Need More SEO Tools? Google Has Some!

Posted by Paddy_Moogan

Howdy SEOmozzers! Hope you are all enjoying the Christmas break. For those of you still looking for SEO goodness to read around the holidays, I’ve put together this post on tools that Google provides that you can use for SEO tasks.

We all love SEO tools because they can make our lives so much easier. Members of SEOmoz know this better than most with the array of tools that SEOmoz has. However we always want more as there are always some tasks that can be automated or made quick by using a tool instead. Google actually provides tools that can assist with SEO tasks; some of them you may know about, others may be new to you. Either way, I wanted to give you a run down of ways you can use Google to help with SEO tasks.

Just as a quick sidenote, Google actually has an SEO guide (PDF link) which is pretty good as both an introduction and a reminder of the basic principles of SEO and how Google works. It amazes me how many SEOs don’t read into the technical side of Google and how everything works behind the scenes. This guide helps to cover some of this.

So what tools does Google give you…

1. Follow Finder

This tool helps you to find people on Twitter who are similar or related to the person you search for. You just enter the profile name of someone and the tool will return a list of people also on Twitter. 

Practical Use – Very handy if you are just getting into a new market and want to find out who the key influencers are as well as who is active in that community on Twitter. This can lead to the potential of outreach and building relationships with these people. The tool does seem quite accurate given the results that it returned for a search on Rand’s profile:

2. Google Sets

I’ve been using this for quite a while now and even though it is very simple, it is quite useful. You input a keyword and the tool will return a list of keywords which are similar to the one you started with. Here is an example of what results I was given on a search for "BMW":

Practical Use – I use this a lot when I am just starting a project and need to get a feel for all the different related keywords that could be related to the client. It’s almost like a brainstorming tool and can certainly help if you are stuck or have brain freeze!

3. Google Alerts + Google ReaderiGoogle = Win!

So this one is a combination of tools. You can use this combination for a number of purposes, but the idea is that you can get these tools to work together then feed the output into an easy to consume format.

Practical Use – I have two main uses of these tools. The first is like an improvised reputation management dashboard. I do this via the following steps –

  • Setup a Google Alert for my keywords, eg "Paddy Moogan" OR "Patrick Moogan"
  • Add this Google Alert to Google Reader – you could stop at this point but it can look much better!
  • Take the RSS feed from Google Reader and add it to your iGoogle interface

So when I login to iGoogle, I have a small widget which will contain any mentioned of the variations of my name. You can then mark them as read and only see new results in your feed which makes things much more efficient. Fortunately today there are no mentions of me. 😛

4. Latest Results

Not many people think of this as an SEO tool but it can be used in a few different ways. The way it works is very simple, just input your keyword and click on Latest from the left hand menu:

Practical Use – I sometimes use this combined with a site: search to see how a website is being cached by Google. If you enter a very large website with lots of link juice, then you can pretty much see live re-caching of the pages on that website, just like this example using the BBC website:

Another use is to use a similar approach to my previous task of monitoring Google Alerts for mentions of your brand. You could run a search for your brand, then leave the latest results running in a different tab / browser whilst you do other work. Then just come back every so often and see if there are any relevant results to you.

5. Google Suggest

Again, this isn’t really thought of as an SEO tool but it should be!  I actually blogged about this quite a while ago and gave a few instances where this may be useful. In partiuclar when you have to do some very quick keyword analysis and give an answer to a client. There is some debate as to where these results come from, but to me it seems to be a combination of search volume and on-site factors as well as social mentions. So it’s still a valid source to look at when trying to come up with additional keywords – in particular long tail keywords.

Practical Use – Fortunately there are tools out there which make using Google Suggest as a tool a lot easier, one of which is this tool from Rob Millard which makes use of the Google Suggest API.

6. Google Insights

I don’t use this as much as I should really. I don’t think the data is 100% perfect but when doing comparisons, it can often come in handy.

Practical Use – Make comparisons between similar search terms to see which one you could be targeting and see which ones have become more popular in recent times. I also use it to try and see what search terms are rising pretty fast. If you are lucky enough to see one that is related to your industry, you can sometimes ride the wave by publishing a news article or piece of content around that term. This works especially well if you are included in Google News too. Here is an example of what I’ve found at the time of writing:

7. Google Webmaster Tools

This one kind of goes without saying!  There is a wealth of information inside Webmaster Tools and Google are releasing more features all the time. 

Practical Use – I love using Webmaster Tools when doing technical site audits. Google gives you information on crawl errors and what they have found in terms of on-site issues which you can then try and fix to improve your site.

8. Google Trends

Trends is a little different to Insights which I mentioned above.  One of the extra features that Trends gives you is the ability to see the "Also Visited" and "Also Searched For" information.  We can see the following results when I searched for which seem fairly accurate:

Practical Use – This is a very useful one for doing research around a market that you don’t know too well, for example at the start of an SEO project.  It can also give you some ideas for sites to get links from, because these are very relevant sites.  You can also use these sites to do backlink checks for finding more links that you may not have previously seen.

9. Wonder Wheel

Another useful tool from Google is the Wonder Wheel which was introduced quite a while ago.  It’s very good for finding related keywords, almost like Google Sets or Google Suggest which were outlined above.  

Practical Use – Where the Wonder Wheel really helps is when it comes to showing clients and non SEO people a way to visualise keywords that are related to each other.  It works very quickly and you can easily get into the long tail of search terms.  Here is an example if you were working in an industry that sold garden sheds, after just three clicks I’ve got some long tail keyword ideas and can see what the competition is like for each one by looking at the search results to the right:

10. Image Swirl

I’ve cheated with this one a little bit – it hasn’t really got any SEO use from what I’ve seen so far.  But it is so cool to use!  It shows you images that are very similar to each other and the interface is very slick and smooth.  Its almost like the Wonder Wheel but for images:

A screenshot here can’t really do it justice so just go and have a play 🙂 

11.  Google Zeitgeist

Thanks to Justin for pointing this one out to me.  This is almost like a combination between Trends and Insights but looks so much better!  The link above is to a summary of 2010 and the billions of searches on Google during the year.  You can click on various world events and see a visual representation of which were most popular and in what parts of the world.  Just check this out:

As I said this one is quite new to me so I’m yet to find an SEO use, but it sure looks great and has tons of data for you to look at.

Well there you have it, eleven tools given to us by Google.  Go have a play and let me know in the comments if you have any others or different uses for the tools above.

Enjoy the rest of the festive season and I wish you all the best for 2011!

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