An SEO audit is a great way to determine the current optimization state of your website and quickly see what you need to improve. It’s also a good way to quickly see what SEO strategy your competition is taking and how you can outdo them.
Much of the key information for a website SEO assessment is available for free on the web and by inspecting your site’s source code. But to make it even easier and avoid having to look through website source code, you can use Firefox Toolbars that give you all of the information you need instantly.
SEO Toolbars – Your SEO Audit Allies
Firefox (and some Google Chrome) Toolbars are ideal SEO audit tools and can in just a few clicks give you information that would take hours to compile manually. I’m partial to Google Chrome as my preferred browser for daily use, so I use Firefox for my SEO audits (SEO toolbars can slow down your browser).
To download Firefox toolbars, click Tools and then “Add-Ons” and search for “SEO”. Here you’ll find plenty of useful toolbars to help your SEO audit.
My favorite toolbar, however, and the one I’ll focus on in this post, has to instead be downloaded at SEOBook.com after you provide your email address. You’ll then be on SEOBook’s email list, but if you’re interested in learning more about SEO, they’ll send you some nice tutorials.
Let’s go into more specifics on using this toolbar.
SEOBook SEO Toolbar
Here’s what the SEOBook Toolbar looks like:
What I like most about the SEOBook Toolbar is all of the tools it has to quickly see a site’s Meta information and check keyword ranks.
One tool in the SEOBook Toolbar to quickly see your site’s page titles and other key information is the “SEO X-Ray”. This is the most important tool for your SEO Audit. You can access it by clicking the X icon in the SEOBook Toolbar. This will give all the key information about the website’s optimization including the Page Title, Meta Description, and keywords. This information should accurately summarize what your page is about and should include the keywords that you’re targeting on the page.
Your Page Title is what is displayed as the clickable link in Google search results, and it is also shown at the top bar of your Web browser window. It should, in less than 70 characters, sum up what your page is about, include your most important keyword or keywords, and not turn off readers.
Your Meta Description is the text that appears in search results under the clickable page title. It should be between 150 and 160 characters and both entice the reader to click the link to visit your site and also accurately portray what the web page is about (while including keywords that a searcher would use). MetaLength.com is a handy tool for checking your Page Title and Meta Description lengths. It also gives some tips for writing a good page title and description.
While search engines cap the description they display at around 160 characters, you can actually go over that limit and some SEOs cite the benefits of using longer Meta descriptions — up to around 400 characters.
Meta keywords aren’t necessary when optimizing a web page and, if you’re worried about a competitor spying your keywords, you can skip adding them altogether. However, by adding keywords to each page you can more easily keep track of what keywords you’re targeting and it will make your future SEO analysis easier. But be sure to use keywords that you’re actually targeting on the page, not just what you would like to rank for. Each keyword you list should appear within the content of that page, ideally multiple times.
To learn what keywords people are actually searching for, use the Google Keyword Tool and compile and export a list of keywords to target on your site. The Google Keyword Tool is free and if you open an Adwords account you can get more detailed information including AdWords cost per click and monthly fluctuations in search volume for each keyword.
Another benefit of the SEO X-Ray tool is that it permits you to easily see the header tags on a website, which is a pain to do the traditional way by scanning through the source code. Header tags are used to bring attention to certain parts of your content or to divide that content into sections, like headlines and sub-headlines in newspaper or magazine articles. Each web page should have one H1 primary header tag, but can have many other sub headlines related to the keywords being targeted.
H1, H2, and H3 header tags are very important to the optimization of your web page. Search engines value them much more than other text, so if you see any H2 or H3 tags on your page for titles that aren’t related to what you’re targeting on that page, try to change them to H4, H5, H6 or just normal paragraph text.
You often see links to other sections of your site with a H2 or H3 tag and often the words of these sub-headlines are things like “Check Out Our Recent Blog Posts” or “Connect With Us On Social Media”. That sends a mixed message to search engines about the content on your page and won’t help your page rank for competitive keywords.
Inbound Links and Domain Owner Information
If the equation to obtaining a top ranking in search engines is Relevancy + Authority, cleaning up the on-page SEO information as we’ve discussed would improve the first side of the equation and help assure your page is relevant to search terms. While creating very relevant, targeted pages can earn you good rankings for more obscure or low-competition topics; you’ll need to improve your domain authority as well if you hope to gain top rankings for competitive search terms.
Authority, however, is gained over time and not so easily obtained. Your website authority grows as you gain relevant inbound links from authoritative sources.
The SEO X-Ray tool shows you the number of internal and external links to a particular page of your site. You can export your list of links to a spreadsheet and do the same for your top competitor’s site. If your competitor has any links that you don’t have, try to get them.
There are hundreds if not thousands of business directories online where you can create a profile and gain an inbound link. Other ways to get links include: social media profiles, press releases, guest blog posts on other websites, media interviews, and getting your content shared around the web on social networks and blogs.
I also use the SEO X-Ray to quickly bring up information about a website domain owner. By clicking on the “Whois” link, you can find who owns a particular website domain (along with that person or company’s contact information), when it was purchased and when it expires, and what other domains that person or company owns. If you don’t want people to be able to get this information about you, pay your domain registrar to keep this information private. They charge about $10 per year or so for this service.
Keyword Rank Checker
Another tool that I use regularly is SEOBook’s Rank Checker. This tool lets you punch in a domain name and keywords, and it gives you your search engine rankings in just a few minutes.
Compare your rankings to competitors and track your improvement over time by exporting the results to a spreadsheet. But remember to always start by selecting keywords that actually have search volume. Ranking #1 for “most talented and handsome marketing guru for hire in Chattanooga Tennessee” might make your mother proud but it won’t get in front of many recruiters searching the web.
Now Get To It, Fellow SEO Auditor
There are many other useful tools within the SEOBook Toolbar as well as the 100+ other SEO toolbars for Firefox and Google Chrome. The best way to get to know all of them is to try them out and see what you like best. Just be sure to not enable more than two or three toolbars at once or it will greatly slow your web browsing experience.
Some other SEO Firefox Toolbars that I use are:
- MozBar from SEO Moz (register as a member of SEOMoz.com to get the most benefit from this)
- SEOQuake Toolbar
- SEO Doctor
Loyal to Internet Explorer or just old fashioned? You can still get much of the on-page SEO information discussed here by scanning through your source code.
To view page source code:
- Right click on any web page (CTRL+click on Mac)
- “View Source”
- Look for <head> section
What we covered here is a basic SEO audit to see how a website is optimized. But good SEO involves more than just evaluating and adjusting your on-page optimization and inbound link portfolio. More advanced topics that we’ll cover in future posts include: Improving website speed, avoiding duplicate content, finding and fixing broken links, utilizing effective site architecture, optimizing images and videos, choosing SEO-friendly URLs, canonical URL tags, Google authorship, and SEO strategy for local and niche businesses.
Have any questions? Ask to your heart’s delight in the comments.