Alright, let’s just imagine that you’re website is all set & finished (even though it truly will never be), and you are ready to start optimizing your website outside of the website itself (i.e. through link building techniques). Before you do anything, become well prepared to the various websites you will come across such as your competitors and possible linking opportunities. The way to do this my friends is in the art of choosing your select SEO tools & kits. There are hundreds out there, but today I will try to cover the basics into a little detail, but this is mostly to get you aware of the things you MUST analyze, plan, and implement in your SEO campaign.
First thing you should do to get started is to download a few toolbars if you don’t already have them – the Google Toolbar and the Alexa Toolbar. The Google Toolbar, which I expect most have, has one specific gadget that you need to know about – the PageRank checker. Once you install Google Toolbar (toolbar.google.com) go to your options and activate the PageRank checker tool, and this will give you a green bar indicating the PageRank of a page. You also want to check out the Alexa Toolbar, which once installed will give you an indication of how much traffic a particular site gets. If your Alexa Ranking is 100,000, then that means you are the one hundred thousandth most visited website in the world (data isn’t 100% accurate, but it gives you a decent estimate). Other toolbars I recommend getting include the Compete.com toolbar, the yahoo toolbar (toolbar.yahoo.com), the Bing toolbar (toolbar.bing.com), and one I mention a little bit later (of course, you don’t have to get all of them, but I will tell you at the end which ones I found to be most useful).
Luckily for us, many SEO websites know the meaning of “linkbait” – useful web content that encourages users to link to it. This is the case with two sites I like in particular – SEOmoz.org and SEObook.com. Starting off with SEOmoz.org, this is a site that gives out a few free tools that can be advantageous to anyone not wanting to give up a penny. You can use their Open Site Explorer tool (opensiteexplorer.org) which will analyze backlinks to a particular page. They also have a Rank Tracker (up to 5 keywords checked per day) and a toolbar of their own. The other site, SEObook.com, also offers a superb package of free tools. By registering for an account (asks for only Email and a Username), in about a minute they provide you with a link to a page to download 3 free tools – A full, complete Rank checker that goes right into your browser (although there has been debate on how accurate it is), their own SEO toolbar which gives many statistics of pages and domains (including Page Rank and Yahoo Page Links), and finally their SEO for Firefox tool, which generates a list of info under each search result in Google and Yahoo! Searches. Personally I like SEObook.com’s tools better, but they have one downside – they only work with Mozilla Firefox, so if you don’t already have it, you have to download it (it’s free, easy, and quick). If you don’t want to download Firefox, I suggest sticking with the rank tracker on SEOmoz.org.
If you have room in the budget to go out and spend money on some SEO tools to help you and your campaign (which I highly recommend), make sure you know which ones you want and what you’re paying for. Currently, my website has accounts with a few different SEO tools – SheerSEO, HubSpot and GetClicky. SheerSEO includes many helpful tools & gadgets such as PageRank of every page on your site, different directories you’ve submitted to, and tracking of your different backlinks (we like it because it’s cheaper than most SEO Services). HubSpot is a much more widely used tool, which helps you track different keywords used in Twitter Posts, LinkedIn Posts, etc. as well as Keyword Difficulty, Tracking, and help with Social Media. GetClicky offers full, complete site analytics of your visitors and how they get there. Also as mentioned above, SEOmoz.org and SEObook.com are both sites that offer different tools that should be given some consideration when determining which tools you want to pay for. Personally I’m a fan of SEObook.com’s free set of tools, and a big fan of the services provided by HubSpot, but you should look into as many of these SEO services as they can appeal differently to different website owners.
Congratulations! If you start using these tools, you are getting closer to the lens that the search engines look through to analyze your site. By looking at the behind the scenes stuff, you can see what matters and what doesn’t by comparing your site to your competitor’s.
I like to leave my readers with a little something extra, and today I’m going to give an honorable mention to a tool known as Link Checker, an add-on install for Mozilla Firefox. It might be old, but it packs quite a punch – when installed, you can right click and choose “Check Page Links”, and in seconds it will start highlighting every link on your page: green links mean they are a fully functional link, yellow is a forwarded, forbidden link, gray is a skipped link (such as email links), and finally red means it is a broken link. How can I make use of this? Well, if you want to, you can check different pages on your site for broken links, but what I use it for is much more sophisticated (sorry, I brag a lot). Using this tool on the fly allows me to check Resource & Links pages on various websites (such as college ones) to check for broken links. I then inform the webmaster of them, and suggest my website to be the replacement link for it. If I can get my website to offer the same information as the broken link was supposed to, I end up getting a high success rate of webmasters willing to insert my link on their page. It might be time consuming to find these pages, but it sure pays off!
Remember that these are just a few of the ones I use, and again there are numerous ones out there that I have heard of being effective. This is more of a post to give you a head start into the search & find process.
Which SEO Tools do you find work the best for you? Comment and start the conversation.