In Off-Page SEO, building natural authoritative links is a large part of the work that goes towards improving the search ranking of a site. Given Google’s constant strides towards making their search results more useful for users via algorithm changes and strict guidelines on what they consider to be acceptable SEO practices, the skills set involved with building high-quality links that contribute to the web in a positive way is ever-growing.
In order to help their link building efforts, SEOs use a huge variety of different tools to do their job more effectively. The following is a brief breakdown of some of these tools, from the well-known and frankly essential, right through to the more specialist tools that might be useful.
Page Rank Toolbar
Page Rank is an algorithm used by Google that gives a numerical score between 1 and 10 to pages on the web. The algorithm is named after Google co-founder Larry Page, and is used by SEOs, along with other metrics such as mozRank, to determine the usefulness to SEO of a link on a certain webpage. Although it will be obvious to those in search marketing that a page rank checker would be a good idea, a toolbar based checker ensures that when accessing any page, the Page Rank is visible, making link building efforts more efficient.
The importance of the Page Rank tool has also taken on new significance since the roll out of the Penguin update; many sites that have been penalised/de-indexed by Google, amongst other things they have had their Page Rank effectively ‘wiped’, meaning that links on sites that once had Page Rank but don’t any more should send up red flags to SEOs trying to garner links.
There are several PR checkers available for all the major browsers (e.g. Chrome here), and Toolbar add-ons are the easiest way to incorporate them into everyday SEO strategy.
SEOTools for Excel – Niels Bosma
As the header on the site proudly exclaims, “Real SEOs use Excel”, and to aid SEOs with their adventures on Microsoft’s popular spread sheet program – an MS Office mainstay since its introduction in 1987 – Niels Bosma has released this free add-on. It adds a wealth of extra formulas to Excel including the ability to add page rank and Facebook likes of a page directly into a spreadsheet, especially useful if Excel is the main place for recording on-going link building activities. The full list of the tool’s functions is here, and includes a huge amout features for both on and off-page activities.
Although more of a toolkit that one particular device, the tools available to SEOmoz users are manifold. There’s everything from a toolbar to check the quality of webpages in tandem with Page Rank – along with a multitude of invaluable features like a highlighter for followed links and an IP address checker to identify things like blog networks – SERP rank tracking tools to see where your site places over a period of time, link analysis to see where the links to your site are coming from, and to keep up with advancements in the SEO field – a very highly regarded blog community.
Of course there are various other developers/sites/programs that offer these tools, some of which are free, but SEOmoz is worth at least a cursory look for the informative blog postings alone, and combines a lot of features into one handy location.
The direction of SEO as an industry is fairly unusual in that it’s constantly evolving and changing to the demands of both the Google algorithm, and the commercial interests of companies who want their sites to rank well without fear of penalty. To this end, creative content that is genuinely useful and interesting to the ‘wider web’ is now more in demand than ever, creating a need for platforms in which to create this content.
Graphic content is one of these avenues which some might argue has seen a glut of unimaginative efforts in recent months, however original and thoughtful creations will always be in demand. Photoshop and Illustrator from Adobe are almost undisputedly the premier programs for this type of application, but as many will be aware they come with a price tag to match this heavyweight ranking. An alternative is available in the form of ‘Gimp’, a GNU image manipulation program, which can easily handle at least basic operations such as photo resizing and retouching, and arranging photos for things like blog posts. Best of all it’s completely free, and is available here.
This is of course by no means an exhaustive list – which SEO tools do you swear by in your day-to-day work, and what tool would you love to see introduced in the future?