Being a Search Engine Optimizer working on a website is like being an import tuner and working on a high performance sportscar. If you want to maximize performance you have to add new parts using the right tools to do the job correctly. Both the parts and the tools are of equal importance. It doesn’t end with a handful of additions either. Tweaks and other forms of maintenance are needed along the way to continue to get the most out of your car. A similar thing can be said about SEO; it requires maintenance and tweaking and needs the right parts and tools to get the best results.
Before you begin doing any work to improve performance, its important to understand what’s really happening under the hood. Throwing “parts” at something isn’t really a good approach to generating improved results. After all, you don’t fix what ain’t broke. The best way to tackle SEO performance is to start by taking a holistic snapshot of what’s currently going on. But remember, simply knowing that you need to do something is a lot different from knowing what you need to do.
Most people prefer tools that allow them to put forth as little effort and input as little data as possible. This generally means that any tool that asks for more than a URL to analyze isn’t worth your time and effort. I should also note that many tools only focus on a few aspects of SEO (backlinks, meta data, traffic rankings, etc.) and leave others out so keep that in mind as you look at different tools. Remember, getting the whole picture is essential.
There are two tools I prefer over any others because they don’t require much time and effort and cover everything I need to know about a particular website’s SEO profile. WooRank and Hubspot’s Website Grader are, in my opinion, the best tools for analyzing a website for SEO. Both have very similar interfaces and reporting metrics. The key difference lies in the fact that with WooRank you get a slightly more comprehensive analysis of each aspect of a website that can be optimized. This can be advantageous if aren’t completely familiar with the terms used in the analysis and need more explanation. Website Grader’s unique feature is that it allows for comparisons between multiple websites’ results, which can be beneficial if you are trying to optimize using highly competitive keywords.
Let’s take a look at WooRank a little more closely. At the top of the screen you’ll see a score (on a 100 point scale) to help you understand how you are doing. I find this score to be a little deceiving as the highest ranked website, code.google.com has a score of just 91. To put this more into perspective, Oklahoma University has a wooscore of 76.8. With that being said, your wooscore is nice to know, but not as important as the insights you can gain from examining the rest of the ranking report.
As you move down the report, you can find valuable information about things such as the meta description for a site, the ratio of text content to html code, xml sitemaps, and more. Each of these factors can be thought of as a part that contributes to the performance of your sportscar. You can use the information extracted from the WooRank report to identify areas where you can generate better results for your SEO. There is a plethora of information you can wade through with this report. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what are the most important things to focus on.
Once you have examined each of the factors impacting the performance of your site on search engines, the next step is to come up with a strategy for addressing each area and then implementing your improvements. When it comes to things for on-page/in-site SEO like sitemaps and meta data, you will probably have to coordinate with your web developer or SEO manager to implement changes and improvements. Of course if you know how to apply them yourself, by all means, do it. As far as off-page SEO is concerned, I have one more tool I recommend using to help you in that process.
If you’ve read some of our posts in the past, you probably know that a big part of SEO is link building. Approaching this activity without any tools is like trying to trying to fix an engine without a diagnostic test ahead of time. You can try to build links, but you might waste your time if you don’t know which links are no-follow and which pages have a low page rank. The major search engines do not count no-follow links as in-links when determining ranking on a search results page. Likewise, links built on pages with low pageranks (0-2), only have an impact when combined in large quantities. Hopefully your next question has something to do with how you might easily determine these things. Fortunately SEOQuake is the perfect tool for this.
SEOQuake is plugin available on the Firefox, Chrome, and Safari browsers, which has two main features that are fully function once it is installed. The first feature is a toolbar that appears on every site you visit that provides various metrics that impact SEO. The plugin measures things like pagerank, the age of the site, how many internal and external links are the page, and how many inlinks the site has.
This information can help you determine whether or not acquiring a link on a particular page is worth your time. Of course, finding those pages is a task in of itself. Fortunately, SEOQuake’s plugin also provides information about sites that show up when you run Google searches. Much of the data is the same from the on-page toolbar. The only difference is that you can sort the Google results based up the factors the toolbar measures. This is nice if you’d like to organize results based on their pagerank or by how old each page is.
It’s important to remember that these tools are just that, tools. They only assist you in the work you need to do to boost performance. Just remember that whether you are tweaking a website or tweaking a $275,000 supercar, it takes time and care to get the results you want. Try spending some time with these tools and let us know what you think or if there are other tools you like to use.
Steve is an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.