SEO Audit Tools I Love

By Rob Woods | SEO

Mar 16

 

There are several tools I use when diagnosing SEO issues that go beyond the obvious Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, and the lesser used, but still pretty darn good Bing Webmaster Tools. Don’t get me wrong, those are all amazing, in depth, and crucial tools for SEO but each could take more than a full post and they a covered pretty fully in other places. The tools below are the ones I’ll usually use when starting a new SEO audit or doing a reasonably quick diagnosis on a site.

Screaming Frog

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This is a great tool for diagnosing a whole range of issues on your site. It’s a fast, pretty darn comprehensive crawler that will index pretty much every page on your site that can be found though links on page on your site. It’s also free if your site is less than 500 pages so if all you have is a smaller blog you can use this one at no cost.

There’s a lot Screaming Frog can do, but for a quick check I use it to check:

  • 404 Errors, 301 redirects, 302 redirects, and other server level errors
  • URL Issues like odd characters or overly long, dynamic URLs. It can also be used to sort by URL and find issues with infinite or large numbers of parameters being appended to a URL
  • Duplicate Pages
  • Page Title – Is it missing? Too Long? You can sort by title to quickly check for duplicates
  • Meta Description – Same as for titles
  • H1 – Same as for titles
  • Meta Robots – Index, noindex, follow, nofollow, noarchive, nosnippet, noodp, noydir etc
  • Canonical links (I use this one a lot to see what the canonical link value is for a page. If it’s not the same as the URL, is there a good reason?

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Another great option with Screaming Frog is that you can slice and dice the report any way you like to only show the data you want. You can also export the data to CSV which lets you use all the tools in Excel to sort and collate data and it’s a great way to share the data with others (managers, clients, etc).

One tip on Screaming Frog is that by default it will follow the directives in your robots.txt file. If you want it to crawl all your pages or crawl a development site that you have blocked from the search engines you’ll have to go to Configuration > Spider and check the “Ignore Robots.txt” file.

Xenu Link Sleuth

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This one is pretty darn old school and the download site is a little odd. The site looks like it as built in about 1994 and includes a bunch of info debunking Scientology and a leading figure in it, Xenu. At any rate, this is another great tool for crawling your site.Xenu Link Sleuth is not as user friendly as Screaming Frog but it has the benefit of being totally free. It also tends to be faster than Screaming Frog in my experience.

You could get away with one or the other tool but I like to run both. One nice thing about Xenu Link Sleuth is that you can filter it too only show broken links. It’s a great way to check for internal and external links which do not lead to an active page.

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URI Valet

logo-uri-valet-1xThis one is another free tool although I would hope that if you find it useful you’ll drop a donation to the creator as I did. I use this often as a great way to check several factors about a page but mostly I use it to check whether versions of a home page all redirect to the canonical version. It’s a great way to check 301 redirects as well. If you need to check whether your dev team correctly redirected that URL, URI Valet is a great tool.

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Another great use for this tool is to diagnose page speed issues. This tool will crawl and list all the images, code, and scripts on a page, returning both estimated load times, and the size of each item. I recently found an issue where a logo on a blog was over 4mb :)

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Moz Open Explorer

Open Explorer is a pretty well-known one but I always run it on a site when I’m doing a check or an audit on a site. In case you don’t know it’s a great tool for checking the backlinks for a site. While this is less about on site issues it’s still a check you want to do when you give a site a once-over. What I look for particularly with this tool when doing an audit is:

  • Inbound Links Report: This is one I usually give a cursory look at for the quality of your links. If you sort this report by domain authority and your best link is a crappy web directory or your mom’s blog about knitting tea cozies, you probably have a problem.
  • Top Pages Report: Your home page better be the page at or near the top of your list of pages for incoming links or there may be an issue. What I look at more here is how many pages have links coming in. If you have 10,000 pages and 5 have incoming external links, you may have a problem.
  • Anchor Text: On this one I usually look at the domain as a whole. If half of your incoming anchor text is your brand name, you’re probably good, if half of it is “red widgets” you’re probably not.

Custom Google Queries

This one is not a specific tool and it’s been around for ages but it’s still a great tool for diagnosing SEO issues on your site. Essentially it works by simply searching “site:example.com” in Google. It will return a list of all the pages indexed by your site, or for someone else’s site, which is something you can’t do with Google Webmaster Tools. I like to go through and make sure the pages I think are indexed truly are indexed and that Google doesn’t have any pages indexed that I think should be blocked. It’s also a great way to see if there appear to be duplicate pages indexed.

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Now one caveat with this query is that Google seems to limit your results too around 500 – 700 queries (it seems to vary by site). You can however break it down by subdirectory by searching, for instance “site:example.com/subfolder”. Another cool trick with this one is that you can actually exclude folders or URLs as well by using a query like “site:example.com –example.com/subdirectory”.

The tools I mentioned above are great, fast tools which are either free or cost very little, and they require no special access or permissions from a site administrator to access. I hope that you find some of these tools helpful in diagnosing issues with your websites. There are a whole slew of other great specialty tools out there and if you have any recommendations for other tools I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Meet me!

I will be doing a Site Clinic at Pubcon later this year and I know I’ll have all of these queued up and ready to go to quickly diagnose site issues. Please feel free to come say hello and ask any questions about the tools I have mentioned.

 

Reprinted by permission from http://www.isoosi.com/blog/seo-audit-tools-i-love.html

 

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