I am not an SEO expert and have no desire to ever be one, especially since the nature of SEO is that it changes constantly, with Google making regular changes and the SEO horde trying to keep up and find ways to beat Google at the ranking game. Having said that, being completely ignorant of SEO is not a good idea either.
SEOmoz is the only site I regularly follow that is focused on SEO as I am just not that interested in knowing everything about the field and in my limited experience it seems to be one of, if not the, best sites available. In one recent post I read about two useful SEO tools, Netpeak Checker and Niels Bosma’s SeoTools. I decided to give both a try and I found them to be very useful.
What do these tools do exactly? They allow you to analyze one or multiple websites quickly from one interface. In the case of Netpeak Checker you download and install a program. SeoTools, on the other hand, is a Microsoft Excel plugin. I personally find it more powerful and flexible, but the downside is that it can only be used with Excel (not Google or Open Office spreadsheets) and only on a Windows PC (because it relies on Microsoft’s .NET framework to run). If you are a Mac owner or don’t have Excel the choice will be easy. If not, you might try both and see which you prefer.
Setting up SeoTools is pretty straightforward. Just read the included readme.txt file. If you don’t already have Microsoft .NET installed you may need to install or update it first. Also, I use Office 2003 and I had to go into the options and reduce the security level for running macros to get it to install properly. Even after installing, I never saw the special SeoTool tab the readme file mentions (I believe that is more an Office 2007 feature), but the functions were in fact available.
For those wishing to use this tool, I have created a very basic SeoTools spreadsheet template with the information that most interests me personally, though there are many more options I didn’t use. Feel free to download the template and change the URL information to suit your needs. I have chosen some well-known travel blogs to illustrate. If you wish to add more SEO items to your personalized spreadsheet, just use the function button (fx) and scroll through the SeoTools-specific functions (the easiest way is to select SeoTools in the “Or select a category” dropdown).
One thing I have noticed is that sometimes you actually need the full http:// URL instead of just domain.com to get certain results. Another important thing to know about this tool is that it can eat up your computer resources and take a while to perform the calculations. The more URLs you analyze—obviously—the worse it will be. And, if you are using the auto-update feature (default option for excel) that can be a bit of an annoyance. For more information on using this great tool, check out the various how-to articles (and at least one video) found on the site.
For those interested, the functions I have included are:
- Alexa back links
- Alexa popularity (though this doesn’t seem to actually work for me)
- # of DMOZ entries
- domain age
- # of Facebook likes
- # of pages indexed by Google
- # of links in Google (I find this to be wildly inaccurate)
- Google pagerank
- # of Google+ +1s
- The meta description for the URL
- When the first time the Internet Archive saw the URL
- # times <keyword> was used on the URL (my default is “travel” but you can easily change this)
- # links found on the page
- the size of the page code, overall page size and text size for the page
- average load time
- # tweets
- W3C validation results
- # of Wikipedia links (in English)
- when the domain was created (Whois)
- when the domain expires (Whois)
Netpeak Checker was easy to download and install, and though not 100% intuitive or obvious, it is relatively easy to use and there is a help feature as well (though it is, unfortunately, missing descriptions for many parameters). Do take a moment before using the program to change the settings. You will especially want to enter your SEOmoz account info. If you don’t have a free account already, definitely create one.
By default, all options are selected in the parameters section. These are grouped into the following categories: PR, Server, Index, Ahrefs, Majesticseo, Catalogues, SEOmoz, Alexa, Glued, Mention, Domain Age, Bing, Site links, Link Stat, and Language. Note that the Ahrefs options don’t seem to return any values and I couldn’t find any description for them in the help section. One nice feature is the ability to save the history of analyses and the ability to export the results. I also noticed that the program runs significantly faster than SeoTools.
Both tools are excellent and free. If you don’t have Windows and excel, just use Netpeak Checker., which is much faster and easier to setup and use regardless. But, if you tend toward the geeky or technical, definitely explore SeoTools. Both tools provide similar information but do pull some of it from different sources. If you are really serious about your SEO you might wish to use both but I think that is probably unnecessary.
Have you used either of these? Or any other great tool(s)? If so, please comment with your thoughts and suggestions.