seo tools

Tools to improve your online marketing campaign

Tools to improve your online marketing campaign

January 25th, 2011 – 43 Comments

I recently gave a presentation at the partner event about tools I use every day for my online marketing campaigns and site analyses, and I thought it’d be cool to share them with you in a post as well, even though for some of you this list might be a bit basic.

Google Analytics

The heart of many a search engine optimization/search engine marketing campaign is Google Analytics, used to track the clicks on your website and track the impact of the things you change over time.  For example, you can use it to track the efficacy of advertisements, email blasts, and SEO campaigns.

Installing Google Analytics on your site just requires you to put the Google tracking code on every page of your site.  If you use a CMS like Joomla, Drupal or WordPress to create your site, you should find this easy to do using one of the freely available extensions, of course I authored the one for WordPress.

Sitescan GA

SitescanGA, a tool that analyzes Google Analytics installation on your servers, can be very helpful in ensuring you’ve got all the right code on all the right pages.

Google Analytics Tracking Code Debugger

If you’re going a bit more advanced with your Google Analytics tracking, the tracking code debugger extension for Chrome is very helpful as it allows you to see just what Google Analytics tracks for the current page.


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Get Clicky is another great tool for analyzing the traffic on your site, especially if you’re one of those people wearing a tinfoil hat that don’t want to use Google Analytics. It’s got one nifty feature that GA doesn’t have: you can watch users navigate your site in real time.  This means you can see what pages they land on, what they click on, one they download, when they leave. Using the Spy tool you can even follow a given IP address through your site in real time to see what information on your site is attractive to people, and what information they never seem to look at.

Tip: There’s a free WordPress plugin for Clicky that makes it easy to install on every page, authored by yours truly.


Clicktale goes a bit further than Google Analytics or Clicky: it will actually record your customers surf and then allow you to watch video’s of them surfing on your site. It can show you where your customers click on your page using colors to highlight click activity.  This kind of visual analysis is critical for identifying “hot spots” and “cold spots” for a given web page, and for comparing web page designs.

Most of us know that the upper left corner of the screen is better than the lower right corner of the screen, and that what’s most important about your site should often be in the top half of the page, but every web design has its “flaws”.  You may love the big graphic of a tarantula on your hope page, but Clicktale will prove to you that the second many people see it they click the back button. It will also show you when a particularly good graphic or piece of copy has earned an even better position on the page than it has.

Google Website Optimizer

On a related note, Google provides a great tool for testing multiple versions of a page quickly: Google Website Optimizer.  Using it, you can create two versions of a landing page and then use this tool to present both to customers for a period of time.  You’ll then be able to see which page pulls more clicks and which one closes more sales.  You do have to add codes to your pages for Google to monitor, but the process is quick. You can actually test several pages simultaneously, and you can generate reports which you can provide to others that communicate what the testing has demonstrated.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools has many useful utilities for analyzing and evaluating your site’s performance, and it’s still under utilized by people all over the web. For example, the Crawler Access tool will ensure your robots.txt file is correctly configured to ensure only the pages you want indexed by Google appear in searches.

There are webmaster tools that will assist you in making a smooth transition of content and traffic from one domain name to another, tracking incoming links to your site, seeking out and destroying Malware, and in assessing the speed of page loads on a site.

Fetch as Googlebot is one of my most loved features, as it allows you to fetch a page exactly the way Googlebot would, and shows if there are any issues that prevent Googlebot from accessing your content.

Google Cache (Text Only Version)

Another way to see your site as Google sees it is to Search for your page then click the Cache link next to your search index listing.  This will show you a hopefully recent version previous version of your page. Click the Text-Only link, in the upper right corner of your page, to see the text on your page as Google sees it.  In indexing your site, google looks for keywords in the domain name, in the Title tag, in the Heading (H1, H2, H3…) tags, etc.

If your website is supposed to sell Motorcycles, but all the keywords are Sales, Training and Special Offers, Google won’t be sending you much traffic. Or if your content is buried beneath 10 paragraphs of bullshit about other stuff, it’s not helping either.


Wirify gives you another way too see the relationship between text and graphics on a page.  This is handy when you are looking at complex pages and you want to see the relationship between the number of graphics and the amount of text on a site, and you want to see where these elements appear respective to one another in a schematic. Or if you just want to use the layout of another site to inspire you for your own site.

To use this tool, just visit the Wirify page, drag the  Wirify by Volkside link onto your bookmark toolbar. Visit any page and click the link to see a wireframe version of your site.

Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer lets you see all the people who link to your site. Incoming links from other relevant and well linked websites are critical for ensuring that your page will rank well in Google listings.  This tool is also useful for seeing who links to your competitors, which may give you new people to contact in your link building campaign.

Google Insights for Search

Some search terms are just better than others, and search term value changes over time.  Google Insights for Search lets you rank keywords against one another and lets you see their performance over time.  The best thing, from a marketing perspective, it to have a website that sits on a keyword which is starting a meteoric rise.  For example, if you are the only cell phone accessory store with content about the iPhone the week the iPhone is announced, and your site is equipped to close sales, you’ll likely draw a lot of traffic and sell a lot of product.

Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Another critical solution for evaluating the usefulness of keywords is to examine the with Google Adwords Keyword Tool.  You input a series of search terms and Google tells you how many people searched for those terms, and searched for related terms, both globally and locally.  Click on the headings at the top of the table to sort by keyword, number of searches or competition. Competition is a measurement of how many people are actively marketing on that term through Google Adwords. This gives you some idea of how hard it may be to rank for the term.

Be sure to play around with exact match and phrase match features here, as it might increase / decrease the search volume incredibly.


As time goes by the number of browsers people use to surf the Internet increases.  Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Mozilla, Opera . . . and for every browser a dozen or more versions.  BrowserShots makes it easy to see how your page looks to all these browser, thus highlighting any issues that may make the site unusable. This free service can take up to an hour to load images for a selected website, but for a low monthly fee you can get priority processing.

Contrast Ratio Calculators

For anyone who creates websites that must support people with disabilities, Contrast Ratio Calculators are critical.  They allow you to check colors, and indeed whole pages, for conformance with international standards.  One such test is the AccessKeys Color Report. It will provide short reports which are handy for quick tests, and it will provide a tag by tag detailed report as well.

Remember when choosing colors for your website that a pretty big percentages of men around the world are at least partly color blind. Having good contrasting colors in your design is important for them.


Quix is an extensible bookmarklet, developed by yours truly, that allows you to easily access all your bookmarks and bookmarklets, across all your browsers, while maintaining them in only one spot. All you have to do is remember the shortcut for the bookmarklet.  Basically it is a command line for your browser.  So you can type bitly, and bring up a tool to shorten with, etc.  If, like most developers, you have fifty browser-based analysis and editing tools you used every day, Quix will save you many clicks and key strokes.

Share Your Tools!

The web is always coming up with new tools, new techniques and new utilities, but this list provides a quick overview of things I use and refer people to regularly. I hope it proves useful to you going forward. Please do share the tools you use in the comments, so other people here can benefit!

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43 Responses to Tools to improve your online marketing campaign

  1. Al
    By Al on 4 February, 2011

    Besides the GetClicky for tracking your real-time stats, I found HitSniffer
    and to be of interest, as well.

  2. Theo
    By Theo on 3 February, 2011

    Great tool list, some of them are new to me so i will surely try them out. Thank you!

  3. John Lombaerde
    By John Lombaerde on 2 February, 2011

    Thanks, great list of tools. Some of them are kind of addicting. I advise to make sure you have plenty of “time to tinker” before you get too deeply involved. I might just forget to post to my blog if I use this entire toolbox. By the way, what plugin do you use for these comments? Is it one of your own?

  4. Wireless Router Review
    By Wireless Router Review on 31 January, 2011

    I love this list, Joost. I use a few of these services already, but you allowed me to discover new ones. For that I thank you. I’m very interested in Clicktale for its ability to record customers as they use my site. That looks very useful.

  5. Cocaine Relief
    By Cocaine Relief on 30 January, 2011

    This is a great source of resources. This is my first time here and appreciate the list. I have been thinking about something like Clicktale, and will try it.


  6. Security Services
    By Security Services on 30 January, 2011

    Another great article. Thanks, Joost. Although, we do take exception to your “tinfoil hat” comment, :).

    By on 29 January, 2011

    Thanks for all these tips to be honest I was only using Google Analytics and the google webmaster tools. I will give a try to a few other and might comment back.

  8. Hannah
    By Hannah on 29 January, 2011

    This is a great resource. I definitely make use of the tools from Google. Analytics is a must for websites, especially useful for smaller businesses who cannot afford more expensive visitor tracking options.

    SEOMoz Open Site Explorer is another favourite of mine, a great tool for keeping tracking of your links as well as your competitors link building activities.

    Thanks for compiling this resource, consider yourselves bookmarked! :)

  9. billy
    By billy on 28 January, 2011

    What a GREAT list. I’ve heard of many of these tools, but not all (browser shots for one). I am overwhelmed now! Thanks!!!!!! hahahahhaha

  10. Chris Bruzzi
    By Chris Bruzzi on 28 January, 2011

    Really great tools here. By any chance… do you know of a tool that you can make your blog post automatically become an RSS feed also?

  11. Jeff Lambert
    By Jeff Lambert on 27 January, 2011

    Thanks for another great share. I’ll agree with @Arnout, seems pretty good.

  12. Madsurfer
    By Madsurfer on 27 January, 2011

    What do you think about this tool?
    It’s for stress testing your server/hosting.

  13. bob marconi
    By bob marconi on 27 January, 2011

    Thanks for the post.

    I will check out the Contrast Ratio Calculators, as I am one who is color blind and find it particularly hard to read many sites, especially when using ‘pale’ colors.

    Thank you for the info…

  14. Nico van Kooten
    By Nico van Kooten on 27 January, 2011

    Nice collection! I like to use the “Google Wonderweel” for keyword combinations. (under “more options” down left in the Google serps page)For a good metatag analysis and more I often use Meta Tag Analyzer

    • Madsurfer
      By Madsurfer on 27 January, 2011

      @nico, Why do you want to analyze meta keywords while they are almost not important anymore. Especially for the dutch market where +-93% of the market uses Google. See also this video:

      • Nico van Kooten
        By Nico van Kooten on 28 January, 2011

        @Madsurfer I don’t use this tool for meta keyword tags. This tool however gives me a quick insight in title tag and meta description tag length and relevancy. It also shows the status and returned header of the page and much more info. Give it a try, you might like it!

        • Madsurfer
          By Madsurfer on 28 January, 2011

          Ah ok, will do that. Do you also know this tool?

          It’s a bit more nerdy but can also be used for the task you describe in your reply.

          • Nico van Kooten
            By Nico van Kooten on 28 January, 2011

            Yeah, xenulink is handy as well, I have used it a couple of times. Unfortunately it only works with MS Windows…

  15. Arnout H
    By Arnout H on 27 January, 2011

    I kinda like, nice speed check based on yslow and google’s page speed.
    Nice post Joost ;-)

  16. Matt Mikulla
    By Matt Mikulla on 27 January, 2011

    I uses Raven Tools to track ranking compared to site traffic. It’s also killer for doing quick analysis of sites.

    I’m gonna go play with wirify and clicktale. Thanks for the tool tips Joost.

  17. Jeff
    By Jeff on 27 January, 2011

    Thanks for sharing this. some of the tools here are not familiar with me. I try each tool and see whats best for me. Thanks again for the share… ^_^

  18. Mikal
    By Mikal on 27 January, 2011

    Very nice. I personaly use Quix and also Ranktracker software. Ranktracker is awesome. So efficient and easy.

  19. Phillip Dews
    By Phillip Dews on 26 January, 2011

    Thats a great lost Joost thanks for sharing, i love the ClickTale site and have signed up for it!
    I have just completly changed the design of my blog so that will come in handy! love the record idea behind it and cannot wait to see my first one!
    also Digging the new design of your blog but I do miss the windmill graphic though! Just came across Matt Wulenwegs site and love that as well!
    All The Best

  20. Matthew
    By Matthew on 26 January, 2011

    Thumbs up for Open Site Explorer. has a pretty extensive list of IM tools.

  21. Wade
    By Wade on 25 January, 2011

    I have used Clicky and most of the Google tools for some time. Thanks for the heads up on viewing Google Cache in Text mode. I have used it in regular mode quite a bit but Text mode makes it much easier. It has already given me ideas on how to adjust my site.

  22. walidmrealtor
    By walidmrealtor on 25 January, 2011

    Nice! What a great collection of tools! I’d actually forgotten about the percentage of folks who are colorblind, and how a website might leave them feeling less than satisfied.

  23. Craig Bak
    By Craig Bak on 25 January, 2011

    Thanks Joost,
    You surprised me with some of the tools that I already use! Puts my mind at rest knowing that YOAST uses some of the stuff I do before I found out about your tools. I’m on my way to Quix now, see ya mate!
    Craig – The 7thDwarf!

  24. TrafficColeman
    By TrafficColeman on 25 January, 2011

    Joost I did not know something like ClickTale ever existed. I think it will be wise for me to ad it to my box of goodies..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  25. Bjorn van der Neut
    By Bjorn van der Neut on 25 January, 2011

    And for speed testing I use also a verry nice and free tool.

  26. dani
    By dani on 25 January, 2011

    Thanks for sharing this incredible tools with us.

  27. Torben Lundsgaard
    By Torben Lundsgaard on 25 January, 2011

    SpriteMe is nice tool for converting graphics to sprites. It even tells you how to change the CSS.

    • Joost de Valk
      By Joost de Valk on 25 January, 2011

      It rocks indeed, I use it myself too.

  28. Matt
    By Matt on 25 January, 2011

    Thanks Joost. Have you tried Keyword Eye before? It visualizes keyword data from the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Hopefully some of you will find it useful.

  29. Devesh
    By Devesh on 25 January, 2011

    Great List Joost. These are awesome tools for online marketers. Hearing first time about the open site explorer.
    Will going to check it out.

    Anyways, Thanks for sharing this great list Joost. Retweeted.

    Keep up the good work.

  30. Rick Dronkers
    By Rick Dronkers on 25 January, 2011

    Thnx for the tools, and your presentation at the partner event. I’m already using Wirify in a current webdesign project and gonna use the SiteScan tool now.

    Question: how to use Quix in Chrome?

  31. Corne Hoogendoorn
    By Corne Hoogendoorn on 25 January, 2011

    Hi Yoast,

    This is a nice list. I mis a tool to track positions in the Search Engines (although it is not the most important thing in SEO). I use Rank Tracker to track positions in SERP’s.

    • Jacob
      By Jacob on 28 January, 2011

      From the same source that offers Open Site Explorer, SEOmoz also offers a great rank tracker.

    • Joost de Valk
      By Joost de Valk on 25 January, 2011

      Hey Corné, good point!

      I use both Rank Tracker and Authority Labs for that.

      • Dan
        By Dan on 25 January, 2011

        I also heard Traffic Travis does this, but have not confirmed. I use Raven Tools which of course is a paid version.

        • Corné Hoogendoorn
          By Corné Hoogendoorn on 25 January, 2011

          Hi Dan,

          I use also the paid version of Rank Tracker. More options with reporting.

          • Ryan
            By Ryan on 26 January, 2011

            Check out SEscout. We are far cheaper then all of the other currently available SERP trackers with hourly updates and much more ;]

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