Time to take a closer lookAt Yatter, we’re proud to be a LEAN startup and we’re proud to have built our app and our website by ourselves. However, it’s not easy and the world of best practices for website design and optimization can be overwhelming. In this article, we’re going to highlight the tools we rely on to make sure our web presence offers a good experience. The tools we’re going to suggest in this article are either completely free or offer some sort of free tier. The tools cover three different aspects: analysing your site on the basis of performance, analysing your site on the basis of content and crawling the internet for mentions of your brand. It’s time to take a closer look.
Google Pagespeed Insights
Like GTMetrix, Google Pagespeed insights looks at how optimized your site is. The results are generally less detailed than GTMetrix but the tests can be run more quickly. The benefit of Google Pagespeed Insights is that it tells you Google’s perspective on how optimised your site is – and since site performance is a ranking factor for SEO this forms a vital insight.
Google also offers a module that can be installed on your web server to run their suggested optimizations automatically. Magical, but not for amateurs.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test
Mobile responsive web design is essential in an era where most internet access is done on mobile devices and not on larger screens. A mobile responsive website represents both good user experience and good business. Google uses responsiveness as a ranking factor for SEO and offers a handy tool that looks at your site, grades its responsiveness and offers suggestions. For example, in addition to responsiveness, pages that take up less mobile data are seen as being a better experience for the user. Experiences deemed suboptimal rank worse on mobile search.
SEMRush is a popular tool to analyse your website not on the basis of its design or its performance but on its content. The tool can tell you how many keywords you list for on Google, how your website is performing in terms of traffic, how many backlinks you have, who your competitors are, how much your competitor’s advertising costs…etc.
SEMRush’s keyword tool allows you to compare keywords on the basis of popularity and competitiveness which is a great way of refining a blog title to generate traffic.
SEMRush offers a comprehensive perspective on search and search advertising for your business. Their premium Site Audit tool is a great way of scanning all your site’s pages and identifying errors: from duplicate meta descriptions to broken links and orphan pages.
SEMRush is a paid tool (and a costly one at that) but it does offer 5 free requests every day to give you an oversight of which keywords and backlinks are most important to your site’s performance on search engines and who your competitors are. It’s worth at least one month on the premium plan if you’re planning on launching a project.
This one is WordPress exclusive, we’re afraid. If, like 30% of the internet, you use WordPress but you are yet to install Yoast then do it now! Yoast is an incredibly handy tool that scans your content, as you write it, for SEO best practices such as keyword density, readability and wordcount while also offering one of the most comprehensive metadata tools on the market. Metadata, data which describes other data, is incredibly important for presenting your website on Google and on social media. The words used to describe your website on Google search are defined by metadata, as are the words and images used in link previews on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Yoast offers an easy way to manage this metadata without any technical requirements. That’s why it is one of the most popular WordPress plugins!
Google My Business
Google My Business is a really important tool for small businesses as it presents your business in a unique card form on Google Search and prioritises it on mobile (as people are more likely to be looking for directions and recommendations on mobile). Once you’ve completed your profile and verified your address on Google My Business your Business Card appears prominently in local searches. This essentially bypasses traditional SEO factors when people are searching locally and can act as a boon to businesses that don’t have the resources to focus on SEO and who receive most of their business locally. Recently, Google My Business introduced the ability for businesses to post events or offers directly to their Business Card, offering an extra channel for SMEs to get their message out.
Local listings are incredibly important to traditional brick and mortar businesses that rely on footfall but they also offer a small boost to online-only businesses too. While Google My Business is certainly the most important listing type in this genre, there are a whole lot of these services which tie into various databases. Moz Local allows you a free overview of all your various listings and highlights any inconsistencies. They offer a paid service for £9 per month that manages all of these listings for you and pushes out any changes to your location, opening hours etc. from one central source.
This tool offers a handy and free overview for your website, analysing aspects from your code quality through to your meta tags, your social presence, your domain age, the printability of your page etc. By giving you a little taste of several major ranking and performance factors Nibbler allows you to get a good overview of how your site is doing. This makes it a very useful starting point for any investigations into improving your web presence.
Check your brand name for public mentions on the social media platforms, simple. If your brand name is a reasonably common word (like ours) then this search isn’t going to be completely accurate but it’s still a very useful tool to quickly scan your social media mentions (and those of your competitors, too).
Keep on top of how your name, brand name or most relevant keywords are being mentioned in the news. It’s a really useful way of acquiring content to syndicate, hear what your namesakes are up to and just generally make sure that when you’re mentioned in the press you hear about it.
Web page accessibility has been an important standard since the early days of the web and is a prominent ranking factor for SEO accordingly. Good accessibility equates to good user experience (UX) in the minds of the people at Google. An accessible web page is one that is well structured and uses alt text for images. This means that screenreaders for people who are blind can read the page in a way that makes sense. Screenreaders interpret the HTML of a page and there is a fundamental link between a page that meets good structural standards and a page that is accessible. Accessible pages also require certain design elements (such as high contrast between text colour and background colour) to make the page more accessible to people who can see but either have reduced sight or colour-blindness. Wave is a tool that will scan your web pages for you and see if they’re meeting the accessibility standards accordingly. Very handy.
ConclusionOptimising your website for best practices, listing in appropriate resources and keeping a handle on how your brand is being discussed throughout the web is reasonably complex and quite difficult. If you have the budget there is a whole world of premium tools to manage this for you. As a startup, we aren’t enormous fans of unneccessary spending and we hope the free tools we’ve highlighted in this article help you keep a grasp on your web presence.
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