In the past an SEO's job was easy. Throw a few links here, throw a few links there, splash some content around and shoehorn your keywords in at every opportunity. Those days are over for the most part and, in my opinion, all for the better! Since Google's most recent algorithm updates the SEO community has had to look for alternative link sources and re-think how to target pages in regard to the content of sites.
Since the Google Penguin update most SEO's have moved away from poor quality directories and spammy sites when acquiring links. In their place, they now look for higher quality link sources. Why have they done that? Well, because quite a lot of large sites taking part in poor quality link building have had either a direct or indirect rankings penalty. It isn't just important that SEO's have stopped looking for and getting poor quality links. It is also important that the a site's link building history be looked at and cleaned up.
After the various Panda updates a number of sites have been penalized for having poor quality content, low levels of content and duplicated content. Panda has also penalized sites for having hidden content for SEO purposes or keywords shoehorned where they don’t really fit. Thanks to the updates, it is now more important than ever to look at a site's content from an ethical perspective in SEO and ask, ‘Is this for the user or for the rankings?’ The two are not mutually exclusive, however; designing a site's content t for the user will result in positive rankings.
In this post I will share a few of my favorite tools for keeping an eye on my clients' sites and ensuring that they benefit from the best possible rankings without risk of being Penguin slapped or Panda punched. These are tools I use everyday.
This is a relatively new tool for identifying toxic links to your site and finding the contact information of the link owner. As such, this tool has quickly become invaluable. It gives an easy to understand snapshot of your site's link profile by showing all your healthy links as well as your toxic and suspicious links. It’s a good bet that you’ll need to contact the site owners of the toxic links.
You will want to take more care in reviewing the suspicious links. Most of these will need removing; however, you will want to keep those sites that link to you that have a low page rank yet are completely relevant. These are not harmful to your site.
You can export the data to a CSV file to make it easier to digest and contact the site owners through a mail merge. Link Detox also lets you create a Google Disavow Tool file. A word of caution here: in my opinion, it’s always better to build the Disavow list yourself to guard against including any healthy links.
You can find out about the prices and memberships here. Link Detox is a great tool and well worth the small fee for membership.
Google Chrome Extension SEO
I recommend that, before you go on a link acquisition spree, you install this Chrome extension. If you use it in conjunction with the Majestic extension it will give you a good idea of whether a site is likely to provide you with a healthy link if you sourced one from it.
Majestic is an excellent tool to review link profiles and assess areas of a site's profile that may trigger Penguin penalties. For members, this tool allows you to download reports and manipulate the data to show the details you need. You can assess if a site has overly optimized anchor text links or has too many links from the same IP address. I have actually identified a site which was receiving thousands of links from one IP; upon further analysis I found that this site was not only linking from the footer of every page on its site, it was an exact duplicate of the client's site. This saved them both from a ‘PanGuin’ attack! And you don’t just need to use Majestic for tidying up a link profile. It can be used to identify a competitor's link profile and find new quality link opportunities.
This tool includes more features that I can mention here, but State of Search has done an excellent full review.
I highly recommend adding the Chrome Extension once you understand how Majestic SEO works as it can give you a rough preview of a site's trust and link profile.
Google Docs Link Acquisition Tool
Like Majestic SEO, Google Docs Link Acquisition Tool is fantastic for looking for new links to acquire or build on. By saving a copy to your Google Drive account, you can edit and make full use of it. Basically you type into the fields the keywords you are going after and it will run a Google search that will show you sources for good sites to try and get links from.
Copyscape is a brilliant tool for identifying places where a site's content is duplicated elsewhere on the web. You can then click through the sites it identifies and see the exact place the content is duplicated as it’s highlighted on the page. This needs to be done individually for each page on the site but you can get a good idea of what to expect after looking for duplications of the home page. You can correct the duplications in one of two ways: you can re-write the content or you can contact the site owners and ask them to change theirs. Of course, successfully contacting site owners depends on whether or not they originally wrote the content or if you know them well enough to ask for the change.
Screaming Frog SEO Tool
This Screaming Fog tool is fantastic for identifying on-page structural duplications. For example you will be able to quickly identify the following duplications:
- Meta descriptions
- Header tags (H1’s, etc)
- Page duplications
The tool makes it easy to spot the pages with duplications and you can export them to a CSV file to then manage the changes you need to make to the site. This tool has helped me uncover some major duplications in the past such as duplicate home pages and pages that could be seen as a duplication by the use of session id’s or affiliate links.
As I said above the two realistic options for off-site duplication are the probably the best and I have written another post on how you can deal with content duplication that may help if you fix any ‘on site’ content issues.
I use these tools every day and, if they aren’t already part of your site management routine, I thoroughly recommend that they become part of it. In fact, as Google gets ever more concise in its penalties through algorithm updates (and ever more imaginative with the update names), you can’t afford not to use them. Preventing a penalty is much easier than recovering from one!
I am always looking for more tools to use (I love them!) and if you have tools that you use on your sites please share them in the comments below. If you have any questions about the tools I have mentioned we can discuss them here.