Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on July 7th, 2010

A Peek into the SEO Workshop: Seven Tools of the Trade

Seasoned craftsmen worth a darn have a workshop of tools that help them excel at what they do best. Painters have brushes, carpenters have hammers, and mimes have invisible boxes. SEO practitioners are no difference. While invisible boxes may be scarce, Volacci uses many helpful tools in our SEO workshop to help our clients get results with their SEO campaigns. You may or may not use the same tools. Heck, you may have better tools than are included in this post. If you do, please let me know about it in a comment. Whether you are a seasoned webmaster, an SEO practitioner, or business owner who just needs to expand their workshop of tools, please join me for 7 SEO tools of the trade.

Tool #1: XML Sitemap Module A sitemap is a list of pages on your website that is accessible to search engine spiders and helps them index your site for the results pages. If you don’t have a sitemap, it is nearly impossible for Google, Yahoo! and Bing to rank your web pages in their results.

Check out this glimpse of the Volacci sitemap:

This lists out all the pages we would have made eligible for Google to rank number one... whether we get there or not is up to the rest of the tools we use. For all of you Drupal lovers, the XML Sitemap Module creates a sitemap that conforms to the specifications. The sitemap that this module creates can be submitted to Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and Ask.

Tool #2: Google AdWords Keyword Tool The Google AdWords Keyword Tool allows you to look up keyword ideas and see how competitive they are to rank for. This tool will help you make informed decisions in the keyword research phase of your SEO campaign.

In the example above, I have entered several different variations of “oil change in Austin” and adjusted my advanced options to show English/United States-based results that contain only the search terms I entered exactly.

The results show the keyword phrase, how steep the competition is, local search trends, and how frequent the global and local monthly searches are. This is a fun tool to play with and a very helpful tool when researching keyword targeting.

Tool #3: Drupal SEO Checklist The Drupal SEO Checklist module is one of the first modules you should install when working on your Drupal site. This module provides a checklist that helps you keep track of what SEO best practices need to done to your site. First, it will assess what modules you already have installed, and then all you have to do is go down a checklist and do all the unchecked items. When all the items are checked, you’re done! While this is not a mandatory module, it will save you hours of time researching and tracking down all the modules you need in Drupal for good SEO.

Tool #4: Google Webmaster Tools If the name doesn’t say it all, Google Webmaster Tools is a service from Google for webmasters, allowing them to check indexing status and optimize visibility for their sites. Nearly an entire toolbox itself, Google Webmaster Tools allows webmasters to: • Submit and check a sitemap • Check and set crawl rate • Generate and check robots.txt file • List internal and external pages that link to site • See what keyword searches led to site listings • etc. (yes, 'etc'. gets it's own bullet point) Here is a screenshot from the dashboard page of one our subdomains:

As you can see from our very quiet partners site, you can track impressions, clicks, keywords, popular queries, etc. With this extensive set of tools, you can make very informed decisions concerning your site and how you can improve it for better rankings. This is like the Swiss army knife of SEO tools. If you have the time and energy to invest in this set of tools, you will reap major benefits. Tool #5: Google Website Optimizer Google Website Optimizer is a free tool from Google that allows you to test the optimization value of your website.

Find out what images, headlines, and website copy are most effective at getting your website visitors to convert. Learn how to efficiently set up A/B testing or multi-variate experiments on your website in just a few minutes.

Tool #6: Yahoo! Site Explorer Yahoo! Site Explorer allows you to explore a website’s pages that have been indexed by Yahoo! Search.

Through the SEO lens, this tool tells you the sources of your competitors’ links. You can view the most popular pages on any site, and dive into a comprehensive site from the most optimized page down. Check here is a screenshot from our own website: 

Use this tools when conducting a competitive analysis, or when you need to get more familiar with your own link structure and web page popularity. Tool #7: Tynt Tynt is THE “copy & paste” company who will help you leverage your stolen content to your advantage.

Learn what is being copied from your site and leverage it into more traffic, higher search rank and better engagement. Tynt found that web users routinely copy and paste certain phrases from websites and paste it into search engines and browsers to find more information. Tynt helps companies who get “copy & pasted” in this way to keep some the revenue that would otherwise go to the search engines. This is a fairly new service, and with so many online publishers trying to get a larger piece of that Google pie, it wouldn’t a bad idea to try out their beta service, Tynt SpeedSearch, which states that it may allow site owners to: • Provide users with immediate search results – before the user leaves the page • Keep users engaged with content on your site, increasing page views, and ad revenue • Generate revenue from ad placements on targeted search terms Like I said, its still in beta and Volacci hasn’t given this tool a full-run yet, but it does seem promising. There are tons of tools available for practitioners and webmasters to use in their SEO workshop. You may use completely different tools or many of the same ones, and get different results than Volacci has. Did I miss one of your favorite tools? Is there a specific problem you are trying to solve but don’t know what tool to use? Leave your comments and questions below! Share the News! 

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