Category Archives: SEO Link Building

How To use Google’s Search Console To Boost Conversions

Google’s Search Console is Free!

Budgets are often very tight with start-ups and yet it is important to have visibility of how your business is performing in the digital space.  When I advise start-ups on how to optimise their website or app the first thing I do is set them up with Google’s free Search Console tool. Unlike many free solutions the Search Console provides webmasters with a  comprehensive set of tools to inform and improve a site’s performance from an SEO, user experience and conversion perspective.

What is the Search Console?

Previously called Webmaster Tools, the Search Console is a fantastic free site performance tool that seeks to give webmasters the information they need to effectively manage and improve their digital experience. Without this tool set up you will be largely in the dark about many aspects of your site’s performance. Indeed, many companies end up needlessly  paying out a lot of money to SEO agencies for simple tasks that they could manage themselves if they had known about Google’s Search Console.

Once you have Search Console set up you will be in a much stronger position to set SEO targets and understand many of the issues that may be holding your site back in Google search. It can also help you improve the user experience by resolving errors and usability issues.

How do I set up Search Console?

All you need to do is login into an appropriate Google account and go to webmasterstools/home   and “Add a property” within the Search Console. Then follow the simple instructions to confirm your ownership of the site.

The easiest way of doing this is often inserting some code into the header of your site before the closing </head> tag. Alternatively, if you have Google Analytics on your site you can also use that to validate your ownership of the site. If you get into difficulties just contact your website builder or designer for assistance.

Initially you won’t have any search data to look at but you can check the console for any signs of errors or usability issues identified by Googlebots. These are the programs or spiders as they often called that Google uses to crawl your site to understand the type of content you have and index pages for Google search.

The Dashboard:

 

The dashboard of the Search Console provides a useful overview of the health of your site. This includes site errors, DNS errors, server connectivity issues, URL errors, page not found (404s), and a graph of the total clicks over the latest 28 days. This is great, but you can get much more detail about your site by digging into the left-hand navigation menu.

Image of Google Search Console Dashboard

Search Appearance:

This includes structured data which helps Google understand the mark-up of your pages so that it can add rich snippets (or Schema.org) and other information to your search result. Rich snippets describes the structured data mark-up that webmasters add to HTML to enable search engines to better understand what type of information is present on a web page. So, rich snippets are the visible result of structured data that appears in SERPs.

Image of Data Highlights page from Search Console

You can add structured data to your site using a plugin for WordPress.org such as JSON-LD. You can also add structured data to your page using the Data Highlighter tool  (see above) which you can access in the Search appearance section of the navigation.

Rich cards provide data to Google about events, products, or opportunities on your site. Google has five types of rich cards; recipes, events, products, reviews and courses. The Search Console provides sample mark-up for each type of card and a Structured Data Testing Tool to validate your mark-up.

The HTML Improvements tab informs you about any issues related to your page tags. Whether it is missing title tags, duplicate title tags and whether title tags are too long or too short.

Accelerated Mobile Pages provides you with data on errors relating to your AMPs and informs you how many AMPs have been indexed by Google. It also allows you to test AMPs and then submit them to Google for indexing.

Image of Accelerated Mobile Page test in Search Console

 

Search Traffic:

Under this section you can view Search Analytics which provides data on search results, including key words, clicks, impressions, CTR and average position. This information is essential for understanding how successful you are with SEO and identifying key words where you have good authority. Use the data on your average ranking for keyword phrases to inform new content development to build on areas where you have good authority and to understand which words have the most potential from a volume perspective.

Image of Search Analytics in Search Console

This section also shows how many external links there are to your site and who is linking to what content. This information is crucial in understanding how effective your link building strategy is and also what content other sites are most interested in. External links are important to your SEO strategy because they are one of the few ways that Google can tell how well regarded your content is to other web users. It also helps direct more traffic to your site and explains why so much effort is put into link building.

However, be careful about placing links to your site on random blogs as Google is looking for links from sites with a good authority and may potentially penalise you if it becomes aware of such activity. However, where you are getting lots of external links to your content from good authority sites this suggests you should explore creating more content on this topic to capitalise on the interest shown.

Search Analytics also provides additional information on internal links, security issues, international targeting (useful for segmenting content by language) and mobile usability issues identified by Google. Mobile usability is especially important to monitor as Google continues to give more and more priority to mobile users.

Google Index:

Index status confirms the number of pages on your site that Google has indexed and so can be found via the search engine. Blocked resources tells you about pages where the Googlebot can’t access important elements on your page and so Google may not be able to accurately index the page. Remove URL allows you to hide URLs from search engines as the page may contain out-of-date information or may just be obsolete for whatever reason.

Crawl:

The Crawl section provides you with data on errors detected by Googlebots when crawling your site. Although page not founds (404 errors) may not harm your SEO ranking it can damage the customer experience and so it is important to monitor crawl errors on a regular basis.

Generally I would advise initially deleting all the page not founds for both desktop and mobile. You can then check back in a few days to see which ones have been replicated since you removed them from the console. Many 404 errors don’t recur as they are not even correct URLs and so this way you can concentrate on those that matter.

This section also shows how many pages on average are crawled by the Googlebot. But don’t wait for the Googlebot to crawl your site if you have new or revised content to index. Use the Fetch as Google function below to test how Google crawls and renders a page on your site. This identifies whether Googlebot can access a page on your site and you can then submit the URL for indexing. This is especially useful for a rapidly changing site as you don’t want Google displaying old or out-of-date content.

Image of Fetch as Google from Search Console

The Robot.txt tester allows you to edit your robot.txt file and check for errors. Robot.txt files are used to tell Google which parts of your site you don’t want to be crawled and indexed by a search engine. The Sitemap tab allows you to submit a new sitemap to Google which helps it to understand how your site is structured and assists in the indexing of individual pages by Google. It also tracks how many pages you have submitted for indexing and how many pages Google actually indexes.

The Security Issue tab shows if Google has detected any potential security problems with your site. If your site is hacked then Google provides a number of resources to help resolve the problem.

Finally, the Additional Resources tab includes 9 links to free resources such as Email Markup Tester, PageSpeed Insights, Google My Business and Custom Search. Check these out as a number of them can help improve your search engine marketing and grow your organic search traffic.

Conclusion:

When seeking to improve your SEO performance the Search Console should be your first port of call. There is little point in spending money on an SEO agency until you have fully digested what the Search Console is telling you. Even if you decide you don’t have the time or expertise to resolve all the issues identified by this tool, use the Search Console to inform and prioritise objectives for your agency to follow. Further, use the Search Console to monitor your SEO performance over time as a successful strategy should be capable of improving key metrics over time.

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You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

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  • About the author:  Neal provides digital marketing optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.ukpartypoker.com and Bgo.com. He uses a variety of techniques, including web analytics, personas, customer journey analysis and customer feedback to improve a website’s conversion rate.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@conversion-uplift.co.uk. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch, see his LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.

 

21 Powerful SEO Link Building Tools To Drive More Traffic To Your Site.

 What Is Link Building?

Updated 11th May 2017:

Establishing good quality back-links to your website is crucial to improving the credibility of your site. It’s the only way that Google bots can tell if other people value your content. You can use SEO tools to Identify what content gets linked to most so that you can prioritise your content marketing activities to ensure resources are targeted in the right areas.

Care needs to be taken though as Google can penalise anything that looks like link building for its own sake as the priority should be to create quality content that people want to share. Your Google site ranking is of course determined by a number of factors such as citations, brand mentions and the quality of links.

For a brilliant and comprehensive article on how to build links read ‘The Complete List Of Link Building Tactics’ by Jon Cooper. From my research the top 3 link building tools that I have come across are:

  1. SEMRush
  2. Google Webmaster Tools
  3. Majestic SEO

Below I have summarised 21 of the top SEO link building tools:

Image of chain links never bust
Source: Freeimages.com

 

SEO Outreach and Link Building Solutions:

1. ahrefs: Claims to have the largest index of backlinks. It is updated every 15 minutes and is highly recommended for identifying the number of referring domains that a site has, how many of these come from unique IPs, and how natural is your link growth over time.

Monthly plans range from $79 for Lite to £1,299 for Premium.7 day money back trial available.

Ahrefs homepage image

2. Audisto: This is a tool to analyse websites and is able to crawl through millions of pages. The crawler can identify problems with the site structure, HTML code and technical issues, together with finding your most valuable pages and the best pages to link to and form.

Audisto hompeage image

Monthly plans are based upon a sliding scale of the number of pages crawled. Plans start from €90 a month for up to 100,000 pages crawled, €120 for up to 1,000,000 pages, and go up to €1,590 for 50,000,000 pages.

3. BuzzStream: A dedicated link building site which allows you to import lists of websites for prospecting and provides useful data for deciding which websites you should target.  It will provide the domain authority of a site and how many followers they have on Twitter. It also allows you to easily contact websites through BuzzStream.

Monthly plans range from $29 for Starter to $249 for Premium. Free trial available.

Buzzstream homepage image

4. BuzzSumo: A comprehensive SEO and content marketing tool. It is invaluable for helping to identify the most shared content across all social networks and run detailed analysis reports. Find influencers in any new topic area, and review the content they shared.  ideas for new content. The “Backlink” tab shows the social shares of the the most popular inbound links.Track your competitor’s content performance and do detailed comparisons.

Monthly plans range from $79 for Pro to $239 for Agency. Contact BuzzSumo for Enterprise plans.

Buzzsumo homepage image

5. DeepCrawl:  DeepCrawl is a comprehensive website crawler, designed to identify and monitor technical aspects that could affect your SEO performance. It is good at identifying duplicate pages, pages with meta titles that are too long, duplicate pages and pages that take too long to load.

Monthly plans range from £50 for Starter to £1,050 for Enterprise.

Deepcrawl page image

6. Followerwonk: A  Twitter analytics app from Moz that you can use to find influential people by topic name, The app also allows you to compare users, analyse followers and sort users by name, days on Twitter, Tweet count and more.

The analyse followers function enables you to segment users into a number of psychographic groups including gender, location, and Twitter activity. 30 day Free trial available.

Followerwonk homepage image

7. Google Adwords Keyword Planner:  A Free tool from Google, Keyword Planner helps to build new search network campaigns or expanding existing ones. You can search for keyword and ad group ideas, get historical statistics, see how a list of keywords might perform and create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together.

Google AdWords Keyword Planner image

8. Google Webmaster Tools: A Free tool from Google. If you use Google Analytics it is simple to add Google Webmaster to your account and start collecting data to identify how you can improve your SEO performance.

Image of Google Webmasters Tool login page

9. GroupHigh: A dedicated blogger outreach and influence management tool. This is highly recommended for larger organisations as it is able to import URLs by the thousands and provide basic blog information, SEO/traffic metrics and social networking data. GroupHigh maintains an extensive database of bloggers that includes social media data. This means you can see what topics a blog covers, but also how many Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook followers the blogger has.

Annual plan starts from around £9,000, but discounts may be negotiable.

Image of GroupHigh.com homepage

 

10. Inkybee.com: A comprehensive blogger outreach resource that enables you to find bloggers on any topic. Has a dashboard to track and manage your outreach. Includes a powerful search engine with advanced filtering, a blog discovery tool to identify more relevant blogs, a sophisticated list management tool to create all kinds of lists, a tool for analysing the influencers in your Twitter followers and a sector segmentation tool to find the details in your lists.

Monthly plans start from $79 for In-house-team to $249 for Large team. Free 14 day trial available.

Image of Inkybee.com homepage

 

11. Keyhole: This is a social media analytics tool for monitoring posts on both Twitter and Instagram.  As well as providing metrics such as posts, impressions and reach, Keyhole also gives you share of posts, geolocation, demographics and includes an advanced influencer filtering table.

Keyhole offers a week’s sample of Twitter data for Free. Paid plans start from $129 a month for 3 concurrent trackers and up to 50,000 posts on Twitter and Instagram. The Corporate plan costs $449 a month and offers up to 10 concurrent trackers and 100,000 posts. 

Image of keyhole.co homepage

12. LinkProspector from Citation Labs: Highly recommended tool for finding outreach targets.  Powerful tool for quickly building lists of potential link targets. Very affordable and gives a quick return on your investment.

Free plan offers 1 credit (reports normally cost 1 credit) and pay as you go plan from $10 for 5 credits. Monthly plans start at $27 for Consultant and up to $97 for Enterprise.

Link Prospector homepage image

13. Majestic: The Majestic Marketing Search Engine is best known for the trust flow and citation flow metrics. The topical trust flow aids analysis of a site’s topical data for evaluating the semantic context of a site. Identify top ranking sites in your sector and use the trust and citation flow data, together with topical trust flow numbers, to try to create a similar profile.

Plans range from £29.99 per month for Silver Quarterly to £250 per month for Platinum.

Image of Majestic.com homepage


14. Mozz: Open Site Explorer
: Useful for gaining insights into links that point to certain pages and also has a highly regarded Keyword analysis tool.

Monthly plans start at $99 for Standard and go up to $599 for Premium.

Mozz Open Site Explorer page image

15. MyBlogU: A useful tool for blogs to establish new connections and backlinks. Facilitates knowledge sharing and you can choose between brainstorm, media and interview. The interview category can be used for creating interviews for you blog and for finding relevant projects to raise your profile.

 

Image of MyBlogU.com homepage

16. NinjaOutreach: This is a comprehensive research and link building solution which is designed to automate the outreach process. The tool offers a range of solutions from lead generation, finding guest posts, content promotion to link building.

Offers 14 day unlimited free trial. Plans start from $69 a month for a single user and stores up to 1,500 contacts. The small agency plan costs $129 per month for two users and stores up to 5,000 contacts. The enterprise plan is priced at $599 per month for up to 10 users and stores up to 100,000 contacts.

 

NinjaOutreach.com home page

17. SearchMetrics: Enterprise SEO platform that will gather data on your website, with information about SEO visibility, backlinks and more. The graphs facility enables you to identify any algorithm issues by looking for any sudden changes in visibility. Use the keywords ranking to help identify the most relevant websites to target. The social ranking feature provides evidence of how well the social marketing is performing.

Monthly plans start from $69 for Essentials and $2,000 for Suite Business. Contact SearchMetrics for pricing for Suite Enterprise and Suite Ultimate.

Seaerchmetrics.com homepage

18. Screaming Frog:  The Screaming Frog SEO Spider allows you to quickly crawl, analyse and audit a site from an onsite SEO perspective. It’s particulary good for analysing medium to large sites, where manually checking every page would be extremely labour intensive.

The Free standard Lite version allows you to crawl up to 500 URLs at a time, but does not give you access to the configuration, saving of crawls or the custom source code feature. An individual licence is available for £99 per annum.

 

Screaming Frog SEO Spider page image

19. SEMrush: A comprehensive and  popular SEO tool for checking the health of a site. As part of keyword research the tool is also used to identify which top sites rank for primary keywords.

Monthly plans range from $69.95 for Pro to $549.95 for the Business plan.

SEMrush homepage image

20. Serpfox: A useful keyword position tracking tool. Set custom alerts and receive emails to inform you whenever a search term you are tracking enters the top ten positions, exits the top ten or changes by more than ten positions.

Monthly plans range from $10 for Starter and go up to $200 for Agency.

 

Image of Serpfox.com homepage

 

21. Skyrocket.Digital Similar Content Tool: A Free content promotion tool that helps you find authoritative and relevant websites that have linked to comparable content. This is a great prospecting tool as it allows you to target high-quality link prospects who have shared and linked to a comparable or related piece of content.

Simply enter relevant keywords for your content. The tool will then list prospects that already link to the top ranking content on those terms. You can export prospects to your outreach tool or add them to a spreadsheet.  Then you are ready to start your outreach campaign and earning links for your content.

image of Skyrocket.digital similar content tool homepage

For a more comprehensive post on the latest software check out 51 best link building tools and software in 2017.

Thank you for reading my post. If you found it useful please share using the social media icons below.

 

You can view my full Digital Marketing and Optimization Toolbox here.

To browse links to all my posts on one page please click here.

 

  • About the author:  Neal provides digital optimisation consultancy services and has worked for  brands such as Deezer.comFoxybingo.com, Very.co.uk and partypoker.com.  He identifies areas for improvement using a combination of approaches including web analytics, heuristic analysis, customer journey mapping, usability testing, and Voice of Customer feedback.
  • Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on Usabilla.com  and as an ex-research and insight manager on the GreenBook Blog research website.  If you wish to contact Neal please send an email to neal.cole@outlook.com. You can follow Neal on Twitter @northresearch and view his LinkedIn profile.