Making sure your website is in tip-top condition, is really important in making sure it's working the best it can for you and your business.
There are hundreds of tools that can help you, paid and free. Here we share the top 3 free tools we like and why we use them.
Google Page Speed Insights
This is a very simple tool that provides feedback on your website speed and how well your web page is optimised on both a desktop and a mobile device. You simply enter your website address and the tool immediately begins to analyse your website. When it's done you are presented with two sets of information: one set of feedback is for your website viewed on a mobile device and the second is feedback based on viewing on a desktop. Both mobile and desktop versions are given each a Speed and Optimisation score.
The feedback provided is invaluable in locating errors and further efficiencies that can be made. Google lists each of the optimisations that can be made on your website, some more technical than others. Most of the issues that I see are related to compression, some related to code other related to images.
The great thing that Google does it creates the compressed code and images for you. You'll probably need a web developer to update the code changes but replacing images couldn't be easier as Google supplies you with .zip towards the bottom of the page with the images already optimised. All you need to do is unzip the file, find the images and copy them up to your website, replacing the existing ones. This does assume you have access to your website content, which today most businesses do.
Another tool we use a lot for checking websites is Google's Mobile-Friendly Test. It's a very simple tool where you enter your website address and in front of your eyes, your website is analysed.
The results tell you, simply, if the web page you entered is mobile friendly or not. It also shows you a screenshot of that page. The tool only works on the specific page address entered; if you wanted to check more pages, you would have to enter the relevant URLs and reanalyse for each.
Any issues with the page loading are noted. If you want to find out more detail about the issues, the link takes you to Google Search Console where there is a more detailed explanation of the website mobility issues.
These two tools from Google are simple to use and free to anyone to use. They both provide an overall feel for how well a website is generally performing. We tend to use them on websites for an initial understanding of performance and if anything major changes.
Our next tool of choice is an awesome SEO tool which we use to manage our ongoing SEO continuously making improvements. After looking at a few SEO checking tools, SEM Rush just blew us away with its functionality. The free version has limited access, but even so, the insight that is provided is just amazing.
This is a vast tool used by lots of digital agencies to support their SEO advice and strategies so it may be a little more than a small business needs and possibly overwhelming. However, when you figure it all out and get it working, you can see how significant improvements in your website SEO can be made and then track those improvements.
The free version of the tool has a few limitations (the number of users that can access it (1), the number of keywords you can track (10), the number of pages to crawl (100) and more. The most important limitation is the number of reports you can view in a day (10) so you just need to be aware when using it and don't waste a click.
We've only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to analysing the amount of available data, but what we have learnt to date is invaluable. Having set up our website as a project in the system, we get a great overview of the tracking that the product enables on the main dashboard. For example, our position in relation to the keywords we have entered, social media activity for accounts I've linked, any mentions of our brand, any toxic backlinks and two really helpful pieces of information - one, how healthy your website is in relation to SEO in the Site Audit area and, two, ideas for optimising your website in the On Page SEO Checker.
Clicking deeper into the Site Audit information gives really detailed information on everything that's wrong with your website from broken links to duplicate meta titles. It notes pages that need compression and those with low word counts and lots more really useful information. For a free tool, the information provided on the Site Audit with explanations of how to fix is really comprehensive.
When you drill into the On Page SEO area, you get a list of easy to understand optimisations you can make to your website, from updating content to making sure your h tags and keywords are placed correctly. It also talks about backlinks (one of the most important elements of a successful SEO campaign) even going so far as to suggest what websites to try to achieve backlinks from - though some may be slightly odd or unachievable. It also shows you what you are doing right, so it's not all depressing reading.
I am just a novice at using SEM Rush - all that I know I've worked out for myself by clicking around and reading the little bits of information on hover overs which are really helpful. Even now, writing this document I've found a very nice little Marketing Calendar when I can plan out campaign approaches. For those that prefer to learn about how to use a product properly, there are links to user manuals and video tutorials throughout which will help, and I'm sure you'll be able to find more online.
If you're looking to comprehensively understand how to keep your website optimised for search engines, then definitely check this out.
To find out more on this topic please read our post The importance of basic SEO.