If you have worked in SEO for any period of time, I’m sure you will be familiar with a number of the better known tools around, tools such as SEOmoz Pro Tools, Majestic SEO and the Google Keyword Tool. For a lot of SEOs and situations these tools can provide all the help you need, but there are a number of awesome low profile tools that can take SEO campaigns and agencies to the next level.
Use it for: Competitor analysis, back link analysis, on-page keyword analysis, rank checking…
Price: from $49
Linkdex is probably one of our favourite new tools in the SEOptimise office as it offers visual analysis of back link profiles as well as anchor text reports, rank checking and on-page keyword analysis (among a host of other things).
By far its most useful feature is the ability to analyse the type of links in your profile as well of those in your competitors’ profiles (powered by a quality filtered version of the Majestic SEO index), and it even has the capability to add a time dimension to the analysis. Basically, if you want to know why you’re being outranked and what type of links to build to beat the competition, it’s all laid out in bar chart form. That’s a pretty epic tool to start with, right? Well in addition to this, if you click on any of the bars to see a list of the links (which you can sort by “influence”), you can then explore them and add them to your “to build” list. And finally, you can hit a tick box and see what links have been built recently, effectively giving you a sneaky peek at your competitors’ SEO efforts.
It’s still pretty new and there is some stuff that needs work, but it’s still a great tool that gives you loads of actionable stuff and they are constantly updating it.
Those of you well versed in the dark arts of black hat SEO will know that there are plenty of more boundary-pushing tactics that Scrapebox can be used for. Any tool that contains the words “auto comment” and “the complete harvesting solution” in its sales patter, and (let’s face it) has scrape in its name, is unlikely to be whiter than white, but it does have its white(ish) hat applications.
A while ago Marty Weintraub wrote a really interesting post on radical keyword research which basically shows how the tool can be used to mine the suggest boxes of not only search engines but also sites like Amazon and YouTube. I won’t cover it again, but combining it with other tools like WordTracker or the Google Keyword tool can result in some fantastic (and quick) keyword research.
I’m guessing I should add some kind of “use at your own peril” disclaimer here. I’m fairly sure that this is probably against the T&Cs of at least some of the sites it scrapes, in much the same way as tools like the SEOBooks Rank Checker technically could be and so I am in no way endorsing its use.
Tool: Workbooks CRM
Use it for: Conversion tracking, ROI and reporting
In the spirit of ethical blogging I should probably start by mentioning that Workbooks are one of our clients, but I didn’t want that to preclude them from my list as they have an awesome new free tool for SEOs. Workbooks supply CRM software to businesses to help track their sales and marketing efforts and keep track of ROI.
For example, a PPC ad for a specific term may get 100 clicks and then five of those convert by filling out a web form. This is the point at which Analytics and Adwords would stop tracking, so you’d work on a conversion rate of 5%. Workbooks would then take this forward and you may then find that three of those web forms weren’t good quality enquiries, and that of the remaining two only one fully converted, so the actual conversion rate is 1%. Knowing the exact number of conversions and exact sales then allows you work out a proper ROI and even potential in the sales pipeline. All in all, it gives you some great insights into actual performance.
Tool: Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Use it for: Site crawling and analysis
These guys got their tool called ugly the other day in an SEOmoz post (http://www.seomoz.org/blog/seo-tools-that-rock) and I’m about to call it low profile (which it’s probably not anymore), so they will probably end up with some kind of complex. But as far as spidering tools go this is definitely our favourite.
The main reason we love it is that it’s an awesome time-saving tool, and an easy one to use at that. No matter what the size of the site, all you have to do it whack in a URL and it goes off to spider it for you. Once it has worked its magic (depending on the size of the site and settings, it may take some time) you get some great reports out the other end.
In the office we use it for crawling client sites, grabbing all the meta data (and highlighting duplicates), <h> tags, canonical information, http status codes, in links and out links and various other useful bits and bobs. As a starting point for audits, to help make meta data recommendations or even just generating a list of all the URLs on a site, it’s great.
Use it for: Page speed analysis
The final tool in this mini box of tricks is webpagetest.org, which is a website speed testing tool which was originally developed for AOL. Given the global nature of SEO, it’s a handy little tool as it lets you speed test your site from a number of different worldwide locations, using a number of different types of browsers.
Once again it is a tool where all you need to do is pop in the URL and it does the rest (after a little bit of queuing usually). Once the scan is completed you get access to some excellent information, including a waterfall view which allows you to see, resource by resource, how long it takes items to load. The beauty of this is that you can see the stuff that really slows your site down and it’s really easy to spot 4xx and 3xx header codes which could be killing your page speed.
One of the most useful tools is the Full Optimisation Checklist, which gives you a whole list of possible areas that you can improve to make your site run quicker. Given the fact that page speed is a ranking factor (although only a minor one) it’s great to see what could be holding your site back and where you can improve.
So that’s my list of some of the more hidden gems of the SEO tool world (well in my opinion anyway). If you fancy suggesting any for me to add please suggest them in the comments in the bottom and I will check them out and, if they are good, add them.
Oh, and just in case anyone was wondering, none of these are affiliate links.
*Image from the Scrapebox website.