The tools we use for our site reviews

In our site reviews we check a website from multiple angles, and because of that we use a variety of tools to determine what to advise. Some tools are for analysing, some for clearing things up when we are in doubt. It only seems logical to provide you with a list of some of these tools and encourage you to use them as well. Here they are:

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Screaming Frog SEO Spider We have mentioned this tool a few times before, as we are really enthusiastic about it. Screaming Frog SEO Spider makes our job a lot easier, as it goes over all links and pages of a website and provides among others:

  • Status codes (301, 404)
  • Page titles and meta descriptions
  • Canonical URLs and robots meta data

Besides that, there is a bunch of extra information and all is filterable per file type, but also for instance on page titles longer than 65 characters.
Visit their website for more information: www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/.

SearchMetrics

SearchMetricsThe possibilities of searchmetrics.com are huge. Their set of collected data per website is always giving us insights on trends in SEO Visibility, backlinks and much more. We use their graphs to determine possible Panda and Penguin problems, for instance (when visibility drops all of a sudden). Sudden rises in visibility could indicate malicious link practices.

We also like the (weekly) rankings for keywords, to see whether the website is ranking for keywords they tell us they want to rank for. Searchmetrics.com provides insights on overall search trends, and changes in rankings for the major websites. Next to that, the social rank and visibility tells us whether a website is using social media marketing the right way.
Please find more information on their website: searchmetrics.com.

MajesticSEO

MajesticSEOWhen analysing backlinks for a website, you want to determine whether links and anchors are high or low quality, and what the number of links is. Although links currently is an SEO subject of discussion, bad links are never a good thing. The list of anchor texts also gives a hint on over-optimisation of links.

MajesticSEO shows all the link information you need, not just in numbers and text, but also in trends and graphs. The Referring Domains and External Backlinks Link Profiles use a trust flow (how well-known are the websites linking your website) and citation flow (how many websites link to your website) to show immediately how well a website is doing, link wise.
This tool can be found on www.majesticseo.com

Quix App

Yes, Joost built this one a couple of years ago, and we haven’t been maintaining it for a while. Yet the tool provides a lot of quick insight on a specific page, for instance using the command ‘seocss’ to see which headings a site is using and which links are (no-)followed. The ‘seo’ command shows some basic checks: is the canonical right, and does the page title make sense? It also counts the number of links per page, for instance.

For server checks (what server, etc), the command ‘h’ tells you more. Next to SEO checks, the plugin does a lot more. As mentioned, the app is not supported at the moment, and some of the commands may not work properly, it is still an essential tool for our site reviews.
More on Quix App at the website: quixapp.com

Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom Tools, Yslow, WebPageTest

Obviously, site speed is different when checking it from different locations, and the tools mentioned above do not always provide the same results. That is why we use all these tools and do not rely on just one. Google Page Speed Insights splits mobile and desktop, Pingdom Tools allows for multiple locations and Yslow has segmented the checks nicely. WebPageTest has a few main checks it grades nicely.

URLs for these tools:

Integrity

Sometimes you just want a quick check for broken links or status codes. That is where the free tool Integrity (for Mac) comes in. Just enter an URL and find the information you are looking for. A nice alternative for Windows is Xenu.
Visit the Integrity website at peacockmedia.co.uk/integrity/.

GIDZipTest

Like Integrity, this tool is just for a quick check. Where the speed tools we mentioned do provide recommendations like ‘enable compression’, this check has told us more than once that compression is already enabled. Which means the possible compression advice in the review either is not valid for the website (compression is recommended for files that can norm easily be influenced) or should be more specified.
For more information see www.gidnetwork.com/tools/gzip-test.php

Google

And of course we use Google as well. D’oh.

We would be more than happy to hear from other tools you use, and why. Please leave a comment (don’t forget the URL of that tool!).

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37 Responses

  1. Amar IlindraBy Amar Ilindra on 22 January, 2014

    Screaming Frog SEO Spider is an awesome tool really. It gives hell lot of information of any website in just one click.

  2. Marcus BastianBy Marcus Bastian on 22 January, 2014

    I wonder why http://www.moz.com is missing?
    I also think the Google Webmaster Tools are getting more important since organic keywords are hidden (not provided).

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 22 January, 2014

      As mentioned, “some of these tools”, Marcus :) Thanks for the additions.

    • Joost de ValkBy Joost de Valk on 22 January, 2014

      We don’t use any Moz tools here, Majestic, SearchMetrics and Screaming Frog give us everything Moz gives, and more.

  3. MattBy Matt on 22 January, 2014

    Two others that come to mind real quick:

    gtmetrix for site performance http://gtmetrix.com/

    raven tools for all things “seo” http://raventools.com

  4. Ben HeligmanBy Ben Heligman on 22 January, 2014

    Wow a post that features a Mac only SEO tool. This is my dream post! Thank you for supporting the little guy here. Also, thrilled to say that I use most of these as well and highly recommend them.

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 23 January, 2014

      Haha, nice one! Thanks for your comment, Ben, made me smile, haha :)

  5. herman dailybitsBy herman dailybits on 22 January, 2014

    Basic ones: Facebook debugtool and Google rich snippet tool. ;-)

  6. NetoBy Neto on 22 January, 2014

    I like http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/.

    Gtmetrix is already serving in the two platforms, Yslow and Page Speed​​.

  7. Andy McIlwainBy Andy McIlwain on 22 January, 2014

    Great list! Looks like I’ve got more stuff to bookmark.

    Some of my favourites, for deeper dives: DOM Monster; WAVE accessibility tool (better for a11y = better for search, IMO); and Keynote MITE for mobile testing.

  8. PramodBy Pramod on 22 January, 2014

    I use Google webmasters tool to find errors on my website .Its one of the most useful utility that Google has developed for webmasters .

  9. OptimatorBy Optimator on 22 January, 2014

    More examples – more tools! Keep ‘em coming, keep ‘em coming ;)

  10. Goke PelemoBy Goke Pelemo on 22 January, 2014

    I’ve found the guys at Colibri.io are building an amazing tool as well. Analyzes the website, takes social media accounts and gives specific and actionable recommendations that will help improve SEO and social media visibility.

    Woorank is also a great tool in my arsenal.

  11. Heather WoodBy Heather Wood on 22 January, 2014

    I love link assistant tools. I use Rank Tracker on a weekly basis. http://www.link-assistant.com/rank-tracker/?source=pjn&subid=43737

    I actually installed screaming frog, but never used it that much. Should probably start learning how to use it better since big guy yoast uses it :)

    • Doug MontgomeryBy Doug Montgomery on 22 January, 2014

      I agree Heather Link-Assistant’s products are top-notch for anyone with a bit of a budget for them.

      @Yoast: Do you find pingdom not providing consistent reporting as a member? I’ve learned to work away from them as usually I can’t get a solid, consistent report on a site.

      • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 23 January, 2014

        Thanks for your comment, Doug. Pingdoms location setting is something I tend to forget at first, but perhaps that is what is bugging you? As mentioned, we use all together, as speed is just depending on more than one factor.

        I also dislike the checked box for publishing the results in Pingdom, by the way. But than again: it’s free.

        • Doug MontgomeryBy Doug Montgomery on 27 January, 2014

          @Michiel you..you…! Thanks, just tried with those few select settings, no problems!

  12. Rod Marchant-SmithBy Rod Marchant-Smith on 22 January, 2014

    I certainly agree about not using Moz; I think it’s expensive and just plain not as good as others. I’ve recently been looking at ahrefs and like the simplicity a lot. I’m also a big fan of the rank tracker in the SEO Powersuite; have tried several others but nothing comes even remotely close to the accuracy this tool provides. Whitespark is also extremely valuable if you’re a local business.

  13. WaliBy Wali on 22 January, 2014

    These tools you mentioned are great to use for website analysis.

    However, I also use Google Webmaster tools, Siteexplorer and some others to analyse SEO of a website.

  14. JeffreyBy Jeffrey on 23 January, 2014

    Nice list of great SEO-tools Michiel. The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is new for me….learning every day from Yoast.com ;-)

  15. Bhavesh DesaiBy Bhavesh Desai on 23 January, 2014

    Thanks all.
    Surprised, Google Analytics, Adwords Keyword planer is missing. To counter check Analytics data, I used Piwik also. Both data will be compared at least once a month. Piwik offers some additional tools which are not offered by GA.
    Free tools by http://www.internetmarketingninjas.com very helpful for comparative seo analysis. SEO Book, Fire Fox plugin with Moz bar also provides lot of information.
    For rank checking, I use desktop based Cute rank.
    Hope it helps.
    Bhavesh Desai

  16. Marc DBy Marc D on 23 January, 2014

    I use ahref.com to check the deep of my backlinks.
    I wondered if you have a choice of one tool, What tool is for you the best of this list?

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 23 January, 2014

      Hi Marc, The list is pretty much ordered, although we do use more tools (check, double-check). That is why I was wondering what you all use, of course. Personal preferences might also be an issue.

      Screaming Frog and Quix are always open/used, and Searchmetrics and Majestic are used for even more in-dept analysis when needed. Couldn’t do my job without these :)

  17. Runo KingboBy Runo Kingbo on 23 January, 2014

    At Kingbo we use analysis tool siteexplorer, it tells us just what we need, and it is easy to use, and this is something I can recommend to others.

  18. PhilBy Phil on 23 January, 2014

    We’re currently using your SEO plugin. How well are you guys aligned with the new Google Hummingbird algorithm?

    Thanks.

  19. WassimBy Wassim on 23 January, 2014

    I’m using Moz but actually thinking to switch to Raven Tools due to the lack of functionalities and the ugly new dashboard.

    Hubspot and SEM Rush are also worth the shot :)

  20. Lee BranchBy Lee Branch on 24 January, 2014

    You guys have to try http://cognitiveseo.com, their unnatural links navigator (http://cognitiveseo.com/blog/3524/the-fastest-most-accurate-unnatural-link-detection-case-study/) is an awesome timesaver, and auto creates a disavow file too. Lots of other nice touches in the tool too.

    I use SEMRush too as a cheaper alternative to Searchmetrics. The SEO analysis section of Bing Webmaster Tools is quick and handy too.

    RavenTools is one of the others in my bag too and I wouldn’t be without Sreaming Frog! :-)

  21. Kalle GjettingBy Kalle Gjetting on 25 January, 2014

    I have used most of these tools, but thanks for making a list with all of them together!
    I obviously need to start using Screaming Frog more often :-)

  22. Anchit ShethiaBy Anchit Shethia on 28 January, 2014

    I have been using MajesticSEO, Google PageSpeed Insights, Pingdom Tools, Yslow, WebPageTest and Google SERPS checker to analyze every bit of my blogs. They are really handy tools and do wonders. Recommended tools..

  23. RunoBy Runo on 29 January, 2014

    We are obviously using the best plug-in at all, yoast SEO plug-in for WordPress, we also recommend our customers to use this plug-in, because we believe it is the best. To analyse homepage we use we SEMRush, on this homepage Husetnet customers can get the full picture, the homepage extended continuously with new useful information.

  24. Kim LangholzBy Kim Langholz on 6 February, 2014

    Great list. I personally don’t stick to only Majestic SEO. I use both Majestic and Ahrefs and Opensitexplorer. There’s always some links, that one of them doesn’t find.

  25. Bernard Albada JelgersmaBy Bernard Albada Jelgersma on 19 February, 2014

    What do you guys think of lipperhey.com and interneteffect.com ?

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 20 February, 2014

      Hi Bernard,

      Lipperhey is a woorank alternative, right? Those automatic checkers are never 100% accurate, IMHO. But they do provide some general info. I’d rather check things myself, as in our reviews.

      As for interneteffect, that’s a company – how do you see that as a tool?

  26. Victoria GalperinaBy Victoria Galperina on 20 February, 2014

    Hi Michiel,
    Have you tried SEMRush?http://www.semrush.com/features.html Please let me know what you think.

    • Michiel HeijmansBy Michiel Heijmans on 20 February, 2014

      The website review is all about the website itself, not so much about competitor research, Victoria – but of course we know SEMRush :)

  27. Eugen OpreaBy Eugen Oprea on 20 February, 2014

    That’s an awesome roundup of tools, Michiel. I appreciate you sharing them with us. Thank you!

    I’ve tried both Raven and Moz and they are doing a really good job.

    But recently I’ve been playing with the Website Auditor from AWR Cloud (http://www.advancedwebranking.com/online/).

    Haven’t had much time to play with it but it looks pretty good so far. Have you guys tried it? What do you think?