Bill Hartzer will be speaking on SEO Tools at the Engage Conference, which will take place March 9, 2017 in Portland. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please click here.
1) Please give us your background and let us know what you do for a living.
I’m an SEO consultant. I focus primarily on SEO strategy and technical SEO audits of web sites, from small SMB-type websites to larger, enterprise web sites. I started doing organic SEO, building websites, and creating content back in the mid 1990s. At that time, and in the early 2000s, I was webmaster and technical writer for a large telecom software company–and I moved into doing SEO in-house at the company for several years. I did SEO in 9 different languages at the time. I then moved into the agency world, as a search engine marketing manager at a web design firm in Dallas. Since then, around 2005, I have been at a few different SEO agencies and interactive marketing firms, as a Director of SEO, Senior SEO Strategist, and then most recently running a digital marketing agency. Over the years I’ve seen a lot of websites–optimized even more of them, and have seen lots of websites have issues that were tough to fix. In the past few years, I’ve always been the one that website owners and even other SEO agencies come to when they can’t figure out what’s going on with a website. If there are ranking problems and issues, I can usually fix them–or know someone I can refer you to who can fix it.
2) What do you feel are the necessary toolsets for an Enterprise or Agency-level SEO effort?
Typically there are several different types of tools that any SEO needs: crawlers, link tools, traffic tools, and outreach/PR tools. For on-page and on-site issues, you need crawlers so you can crawl the website. Which crawlers depend on the size of the site and what your goals are for analyzing a site. For example, crawlers like Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider and Deep Crawl are helpful. For off-page issues, there are various tools that Google has that are free, such as for various mobile testing and looking at AMP and schema-related issues. Google Search Console does have a few useful reports and tools, as well.
Links are still a really important ranking factor for Google, so having access to all the link tools is important. I prefer to use several link tools, starting with Majestic. If you’re doing a link cleanup or other link analysis, then grabbing all of the link data that you can, from multiple link tools is important, including Google Search Console’s links. Combine all the links and remove the duplicates. Link Research Tools has some great tools, and I also really like running Kerboo, as well.
For link building and link earning, agencies need to take more of a “public relations” approach. The better agencies now have PR folks on staff, or work closely with a PR firm to get media coverage, which helps the link earning efforts. Tools like Cision, BuzzStream, and PItchbox.com are helpful, as well. Help a Reporter Out can be helpful, and also PodcastGuests.com can get you or your clients a guest spot on popular podcasts.
For gauging traffic levels and keyword research, there are a few tools worth mentioning. Semrush.com, Spyfu, and (ugh) Keyword Planner are worth mentioning.
3) Do you think Google is going to continue to make it more difficult for toolsets to function at an optimum level?
Google will continue to make it more difficult for toolsets to function–especially if they rely on scraping Google’s data. There are actually other ways that tool makers can get the data–I even remember a keyword tool that I used over 15 years ago that got its data from the core routers on the internet, not from scraping. Rather than scraping Google, there are other ways to get data. You just need the proper agreements and partnerships in place to get it.
Keep in mind, though, that a lot of the really good data you need can come from your own analytics, your own log files, and by looking at data you already have. It’s certainly tougher for sites that are just starting out, as they won’t have much data. But the opportunity exists, and too many site owners and SEOs don’t take advantage of the data they already have.