There are many experts out there who can look at a website and become aware of its most glaring SEO issues within about 15 minutes simply by using their intuition and trained eye. But let’s face it: even the most experienced SEOs need the help of tools when getting into the nitty-gritty of an SEO audit. Here is a list of SEO tools that Evolve Digital Labs uses when conducting a site audit. We would be lost without them.
1. Web Developer Toolbar
If you don’t have the Web Developer Toolbar for Google Chrome, get it. It provides tons of insight into the backend of the site with just a click or two. Here are some of my favorite features of this toolbar:
Replace Image With Alt Attributes
This is a quick and easy way to see a page like a search engine bot does, without changing your browser preferences or using a third-party site. By selecting this option, you can quickly take away the distraction of images and replace them with the text that the crawlers see.
One click of this link directs the page in question to the W3C’s validation service. In an instant, you can see the errors in a page’s HTML. Thirteen mishaps on our latest blog post? Ouch. No wonder they say ignorance is bliss!
This is the quickest way I know to check for broken or embedded links from a web page. Like the previous feature, the aValidate Linksa option takes you to the W3C page where you receive a summary of the links on that particular page.
External/Internal Link Marker
Get a better understanding of a page’s links by highlighting all internal, external, follow, or no follow links. This is a great way to find if a site is switching domains in its internal navigation. It’s also a good way to find any no follow links quickly and easily.
From H1 Tags to Meta Descriptions, this tool shows it all, or the lack thereof. It displays the Rel=acanonicala link (which is usually the URL of the page, unless there is duplicate content). It also displays the number of inbound and external links (followed and unfollowed).
This view is incredibly useful for quickly checking the authority of a website or page; the top displays the Domain Authority and Page Authority (also nice for link building). Another super helpful part about the Link Data section on the SEOmoz Toolbar is the option to plug that URL into Open Site Explorer to see the full metrics. As an agency that relies on efficiency, weall take any shortcut we can get.
3. Google Site Search and Branded Search
Searching site:www.example.com is a quick and easy way to find the approximate number of pages within your domain have been indexed. It is also a great way to find pages that aren’t meant to be indexed so you can add a “no index” attribute to the page. Pages that shouldn’t be indexed include any backend versions of pages that are meant solely for site developers; you wouldn’t want visitors stumbling upon your WordPress login page.
A branded search is as simple as it sounds; just google the brand. Typing “Evolve Digital Labs” in the Google search bar, for example, reveals a page that is dedicated solely to our brand and no one else. Of course, we’re lucky to have a unique name, but we’ve also worked hard to establish a solid rapport on other websites (like 5 stars on Yelp!). A quick brand search will show you which brands rank where you should be ranking, and it also shows what your potential visitors see when searching for you. It may or may not be pretty.
4.Google Webmaster Crawl Errors
SEO boils down to making a website easier to find and making the content useful for visitors. This can be achieved through greater connectivity (links) or more exposure (ranking). Google’s ability to crawl a website relies heavily on the website’s foundation. Any site errors or flaws in the sitemap will deter the “bots” from crawling the website and assessing its worth. That said, we make sure to check into Webmaster tools daily in order to check out the crawl errors. Google hands out these tips for free; it’s best to take advantage of them.
5. SEOmoz Errors/Warnings
This tool isn’t free (not past the first 30 days, at least), but it’s still a staple in most SEOs’ directory of favorite tools and services. The Errors/Warning tool, in particular, is similar to Google Webmaster Crawl Errors in that it dishes out lists of problem pages on the site, but it organizes them in a very helpful way. For example, we’re able to find out right away how many pages are in need of attention. This is useful for daily review, but particularly for sites that are new or have recently experienced redesigns.
6. Open Site Explorer
Another one of SEOmoz’s fabulous inventions, Open Site Explorer is a top-notch source for examining the links to a particular Web page. As an expanded view of the “Link Data” view in the SEOmoz Toolbar, Open Site Explorer allows you to see the exact URLs that link to a particular page. The filtering options are extremely useful for condensing the results to be grouped by domain. What can you do with this information? Well, we use it to gauge how successful a content strategy is for a competitor; if links point primarily to the homepage, it’s likely that the brand is only reaping links for its reputation, not for the content within the domain. It also illuminates link building opportunities.
This list is far from exclusive, but it features most of the tools we use on a daily basis, particularly when auditing a website for SEO. Did we forget about any? We’re always trying to refine the way we present our insights to clients, so feel free to share!