If you’re willing to learn, the knowledge and tools are free. That statement is true for many aspects of marketing online. If you are into using search to promote your website, there are tons of tools you can use free of charge. We’ve highlighted some of the most common in our most recent post.
Google Search Console
Perhaps the greatest tool for website owners in recent history has been Google’s Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools). If you look back 10-15 years, a tool like this wouldn’t have been popular at all. No one cared what links were leading to their site or if there were a few HTML errors. It wasn’t really as important to learn what keywords people were using on emerging search engines to find your site.
Fast forward to today and more than 70% of internet users are relying on search to find what they are looking for. Some sites are almost entirely dependent on search giants like Google to send them traffic. Webmaster tools helps you see a lot of basic information on how your website is performing in search.
For example you can see things like:
- Average rank in search for specific keywords
- Code improvements that you could make
- Whether elements like meta descriptions and title tags are in order
- When your pages have been submitted to Google and their index status
- Any malware that may be present on your site
- How your site appears in search
Its completely free to use Google Webmaster Tools. You have to set up a Google Account to use it and you also have to verify your site in order to get it submitted.
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? In other words, you should be tracking your marketing progress. Search Console can help you do that but if you are looking for something a lot more powerful, you should check out Google Analytics.
Google’s free tracking platform is a leader in its industry. It is relatively easy to use for those just starting out with analytics programs and it is also highly customizable for the code junkies out there. You can see basic information about your site such as number of visits, length of visit, where your visitors came from, the geographic region they are located in, and real time data about your site.
You can also set up custom tracking to see when visitors are clicking on buttons, watching videos or performing other actions on your site. Reports are customizable by time frame and you can get pretty granular with the data. Installing analytics is pretty easy and if you have a Wordpress site there are some plugins that make installing it super simple.
Google Page Speed Insights
Increasingly, the speed at which your web pages load is important for ranking well in search. It is also important for your users who (like everyone else) get really impatient when your pages don’t load fast.
Google provides a free tool called Page Speed Insights. By simply copying and pasting your website URL in the analysis bar, you will be given a score on a scale of 1 to 100. It even analyzes your site on a mobile scale.
There are a lot of page speed analyzers on the web and they are all pretty much free. The sweet part about Google’s tool is that it provides you detailed information on how to fix your site if it is slow. Google also prioritizes the tasks that you should be focusing on into very important to marginally important compared to how much time it will take to finish it.
Google Keyword Planner
We all know how important keywords are to our marketing efforts in search. Formerly the keyword tool, Google’s Keyword Planner is a re-vamped version of the popular research software. While others may not agree, the planner is way better than the keyword tool.
One of the notable features of the planner is that it takes a more focused approach to developing keyword lists for users. The old tool sort of left you on your own to find keywords and ensure that you knew how to organize them on your website.
The new planner organizes your words for you so that you know how to group them more accurately for use on your web pages. A cleaner interface and more streamlined process in addition to better filters make the tool more robust and easier to use.
Did we mention that it was free?
This is one that I like that doesn’t always get a lot of fan-fare. Google Alerts is a service that was spawned out of Google Labs and it allows you to keep track of content that is published on the web.
Basically the way it works is you enter a word or phrase into Google alerts and tell Google that you want to be notified when that word or phrase is published on the web. Say you want to know when someone is writing something about you online.
You could enter your name (either without quotation marks for broad match or with for exact match) and Google will send you an email the next time a scathing review appears with your name in it (or hopefully a rosy one).