Editor’s note: This is the third post in a three-part series on the best free SEO tools. A more detailed analysis can be found in MediaWhiz’s new report, “10 Free, Must-Have SEO Tools.” Download here.
By Marc Purtell | Director, SEO
It’s not uncommon in today’s SEO landscape to wake up and find a sudden drop of organic search traffic and/or keyword rankings. When such a disaster occurs, most large brands have access to a qualified SEO agency or robust in-house team to identify and rectify any issues that led to the drops. For smaller brands with limited budget allocated to SEO, this could mean the end of the organic search channel as a driver of business.
It doesn’t have to be this way. As I explore in a new report, “10 Free, Must-Have SEO Tools,” there are a variety of excellent free SEO tools that marketers can use to analyze the situation and identify the problem and solution.
By taking advantage of the intelligence that is available for free, brands with low budgets can recover from SEO issues in order to return to leveraging the organic search channel as a revenue generator. Below is a review of three such SEO tools.
Google Webmaster Tools
An invaluable resource for SEO experts and webmasters alike, Google Webmaster Tools suite provides insight into the overall health of a website and explicitly points out many issues that can negatively affect a site’s organic search health.
Getting started is as simple as signing up for a Google account and verifying ownership of the website in question by adding either a verification file to the website’s server – including a verification meta tag on the homepage – or signing in to the site’s domain name provider.
This tool is provided by Google at no charge so there is no excuse for any website to not have an account.
Once a Google Webmaster Tools account is active, upon logging in Google will provide a list of recent alerts for each website being managed under the account. This is the first place to look for any issues that may have caused a loss of performance. More information on the issues identified as well as a list of recommended actions can be seen by clicking on “View details”.
If there are no alerts or if the recommended actions from the alerts do not remedy the issue, the next place to look is in the “Health” section within the Google Webmaster Tools interface using the left sidebar navigation. There are several reports in the Health section, including Crawl Stats, Blocked URLs, Fetch as Google, Index Status and Malware.
The Crawl Stats report is very useful in troubleshooting because it provides both a list of URLs that return errors and a timeline showing the total number of errors found on a day-to-day basis. This timeline can help pinpoint the day things went awry if there is a sudden increase in errors detected. For example, if a recent change to the website caused a number of pages to return server errors, that could definitely account for the loss of organic traffic. (more…)