Here are some of our favorite SEO tools, as of 2013:
Google and Bing Webmaster Tools are must-haves for any SEO, or really anyone who owns or manages a website. These webmaster tools offer a great overview of any potential problems with your site, along with various tools to help manage your presence in both search engines.
While both tools are useful, we spend the bulk of our time in Google Webmaster Tools and leave Bing Webmaster Tools for the occasions when we encounter a Bing-specific issue.
Google Webmaster Tools has myriad tools for managing your site. These are our favorites:
- Fetch as Google – A simple fetch that shows you how Google sees a page
- Crawl Errors – Shows various site/server errors (404, 400, 500) that may be impacting search presence.
- The Dashboard – Provides a quick and simple glance at any potiential red flag items
- Links to your Site – Provides total links/domains Google finds pointing to your site, in addition to a sampling of the domains that are providing links.
You can access Webmaster Tools via the following links:
Link Monitoring & Domain/Page Strength
These are tools we use to monitor inbound links, or compare domain/page strength among competitors.
SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer provides an excellent overview of page/domain strength, along with a tool to compare competitors against your own site. Additionally, you can export inbound links for domains you choose, and view a list of anchor texts associated with the incoming links. Our favorite metrics from Open Site Explorer are:
- Page Authority
- Domain Authority
- External Followed Links
- Followed Linking Root Domains
Because we like to be thorough and look at multiple sources for data whenever possible, we also use MajesticSEO and Google Webmaster Tools for reviewing link domain strength.
For checking and monitoring ranks, we use Advanced Web Ranking by Caphyon. There are other tools out there, but we haven’t found a reason to switch — even with the faults we find with Caphyon’s program.
Here are some ways we use Advanced Web Ranking:
- Checking local ranks in Google Places
- Checking international ranks (e.g., google.co.uk)
- Running weekly and monthly rank reports
- Viewing top sites that are ranking for certain terms
As we are a subscriber to SEOMoz, we also use their Campaigns feature to monitor and send weekly reports on top keywords for quick review.
To get an idea of how Google (or other crawlers) are seeing a web page/site we have a few go to tools:
- Rex Swain’s HTTP viewer – Simple and effective tool to get a quick glance of HTTP requests for web pages. Quick tip: Enter “Googlebot” in user-agent to view the page as Google would.
- Microsoft IIS SEO toolkit – This tool crawls (and optionally stores) a website and will point out errors which can be used as a head start in site reviews.
- SEObrowser.com – A simple yet effective method of seeing a page the way Google (or other crawlers/browsers) would. This tool was once free, it is now $5/year.
- User Agent Switcher (FireFox Plugin) – Helpful tool for using a browser to view sites with via different crawlers (and even different browsers). Be sure to download the big list of user agents, this will make your life much easier.
For keyword research and review, we primarily use two tools to get an idea of search volume and competition levels.
- Google Keyword Tool – A great way to review keyword popularity and to get an idea of similar terms. Can also be used to estimate CPC and competition levels when looking to sponser keywords for AdWords.
- Google trends – A good way to see keyword search interest over time. This tool can also compare multiple keywords to see their relative volume and show you a list of similar terms being searched for to get ideas.
- Honorable mention to Compete.com, which we sometimes use for long-tail keyword research and competitive keyword research
Our favorite website analytics tool by far is Google Analytics. Simply stated, this tool rocks and is a necessity for any SEO. We’ve been singing its praises since forever ago, and we don’t expect to stop anytime soon.
Thanks for reading about our favorite SEO tools! We hope you’ll add your faves in the comments below!