’t updated and certainly not mobile friendly, which is an important piece of SEO.
Most sites these days will get close to or even more than 50% of all their organic traffic from mobile devices and if your site’s template is not optimized to show effectively on mobile devices, it can actually cause Google to lower the ranking of that page on the mobile devices.
This is why Google released a free site known as the mobile friendly test, where all you need to do is visit the site, plug in the site’s URL, hit “test” and see if it comes up green or not. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to change it and that is actually simple. Here’s is how mine looks when using this test (and how yours should look too):
Should you find yourself in a spot where your page is not mobile friendly, simple do the following things:
-And second, WordPress carries 1,000’s of templates, and most of them are already mobile friendly. If you install a template which isn’t, simply change it to one that is by running it through the mobile friendly test.
The great news is that this service needs to only be used once (unless you decide to change to another theme and don’t know if it’s mobile friendly or not).
5) Site speed test.
This tool is important as it helps test the speed at which your website loads. Faster loading means better organic positioning, shortly put.
Test your site’s speed here. If you find that it’s slow and in need of speed improvements, consider improving your site’s hosting plan. Here is how mine currently looks:
An 86 score isn’t bad at all, but it could be better. You should note that site speeds fluctuate also. Sometimes your hosting could be going through a change or lag, during which time, the speed your page loads may be decreased. But if you have a decent hosting account, this is usually not going to be an issue.
But do note that hosting does impact SEO (here is why).
This is also a tool you can use again and again freely to make sure your site is optimized and running quickly.
While I personally use these 5 tools on my sites, there are others I also have, which are not made by Google, which is why I did not include them on this list. But if you have your own single or list of tools you use for your sites that you know helps with rankings, do share them below!