Streamlining Your SEO Toolkit
Optimizing your site is a time-consuming, often frustrating process. If you don’t know where to start, a search for website optimization in Google returns more than 100 million results. Finding the right tools and an effective way to add them to your browser is daunting, even for experienced SEO professionals.
At Trinity Insight, we felt that there had to be a better way to streamline the process of making your website optimization process faster So we made one.
Our team is pleased to announce the public release of our One-Click SEO Audit Tool Extension for Google Chrome! Created to assist our SEO team with identifying opportunities and diagnosing issues, the extension places our favorite tools a simple click away.
Designed to assist in every aspect of modern SEO (Technical, Content, Off-Site, Social) the tool also grants easy access to powerful competitive analysis capabilities, allowing you to see how your site stacks up against that of your rivals.
What does integrating this one stop audit shop into your browser look like? See for yourself:
Every free tool you need to start identifying optimization opportunities is just a click away. Once installed, accessing it is simple: First, visit the website you want to analyze. We’re using www1.macys.com in most of our examples, but you can test the tools out on practically any site.
Open the extension by clicking on the Trinity shield which should be directly to the right of the address bar. Find the tool you want to use, and click on it to tell it to run. Your browser opens a new tab and runs your selected program. All of the domain information is automated and pre-populated to save time and streamline your analysis.
From simple WHOIS lookups to in-depth traffic analysis, this toolkit represents the best free resources available for optimizing digital content. These are the same tools we use at Trinity and most feature powerful customization options that would be impossible to cover in a single post. Instead of explaining each tool in detail, we want to give a brief overview of what they’re used for.
Technical SEO Tools
Identifying technical issues with your website means removing errors from your code, following Google’s best practices so that their crawlers can easily navigate it. These technical tools will help you identify the best places to optimize your code quickly.
If you’re researching a competitor’s site the first step is to find out what they used to build it. Going through code to find platforms, API’s, and tracking cookies is difficult and frustrating, that’s where Built With comes in.
Built With does the hard part for you, reading the page source, and pulling out the information you’re looking for without subjecting your eyes to pages of CSS code. Built With identifies more than the platforms, however, it also gives you valuable analysis on how effectively that code is implemented.
The program lists the HTML document type and if valuable SEO tags like rel=canonical or rel=next are utilized, and if the company optimizes search listings affecting code such as meta descriptions. The tool also helps identify what tracking cookies the page implements, which can influence site speed.
Notice a large competitor like Macy’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods rocking their organic optimization recently? This tool lets you see what platform they’re using, what technologies (such as a CDN) they’ve implemented, allowing you to find ways to implement those changes on your own site.
Built With is great for business intelligence, giving an SEO agent a fundamental understanding of their competitior domains as well as helping identify potential site-wide areas for improvement on your own website.
Any site architecture specialist will tell you that using the wrong server headers is a sure-way to nuke any progress made with your campaign. URI Valet verifies your server header and response codes, ensuring that the proper ones are in use at the site. If you moved a page location, a 301 redirect and 302 redirect will appear the same to a user, but will affect your SEO efforts in vastly different ways.
In addition to verifying server response codes, URI Valet analyzes the load times of each asset on the page, making this a powerful tool when conducting a technical diagnostic audit. Check out how the program breaks down the page weight in a helpful chart, giving you a visual overview of your websites code efficiency.
Site redirects are an important, though potentially frustrating problem when migrating or updating your CMS or eCommerce platform. Implemented improperly, they can cause noticeable traffic loss or cause duplicate versions of your site to be indexed by Google and other search engines. Having a tool that quickly checks status codes simplifies the task of confirming the migration significantly.
Redirect Checker is a single purpose website we included in our extension to tell you if the page you loaded as a redirect status and where it goes. This is a great, simple tool to use if you don’t need the additional information provided by URI Valet.
Netcraft provides details into network history, hosting, and security, making it a helpful tool when you’re researching a competitor or new client.
The tool is also a great way to make sure your domain is not on any block lists. Netcraft is an excellent way to get a top-level overview of the backend of any site. Here’s just a small sample of the data available:
In 2007, during a Google Analytics Summit, an employee at Google recommended Web Page Test to the Trinity team and the website’s been an internal favorite ever since. If you want a free, robust overview of performance data, you won’t find a better tool.
Web Page Test provides fundamental speed data and associates A-F grades with key speed components.
The tool also shows load times for new/returning visitors, and provides details into page assets.
Web Page Test identifies “laggard” assets slowing down your page’s responsiveness, and display them in an easy to understand waterfall graphic:
In an internal research project, Trinity Insight discovered that websites with load times under 4 seconds showed approximately 20% higher SEO gains year over year than those sites that loaded slower.
By using Web Page Test, you can identify what’s holding your speed back, making your content load for customers faster to reap SEO benefits.
Performing a technical audit isn’t easy, and beyond improving customer experience, the only reason you’d take the time to do one is to hopefully make your site more attractive to search engines like Google. Including the company’s own “page speed” tool in our extension made a lot of sense.
The Google Developers tool comes straight from the search giant, so if it identifies areas where you can improve, we recommend prioritizing your optimization efforts around them since this is often the quickest way to maximizing SEO performance. A fast, responsive website is the best experience for their users so Google will even build common speed solutions for you!
The tool scores desktop and mobile performance separately, allowing you to identify any issues that are unique to each platform. Google best practices call for a responsive design, but depending on your business a different solution might fit your needs better.
If you fail the “mobile friendliness” test, getting your site responsive is your highest priority. On April 21st, 2015, Google rolled out a major update to their PageRank Algorithm that served separate results depending on the device a customer searched from; mobile versus desktop.
If your page ranks well for lucrative terms on the desktop but it’s not mobile friendly, you’ll start to see your organic traffic drop as Google promotes competitors in results whenever a customer searches from their phone. Recently, the company announced that more searches originate on mobile every month than the desktop.
If you’re not mobile friendly, you’re leaving revenue on the table.
Pingdom is very similar to Web Page Test, but what makes the program special is its ability to help diagnose internal network issues causing delays and issues on a website. Not only will this improve user experience, but it makes your website more attractive to search engines, helping to drive SEO results.
The visually appealing diagnostics provided by Pingdom is an awesome way to get an outside view of your website’s response time and what’s holding it back.
The W3C is a community of developers, coders, and infrastructure providers that acts as a governing body for web standards. Once adopted, these standards empower developers to create new applications for the Internet, since they know that most popular browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Safari will interpret their code correctly.
If you run a website that uses non-compliant code, it could cause syntax or display errors, impacting performance and user experience. While broken or inefficient code does not have a direct impact on SEO, it’s still recommended to keep your code as clean as possible since the improved customer experience can translate into a reduced bounce and increased conversion rates.
When managing an established property, however, certain legacy systems can make maintaining a fully W3C compliant website difficult. For example, check out the W3C validation screen for Macys.com and note the highlighted errors.
Macy’s allows users to order and pick up merchandise directly from their store, which means they need their modern website to interact with a proprietary, and often aging, point-of-sale system. This is why Google wisely made the choice to not penalize websites that featured non-compliant code, but from a user experience point-of-view, we still recommend that everyone cleanup their code whenever possible.
In addition to their markup validation tool, the W3C also features a broken link checker that can help you find any potential landmines a crawler like Googlebot might encounter. If the search engine discovers a large number of broken or expired links, it will directly impact your SEO efforts. Identifying and updating these links will allow crawlers to access a greater portion of your website, helping both keyword rankings and organic search results.
Wave is another tool to use when trying to identify HTML issues. Using colorful icons, the program helps to identify missed coding opportunities, like missing image alt tags, which can give you opportunities to earn additional organic search traffic.
The search engine’s Hummingbird update meant a shift towards prioritizing the semantic, contextual web. Keywords are still important, but Google’s getting better at interpreting how real people search the web, including an ever-increasing understanding of customer (user) intent. This understanding means that sites providing the right information can rank higher than those that optimize just around the specific keyword and not its appropriate context.
Using Wave, you’ll quickly see technical SEO opportunities as well as identifying where to integrate additional content on the page without negatively impacting user experience. This content will lend authority and context to your page, which is more important than ever in a post-hummingbird world.
This screenshot of Macys.com through Wave is a great example of how quickly the program can identify opportunities for your team:
Semantic markup, such as Schema.org, helps Google and other search engines identify the context of the content on your page. For example, customers searching for “Black Dog” the movie will want different information than those users looking for pictures of Black Dogs, such as a Labrador retriever.
Through markup, your website can tag the content with relevant categories, and highlight additional content to make your search listing more attractive to the searcher. In eCommerce, this can mean displaying real time pricing, reviews, and availability.
Below, you’ll see an example of a rich snippet, in this case a hair dryer sold by Best Buy:
In this example, the user can see the price and ratings, and that the item is currently out of stock. Not only does this make your listing more visually appealing and informative, but it should help reduce bounce rate since customers can compare the pricing and availability directly from the search results page.
Unfortunately, adoption of Schema is not universal. We found the same product listed on Macy’s and ran their page through Google’s semantic markup checker. Take a look at the error within the “product” schema:
According to Google, the department store’s listing features five schema errors. It’s not surprising then that Macy’s organic listing in search results does not feature the full “rich snippets” like the Best Buy page.
Going back to the Google markup tool, it’s easy to see why the Macy’s listing is so plain. By expanding the product errors, the tool shows that the ratings and reviews schema is misconfigured.
Officially, semantic markup has no effect on organic listings. Google will not penalize or boost a site for using the markup, and using it incorrectly will not harm your rankings. Schema does, however, directly impact user behavior. By providing the customer’s with relevant, real-time information, websites using Schema tend to perform better than those that forgo it entirely.
In fact, despite only being implemented on .3% of websites, Schema enhanced listings appear on the first page for 33% of all search queries. No webmaster, particularly those involved in eCommerce, can afford to ignore that level of effectiveness. Google’s markup tool allows you to quickly verify that your CMS platform implements schema effectively.
DomainTools is an easy way to get WhoIs data on any website. Invaluable for competitive research, this platform lets you know who owns a given domain and the server infrastructure. From an SEO perspective, the tool gives you the response code, an on-page link breakdown, and the number of images on the page with missing alt tags. We used the tool on the Macy’s website to show you what information the tool can provide:
SpyOnWeb offers several valuable tools for gaining high-level insights into your domain. Giving you quick access to traffic sources and server structure, the program pulls information instantly from across the web to provide comparative data.
In addition to identifying traffic sources, SpyOnWeb provides a list of the domains hosted on the same IP address as the target site. Not only will this give you an idea on the infrastructure demands traffic from these domains generate, but you can also identify “bad neighborhoods,” or spammy sites linked with the IP Address that could result in an algorithmic penalty or (worse yet) a manual action from Google.
The Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization hoping to preserve our digital history similar to how the Library Of Congress keeps a copy of every book printed. At Trinity Insight, we love the Wayback Machine!
Using a crawler, the Wayback Machine attempts to build a map of the web much like a search engine does. Unlike Google, however, the Wayback machine creates a snapshot of how the domain looked each time the crawler visits it. The result is a visual, searchable index of how a domain evolved over time.
This historical overview is ideal for webmasters looking into purchase a new domain, or for agencies taking on a new client. You can use it to review the way a site looked and changed over time, which is one way to help identify unexplained traffic drops after accounting for any technical problems
Let’s say you had a new client, Macy’s, and you noticed a huge drop in organic traffic in April of 2012. Using the Wayback Machine, you can look at exactly how the site appeared before and after the drop, isolating any variables that changed. The screenshots below show you what the Wayback Machine would show if you did a search for Macys during that time:
Offsite SEO Tools
Link acquisition and management forms the backbone of any effective SEO strategy. While Google’s search engine is getting better at recognizing relevant, contextual data every day, it still depends on backlinks to rank authoritative content. The company’s internal webmaster tools will only give you a portion of your own properties backlink profile which is why we included three third party alternatives to help give you a more complete look at what sites are linking to you.
Each alternative maintains a unique listing of backlinks, which is why SEO professionals often use all three to help get a clearer picture of what Google’s backlink profile looks like.
Moz is one of the better-known names in the SEO world thanks, in part, to the Open Site Explorer. Providing years of valuable link data, Moz also uses the tool as a component in their respected “Domain Authority” rank, the most widely recognized authority to PageRank after Google stopped publishing that number.
You’ll need a subscription to access the deeper level insights provided by the tool, but even the free version gives you high level metrics on linking root domains, new links, and potential spam.
Running the Macy’s homepage through the free version of Open Site Explorer provides several valuable pieces of information, including the site’s Spam Score, number of linking root domains, and just-discovered links:
Another fantastic tool to conduct off-site SEO analysis is Majestic SEO and their link intelligence tool. The tool offers some similar functions that Open Site Explorer does, but uses a visual representation of backlink history to provide several unique functions.
Using their proprietary trust and citation flow algorithms, Majestic allows you to get an overview of the quality and distribution of the inbound links for your site without much effort. Using Macy’s as an example again, here’s the information the free version of the tool offers:
With the single largest link database outside of Google, ahrefs is a powerful tool for webmasters and SEO professionals looking to dive into a website’s backlink profile, making it our personal tool of choice when conducting analysis and competitive research at Trinity.
Like Majestic and Open Site Explorer, the free version of the tool only gives a subset of the available information, but the availability of free social metrics helps set it apart from the competition. While traditional links may carry more weight individually, the popularity of Facebook shares are an important part in any offsite strategy. As a website’s audience grows in social channels and users share your content, the authority and relevance of your domain improves site-wide.
The large database and addition of social metrics makes the free version of this tool one of the best available. Here are the results ahrefs returns for the Macy’s homepage:
Every seasoned SEO is familiar with search penalties. Until recently, a website could perform well in organic results simply by building thousands of links, often in the comment sections of blogs or on foreign forums. Google viewed this as a manipulative tactic and penalized webmasters engaging in it.
If you suspect your site suffers from a link-based penalty (Penguin), the only way you can effectively recover is by either removing links the search engine views as spammy or by disavowing them through Webmaster Tools. For domains with thousands of links, this process is time-consuming and monotonous unless you utilize a tool like Remove’em.
Remove’em is a paid service, but the program offers a free checkup on anchor text distribution, which is a potentially useful tool when identifying where to focus your own link cleanup efforts. The results display in an easy to read grid, with any potential issues highlighted in red:
In our Macy’s example, notice that the tool identifies a high percentage of no-text links. For most sites this is a potential issue, but since it’s not uncommon for users to link to eCommerce websites via the image of a product they like, this is not an immediate red flag. Whether you’re using the free graph or you want to purchase the full service, remove’em is a valuable tool in any offsite arsenal.
Content SEO Tools
Read just a little about new trends in Internet marketing and you’ll see the mantra “content is king” written a few dozen times. As Google gets better at reading the context of information and judging user intent, the content your website offers becomes more important than ever. The right content can get your product or service in front of thousands of new potential clients, while posting “thin” or non-valuable content can actually decrease your audience.
Here are some of our favorite tools for building an identifying unique, high-quality content.
High quality content matters, but the value of that content only helps a website if it’s unique. As an SEO, one of your responsibilities is to reduce the amount of duplicate content that exists on a domain. This duplicate content can be external (such as competitors using the same product description) or it can be internal if user filtering parameters are mistakenly indexed, creating multiple instances of your website within Google.
Copyscape is a powerful tool that helps identify duplicated content by searching the web for content that matches what’s on your selected page. If you have a product ranking on page 2 or 3 for a valuable search term, ensuring unique content for your product is a great way to build authority against competitors who simply use the manufacturer’s provided description.
Running a Macy’s gym short product page through Copyscape identified four other websites using the same product description. Writing a unique description prioritizing the searcher over search engines is a proven component of increasing search visibility, so if this is a product Macy’s wanted to rank for, it’s one of the most cost-effective places to start.
Like other tools in this category, Copyscape offers both free and paid versions. At Trinity, we find the premium version of this app well worth the investment, but it’s possible to glean valuable information leveraging only the free tool.
In addition to prioritizing unique content, Google also gives a rankings boost to websites that utilize proper spelling and grammar. In our SEO extension the “SpellChecker” button runs your selected page through Respelt.
Macys.com had a URL parameter that caused errors with the app so we ran Wal-Mart’s homepage through Respelt and it identified a single spelling error. One spelling issue might not seem like a lot, but in a highly competitive market, even one easily correctable error is too much.
The app is a useful tool for verifying previous entries as well as planning new content efforts.
Despite its increasing complexity and ability to understand user intent, Google’s search crawlers do not read the same website your customer’s do, so seeing your content through the crawler “eyes” can provide valuable insights.
SEO Browser is a fantastic tool that attempts to parse the HTML on your website, displaying only the content visible to Google in a format that the search engine understands.
The SEO browser removes all content not seen by Google’s crawlers, replacing all images with their alt text and is a useful tool for verifying that user content (such as reviews) are visible to search engines. Here’s how a Macy’s product page appears through the tool:
We highlighted a user review to show you how they appear to Google. Not the colorful stars and formatting users see but the valuable content is visible to search engines, and that’s the important part.
Once you make your website appealing to users, it’s important to verify that these changes don’t break the ability of search engines to read the content. Having an attractive and user-friendly website only helps sales if it appears in customer searches.
Social SEO Tools
For most companies, social media represents an exciting, if confusing, opportunity. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ give brands an unprecedented opportunity to interact directly with their customers. Since these networks exist outside of a company’s direct control, the value of these interactions is often hard to quantify.
The line between public relations and digital marketing is blurring since the two once separate fields now build off one another. A great example of this is a company’s official social profile, which provides a website with valuable backlinks and organic traffic, but is also a platform for customer service.
Many SEO agencies assist their clients with social outreach as part of their overall outreach strategies, so understanding the potential value of these channels is an important part of their strategy.
We pulled together a few of our favorite free tools and put them in our extension, giving you one click access to this often hidden data.
Topsy is a great tool to get data on Twitter analytics. When you click on the button in our extension, the app searched twitter, listing all mentions of that page. Twitter’s own search function is unreliable at best, but thanks to records going back to 2006, Topsy’s database gives an accurate overview of website mentions. The service even identifies “influential” accounts, allowing you to track users with a large number of followers who share your content.
Tracking mentions on a viral page provides useful insights into what words customers associate with that page. Topsy provides amazing top level analysis for pages already popular on twitter, but it also includes a valuable keyword research tool to identify what words a company should use in their own tweets.
Enter up to three terms and the program returns an easy to read graph that gives an overview on their historical popularity. If you’re looking to craft targeted messages, knowing the words your customers are using for your content is important. Much like Google’s keyword planner gives you information on how often people search for a word, Topsy’s keyword planner gives you an idea about how often customers talk about a term.
Another great tool to assist in identifying your social footprint is SocialMention. Crawling the web, the program looks for mentions of your selected term on blogs and other popular user generated content platforms. By analyzing the wording used around the term, the service lists each mention as “positive,” “neutral,” or “negative.”
As a default, clicking on the SocialMention link in our extension will search for specific mentions of that page, but you can also search just for keywords, such as this example where we searched for mentions of “macys:”
SocialMention is a great tool to use for reputation management, since you can subscribe to receive an email alert whenever someone mentions a specific term. This data is also useful for SEO agencies looking for potential link opportunities, since a user mentioning your brand is likely more receptive to linking back to your homepage.
The last link in our social SEO toolkit is Twitter’s official search function. Like Topsy, this program searches accessible tweets and returns all mentions of your website. In most cases Topsy is our preferred tool at Trinity, but when you’re tracking popular content, real-time access to the social network is a valuable tool.
Competitive SEO Tools
Between Google Analytics and other internal tools, tracking the effectiveness of your own campaigns is a relatively simple task. Measuring your competitors’ campaigns, however, is much harder.
These tools are familiar to any SEO professional, but by including them in our extension we make accessing them a single click away. These tools require a subscription to unlock their full potential, but the free versions still provide valuable insights.
SEMRush is a powerful keyword tool. The company runs web crawlers that search for thousands of keywords and phrases, giving you a searchable index for what terms a given page ranks for. In addition to tracking organic listings, the program also gives insights into AdWord placements, helping you infer what campaigns your competitor might be running.
SEM Rush is also one of the few, if not the only tool that provides intelligence on the Paid Listing Ads, also known as PLA’s. Thanks to their visually appealing nature, PLA’s typically convert at levels that exceed standard paid ads, making the data offered by SEMRush an invaluable resource when building your own campaigns.
The tool also helps you identify what our office liked to call the “low hanging fruit” of keyword optimization. These are the terms that your website already ranks for, but they’re stuck on page two. By focusing on these already relevant words, you can boost your content to the first page, increasing organic traffic in the most effective way possible.
If you need access to deep, historical data, you want to use SpyFu. Like SEMRush, the service crawls Google to build a list of keyword rankings, but SpyFu grants you access to older data and lists rankings beyond the second page.
This additional depth comes at a cost however, since the tool only updates monthly while SEMRush updates listings on a daily basis. This makes SpyFu a fantastic resource for tracking trends but not the best choice when you want to see how Google’s recent changes impact your ranking.
Giving keyword data for the last six years, Spyfu is a great tool to help you identify those profitable, high-converting keywords, as well as identifying which terms are seasonal so you can writing your content accordingly.
Previously, large analytics companies charged thousands of dollars for quarterly reports containing the same data that Similar Web gives you free. Around the office, we only use one word to describe the program to new associates: Awesome. The company compiles this data using a combination of proprietary crawlers and voluntary information gathered from millions of web users.
The information provided by Similar Web helps to answer several important SEO questions about your competitors:
- How much traffic does the site get?
- What percentage of that traffic comes from search?
- Within that search traffic, how much is organic traffic?
- What is the international presence? (if any)
- What is the percentage of traffic coming from social channels?
Similar Web offers limited keyword data, but for serious research SpyFu or SEMRush are preferred.
Compete doesn’t offer as much information, but it’s a great way to verify the data you see from Similar Web. One area where Compete surpasses it’s more popular rival, however, is the historical data it offers on free content. Similar Web only offers data for the past six months, but this program has an entire year of information available.
This expanded timeframe is invaluable in diagnosing seasonal trends as well as identifying potential downticks due to past algorithmic changes.
Quantcast is an analytics service that can provide valuable analytics data for registered websites. As a default, the service gives estimated traffic numbers, which isn’t particularly useful. Macy’s is not currently “Quantified” and so information is nominal.
Registered websites return real-time demographic information, making this a powerful research tool if your competitors use the platform. Theverge.com uses Quantcast and their page gives some detailed information:
Registered webmasters can choose what information to publicly display, if your company is concerned about privacy. This makes Quantcast a potentially powerful tool for demographic research.
Miscellaneous SEO Tools
These tools might not have a ton to do with SEO strategy, but they help to streamline competitive research.
Is The Site Up?
Thanks to the modern nature of the Internet and the not-quite-perfect reliability of Internet service providers, sometimes a “website offline” error is an issue with your ISP’s CDN or some other factor. Is The Site Up pings the page from different servers to verify if the website is really down, or if the issue is localized to you.
The Internet is in a constant state of change. Even if you knew everything about SEO four years ago, this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll know anything about best practices today. My Free Courses is a resource center with a searchable index of free classes and information so that you can continue your education. The service isn’t just limited to SEO and eCommerce however, so if you’re looking to pick up a new hobby, it’s a great place to start.
Rounding out our extension toolkit is IWebChk, which gives you a high-level snapshot of your website’s performance and SEO effectiveness. Other programs might provide detailed answers, but IWebChk is a fantastic way to quickly prioritize SEO objectives.
Using this overview, SEO professionals have a good starting point for their future roadmaps, quick fixes, and long-term projects. The tool looks at dozens of factors, and it’s one of our favorites at Trinity when we’re researching a new client or competitor.
If you’d rather not scroll to the top, you can get the tool extension for Chrome right here.
A Toolkit Fit For An SEO Craftsman
We designed our SEO Chrome Extension so that anyone, from SEO newcomers to seasoned veterans, would find it worth installing. We put some of the most powerful tools in the industry a single click away, helping you save time and streamline your site audit and optimization process.
If you’re not in the business of SEO, the tools give you an excellent primer on what agencies like ours look at when we try to help our clients. If you are looking to grow your SEO or PPC revenue faster than your current growth rate, let’s talk.
Contact us today, and we’ll schedule an initial consultation within 24 hours.
We hope you enjoy our extension. To your upcoming SEO rockstar status!