Tools That Assist with Search Engine Optimization
Google Alerts – You can use Google alerts to monitor your competition and some search terms. Eric Ward in "Link Building Secrets" revealed a killer strategy to monitor .edu and .gov domains. We shared it in an article titled “Link Building Tips From Experts.” Here it is again:
Keyword String for Google Alerts: -yourkeyword site:edu
Set up one alert for a “Comprehensive” search and another one for a “WebSearch” once a day. This will make Google notify you of new .edu domains that have content related to your site, but do not have a link to your site yet. Once you spot those sites, you can discuss linking with webmasters.
SEO for Firefox – This is an extremely useful tool from SEObook.com. It puts useful SEO data right in the search results. This information includes page rank, domain age, links (from Yahoo), .edu links (from Yahoo), .gov links (from Yahoo), del.icio.us, Technorati, Alexa rank, Cached, DMOZ, RSS subscribers, dir.yahoo.com listing and easy links to Whois. This is an extension for Firefox, so you’ll need the Mozilla Firefox browser.
URL-Info – This neat tool gives a ton of useful statistics about a page. Statistics includes header, link, and image information. It goes into detail and shows external links, internal links, link distribution and more.
SEO Browser – This tool shows how search engines view your site. Basically it strips away the CSS or any styling on the page, and shows plain text with links. It can give you a good feel for how search engines perceive sites and the web in general.
Copyscape – Catch plagiarism! Search for copies of your articles on the web. Copyscape is partnered with Google, so if Copyscape catches duplicates, so will Google. Free search is limited to 10 results. You can use the premium service, which costs a few cents per search. This tool is also useful at checking copy writers for plagiarism or plain copy and paste.
Here’s a list of keyword research tools.
Google AdWords Keyword Tool – One of the highest quality keyword databases you can use. The tool is made for Google AdWords, not for search engine optimization, so keep this in mind when judging search volume data. On top of the search volume, Google shows Estimated Ad Position, Estimated Avg. CPC, Advertiser Competition, Approx Search Volume, Search Volume Trends and Highest Volume Occurred.
Wordtracker – This is a very high quality keyword database. Keyword history is for a 100-day period and only represent around 1% of real search volume from around the web. Multiply the search volume number by 100 to get closer estimates. Wordtracker also has a free keyword tool. It limits results to 100, leaving out many long tail, easy-to-rank-for keywords. More detailed keyword data is also useful for intent analysis.
Keyword Discovery – This tool collects data from toolbars installed on the browsers of millions of unsuspecting Internet users. Their free tool has a very noisy index. Search volume estimates are not very real. If you are going to use this tool, use the paid version, as it provides much higher quality than the free one.
Wordze – This company buys data from Internet portals and ISPs. I have not personally used this tool. Search for reviews online to get a feel for the quality of their database. Copyblogger recommends it, so it must be good.
AdCenter Add-in Beta for Excel 2007 – You can export keyword data from AdCenter directly to Excel 2007. Data includes information such as cost history, volume, demographics, geography, daily keyword impressions and future trends. The down side is that information is limited to AdCenter, which holds only a five percent share of the search ad market. As a result, their pricing, search volume and other indicators are considerably lower than on Google or Yahoo.
Nichebot – This database relies on Wordtracker, so you’ll pretty much see the same results as with the free Wordtracker tool. It does have some neat keyword management features, though, such as LSI Keywords, Keyword eXtractor, Typo Locator and more. Nichebot also gets some data from Keyword Discovery.
SEO Book Keyword Tool – This tool relies on Wordtracker as well, so results are identical to the free Wordtracker database. It does offer some neat features on top of this: Google daily estimate, Yahoo daily estimate, MSN daily estimate, overall daily estimate, Yahoo suggest info, Google Trends, Google traffic estimator, Google Suggest, Google insights and more.
MSN Adlabs Tools – Microsoft has a bunch of keyword tools, some of which you may find interesting.
Soovle – This is a very freaky keyword tool. As you enter your keyword, it produces related terms from Wikipedia, You Tube, Amazon, Yahoo, Ask and Answers.com. The tool doesn’t work well for long tail keyword searches, and I personally find it’s more entertaining than useful. On the other hand, it can instantly give you keyword ideas for your core terms.
SEO Moz Term Extractor Tool – As always, Rand Fishkin takes it to the next level. Term extractor takes out keywords from web pages and classifies those words in a similar fashion to the way search engines do. Generally it shows too much information and overwhelms, but if you’re a geeky type you can dig around. Information includes details such as: [external link] anchor text, title tags, HTML elements, meta description, strong, bold, paragraph and importance (relative to other terms).
Keyword Typo Generator – You can plug typos into the meta keyword tag, but be careful before putting typos into content. Search engines are WELL aware of typos, so they may lower your page score. On top of that, all search engines offer the “did you mean” feature, so typos are not worth bothering with. If you get a lot of customer feedback, there will be plenty of typos and misspellings.
Google Hot Trends – Check out what people search for on Google. This is not a useful tool in SEO, but as you click on each keyword, Google Hot Trends takes you to a page where you can see the “hotness” of the term, its search volume on the graph, and correlated news stories. The tool gives you a sneak peak at what Google has under the hood. It shows how easily it can relate search volume and link patterns to news stories. Worth checking out.
Yahoo Buzz – Similar to Google Hot Trends, but not as detailed. You can correlate the two tools to rising search trends in America, as some of them are identical.
SEO Moz Popular Searches – SEO Moz gets its list from around the web. Its sources include Technorati: Popular, Flickr Hot Tags, Del.icio.us Popular Tags, Yahoo! Buzz – Top Overall Searches, Google Hot Trends, eBay Pulse, AOL Hot Searches, Lycos Top 50, Ask Top Searches, Amazon.
Joomla – This is a free, open source content management system. It reaches the level of an enterprise content management system in terms of features. As you’d expect from an actively used and developed open source piece of software, it has thousands of free extensions and add-ons.
Its down side is also as you would expect for open source software. If it gets buggy, there’s no customer service people for you to take your complaints to and ask for help.
WordPress – Simply put, this is the best known blog platform on the Internet. WordPress is capable of producing search engine friendly pages and has tons of plug-ins.
This blogging platform has been around for quite a while — more than six years, in fact — so it’s easy to find articles that explain how to set it up for your particular purposes. Also, since it is so popular, many major web hosts support its use. The best part is that it’s free.
Open Source CMS (http://www.opensourcecms.com/) – Here you can find tons of free content management systems of all kinds. You’re quite likely to find one that will suit your needs and the needs of your web site perfectly, or close to perfectly.
Keep in mind, however, that choosing a content management system is an important decision; it will affect everything you do (and CAN do) with your web site. So get some feedback on forums before getting one, because once you have content within a CMS, it’s hard to change anything.
I personally use a lot of images on pages and blog posts. Here’s a list of some image search engines and databases.
Flickr – This is the most well-known photo sharing and hosting website. Flickr is owned by Yahoo. It’s full of generic and amateur pictures, but if you dig around you’ll find many professional images.
Some of the images are copyright protected, and you can’t save them with “save image as” command. In cases where I like the image too much I’ll take a screen shot and then cut it out. This is NOT legal, so watch out.
If you’d rather not run into this problem, there’s a way to avoid it. On Flickr, enter your search query in its search box, and then search. After the search comes up, you’ll be given the option of clicking on "Advanced Search." Click on that, and scroll down. Near the bottom, you’ll be able to click on a box that tells Flickr to search only within Creative Commons-licensed content. This is content for which the copyright holder has chosen to give up certain very specific rights, usually to allow wider distribution of their work.
Google Image Search – Their image search is pretty decent.
Live Image Search – It’s sometimes better than Google, sometimes worse.
IStockPhoto – This is the place to buy 100% legal, professional images at cheap prices. For around $10 – $20 you can purchase around 5 – 15 high quality images. Prices depend on image resolution. Before buying you can select the resolution you like, with the smallest being around 400×500 and the largest going past 2500+. You can also buy professional videos and vector images at higher prices. I find their selection to be very broad, and recommend this site.
Stock Xchng – Here you can get professional images for free. I just discovered this site, so I can’t really comment how good it is. Try it out for yourself.
Photobucket – This is a free image hosting website. Many eBayers and blog writers use this to host their images. Though it has tons of images, they are usually unlabeled, so it’s very hard to find anything. It’s perfect for hosting, though.
SlideShare – Slideshare is not related to image search or image hosting in any manner, but since the site is useful I had to include it somewhere. Basically you can share PowerPoint presentations online and embed them on sites, like YouTube videos. Very useful.