Marketing experts and journalists always like to talk about the trends that will drive business forward in a given year. There is usually something new and emerging to keep an eye, but the one trend that never seems to go out of style is search engine optimization. Although the rules are steadily changing (thanks to Google), companies are still using SEO to increase visibility and drive qualified traffic to their online destinations.
2012 isn’t over yet, but we’ve seen more than enough to compile a list of the top 10 SEO tools for this year.
While Google Analytics is best known for its tracking capabilities, it can also be a mighty powerful SEO tool for those who know how to make the most of it. This software gives you a comprehensive look at the traffic coming in to your site and where it originates from. Equipped with this knowledge, you can then optimize content accordingly for both search engines and human visitors.
Google Keyword Tool
Google Keyword Tool was originally launched for Google AdWords advertisers, but its usefulness is not limited to PPC campaigns. Some say it’s the best free keyword research tool on the market. While that is a bold statement, it’s hard to argue with because this one is pretty efficient at what it does. By simply entering a term, Google Keyword Tool can provide you with hundreds of suggestions to help you find the keywords that are best suited for your strategy.
Google Webmaster Tools
Sticking with our Google theme, next on the list is Google Webmaster Tools. What you have here is actually a robust resource that serves as a collection of tools designed to help webmasters optimize their sites. Webmaster Tools allows you to view a broad range of data related to your site, including traffic, keywords, backlinks, sitemaps, +1 clicks, and much more. If you optimize for Google traffic, this is definitely one to have in your toolkit.
Here is another tool highly regarded as one of the best of its kind. What SEO Quake does is compile information regarding web pages and then arranges them based on their priority, which in this case, is mainly page rank. Plain and simple. SEO Quake is a good tool to pull out when you want to spy on the competition and understand what it takes to get an edge.
SEOmoz is one of the most trusted authorities in the business, and its premium software solution, SEOmoz is considered to be top notch. This tool combines the various elements of SEO management and social media monitoring in a package designed to simplify these often complex processes. You can give SEOmoz a spin through a free 30-day trial.
If free is more your speed, then Xenu deserves your attention. Xenu helps you identify broken links and other issues that can drive down your SEO value. This tool is capable of scanning all types of links, including those associated with images, plugins, style sheets, and various types of programming scripts. Xenu is a tool you want to run every now and then to make sure the search spiders have an easy time indexing your site.
Open Site Explorer
When it comes to link building, quality is now far more important than quantity. Open Site Explorer is a comprehensive tool you can use to find out where your inbound links are coming from and determine which ones are delivering the most benefits. This information is critical to understanding where you’re at with your link building strategy and what needs to be done to improve.
SEO Doctor is a simple FireFox plugin that offers a little something to both novice and seasoned SEO managers. This tool analyzes your site, alerts you of potential problems, and then assigns a score for each individual page based on the current SEO methodology. The scoring system it uses and recommendations it are makes based on guidelines from Google itself.
Microsoft SEO Toolkit
Considering that it’s free, this handy utility is almost too good to be true. Microsoft SEO Toolkit analyzes your website and delivers suggestions on where improvements need to be made. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this tool is the detailed analysis it provides. It can identify missing tags, broken links, troublesome scripts and other aspects that could hurt your SEO value.
Last on the list is SEMRush. Made by the creators of SEO Quake, this tool is great for researching your own keywords as well as monitoring the keywords competitors are using in their PPC campaigns. What really makes this tool stand out is its massive network of databases, which harbors 95,000,000 keywords across 44,000,000 domains.