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Wednesday, June 16th, 2004

Tools Of The Trade

 

A carpenter has his hammer, a plumber his wrench, a doctor his scalpel, and an SEO … well an SEO too has a wide variety of tools at their disposal to aid in the process of producing a successful search engine placement campaign. From the selection and balancing of keywords to the building of links, there are tools that aid in the optimization and ranking process.

In today’s articles we will outline some of the most prominent and some of the best that we have found. Some of them are extremely useful, and some are just very “cool”.

Tools For The Selection Of Keywords

There are two main tools that we use in helping our clients select keywords. It is important to use these tools and make sure the keywords you’re selecting are the best for your campaign. Choosing the right keywords is the first and arguably the most important step of your promotion. Take your time and use these tools well.

Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool

The Overture search term suggestion tool is a free tool provided by Overture that allows you to enter a single keyword (like “health”) and see how many people ran searches on the Overture engine for health-related phrases. (for example: the single keyword “health” got 3,440,458 searches, the next highest was health insurance with 701,629 searches. The tool displays a long list of results, right down to occupational health and safety with 7,046 searches last month.

The biggest drawback to the Overture search term suggestion tool as it applies to natural search engine optimization is that it automatically corrects misspellings and also negates plurals. This means that all singular spellings of keywords, plurals, and misspelled keywords are all lumped into the same number.

WordTracker

WordTracker is a pay-for service with a great free trial. WordTracker does account for differences in singular vs. plural forms and also does differentiate misspellings providing a much clearer view of how the searches break down.

The biggest drawback to this is that it’s a paid service however I would highly recommend checking out their free trial. It will only produce the top 15 results but who knows, that may be enough.

Tools For Optimization

Two good tools to use during the optimization process are WebPositon Gold and goRank’s keyword density analyzer.

WebPosition Gold

While I am not a big fan of the optimization tips given by WebPosition Gold I am an enormous fan of their ranking reports. No tool I’ve found makes it easier to check all your keyword rankings across so many engines with such ease.

The software starts at $149 but given the time it will save you it’s easily worth every penny.

GoRank’s Keyword Density Analyzer

GoRank provides a series of optimization tools. While I don’t subscribe to all of them their keyword density tool looks pretty good. Keyword density reports the percentage of your page content that is made up of your keywords. A commonly accepted theory among SEO’s is that this percentage is very relevant in ranking your website. While the ideal percentages are not known 100% and vary from engine to engine you can analyze the sites in #1, 2 and 3 for your search terms and go from there.

This should not be considered the end-all-be-all of the optimization process however it’s certainly a worthwhile step. This is a free tool

Link Building Tools

There are two tools I use often in link building. On of these tools I have used for years, the other I have only just become aware of but which has had a significant impact on my link building performance. These are the Google Toolbar and PR Prowler.

The Google Toolbar

The Google Toolbar is one of the basics. A must-have for any link-building campaign. With the advance features set to “On” you get to glimpse the PageRank of the site you are potentially exchanging links with. If you are unsure of what PageRank is there is a definition on the WebProNews website.

So download the Google toolbar, set it to “Advanced” and start looking for some high quality link-partners that will positively affect your rankings.

PR Prowler

While this is a recent find by the StepForth staff it’s certainly been a welcome addition to our link building arsenal. With PR Prowler you enter the minimum PageRank site you want to exchange links with, the search terms you would like to use to find them (“health submit” for example) and let it run it’s course. Once it’s done “prowling” you’ll have a great list of high PageRank sites that contain the word “health” and “submit” (i.e. it’s about health and contains the word “submit” which will help weed out high PageRank sites that don’t have a submit feature.

It’s not 100% accurate in that you will still get sites that are either unrelated or which don’t exchange links, however it weeds out low PR sites and generally produces a great list. It’s highly recommend for anyone who does link building.

Cool Tools

Every now and then we stumble on something that isn’t so much helpful as it is interesting. Below is a list of just a few of our favorites.

Dave’s Pick :: RustyBrick PageRank Prediction Tool

This is a tool that runs it’s own algorithm and predicts what your PageRank will be after the next backlink update. While it’s not 100% accurate it’s interesting to watch and from what I’ve seen in a few tests it seems to be fairly close though I’ve seen one case where a PR6 site was predicated to go to PR10 and in fact dropped to 5.

Jim’s Pick :: Langreiter.com’s Google vs Yahoo Comparison Chart

Another interesting tool. This tool shows the relationship graphically of differences between Google results and Yahoo drawing lines between pages that are the same. It’s easier to run a test and see for yourself what this does than to explain a graphical tool with words so check it out and see what it does.

Scott’s Pick :: Google DataCentre Watch Tool

This tool will show results for 56 individual Google datacenters. It’s useful in that it will show anomalies and fluctuations however given that often these anomalies disappear before ever making it into the real results and the fluctuations are still unexplained it gets to fit into the “Cool Tools” section rather than the useful ones. Interesting to watch but not worth putting too much weight on.

Ross’ Pick :: Deleted Domains

A very “cool tool”. This website allows you to run searches of domain names by an individual keyword or keywords, choose the maximum number of characters for the domains, and then searches all recently deleted domains for ones matching your search criteria. A great way to find domains that already have backlinks and which contain your targeted keywords.

If you know of any other interesting and/or useful tools that you think the readers of the StepForth newsletter may be interested in please feel free to email them to us at dave@stepforth.com.


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