The ability to evaluate a clients website quickly and efficiently could be the difference between winning that prized client or losing them to a competitor. A lot of SEOs and agencies have tools at there disposal to analyze certain aspects of a potential clients website, some of them premium tools.
What about small time operations, or individuals who do consulting on the side (like me)? For small budgets, free tools are the best. I decided to put together a list of free tools I use when evaluating clients, in the hopes that others may find it useful!
Without further adieu, and in no particular order, here are 15 free SEO tools that will help you evaluate clients quickly and efficiently!
Screaming Frog is an awesome SEO spider that will crawl your site and report any errors. Let’s say your clients website is hundreds of pages and you want to find a list of bad links. Rather than spending time wading through hundreds of pages and thousands of links, Screaming Frog will crawl your site and generate a report with all 404s and 302s.
Robots.txt files can contain errors that your average human being wouldn’t realize are a problem. For the experienced marketer, Robots.txt files are easy to read, but the problem is that they can be (for large sites) extremely large. This tool quickly scans the Robots.txt file and reports back any problems.
Built With is a great tool for finding out a bunch of technical details about a website that might not be obvious to the naked eye. Built With can tell you server information, like what web server is running (Apache, IIS, etc), it can tell you about the hosting, the nameserver, the email service, if the site was built with WordPress, Drupal, Magento or any other CMS or eCommerce suite…the list goes on.
Yet another huge benefit of Built With is a quick look at the meta tags. Built With will tell you if the meta description tag is being used, as well as the meta keywords (hopefully it’s not), meta robots, and if the site is using Open Graph meta tags. Built With also gives you a list of social media widgets that are being used.
Built With is such a great tool – it should absolutely be in every SEOs tool belt.
Google has always been the main source for any SEOs best information, and the PageSpeed Insights tool is no different. Enter any URL and the tool generates a report with suggestions to improve page load time. An added bonus is that the report is broken down into a Mobile report and Desktop report. With Google verifying that load time effects SERPs for mobile devices, there is added incentives to have a website optimized for page load time.
Content and Keyword Research
Copyscape is a nice tool for finding duplicate content and plagiarism. It’s not uncommon for good content to be copied and posted on other sites, and it’s well known that this can have a negative impact on a sites overall SEO performance. Copyscape aids in finding instances of plagiarized content so you can present your client with a plan of action to have the duplicate content removed.
nTopic is a tool I’ve only recently become familiar with, but its a great tool to turn to with stubborn clients. nTopic takes a URL of page, and the targeted keyword for that page. With the click of a button, a quick scan, and a little processing, nTopic gives you a relevancy score for that keyword. If your potential client has doubts about your keyword suggestions, it’s always nice to point to a score to help drive the point home.
SEMrush is a tool that most SEOs are familiar with, but it still warrants mention here. The reports generated from SEMrush provide a bunch of data, but one of the most useful tools is the keyword report. SEMrush generates a report of target keywords for your clients site, whether they are targeting those keywords or not.
WordStream offers endless data through their paid service, but they also offer a limited free version of their keyword tool. Through this tool, you can get keyword suggested based on broad match keywords, and get relative search volume estimates. Longtail keywords will always be important, and this tool lets you generate a list of them that your potential client may not have previously considered.
GetListed was recently acquired by Moz, and that should be all you need to know to understand that it’s a great tool. GetListed takes a business name and location (zip code) and crawls all the major business listing directories and tells you which listings are missing. This is great for presenting clients with low-hanging fruit and missed opportunities. If your client is missing something big like a Google Places listing, you have a massive advantage over another agency that is overlooking this mistake.
Pretty much all of my link profiling for a competitor or client starts and ends with OpenSiteExplorer. It’s an excellent tool from Moz that generates a report for any domain and provides a list of inbound links. OSE also provides their own SERP ranking score they call Page Authority and Domain Authority, which has proven over time to have the highest correlation to SERP rankings. OSE can give you a list of low-hanging fruit, and can also show you inbound links that you didn’t even know you had.
Moz offers a portion of OSE for free, but you get expanded reports and tons more data if you are a Moz Analytics subscriber.
This is a great tool for quickly discovering potential anchor text problems. Has your client noticed poor results since Google’s Penguin? Perhaps they have an over optimized anchor text profile for their incoming links. A quick check using this tool will give you a lot of useful information to give to your client.
When wooing potential clients, it would be ideal to have access to their Google Analytics data. Unfortunately, most of the time this isn’t an option. Thankfully, Similar Web provides a sample of this missing data. The estimates that Similar Web provide are just that – estimates – but it’s still useful data. Traffic estimates, channel breakdowns, and much more are all provided free of charge.
Google+ is becoming increasingly important in the social space. If a small business or potential client isn’t performing on Google+, they are likely leaving a bunch of opportunities on the table. The problem with Google+ is there isn’t a ton of well known analytics tools out there for it, like there are for some of the other big name social networks. This is where Circle Count comes in. Circle Count is as good as it gets for Google+ analytics, allowing you to track followers and shares.
Share Tally is an awesome tool for getting a birds-eye-view of social activity for any given web page. Enter in your client’s blog post, or landing page, and get an instant report of social sharing activity across all the major social networks, and some of the smaller ones. Share Tally also includes a handful of niche social voting sites. With this report, you can see where your client is performing on social media, and where they could use some improvement. With this knowledge in hand, you can formulate a plan of action to increase social engagement for your client’s brand.
Followerwonk is another great tool from Moz, which means we know it’s good. Followerwonk is a Twitter analytics platform that lets you analyze any Twitter user with extreme precision. Imagine being able to hand your clients a list of their most influential followers, or a list of authoritative figures in their industry that they can target for social engagment. Followerwonk can generate reports based on keywords, geographical locations, and so much more – it’s the best Twitter analytics tool I’ve found to date.
Like OpenSiteExplorer, Followerwonk offers limited data for free, and expanded reports are available to Moz Analytics subscribers.
There are tons of great tools out there to help evaluate potential client’s websites, this post is just scratching the surface.
Do you have a suggestion for a tool that performs any of these tasks better? Let me know in the comments below!