Tools in the Technical SEOs Toolbox
One of the most commonly recommended topics, useful Chrome Extensions for doing technical SEO or SEO in general. Everyone has their own favourite set of tools for the job, whether you are using MajesticSEO for link data or Ahrefs, the industry is divided, and quite likely there will be a number of tools people use that do similar things to the ones I’ll be talking about.
It would be good to get the conversation moving regarding this type of thing, so please do comment below or contact me on Twitter. It is always good to audit your own processes or tools to see if you are using the best possible tool for the job.
The Toolbox of the Technical SEO
It is said that a poor workman blames his tools, but it in this industry it is especially true in that tools will make or break your efficiency as an SEO. They should not be relied on, but rather to supplement your own checks or methods to make things easier for you.
I am very much for remaining hands on and getting your hands dirty whenever possible for a number of reasons but the most obvious one is: part of our job is to ensure that we are maximising the current assets that clients have on their site, and any kind of automated tool can easily miss issues that would be effecting users attempting to use the website. If your tools are having problems with sections of a site, you can be sure that Googlebot is likely suffering a similar fate, and it is a good launching pad to delve into the issues in more depth. Enough waffle from me let us look at some of my top must-have picks:
This is so very essential I almost forget that it does not natively come as part of Chrome. You can do so much with this plugin, including being able to explore the DOM, and not just looking at the source code. This will allow you to quickly identify sections of code as they are appearing on the page, quickly and easily determine if certain items are being hidden from users, i.e. hidden links – done either intentionally or accidentally.
Another thing the tool does is you can use it to do waterfall analysis of a page, you can quickly and easily see what is holding up other elements on a page during loading – this will help you optimise page load time issues a lot quicker and easier. Page speed is more and more important these days with the rapid rise of the mobile search user.
This one is a bit self-explanatory, it being used in conjunction with the Redirect Path plugin noted below allows you to easily ensure that you are on the canonical version of the page without having to check the code to see if a non-self-referential canonical link element exists. This displays with a handy little logo in the omnibar at the top of your browser, and allows you to click through to what is set as the canonical version of the page.
It may exist, but I have yet to discover it, which is a bit more free and editable, so that I could have it check for specific pieces of code, for instance even just being able to check if a page has rel=”next” rel=”prev” pagination markup being used would help identify quickly while speedily navigating a site. More often than not, I imagine this code being useful in discovering it being used incorrectly.
Admittedly this is not one that I use on a regular basis, but is used very often by other SEO industry professionals. It allows you to very quickly gauge a number of metrics about a page including Page Rank, Alexa Rank, Indexed-Bing or Google pages, even Facebook likes or Tweets. The only thing I typically use this tool for though is the ability for it to highlight all no-follow links, as from time to time this can prove useful.
One of my real jewels when it comes to extensions, it allows you to see very quickly not just the headers of the page you are on, (displayed rather beautifully) – but also the button the browsers head changes depending on if there is a non-200 header response. This allows you to see if the page you are on is presenting a 404 error for example, or what I have seen a lot of, 404 pages on sites, that are not, and are delivering a 200 OK response code!
But, my favourite use of it is for checking for redirects, if the link you pressed redirected you, you’ll see the header response, for example 301, 302 or even 307 in the browser button. Then clicking on it, you see even more data, including if it was a chain redirect all of the jumps in the chain of redirection.
This tool allows you to easily change your user agent string to be whatever you want it to be, this helps test for an assortment of things including cloaking, or health implementation of device switching.
There are many different types of extension that will do this, such as the one linked above, but was also recommended to me Ultimate User Agent Switcher which I shall have to check it out.
This very much “does what it says on the tin” – or perhaps in this case, cookie-jar. It allows you to see the cookies that websites have given you, and all the data contained within them, as well as giving you the option to make edits where needed. I particularly find this useful when trying to jump between different language sections of a site that have hard redirects in place based on cookies, a simple edit allows me to swap languages as well as test if the redirection is redirecting to the correct version, rather than say, redirecting you to the homepage after visiting the wrong language versions with a different language cookie.
This tool does a few nice things such as looking for footprints of technologies to help identify quickly what the site is constructed with, for instance it is very good at identifying if the site is on WordPress or Magento. It does lack a great ability to tell many others apart, but those are there, as well as informing you if there is an Analytics code on the page (classic or universal), if they use Omniture/CoreMetrics and a handful of other technologies, again this one is just another time saver.
Chartelligence is a plugin that would overlay key dates onto a Google Analytics graph automatically for you, key dates could be things such as Penguin updates/releases, Panda updates/releases, or even bank holidays to help gleam information from the data. You are even able to set up your own private layers to overlay whatever you want such as when big changes may have been made to a site. There are a number of other tools similar to this, I believe one of the tools a few colleagues would recommend in its place is called Panguin which does something similar, but is on a web API rather than through the actual Google Analytics page itself.
I have unfortunately had to stop using this tool due to it not being updated recently with the recent updates, but maybe we can nudge the creator and get him or her to keep it updated.
This is a small selection of the Chrome plugins I’m currently using, what are the rest of you using?