- SEO for Beginners: Metrics and Must-Have Tools for Startups - January 7, 2021
Did you know that Google received nearly 2.3 trillion searches in 2019? No matter what question people have, nowadays, their first instinct is to open their laptops or grab their phones, type it in Google, and check the first, second, or perhaps third result that shows up. This means one thing: it’s imperative that you learn about and invest in SEO for your startup.
Now, I know that SEO isn’t easy to grasp at first, but that’s exactly why I decided to write this article. I’m going to talk about several SEO tools that startups can use to build a strong foundation (don’t worry, this won’t be an exhaustive list… it’s completely beginner-friendly!). Even if you choose to hire an agency to handle your SEO later, having this general knowledge will be beneficial to you and your business.
Any good SEO strategy starts with some keyword research, which is why this is arguably one of the most important components of web optimization.
Using the wrong keywords to optimize for will ultimately be a waste of time, resources and results. As such, it is imperative that you don’t just rely on your SEO providers to choose your keywords, but that you have a strong understanding of why you should or shouldn’t use certain keywords, and which ones are good in each situation.
In summary, knowing how to choose a high-quality keyword is a matter of looking at four elements:
- Search volume
- Keyword difficulty
Here are two tools that can help you analyze these elements:
- Uber Suggest. Uber Suggest is a keyword tool that has become increasingly popular over the past few years for two main reasons: despite its success, it has remained free for all users and it was developed by Neil Patel, a giant in the digital marketing universe.
- Google Keyword Planner. Like the previous one, this tool is also free. However, if you’re not using Google Ads (meaning that you pay for ads), you’ll get guesstimates of search volume. Personally, I think the ranges can be too large, but if you just want a general estimate of search volume, this will work perfectly.
One of the three big pillars of SEO, backlinking is an important metric that all brands should understand and monitor, particularly when it comes to their own website and that of their competitors.
Generally, you want to measure backlinks and referring domains. So, when working on your backlinking strategy, you want to keep an eye on the following metrics:
- Referring domains
- Domain rating/authority
- URL rating
Unfortunately, in my experience, there aren’t many backlinking tools that are strong and free. If you’re willing to put in some money, these two are great options:
- Ahrefs. This is a tool I use a lot and, although it isn’t free, it does offer a one-week membership for $7, so you can try it out before you commit. Ahrefs is a great tool when it comes to everything link building-related, and you can use it to find which backlinks your competitors have, as well as review how SEO strong their websites are and how their link growth evolves.
- Moz. A very popular SEO brand that you’ve likely heard about before, Moz offers a great backlinking tool called Moz Link Explorer. However, once again, this is a paid tool.
Technical SEO is another pillar of SEO, but it is also where a lot of scare tactics are used for sales, meaning that firms will send you unsolicited audits telling you that you have over 10,000 technical SEO errors on your website that need to be solved yesterday.
However, I can tell you from experience that, in terms of true SEO priority, usually less than one percent of those issues are, indeed, urgent.
For this reason, you want to make sure that you have tools to measure your own technical SEO metrics, and that you know how to interpret them (or at least, the most important ones, like the following):
- Title tags and meta descriptions
- Internal links
- 404 and other site errors
Two SEO tools that help you with this are:
- SEMRush. SEMRush is a popular SEO tool that is seen as an all-in-one solution, as it can also help you with keyword research, backlinking and more. Nevertheless, it offers a widely used site audit feature, so I had to mention it here.
- Sitebulb. Sitebulb isn’t as widely known as some of the other tools I’ve mentioned so far; however, this website crawler provides you with comprehensive audit reports and it offers a free trial, perfect for those on a tight budget. I’ve used it before and made the most of the trial!
Last but not least, local SEO is all about improving your visibility to those who are in your area and, since it has slowly but surely become one of the most dominant sources of SEO talk, I thought it was important for startups like yours to have a good understanding about it, as well.
It’s important to mention that not all companies need to invest in local SEO. If you’re a B2B brand, for instance, it might not be something that’s worth focusing on, but it’s still essential for you to understand if and how you can incorporate into your strategy.
If you determine that local SEO should be part of your strategy, you should always measure the following local SEO metrics:
- Citation score and accuracy
- Google My Business rankings
- Geographic-based rankings
In order to do so, you can utilize the following tools:
- Moz Local. When I say Moz Local, I specifically mean the free web tool that checks citations, which is a great, trusted source that will give you a general overview of how your citation score may be doing.
- BrightLocal. BrightLocal is just like Moz, except it isn’t free. However, it does offer some free tools that you can check, and I’d particularly recommend using the local rank checker to find your local rankings.
The importance of being familiar with the main SEO metrics and tools
It’s important for you to learn about SEO and understand how it works before you hire a specialist or agency to help you, so you can keep up with the work being done and the results being achieved.
Make the most of the SEO tools shared here and keep an eye on the metrics mentioned, and you’ll find your campaigns (and sales) finally taking off!