In something a little different for this blog, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the resources that I rely on to be a better SEO'r.
To both keep up to date with trends in an almost daily-changing online landscape, there’s a few things that I find really useful, and if you are just getting into the game, or just want to learn a little more - these will be very useful (If you are already in SEO - I might have some gems you might not have seen yet!)
With thousands of SEO websites available online, it can be tricky to wade through the real from the pretenders. After many years in the game, I know the sites that I can rely on:
- Moz Forums - got a question on a specific topic? I find the Moz forums a wealth of knowledge, with topics covering every pesky minutia. Want to know about how to create authentic hyperlocal content at scale? Or how to nail your blog optimisation process? Moz got you covered!
- Search Engine Watch - Basically a newspaper for the industry
- Search Engine Land - Another decent portal for all things Search. One of our own, Brodie was recently featured in this article which was rather cool.
- Matt Cutts’ blog - The disclaimer is, he’s now left Google, and the last SEO post was 2 years ago (a millennia in SEO terms), but his site has a huge backlog of the rights and wrongs for ethical SEO methodology.
I’m very much a lurker when it comes to Twitter, and while there’s plenty of others out there - I usually limit my feed to these accounts:
- Rand Fishkin - the Wizard of Moz (see above)
- Search Engine Land
- Barry Schwartz - runs a NY Web agency - started SEO Round Table (which is also worth a follow)
Videos and Presentations
Some more specific SEO learnings and content I refer back to on the regular:
- Google Webmaster YouTube ChannelOver 500 videos, all straight from the source. You’re welcome.
- Yet again - Moz makes an appearance, with the very popular Beginner's Guide to SEO, where I usually send any people looking to learn more themselves.
- Will’s talk - we’ve discussed Wil’s game-changing 'RCS' some time ago over here but it still carries a resonance that’s important to the industry today. Basically - it was a major push to getting back to real life marketing & PR efforts to earn links/traffic, rather than trying to trick search engines with cookie-cutter and spammy practices.
- The brand spanking new SEO: The Movie is a great peek into the weird and rapidly changing phenomena that is the SEO industryGoogle’s guidelines for those looking for an SEO
- From Simo Ahava and fairly new to my plate, this is a very comprehensive list covering the wonderful world of Tag Manager.
- Matthew Barby has put together a really great list for those DIY SEO enthusiasts.
While focussing keyword rankings alone can be a slightly problematic metric for SEO, considering factors like location/personalisation etc, I still think it’s an essential part of monitoring the health and the intelligence of an SEO campaign, alongside other metrics like organic traffic and conversions. As such - it’s good to track the most relevant and important keywords for our clients’ campaigns from the start.
- Still probably the most widely-used and ‘reliable’ data that’s available, the Google Adwords Keyword Planner displays search traffic volume data from locations, along with trends, competition, costs per click etc.
- Ahrefs Great for checking high ranking competitor sites to see what they rank well for, as well as your own. I’m using this more and more - especially as it combines rankings along with search volume.
- Ubersuggest (for brainstorming). Has improved now it uses country specific (Australian) data
- SEM Rush A very popular tool, if a little restricted on the free version.
- Google Autocomplete - start typing and see what comes up as Google tries to be helpful marrying your intent with popular searches based on actual user data.
And of course:
- Google Analytics
- Google Adwords campaign data
- Investigating ranking competitors for their usage of page titles, meta-descriptions etc
Whether it’s a new client, speaking to a new prospective client, or just checking out competitors, investigating the backlink profile of sites is an essential part of my job (especially if we’re inheriting a campaign from a previous, err, ‘old-school’ SEO provider.
- Ahrefs Site Explorer. I use the paid version for that extra data/insight.
- Opensite Explorer from Moz. Mostly use this for a tidy snapshot of some Competitor metric comparisons (the ‘Compare Link Metrics’ section).
- While we very much look to avoid SEO checking tools here, (as there aren’t any one-size-fits-all solutions in SEO), it’s sometimes useful to get a split-second idea about any major issues that pop up - lack of sitemap, speed issues, and I might run a site through varvy.com (as it’s quick and free!). But will generally resort to manual methods (my eyes/brain) if I have more than a minute to play with.
- Screaming Frog’s amazing SEO Spider is also a very useful tool for crawling URLs on a site to evaluate onsite SEO issues, especially useful for large sites.
Site speed tests
I’ll generally use the below to test for any speed related issues.
- I mostly use the Chrome extension “Built With” to get a quick glimpse at the platform a site has been built on.
- Pocket to store articles I really need to get back to and read…
- And Lighthouse to run quick and useful on page audits on sites.
To reduce those file sizes that the above speed tests might flag.
These can be good to check if we think there are any disruptions in the Google Algorithm force.
And that’s it!
Anyway - that’s the ones that have the honour of a permanent place in my Chrome bookmarks bar. As with most things in life, the list is subjective so feel free to add your own in the comments!