Tag Archive | "Task"

The 55 Best Free SEO Tools For Every Task

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

At Moz, we know the value of premium SEO tools — we’ve built new tools for 10+ years. Paid tools are hugely valuable in SEO when you need advanced features, increased limits, stored data, or online support.

But for 70 percent of other tasks, a free tool often does the trick.

There are literally hundreds of free SEO tools out there, so we want to focus on only the best and most useful to add to your toolbox. Tons of people in the SEO community helped vet the SEO software in this post (see the note at the end). To be included, a tool had to meet three requirements. It must be:

  1. Widely used by the SEO community
  2. Offers above-board value + actionable data
  3. Actually, truly free

The tools are categorized by SEO function. Click on a button below to jump to that specific section.

Categories:

Analytics   Crawling/Indexing   Keyword Research   Link Tools   Local SEO   Mobile SEO   Multi-tool   On-page SEO   Research   Site Speed   WordPress


Analytics

The best tools to analyze search performance, monitor SERPs, keywords, and competitor analysis:

1. Bing Webmaster Tools

While Google Webmaster Tools gets all the glory, folks forget that Bing Webmaster offers a full suite of website and search analytics. Especially useful are keyword reports, keyword research, and crawling data.

Get it: Bing Webmaster
Also useful: Yandex.Webmaster

2. Data Studio

If you need to merge data from different sources (say Search Console and Google Analytics), visualize, and share it – this is Google Data Studio’s comfort zone. For an idea of all the SEO tasks and dashboards that you can build for free, check out these Google Data Studio Resources from Lee Hurst.

Get it: Data Studio

3. Enhanced Google Analytics Annotations

How do you know if your dip in traffic (or rise) is associated with a Google Algorithm update, or perhaps a major holiday? This is a highly-recommended Google Chrome plugin that overlays additional data on top of your analytics, so you can easily send screenshots to clients showing exactly how outside forces impacted traffic.

Get it: Enhanced Google Analytics Annotations
Alternatives: Panguin Tool, Zeo Tools

4. Google Analytics

The big kahuna, and the most widely-used web analytics package on earth. For being free, Google Analytics is surprisingly robust and plays well with other Google products, including Optimize, Search Console, and Data Studio. Some folks have privacy concerns with GA — though Google swears they don’t use this data for search rankings.

Get it: Google Analytics
Alternatives: Clicky, Open Web Analytics

5. Search Console

Probably the most useful free SEO tool on this entire list, it’s hard to imagine doing modern SEO without access to the data inside Google’s Search Console. This is the most reliable location for information on how Google crawls and ranks your site, and is one of the only places where you can get reliable keyword data.

Get it: Search Console

6. Keyword Hero

Did somebody say (not provided)? Keyword Hero works to solve the problem of missing keyword data with lots of advanced math and machine learning. It’s not a perfect system, but for those struggling to match keywords with conversion and other on-site metrics, the data can be a valuable step in the right direction. Pricing is free up to 2000 sessions/month.

Get it: Keyword Hero

7. MozCast

The brainchild of Dr. Pete and the original Google SERP tracker, MozCast is the go-to algorithm tracker whenever there’s a big update, or not. Also useful are the SERP tracking features showing the prominence of such features as ads and knowledge panels.

Get it: MozCast
Also useful: Algoroo, Rank Risk Index, Ayima Pulse


Crawling/Indexing

Specific tools to make sure your site is crawlable and optimized.

8. Beam Us Up

If you need a free, desktop crawler, you can’t do better than Beam Us Up. While it doesn’t have as many features as Screaming Frog, it does offer 100 percent free crawling with no limits. Windows only.

Get it: Beam Us Up

9. Link Redirect Trace

A free Chrome extension, lots of SEOs recommend Link Redirect Trace as the “all-in-one redirect path analyzer.” The extension reveals information about HTTP headers, rel-canonicals, robots.txt, and basic link metrics from LinkResearchTools. The “Save Screenshot” feature is super useful too.

Get it: Link Redirect Trace

10. Redirect Path

Similar to Link Redirect Trace, Redirect Path is a nifty tool from the good folks at Ayima that shows redirect paths and header information for every URL you visit. Gotta admit, I’ve used this extension for years and it’s almost “always on” in my browser.

Get it: Redirect Path

11. Screaming Frog

Aside from having one of the best Twitter accounts of any SEO tool maker, Screaming Frog is the most popular desktop-based crawler available today. Many people don’t realize that there’s a free version that allows for up to 500 URLs per crawl. While not as fully functional as the paid version, it’s great for small projects and smaller site audits.

Get it: Screaming Frog

12. Screaming Frog Log File Analyzer

Most folks in the SEO space are familiar with Screaming Frog, but many don’t realize that the Frog also offers a standalone free/paid Log File Analyzer tool. The free version is very robust, though limited to 1000 lines.

Get it: Screaming Frog Log File Analyser

13. SEOlyzer

SEOlyzer is a log analysis tool recommended by Aleyda Solis in her very excellent SEO podcast Crawling Mondays. SEOlyzer is a terrific log analysis tool with some cool features like real-time analysis and page categorization.

Get it: SEOlyzer

14. Xenu

Gotta be honest, although Xenu has been on every “free SEO tool” list since the dawn of, no way did I think it would make this one. This Windows-based desktop crawler has been virtually unchanged over the past 10 years. That said, a lot of folks still love and use it for basic site auditing, looking for broken links, etc. Heck, I’m leaving here for sentimental reasons. Check it out.

Get it: Xenu


Keyword Research

15. Answer The Public

It’s hard not to love Answer The Public. The interface has an almost “Cards Against Humanity” rebel vibe to it. Regardless, if you want to generate a massive list of questions from any keyword set, this is your go-to tool.

Get it: Answer The Public

16. Keyword Explorer

OMG. 500 million keyword suggestions, all the most accurate volume ranges in the industry. You also get Moz’s famous Keyword Difficulty Score along with CTR data. Moz’s free community account gives you access to 10 queries a month, with each query literally giving you up to 1000 keyword suggestions along with SERP analysis.

Get it: Keyword Explorer

17. Keyword Planner

Google’s own Keyword Planner was built for folks who buy Google ads, but it still delivers a ton of information useful for SEO keyword planning. It uses Google’s own data and has useful functions like country filtering. Be careful with metrics like competition (this is meant for paid placements) and volume — which is known to be confusing.

Get it: Keyword Planner

18. Keyword Shitter

Yes, it’s called Keyword Shitter. It pains me to write this. That said, it says what it does and does what it says. Type in a keyword and it, um, poops out a poop-ton of keywords.

Get it: Keyword Shitter

19. Keywords Everywhere

An SEO favorite! Install this browser extension for Firefox or Chrome, and see keyword suggestions with volume as you cruise the internet. Works in Google Search Console as well. This one is a must-have for keyword inspiration.

Get it: Keywords Everywhere

20. Ubersuggest

Sometimes I make fun of Neil Patel because he does SEO in his pajamas. I’m probably jealous because I don’t even own pajamas. Regardless, Neil took over Ubersuggest not long ago and gave it a major overall. If you haven’t tried it in a while, it now goes way beyond keyword suggestions and offers a lot of extended SEO capabilities such as basic link metrics and top competitor pages.

Get it: Ubersuggest


Link Tools

Tools to find, evaluate, and process backlink opportunities.

21. Disavow Tool

Google makes the Disavow Tool hard to find because most site owners usually don’t need to use it. But when you do, it can be useful for getting penalties removed and some SEOs swear by it for fighting off negative SEO. If you choose to use this tool, be careful and check with this guide on disavowing the right links.

Get it: Disavow Tool

22. Link Explorer

Link Explorer is arguably the biggest, most accurate link index in the SEO world today, boasting 35 trillion links. The free account access gives you 10 queries and 50 rows of data per query every month, plus adds basic link metrics to the MozBar as you browse the web.

Get it: Link Explorer

23. Link Miner

Link Miner is a free Chrome extension developed by Jon Cooper, one of the masters of link building. Use it to quickly find broken links on each page, as well as see basic link metrics as you search Google. Simple, easy, and useful.

Get it: Link Miner


Local SEO

Free tools to optimize your on Google Maps and beyond.

24. Google My Business

Basically, this is the #1, must-have tool for Local SEO — especially if you live in a market served by Google. It allows you to claim your business, manage listing information, and respond to reviews — among other things. Claiming your business profile forms the foundation of most other local SEO activities, so it’s an essential step.

Get it: Google My Business

25. Google Review Link Generator

The Google Review Link Generator by Whitespark solves a simple problem – how do you give your customers a URL to leave a Google review for your business? Reviews drive rankings, but Google doesn’t easily provide this. This generator makes it easy.

Get it: Google Review Link Generator

26. Local Search Results Checker

One of the hardest parts of Local SEO is figuring out rankings from any location — especially when Google stubbornly wants to serve results from the location you’re in. BrightLocal solves this with a quick local ranking tool that can virtually drop you into any location on earth to check actual local rankings.

Get it: Local Search Results Checker

27. Moz Local Check Business Listing

How consistent is your business information across the local search ecosystem? Moz Local lets you quickly check how your business shows up across the web in the major data aggregators that Google and others use to rank local search results. Very handy to understand your strengths and weaknesses. 

Get it: Moz Local Check Business Listing


Mobile SEO

Tools to optimize your website in Google’s mobile-first world.

28. Mobile First Index Checker

Mobile versions of websites often differ significantly from their desktop versions. Because Google has switched to mobile-first indexing, it’s important that major elements (links, structured data, etc.) match on both versions. A number of tools will check this for you, but Zeo’s is probably the most complete.

Get it: Mobile First Index Checker

29. Mobile SERP Test

It’s amazing how mobile search results can vary by both location AND device. MobileMoxie’s mobile SERP test lets you compare devices side-by-side for any location, down to specific addresses.

Get it: Mobile SERP Test

30. Mobile-Friendly Test

The gold standard for determining if your page meets Google’s mobile-friendly requirements. If your page passes the test, then Google counts it as mobile friendly, which is a bonafide (albeit small) ranking factor. If your page isn’t mobile-friendly, it will give you specific areas to address.

Get it: Mobile-Friendly Test


Multi-tool

Free SEO tools that have so many functions, they have their own special category.

31. Chrome DevTools

The sheer number of SEO tasks you can perform—for free—with Chrome DevTools is simply staggering. From JavaScript auditing to speed to On-Page SEO, some of the best features are hidden away but totally awesome. Need some specific ways to use it for SEO? Check out these resources here, here, and here.

Get it: Chrome DevTools

32. Marketing Miner

Marketing Miner has a low profile in the United States, but it’s one of the best-kept secrets of Eastern Europe. If you need to pull a lot of SERP data, rankings, tool reports, or competitive analysis, Marketing Miner does the heavy lifting for you and loads it all into convenient reports. Check out this list of miners for possible ideas. It’s a paid tool, but the free version allows to perform a number of tasks.

Get it: Marketing Miner

33. MozBar

One of the original SEO toolbars, the MozBar has seen significant upgrades over the years. Log in with a free Moz account and get link metrics as you browse the web, perform on-page analysis, and SERP analysis. The free version is super-useful by itself, while Pro users get additional functionality like advanced keyword suggestions.

Get it: MozBar

34. SEMrush

Like Moz, SEMrush offers a full suite of all-in-one SEO tools, and they have a free account option that works well if you only work with a single website, or only need a quick peek at top level data. The free account level gives you access to one “project” which includes basic site auditing, as well as limited keyword and domain reporting.

Get it: SEMrush

35. SEO Minion

SEO Minion is a very popular Chrome extension that goes beyond most SEO toolbars. Some of the quick functions it performs include analyzing on-page SEO, check broken links, Hreflang checks, a SERP preview tool, and a nifty Google search location simulator. Definitely worth trying out.

Get it: SEO Minion

36. SEOquake

Out of all the SEO toolbars available on the market, SEOquake is probably the most powerful, and comes with a plethora of configuration options — so you can configure it to adjust to your SEO needs. Aside from offering a boatload of data for every URL you visit, you can also perform basic on-page audits, compare domains, and export your data.

Get it: SEOquake

37. Sheets for Marketers

Sheets for Marketers isn’t a tool per se, but a website that contains over 100+ free templates to perform a huge number of tasks using Google Sheets. Find powerful free sheets for everything including competitive analysis, site audits, scraping, keyword research, and more. This is a website for your bookmarks. 

Get it: Sheets for Marketers


On-page SEO

Tools to help you maximize your content potential at the page level.

38. Natural Language API Demo

While there is some debate over how actionable Google’s Natural Language API is for SEO, there is no denying it’s a cool tool with lots of advanced analysis. The free demo allows you to analyze the text of a single page at a time and lets you see how a search engine would view entities, sentiment analysis, syntax, and categorization.

Get it: Natural Language API
See also: Advanced SEO Strategies using Natural Language Processing

39. Rich Results Test

Did you implement review rating stars in your JSON-LD, and want to see if your markup is valid for Google’s Rich Results? Getting a passing grade doesn’t mean your page will automatically display rich results in the SERPs, but think of it as the cost of admission (the cost being free, of course.)

Get it: Rich Results Test

40. Structured Data Testing Tool

Bookmark, bookmark, bookmark this page. Google’s Structured Data Testing tool is essential for not only troubleshooting your own structured data but performing competitive analysis on your competitor’s structured data as well. Pro Tip: You can edit the code within the tool to troubleshoot and arrive at valid code.

Get it: Structured Data Testing Tool

41. Tag Manager

On the surface, Google Tag Manager serves a simple purpose of allowing you to inject “tags” (such as Google Analytics) into your HTML. Beyond that, advanced users can leverage Tag Manager for a host of SEO functions. While Google recommends against using Tag Manager to insert important elements like structured data, it remains useful for a ton of SEO-related activities.

Get it: Tag Manager

42. View Rendered Source

This simple JavaScript auditing tool does one thing, and it does it very well. View Rendered Source is a free Chrome plugin that allows you to easily see the fully rendered DOM of any URL, and compare it to the original HTML. Great for JavaScript auditing and troubleshooting.

Get it: View Rendered Source


Research

Cools free tools for competitive, historical, and technological analysis.

43. BuzzSumo

As an SEO research tool, BuzzSumo is awesome. Its Chrome extension is one of the few tools available that deliver reliable social share count estimates for any piece of content. You don’t get as much data with a free account, but you still get access to top content and trending data. One of our favorite tools.

Get it: BuzzSumo

44. Hunter

Hunter is a popular email search tool, and definitely the most popular free email finder. Use it to find the email address associated with any company or individual, and verify any email address you already have. 50 free queries/month before paid plans kick in. 

Get it: Hunter
Also popular: Viola Nobert

45. SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb is like competitor analysis on steroids. You can research your competitor’s traffic, top pages, engagement, marketing channels, and more. The free offering is limited to five results per metric, but it’s often enough to grab a quick data point.

Get it: SimilarWeb

46. Wappalyzer

There are lots of tools that help you analyze what technology stacks a website runs on, but Wappalyzer is an SEO favorite. It’s 100 percent free (unless you want advanced reporting) and will instantly tell you what technology a site is using. For example, are they using Yoast or All In One SEO Pack?

Get it: Wappalyzer

47. Wayback Machine

Gotta be honest, I personally use the Wayback Machine 2–3 times a week. It’s perfect for uncovering historical data. You can even find a trove of historical robots.txt files archived. There are a ton of other SEO uses for Wayback Machine you may find useful. 100 percent free.

Get it: Wayback Machine


Site Speed

Tools to speed up your site in order to improve engagement, increase conversions, and rank higher.

48. Cloudflare

There are so many good things to say about Cloudflare, it’s difficult to know what to include here. Aside from a free CDN to speed up your site, it also allows for easy DNS management, and 100 percent free DDoS protection. You can run on a paid plan forever, but if you’re ready to upgrade, the pro features are super cool and amazingly affordable.

Get it: Cloudflare

49. GTmetrix

GTmetrix is one of many webpage speed performance tests that SEOs love to use. It provides familiar reports such as PageSpeed, YSlow, and Waterfalls, as well as automatically visualizing historic data for each page it analyses.

Get it: GTmetrix

50. Lighthouse

Lighthouse is Google’s open-source speed performance tool. It’s also the most up-to-date, especially in terms of analyzing the performance of mobile pages and PWAs. Google not only recommends using Lighthouse to evaluate your page performance, but there is also speculation they use very similar evaluations in their ranking algorithms. 

Get it: Lighthouse

51. Page Speed Insights

Page Speed Insights is another Google tool built on top of Lighthouse, with one key added metric: Field Data. Field Data uses metrics collected by the Chrome User Experience Report so you can see how your page performs with real users across the globe. Not every page has data, but it’s super useful when it does.

Get it: Page Speed Insights

52. SpeedMonitor.io

If manually logging into a speed tool to check your performance each day isn’t your thing, consider SpeedMonitor.io. It uses Lighthouse data to gauge performance, then tracks it over time and stores the results — all for free. You can even add competitor tracking and on-demand audits. 

Get it: SpeedMonitor.io

53. WebpageTest

Webpage test is another performance tool similar to GTMetrix. It breaks down performance into easy-to-understand grades, along with some of the most detailed performance reports found anywhere. 

Get it: WebpageTest


WordPress

To be honest, there are literally hundreds of WordPress plugins that can be helpful for SEO. You almost always want a “general” SEO plugin, and we’ve listed two below. For others, you have a lot of options, but this list from Kinsta is a good place to start.

54. Rank Math

The “new” kid on the WordPress SEO plugin block, RankMath is quickly earning a cult following among certain SEO pros. It’s fully functional and comes with some cool features like built-in redirection, which means needing to install fewer plugins or pay for upgrades. Worth checking out.

Get it: Rank Math

55. Yoast SEO

Yoast is the “name” in WordPress SEO. The most trusted name, the most installed (30 million sites) and often, the most innovative. With the help of our friend Jono Alderson, they’ve created some amazing advances in the delivery of structured data. I personally use Yoast on most of my WordPress sites, and they are obviously highly recommended.

Get it: Yoast SEO


Bonus: Free Google Sheet of All 55 Tools

We’ve included a Google Sheet containing all 55 tools listed above. You can make a copy of the sheet and file away for your personal use, or share with your team.

Get the Free SEO Tool Sheet

Special Thanks

A lot of smart SEOs deserve credit for helping out with the recommendations in this post. A number of folks contributed suggestions from Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.

A comprehensive list of SEO tools and resources is maintained by Saijo George. It’s continually updated and well maintained. You can find it here.

p.s. While these are 55 of the best free SEO tools, it’s by no means a complete list! What are some of your favorite free SEO tools? Let us know in the comments.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

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How to Schedule Time for an Imaginative Process, Rather Than an Exact Task

I’m pretty happy with my current writing process. Once you’ve accepted that you don’t need to convince anyone that your creative job is actually work, you’re free to focus on optimizing the processes that allow you to produce creativity on demand. And that’s exactly what I’m up to right now … although my creative process
Read More…

The post How to Schedule Time for an Imaginative Process, Rather Than an Exact Task appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

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Is the New, Most Powerful Ranking Factor "Searcher Task Accomplishment?" – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Move over, links, content, and RankBrain — there’s a new ranking factor in town, and it’s a doozy. All kidding aside, the idea of searcher task accomplishment is a compelling argument for how we should be optimizing our sites. Are they actually solving the problems searchers seek answers for? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains how searcher task accomplishment is what Google ultimately looks for, and how you can keep up.

Searcher Task Accomplishment

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, we’re chatting about a new Google ranking factor.

Now, I want to be clear. This is not something that’s directly in Google’s algorithm for sure. It’s just that they’re measuring a lot of things that lead us to this conclusion. This is essentially what Google is optimizing toward with all of their ranking signals, and therefore it’s what SEOs nowadays have to think about optimizing for with our content. And that is searcher task accomplishment.

So what do I mean by this? Well, look, when someone does a search like “disinfect a cut,” they’re trying to actually accomplish something. In fact, no matter what someone is searching for, it’s not just that they want a set of results. They’re actually trying to solve a problem. For Google, the results that solve that problem fastest and best and with the most quality are the ones that they want to rank.

In the past, they’ve had to do all sorts of algorithms to try and get at this from obtuse angles. But now, with a lot of the work that they’re doing around measuring engagement and with all of the data that’s coming to them through Chrome and through Android, they’re able to get much, much closer to what is truly accomplishing the searcher’s task. That’s because they really want results that satisfy the query and fulfill the searcher’s task.

So pretty much every — I’m excluding navigational searches — but every informational and transactional type of search — I mean, navigational, they just want to go to that website — but informational and transactional search query is basically this. It’s I have an expression of need. That’s what I’m telling Google. But behind that, there’s a bunch of underlying goals, things that I want to do. I want to know information. I want to accomplish something. I want to complete an activity.

When I do that, when I perform my search, I have this sort of evaluation of results. Is this going to help me do what I want? Then I choose one, and then I figure out whether that result actually helps me complete my task. If it does, I might have discovery of additional needs around that, like once you’ve answered my disinfect a cut, now it’s, okay, now I kind of want to know how to prevent an infection, because you described using disinfectant and then you said infections are real scary. So let me go look up how do I prevent that from happening. So there’s that discovery of additional needs. Or you decide, hey, this did not help me complete my task. I’m going to go back to evaluation of results, or I’m going to go back to my expression of need in the form of a different search query.

That’s what gives Google the information to say, “Yes, this result helped the searcher accomplish their task,” or, “No, this result did not help them do it.”

Some examples of searcher task accomplishment

This is true for a bunch of things. I’ll walk you through some examples.

If I search for how to get a book published, that’s an expression of need. But underlying that is a bunch of different goals like, well, you’re going to be asking about like traditional versus self-publishing, and then you’re going to want to know about agents and publishers and the publishing process and the pitch process, which is very involved. Then you’re going to get into things like covers and book marketing and tracking sales and all this different stuff, because once you reach your evaluation down here and you get into discovery of additional needs, you find all these other things that you need to know.

If I search for “invest in Ethereum,” well maybe I know enough to start investing right away, but probably, especially recently because there’s been a ton of search activity around it, I probably need to understand: What the heck is the blockchain and what is cryptocurrency, this blockchain-powered currency system, and what’s the market for that like, and what has it been doing lately, and what’s my purchase process, and where can I actually go to buy it, and what do I have to do to complete that transaction?

If I search for something like “FHA loans,” well that might mean I’m in the mindset of thinking about real estate. I’m buying usually my first house for an FHA loan, and that means that I need to know things about conditions by region and the application process and what are the providers in my area and how can I go apply, all of these different things.

If I do a search for “Seattle event venues,” well that means I’m probably looking for a list of multiple event venues, and then I need to narrow down my selection by the criteria I care about, like region, capacity, the price, the amenities. Then once I have all that, I need contact information so that I can go to them.

In all of these scenarios, Google is going to reward the results that help me accomplish the task, discover the additional needs, and solve those additional needs as well, rather than the ones that maybe provide a slice of what I need and then make me go back to the search results and choose something else or change my query to figure out more.

Google is also going to reward, and you can see this in all these results, they’re going to reward ones that give me all the information I need, that help me accomplish my task before they ask for something in return. The ones that are basically just a landing page that say, “Oh yeah, Seattle event venues, enter your email address and all this other information, and we’ll be in touch with a list of venues that are right for you.” Yeah, guess what? It doesn’t matter how many links you have, you are not ranking, my friends.

That is so different from how it used to be. It used to be that you could have that contact form. You could have that on there. You could not solve the searcher’s query. You could basically be very conversion rate-focused on your page, and so long as you could get the right links and the right anchor text and use the right keywords on the page, guess what? You could rank. Those days are ending. I’m not going to say they’re gone, but they are ending, and this new era of searcher task accomplishment is here.

Challenge: The conflict between SEO & CRO

There’s a challenge. I want to be totally up front that there is a real challenge and a problem between this world of optimizing for searcher task accomplishment and the classic world of we want our conversions. So the CRO in your organization, which might be your director of marketing or it might be your CEO, or maybe if your team is big enough, you might have a CRO specialist, conversation rate optimization specialist, on hand. They’re thinking, “Hey, I need the highest percent of form completions possible.”

So when someone lands on this page, I’m trying to get from two percent to four percent. How do we get four percent of people visiting this page to complete the form? That means removing distractions. That means not providing information up front. That means having a great teaser that says like, “Hey, we can give this to you, and here are testimonials that say we can provide this information. But let’s not give it right up front. Don’t give away the golden goose, my friend. We want these conversions. We need to get our qualified leads into the funnel,” versus the SEO, who today has to think about, “How do I get searchers to accomplish their task without friction?” This lead capture form, that’s friction.

So every organization, I think, needs to decide which way they’re going to go. Are they going to go for basically long-term SEO, which is I’m going to solve the searcher’s task, and then I’m going to figure out ways later to monetize and to capture value? Or am I going to basically lose out in the search results to people who are willing to do this and go this route instead and drive traffic from other sources? Maybe I’ll rank with different pages and I’ll send some people here, or maybe I will pay for my traffic, or I’ll try and do some barnacle SEO and get links from people who do rank up top there, but I won’t do it directly myself. This is a choice we all have.

How do we nail searcher task accomplishment?

All right. So how do you do this? Let’s say you’ve gone the SEO path. You’ve decided, “Yes, Rand, I’m in. I want to help the searcher accomplish their task. I recognize that I’m going to have to be willing to sacrifice some conversion rate optimization.” Well, there are two things here.

1. Gain a deep understanding of what drives searchers to search.

2. What makes some searchers come away unsatisfied.

Once they’ve performed this query, why do they click the back button? Why do they choose a different result? Why do they change their query to something else? There are ways we can figure out both of these.

To help with number 1 try:

Some of the best things that you can do are talk to people who actually have those problems and who are actually performing those searches or have performed them through…

  • Interviews
  • Surveys

I will provide you with a link to a document that I did around specifically how to get a book published. I did a survey that I ran that looked at searcher task accomplishment and what people hoped that content would have for them, and you can see the results are quite remarkable. I’ll actually embed my presentation on searcher task accomplishment in this Whiteboard Friday and make sure to link to that as well.

  • In-person conversations, and powerful things can come out of those that you wouldn’t get through remote or through email.
  • You can certainly look at competitors. So check out what your competitors are saying and what they’re doing that you may not have considered yet.
  • You can try putting yourself in your searcher’s shoes.

What if I searched for disinfect a cut? What would I want to know? What if I searched for FHA loans? I’m buying a house for the first time, what am I thinking about? Well, I’m thinking about a bunch of things. I’m thinking about price and neighborhood and all this. Okay, how do I accomplish all that in my content, or at least how do I provide navigation so that people can accomplish all that without having to go back to the search results?

To help with number 2 try:

Understanding what makes those searchers come away unsatisfied.

  • Auto-suggest and related searches are great. In fact, related searches, which are at the very bottom of the page in a set of search results, are usually searches people performed after they performed the initial search. I say usually because there can be some other things in there. But usually someone who searched for FHA loans then searches for jumbo loans or 30-year fixed loans or mortgage rates or those kinds of things. That’s the next step. So you can say, “You know what? I know what you want next. Let me go help you.” Auto-suggest related searches, those are great for that.
  • Internal search analytics for people who landed on a page and performed a site search or clicked on a Next link on your site. What did they want to do? Where did they want to go next? That helps tell you what those people need.
  • Having conversations with those who only got partway through your funnel. So if you have a lead capture at some point or you collect email at some point, you can reach out to people who initially came to you for a solution but didn’t get all the way through that process and talk to them.
  • Tracking the SERPs and watching who rises vs falls in the rankings. Finally, if you track the search results, generally speaking what we see here at Moz, what I see for almost all the results I’m tracking is that more and more people who do a great job of this, of searcher task accomplishment, are rising in the rankings, and the folks who are not are falling.

So over time, if you watch those in your spaces and do some rank tracking competitively, you can see what types of content is helping people accomplish those tasks and what Google is rewarding.

That said, I look forward to your comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Why We Can’t Do SEO WIthout CRO from Rand Fishkin

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