Search engine tools help you 1) expedite the exposure of your pages to search engines 2) detect the status of your site without leaving anything to doubt or hypothesize 3) gauge your page’s performance relative to competitors 4) determine which type of articles you’d write to get noticed by more people and 5) many more.
You can do search engine optimization without using any tool at all; the use of such SEO tools is not a requirement to be on the top. However, with these tools available and mostly offered for free by no less than search engines themselves, it’s a big relief to take advantage of these online help.
And since there a lot of tools out there you could easily find yourself confused with the different measurements and test results they show. Sometimes I also feel obsessed with the information some tools are churning out that I end up just looking at them instead of using them to improve the performance of my pages. Focusing on popular tools and your page content is a great combination.
I use the following tools in my on going SEO campaigns. (Some are conspicuously absent such as PageRank Checker as I don’t see the value of measuring it at all.)
- Keyword Discovery An indespensible tool in determining more information about keywords such as popularity, variation, seasonal demand and other interesting pieces of data. Since we want to optimize our pages for keywords people are using without being too optimistic to pick up the extremely competitive ones, this tool is a great guide.
- Yahoo! Site Explorer Different search engines display different sets of information on number of pages indexed (search engine dependent) and counting backlinks. But I find this one as the most reliable one.
- Ranking Manager I think this is probably not the best tool around but I feel comfortable using this one to automatically check the keyword ranking across a long list of search engines and their country-specific domains. To maintain consistency with manual searches, I make random rankings to validate the results.
- MarketLeap Link Popularity Check Ocassionally I rely on this old reliable to check for the pages that link to my sites across Yahoo!/Altavista, Google/AOL and MSN.
- SEO Book Competitor Finder As much as you’d like to determind the number of searches of a particular search phrase, you’d also want to find out which among them are the most often used by means of page title and anchor tag. The name tells a different story though.
- Google Analytics/WebTrends Analytics Tracking keyword volume numbers and visitor activity patterns is also important because search engine optimization is not only about ranking well on search engines but also providing visitors a great user experience while navigating your pages.
- MSN’s linkfromdomain tool I am not aware if Google and Yahoo! has similar type of tool but MSN’s linkfromdomain effetively cuts time in checking out competition as well as carrying out link campaign activities.
My brain Over 90% of the whole SEO process is done here. Finding out the right phrases is one step but determining which phrase makes sense to search engines and especially to human visitors can’t be done by a machine or an empowered tool for that matter. Of course, tools performance can vary and may be rendered irrelevant with time so it’s also good to be proactive and be constantly on the lookout for new developments through online news, forums and search engine bulletin.