Unless you are a professional web guru, you don't need anything but
Google to do bare bones SEO. And the tools outlined here are free.
Tip: All Photos are my own screenshots. You can view them at full size by clicking each one. Or you can simply check out my Flikr Set in a new tab.
Google Search - The basic google search bar now offers search suggestions. If you type in the words "How To" or "Create A" for example it will begin showing you the most popular searches based on those words. The really important thing to remember is that it goes letter by letter. Take a look at the screen shot below. I was testing an example using "SEO" as my search indicator when used with other words. I really love this tool when brainstorming a title. I also rely very heavily on this method whenever the ol brain housing group locks up and I am looking for a new topic to write about.
Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool - Almost everyone uses this tool. But if you haven't, we'll run over some of the basics. The adwords suggestion are based on you typing in your own keywords. If you type in "How to" it will return several key phrases and will show how they rank against each other based on several different criteria. Or, you can also enter a URL and the results will show which keywords the bots found. And it will also suggest alternative keywords. The only issue I have with this tool is that it and other tools show the KW for everything on the page. On a busy page your content can get lost. We have a solution for that though. Please keep reading.
Google Blogger - Do you need a down and dirty website? Of course you do! The reason is simple. It makes the perfect SEO platform for your writing. What you get is a place you can publish without extraneous stuff cluttering your content. There are no "related article" titles, no ads, very few additional links, and no comments to skew your keyword analysis. All you have to do is create a blogger account and set up a blank blog. Then, each time you write something, publish it to the blank blog. Now you run the Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool over the URL of your blank blog.
Tip: even if it is a bit off topic for this article, the blank blog tip works very well for other keyword optimization tools.
Google Docs - I'm sure you are wondering how in the world Google Docs can help SEO your site. One of the features in Google Docs is the reading statistics. When you toggle ctrl+shift+c you get a word count. But, even more importantly you get an idea of how tough your document is to read. If you are writing at a college level, you will lose traffic as people click in, then immediately click back out. I am sure that part of the Google Algorithm incorporates not only keywords but how long people stay at your site. Let's assume that your keywords and mine are the same, we have the same pictures/word count, But my document is harder to read than yours. I think that your easier to read document will rank higher in the search rankings over time. I can't prove that, but I included it as a value-added bonus.
Thanks for stopping by and reading. I appreciate your time and hope you found this useful.