Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vital marketing and acquisition channel for businesses, but it’s also a great way for NGOs and charities to expand and improve their website performance.
It’s no secret that SEO can be a bit of a challenge when you’re new to it, and picking the right tools can be tricky – especially when you’re deciding how much budget to assign and where it should go.
I asked some of the smartest SEO minds to recommend their favourite tools and explain a couple of features that would be particularly useful to you and your organisation.
Buzzsumo is a great tool on a number of levels. It allows you to input a website or a keyword, then see which content is performing best in terms of social shares. You can also find social media influencers and see what they share the most online.
If you work in content marketing, digital PR or social, it can be a great aid in discovering what is working well for your competitors and your industry.
Here are a few ideas:
- Input a competitor’s website to see what content is getting the most social shares. From here, you can see what is and isn’t working for them and what you can learn from that.
- Input a keyword for a piece of content that you are thinking about creating and see if it’s the kind of subject that generates lots of social shares.
- Use the content analysis feature to find out what type of content works best for a particular competitor or keyword. For example, Buzzsumo can tell you if long-form content works well or what topics seem to work well for a particular website.
If you’d like to learn more, there is an introductory post here along with more examples and some help on using the Buzzsumo API if you can code.
Follow Paddy on Twitter @paddymoogan
URLProfiler is one of those tools that provides constant value to an SEO toolkit, alongside their free SERP scraper and Twitter List Scraper. There are loads of uses for URLProfiler, but here are a few that would be helpful to charities. Using a tool such as ScreamingFrog or DeepCrawl you can take a list of all the pages on your website then use URLProfiler to crawl those URLs and detect the below information. This is hugely helpful for doing an audit of the content on your website.
- Social shares per page – Is your content engaging enough to pick up lots of social shares? What content worked and what didn’t?
- Connect to Google Analytics to access organic visit data for each URL – Are there large areas of the website not receiving traffic? Why is that?
- Mobile compatibility issues – Does every webpage pass Google’s requirement to be mobile friendly? Does your website offer a good visitor experience on mobile?
- Backlinks to each web page – Backlinks are important for high performing keyword rankings. What pages have backlinks and why? Could you get more?
- Whether the web page is indexed within Google – There maybe a difference to what visitors see and what Google is indexing.
- The server response code of a webpage – are pages giving the wrong code to search engines? All search engines rely on server responses.
There are also many other features such as a readability score or malware check if you feel your website may have been hacked.
Follow Carl on Twitter – @carlhendy
Screaming Frog is a powerful, cost-effective desktop crawling tool that allows you to perform various technical and on-page SEO auditing and QA tasks. Screaming Frog is my favourite SEO tool purely because it gives the user lots of control around how it crawls a website and it provides lots of digestible insight into page-level and site-level issues.
Screaming Frog allows you to very quickly crawl a site and generate a list of all of the URLs being linked to across a website – you can then look at a variety of on-page factors at various different levels. From this list, you will be able to see things like the response code, the number of internal and external links on the page, meta data, the canonical URL, use of directives and lots of other areas. You can also look at how the site is structured, how pages are being blocked, and highlight issues around broken links and different response codes. One of my favourite things about Screaming Frog is how easy it is to group pages by various attributes and then export to CSV.
I mainly use Screaming Frog for understanding accessibility issues (by emulating search engine crawlers). If you crawl a website and there are issues with redirect loops or certain types of low quality pages taking up too much bandwidth – you can then start to adapt the Screaming Frog configuration to understand how they’re impacting the crawl.
One of my favourite use cases for Screaming Frog is for website migrations and re-platforming projects. Being able to do things like list-crawl URLs to check if they’re redirecting, gain a list of active URLs and pull organic landing traffic against URLs from Google Analytics data are extremely valuable when going through the redirect mapping stage.
Follow Paul on Twitter – @paulnrogers
There are times when industrial strength tools might be too comprehensive, and you just need a quick check, often with a custom or previously unseen issue. The reality is that most marketers work within spreadsheets, and it makes perfect sense to enhance the functionality of spreadsheet software with SEO focused functions. Neil Bosma’s SEO tools for Excel is a fantastic set of mini tools that operate directly within most versions of Excel. Here are some of the use cases:
- Use familiar formulas to request data from URLs, such as titles, meta descriptions, domain whois, h1, and more.
- Pull in API data from Google Analytics and Majestic link data, painlessly, without coding.
While technical SEO is still extremely important for growth, the tide has turned in 2015. Many marketers are catching onto the content craze, but their approach to direction and strategy is more shotgun than focused. Creating a content strategy isn’t rocket science, you just need to address the pain points of your target audience, write good, compelling content, and – most of all – validate your ideas.
This is where another free tool, Huballin comes in handy. By starting with a seed topic, for example, “cancer research”, you’ll be able to discover semantically related topics that lead you to validated ideas which you can sue to start building your editorial strategy. Here are some of the questions that real people are already searching for (via Google, Bing, and DuckduckGo) that could inspire content ideas:
- When did cancer research begin?
- How to get into cancer research?
- Where does cancer research money go?
- How much does cancer research cost?
- How much money does cancer research raise each year?
Follow Dave on Twitter @dsottimano
And finally here are my recommendations:
SEMRush has some standout features that makes it’s a great investment:
- Competitor analysis: It is great for understanding how your competitors are performing across organic and paid search. You can find out which pay-per-click (PPC) keywords competitors are using for their adverts, and you can also understand which keywords your competitors are ranking for across 29 different countries. You’ll also be able to compare your own organisation to a number of competitors to see how many keywords you’re competing against each other with, exactly which keywords they are, and the search volume for each of those keywords.
- Auditing: SEMRush has a very solid auditing product that can crawl any given site to see how they are performing and what requires attention.
Sistrix is another data driven tool that’s great for understanding how your site is performing. You can compare yourself against your competitors, see how you and your competitors have performed for up to five years and check how you have performed against Google updates. Sistrix also offers insights into your backlinks and how your social media campaigns are influencing your site.
FYI Sistrix have a special NGO package so please reach out to them directly for their options.
Follow me on Twitter – @dannydenhard
How does your charity use SEO to expand and improve your website performance? Do SEO tools help you to plan your content strategy? Let us know in the comments below!