The internet is a vast world of information with answers (both right and wrong) for virtually any question, but trying to navigate through the queries, algorithms, and unspoken rules can be like exploring the great unknown. Now, I don’t consider myself a competent outdoorswoman by any means, but if watching Bear Grylls has taught me anything, it’s that you need to be prepared with the knowledge and tools for survival. In this case, the world wide web doesn’t pose the threats of mountain lion attacks, dehydration, or poisonous berries, but much the same, you should have the right tools in your arsenal. Here is a list of my favorite digital marketing resources, largely free, for PPC and SEO survival.
Keyword research is the foundation for writing meta tags for your website, developing blog topics, and choosing the right words for your ads; so, using a solid resource like SpyFu is important. SpyFu offers a variety of SEO and PPC tools in one place, making it basically the Swiss army knife of digital marketing in my eyes. One specific feature I use frequently is called Kombat, located under both SEO and PPC tools.
Kombat compares your URL with auto-generated competitors in terms of keyword ranking and bidding. Then, it tells you more about what potential keywords to focus on to improve your ranking and reach the right audience.
If you happen to be an SEO beginner, this is the resource for you. Moz has a very comprehensive search engine optimization learning course that walks you through basic information about search engines into advanced concepts. This free, reliable academy was a lifesaver for me when I first started and is great to refer back to even now.
Aside from the classes, Moz offers other free tools to help assess your site’s health and performance. Moz bar is a great plugin to view any website’s page and domain authority, while Link Explorer provides a deep analysis of ranking keywords, backlinks, lost links, and more. The free version of Moz is limited to ten searches per month, so keep that in mind!
After you update your website with new pages, posts, and pictures, make sure to use a thorough crawling site. One really nice free option I like to use is Screaming Frog SEO Spider. Screaming Frog completes the crawl relatively fast and allows you to break down different areas of your website so you know what to work on next for SEO.
Once you download and install the program, you simply copy and paste your URL into the engine and click crawl. It will show if anything is listed as unindexable, if any meta descriptions are missing, or if there are any broken links. It’s not the most pretty user interface and can definitely appear overwhelming, but it’s still a great tool worth looking into.
Google is the number one search engine in the world by a wide margin; so naturally, marketing to users through Google Ads is a must. Simply having an account is free, but how much you spend on advertising is discretionary. Smarter Searches has clients that spend anywhere from $10 a day to more than $60, so really, it’s finding a good balance between budget and getting the results your business needs.
The only note I would make is keeping in mind that Google can spend 10-20% more than your budget a day, so make certain that you are really clear with your maximum CPC. I also recommend using responsive ads for each of your ad groups and not applying all of Google’s optimization suggestions. Just look over them and see which ones make sense for that particular campaign. You will also need to get a certification from Skill Shop to properly use Google Ads – it’ll tell you everything you need to know!
PPC is not a “set it and forget it” type of work. Tracking trends and changes for SEO and PPC is another really important step in managing digital marketing. Connecting your website to a Universal Analytics account in Google Analytics will get you moving in the right direction.
After adding the correct tracking code to the HTML format of your website, Google will begin tracking the audience, acquisition, and behavior of the users on your site. Pay attention to Organic Sessions and Paid Sessions to tailor the data to SEO or PPC, respectively. I also really like the reporting capabilities GA offers; you can easily build custom dashboards and reports for free and don’t have to worry about any data disconnect occurring. Again, you’ll have to get certified for GA through Skill Shop. This exam has a lot of information, so give yourself ample time to study!
Adding these sites to your bookmarks bar makes chipping away at SEO and PPC tasks more approachable. With so many resources available, it can seem daunting to spend the time researching and testing out products. This list is tried-and-true, but don’t let the fear overwhelm you!
Do more trials as you learn more about SEO and PPC. Remember that digital marketing is more of a marathon than a sprint; so, if you’re like me and love instant results from completing a task list, remember to stay positive, patient and most importantly, stay prepared.