This post no longer has 5 tools because we have added more!
Google has a compelling interest in helping site owners put their best foot forward in search. Attorneys who are willing to learn can find a bunch of free tools from Google to help them do SEO on their website. Attorney Rankings has highlighted some tools that Google make available for free that lawyers may not have known about.
Perhaps the greatest tool for website owners is Google’s Webmaster Tools interface1. It allows site owners to see keyword phrases that people have used to visit their site, inbound links, HTML errors, the presence of malware, mobile usability status, and provides the ability to submit a website for crawling among many other features lawyers can learn how to use2.
For example you can see things like:
• Average rank in search for specific keywords
• Code improvements that you could make
• Notifies you of 404 crawl errors you can redirect3
• Whether elements like meta descriptions4 and title tags5 are in order
• When your pages have been submitted to Google and their index status
• Any malware that may be present on your site
• How your site appears in search
Its completely free to use Google Webmaster Tools. You have to set up a Google Account to use it and you also have to verify your site in order to get it submitted.
If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? In other words, you should be tracking your marketing progress. Webmaster Tools can help you do that but if you are looking for something a lot more powerful, you should check out Google Analytics.
Google’s free tracking platform is a leader in its industry. It is relatively easy to use for those just starting out with analytics programs and it is also highly customizable for the code junkies out there. Lawyers can see basic information about their site such as number of visits, length of visit, where visitors came from, the geographic region they are located in, and real time data about the site.
You can also set up custom tracking6 to see when visitors are clicking on buttons, watching videos or performing other actions on your site. Reports are customizable by time frame and you can get pretty granular with the data. Installing analytics is easy and if you have a WordPress site there are some plugins7 that make installing it super simple.
Increasingly, the speed at which your web pages load is important for ranking well in search. It is also important for your users who (like everyone else) get really impatient when your pages do not load fast.
Google provides a free tool called Page Speed Insights8. By simply copying and pasting your website URL in the analysis bar, you will be given a score on a scale of 1 to 100. It even analyzes your site on a mobile scale.
There are a lot of page speed analyzers on the web and they are all pretty much free. The sweet part about Google’s tool is that it provides you detailed information on how to fix your site if it is slow9. Google also prioritizes the tasks that you should be focusing on into very important to marginally important compared to how much time it will take to finish it.
We all know how important keywords are to our marketing efforts in search. Formerly the keyword tool, Google’s Keyword Planner10 is a re-vamped version of the popular research software. While others may not agree, the planner is way better than the keyword tool.
One of the notable features of the planner is that it takes a more focused approach to developing keyword lists for users. The old tool sort of left you on your own to find keywords and ensure that you knew how to organize them on your website.
The new planner organizes your words for you so that you know how to group them more accurately for use on your web pages. A cleaner interface and more streamlined process in addition to better filters make the tool more robust and easier to use.
Did we mention that it was free?
This is one that I like that does not always get a lot of fan-fare. Google Alerts is a service that was spawned out of Google Labs and it allows you to keep track of content that is published on the web.
Basically the way it works is you enter a word or phrase into Google alerts and tell Google that you want to be notified when that word or phrase is published on the web. Say you want to know when someone is writing something about you online. You could enter your name (either without quotation marks for broad match or with for exact match) and Google will send you an email the next time a scathing review appears with your name in it (or hopefully a rosy one).
As of April of 2015, Google officially places emphasis on mobile usability as a ranking factor. They kindly provide this free tool11 for assessing whether not a site is mobile friendly. Just like with the page speed tool, they provide suggestions for fixing mobile usability issues if you have them.
Tag manager12 works along with AdWords and Analytics. It is a tool designed for marketers and others that do not have the coding knowledge required to enhance (or even install) these products. It works a lot like installing Google Analytics in that there is one snippet (called a container snippet) installed on your website. After that, lawyers can simply create rules in a user-friendly (and code-free) interface to do things like create events, install remarketing code, implement conversion tracking and other advanced tasks in AdWords and Analytics.