UPDATE: See my new post on the best SEO tools in 2015.
I’ve found lists with SEO tools that either aren’t very good or that are outdated, so I thought I’d make my own list of SEO tools that I’m currently using – whether they be extensions for Chrome/Firefox or independent software/programs to help with your search engine optimisation needs. Here are my top 14 SEO tools for 2014:
1. Feed The Bot (On-page recommendations engine)
Feed the bot is a website by Patrick Sexton. The website is essentially a tool whereby you enter a URL for page on a site you want to check to verify if it meets Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Another feature allows you to see whether your mobile SEO is up to scratch and will crawl the page and check for the following issues:
- User experience problems via mobile
- Mobile performance problems
- Googlebot access / robots.txt
- Site load speeds & enhancement recommendations
It’s very useful for a quick snapshot to find potential issues. And because ‘mobile SEO’ is becoming a bigger and bigger issue, this tool will be essential for those that are not getting mobile right. I for sure need to look at the mobile UX on this website!
Website: Feed The Bot
2. URL Profiler
URL Profiler is an amazing tool that is suitable for anyone that runs a website. You can use this tool in conjunction with Screaming Frog. I’ve used Screaming Frog to crawl a competitors website and then I’ve run those URLs through URL Profiler to get social metrics such as Facebook and Twitter shares – along with backlink data for those respective pages. It’s also able to give you the data that you’d get from the PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly tool, to check if your website is mobile-friendly and to give you the score out of 100 that Google gives you when assessing your site’s mobile usability. It’s a great tool and comes at a really cheap cost. There’s a 14 day trial that you can sign up for if you want to take give it a go without having to pay.
Website: URL Profiler
3. Screaming Frog
I praise this program like no other and it’s definitely a multi-purpose tool that will help you with your SEO needs. The program is primarily for on-site optimisation requirements. If you’re migrating your site (changing URL structures & planning 301 redirects), finding duplicate content, creating meta descriptions, giving an overview of a particular site, and creating technical SEO audits then this tool is definitely for you. There is a paid and a free version of this tool; however, the free version will let you do most things you need to do with a technical audit in mind. The free version will limit you to 500 page crawls and if your client’s website is larger than this then you’ll have to pay £99 annually to remove this limit. The free version is adequate, and you can still identify important issues with one’s site concerning search engine optimisation, so don’t let those limits put you off!
4. SEO MOFO – Snippet Optimizer
I use this one quite often when optimising a website’s page titles and meta descriptions. It’s useful as you can see what your page title and meta description changes will look like once in the search engine results pages. It’s such a useful tool, as you can also bold keywords that Google would also make bold for keywords that users would type in for a given page in the search field. Great thing is that it’s free and you don’t have to download anything.
This is my new favourite tool. It does rely on APIs, and uses APIs from the three backlink checking services listed in this list. That’s the Moz API, Ahrefs API and MajesticSEO API. It’s quite useful. For example, if you’re creating a list of websites to contact for outreach then you can simply build your list up, then paste it into this nifty tool. It will essentially check for Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), PageRank, backlink count (uses any of the three services listed), check the IP address of the specified websites, social shares and more. It’s epic, and something that every SEO should have.
I’ve done quite a bit of outreach and the method of using Google search operators is time consuming and a little flawed, as you’ll only find a handful of decent sites once you exhaust the keywords that you use. With online tools such as Outreachr, you’re able to identify a lot more sites that you would never have thought of. It’s a little meticulous at first, but you’ll find it quite rewarding once you collect the 100+ sites that you gain from such service. Unfortunately, most of the sites found using this tool won’t be right in one way or another, but you’ll be able to sift through the muck and found shiny pearls using Excel to filter out the bad results either by Domain Authority, Page Authority, MozRank etc. The free version of Outreachr will allow you to create 3 reports per month, which is quite limiting, but at the same time, not too bad as it’s free. You can also pay a one-time fee of $199 for more access to Outreachr’s service.
Ahrefs is another of those backlink tools like Opensite Explorer and and MajesticSEO. However, I’ve personally found that Ahrefs is an amazing tool when it comes to backlink analysis. It has the largest index of live backlinks, with a growing 91 billion URLs crawled. This means you’ll get the full picture when it comes to finding out what your competitors are doing and what your own site’s backlink profile looks like in full. I’d recommend this to other SEOs as the tool to have for 2014.
8. Opensite Explorer
Competitor analysis & website analysis is at the forefront of what this tool will do you for you. The tool by Moz is a great tool that checks the backlink profiles of whatever sites you specify. See what your competitors are doing and see how your sites match up against your competitors.
Website: Opensite Explorer
8.1 Moz Toolbar
I’m pretty sure I don’t have to mention this, but the Moz Toolbar is one of the most essential toolbars that one will require for their outreach efforts. You’ll be able to view Moz’ own industry leading metrics called Page Authority and Domain Authority, on websites that you may end up contacting. I sometimes have issue with using the Moz Toolbar on Google Chrome, as the Domain Authority won’t always appear and you’ll have to open up OpensiteExplorer to do it manually. I’ve found I don’t get this same issue with Firefox. Is that just me?
Website: Moz.com Toolbar
9. SEO SERP Workbench (for Google Chrome)
I really like this tool. If you’ve ever done keyword research and you want to quickly look at where your site is ranking in the SERPs for a certain keyword then SEO SERP is the tool for you. You can quickly look up keywords without having to go through the meticulous process of manually looking through the search results. The one thing lacking with this tool is the fact that you can only enter one keyword at a time. However, that’s what makes this tool great, as you can quickly (important word being “quickly”) look up keywords rather than enter a whole series of keywords that takes time to load; this is almost instant. It’s really quick and easy.
Website: SEO SERP Workbench
10. Rank Checker (for Firefox)
Seeing as I mentioned one SEO tool for Google Chrome it’s only polite to mention an SEO tool for Mozilla Firefox. This tool is called Rank Checker and is an extremely useful tool. I should note that you should be extremely cautious when using this tool, as you could potentially block your entire IP range’s ability to search in Google if you are searching for too many keywords within a certain time span. You can get around this by limiting the amount of rank checking going on per minute. When I first started working at the media agency I work at, there were complaints directed to the SEO team — likely due to this tool. Be well aware of this tool’s drawbacks or you’ll come across a lot of angry people if you go and search for a million keywords per minute.
Website: Rank Checker
11. Cognitive SEO
Cognitive SEO is an SEO tool that well renowned for being a tool that checks backlink profiles for quality and naturality. This tool will cut and dice your backlink profile into 3 sections:
- Unnatural Links
- Suspect Links
- OK Links
This tool is great if your site has been hit by a manual penalty or an algorithmic penalty. Prevention also seems to be on the table with this tool, as you’ll be able to identify unnatural links before Google nabs you. And considering the fact that Google is coming down hard on those who break their rules, with Rap Genius being the most recent example this year, Cognitive SEO could be lucrative to your SEO long term plans. There’s a 14 day free trial that I’ve signed up for to test this tool; otherwise, the smallest package will set you back $99 per month.
Website: Cognitive SEO
12. SEO Analysis with Seoptimer
If your clients are big then they’ll likely create new pages without you even knowing. These are opportunities that arise for SEOs to make suggestions and possibly changes to optimise new parts of a site. It’s all well and good looking at the source code to look for improvements that can be made, but then you’ll always miss something. Why not be thorough and use the SEO Analysis tool by Seoptimer. It will give you a full downloadable report with the page URLs you enter in the URL field. You’ll be able to view suggestions on alt tag attributes, meta descriptions, header tags, external links and more. It’s completely free. Why don’t you give it a go?
13. SeoTools for Excel
If you work in SEO then you likely do most, if not all, of your SEO work in Excel. SeoTools for Excel provides a comprehensive feature set to speed up you SEO work. Whether it’s on-page or off-page features that you’ll take advantage of — this tool is something that will take away any manual work that you’ll be doing by automating the process. A great feature is the fact you’ll be able to get this tool to crawl pages and import meta data or on-page data such as header tags and more. The only feature that it’s missing is the fact you can’t find the Domain Authority of a website using this addon for Excel — something which I think they should add.
Website: SeoTools for Excel
14. Majestic SEO
Majestic SEO performs very similar functions to Moz’ Opensite Explorer. However, the main plus with Majestic SEO is the fact you have two indexes. The first is the Fresh Index and the second is the Historic Index. The Fresh Index is updated daily, so you’ll obtain results that are more up-to-date than what Moz will give you. The Historic Index is updated monthly, similar to how Moz updates their index. What’s also similar is that Majestic SEO has their own metric system called “Flow Metrics” that includes Citation Flow and Trust Flow. Citation Flow is a metric that predicts how influential a URL will be dependent on the amount of sites that are linking to it. Trust Flow is a metric based upon high authority sites (or trusted sites) linking to a particular page; the more trustworthy sites linking to you site, the higher the metric will be. Two very important metrics when looking for sites to do outreach or competitor analysis.
15. Buzz Stream
BuzzStream is a great way of tracking your outreach efforts as well and keeping the lists of websites you’ve contacted in an easy and organised list. What’s good about keeping your database on BuzzStream is the fact that it will automatically update metrics that would otherwise remain static in Excel/Google Docs. It’s an efficient way of doing outreach and provides a lot of direction. With the basic package costing $29 per month — it’s quite limited as you’ll be able to only have up to 500 websites added to your BuzzStream account’s database. However, if you’re a big media agency, you should be able to afford to the $99 per month price tag that allows you enter up to 25,000 websites.
These are my top 12 favourite SEO addons/programs/extensions/web applications. I’ll be sure to add more as I come across them and I would be willing to test a few of the newer services, programs and anything SEO related that could be added to this list. If there is there a tool that I haven’t mentioned that should be listed here then feel free to message me on Twitter @jonny_j_.