At Outspoken Media, we love SEO audits. Link development and online reputation management may be our bread and butter, but three of us not-so-secretly pine for the SEO audit. If I have the time, I will fight with Dawn over who takes the lead on a complicated SEO audit even though I know it means having to sit with Rae for hours of fast-talking, finger-breaking analysis.
When Lisa, Rae and myself first founded Outspoken Media, we had to flush out which services we would offer. SEO audits were never a point of debate. Rae loved them as much as me. She’d been performing audits on her own properties, potential acquisitions and at conferences on SEO site clinics for years. She had a system and she had a lot of bookmarks to help her hands perform almost as fast her brain!
Rae’s system was different from mine. I was used to working from a template. I would systematically walk through a website isolating different areas and typing up recommendations as I went. Rae’s system was more organic. She would start with Google’s index and work out from there. She wanted to know how Google saw the site, which told her where the areas of strength and more important, weakness were. From our two backgrounds, everything fell into place.
For over a year now we’ve been cranking out high-quality SEO audits for our clients. We have our internal processes and tools, but we’ve always been curious about the other SEO audit tools on the market. Over the past couple of weeks Dawn has been collecting these tools and weighing their advantages and disadvantages to help us gain some inspiration for making our process even better. Without further ado here is our audit of the SEO audit tools! Take it away Dawn. :)
SEO Audit Tool Comparison
|Features||Web CEO||Alexa Site Audit||Website Grader||Website Auditor||SEOmoz Tools|
|Number of indexed pages||x||x||x||x|
|Domain Registration||x||x||First crawled|
|Crawl of site’s URLs||x||Limit 10,000 pages||x||Limit 100,000 pages|
|Last crawl date||x||x|
|Filter URLs for crawl||x||x|
|Domains & Sub Domains|
|Extraneous parameter/session ID detection||x|
|Errors & Error Pages|
|HTTP header status report||x||x||x|
|Checks multiple search engines||x|
|Duplicate page titles||x||x||x|
|Duplicate meta descriptions||x||x||x|
|Duplicate content detection||x||x||x|
|Meta robots detection||x|
|External links summary||x||x||x||x|
|Internal links summary||x||Count only||x||x|
|Broken links finder||x||x||x|
|Anchor text report||x||x||x|
|Orphaned page report||x||x|
|Deep page report||x||x|
|Digital Asset Analysis|
|Image analysis||Missing images||x||x||x|
|Alt/title tag detection||x||x||x|
|Alt/title tag report||x|
|Crawl of SWF, PDF, iframes, etc.||x|
|Other things we love!|
|PageRank||Historical data to 2007|
|Directory report||DMOZ & Yahoo|
|RSS feed detection||x|
|All-inclusive vs. tool suite||All-inclusive||Single tool||Suite||Suite||Suite|
|Cost||Free, $199, $389||$199 (currently $79)||Free||Website Auditor: Free, $99.75, $249.75, SEO Power Suite: Free, $249, $599||Free (limited), $99/mo, $499/mo, $2,000/mo|
|Web-based vs. desktop||Desktop; Windows only||Web-based||Web-based||Desktop; Windows, Mac, Linux||Web-based|
|Report export (PDF, CSV, etc.)||x||x||Some|
*Because the site crawl took so long, we didn’t end up finishing the report. We looked at as much of the tool as we could without having that step completed.
SEO AUDIT TOOLS COMPARED
Back in the day, Web CEO was the SEO audit and management tool. We wanted to see if it could hold it’s own against some of the new kids on the block. Unfortunately, it didn’t. Being Windows-only, Rhea couldn’t even use it. Fail #1. After I downloaded and installed it, I attempted to run the Quality Audit. It found 33 pages on our 500-something page site. Fail #2. Then I tried to run the Page Optimization report (why that’s not part of the audit, I have no clue), but it choked and the software froze. Fail #3. I gave up at that point.
- Will check for deep pages that aren’t well-linked to, as well as, orphaned pages.
- Supposedly detects server response codes and anything that isn’t a 2xx is reported as a broken link for further analysis.
Advantages: Audit, rank tracking, linkbuilding and reporting software, all in one.
Disadvantages: Windows-only, unintuitive UI, crashed before I could get much out of it.
Alexa Site Audit
Alexa Site Audit is the latest addition to the toolbox, the launch of which actually inspired this post. This tool produced a very thorough report, and one of the prettiest. Many of the reports included suggestions for keywords – such as the title tags and internal linking. However, I’m not sure where they are getting these suggestions from, as some of them didn’t really make sense. I would hate to see website owners making changes on keyword suggestions that are completely out in left field. The other odd thing I noticed was that it determined the most important recommendation for our site was to add alt attributes to our images. Really?
The backlinks report is obviously based on Alexa’s own data, so it’s up to you how valuable you find that to be. The part I found hilarious was that it suggested we get links from Sugarrae, and BBGeeks, among others. I…um…are they stalking us?
- External links report lists all linked-to domains – great for checking for spam
- Internal linking reports consist of link depth (# of clicks to reach a page), internal link counts for most linked to pages, most common anchor text, pages that have more than 100 links on them and internal link suggestions from strong pages to weak pages.
- Checks for duplicate content across the site.
- Will also detect pages with little to no text content on the page.
- Nice page-specific snapshot of load time.
Advantages: Overview page gives overall grade (letter grade – A, B, C – as well as number out of 100), all reports include a description of WHY the factor is important.
Disadvantages: Can only export one page at a time, slightly disorganized report (aspects relating to internal linking were found in several sections), redirect report does not list 301 redirects, recommendations were somewhat vague and generic.
Website Grader, from Hubspot, takes a bit of a different approach to the site audit, in looking at your site from a marketing point of view rather than a technical one. Grader is actually a suite of tools for measuring your website, Twitter account, Facebook page, blogging efforts and more. Once you’ve completed “grading” your site, you can sign up for a 30-day trial of Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing Software, which helps manage and track your performance, much like Web CEO.
Website Grader gives an overall grade out of a 100, which is great to get a snapshot of how your site is doing. Website Grader gave us a much higher grade than the Alexa Site Audit tool, but then again, they are measuring different factors. There were a couple areas where this audit specifically failed – it couldn’t find any recent blog posts (uhmm, how about every day?) and couldn’t find any sort of conversion form (I guess https://www.outspokenmedia.com/contact/ – linked from every page – isn’t obvious enough?).
- Compare your site with competitors across website grade, mozRank, # of indexed pages, Alexa traffic rank, blog grade, # of inbound links, and Declicious bookmarks.
- Looks at how well you’re doing in social media – pulls in data from Twitter Grader and Blog Grader, as well as Delicious bookmarks and Google Buzz.
Advantages: Overall grade out of a 100, can sign up for monthly email updates of your grade so you can see how you are progressing.
Disadvantages: For some reports, Grader only looked at the homepage and three sample pages (About, Services & Blog), which is probably not representative of our overall site. You also can’t export the audit report, although it does print nicely.
WebSite Auditor is part of the SEO Power Suite group of tools, although you can download/purchase just the auditor tool if you wish. The other tools include a rank tracker, competitive intelligence, and link manager. The first step in WebSite Auditor is to crawl the website; it should be noted that this can take a long time, and with the software being desktop-based it means you can’t leave and come back when it’s done.
Update: It should be noted that we did not complete the audit, as the crawl was taking too long. We looked at as much of the tool as we could without having that step completed.
SEOmoz has become a powerhouse in the SEO tools sector in recent years. The most recent tool releases include the Campaign Based Web-App and Open Site Explorer, although they have many, many other tools – some of which are available with a free site membership, and some that require a Pro subscription. Of course, all the really cool ones are Pro-only.
One of SEOmoz’s strengths is in data visualization to help SEOs analyze the data that is available, but there is a bit of a learning curve as they have developed their own language for certain factors, e.g. mozRank, mozTrust, etc.
- Open Site Explorer tells you everything you wanted to know, and more, about yours or your competitors’ internal links and back links.
- The Campaign Based Web App includes crawl diagnostics, rank tracking, on-page optimization suggestions and backlink analysis – you can even hook it up to your Google Analytics to get a traffic analysis.
- Other nifty tools include the SEO Toolbar for Firefox and Chrome, Historical Page Rank Checker, Custom Crawl tool and Blogscape
Advantages: You can not only audit your site, but do advanced linkbuilding analysis, as well as get access to direct Q&A with experienced SEOmoz staff for those hard-to-solve problems.
Disadvantages: There is no cohesive package. While you can access all tools from the SEOmoz website, Open Site Explorer is also found on it’s own domain. Also, most of the tools don’t give you a decent way to export the data.
Do you have or know of a SEO audit tool we’ve missed? Leave a comment with the link and we’ll add it to the mix in an update.
Yesterday we noticed that Adam Audette had a similar write-up over at Search Engine Watch. Great minds think alike! Check out his post for the finer points of what *should* be included in a SEO audit, as well as, some additional tool recommendations. Also, Lindsay Wassell has been compiling an outline with individual posts for each section of the SEO audit. It’s a great look at the different components of audits. And, a final note… after we’d put everything together we realized that Google Webmaster Central could be considered the ultimate SEO audit tool as it now offers many of the features listed above. If you haven’t already verified your site, what are you waiting for?
We hope this table and features breakdown will help you find the tool that’s right for you. Keep in mind that these are great tools, but nothing can replace the experience of a skilled SEO team. If you’re interested in a quote for a SEO audit, contact us!