Tools I Use


by Kenny Hyder

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!


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