We love small business SEO. Doing it in-house, and doing it well, is more cost-effective than hiring an SEO company. It also gives you more control over the entire SEO process. We built our SEO software around this premise — we want small business owners to succeed.

There are a lot of great tools and endless websites with useful information to help you improve SERP. Following the rules and executing White Hat SEO is the very best place to start. This week, we’ll examine some of our favorites tools that can help with link building, keywords, site performance, local search engine optimization, and social media.

Link-Building: SEOMoz.org

Open Site Explorer is a fabulous free tool from SEOMoz. It allows you to assess and improve the backlinks to your sites in a variety of ways. Start by listing your website URL and reviewing where links come from. Check out the information on the other tabs at the top of your report.

SEOMoz Open Site Explorer

You can also list your competitors URLs and compare up to five results, side-by-side. Take time to review a competitor’s link information. Are there opportunities you are missing? Building closer relationships with those sites can result in more website traffic. Assess anchor text, top pages and other data. You’ll be amazed what you learn.

Like most free tools on the web, you get enough information to get the goods but you need to get a ‘Pro’ subscription for the really juicy information. If link building is a priority, you need this.

Keywords: Google External Keyword Tool

Google’s External Keyword Tool is a must-have in any SEO toolkit. We always say that keywords are the foundation of all SEO efforts, since Google represents approximately 80% of all search queries, this the best place to start.

While Adwords is intended for paid search advertising, the keyword tool works just as well for your organic SEO. First sign into your Google account (required) and then enter your desired keywords. You’ll receive search data for those words and related keywords such as competitiveness of the keyword and search volume. While it’s simple to use, reading and maximizing the data takes time, practice makes perfect. When in doubt, UpCity offers a free keyword consultation to all of our subscribers.

Site Performance: Pingdom.com

This is a personal favorite since reviewing the technical performance of a site isn’t my strong suit. Pingdom tests a website’s load time and performance, checks DNS servers to make sure they’re configured correctly and runs ping and traceroute tests to give website owners an outsider’s view of their server’s performance. Pingdom montiors the uptime of your site and can notify you the moment a site is down. This is especially important for an e-commerce site. A slow website will cause visitors to leave before they find what they’re looking for…search engines are the same.

SEO for Local Businesses: BrightLocal

Local search engine optimization is  always evolving. Local SEO is an important tactic for most small businesses and BrightLocal offers several important local SEO tools. Start with the Local Search Rank Checker. This will help you track your SEO rankings on all the local search platforms. The Local SEO Check-up offers analysis of local SEO performance quickly and easily. They offer a free trial option to get you started.

Hootsuite for Social Media

Social Media: Hootsuite

Maintaining a presence on even one social media platform is a challenging part of SEO for small business. Maintaining all the online profiles necessary to do social media well can be almost impossible without help.

HootSuite simplifies the process by managing multiple profiles, allowing website owners to schedule their Tweets and status updates, analyzing a company’s social media traffic and giving website owners the power to track mentions of their brands. With Hootsuite, social media just became manageable.

Not sure what your business needs? A shameless plug for our own UpCity website grader tools. You’ll get a wealth of info from our SEO Report Card and Local Report Card tools. Get started on your own SEO today!