A new colleague and I were sharing favourite tools the other day (12 most were in common), and it got me to thinking about how I wished I’d known more about the range of newbie free tools out there – and what they did – when I first started out. I’m NOT including keyword research tools as those have been done to death. These are more strategic, hopefully more insightful tools, to help you move forward with your SEO initiatives.
Some tools have changed, and some are newer than my SEO age (mum’s the word) but as the landscape has changed, I will include them anyway if they are relevant for new entrants to the wonderful world of SEO!
That’s what this post is about. Please add your favourites in the comments!
1. Simulated Crawl
GSiteCrawler gives you full URL list, aborted URL list, some duplicate content, page sizes, page-by-page data, additional external 1-click tools and more.
2. Server Header Check
This tool has helped me figure out quite a few mysteries regarding “WTH happened to my rankings” and other everyday stressies when URLs have been fiddled with. These guys have a host of other tools – well worth checking out.
3. SE Advanced Operators
There are lots of these around, but this is a firm favourite. Maybe not so pretty, but pretty comprehensive is better than aesthetically pleasing in some cases…
4. SEO Gap Analysis
While not fully comprehensive and a bit out of date (and no, I don’t agree with everything here), this is – regardless – a pretty good guide should you be asked to conduct an SEO gap analysis, and not know where to start.
5. Web Page Speed Report
When you’re just starting out, this can be of help to identify what’s up with a client’s pages without trawling through reams of crappy code.
6. URL Strength
Trifecta is a free SEOmoz tool (it replaced the Page Strength Tool). You have to register/log-in to use it, but it is free. I admit that if SEOmoz is at 38% there’s not a ‘huge whole hell of a lot of hope’ for us small SEO bloggers, but the instant backlink and brand check is quite nice to have in one tool, and it’s nice to give to clients as a benchmark.
7. Competitor Discovery & investigation
SEODigger is now SEMRush, and the things you can do for free include:
- Discover competitors’ sites with common Google keywords
- Get list of Google keywords for any site
- Get list of AdWords keywords for any site
- Check your competitors landing-pages for SE and AdWords traffic
- Investigate long-tail keywords for any domain
- …and more
Yes there are lots of other tools paid and free, some general (Google Trends etc), and some more specific (AdGooroo, MarketLeap etc).
8. Code to Text ratio
Yes, for a while I got quagmired in this tool – so for those of you who do, here, I’ll make it easy for you. Yes the ratio is important, but seriously, don’t beat yourself up about it unless it’s really, really dire – which in most cases it’s just not. This site, again, has ample other free tools – enjoy!
9. BackLink anchor text
I’m sure there are more, better tools somewhere, but this has always worked for me, and as I simply copy and paste into excel for data sorting it works. It’s never entirely accurate, but its free and it’s a good sample in most cases.
Ok, so the FF plugins are fantastic, and there are many more. My favourites are SearchStatus, SEOpen and RoboForm, though there are lots and lots and lots of other awesome plugins available. My recommendation – make that this months task!
Yeah, there are LOADS of Twitter tools, and assuming you don’t have a paid for RM/SMM tool or the time to use every tool, then my two absolute favourites are Twitter Search and BackTweets. It depends on what you want really.
12. Reputation Management
Google Alerts is still free. Not always complimentary, but free, so it evens out.
MORE—- A small sample of other great free tools site for SMM and RM
Top 15 by SocialSEO
136 Tools by SEOCompany
16 Tools from SitePoint
10 brand monitoring tools from Mashable
- -General Fun Tool test Kit
OK, so I hope this has given you a head-start on the game if you’re new. It’s by no means fully comprehensive. It’s also excluding numerous fantastic paid for tools, many of which I now use thanks to bigger budget and the fact that I’m inhouse, but this is, in a nut-shell post, some tools I used when starting out.
- Blogs/Forums/Tutorial Sites
No matter how many free or paid tools you use, if you don’t have a guideline of what is important or when to use what, you may get overwhelmed, so my advice is to use these 7 resources at the very least when you get going:
- Official Blogs
And even though there are many others that are better, I got my start with this little forum a long, long time ago.
There are innumerable fantastic, quality personal blogs about SEO, PPC and RM that can help. Keep looking until you find the one that works best for you and gives you what you need. Word to the wise – don’t overload your RSS feed; you’ll feel overwhelmed and you’ll feel inadequate. This industry moves fast. Stick with some of the blogs above to start as you find your feet with your preferred writers, and follow twitter experts picking and choosing your reads.
Best of luck, and remember this industry is about helping you help yourself and your clients, and waiting for you to get to the point where you can contribute back. We have a bad rep – no longer deserved, and never to the extent it has been sensationalized. Learn. Discover. Explore. Experience. Test. Refine…and continue.
Your learning’s in the end will help the industry as a whole. And one-day, please share your preferred tool set with the rest of us!
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