8 fantastic tools for SEO beginners
Today the SEO team conducted an internal training session for their collegues covering some basic SEO principles and presenting some useful tools that anyone can get and make use of. Below are a few of the tools which we have taken into consideration as basic and important for anyone with little experience / beginner.
1. Xenu’s link sleuth
Download link: http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
Xenu’s Link Sleuth (TM) checks Web sites for broken links. Link verification is done on “normal” links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and java applets. It displays a continuously updated list of URLs which you can sort by different criteria. A report can be produced at any time. Xenu’s Link Sleuth crawls a website in a very similar way to that of a search engine spider
- Identifies all accessible URLs with a domain
- Identifies broken links
- Provides HTTP Header Status’ (200 OK, 301 Redirect, 404 Not found etc)
- Provides information on internal and external linking within the domain (clicks from homepage, location/number of links in, location/number of links out)
- Provides an ‘at a glance’ view of a website’s page titles and meta descriptions
- Provides information on file sizes/types (text/html, image/jpeg etc)
- Provides basic server information
- Provides time taken to load page
2. Web Developer Toolbar
Download link : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/web-developer/
Description: Allows you to enable/disable most features of a website very quickly to identify technical/SEO issues & opportunities – specifically for SEO benefit.
This menu contains my favorite feature of the Web Developer Toolbar: Edit CSS. When you activate this feature, you can edit the CSS of a web page in a sidebar in real time and see your changes updated on the web page as you type them. For example, maybe you want to see what your site would look like with a different color and font. In the image below, I am quickly checking what this page would look like with a green header background, just by editing the CSS in the sidebar. As soon as the sidebar is closed, the changes are discarded.
Another useful feature in the CSS menu is Disable Styles which allows you to remove all the CSS from a web page.
A useful item on this menu is the Form Information option. It will tell you information about the forms on a web page. You can also use the Populate Form Fields option to automatically fill out your forms when testing your site. Other options on the Forms menu include: display form details, show passwords, view form information, convert form methods (e.g., from GETs to POSTs or vice versa), Convert Selected Elements to Text Inputs, Enable Auto Completion, Enable Form Fields, Clear Radio Buttons, Make Form Fields Writable, Populate Form Fields, and Remove Maximum Lengths.
You can use these options to display the dimensions and file sizes of images on a web page. You can hide the images on a page, or show the image paths. You can outline images without alt attributes, making it a quick way to find where you might have missed something.
The information menu has a lot of options on it. You can find out more information about the structure of your page with Display Id & Class Details, and Display Element Information. Those are both useful because they visually display the CSS class and ID names on a web page, which then makes it easier to use the Edit CSS option to experiment with the look of the page. An image of the Display Id & Class Details is shown below. You can also use the Information menu to check how many layers of nested tables a page has with the Display Table Depth feature. You can view the palette of a web page by choosing View Color Information. If you want to know how large the files on a page are, choose View Document Size. Another useful tool is View Response Headers.
Some useful items on the Miscellaneous menu are Small Screen Rendering which can give you an idea of how your site might display on a portable device like a PDA or cell phone. You can also overlay line guides on a page, or display a ruler in order to get pixel-perfect measurements of the layout. You can even edit the HTML in the sidebar and watch the web page update itself in real time.
These options will outline elements of a web page, allowing you to find certain things that you might be looking for. Examples of things that you can outline are frames, headings, table cells, tables, block level elements, external links, and even custom elements. These are very useful for figuring out why a page doesn’t display correctly.
See what your web page looks like at different resolutions such as 800×600, or choose a custom size. You can also zoom in or out on a web page.
This gives you another way to view the source of a page, although it is faster to just use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-u. The real power of this menu is activated after you go to the options menu. You can set Firefox to view source in an external editor, including setting a custom keyboard shortcut. For example, you could keep the normal shortcut to view source with Ctrl-u, and add another shortcut to view source in SciTE (or another favorite text editor) with Ctrl-Shift-u.
This menu item allows you to customize the Web Developer Toolbar.
3. Keyword spy
FREE SEO & PPC KeywordResearch software tool, that unveil your competitors’ most profitable Ad copies & keywords
KeywordSpy can show you what keywords your competitors are ranking for. You can then try and target these same keywords on your own site as well.
KeywordSpy can help you in many different ways as a marketer. Whether it’s PPC, PPV, or even SEO.
4. Google’s tools (Google Webmaster tools)
Google Webmaster Tools is a no-charge web service by Google for webmasters. It allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites.
It has tools that let the webmasters:
- Submit and check a sitemap
- Check and set the crawl rate, and view statistics about how Googlebot accesses a particular site
- Generate and check a robots.txt file. It also helps to discover pages that are blocked in robots.txt by chance.
- List internal and external pages that link to the site
- See what keyword searches on Google led to the site being listed in the SERPs, and the click through rates of such listings
- View statistics about how Google indexes the site, and if it found any errors while doing it
- Set a preferred domain (e.g. prefer example.com over www.example.com or vice versa), which determines how the site URL is displayed in SERPs
5. Google search
Google or Google Web Search is a web search engine owned by Google In. Google Search is the most-used search engine on the World Wide Web, receiving several hundred million queries each day through its various services.
The main purpose of Google Search is to hunt for text in Web pages, as opposed to other data, such as with Google Image Search
More than just a simple search interface. Conduct more advanced search techniques using the following operators (specific for SEO):
- site:www.domain.com : limit the search to within a single domain (this will show all indexed URLs within the domain specified)
- site:www.domain.com a search phrase : Conduct a search for a specific set of words within a single domain (this will show all relevant URLs within the domain specified, related to your phrase)
- “a search phrase” : Apply double quotes to a search phrase to search for that exact text. This can also be appended to a site: search to locate exact text within a specific domain
- &num=100 : Once a search has been conducted, append this to the end of the URL to view 100 results per page rather than 10 (only works with Google Instant disabled, can be any number up to 100)
7. Microsoft Excel / Word
Microsoft (Office) Word is a word processor designed by Microsoft. It is a component of the Microsoft Office software system. The current versions are Microsoft Office Word 2010 for Windows and Microsoft Office Word 2011 for Mac.
- Bullets & numbering
- Creating tables
- Auto summarize
Microsoft Excel is a proprietary commercial spreadsheet application written and distributed by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.
- Graphing tools
- Pivot tables
- Macro programming language
Excel supports charts, graphs or histograms generated from specified groups of cells. The generated graphic component can either be embedded within the current sheet, or added as a separate object.
8. Majestic SEO
Majestic SEO is a link analysis tool, with an index of 52 billion pages, a record of 350 unique URLs and 2.6 trillion mapping relationships (URL pointing to URL). Majestic SEO maintains its own web crawler, “MJ12,” and keeps its own database of the web (like the major search engines). The project belongs to Majestic-12 Ltd and is run by volunteers, with the goal of establishing a quality search engine to compete on the worldwide market.
Tools include majestic site explorer, backlink history, neighbourhood checker, bulk backlink checker and clique hunter.
Majestic site explorer is ideal for SEO, starts with a one page summary of any root domain, subdomain or URL. It includes
- Both domain and page information
- Backlink and referring domains discovery charts for the last 12 months
- The top backlinks linking to the domain/URL
- The referring domains linking to the root domain and the top pages on the domain/page
- ‘Snapshot’ of a website that can be included in a report
What other SEO tools exists?
There are lots of other tools available but we have just tried to cover few tools here, keeping beginners in mind. If anyone has ideas about other great tools for beginners please let us know in the comments block below.