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July 31, 2007

Search Engine Tools Not Just For SEO

Sadly, not everyone in the world knows everything about search engine optimization. In fact, very few people know anything about SEO or even what it is. Even fewer know any search offerings that may help your experience as a search engine user, a website navigator, a webmaster, or researcher.

I have compiled a list of free search engine and internet tools handy for everyone to use and improve their experience with some useful resources. Please note that if you are an SEO practitioner, none of these are news to you and you are well aware of these resources. For everyone else, this is a nice little database of handy stuff.

Google Products
Google has developed a smorgasbord of handy tools and products offered for free use to everyone. You can bet that they have developed something to almost everyone’s interest. Some of the products I frequently use are Alerts, Blog Search, Earth, Analytics, Toolbar, Image Search, Trends, Page Creator, Maps, Gmail, Talk, and YouTube. These are only some of the products—Google offers many more!

Search Engine Commands
Very often used by search engine professionals such as search engine optimizers, very few others know about these search engine commands. Knowing them can really bring information about a specific site and its standing in the World Wide Web to light. Here are some of the most important and generally supported commands:
Site: – Displays all of the pages indexed by the engine of the site.
Link: – Locates some links pointing to the site.
Cache: – Shows the last indexed and cached version of a site.
Info: – Displays general info about a site with other search commands.
Related: – Shows websites that may be semantically or directly related to the site.

Google Webmaster Tools
Google’s Webmaster Tools are a godsend. Once verified as the owner via Meta tag or HTML file, you have access to a wide variety of information from sitemaps, to links, to anchor text, to crawl rates and errors. Best of all, GWT are always expanding the information that is being provided and is sure to provide more great features in the near future. In the meantime, I will keep using it and so should you.

Site Explorer
Yahoo Site Explorer is a handy tool, similar to Google Webmaster tools but not as robust yet, that can provide some helpful information about a site. It can display all pages in the Yahoo index which is always helpful in finding indexation and duplicate content issues. But Site Explorer’s bread and butter is its “Inlinks” feature which is the most comprehensive external link reporting tool available via search engine. The links can be filtered by domains and URL’s, but most importantly, they are sorted from most important to least. Best of all, you can export all of the data to a TSV file.

Keyword Research
Probably not as useful to the casual user, but for the paid search practitioner, webmaster, or business owner, keyword research is an important factor for developing campaigns, pages, and business models. As free tools, I like WordTracker and Keyword Discovery although the paid versions of these tools are much more robust.

Markup validation
The World Wide Web Consortium has developed a standard of markup code compliance that all sites should attempt to adhere to in order to ensure cross-browser compliance, proper rendering, and complete search engine indexation. The W3C attempts “to lead the World Wide Web to its full potential by developing protocols and guidelines that ensure long-term growth for the web.”

DMCA
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a US law that criminalizes the reproduction and dissemination of technology, devices, or services that use methods to allow for the access and ungranted use of copyrighted information. Basically, this law provides that you cannot steal other people’s intellectually copyrighted information off the internet. If you operate a website, make certain to understand this.

Quoted Search
The quoted search is a searching technique that is not used as often as it should be. By employing quotations around a phrase, you are searching for the appearance of that exact phrase in that exact order and not just a relevant collection of those same words on a webpage or in links pointing to a page. This is very useful when you know exactly what you need such as product or a famous saying.

FireFox Extensions
FireFox is really cool! I use it all the time and cannot live without it. It also allows for contributions from anyone willing to do some programming and offer up a free tool. With that said, there are many SEO tools available as FireFox extensions, but there are also many very useful non-SEO tools for general use on the internet, for developers, and for searching that are extremely handy.

Google In-Search Features
Ever need a quick reference search for a definition of a word? What about a handy calculator? A search for specific file type? Ever need to look for movie information online? Do you need a handy weather report right out of your Google search bar? All of this information and more is available via quick Google search. Here are some of the commands:
Define:
Form:
Movie:
Weather:
Book:

Author:  Gennady Lager is the Senior SEO Specialist for SendTraffic.com, a full service online marketing firm specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization. In addition to the SEM and SEO offerings, SendTraffic provides Paid Inclusion and Feed Management, Website, and Phone Sales Analytics. Our People, Process Proprietary Technologies and Pricing make SendTraffic the leader in providing Online Marketing solutions.

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