Bear in mind that there is no such thing as 100% accuracy in using these tools. The important thing is to get practical data from these tools and use it in your analysis. Then your analysis can lead to conclusions and recommendations that can be used to improve your SEO campaign.
You may be familiar with these tools, but lack knowledge of the basic implementation steps or tips on how to use them. Also, remember that this is by no means an exhaustive list of free SEO tools; it will focus only on the important tools and the key features that you can use for doing an analysis.
Keyword Analysis Tools
Before you select any keyword analysis tools, you need to determine your objective in using these tools. Your objectives can tell whether the tool is appropriate and reliable enough to be used. Basically, for any keyword research, you need to go through some general steps.
Step 1. Generate a long list of keyword ideas centering on your targeted niche.
Step 2. Determine whether these keywords are worth pursuing by looking at the estimated search volume figures.
Step 3. Generate some idea of the level of competition of these keywords.
Step 4. Turn the shortened list of keywords into the final, targeted keywords for your campaign.
Of course, after the fourth step, you should re-examine the shortened, listed keywords to make sure that they are directly relevant to your website’s content and services, as this can significantly affect your site’s conversion rate.
Based on the above steps, the most recommended tool is the Google Keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. The tool is basically free, and can be used to implement the keyword analysis steps outlined above. The tool can provide a long list of keyword ideas. Checking “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms” can give you a much more specific list of keyword ideas, useful for generating a list of highly related keyword variations.
Checking “exact match” types can give you a much more accurate result, closer to the actual impressions data reported in Google Webmaster Tools. For details, you can read this guide: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Is-Googles-Keyword-Tool-Accurate-Analysis-Using-Actual-Data/
This is a very versatile tool that can approximate search engine volumes even in different countries, during different seasons, in different languages, on different devices (desktop or mobile searchers), and so forth. It can also provide some idea of the competitiveness of the keyword; just look at the competition column.
For details on how to use the Google Keyword tool in keyword analysis, you can read this tutorial: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Choosing-Keywords-Help/The-Google-Keyword-Tool-a-Closer-Look/
If you’ve already started an SEO campaign and need to track the progress and performance of your targeted keywords, you can use Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics/ ) and Google Webmaster Tools (www.google.com/webmasters/tools/). You can get tons of useful information from using those tools. Here is a list of some related tutorials that give you further details:
1. Getting Started Guide in Google Analytics: http://bit.ly/BtfVf
2. Benchmarking Analysis and Visitor Profiling methods: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Google-Analytics-Benchmarking-Analysis-and-Visitor-Profiling-Methods/
3. Conversion rate analysis: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Google-Analytics-Conversion-Rate-Analysis/
4. Traffic analysis techniques: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/Advanced-Traffic-Analysis-Techniques-with-Google-Analytics/
Onsite SEO Analysis Tools
Unlike keyword analysis, onsite analysis needs a more sophisticated variety of tools. This is because of the number of factors that need to be checked during onsite analysis. The following list illustrates this point.
1. Checking the pages indexed in Google – www.google.com using the site command. Example:
Entering the above command will provide the full list of pages indexed in Google for the seochat.com domain.
2. Checking all of the site’s URLS – Xenu Sleuth – http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
This is basically a crawler that can spot all of the URLs in your website. It can be used for detecting broken links and external links in your website. You can also use the information for generating a customized sitemap. You can read a tutorial on using Xenu sleuth to spot all of the external links in your website: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/Using-Xenu-Link-Sleuth-to-Spot-and-Improve-External-Links-in-a-Domain/. Bad external links (those pointing to spammy and banned websites) can have an effect on your website’s reputation.
3. Checking the server header status of a certain page – http://gsitecrawler.com/tools/Server-Status.aspx . Of course, this is an important tool if you need to know if the page is 200 (OK status), 301 redirected, 500 internal server error or 404 not found. You can read more about server header status codes here: http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec10.html
4. Checking the similarity of the page (duplication content checker)- http://www.webconfs.com/similar-page-checker.php
5. Looking for any duplicate content copies of your website on the Internet- http://www.copyscape.com/. For details on web scraping and how to deal with it, read this tutorial: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/How-to-File-a-DMCA-Complaint-to-Resolve-Website-Content-Scraping-Issues/
You can also use Xenu sleuth for duplicate content detection. Read this tutorial for details: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/Duplicate-Content-in-SEO-Detection-and-Prevention-Techniques/2/
6. Check to see if your content is crawlable and indexable by search engines – the most important tool to use is a text browser such as Lynx. If you cannot see the text of your website using this tool, then your site has search engine crawling issues. You can read these tutorials for details:
Using Lynx for SEO Analysis- http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/Using-Lynx-for-SEO-Analysis/
7. Check to see if you have technical search engine-related issues with your website – the most recommended tool is Google Webmaster Tools (GWT): www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
The following are the important issues that can be resolved using GWT:
- Crawling errors on your website
- Change of domain address
- Setting your geographical target
- Find out if malware has been detected on your site
- Crawling statistics
- Check what Googlebot sees on your website.
- Evaluate your site’s performance (website loading time).
This is one of the most important types of analysis you need to do, because links are primary factors for search engine ranking. Below are some of the items to check and the tools that you can use in your analysis:
1. Check the raw quantity of backlinks pointing to your domain – you can use Google Webmaster Tools if you have an account for that website. You can find it under “Your site on the web”==> “Links to your site.” You can read more about that in this tutorial: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Optimization-Help/New-Features-in-Google-Webmaster-Tools-and-Google-Analytics-in-Late-2010/
You can determine the number of unique domains that are linking to your website using GWT.
2. Sometimes the number of unique domains linking to your site may not tell you the “uniqueness” of your link profile. For example, if all of the links are coming from a single class C IP block, then it may not look “natural” to search engines.
You can use this tool to estimate the total number of backlinks from unique domains in different class C IP blocks: http://www.php-developer.org/backlinkcount/checkyourlinkpopularity.php
3. Another tool that you can use for creating comparative link analysis is the Open Site Explorer: http://www.opensiteexplorer.org. It will let you compare websites against each other in terms of the following factors:
- Page authority – predicts page ranking potential.
- Domain authority – predicts domain ranking potential.
- Total links (this includes the rel-nofollowed and 301 redirected pages)
- Linking root domains
Since links play a huge role in Google rankings, comparative analysis is often useful for getting immediate information as to why some websites rank higher than others.
For example, below is the comparative analysis of php-developer.org (in green bars) and php-developer.com (violet bars) for the targeted keyword php developer:
It obviously shows that php-developer.com will rank higher because of its page/domain authority, as well as linking root domains, which are important SEO ranking factors.
r. Another useful link analysis tool that can be used to determine whether or not your backlinks are relevant is: http://www.php-developer.org/backlinkcount/checkyourlinkpopularity.php
It analyzes the backlink page title tags and summarizes the statistical results of most common words found in your website’s backlink pages title. If the most frequent keywords are highly related to your website content, it shows that your website’s backlinks are relevant or themed.
A good example is the number one ranking website in Google for the keyword mountain bike reviews: http://www.mtbr.com/. Below is the link relevance analysis results of this website:
As you can see, the most frequent keywords that occur in the title tag of the website’s backlinks are bike, mountain, reviews, bikes, bicycle, etc., which are all relevant and themed to the www.mtbr.com site’s content.
If you are beginner, maximize your time by analyzing and interpreting the information you get from these basic tools. It will help you to become a better SEO than spending a lot of your time looking for the best SEO tool.