I’m a big believer in owned and earned media. I have worked for a marketing agency on the paid media side of things. There is certainly a time and place for paid media, but owned and earned media are more cost-effective and have better conversion rates.
Earned media can be difficult to get if you’re a smaller brand. That’s why a good marketing strategy for every brand, especially smaller brands, is an owned media strategy. At the core of owned media is great content, but it is naive to think that great content alone will get you traffic. This is where Search Engine Optimization(SEO) comes into the picture.
You need to optimize your great content to be found on search engines. Below are the tools I use to optimize and produce content so they can be found by Google.
Google Search Console
I said I started out in marketing on the paid media side. Google Search Console takes me back to those days. Every paid media platform has a dashboard that tells you impressions and clicks and gives you information from the pre-click side of things. Google Search Console provides that information for SEO.
I need to be clear. Google doesn’t share all of their data on Google Search Console. So it is incomplete and that can be frustrating. But it can tell you want keywords are sending the most traffic to your site and what pages are getting the most organic traffic.
The other aspect of Google Search Console that is vitally important is the information it can provide for technical SEO. It provides information on your site’s vitals and allows you to add a sitemap to Google.
Getting Google Search Console set up is an important first step in optimizing your owned media.
Ahrefs is a keyword research and all-around SEO tool. Keywords are what people search in Google and Ahrefs can help you find keywords to target with your content. It is a gold standard in keyword research. It has the standard columns of search volume and keyword difficulty along with many other metrics.
Ahrefs also crawls your site and helps you optimize the technical SEO on your site. This is so important if you’re just starting an owned media strategy. Technical SEO involves all the code and non-content aspects that affect SEO. Having a well-optimized site is invaluable for ranking high on Google.
It is unfortunately not a free tool. There are several tiers with the low end being $99 and the high end of $999. The average content marketer will only need the $99. For a free alternative try Ubersuggest. It’s not as thorough as Ahrefs and it limits your usage.
Answer The Public
Answer The Public is an interesting tool that may confuse new SEOs. You input a keyword and it spits out several permutations of the keyword. It will show you the most asked questions and related phrases.
It’s a great way to organize your content and to find content ideas. I often look for themes in the related phrases and try to include them in the content I create.
Page Speed Insights
Page Speed Insights is a Google Tool. The tool helps you optimize your website for speed. Site speed and usability are important aspects of technical SEO.
With this tool, you just input your URL, and Page Speed Insights will give you a score and several suggestions on how to optimize your site for speed. It’s important to optimize your site as best you can, and then to check it routinely to make sure it stays optimized.
Clearscope is a content creation tool. What it does is it takes a keyword and then tells you about the content that is already ranking highly for that keyword. By knowing that information, you can then create better content than your competitors.
The nice thing about Clearscope is that not only does it tell you about your competition it grades your own content. It tells you how your content ranks relative to your competition. Making it very easy to know you made better content.
This tool is not free and is unfortunately somewhat pricey. The cheapest option is $170. If you’re just starting out, this tool is not a priority. But if you have the budget it can certainly help.
I saved this one for last because while it is possibly the most important, it’s also fairly lame. But the actual Google Search is very helpful in crafting good content. I want to provide one tip when you google terms to learn more about them, do it in Chrome’s incognito mode. This way Google won’t try to optimize the search results for you. You’ll get a more general output.
Google Search is should be used for attempting to see search intent. Google isn’t literal. Google tries to assume what you actually meant. If you Google “cooked chicken,” Google doesn’t just give you images and facts about cooked chicken. It gives you some of that, but it mostly gives you recipes. Because google assumes that you’re actually interested in “how to cook chicken.” Understanding search intent is part of creating great content and ranking highly.