Tools I Use

ToolsBeing a search consultant I have to know a lot of things about websites. Anyone with a basic understanding of SEO gets that there are a lot of factors that contribute to a site’s performance, not only in search but it’s complete performance: from it’s ranking and traffic rates to conversion and retention.

Like any other profession it’s important that a good search consultant have, and more importantly, know how to use the right tools.

I often get asked which tools I use so I’ve compiled a list of the ones I commonly use. This isn’t a complete list of all the tools out there, but rather just a list of the tools I use on a regular basis.  If you have tools that you love that aren’t listed here, feel free to leave a comment.

This list will stay updated on a regular basis and is kept in alphabetical order.

Used for: code analysis

Builtwith is an extremely handy  tool that shows you what technology a website is built with. Simply pop in a URL and it spits out the domain’s framework, server, nameserver provider, hosting provider, email service, analytics software, JavaScript Libraries, CDN, document information and encoding.

It’s the simplest way to figure out what any website is running.

Pricing Model: Free

Used for: Copyright infringement analysis

Ever wonder if someone is stealing your content? Now you can check. Simply enter your URL into the Copyscape tool and it will return a breakdown of other domains with matched copy.

This tool has come in especially handy for diagnosing sites who proclaim to have been hit by Panda 😉

Pricing Model: Free

Firebug Plugin
Used for: code analysis, content analysis, architectural analysis

Firebug is an essential plugin that saves me tons of time. It allows you to “inspect” the code for any element on a webpage with a point and click interface. Rather than spending minutes looking through code to find the element you’re trying to diagnose, simply turn on Firebug and hover over the live webpage to get an instant preview of the markup. Firebug also allows you to inspect CSS, scripts and DOM elements as well as edit code and markup in your browser to preview changes before you make them.

Pricing Model: Free

Ghostery Plugin
Used for: code analysis, server analysis

Ghostery is a broswer pluging that shows you  a roll-call of the ad networks, behavioral data providers and web publishers that follow you around from website to website. It is a small pop-up that shows each script that loads on any page you visit.

Pricing Model: Free

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Used for: keyword research

R.I.P. old friend. This tool has been permanently closed by Google. Search consultants worldwide mourn the loss of this tool we all knew and loved. Google is a jerk – stayed tuned until I find another love.

Pricing Model: deceased.

Google Page Speed Plugin
Used for: load time analysis, server analysis

Google Page Speed is a rating system maintained by Google that scores webpage load times. Load times are a known ranking factor and also can have adverse effects on on-site performance. Although I primarily use Pingdom for page speed and load time diagnosis, I also like to use the Google Page Speed browser plugin for Chrome to keep an eye on the score that Google gives. Page Speed plugs into Chrome’s developer tools to give you added insight to your page analysis.

Pricing Model: Free

Integrity Link Checker
Used for: internal link analysis, architectural analysis

Integrity is a link check tool that I initially found to replace Xenu Link Sleuth when I got rid of keeping a Windows computer around for Windows only programs, like Xenu.

I don’t use it as often now since Screaming Frog has mostly replaced it, but I still pull it out every once in awhile when I’m diagnosing a site with especially difficult internal link issues and I want a second opinion.

Pricing Model: Donationware

Majestic SEO
Used for: backlink analysis, keyword research

Majestic SEO is another one of my essential core tools. Since the days of the Yahoo! Site Explorer are long gone I’ve been using Majestic for all my link analysis needs. Link analysis is arguably the most important part of any search consultant job, therefore it’s very important he/she have the right tool.

Like most other link analysis tools Majestic will show you backlink counts, anchor texts and referring domains. It also shows you link breakdowns by page, IP address and IP subnets. Majestic also has a unique link ranking system called AC Rank that assigns a quality score to pages and domains to help you determine the quality of your inbound links.

Pricing Model: Paid Subscription

MX Lookup Tool
Used for: spam checking

The MX Toolbox Lookup tool is a great free tool that I use for DNS analysis and spam checking. On rare occasion you’ll come across a site that has IP blacklist problems, when you do this is a handy little tool that you’ll need to figure it out.

Pricing Model: Free

Used for: load time analysis, code analysis, server analysis

Pingdom has become my primary tool for analyzing page load times. It has a great interface that shows a waterfall display of each element that loads on your page, how much it weighs and how long it takes to load. It’s performance grade feature shows you which elements of your webpage you need to focus on first to maximize your performance and minimize your load times and page weight with specific examples from your page and how to improve them.

Pricing Model: Freemium

Rank Checker Plugin
Used for: rank tracking, keyword research

I know the new fad is to say that rankings don’t matter, but sometimes you just gotta know; ya know? This is a simple Firefox Plugin that let’s you input keywords and it spits out rankings for your specified domain on the search engines that you include.

It’s not always perfect, and we all know that rankings may vary dependent on a lot of things, but it’s super useful for picking out opportunity. The only downfall to this tool is that I have to launch FireFox to use it 🙁

Pricing Model: Free

Raven Tools
Used for: architectural analysis, keyword research, link analysis, content analysis

I’ve been a Raven Tools user from the beginning of it’s inception. Raven is definitely a core tool that I have been using for years. I like Raven because it helps simplify my workflow, combining many tools together to create a seamless environment for research and reporting.

I use Raven a lot to do site and link research – it’s research central tool allows me to quickly gain information on multiple sites such as: link data, keyword information, semantic structure of the site, and offers a quality analyzer that you can set to your specifications. I also use their link manager to keep track of all of my link building activities.

In addition to Raven’s great research tools they also have a great system for reporting that allows you to set up custom reports pulling information from the sources that you set, making it simple and easy to set up regular custom reporting for any campaign.

Pricing Model: Free Trial - Paid Subscription

Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Used for: architectural analysis, internal link analysis

Screaming Frog is a crawl tool that will crawl any domain and report back a full list of all pages and on-page elements. I use it frequently for checking and finding broken links, dead pages, duplicate meta and title tags, page errors and internal links. This has become an essential tool that has replaced the custom crawler I had developed and used for years.

Pricing Model: Freemium (upgrade recommended)

SEM Rush
Used for: keyword research, rank tracking, backlink analysis

SEM Rush is one of my essential tools. I use it daily. My favorite and most used feature of SEM Rush is the ability to see which terms any domain is ranking for. The organic research feature allows you to not only see which terms a domain is ranking for, but also gives search engine traffic estimates, traffic and ranking breakdown by country and search engine, and competitor data.

SEM Rush also allows you to compare domains to one another and analyze multiple domains side by side. They also offer rank tracking which allows you to track search rankings for set terms on a domain.

Pricing Model: Paid Subscription

SEO Browser
Used for: content analysis

I use SEO Browser mostly for demonstration and teaching purposes, but it’s still a great little tool. Put in a URL and it will show you the content displayed in semantic order. So you can see the page “like the search engines do.” It’s a great way to demonstrate how search engines crawl webpages to the non savvy.

Pricing Model: Fremium

Spotflux Free VPN
Used for: anonymity

Sometimes you want to be anonymous; don’t ask me why, that defeats the point. For me, sometimes I just like to search Google without them already knowing everything about me. That’s where Spotflux comes in.

Spotflux is better than a traditional VPN or plug-n-play proxy because of it’s simplicity. Spotflux filters, compresses and encrypts all your internet traffic when enabled, giving you a completely private browsing experience. It also has controls to remove viruses, malware and ad-trackers.

Spotflux isn’t just a tool for consultants to use, it’s a great tool for all those especially concerned about their online privacy and can also help those who have internet restrictions imposed on them view whatever they like since it routes your internet connection through alternate IP addresses. Download Spotflux Free VPN and take back your privacy!

Pricing Model: free on desktop, free trial on mobile

Web Developer Plugin
Used for: content analysis, code analysis, architectural analysis

The Web Developer plugin is a small but powerful tool I use to help me digest pages and their elements. It adds many simple tools to your browser and allows you to quickly pick apart any webpage and how it works. The Web Developer plugin let’s you disable common webpage elements like CSS, JavaScript, cookies, plugins and popups. It has an outline feature that highlights common page elements in your browser such as headings, external links and images without alt attributes. It also has controls for element validation, form manipulation and DOM analysis.

The Web Developer plugin is a very simple tool that gives me all of the essentials in 1 click and makes analyzing webpages simple and fast.

Pricing Model: Free

Let me know if there are any must have tools I’ve missed in the comments below!


Categories SEO