Top 5 SEO Tools in 2014
by Elizaveta Naumov
March 20, 2014
The world of SEO is a complex, constantly evolving environment where it’s easy to be thrown off track. Imagine you’re going hiking; would you go with just a water bottle and sunglasses? Unless you want to get lost and give up half way through the hike, you’re going to bring the right equipment. The same goes for a good SEO strategy, which requires the right tools to be truly effective.
The experts at Moz released their annual Industry Survey results of the top SEO tools in 2014. We’re going to focus on the top 5 and how you can use them for a holistic approach to optimize your site.
1. Google Webmaster Tools
Not surprisingly, Google’s own Webmaster Tools was the number one choice. It’s great for checking the health of your site, like indexing status and broken links, as well as alerting you when you have duplicate meta data or other errors, which will inevitably affect your search engine rankings.
Keyword Analysis using Google Webmaster Tools
Once you’ve cleaned up your site and made sure that there’s nothing hurting your SEO, it’s time to have a little fun. Using Search Queries, you can see how you rank for different keywords. You’ll also see your average position on the page, impressions, number of clicks and click through rate. When you click “With Change”, you’ll see the percentage change in your ranking over a period of time. What does the infinite sign mean? It appears when your starting point was extremely small, such as less than 10 clicks.
Another great feature of Google Webmaster Tools is Top Pages, which shows you how your individual pages rank as well as the keywords that brought visitors to that content. This will give you a better understanding of where to take your on-page optimization so that you ranking higher for your target keywords.
In our previous article, Top 5 SEO Trends in 2014, we mentioned that authorship has evolved to become an important SEO component. Your Google plus profile can be linked to your Webmaster Tools account so that you can see the ranking of your blog posts.
Moz (not to be confused with their free tools like MozBar or Open Site Explorer) is a paid tool (from $49 for Moz Local and from $99 for Moz Pro) that’s somewhat of a mix between Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics but with a friendlier, stylish interface. It covers a wide range of topics, from simple website visitor statistics to competitor links to SERP analysis.
The On-Page Grader, one of the most useful features, allows you to audit individual pages for keyword optimization. Much like a school report card, you receive a letter grade for your page and suggestions for improvements. This is especially useful for users with a more basic understanding of SEO.
3. Open Site Explorer
This tool actually belongs to Moz, but we assume it’s separate on the list because it’s free (hey, don’t blame us, we didn’t make the survey). Open Site Explorer lets you check the inbound links to your website and compare it with competitors. You’ll also see the anchor text as well as the Page Authority and Domain Authority, which give you an idea of how well the pages or sites rank in search engines.
MajesticSEO is another popular tool that focus mostly on link analysis. Like with Open Site Explorer, you can use it to analyze your own site or gain information on your competitors. What sets it apart is that it has two indexes, one of which is updated daily and the other once a month, allowing you to get the most recent data. MajesticSEO also shows you the strength and trustworthiness of sites, which can be very useful when planning a linking strategy. One interesting feature (with a fun name) is the Link Profile Fight that gives you a graphic comparison of different websites.
5. Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider will crawl your entire site to show you any errors that may need fixing. This is especially useful for older sites that have a lot of content or websites that have undergone a big overhaul. Chances are that your SEO evolved over time and your earlier pages or posts may not be optimized, or worse, may be damaging your SEO. For example, your older content probably has links that go to pages that don’t exist anymore, even internal ones. These broken links can harm your SEO, so it’s important to do an audit of your site periodically. SEO Spider will also look at the other basic elements like meta descriptions, redirects and other issues that could keep your site from being indexed or show up as duplicate content.
The nice thing about SEO Spider is that it is free for up to 500 URLs, which is enough for most websites, especially small businesses. For heavy-duty bloggers (or online stores) with a lot of content, there is a premium version also available.
Quality Content is still King
While all of these tools are excellent for analyzing and optimizing SEO, you can’t ignore your actual content. Now more than ever, the quality of the information that you put on your website is the determining factor in a successful SEO strategy.
Which of these tools do you use? Are there any other ones that you think should be on this list?