The following free tools can help you find common SEO issues that annoy Google and frustrate your visitors.
This post aims to help you improve your SEO knowledge and give you tools to help:
- Get the Essentials Right
- Track Down Broken Links
- Detect Duplicate Content
- Test and Fix Site Speed
- Improve Text and Imagery
- Visualize Your Blog
- Diagnose Traffic Drops
- Conduct Detailed Analysis
- And Finally! Hit the Bar! (The Tool Bar)
Don’t think these points matter?
Rand Fishkin tells us how Google can now Judge a sites user experience and content quality in this video:
How Google's Panda Update Changed SEO Best Practices Forever
Remember there are few sites that are error free, run a tool over most sites and you'll find issues. Tools are imperfect and some errors are impractical to fix, if in doubt consult an expert.
Get the Essentials Right
Sometimes we take the most obvious tools for granted; here are the must-have tools for blog SEO:
1.Yoast SEO Plugin (The Free Guide)
WordPress is an amazing free resource that does a great job dealing with a lot of SEO issues, for the rest use Yoast. People often neglect to use the plugin correctly, so I’m not referencing the plugin but the SEO guide by Yoast.
2. Google and Bing Webmaster Tools
A great way to discover any current or emerging on-site issues. Google and Bing Webmaster Tools give you clear insights on site performance as well as alerts and warnings.
Pro Tip: Set up e-mail forwarding and get informed of critical issues.
Pro Tip: Check back every week to find important emerging crawl errors, HTML improvements and more.
3. Google Analytics
Whatever traffic you want to track, Google Analytics can help provide valuable insights. Discover how your visitors find the blog, how to improve your content and how well your blog works.
Pro Tip: It’s often easier to track down and fix a ranking penalty if you have Google Analytics installed.
Track Down Broken Links
Disliked by Google and visitors alike, broken links occur for a variety of reasons. The potential for broken links increases in line with the quantity of content.
Pro Tip: Google Webmaster Tools can help you track down broken links. The following tools make this process a good deal easier.
4. Screaming Frog
Pay £99 per annum for a license or crawl 500 URL’s for free. Screaming Frog can help identify internal and external broken links.
5. Xenu's Link Sleuth
Free to download and use, Xenu's Link Sleuth checks for broken links, both internal and external. The software can check normal links as well as those in images, frames, style sheets, scripts and more.
6. Check My Links
Just published a page with lots of links? Need to pin down a broken link on your page? Check My Links is a fast Chrome extension which identifies broken links in seconds.
7. Link Checker
Like the idea of Check My links, but don’t like Chrome, Link Checker does the same job but in Firefox.
Detect Duplicate Content
Google Panda hates duplicate content and so should you; this is how to find it:
Find unauthorized copies of your blog pages and consider taking action against offending sites.
This screenshot shows how Copyscape identifies this trackback to a post on successfulblogging.com. Trackbacks like this are OK, copies not so much.
Pro Tip: consider defending your site with a free Copyscape warning banner.
SiteLiner returns a list of your blog URL’s that have a high proportion of duplicate content. Review the worst offenders and see if you can make any improvements.
Pro Tip: View the duplication on each page by clicking on the links provided. You can ignore heads, navigation bars, footers and sidebars, its on-page copy that may count against your blog.
Test and Fix Site Speed
Fast sites are good for the user and Google, find out if your site falls behind the rest.
10. Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights will give you key pointers on how you could improve each page. View results for Mobile and Desktop you can even see user experience tips.
Pro Tip: Here are some great articles that cover the main points flagged by Google PageSpeed Insights:
– Leverage Browser Caching by feedthebot.com
11. Pingdom Website Speed Test
Pingdom checks your page speed and provides data on specific problem files. It also offers a free uptime and speed monitoring service.
12. W3 Total Cache
W3 Total Cache This plugin claims to improve your blog performance by 10 times. It’s not that intuitive to use so if you need the plugin you may also need help.
13. WP Smush.it
WP Smush.it takes your JPEG, GIF and PNG image files and smushes them. You can do this all in one go, or on upload, or by selecting each image.
Improve Text and Imagery
14. SEOBook Keyword Density Analyzer
The Keyword Density Analyzer will help identify egregious instances of keyword stuffing. Read the info for excellent guidance on how much is too much.
Pro Tip: Use the Ctrl + F shortcut in your browser to search for specific instances of a word on each page.
Compelling text means happy visitors, improved bounce rate and engagement. Hemingway is a fantastic time-saver that’ll help you simplify and improve your text. Shorten sentences, limit adverbs, simplify words and avoid using a passive voice.
Pro Tip: Use with the SEOBook Keyword Density Analyzer to rework over optimized copy.
16. Google Search by Image
Try this tool with some edited stock images and see how many results Google returns. In other words; add value by making your images unique and check how well you’re doing at Google Search by Image.
Visualize Your Blog
How do search engines see your blog, is it Google friendly, is it mobile friendly?
You can use Google itself to get a great idea of what’s indexed and how it views your content, see:
– How To Diagnose Your Site with Google Advanced Search by Ann Smarty
– 25 Killer Combos for Google's Site: Operator by Dr. Peter J. Meyers
A great visual representation of what the search engines see. Browseo shows your page response code, title tags and overlays alt text on each image.
Pro Tip: If you can’t see portions of your text, or your navigation bar you have a problem.
Pro Tip: There are various tools that check the server response code, it should read 200 (OK).
19. Google Mobile-Friendly Test
Mobile searches now exceeded desktop searches and continue to rise. Google thinks mobile is super important and so should you. Find out if your blog is mobile friendly with the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
Diagnose Traffic Drops
Worried you have a penalty? Read the Sudden Search Traffic Drop? 6 Questions to Help Diagnose the Cause article and check out these tools:
20. Google Robots.txt Tester
Robots.txt files inform the search engines how to index your content.
You can find your Robots.txt file here: http://www.yoursitename.com/robots.txt
Use Google Robots.txt Tester to highlight errors and warnings and start to solve any issues.
Worried that you're suffering from the latest Google algorithmic change? Take the MyTrafficDropped quiz and find out.
Removeem highlights areas where your site is at risk of anchor text over optimization. Enter your homepage URL and look for the phrases in red and pink.
Pro Tip: Don't worry about your brand or author names. If the tool highlights your target phrases then you may have an issue.
23. Panguin Tool
Think you’ve annoyed Google? Plug Panguin into Google Analytics to see if drops in traffic correspond to the Google algorithm updates.
24. Website Penalty Indicator
No analytics? The Website Penalty Indicator combines SEMrush and Moz data to do the same job as Panguin.
25. SEOBook Rank Tracker
Monitoring rankings is a great way to figure out if you have a penalty. Check your rankings for free with Rank Tracker; use with care, Google dislikes automated rank tracking.
Conduct a Detailed Analysis
The following tools allow you to look at a range of site issues all in one interface. Use caution; some errors are not as bad as they first seem and I have seen instances where they get things wrong.
26. SEO Site Checkup
SEO Site Checkup is a handy tool that follows established SEO practice to give you some great pointers. Send the results in an e-mail or download as a PDF. The tool checks for the most common keywords used, code to text ratio and more.
27. Quick Sprout
Assess your Speed, SEO and Social scores with Quick Sprout. If you fall below par you get recommendations to help you, download the results in PDF or Excel.
Pro Tip: Use the tool to compare your blog with up to 3 competitors; this gives you an idea of what you’re doing right and how to improve.
28. IIS SEO Toolkit
The IIS SEO Toolkit offers detailed analysis and recommendations based on the errors found.
Pro Tip: It’s far easier to sort through the errors when exported into a spreadsheet with a filter applied.
And Finally! Hit the Bar! (The Tool Bar)
Want a range of tools at your fingertips? Then you need a Toolbar.
29. Moz SEO ToolBar
Available on both Chrome and Firefox the Moz SEO Toolbar lets you view key SEO metrics at a glance from your browser. Search in Google and view the backlink numbers of each result, click to view the backlinks in detail. Reveal other page elements including nofollow links, authorship and number of social shares. Need to see more? Get even more functionality by signing up for Moz Pro.
30. SEOBook Toolbar
The SEOBook Toolbar is a Firefox plugin with lots of pertinent SEO goodies. The tool includes backlink data and competitor info; you can even compare sites, side by side.
31. The On-Page SEO Checklist is helpful to grab organic traffic.
Improve Your SEO Knowledge
Before you make any changes, brush up on your knowledge with these simple to follow resources:
Moz Beginners guide to SEO
The Moz Beginners guide to SEO includes info on site design, link structure, keyword targeting and more.
Moz SEO Cheat Sheet
The Moz Cheat Sheet is a great download and fantastic quick reference guide.
Google – Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
Get Google's perspective on technical SEO in this starter guide.
Algorithms changes all the time, keep up to date by subscribing to my top 5 SEO blogs:
– Seo Book
Justin March is a Freelance SEO and the founder of Cool Name Ideas, are you starting another blog? Need name ideas? Check out his Blog Name Generator and find your new blog name for free. You can also hit him up for name ideas on Twitter @CoolNameIdeas