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Helpful SEO Tools, Sites & Resources

By Kieran Brown

Some Of The Best Seo Tools, Sites & Resources

The aim of this blog is to go over a few tools and websites that we think are great to have in your SEO toolbox, enabling you to boost your SEO prowess. The tools range from downloadable software, helpful webpages and informational video content from gurus in the industry.

With this blog we assume you have a bit of SEO knowledge, if not, you can get up to speed with another article we wrote - the VIX Digital Guide to the basics of SEO.

Open Site Explorer

Let’s start with a tool that we discussed in our SEO basics blog. The ‘Open Site explorer’. It’s a tool provided by Moz, a company dedicated to providing up to date research and content about how the search engines operate, update their algorithms and generally anything about how to improve the way your site ranks. This tool allows you to check the backlinks to your site, find opportunities for new links and points out links that may be hurting your SEO efforts. Their main metrics are ‘Page Authority’ and ‘Domain Authority’ which look at the trustworthiness, reliability and relevance (and a whole host of other metrics) of a specific page that you are trying to rank and the website domain as well.

To test your site with their tool and see what links are pointing to your site and their value, head over to https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/. I should point out that if you’re not on a paid plan you have limited tests per day (3) that show a limited number of back-links. You can get a 30 day free trial though so that’s always worth looking into.

Title & Meta Description Tag Tools

Again, the below tools and references are examples from the guys at Moz. Both links provide an in depth look at each tag in question. The title tag link however has a simple tool that will test the length of your title tag. Why would you want to do this you may ask? Well, there is an optimal length for both tags so that they are not cut off when displayed on search engines. This tool just helps you visualise how your title tag will look so you can chop and change it until it’s just right.

A quick note about optimal lengths, from their extensive research Moz believe the current optimal lengths for both are:

Title - between 50 - 60 characters.

Meta Description - 160 characters.

A title tag example that is too long
A title tag example that is a good length

These are just guides however, Google and other search engines do try to show as much as you title/meta as possible but if it exceeds 70 characters it is truncated with an ellipsis (...).

Title Tag - https://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag

Meta Description - https://moz.com/learn/seo/meta-description

Screaming Frog

This is a great piece of software that can give you a truckload of information about your site. The free version provides lots of useful pointers, however you can pay a yearly fee to unlock all its benefits. The main limitation with the free version is the crawl limit of 500 URLs, but to try it out it is more than enough.

So what can it do?

One of the main uses for this tool is to crawl your website and check for any errors instantly. It shows the page URLs, status codes, status, page titles, the length of those titles and much much more. As discussed earlier, having title tags and meta descriptions at an optimal length is one of the key considerations when optimising your SEO.

Screaming Frog SEO Software Screenshot

A quick example of how you can use Screaming Frog to potentially gain links is to firstly use the Open Site Explorer tool mentioned before to find competitor backlinks. Once you have done this and found links that you think look valuable, use the Screaming Frog tool to crawl the competitor site in question and look for any 404 error codes.

Quick reference: A ‘404 error’ page is a webpage that is given to the visitor when the content/page cannot be found on the server.

For each of those pages, Screaming Frog lets you see the links that are pointing to the page that’s now showing the 404 error. If you then research the link pointing to that broken page and see it as potentially worthwhile to have for your site, it may be a good idea to reach out to the website owner and say something along the lines of…

“I’ve noticed that you’re currently linking out from your site to [insert competitors broken link page]. As you can see the link is broken. No one likes to see a broken link as it’s a bad experience for the visitor. Therefore, we have created this nice and new, informative piece on the same topic as you previously linked to (but ours is much better *hint hint*). Would you like to link to my webpage instead?”

This may or may not work but it’s just an example of how you can extract useful insights from the plethora of data and use it to your advantage. The tools itself is great at looking for opportunities and generally just cleaning up your site and optimising it for the search engines.

Whiteboard Fridays

This is another content source from the Moz blog. As you can see I really do like the content they produce. It’s a weekly video produced by Rand Fishkin (and sometimes other guests) about different topics surrounding the thing we call SEO, and as you guessed... it’s released every Friday. The videos are a great way to brush up on the latest things to influence search and what new technologies, methodologies and anything inbetween is likely to be used to make sites rank better. A few examples of really good Whiteboard Fridays from the past have been:

You can find the full list of Whiteboard Friday’s here… https://moz.com/blog/category/whiteboard-friday

Google Webmaster Tools

As the name suggests this is an offering from Google that allows you to monitor and change how it sees your site. For example, it allows you to:

  • Verify your site with Google themselves

  • Check out the internal and external links to your site

  • Briefly check keywords that visitors typed to get to your site

  • Set a preferred domain ( for eg. vix.digital or www.vix.digital )

  • Lets you submit a robots.txt file

  • Lets you submit your latest site map for easy crawling/indexing of your site (allowing you to update Google on new content so it can be indexed much quicker)

Keywords

The keyword data that it offers is not exactly complete, however it does give you a flavour of the sort of keywords people are typing to get to your site. So if anything, it’s just another tool to pair with the likes of Google Adwords and Analytics when you may be planning keyword research.

Back-links

The beauty of seeing the back-links that Google has picked up on is that it shows quite a good selection of them. It means that if you spot a site that looks quite spammy, or if for example you may have previously employed an SEO that went down the paid link route, you can single out those particular links, create a text file and disavow them. It may take a bit of fettling to eventually do this (it’s important to do it correctly so you don’t disavow the wrong links) but all in all it’s very handy to know of and how to go about doing it.

Crawl Errors

Another great feature of Webmaster Tools is the ability to see crawl errors across your site. It will tell you how many errors you have across your site and list the page(s) that need to be rectified. You can then let Google know if you have sorted any issues by ‘marking them as fixed’.

Pingdom Speed Test

As speed is one of the key considerations with modern websites, I thought I’d include a website speed test. The one at Pingdom is a great, easy to use tool. Just pop your sites URL into the input field, choose a CDN (content delivery network) location to test from and you’re away. Locations to choose from include:

  • Stockholm, Sweden

  • Dallas, Texas, USA

  • Melbourne, Australia

  • San Jose, California, USA

Pingdom Speed Test screenshot

So why’s it useful? It provides a lot of information about a site such as the load time, page size and the amount of requests. It’s much like using Chrome's Web Developer Tools but in a more user friendly format.

The good thing about this tool though is that it will give you an overall grade and provide suggestions to improve the areas you may be lacking. For example, you may receive a ‘F’ grade for ‘Leverage Browser Caching’. This is basically where the browser will cache/store assets locally on your machine so it does not need to be downloaded again upon visiting a site after the initial visit. Usually browser caching is done by default, however, when this message appears it may just be that the period of time that an asset is set to cache for isn’t long enough.

Pingdom performance insights

A good example of this is for images. If an image on a blog post on your website is not going to change every few days/weeks/months, there is not much point asking the visitor to download the asset every time they visit that page. If browser caching is set up it means the visitor does not have to download an asset when returning to the site. This has a positive effect on page speed, especially when larger images are involved.

Some of the suggestions that this tool makes may need intervention from your web developer, however it gives you a benchmark for where your site is at and if there is room for improvements.

So there you have it. A brief list of SEO tools, software and articles that we think are quite helpful when it comes to improving visibility and relevance of your website. We hope you find them useful!

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