At a recent Brisbane SEO Meetup a roundtable session was held where the 20 or so attendees got to highlight some of their favourite SEO Tools. The list below is a collation of some of the most popular SEO Tools discussed. Not all of the tools listed here are necessarily tried and tested – although most are tools that are fairly widely used by SEO Professionals, there are also others which were suggested at the meetup that have been included here for completeness.
I’ve grouped various tools into different categories (alth0ugh some tools do belong in multiple categories). Most of the tools listed below are free, some are paid, and many of the paid services also offer a free (cut down) version of the tool as well.
Keyword Analysis Tools
- Google Instant – an often overlooked but very quick and easy way to check for high volume search keywords
- Google Keyword Tool – Allows you to enter trial keywords or a website name. Shows list of related search counts globally and locally
- Google Insights – A great tool for for showing trend data – you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties
- Google Analytics – Looking at your own analytics data is a good way to see which keywords are already working well
- PPC Data – setting up a PPC campaign and analysing click and conversion rates can be a very effective (and quick) way to get data about high converting (as opposed to high traffic) keyword phrases
- Your Customers – Talk to your customers to see what keywords they would/did use to find your business
- Brainstorming – talk to friends/colleagues to brainstorm related keyword phrases (don’t just rely on the keywords that you think are good)
Many of the “traditional” Keyword Tools used by SEO Pros (such as Wordstream, Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker) were felt to be of limited use to Australian users – although they can be very useful for very detailed analysis, because their data is sampled, and largely USA biased, for the most part they were not considered to be useful for Australia based keyword analysis.
Firefox was widely accepted as the web browser of choice for SEOs – largely because of it’s plugin capabilities , with other browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Flock etc) mainly only used for compatibility testing.
- SEO for Firefox – considered one of the most comprehensive (and useful) of the many SEO plugins available
- Chatzilla – useful IRC plugin to ask people for advice suggestions on SEO
- Firebug – possibly for of a developer than SEO tool but VERY handy for debugging HTML/CSS and lots of other web page/ browser based issues
With WordPress becoming increasingly important as a blogging platform / Content management System (CMS) we felt that we simply had to imnlcude some of the many SEO related plugins for WordPress
- All In One SEO– one of the original and still arguably best general purpose SEO plugins
- Google XML Sitemaps – auto generates a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog.
- Google Analytics for WordPress – easy setup your Analytics code, allows you to track your blog easily and with lots of metadata.
- SEO friendly Images – automatically adds alt and title attributes to all your images.
- SEO Smart Links – can automatically link keywords and phrases in your posts and comments with corresponding posts, pages, categories and tags on your blog.
- Sexy Bookmarks – adds an attractive social bookmarking menu to your posts, pages, index, or any combination of the three.
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – all in one SEO solution for your WordPress blog: SEO titles, meta descriptions, XML sitemaps, breadcrumbs & much more.
- And also a number of Search Engine Friendly Themes got an honourable mention – e.g. StudioPress – Genesis Theme, and Thesis
Pretty much the ONLY tool discussed was of course Google Analytics. Way too much about this tool to cover here, but it is likely to be the topic of a future Meetup
We were pretty pleased to discover that no-one was particularly interested in PageRank, and that even our clients had started to get the picture that PageRank in itself is not something worth obsessing about. However, ranking reports can be a quick and easy way to monitor the impact of SEO strategies over a period. Many of the SEO Suite based tools (see below) offer rank tracking tools and
- Yahoo Site Explorer – once recognised as the single best way to get fairly decent backlioni data on your competitors site – is now seen as no longer reliable and on it’s last legs as a useful tool
- Webmaster Tools – the most accurate source of backlink data for your own site – not available for competitors though (dammit !!!)
- Open Site Explorer – SEOMOZ’s famous Link Popularity Checker + Backlink Analysis Tool
- Majestic SEO – perhaps the worlds most comprehensive source of backlinks information
- Market Samurai – a Suite tool (see below) that offers some good backlink reporting
- Backlinkwatch – enter a website URL to get detailed information about quality and quantity of backlinks pointing to the site
- Blekko – a “search” engine with a difference. “slashtag” capabilities extend the info that Blekko offers – try www.yourdomain.com /seo
Conversion Optimisation Tools
There are hundreds of specialist tools that can be sued for Conversion Optimisation – here are a few that were mentioned :
- Google Website Optimizer – Google’s free website testing and optimization tool makes it quick and easy to implement A/B split testing and monitor and measure results.
- ClickTale – discover everything visitors do on your website. Visitor Recordings, Mouse Move Heatmaps, Heatmap Suite, Form Analytics and more…
- CrazyEgg – simple and affordable heat mapping tools that allow you to visually understand user behaviour
- Screenr – web-based screen recorder makes it a breeze to create and share your screencasts around the web. From a CRO perspective this is a great tool to record test users behaviour – including their commentary on what/why they are doing thing.
SEO Tool Suites
- SEOMOZ SEO Tools – A comprehensive (and sexy) array of SEO tools : Link Building, Competitor Analysis, Keyword research, Optimisation, and more….
- SEO Powersuite – offer a range of SEO Tools from LinkAssitant – including Rank Tracker, Website Auditor, SEO Spyglass and Link Assistant
- Raven SEO Tools – Internet marketing tools for SEO and Social media (tends to be higher end, more sophisticated/complex tools for SEO professionals/agencies)
- Market Samurai – Great general purpose and good value tools for internet marketing and SEO
THE Most Important SEO Tool of All ??
And the single most important tool for any self respecting SEO is of course… EXCEL. Excel is critical for Collating, Filtering, Analysing and Sorting the reams of data that most SEOs accumulate in their day to day activities.