Stop ignoring SEO and start using it to your advantage. Here are a few tools that can show you how.
You know SEO is important. It’s present in every industry. It has personal branding benefits. And strategic social media knowledge is attractive to employers. Once you understand SEO basics, it’s a good idea to dabble with a few SEO tools to help make this learning experience easier.
But the sheer number of tools available can make it seem overwhelming, making it difficult to choose the right one. You have to ask yourself: What are the top SEO tools out there for beginners? Which are free? And how do I get started?
Top SEO tools to help make learning easier
If you’re not taking a class about SEO in school, you’re going to have to learn some of this on your own. Some of the tools below will use terms like PageRank and “domain authority.” Both of these terms refer to a number that’s given to your website based on how good Google thinks it really is — which is based in turn on SEO considerations such as links, navigation and content. PageRank ranks each page of a website, whereas domain authority ranks the entire domain as a whole.
If SEO seems overwhelming, you’re not alone. (Click here to Tweet this thought.) Fortunately, there are a lot of great tools you can install to get familiar with the practice:
1. PageRank Browser Extension
This free browser extension lets you look at pages, and the value of pages, according to Google. PageRank isn’t everything and is becoming less important, but it’s a good starting point to help you realize that pages are ranked and evaluated.
Because it’s an extension, you’ll see it all the time, so you’ll constantly be aware of online rank as you visit different pages. Below is a screenshot of the extension:
2. Mozbar Extension
Formerly SEOMoz, this is one of the most authoritative companies in the industry, so downloading their toolbar won’t steer you wrong. This tool goes a little bit further than the last and offers you more detailed information about a page and gives you its authority right on a search engine results page, or SERP, as opposed to having to click the website.
In this screenshot, you’ll see PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority) in gray, along with a link analysis, which takes you to another page with more advanced information:
The screenshot below shows what happens when you click the extension when viewing a page:
3. Open Site Explorer
This cool tool allows you to check a site’s backlinks whenever you visit a website. It’s easy to understand, there are no popups and it offers a good picture of how link building works.
A paid version is available, but the free version is enough for someone just trying to get an understanding of how SEO works. All you have to do is click the link above and then type in the URL. Below is a screenshot of OSE:
Of course, there are other ways to learn SEO on your own, including reading some of the most popular SEO blogs, connecting with industry leaders on social media and contributing guest articles in your niche. These are typically good methods to incorporate while using some of the tools discussed above.
One of the best ways to start learning SEO is to create your own WordPress blog and start writing. You can then play with things like Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
Have you found that having SEO skills is important when on the job hunt? What tools did you use in school to get yourself started? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO firm HigherVisibility, which offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.