December 1, 2009
Welcome to part two of this three part series on SEO tools and resources. In the last article we discussed the variety of
Firefox extensions used for SEO. In this article we’ll discuss some of the free and affordable tools you can use to better your organic optimization efforts. By affordable I mean for virtually everyone so I’m going to set the bar at $100/yr or ownership. Admittedly, we use tools that cost more than this but many of those tools will be out of some people’s price range.
Here are some of the key tools you need to use to help insure the successful optimization of your website.
Many of you are likely familiar with Google’s keyword tool, but it needs to be noted. This is a great resource for researching keywords. As with all keyword tools, it has its limitations and most would agree that it seems to overestimate search volume but nonetheless it is probably the best of the keyword tools out there, especially at the price.
No individual set of data is perfect and no stage of the SEO process is more important than keyword research and selection. Keyword Discovery is a great tool to compare with the Google keyword data. Where you find commonalities you know that 2 independent sets of data agree. With a free trial that may itself work for many – it’s certainly worth looking into.
While the paid version of this tool is more than the $100/yr. max I noted previously – the free version provides some great data. Simply enter a competitor URL and you’ll find out some valuable data about the keywords they rank for both organically and in AdWords. This is great for competitor analysis as well as for finding keywords you might not have thought of.
A fantastic free tool that crawls websites, reporting back all the broken links. Over time, almost all sites get broken links. Running this tool periodically will help you find them so you can fix them.
Arguably one of the most important of the SEO tools. Google Webmaster Tools allows webmasters (and SEO’s of course) to see their website the way Google does. With this tool you’ll get to see what your site is appearing for in the results, what pages on your site are linked to but don’t exist, and a wide array of errors and statistics.
With this information you can repair a number of issues. If your site is appearing for phrases that you’re not getting traffic from, you can review your titles and descriptions to see if you can improve your clickthrough rate. Xenu won’t show you the links from other sites that are pointing to pages that don’t exist – Google Webmaster Tools will. You’ll also find good backlink information for your site as well as a lot more.
Page Prowler is a backlink research tool that allows the user to collect large amounts of potential backlink information, sort that data by site strength, and then proceed to pursue those backlinks. The value of this tool is primarily in the time it saves. It has no function that could not be done manually, but it can compile data that would otherwise take a person hours or days to collect quickly and easily.
Full disclosure – Shawn (the developer) asked me to advise on the development of this link building tool and I’m also assisting in it’s marketing. I was extremely impressed with Shawn’s first version of PR Prowler which includes some great functions and information. I felt the need to note this, but I’ll also note that we at Beanstalk use this tool regularly. I would not include it here if it didn’t deserve to be and I’d include it here if I had nothing to do with it other than my using it.
Advanced Web Ranking is probably the most affordable of the better rank checking software programs. It has a ton of great features including scheduling and auto-report generation. You can set the searches to take place slowly to reduce the impact on the search engines. I still recommend to run it in the evening to further minimize your impact during high-volume search periods.
Multiple Keyword Rack-Checking Tool
This is probably one of the most popular tools on the Beanstalk site. One of the pet peeves I always had with online rank checking tools was checking rankings one-at-a-time. This tool allows you to check your rankings on Google ten at a time. Apparently others agree as it’s the most used tool of our set.
While we’ve tried to include a solid set of very affordable tools in this article, you might find value in tools we don’t use. The “136 SEO Tools” page is regularly updated and includes some very interesting (though not part of my daily arsenal) tools. Highly recommended to visit at least once. I have it in my bookmarks and check back every couple months to see what new tools have been added.
In part three of this article series we’ll be taking a look at a slew of invaluable SEO resources that you need to visit regularly to keep up-to-date on this ever-changing industry. While there are more than can be listed in a single article, I’ll be covering my first points of access when I’m looking for news or others’ opinions on SEO and search engine events.
Dave Davies is the CEO for Beanstalk Search Engine Optimization, Inc. Beanstalk offers organic SEO services, consulting, link building and SEO copywriting services. While they offer their SEO from Victoria, BC they are proud to serve the world.