From smoke pellets to grappling hooks, from night vision goggles to batarangs – is there anything the caped crusader can’t pull out of that utility belt? But what sort of a superhero would Batman be with-out the contents of his trusty gadget girdle?
Every trade has it’s essential tools and Search Engine Optimization/ Search Engine Marketing is no different. Our utility belt is a cache of online tools, extensions, add-ons and macro infested excel spreadsheets. I thought I’d share a quick peek into my own utility belt by highlighting some Firefox add-ons I’ve found to be quite useful.
KGen all of the words on a page and organizes them by frequency of use, allowing you to review how frequently a phrase has been used in the page. This great little SEO add-on also takes into consideration where the phrase appears (Title, H1, image alt text) and applies appropriate weight to each instance giving the phrase an overall weight. So a phrase appearing in the Page Title carries more weight than a word with-in a paragraph tag.
While many SEOers no longer concern themselves with keyword density, this tool is great for a quick overview of a pages content theme, keyword density and appropriate phrase placement with-in weighted elements.
SeoQuake is a comprehensive Firefox extension developed for web masters and SEOers for quick access to many of the bits of information we might otherwise spend a great deal of time & hassle collecting. Important details like Google PageRank, cache date, domain age, social media mentions, inbound links, directory inclusion status, and whois are just a click away!
SeoQuake adds a detailed bar beneath each result in Google results pages which can be set to automatically (or on demand) fetch the various bits of information. This allows you to dig deeper into the SEO related details of ranking client & competitor URLs on the fly!
SEO Quake also provides a browser toolbar (or optionally as an on-page display tool bar) which performs the same tasks on pages as you visit. Again, this data can be retrieved automatically as you visit each page, or on-demand by clicking the element you’re like to fetch.
This tool is a time saver and can crunch 3 hours worth of data mining & documentation into about 15 minutes of surfing, but don’t leave it running all the time! Because the tool constantly pings Google, Yahoo and the other information sources, it’s probably a good idea to only turn on what you need – when you need it.
Excessive pinging will get you flagged/restricted – especially on Google. If your agency or office uses this tool, be sure to use it only when necessary and/or use proxy switching to ‘mix it up a bit’.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Web Developer add-on for a couple of years now. This add-on add a toolbar with tons of great tools for web developers/designers, but a number of those tools can make an SEOers job a whole lot easier.
Click button (or short-cut key controlled) toggling for style sheets(detect headers or hidden text with ease), java script, cookie permissions, cache, image information, link information (count the number of links on a page in a click of a button) and a bunch more.
While Batman might be able to make-do with-out certain gadgets, this is definitely one of those tools that shouldn’t be left out of the SEO Superheros pouch.
Flash Block is a simple Firefox add-on that stops Flash files in their tracks, rendering placeholders with ‘Play” buttons to allow you to choose what to play and when. The Flash Block add-on is a great tool for quickly identifying Flash elements on the fly.
Despite the recent improvements in how Google treats/reads Flash, Flash based navigation & content is still potentially an obstacle and definitely something every SEO superhero would want to be aware of. this takes all of the guess work out of it by automatically identifying Flash elements.
The User Agent Switcher add-on is perfect for testing user agent based redirect solutions, or just taking a stroll through your clients site (or competitor sites) to see how it treats Google. I’ve found some pretty interesting obstacles and revealed some competitors ‘creative’ optimization’ tricks using the User Agent Switcher.
Most Common Search Engine User Agents
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)
Yahoo! Slurp 3.0
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Yahoo! Slurp/3.0; http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/slurp)
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Ask Jeeves/Teoma; +http://about.ask.com/en/docs/about/webmasters.shtml)
A comprehensive list of active user agents is available at User-Agents.org
ShowIP displays the IP address of the current page in the status bar. You can quickly dig deeper with an IP menu (right click) and a Hostname menu (left click) linking you to tools like whois, netcraft for more in-depth information about the current site.
The server type, displayed in the status bar, is useful for quick obstacle analysis and solution development. For instance, you wouldn’t want to develop & send your client a complex set of mod_rewrite rules & directives, only to find out their site is hosted on an IIS server.
While tracking your sites ranking performance is an important part of SEO, it is often the most time consuming task. The Rank Checker Firefox add-on allows you to track the performance of multiple domains across various search engines, for any number of targeted phrases - automatically!.
One of the coolest features of the Rank Checker add-on is that is allows you to export your rankings information for easy integration into reports & documents. Using the Rank Checker add-on is a huge time saver and makes one of the most important elements of SEO now one of the easiest!
Not unlike the SEO Quake add-on, the SEO for Firefox add-on, from Aaron Wall/SEO Book, makes key data points easily accessible with-in Google search results and with-in current pages (via a right click menu option).
While SEO Quake and the SEO for Firefox Add-ons are similar, each has a few unique features that make it worthwhile to run both tools. Some interesting data points unique to SEO for Firefox are .edu & .gov links, Google Trends and Google cached.
Again, just as with the SEO Quake add-on, SEO for Firefox saves you a ton of time and effort by making all of this vital and significant data available at the click of a button.
Originally designed as a web developers debugging tool, the Firebug add-on “integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse”.
While I couldn’t live with-out Firebug from a web design/development perspective, I find it’s also quite useful for SEO.
Firefox SEO add-ons
Of course all of these add-ons require that you have the Firefox browser installed. You can download Firefox here. All of the add-ons listed in this post have been tested and are Firefox 3 ready!
A few add-ons I love, but that are not yet Firefox 3 ready are…
MetaTags Firefox Add-on
This super simple little wonder adds a sidebar that simply fetches & displays the current pages Head Tags – IE Title, Description, Keywords, Robots (NOFOLLOW etc). The output is selectable for easy copy/pasting into documents, reports etc. I really like this add-on and hope to see it updated soon.
X-Ray Firefox Add-on
Through a simple right click menu option you can expose the HTML tagging inline with the live page – this allows you to see H1 vs H2 vs bold or CSS styled headers on the fly – I LOVE it [eagerly awaiting the release of the update - pending Firefox team review]
These are the Firefox add-ons I have in my SEO superhero utility belt, what add-ons are in yours?