Between its well-publicized News Feed changes and increased public scrutiny, Facebook isn’t the dominant traffic source it once was. As a result Google is overtaking the social network to reclaim its place as the top traffic source for many publishers, and with that comes renewed interested in SEO. That’s not to say media organizations ever stopped focusing on organic search, but it has certainly become a greater priority of late.
Fortunately, there are a variety of SEO tools available to help publishers maximize their organic search performance. Most are not specifically designed for news and editorial content, but they align well with publishers’ needs. The recommended approach is to start with Google Search Console for foundational items and then bring in advanced tools for technical analysis, editorial support, and audience development.
Here are 10 tools serving variety purposes that are the best in their category:
Crawling a site is a cornerstone of technical SEO analysis. Every publisher should crawl their properties at periodic intervals to identify issues and opportunities for improvement. New errors crop up with some frequency so it’s an ongoing process. DeepCrawl is the best of the enterprise-level crawlers that are publicly available. It is a powerful crawler with a good feature set and a user-friendly interface.
2. Screaming Frog
For smaller sites and limited-scope crawls on larger ones (such as a specific section) Screaming Frog is an excellent option. It’s also inexpensive and thus a great value, and they are frequently adding new features. It is highly recommended as an everyday supplement to a more robust crawler, and for some publishers, it can even be the primary option.
3. URL Profiler
URL Profiler is an impressive Swiss-army knife for auditing and analysis. Input a list of URLs or an XML sitemap and it can pull in a wide range of content, link, and social data. Its ability to connect to Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and PageSpeed Insights is particularly helpful for analyzing page-level data at scale. APIs for several third-party tools can also be utilized to expand its feature set.
4. Google Data Studio
Analytics and data analysis are critical to understanding and improving SEO performance. In addition to detailed monthly reporting via Adobe or Google Analytics, it is important to monitor top queries for organic search. Since most referring keyword data is now obscured, the Search Analytics report in Google Search Console is the best source available for that information. Google Data Studio is a free data visualization tool with GA and Search Console connectors that makes it easy to create simple dashboards that can be shared with editorial teams and other parts of the organization.
5. News Dashboard
Maximizing Google News performance is a vital activity for publishers that cover breaking news and trending topics. Unfortunately, this can be a frustrating experience and there isn’t always good data available to aid in the process. News Dashboard helps to fill that gap. It provides frequently updated information on top performing keywords and articles as well as trending topics and missed opportunities. Publishers can also compare performance with key competitors.
6. Google Trends
Google Trends should come as no surprise; it is the tool most frequently used by editorial teams for quick keyword research. For breaking news and trending topics, the data can be filtered by the past day, past 4 hours or even past hour to provide insight into what is spiking and how long it lasts. And for seasonal and non-trending topics the default 12-month timeline (or longer) helps to identify patterns as well as top and rising terms in that period.
For evergreen topics, SEMrush is an excellent keyword research, visibility monitoring, and competitive analysis tool. Its Keyword Magic Tool is incredibly helpful for organizing topics/seed terms into logical subgroups to identify high-value content ideas. The competitive and gap analysis functions are also very useful. It’s one of the most practical and actionable tools available for editorial teams.
Generating quality links is still among the best ways to bolster organic search performance. For publishers, much of facilitating link growth comes down to editorial and design factors, such as topics covered, frequency and depth of publication, and how content is packaged. While proactive link building efforts are not typically part of the workflow it is still helpful to understand a site’s link profile and how it fares versus key competitors. Link analysis also plays a critical role in troubleshooting efforts when a site experiences a performance decline, for instance, after a major Google update. There are a variety of link analysis tools available but Ahrefs is one of the best. They’ve also been expanding the keyword research capabilities making it a very useful all-around tool.
9. SimilarWeb PRO
For competitive analysis and market intelligence, SimilarWeb PRO is one of the best resources available. It has several good SEO reports, including estimations of organic search’s contribution to total traffic, search traffic by type (e.g. web, news, image), and specific engagement signals for visitors coming from search. A nice feature of its keyword visibility and gap analysis functionality is the ability to filter for new and trending terms.
10. STAT Search Analytics
Not all publishers need to regularly monitor rankings, particularly news sites for which top queries and positions frequently change. But it can be useful for evergreen topics and priority pages. There is also value in understanding the makeup of search engine results pages (SERPs) for key terms, such as when Featured Snippets or various universal search modules appear or the differences between desktop and mobile results. For large-scale rank tracking and SERP analysis, STAT Search Analytics is an excellent option. They’re a smart company with a strong feature set and good support.