By Dave Davies
Every SEO [search engine optimizer] uses different tools and resources. Some tools are paid, some are free and some are internally developed tools that we use for ourselves and our clients — but we all use them. Very often I get asked which tools people should use if they're looking to optimize their own sites and what resources they should use to keep up with the latest goings-on. While telling people how to optimize their own sites and what the tools we use isn't generally the best of business practices — I just can't help myself. If your budget doesn't allow for the hiring of a professional SEO company, trying it yourself may be the only option. I also try to remember that once upon a time, I was optimizing my own sites and was new to SEO, and without the open advice of others already involved in the community, I wouldn't be running a successful SEO company today. To this end, it only seems right to provide a list of some of the main tools we use on virtually every site.
When I initially started writing this article I was going to cram a slew of various tools and resources into one article, but the article was going to end up running WAY too long to hold your attention (or mine) so I've cut it into three EZ parts (as opposed to three EZ payments which you'll be familiar with if you too watch late night TV with a laptop in front of you writing things like SEO articles). But let's get to the meat of this article shall we? The series will be divided into three parts:
- Free and Affordable Tools
So let's begin with Firefox. Let me first say, I don't know if Firefox is officially the browser of SEOs, but if not, it should be. You can download it at www.spreadfirefox.com. And now, the extensions that make this browser invaluable to SEOs:
If I had to lose all but one of my SEO tools — this would be the one I'd keep, which is why it gets listed first. This little tool allows me to quickly look at the top 10 results in the SERPs [search engine results pages] and within seconds see all the PageRank, indexed page numbers and backlinks to that page, domain backlinks, the age of the site and much, much more.
This tool doesn't provide any revolutionary information in that it's all data that can be accessed directly. However, it reduces the time taken for tasks that would take minutes to seconds. It then provides easy links to more detailed information. A fantastic tool.
Oh, and it also adds a line through all nofollowed links. Very handy when link building.
Aaron Wall over at SEO Book has added a great tool to the mix that duplicates a lot of functions of SEO Quake, but has enough additional features to be very useful. Basically, neither is a replacement for the other.
Like most tools, it provides information that can be accessed in other ways, BUT with this Tool, Aaron allows users to find tons of relevant site and keyword information quickly and painlessly. From keyword traffic to keyword trends, from backlink counts to social media mentions — this tools gives quick access to tons of information.
Admittedly, I prefer the layout of SEO Quake and some of the easier functionality.
A HUGE thumbs way up (two of them in fact) to Joost de Valk who made all our lives simpler when this tool launched. What this tool does is display the PageRank and anchor text of every link when you perform a backlink check on one of the major engines. I suppose you could visit every single site and get this information yourself, and there's value in that to be sure, but when you need a quick analysis of a site's backlinks — this tool is invaluable.
As a sidenote — it works VERY well with SEO Quake.
With this tool we're getting a bit more advanced. For those of you who understand coding or are learning (and you should be), this tool is incredible. It allows for quick testing and viewing of a site's structure including, image info, table and cell information, W3C compliance, CSS details and MUCH, MUCH more.
I can't possibly list off all the functions this tool offers, and admittedly I don't use them all, but I use enough of them regularly for this tool to make my top 10 list.
This is an odd tool to add, and it's purely a convenience tool, but like adding a second monitor to your system — once you have it and realize that it saves you just a few seconds dozens of times per day, you quickly realize that your productivity relies on it.
With a simple click of a button, this tool loads Internet Explorer into your Firefox tab, so you don't have to go back and forth between browsers when testing. I could survive without it, but since you have Firefox anyways…
This is another tool with many uses. On the surface it simply displays PageRank, Alexa and Compete rank and mozRank data, but with a right-click of the icon you get access to a whole slew of additional information, including fast links to whois, the robots and sitemap files, keyword density information, Archive.org info, and it will even highlight nofollow links.
A lot of these features overlap other tools noted above, but I will say — I have it installed and so should you.
These are the main extensions I have installed for Firefox (read: the ones I use virtually every day). This isn't to say that's all there are, and I can't stress enough the benefits of visiting addons.mozilla.org and looking for more useful extensions specific to your needs (RSS, Twitter, coding, etc.) I have about a dozen more installed than are listed here, but those above are the main Firefox SEO tools I use daily.
In the next article, we'll be taking a look at free and affordable tools that you can use to help improve your Web site rankings. Be sure to keep your eyes open as there will be many invaluable tools listed there too.
About the Author
Dave Davies is the CEO for Beanstalk Search Engine Optimization, Inc. Beanstalk offers organic SEO services, consulting, link building and SEO copywriting services. While they provide their SEO from Victoria, BC they are proud to serve the world.