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May 15, 2013

Jill Whalen’s SEO Tools and Extensions

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I am not a big tool user in general. By that I mean the types of tools that supposedly help you “optimize” your website. There is no perfect page for SEO purposes, so in my opinion any tool that claims to give you information such as how many words you need here or there is simply wrong.

What most of those tools do is look at the top 10 ranking sites for a specific keyword phrase and then take averages of how many words they have in the Title tags, within the content, etc. Which to me is just silly. An average doesn’t tell you anything. One page might have 1,000 words and another might have 50, but the average is then in the 500 range. That certainly doesn’t mean that if you create your page to have 500 words it will somehow magically rank well.

SEO is more about fixing technical issues (which some tools can certainly help with), and it’s about being sure you’re using words that your target audience uses. And these days, in the wake of Panda and Penguin, it’s also about diagnosing bad links and other things that may be bringing your site rankings down. Online tools can certainly help with all those things.

Keep in mind that I generally only do SEO site audit reports, and high-level SEO consulting and training (as opposed to rolling up my sleeves and actually doing the SEO for clients). So I may be missing some that I previously used. Please note that while I assume that the Google tools I’m mentioning are obvious, they’re so integral to my work that I’d be remiss not to mention them.

Here are the tools I use regularly to help with my SEO consulting services:

Google Analytics

Most critical tool of all, it diagnoses lost traffic for site audits, and of course is used to measure success. Especially helpful when combined with custom reports, dashboards, and advanced segments.

Google Webmaster Tools

Everyone with a website today needs to be signed up here. It offers tons of useful information, but basically it helps diagnose website problems and provides messages directly from Google if a site has a major issue or penalty.

Screaming Frog

This tool sends a spider out to sites and compiles a nice spreadsheet report on the pages. It shows you Title tags, URLs, Meta Descriptions, Canonical tags, etc. Plus, it tells you about pages that may have 404 errors, redirects, and lots of other things. I usually use this when I’m starting a new site review because it helps me get an overall feel for the site and quickly shows me any major technical issues. (And I just love the tool’s name.)

Rex Swain’s HTTP Header Viewer

This one is good for seeing what sort of redirect any page may have. For SEO purposes we like to see 301 redirects rather than 302s or any other kind. It will also show if there are multiple redirects for any URL.

Ahrefs

This is a great tool for learning about any website’s backlinks. You can get a lot of that also from Google Webmaster Tools these days, but I often find different ones showing up in Ahrefs that I may not have seen in GWT. Plus, you can learn about the backlinks of competitor sites. I mainly use it to see if the website I’m reviewing has a lot of spammy links. It’s especially helpful if the site has received an unnatural links warning in the GWT account. It’s a great way to see the distribution of anchor text as well. This tool also has a spidering component similar to ScreamingFrog mentioned above.

Google Keywords Tool

This is pretty much the only tool I use or recommend for doing keyword research. Use it to learn about the types of phrases your target audience uses at Google when they’re looking for what you offer on your website.

Google Drive

This is not so much a SEO tool as it is a way to have all my files synced across all of my computers and devices. Drive makes it easy for me to review a website and have my report in progress anytime and anywhere I need it. It also enabled me to buy an inexpensive Chromebook as my traveling laptop. All the tools and programs I use are online, so with my documents and files safely tucked away in Google Drive I’m totally in the cloud.

Toogl

This is a project timer that I’ve been using lately. I like to keep track of how much time I spend on any client work so that I have a good idea of how to price similar jobs in the future. I’ve used a variety of timers in the past, but this one has become a favorite because it syncs up “in the cloud” so I can access it using any device.

Chrome Extensions (Most if not all of these are likely available as Firefox extensions as well):

NoFollow

This is the BEST extension ever if you’re a SEO! It outlines all links on a page that have the Nofollow attribute on them. But even better is that it pops up a little window if the page you’re looking at has the Noindex tag on it. You wouldn’t believe how many websites I find through this extension that are inadvertently blocking all search engines from being able to index them.

PageRank Status

This tool teaches you lots of things about a page, such as its Google Toolbar PageRank, the number of pages from the site that are indexed, a link to the page in the Wayback Machine (archive.org) and many other things. (This one will also highlight nofollow links.)

TagAssistant (by Google)

This one shows if there are any Google Analytics code errors on any given page. It can come in handy if a site appears to have lost traffic because sometimes traffic wasn’t actually lost, but the Google Analytics code is missing from certain pages, or it’s used incorrectly.

Awesome Screenshot (combined with Evernote)

I use Awesome Screenshot nearly every day while doing SEO site audits to quickly and easily show what’s wrong with pages on a site. You can add arrows and words, draw circles around items, etc. I basically paste them all into Evernote along with my other notes of what’s wrong with a site. Then I use those notes to compile my report.

How about you? What tools do you use? (See the question of the week for even more tools!)


Jill Whalen is the CEO of High Rankings, an SEO Consulting company in the Boston, MA area since 1995. Follow her on Twitter @JillWhalen

If you learned from this article, be sure to invite your colleagues to sign up for the High Rankings Advisor SEO Newsletter so they can receive similar articles in the future!

34 Responses to “Jill Whalen’s SEO Tools and Extensions

    Thanks for sharing these lovely tools. I think these tools like Google analytics and keyword analysis tools are really essential to initiate SEO in an efficient and effective manner.

    I was aware of only the Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools. Its nice to see other tools available. I am definitely going to give them a shot.

    Thanks for sharing.

    avatar Angy says:

    thanks. This is a great overview. Can’t wait to check out screaming frog. Love the name.

    Thanks Jill will start using some of the tools you have outlined

    I also use to Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, Google keyword’s tool and for back links I use ahrefs as well as I give preference to backlinkwatch,because It’s really very nice.

    avatar Jim says:

    Thank you Jill.

    I’ve found a few things out through reading your article.
    The Ahrefs site is very interesting and also the Screaming Frog.
    I have just tested both of these and now have the chance to make a few changes.
    Thanks again.

    wow – excellent, never heard of several of these!

    Top article thanks verry much!

    avatar Cyber Worx says:

    Thanks You for Share the SEO Tool and also Proved good information about the SEO.

    avatar Sameer Manas says:

    Thanks for the list Jill. I am surprised to see that opensiteexplorer.org is not listed here.

    It gives good info once we log in to our SeoMoz account. I use it occasionally to check my site metrics.

    I’ve been using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster tools for long time and it is very valuable. Highly recommend it!!!

    avatar Jennifer says:

    Wow, I thought I knew most of the SEO friendly tools on the market but there are some really nice ones on this list that had gotten by me. Screaming Frog does sound interesting!

    avatar Mike Stuart says:

    Good list.

    Surprising not to see SEOMoz in the list.

    avatar Cusco says:

    Dear Jill, thank you for sharing this knowledge, besides I use Google webmaster tools, you gave me a great tool, I refer to the Screaming Frog, very useful tool to detect 404 errors. Thank you.

    avatar Qosqo Maki says:

    Jill, good information as always, great tools; sure I use a couple of them, but you give me another extra tools to improve my techniques. Thank you.

    These are interesting SEO tools.
    THanks for sharing the tools you use for website analysis

    avatar WebsYY says:

    I found some really good SEO tools in this article. TagAssistant and Toogl are new for me. I’ll definitely try them.

    All the tools are very good to SEO. But I read about “NoFollow” extension first time. Generally I used Search Status in Mozilla. I will try this one and I hope it may more comfortable to me.

    Thansk, But i found some of them are old but still effective.
    Thanks for this least.

    avatar naveen says:

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    Thanks for sharing these SEO tools with us. I use most of the tools that you have mentioned.

    I’m familiar with almost every tool – Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, Ahrefs, Google Keywords Tool, Google Drive, & NoFollow – believe me they are the best

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    avatar vinod says:

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    avatar Cybnetics says:

    Your blog is helpful for SEO Company to improve the performance. I enjoyed reading your blog. Your site is inspiring and I will certainly be back to visit again.

    avatar Chris says:

    Thank you some great information and tools. Feel free to check out our Digital Marketing Agency

    avatar Ravi Mishra says:

    Thnak you for listing great tools. I am going to try these for my website. cheer

    avatar webGoka says:

    Thanks for sharing these SEO tools with us. I use most of the tools that you have mentioned.

    All tool except google webmaster are new to me i’ll surely give a to other tool also which you shared
    thanks for sharing

    Best information for me thanks for sharing i like this search engine Optimization(SEO) tool……

    nice information provided by you on SEO its help a lot of people

    avatar xender says:

    Thanks for this great post man which is also nice.

    Thanks for Jill Whalen’s great tools for SEO users. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster are tools I use regularly to help with my SEO consulting the services these tools are very easy to access and highly recommended.

    Thanks Jill whalen’s for all such SEO Tools. Most of the tools you have mentioned, i already used and few new tools is informative.

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