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Useful Tools for SEO and Website Management

August 8th, 2007

While not everyone knows about SEO or even what it is, there are many useful tools available that SEO professionals and webmasters use that also have significant benefits for casual searchers who may want to expand their knowledge and access more detailed information about their favorite topics. In this article, I will give a brief description and provide links to some of the tools that I commonly use as a webmaster for both optimization and general information purposes.

Google Products: There is an abundance of tools and options accessible through the Google Products page, all of which are free for everyone to use. They cover a wide range of interests, so almost everyone with an Internet connection will likely find something useful in at least one of the areas presented. My favorites currently are Gmail and YouTube, although the Maps feature sometimes comes in handy for finding directions to a particular physical location.

Advanced Search Engine Operators: These are usually used by professional webmasters and SEO enthusiasts, but anyone who wants to find out more information about a specific website can use these special search commands. For example, typing site: in front of the root domain of a website (there should not be any spaces after the colon) will return all of the currently indexed pages of that particular site. Using the link: command in a similar fashion will display some of the links pointing to a site, but in practice this list is incomplete, and for most newer sites will not show any links at all. In this area, Yahoo can usually be relied upon to display a more complete list of backlinks through their Site Explorer feature.

Firefox Extensions: Firefox is an open source browser that has become very popular among webmasters and savvy surfers. One of its best features is the potential for expanded functionality through the use of an ever-growing array of themes and add-ons. I have already written about my favorite ones in the article on useful FireFox extensions.

Keyword Research: Although most casual Internet users do not have much awareness of this particular subject, if you have ever thought about creating a website around a certain topic, doing the proper keyword research beforehand can help you optimize your site and bring in more organic search traffic. Free tools such as Wordtracker and Overture can give you a good idea of how popular certain words or phrases are in terms of total search volume. If you want to move beyond the simple free tools, software packages such as Keyword Elite and SEO Elite can give you more detailed and comprehensive information that can be used to your advantage in garnering more visitors and sales.

Webmaster Tools: Once you have a website up and running, Google’s Webmaster Tools can provide a wealth of information about your site that you can use for both positive SEO and prevention of potential problems or errors. After you have validated your site with Google through the use of a meta tag or a small HTML file uploaded to the server, you will have access to full diagnostic information, allowing you to detect backlinks, search queries, robots.txt analysis, crawl rates, and more. You can also submit a sitemap to Google and verify when it was last accessed by GoogleBot.

Markup Validation: This tool that was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium can detect any errors in the markup language of your web pages and ensure that it is in compliance with W3C standards. Having valid markup for your pages will prevent problems with search engine indexing, browser readability, and rendering of your website content.

Exact Search Function: By placing quotation marks around certain words within a phrase or even around the entire phrase itself, you can perform much more specific searches than you could otherwise, giving you access to much more relevant results for your query. It is probably one of the most underutilized basic search parameters, yet I have found that it is one of the most powerful when it comes to finding specific information such as the origins of famous quotes, people’s names, or searches for duplicate content.

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