SEO Tool Checklist

The Competitive Analytics Playbook

In order to properly assess how you are doing in regards to SEO you need to measure your direct competitors as well as big businesses in your vertical.

open-site-explorer

Open SIte Explorer by Moz is useful for measuring your website backlinks as well as those of your competitors.

psutter_front

Quantcast is useful for measuring the big fish – If your small business has overlapping strategy with big business you can review several demographic data points such as gender, income, family size, political affiliation, education level, and race.

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Alexa is similar to quantcast but they cast a wider net – you can get loose projections for the traffic volume that hits a site. Alexa rank is determined by combining daily uniques and pageviews, its data is sampled and interpolated so take the readings with a grain of salt. The most useful information it provides will be engagement metrics like bounce, pages per visit and average visit duration.

compete

Compete will provide data on larger companies and has an easy simple to use interface. This is a good second opinion source to see if the data from Alexa and Quantcast is matching up.

Competitive Backlink Analysis 

Do you have competitors that frequently outrank your organic results? Using the following tools you can analyze the backlinks feeding into their pages and replicate their success.

  1. Blekko
  2. Open Site Explorer
  3. Majestic SEO
  4. Ahrefs

There are many other free backlink checker tools and typically some will have data that the others lack – so it is a good idea to consult multiple tools to get a more complete picture of your competitors backlink strategy.

Learning about Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a clever bit of software that will allow you to crawl websites without relying on web based services. This product works with windows, mac and linux machines. The key insights gained from using it are listed below:

  • Errors – Client & server errors (No responses, 4XX, 5XX)
  • Redirects – (3XX, permanent or temporary)
  • External Links – All followed links and their subsequent status codes
  • URI Issues – Non ASCII characters, underscores, uppercase characters, dynamic uris, long over 115 characters
  • Duplicate Pages – Hash value / MD5checksums lookup for pages with duplicate content
  • Page Title – Missing, duplicate, over 65 characters, short, pixel width truncation, same as h1, or multiple
  • Meta Description – Missing, duplicate, over 156 characters, short, pixel width truncation or multiple
  • Meta Keywords – Mainly for reference as it’s only (barely) used by Yahoo.
  • H1 – Missing, duplicate, over 70 characters, multiple
  • H2 – Missing, duplicate, over 70 characters, multiple
  • Meta Robots – Index, noindex, follow, nofollow, noarchive, nosnippet, noodp, noydir etc
  • Meta Refresh – Including target page and time delay
  • Canonical link element & canonical HTTP headers
  • rel=“next” and rel=“prev”
  • Inlinks – All pages linking to a URI
  • Outlinks – All pages a URI links out to
  • Anchor Text – All link text. Alt text from images with links
  • Follow & Nofollow – At link level (true/false)
  • Images – All URIs with the image link & all images from a given page. Images over 100kb, missing alt text, alt text over 100 characters
  • Redirect Chains – Discover redirect chains and loops.

This tool is unique because it allows the user to crawl websites directly rather than rely on spotty or expensive SaaS solutions.

Up to this point everything on the list has been free – Screaming Frog is no different, however if your website has more than 500 pages than it may be a boon to invest 99£ a year for a license.

Putting the Tools to Work

FIrst, a Little SEO Housekeeping

Before looking to optimize your website based on the trends in your space you will want to make sure that your current baseline SEO doesn’t have any glaring errors. By checking your web property for duplicate content, keyword stuffing, un-optimized or over-optimized meta tags etc. THis can be accomplished for the most part by using Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Google Webmaster Tools.

Starting a Competitive Analysis

Now that you have a list of tools at your disposal, you need to develop a strategy. Budget a small amount of time on a weekly/biweekly basis to collect information from your site and your competitors. It will help to list at least ten competitors and review their aggregate scores together to determine who to emulate. To add focus to your analysis frame each session around a content page that is relevant to you business goals (home, CLP, PDP, Specific Landing Pages, etc).

For your first audit – in order to get the lay of the land you may want to analyze the 3 largest buckets of your online presence. For our example however we will just look at the homepage.

Home Page Audit

Company

PageRank

Page Authority

MozRank

Link Volume

Big Business

6

73

5.87

8,997

Medium Business

5

57

5.11

6,444

Small Business

4

41

4.31

7,412

Your Business

4

43

4.61

6,777

Small Business 2

3

39

3.85

14,999

Once you have reviewed the top level metrics and you have zeroed in on who is succeeding then you will have a shortlist of competitors that you want to investigate closely.

Once you determine the list of websites to review then its time to dig back into the toolbox and review.

On Page Competitive Analysis:

Utilize Screaming Frog SEO spider to analyze the bits and bytes of a page or collection of pages. Look into your competitors strategies behind their important tags.

  • URL text – What keywords are they using in the page URL
  • Title tag – Which keywords and verbs are present
  • Meta description – What is the value proposition? Is the copy persuasive or observational.
  • Heading tags – Do the article headings work more as taxonomy/navigation or do they have personality?
  • Image alt tags – What keywords are present and do they add value

After analyzing the relevant data and making notes to carry over onto your own websites content. You don’t even have to leave Screaming Frog’s interface to craft your content within the optimal specifications for a SERP entry. See the Screaming Frog SERP tool below.

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Off Page Competitive Analysis:

By using the backlink checker like the ones we talked about earlier you can analyze the links that point to your competitors website. You can research the domains that are pointing to your competitors as well as the anchor text for those links. This is a good way to establish keywords for your content as well as your own backlinking strategies.

Rinse and Repeat

Now that we have established some basic techniques to establish where you stand and how to improve your SEO rankings, all thats left is practice, refinement and exploration. By running through this process a few times you will learn about your websites content as well as your competitors very intimately.

If you would like to learn more about SEO, web analytics, or user experience as it regards to your website and Truvisibility you can learn more at http://www.truvisibility.com/en/blog. If you are interested in trying Truvisibility out today simply go to truvisibility.com and press the “Get Started” button, it is free and easy.