Posted on September 8, 2009
Welcome to part two of this three part series on SEO tools and resources. In the last article we discussed the variety of Firefox extensions used for SEO. In this article we'll discuss some of the free and affordable tools you can use to better your organic optimization efforts. To make sure that when I say affordable I mean for virtually everyone I'm going to set the bar at $100/yr or ownership. Admittedly, we use tools that cost more than this but many of those tools will be out of some people's price range.
Here are some of the key tools you need to use to help insure the successful optimization of your website.
Many of you are likely familiar with Google's keyword tool but it needs to be noted. This is a great resources to researching keywords. As with all keyword tools, it has it's limitations and most would agree that it seems to overestimate search volume but nonetheless – it is probably the best of the keywords tools out there, especially at the price.
No individual set of data is perfect and no stage of the SEO process is more important than keyword research and selection. Keyword Discovery is a great tool to compare with the Google keyword data. Where you find commonalities you know that 2 independent sets of data agree. With a free trial that may itself work for many – it's certainly worth looking into.
While the paid version of this tool is more than the $100/yr max I noted previously – the free version provides some great data. Simply enter a competitor URL and you'll find out some valuable data about the keywords they rank for both organically and AdWords. This is great for competitor analysis as well and finding keywords you might not have thought of.
A fantastic free tool that crawls websites, reporting back all the broken links. Over time almost all sites get broken links – running this tool periodically will help you find them so you can fix them.
Arguably one of the most important of the SEO tools. Google Webmaster Tools allows webmasters (and SEO's of course) to see their website the way Google does. With this tool you'll get to see what your site is appearing for in the results, what pages on your site are linked to but don't exist, and a wide array of errors and statistics.
With this information you can repair a number of issues. If your site is appearing for phrases that you're not getting traffic from you can review your titles and descriptions to see if you can improve your clickthrough rate. Xenu won't show you the links from other sites that are pointing to pages that don't exist – Google Webmaster Tools will. You'll also find good backlink information for your site as well as a lot more.
Page Prowler is a backlink research tool that allows the user to collect large amounts of potential backlink information, sort that data by site strength, and then proceed to pursue these backlinks. The use of this tool is primarily in the way of saved time. There is no function of it that cannot be done manually however it can compile data that would take a person hours or days to collect quickly and easily.
Full disclosure – Shawn (the developer) asked me to advise on the development of this link building tool and I'm also assisting in it's marketing. I was extremely impressed with Shawn's first version (PR Prowler) and this new software includes additional functions and information. I felt the need to note this but I'll also note that we at Beanstalk use this tool regularly. I would not include it here if it didn't deserve to be and I'd include it here if I had nothing to do with it other than my using it.
Advanced Web Ranking is probably the most affordable of the better rank checking software programs. It has a ton of great features including scheduling and auto-report generation. You can set the searches to take place slowly to reduce the impact on the search engines. I still recommend to run it in the evening to further minimize your impact during high-volume search periods.
This is probably one of the most popular tools on the Beanstalk site. One of the pet peeves I always had with online rank checking tools was checking rankings one-at-a-time. This tool allows you to check your rankings on Google ten at a time. Apparently other agree as it's the most used tool of our set.
While in this list we're tried to include a solid set of very affordable tools, you might mind value in tools we don't use. This list is regularly updated and includes some very interesting (though not part of my daily arsenal) tools. Highly recommended to visit at least once. I have it in my bookmarks and check back every couple months to see what new tools have launched.
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In part three we'll be taking a look at a slough of invaluable SEO resources that you need to visit regularly to keep up-to-date on this ever-changing industry. While there are more than can be listed in a single article, I'll be covering my first points of access when I'm looking for news or others' opinions on SEO and search engine events.
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