Archive for October, 2016

Best Free SEO Tools 02

The Non Coder’s Guide to Best and Free SEO Tools in 2018

When I started learning SEO, there was a confusion about if there’s a need to understand how to code. These days, when I tell people that I design websites or provide an SEO service, people still look at me wide eyed and ask me: so, you must know how to code right?

That’s not true. I don’t know how to code. I know basic HTML, and that’s it.

SEO can come off as a complicated process that involves complicated third party tools such as Screamin Frog, Moz’s Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, Buzz Sumo, Majestic SEO and etc. For the starting freelance web designer, blogger, content writer, it can be quite intimidating.

In my humble opinion, there are complex software programs to calculate keyword density, latent semantic indexing keywords and etc. that’s hugely unnecessary for majority of people looking to implement SEO in their sites.

If you take a look at Matt Cutt’s blog, one of the authority figures in SEO who worked for Google, he doesn’t really bother using these extraneous tools that are used to optimize and (supposedly) squeeze SEO juice out of every single post and page. He has mentioned that by using the WordPress platform, it automatically fixes 90% of the SEO issues webmasters use.

These complicated software and SEO tools only account for 1% of SEO success.

I personally don’t enjoy complicated processes. I like keeping SEO simple. I keep the SEO tools I use lean and simple. It should be simple enough so that everyone can ‘DIY’ it to an extent, and it’s not something that’s only left to the experts.

This guide is written for the SEO or webmasters that don’t want to go too deeply into SEO. There are more advanced SEO tools and they often go deep into technical SEO, backlink analysis and keyword research.

These tools often come with a monthly subscription basis and I believe that the average webmaster or blogger out there don’t need to be spending huge amounts of money, time and effort on SEO tools and analysis.

Keep your SEO tools light, keep it low cost, and focus on content creation and outreach

So, here are the SEO tools, that I use. They don’t require any technical coding knowledge.

Keyword Research

I mainly use Google Keyword Planner for my keyword research for data in Singapore, that’s because Singapore has a small audience using the GKP is enough.

I use this from time to time, to counter check my data from GKP.

Google recently changed their keyword planner to show un-exact data for the search volume. Keywords Everywhere is a Chrome extension that can help you figure out the search volume. However, this only works with your country’s qualifier in the keyword.

On Page SEO

Yoast has a function that calculates keyword density, H2 tags and etc. This can be useful when creating your  content. It also reminds me of content presentability, title tag length, keyword density etc.

The next state of the art on page SEO tool used by millons of webmasters around the world.

Installing a user sitemap is helpful for users to navigate around your website.  User site maps can be kept simple with this plugin.

Broken Links checker checks for broken links. It’s no brainer. Simple plug and play. It’s free.

Siteliner points out duplicated content, broken links and churns out a full SEO report on your website.

Content Development

If you’re outsourcing your content, design or fixing technical issues, Upwork is a great place to go to. I use it for all my outsourcing efforts.

Copyscape can be used to check for plagiarism and duplicate content if you outsource your content. It’s not entirely free, but it’s extremely low cost.

High quality and researched content can’t be written by robots. If you’re going to outsource your content, it’s important to check against plagiarism (duplicate content is a big no no in Google’s eyes) or you can use tools such as Siteliner to analyse your current site’s content.

I use Grammarly to check my grammar mistakes.  There is also some research saying that better grammar leads to better SEO. Better grammar = better user experience = better rankings.

I use this to research content that has gone viral, to help me craft future content.

SEO Tools For Link Research

MOZ’s SEO open site explorer tracks the backlinks of your competitor’s website and particular page. I use MOZ’s free version of Open Site Explorer for researching back linking opportunities. It’s only free for a few tries per day. I use it once and download the data.

Keyword Research Open Site Explorer

However, for the more serious SEO’s, Majestic and Ahrefs are going to do it for you.

This is a shortcut to find out the competitiveness of a keyword. Simple plug and play.

Having MOZ bar installed can help you determine the page authority and domain authority on your SERP results. It’s useful for a quick glance to determine keywords competitiveness.

Keyword Research PA

It’s also free for a limited number of tries.

The free version of SEM rush can give you some useful (limited) analytics and data on your competitors, their backlink profile.

I use this to get email addresses. It’s simple to use. Simply plug a website and get the contact information almost immediately. Useful for content, guest blogging, PR outreach.

Technical SEO and Data Analytics

This is basically the bread and butter tool for traffic analytics. Google analytics can give you data on rankings, search queries, user acquisition and etc. This is important if for measuring key performance indicators for SEO.

Linking your site using Google search console can help track how’s your site indexed, errors and Google penalties. It’s also useful to track and optimize click through rates.

Website Development Themes

I’m using the Foxy Theme of Elegant theme for Pink Elephant Consultancy. These themes are mobile friendly (SEO ranking factor) from the get go.

I once used the Genesis theme from Studiopress. It’s simple to use and mobile friendly.

Free SEO Plugins For Optimization and Speed

Technical SEO can sound already complex (at times). Until I better understand CSS, Javascript and Html. I’m better off with plug and play options. I also outsource technical issues to a technical website developers.

Hence, I’m always looking for plugins to avoid manual solutions such as dealing with FTP, CSS, Php, writing of code, and all of that. Nonetheless, these aren’t perfect solutions. Manual actions, on the average, fix technical problems better.

Optimizing your images on your website is one way to increase your website speed. WP Smush compresses all my images that are hosted on the website. This plugin compresses images, automatically and it’s quite user-friendly.

This plugin is one cache plugins with more options to play around with. It specifically has options to leverage browser caching. One of the options I was looking for.

This plugin helps optimize Html, Javascript and CSS code. Basically, it rearranges the code on your page to make it “smaller sized” for the internet. The most recent version is quite dumbed down and easy to use.

Photos, Design Tools

Canva is awesome for text-based images and etc. for the new designer. Our site’s logo is created using this web app. It’s a surprising user friendly tool.

I use Flickr because their images are awesome. Much better than the run of the mill Google search and steal.

SEO Guides and Gurus I Follow

Right from the horse’s mouth. Can’t go wrong right?

SEO MOZ is the state of the art SEO guide on the internet to go to learn about basic to advanced SEO. The founder, Rand Fishkin is one of the most highly respected SEOs in the world.

Brian Dean’s one of the leading SEOs in the world and has ranked for a super competitive term such as ‘backlinks’.

His focus is on link building and content creation. He’s written quite a bit on content marketing, researching linking opportunities, and compiled useful resources on keyword research ranging from normal SEO to Youtube SEO.

There’s list of business directories with domain authority and page authority all measured for you compiled by this SEO blogger in Singapore. He’s probably the only one SEO in Singapore that writes good content on SEO. Check out his blog, I highly recommend it.

Hosting and Domains

In 2000 to 2001, Matt Cutts from Google confirms that Google looks at where is your server located as an SEO ranking factor. Having a local host for your website can help boost your rankings.

I purchased my domain, hosting and Https certificate from Vodien for simplicity’s sake.Vodien has twenty-four seven live chat functions and their email response rate is quite fast. I can vouch for their excellent customer service and quick response time.

Free Https Certificate

Google released on Wednesday, August 2014 that sites with Https certificate will be given priority in rankings.

You can get FREE Https at LetsEncrypt Project.

Keyword Ranking Tracking Tools

You can use this third party tool that I use. It’s completely free, and you can add sites on a project basis. It tracks your keywords every 24 hours.

  • Google Analytics

Google analytics gives you an ‘average’ keyword position ranking.

You can do this by checking Google analytics data under user acquisition: landing pages and search queries.

Page Speed and Mobile Friendly Testing

MOZ, an authority on SEO wrote at length that page loading speeds do affect search engine rankings. You can check out their article here. Page Speed Insights is a tool developed by Google to test your website’s speed performance.

It’s a simply plug and play where you just enter the URL of the website into Google page insights and Google will run a diagnostic for you.

You can then get a professional and preferably a technical web developer to fix the errors for you.

Have a mobile friendly website is an official SEO ranking factor. The Google mobile friendly test tool is developed by Google to test if your website’s theme is mobile friendly or not.

Can SEO Tools Guarantee Results?

Lastly, I stress the importance of being an independent thinker when it comes to SEO. If something is too good to be true, then it probably is.

You got to be careful of tools and software that claims to guarantee SEO results. This includes SEO tools that are automated etc. These tools have the potential to hurt your search engine rankings rather than help them.

Cost of SEO Services 01

The True Cost of SEO Services – Why Good SEO is Not Cheap?

The number of SEOs out there that are willing to do SEO for companies out there is dirt cheap. There are companies offering SEO services for $500 a month and are guarantee-ing Google page one results. Heck, just a month ago, I met a SME owner who outsourced his SEO efforts to 200-300 dollars a month. That’s dirt cheap.

There seems to be a misconception and an ugly side to the SEO services industry in Singapore. Or in general, the internet marketing industry. The digital marketing industry many grey areas such that a lot can be promised upfront, however, not lived up to. With the popularity of the make money online promises, affiliate marketing and what have you, SEO is often coined together with the other black sheeps in the industry.

I’ve heard tons of stories from small business owners in Singapore outsourcing their SEO to Indian firms, or some unknown agency. They often come back with poor results and end up thinking that SEO is… a scam?

Then… why am I able to outrank my competitors?

Here’s the thing about SEO: Price if what you pay, value is what you get. Good SEO is going to pricey. Businesses that are good don’t compete on price.

Getting ranked well in Google takes resources, time and effort.

The run of the mill SEO consultant promises a cheap price for high rankings. It’s easy to give guaranteed SEO promises upfront, and the results are going to be non-up to par later. These cheap services may resort the use black hat SEO tactics that only gives your website temporary website boosts in Google and might land yourself a Google penalty in the short run.

SEO Pricing 01

Why Is SEO So Expensive? 

The value of what a good SEO consultant can do for a company is boundless. SEO isn’t all about getting on the first page of Google, it’s about user experience, content marketing, and conversion rate optimization.

The job scope of a good SEO isn’t really defined. There’s are a lot more that can be done behind the scenes depending on the skillset of an SEO consultant. Good SEOs are able to analyze, track and convert traffic on your site. Here: I wrote at length on the KPIs of an SEO, and how SEOs can’t guaranteed leads and sales.

However, the good SEOs can optimize their efforts by tracking and optimizing metrics such as title tags and meta descriptions.This includes techniques to increase time spent and reduce bounce rate on the post and pages through implementing a more readable copy, or longer content.

SEO Pricing 02

Just like any other specialized services such as accounting and etc. SEO is a form of specialized service.

Hence, good SEO is expensive. Now, let’s take a look at SEO prices from all around the world.

SEO Prices from all around the world

SEO Pricing 03

This is a research that MOZ, a leading SEO authority conduct on SEO prices all over the world. Here’s what they found:

  • SEO agencies and consultants across countries charge 76-200 dollars per hour for SEO consulting
  • The average project is 1000 – 7500 dollars
  • Monthly retainer charging models are popular
  • Vast majorities of companies service small medium enterprises

Well, compared this to firms that guarantee page 1 Google rankings for $200 per month. Isn’t that a little far fetched?

What Goes Behind the Scenes of an SEO campaign?

I’m going to run you through the 80-20 behind the scenes of an SEO campaign.

  • Keyword research

You got to figure out the right keywords to target that will increase the likely hood of commercial traffic and sales. You also have to account for the competitiveness of that particular keyword by analysing your competitor’s pages.

  • Content Creation and Research

The most time-consuming part of SEO is the content creation.

SEO is content based, and it takes both time and effort (if not money) to create quality content that Google ranks. Great content makes up a huge portion of Google’s ranking factors in the modern world of SEO.

The cost of content can go up to minimally $50 per article, up to the hundreds and thousands for infographics, video creation and more.

  • On Page SEO

You can read my gigantic guide on how to do on page SEO. It’s not a simple process.

  • Link Building

The second most time consuming part of an SEO is reaching out for off page links. This includes guest blogging, reaching out to PR platforms, doing content roadshows and etc. How can you manually reach out for links for $200 a month?

I’m sure these firm providing those services at $200 a month aren’t link building using these white hat link building strategies.

  • Website Architecture

There’s a technical aspect of SEO as well. This includes restructuring the website, checking for errors, checking for duplicate content, submission of sitemaps, fixable crawl errors, linking errors and all the traditional SEO fixes. This too, is time consuming.

  • Website Redesign

User experience signals such as dwell time, bounce rate, indirectly affects search engine rankings. Good SEOs will recommend you on how to better the user experience on your site.

Arguably, web design services isn’t part of SEO role, however, when you’re rearranging site architecture and etc, you’re bound to quite web design in some sort or form.

  • Tracking and Analytics

KPIs are measured before, during and the end of campaign. This requires tracking effort and detail. This is also part of an SEO campaign.

Does SEO Rankings Stay? Is it Worth Investing into SEO?

Unless you’re using black hat SEO strategies, Google rankings don’t fluctuate overnight. It’s a bad user experience on Google’s end. Your hard earned Google rankings will remain as long as you stay withing Google guidelines.

Is SEO worth investing into? Can you have a positive return on SEO?

Let me put it back to you in a different perspective. How to measure the ROI of an employee?

The employee needs time to learn sales, to close sales, and to handle other parts of the business. There’s no such thing as confirmed ROI within a month, or two, or even a year for that matter. Just like SEO, the return of investment isn’t immediate.

The True Cost of SEO Services

There were a couple of times I rejected SEO projects because they told me someone else was doing it cheaper, and all I had to do was to match their price. It also wasn’t the first time someone suggested that I matched some other firm’s prices.

Why Good SEO is Not Cheap

A quick Google. Lots of promises.

I think the Singapore SEO industry undercuts each other a lot. The barrier to entry to design a website is low, and somehow anyone who designs a website automatically becomes an SEO expert.

Cheap prices and empty promises will merely drive the industry into the ground. Think about it, if all your competitors could pay $500 a month to get ranked on page 1 of Google search results for the any keyword in their industry, they would have done so already. It isn’t that easy.

Lastly, as written in this post, the value of good SEO can be boundless, and it’s important for business owners to recognize that.