There are a number of SEO tools I use on a daily basis to help me analyze a client or competitors website. I will use specific tools depending on what type of data I am looking to analyze. If you have an Analytics job These tools can save you a lot of time when researching links, on-page/off-page SEO, social media, ORM, and site analytics.
Best of all.. each of these tools all free!
1. SEO Toolbar
This is by far the best SEO tool out there. No matter what client or industry I am researching, I always start with the data provided by the SEO Toolbar. It will give you a snapshot of a site, by providing high level information search engines analyze when ranking websites. Even though the toolbar will give you lots of different data points, there are only certain things I look at. I look at the follow data to get a basic overview of the site.
- Domain Age
- Inbound Links
- Pages Indexed
- SEO X-ray (nofollow links, H tags, meta data)
There was a great post written by Ann Smarty that talks about the different things you can do with the Xenu tool.
Basically this tool will allow you to scan and analyze a site to help find potential problems.
- Broken Links
- Depth of the Site (crawling issues)
- Potential Duplicate Content Issues
- Orphan Pages
- 404 Error Pages
This web-based tool, allows you to enter a url and it will analyze the site, then it creates a user-friendly SEO report. This can be an easy report to generate for a potential client. However, sometimes it can be overwhelming for people because of all of the information it returns.
- Overall SEO Score (out of 100)
- Basic On-Page SEO (Meta data, Alt tags, H tags)
- Basic Off-Site SEO (Domain Age, Pages Indexed, Inbound Links)
- Blog Analysis
- Social Media Analysis
SEO for Firefox is a plugin that will pull in data about the site within the Google search results. I will use this to see how fierce the competition is and to help determine how much effort and time it will take to optimize a potential clients site. The nice thing about SEO for Firefox is the flexibility to only add data into the results that you want to see. These are the data points I pull in:
- Inbound Links
- Domain Age
- Google and Yahoo Rankings
5. Rank Checker
Rank Checker is a stand alone firefox plugin (also on the SEO Toolbar) that allows you to check the rankings of a site for specific keywords/phrases. One nice feature about Rank Checker is you can check not only US search engines, but foreign versions of Google, Yahoo, and MSN. Data I pull from this tool include:
- Baseline Rankings
- Ranking Improvements
- What URL is Ranking
There are a lot of sitemap generator tools out there, however I feel that this is the best…plus its free.
- Generate a XML Sitemap
- Generate a HTML Sitemap
- Analyze Website Pages & Structure
This tool allows you to see what other domains are on the same server. It is not often, but sometimes if a site that has been penalized by Google is hosted on the same server as your site, it can penalize ALL that are on the shared hosting server. This is another reason why being on your own dedicated server can help your SEO.
There are a number of link analysis tools like Link Diagnosis, BackLink Watch, and Link Assistant, however Yahoo! Site Explorer I feel still does the best job of not only finding backlinks, but ordering them in place of importance. Here are the main things I will look at when analyzing SiteExplorer links.
- Total # of Inbound Links
- Anchor Text
- Sites of the Fir
st 10-20 Results
- PR of those site (Yoast Firefox Extension)
To see what is being said about a potential or current client, I will use a variety of real-time search engines. I usually will start at SocialMention because it will scour the web including Blogs, Q&A, Forums, Mircoblogs, Social Bookmarks, Events, Video, and News sites for mentionings of your brand or keyword you enter. I can get a better understanding of:
- Brand Perception
- Brand Reach
- Industry Position
- Influencers in the Industry
- Types of Communication/Discussions
10. Google Analytics
Of course if you have access to a clients Google Analytics you can find out a wealth of knowledge that you wouldn’t be able to gather with free tools anyone can use. When I first look at a sites analyics I will look at certain data including:
- Daily Traffic
- Traffic Sources
- User Engagement
With all of these free tools you can learn a lot about a potential/current client and your competitors. You are able to cover a wide spectrum of information including on-page/off-page factors, social media, reputation management, and user engagement. Feel free to try one or all of these tools the next time you perform some research on a site.
About the Author:
Mark is the Internet Marketing Manager for Atlantic BT, a full-service Web Design & Marketing company, located in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also is the creator of StayOnSearch, a search marketing blog dedicated to SEO’s and Internet Marketing professionals.
You can also Follow Mark on Twitter.