I'm a firm believer that great SEO is an on going process that involves continually investing time into uncovering problems and opportunities. I think even amazing websites always have the space to improve and there are hidden keyword and link acquisition opportunities everywhere.

A great SEO team uses a combination of tools to cut the time invested in manual and laborious tasks, allowing them to focus in analysis and coming up with solutions - the elements that require human input. So a great arsenal of tools is a must in SEO and here are 4 I'm a huge fan of for uncovering problems and identifying opportunities you might otherwise have missed.

1. Deepcrawl

I don't believe there's any such thing as a perfect website, but admittedly some are a lot worse than others from a technical SEO point of view.

If you have a big website with thousands or even millions of URLs, then sifting through page by page to uncover problems is completely and utterly unfeasible and even if you spent all day long on it for a year, you'd hardly scratch the surface.

This is where Deepcrawl comes in. Put in your URL, enter your preferred settings and sit back and wait. You'll get a full report of the technical status of your website once the tool has crawled it.

Common problems it can help to uncover:

  • Internal duplicate content problems (multiple URLs running near identical content often caused by content management systems or other technical elements)
  • Dead pages still being linked to
  • 302 redirects that should be 301 redirects
  • Any problems indexing content on your site

You can take this information and make progress through fixes. Personally, I've found fixing duplicate content issues to consistently have positive outcomes for the visibility of a website, so this is where I'd start.

Set up regular crawls of your site and compare metrics with historic crawls so you can easily chart progress over time.

2. Google Search Console Search Analytics

Within Google's own (free to use) Search Console is some genuinely useful data. Tucked away in an area called "Search Analytics," you can essentially get a list of thousands of queries that have driven clicks to your site over a given date range. You can see what position, on average, you ranked for that query over the timeframe too.

So how can you use it?

This is basically a great list of potential keyword ideas. I use this data in a number of ways, but a favorite tactic is to go in and find all the keywords rankings between position 10.1 and 14 that are driving a significant number of impressions and some clicks.

These queries:

  • Have potential because they're already driving impressions and maybe clicks from page two
  • Are potentially shorter term wins for your site because you're pretty close already

Find the lower competition ones and take a look at the landing page ranking for them then identify what you can improve to give yourself a chance to improve things.

This is something I like to carry out on a weekly basis for campaigns I work on but that can be adapted based on your own schedule.

3. Google Reverse Image Search

There are a host of use cases for Google Reverse Image Search. A common one is checking who is using your copyrighted images to request removal.

In a slight deviation from this tactic, you can put the method to use in helping you to build the links you need in order to enhance your organic search visibility.

Reverse image search your logo, any of your proprietary staff, product or even general website images. But when you find instances of people using them without even crediting you, rather than asking them to take the images down, why not request an attribution in the form of a link instead?

It's a quick and easy request to make and you've nothing to lose in doing so. Building up attribution links of this nature could have an impact on your overall visibility.

If that works out, you might consider image link acquisition as a bigger part of your campaign, which you can do with a little help from this guide.

4. Answer the Public

Another free tool, Answer the Public uses Google Suggest data to uncover the questions people ask Google.

When you begin typing something into Google, it will make suggestions to complete the query for you. These suggestions are based on previous searchers' queries. In other words, if Google suggests a way for you to end your query, it's because someone (most likely a reasonable number of people!) have asked that before.

Answer the Public scrapes this data. You put in a keyword and the tool will present you with visualizations showing the various questions or phrases people have typed into Google before about that query.

How does this help from an SEO point of view?

Well, if you sell, let's say, life insurance, you'll be aware of a loose buying process for that particular product. You may already have an idea of the types of objections, questions or concerns people have throughout the research process before ultimately buying a policy.

You can use Google Suggest data to find out which questions people are taking to Google. An example from this query on Answer the Public is "which life insurance policy is best for me?"

If people are asking that question in Google and you can create a genuinely useful piece of content optimized for this query that answers it well, you give yourself a shot at ranking for the question and therefore winning that visitor whose query implies that they're in the market for your product.

Identifying a handful of these queries on a regular basis can help you to create on going content that drives relevant traffic through search.

Published on: Nov 28, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.