In the process of my daily SEO work, the majority of the time I use my usual online SEO tools to conduct keyword research, which is 90 percent of the job for me. However, there are times when I need a useful, and preferably free SEO management tool that can provide some feedback as to the success or failure of my various SEO efforts.
For a long time, I simply gauged my efforts by typing in the search term that I was targeting and hoped against hope that I would at least be ranked within the top five pages (preferably the first). Then, I would go into Google Analytics and determine my top incoming links, top keywords and so on. While this approach isn’t overly complicated, it isn’t entirely intuitive for non-tech folks who are interested in sprucing up the search engine rank of their personal website.
Here at MUO, we strive to bring you the best tools to help with your SEO efforts. I recently listed 10 SEO mistakes you need to avoid – both Part 1 and Part 2. Dean listed some excellent SEO tips for Blogger blogs, and of course Karl hit on 3 excellent WordPress SEO plug-ins.
In looking for a standalone app that could help with overall SEO analytics, I was pleased to discover Traffic Travis. In the highly competitive world of SEO, not much is free. Most services will analyze your site or provide monthly Search Engine ranking stats for a high monthly fee. At best, you may find a 7 day free trial somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong, the premium version of Traffic Travis is fairly pricey commercial software – but the makers of this software figured out the secret to creating positive buzz for their product. That is, offer a truly free product that is useful and powerful.
Today I will review the free version of Traffic Travis and show you how you can use it to analyze your own website and significantly improve your search engine page rank.
A Feature Overview Of This Free SEO Management Tool
Once you download and install the app, you’ll discover an application that has a nice clean, easy to understand layout. The major navigational buttons are on the left and more details about each are on the right.
The general features the software offers includes:
- Keyword Tools – To conduct your keyword research, and very limited in this free addition (see below).
- Search Engine Tools – An extremely useful feature that shows you how your site ranks and where your top backlinks are coming from (very cool, and very useful).
- PPC Analysis – Shows you where you should focus your PPC ad efforts based on top sites and top keywords.
- Page Analysis – Lets you analyze the SEO effectiveness of individual pages on your site.
- SEO Analysis – Specifically analyzes your site based on the keywords you’re trying to focus on with your blog or website.
The Keyword Tool research section is severely limited – no competition data. However, you can type in general keywords you want to target and the tool will show you what phrases draw the highest organic searches on three major search engines (Google, Yahoo and MSN).
Using The Search Engine Tools Can Improve Your SEO
To show you how effective this tool can be in analyzing your own blog, no matter how small or new it is – I’m going to utilize the SEO analytics features on my own young blog Top Secret Writers. Now, on this blog I often just post content without spending any time at all on SEO efforts, and other times I do. Lately I’ve been wondering what I’d need to do to go back and fix those things that I did in such a rush at the beginning.
Under the Search Engine Tools, you can define a whole list of keywords that you consider as your website’s core focus. In my case I listed things like advanced technologies, top secret government projects, UFOs and things like that. These are all fairly popular search engine phrases, but as you can see so far my blog doesn’t even make it on the radar.
Don’t give up! For new blogs, you need to focus on the other tools for now, and eventually you’ll start appearing under the major keywords that are more competitive.
Instead, click on “Top sites for keywords,” and you’ll discover which major sites do rank highest for the keywords that you would like to rank highly. You’re going to find that these are sites that are much older than yours (but not always). Other sites are just very competitive under those keywords – they have a lot of content that search engines rank as high value.
Considering how important incoming links are from highly ranked sites like this – where do you think you should be spending your time posting, writing and otherwise fraternizing with like-minded individuals like yourself? The best thing you can do for the rank of your site is to spend quality time reading, commenting on, and participating at the websites of your top competitors (this is the irony of SEO), linking to your own site whenever and wherever they allow it (just don’t spam!).
Now you’ll see why I really love the Search Engine Tools section. Click on “Backlinks to site” and you’ll discover all of the sites that have linked to you the most. Even if you’re new – if you’ve been writing interesting and useful content to your site, in time you’ll get followers and linkers, it’s inevitable. Also, if you’ve been promoting your own site from other sites (as you should be), you’ll notice those here as well. These other sites that link to you are essentially your fans, so you should go down this list and visit their site. Participate, comment and have valuable exchanges with the people there – this is what the blogosphere is all about!
Very Detailed Targeted Keyword Analysis
Another thing that I feel Traffic Travis does very well is the level of detail that it provides in analyzing search engine trends and statistics for the specific keywords you want to target. Here’s another TopSecretWriters example – at one point I wanted to write an article about Gravionics, a very weird fringe science concept. So, I actually did SEO optimize that article as much as I could, considering that the blog is still very young.
If you take Traffic Travis, go into the Keyword Research area and type in “gravionics”. It then provides you with a breakdown of the current top sites that rank highly with that term.
Traffic Travis will show you the sites that rank the highest on the term that you’re writing about. I did pretty well (ranked 13) considering that it’s a very small blog that just started up – but the more important information is the list of sites that rank above you for that term. Once again – here is valuable information you can use to improve your own ranking for that particular keyword phrase.
In this case, I should go to Barnes and Noble, Amazon and BiggerBooks and comment on that page, linking back to my blog entry (if it’s allowed). I should go to Yahoo Answers and answer or comment on the question and link back to my blog entry. Basically, the information from Traffic Travis will help you target your social networking efforts to more effectively improve the specific keyword rankings that you’re shooting for. And if you’re a glutton for punishment, you can even let Traffic Travis grade the SEO level of your page.
Hey, a B – not bad! But trust me – plenty of other pages I analyzed with this software got an F! When you blog, it’s hard to take the time to do all of those SEO techniques that you know you should – but in the long run, it will result in a stronger growth rate and a much higher quality blog drawing in large volumes of organic traffic every single day.
Share your own opinion about the Traffic Travis free SEO management tool, or let us know what other free SEO tools you find effective in the comments section below.