There are a great number of SEO and Webmaster tools available, and it can be quite intimidating to set them all up. Believe me though, if you don’t set them up from the start, you will regret it. Here are some of the “Must Have” tools that I use, and that I recommend everyone to have in their SEO Toolbox.
Many search engines (Google included) offer free versions of what they call Webmaster tools. These tools are specifically designed to help you maintain your site and keep it crawler friendly. These tools will index your site using sitemaps, tell you of error pages found (404) and let you know coding issues or warnings as it goes through your site.
Google is my personal choice favorite, as it includes details to many of the more technical details of you site as well and warns you of all sorts of duplicate content to avoid being penalized in the long run. It also gives you information on how people are finding you, what keywords they find you with and all those times you get +1. Truly all rounder. But keep in mind, if you join with Alexa, Bing and Yahoo Webmaster Tools, you’ll be indexed more often and get even more information from the major search engines.
If you run a site, you need Analytics. Even if you don’t implement webmaster tools, you must definitely add analytics. This tool will give you so much reporting information that it’ll help you refine what you target, such as keywords, and which pages you focus on. It can also identify any problem areas, for example, if you notice that 80% of your visitors exit your site through the same page, take a peak at that page. Might have an issue there that you could correct, and keep people browsing around.
You can also customize Analytics to see where people are coming from, how often, which pages they view and how many people view your site, then leave. It’ll also tell you how long they stay on your site. All of this information is important in planning or maintaining any kind of traffic marketing strategy, and will help you in more ways than you can imagine! My personal favorite, is again, Google. Their analytics is beautifully designed, easy to work with and ties in with everything these days.
SEM, Search Engine Marketing. If you plan on paying for ads and traffic, then Google AdWords will likely be a very important item to research. Here, you can design your keyword lists, how much to pay per click, and who to target. All in all, SEM is a huge topic for many experts, and something that you will have to experiment with. Just keep in mind, that if you plan on using this, have a keyword strategy in place, and good traffic to begin with.
I’ve met many new bloggers who chose to start by paying for traffic, but before they made the necessary posts to keep people coming back. You need content to promote before you promote it!
This tool (Google yet again) is incredibly powerful for feeds. It converts information to be read in any reader, promotes AdSense (PPC Ads you get paid for), ties in to webmaster and analytics, and adds all sorts of good sharing features that help promote your site without people actually needing to visit you. It is a must have, as with this, you manage everything in one place. After all, who really has time to manually do all the modifications, when someone has already done for you!
AddThis or ShareThis
These are the two most popular sharing tools on the web. There are definitely many other, but from my research these have been the best in both flexibility and speed. If you don’t have sharing options, add them. You need to have sharing as part of your posts, or people won’t talk about you online. Without it, it’s like hiding all your information in a cave, and trying to get them to come in all the time. Bring your amazing content to the park, and put it on display for everyone to see! It’s easy to add these plugins in WordPress, so I highly recommend you pause here, go to your site and add it now. I’m not going anywhere
Lets face it, if you aren’t on any social network, you just about don’t exist anymore. Everyone is promoting through not only search engines and SEO, but all sorts of Social Media applications. Facebook and Twitter are two of the biggest, but there are dozen more (see my header, yup, that’s only a few). AddThis boast of having over 300 sharing options for social media and bookmarking options. I suggest you choose a few at a time, learn them well and maintain it. Once you’ve gotten used to your network, add another, or simply focus on what you have.
Keep in mind, that these aren’t the only essential blogging tools available. There are many others to come and we’ll talk about all of them eventually, but for now, start here. Learn these tools and make them your own. You need these!
Have you installed all these tools yet? What’s been your biggest help?