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May 20, 2013

Top SEO Tools for DIY Webmasters

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If you embrace the do-it-yourself mentality with most aspects of your online business, chances are SEO tops your priority list. Since algorithms like Google’s are dynamic and unpredictable, employing the top tools of the trade is critical to your ranking success.

Today’s tools do their best to unravel the mystery of achieving high SERPs by dissecting each key element and aiding in top strategies and best practices. Below is a list of some of the current favorites in this space. Each one listed is free, but many require registration before using. With dozens to choose from, your challenge will be finding those that feel most intuitive, and of course, help you see positive results in the near term and beyond.

Google’s Webmaster Tools

The search engines themselves have some of the best tools around, and it stands to reason that in a sense, they would know best. While some brilliant minds have certainly improved upon the originals, you should absolutely be familiar with Google’s suite of webmaster tools as a DIYer. In addition to the following tools, Google has a stellar webmaster help forum and a great SEO starter guide that does wonders for demystifying much of the process, especially for beginners.

Google has a slew of free resources for the independent webmaster (which are also used by professional SEO experts too.) These tools help you tackle all of the following critical SEO tasks:

  • Identify sections of your site that Googlebot cannot successfully crawl
  • Display results that let you see exactly what Googlebot sees when crawling your website
  • Assist with creating the essential robots.txt files
  • Suggestions for improvements in meta data
  • Keyword analysis and comparisons
  • Be alerted when best practices are not used by your site
  • Notify Google of your XML sitemap submission
  • Remove duplicate content

Additionally, Google offers an excellent metrics tracking tool called Google Analytics, and a very powerful app called the Google Website Optimizer that lets you track conversion improvements with on-site changes. Don’t forget to track keyword popularity with the Google Trends tool too. While relying solely on this Google suite won’t be all-encompassing, this is a wise place to start your DIY SEO adventure.

Keyword Research Tools

Few things are more important in your SEO strategy than choosing the most effective keywords. Your keywords will also likely shift overtime, based on how people are actually searching for your content.

The following tools help you stay on top of search trends and competitive keyword analysis:

SEMRush – SEMRush does an exceptional job at competitive analysis, plotting top traffic-driving keywords for both your site and your competition’s.

SEOmoz Term Extractor – One of the most trusted names in SEO, SEOmoz has many valuable tools, with Term Extractor near the top. This is best used by entering your top competitor’s URL, and then analyzing their keyword strengths and weaknesses.

Alexa – Every webmaster should regularly check Alexa’s multitude of data. This site does more than just provide your traffic score, it also gives you valuable search analytics and keyword query info too.

Backlink Analysis Tools

Link building is another essential element to excellent search rankings, and without tools that help analyze your current progress, it’s tough to decipher how well your backlinks are faring. These tools will aid in giving you tangible data that will accurately instruct you on how your link building process is working for your site’s SERPs.

MajesticSEO – While many of the more robust features in Majestic are not free, the backlink history analysis report is, and it’s extremely useful in measuring competitor activity. The report tracks referring URLs by volume and effectiveness; access the “cumulative view” for the most useful data.

Open Site Explorer from SEOmoz – Open Site Explorer allows webmasters to compare their site with other domains, tracking domain authority, anchor text analysis, and full link analysis breakdowns. Reports can be exported into Excel too.

Monitoring SEO Campaigns

The suggestions above cover many of the basics in SEO, including keywords, meta data, competitive analysis, and rankings. To accurately monitor any of your future campaigns, however, check out Authority Labs. This is a super-site full of SEO tricks, including constant real-time monitoring of new campaigns, average ranks on all major search engines, keyword analysis, and much more. While most of the features are subscription based, they do offer a totally free 30 day trial (no credit card required), and the opportunity to continue tracking 1 domain for free after the trial ends.

SEO Toolbars

To instantly track valuable metrics like page rank, Alexa ratings, and incoming links, install one of the many popular SEO toolbars.

Two of the best are:

SEOmoz Toolbar – For Firefox or Chrome, the SEOmoz toolbar lets you stay connected to metrics as you travel throughout the web. Create custom searches by search engine, country, or region, and expose page elements via the Analyze Page feature.

SEO Site Tools Toolbar – Available for Chrome only, this fabulously free browser extension displays the PageRank of the site you are currently visiting, as well as all standard SEO metrics. SEO Site Tools also critiques your own site and offers plenty of on-site SEO suggestions.

The web is teeming with valuable freemium SEO tools that actually deliver results. With a little knowledge and a lot of practice, these services can help a DIY business owner become well-equipped to achieve enviable search engine rankings. While the tools don’t replace the ease and trustworthiness of a dedicated SEO pro, until you can afford the luxury of handing over the reins, it’s good to know you’ve got an army of effective tools to assist in your SEO mission.


Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.

30 Responses to “Top SEO Tools for DIY Webmasters

    avatar AllanIT says:

    Great information. I have been looking for a list of good SEO tools for a while. Very helpful.

    You forget the most important tools for keyword researching, google adwords keyword tools

    Google’s webmaster tool is my daily tool. Other tool I usually use everyday is SEO PowerSuite.

    avatar Rajay Yadav says:

    Here seo tools are very useful for us. I use these tool daily………….

    avatar BlokeToys says:

    “chances are SEO tops your priority list. Since algorithms like Google’s are dynamic and unpredictable, employing the top tools of the trade is critical to your ranking success.”

    Nope, I gave up on trying to please Google a long time ago. And business is much better now than it was when I was so desperately trying to do everything they demanded of me.

    Ignore Google, manage your site and your content for your visitors. At the very least, you’ll be enjoying your business more than you are spending every waking moment following the dictatorial whims of Google.

    I have used most of the tools listed above and found them to be a great help. Everyone should practice DIY SEO!

    Google webmaster tools gives us the complete detailed report about our site, so when every any new site designed in my company, Ist of all, I create Google webmaster account for it.

    avatar Opace says:

    Great post! I’d definitely suggest adding Google Adwords tool to that as someone mentioned earlier.

    Hi sorry but the tool SEOmoz Term Extractor – is suspended since one year !

    This…..

    “Ignore Google, manage your site and your content for your visitors. At the very least, you’ll be enjoying your business more than you are spending every waking moment following the dictatorial whims of Google”.

    avatar Richa says:

    Nice list of tools. I have used all of them. Each one of them has its own importance. Thanks Google for providing us with SEO tools :) I agree with what handelsregisterauszug said, that you missed Google adwords keyword tool.

    avatar Sourabh Rana says:

    I am already using these all tools. You Forgot to mention Screaming from seo spider the best ON-PAGE tool till date I have ever used.

    avatar willbill says:

    I don’t know with you guys but I found Traffic Travis as one of the best free tool that you can use for SEO. Most of the things posted by the tools mentioned above are reflected in just one clean dashboard.

    avatar Mike says:

    We use the SEO-Tool-Store.com site for a few years and have been pretty happy with the results.

    avatar Simon B. says:

    WTF?! Why every author simply gets info from some old articles and re-posts it without even re-checking it? And everyone’s happy! :(

    Just as mohammed said, Term Extractor does not even exist any more!

    Why not just find and mention new really worthy tools? Don’t know.. Like WebMeUp or alike? Most of the new tools can do MUCH more than all those “good old tools” :\

    Hi Simon,
    You’re totally right! I hadn’t used it in ages and am so sad to see it gone, as it was a great tool. SEMRush is a great alternative, and that one still exists :) Thanks for pointing this out!

    Tina

    avatar marty says:

    I don’t see how Authority Labs could be recommended for constant tracking of serps. Didn’t google zap their api with all organic search report systems? ahrefs, keywordspy, and i thought i heard seomoz was hit too.

    avatar Jenn says:

    Small SEO Tools is also a pretty good resource you should check out! Their keyword tools goes up to 500 results deep instead of just the top 100. Pretty handy for you to judge just how far you have to go to reach page one!

    avatar dipoLegacy says:

    What about Bing Webmaster Tool?

    That’s one great list you have there, Tina. I’m just getting started with SEO myself and I can’t begin to tell you how much this article helps.

    SEOMoz seems to offer all the tools I need, although their premium service bundle is rather expensive. They seem to appear as one of the best in this article. I will definitely give them a try.

    Good and informative post. It is good to know what tools others are using for their SEO

    avatar Harry says:

    Nice post, this is very important to the people who is doing seo. and i know a good backlinks checker to help promotion websites, http://siteexplorer.info is totally free and no limit, and it is very professional.

    avatar Lauren says:

    Those are good tools but I’m a little tool freak and I like to test new ones. I’ve recently discovered ColibriTool (http://colibritool.com/) and in my opinion it deserves a lot of attention. It provides great features, it’s powerful and yet cheaper than seomoz or raven. I’m really glad with it. I wonder who’s gonna agree with me :D

    avatar Clint Butler says:

    With so many different tools available its can get to be a bit of trick trying to find out which one will work best for your business and personal taste. MajesticSEO is a great tool and the free options are perfect for someone with one large property or several small ones. SEMoz tool’s are also great.

    I think the key when picking the tools best for you is defining what it is your trying to do. And which information will serve you best to reach that goal.

    avatar Matt says:

    Check out SerpIQ – I use it every day, gives me insights no other tool has.

    You forgot to mention Web CEO Online.

    If you do a Google search for “Online SEO Tools” or a similar keyword, webceo.com should come up either number 1 or number 2.

    In this business, that means something doesn’t it? We just rose in the SERPs after Penguin 2.0 but only in terms of moving, for example, from number 5 to number 3 for related searches.

    Our tools guide you through the white hat process of getting similar results for your keywords.

    Plus, when we say “white label”, we mean it. We can put your own SEO tools up on your own website and only experts in the industry with eagle eyes will know it’s really us powering your agency or CMS or hosting company.

    avatar Richard Ward says:

    thanks for the info, we use SEOProfiler along with a number of the tools you’ve mentioned in the article.

    avatar Todd says:

    Ive been using GWT for years, it has improved tons since 2008 you can get much better information now. I also like to use traffic travis as my software.

    avatar StaceyLee says:

    You have missed the tool that I am using, the ColibriTool, one of the top SEO tools because of its features.

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