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20 Essential Technical SEO Tools For Agencies

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20 Essential Technical SEO Tools For Agencies

Technical SEO tools are plentiful.

However, tools are just part of the equation.

Tools are useless without an experienced technical SEO professional to guide the strategy and ensure successful results.

But, within the hands of an experienced professional, tools can do many wondrous things. From scaling a site’s SEO effortlessly to creating content, it’s possible to improve things with less effort (rather than more hard work).

Tools can increase efficiencies, including:

  • Identifying issues on-site, like crawling and indexing.
  • Diagnosing page speed issues.
  • Identifying missing or duplicate text and other elements.
  • Redirect issues.
  • And many others.

Your SEO tools arsenal, and how you use them, can mean the difference between great success and failure.

And indeed, there is no shortage of technical SEO tools for agencies.

Here are a few of the best you should consider.

1. Screaming Frog

Screenshot of Screaming Frog, December 2022

Screaming Frog is the crawler to have.

To create a substantial website audit, it is crucial to first perform a website crawl with this tool.

Depending on specific settings, it is possible to introduce false positives or errors into an audit that you otherwise would not know about.

Screaming Frog can help you identify the basics like:

  • Missing page titles.
  • Missing meta descriptions.
  • Missing meta keywords.
  • Large images.
  • Errored response codes.
  • Errors in URLs.
  • Errors in canonicals.

Advanced things Screaming Frog can help you do include:

  • Identifying issues with pagination.
  • Diagnosing international SEO implementation issues.
  • Taking a deep dive into a website’s architecture.

2. Google Search Console

Screenshot of Google Search Console showing the initial user interface upon logging in.Screenshot from Google Search Console, December 2022

The primary tool of any SEO pro should be the Google Search Console (GSC).

This critical tool has recently been overhauled to replace many old features while adding more data, features, and reports.

What makes this tool great for agencies? Setting up a reporting process.

For agencies that do SEO, good reporting is critical. If you have not already set up a reporting process, it is highly recommended that you do so.

This process can save you if you have an issue with website change-overs when GSC accounts can be wiped out. If your account is wiped out, it is possible to go back to all your GSC data, because you have been saving it for all these months.

Agency applications can also include utilizing the API for interfacing with other data usage as well.

3. Google Analytics

Where would we be without a solid analytics platform to analyze organic search performance?

While free, Google Analytics provides much in the way of information that can help you identify things like penalties, issues with traffic, and anything else that may come your way.

In much the same way as Google Search Console works, if you set up Google Analytics correctly, it’s ideal to have a monthly reporting process in place.

This process will help you save data for those situations where something unexpected happens to the client’s Google Analytics access.

At least, you won’t have a situation where you lose all data for your clients.

4. Web Developer Toolbar

Screenshot of the Web Developer Toolbar Google Chrome Extension.Screenshot from Web Developer Toolbar extension, December 2022

The web developer toolbar extension for Google Chrome can be downloaded here.

It is an official port of the Firefox web developer extension.

One of the primary uses for this extension is identifying issues with code, specifically JavaScript implementations with menus and the user interface.

Turning off JavaScript and CSS makes it possible to identify where these issues are occurring in the browser.

Your auditing is not just limited to JavaScript and CSS issues.

You can also see alt text, find broken images, and view meta tag information and response headers.

5. WebPageTest

Screenshot showing the user interface of the Webpagetest.org tool.Screenshot of WebPageTest, December 2022

Page speed has been a hot topic in recent years, and auditing website page speed brings you many useful tools.

To that end, WebPageTest is one of those essential SEO tools for your agency.

Cool things that you can do with WebPageTest include:

  • Waterfall speed tests.
  • Competitor speed tests.
  • Competitor speed videos.
  • Identifying how long it takes a site to load fully.
  • Time to first byte.
  • Start render time.
  • Document object model (DOM) elements.
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This is useful for determining how a site’s technical elements interact to create the final result or display time.

6. Google PageSpeed Insights

Screenshot of the output of Google's Page Speed InsightsScreenshot of Google PageSpeed Insights, December 2022

Through a combination of speed metrics for both desktop and mobile, Google’s PageSpeed Insights is critical for agencies that want to get their website page speed ducks in a row.

It should not be used as the be-all, end-all of page metrics testing, but it is a good starting point.

Here’s why: PageSpeed Insights does not always use exact page speed. It uses approximations.

While you may get one result with Google PageSpeed, you may also get different results with other tools.

Remember that Google’s PageSpeed provides only part of the picture, and you need more complete data for an effective analysis. Use multiple tools for your analysis to get a full picture of your website’s performance.

7. Google Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool

Screenshot of the user interface of the Google Mobile Friendly testing tool user interface.Screenshot of Google Mobile-Friendly Testing tool, December 2022

Determining a website’s mobile technical aspects is also critical for any website audit.

When putting a website through its paces, Google’s Mobile-Friendly testing tool can give you insights into a website’s mobile implementation.

8. Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool

Screenshot showing the user interface of the Google Rich Results Testing Tool.

The Google Structured Data Testing Tool has been deprecated and replaced by the Google Rich Results Testing Tool.

This tool performs one function, and performs it well: it helps you test Schema structured data markup against the known data from Schema.org that Google supports.

This is a fantastic way to identify issues with your Schema coding before the code is implemented.

9. GTmetrix Page Speed Report

Screenshot of GTMetrix report showing its output of page speed performance.Screenshot of GTmetrix, December 2022

GTmetrix is a page speed report card that provides a different perspective on page speed.

By diving deep into page requests, CSS and JavaScript files that need to load, and other website elements, it is possible to clean up many elements that contribute to high page speed.

10. W3C Validator

Screenshot of the W3C validator showing its outputScreenshot of W3C Validator, December 2022

You may not normally think of a code validator like W3C Validator as an SEO tool, but it is important just the same.

Be careful! If you don’t know what you are doing, it is easy to misinterpret the results and actually make things worse.

For example, say you are validating code from a site that was developed in XHTML, but the code was ported over to WordPress.

Copying and pasting the entire code into WordPress during development does not change its document type automatically. If during testing, you run across pages that have thousands of errors across the entire document, that is likely why.

A website that was developed in this fashion is more likely to need a complete overhaul with new code, especially if the former code does not exist.

11. Semrush

Semrush toolScreenshot of Semrush, January 2022

Semrush’s greatest claim to fame is accurate data for keyword research and other technical research.

But what makes Semrush so valuable is its competitor analysis data.

You may not normally think of Semrush as a technical analysis tool.

However, if you go deep enough into a competitor analysis, the rankings data and market analysis data can reveal surprising information.

You can use these insights to better tailor your SEO strategy and gain an edge over your competitors.

12. Ahrefs

Ahrefs toolScreenshot of Ahrefs, January 2022

Ahrefs is considered by many to be a tool that is a critical component of modern technical link analysis.

By identifying certain patterns in a website’s link profile, you can figure out what a site is doing for its linking strategy.

It is possible to identify anchor text issues that may be impacting a site using its word cloud feature.

Also, you can identify the types of links linking back to the site – whether it’s a blog network, a high-risk link profile with many forum and Web 2.0 links, or other major issues.

See also  The pitfalls and practical realities of using generative AI in your analytics workflow

Other abilities include identifying when a site’s backlinks started going missing, its linking patterns, and much more.

13. Majestic

Majestic is a long-standing tool in the SEO industry with unique linking insights.

Like Ahrefs, you can identify things like linking patterns by downloading reports of the site’s full link profile.

It is also possible to find things like bad neighborhoods and other domains a website owner owns.

Using this bad neighborhood report, you can diagnose issues with a site’s linking arising out of issues with the site’s website associations.

Like most tools, Majestic has its own values for calculating technical link attributes like Trust Flow, Citation Flow, and other linking elements contributing to trust, relevance, and authority.

It is also possible through its own link graphs to identify any issues occurring with the link profile over time.

Majestic is an exceptional tool in your link diagnostic process.

14. Moz Bar

It is hard to think of something like the MozBar, which lends itself to a little bit of whimsicality, as a serious technical SEO tool. But, there are many metrics that you can gain from detailed analysis.

Things like Moz’s Domain Authority and Page Authority, Google Caching status, other code like social open graph coding, and neat things like the page Metas at-a-glance while in the web browser.

Without diving deep into a crawl, you can also see other advanced elements like rel=”canonical” tags, page load time, Schema Markup, and even the page’s HTTP status.

This is useful for an initial survey of the site before diving deeper into a proper audit, and it can be a good idea to include the findings from this data in an actual audit.

15. Barracuda Panguin

Screenshot of Barracuda Panguin ToolScreenshot of Barracuda Panguin Tool, December 2022

If you are investigating a site for a penalty, the Barracuda Panguin tool should be a part of your workflow.

It works by connecting to the Google Analytics account of the site you are investigating. The overlay is intertwined with the GA data, and it will overlay data of when a penalty occurred with your GA data.

Using this overlay, it is possible to easily identify situations where potential penalties occur.

Now, it is important to note that there isn’t an exact science to this, and that correlation isn’t always causation.

It’s important to investigate all avenues of where data is potentially showing something happening, in order to rule out any potential penalty.

Using tools like this can help you zero in on approximations in data events as they occur, which can help for investigative reasons.

16. Google Search Console XML Sitemap Report

Screenshot of Google Search Console XML Sitemap reportScreenshot of Google Search Console XML Sitemap, December 2022

The Google Search Console XML Sitemap Report is one of those technical SEO tools that should be an important part of any agency’s reporting workflow.

Diagnosing sitemap issues is a critical part of any SEO audit, and this technical insight can help you achieve the all-important 1:1 ratio of URLs added to the site and the sitemap being updated.

For those who don’t know, it is considered an SEO best practice to ensure the following:

  • That a sitemap is supposed to contain all 200 OK URLs. No 4xx or 5xx URLs should be showing up in the sitemap.
  • There should be a 1:1 ratio of exact URLs in the sitemap as there are on the site. In other words, the sitemap should not have any orphaned pages that are not showing up in the Screaming Frog crawl.
  • Any parameter-laden URLs should be removed from the sitemap if they are not considered primary pages. Certain parameters will cause issues with XML sitemaps validating, so make sure that these parameters are not included in URLs.

17. BrightLocal

If you are operating a website for a local business, your SEO strategy should involve local SEO for a significant portion of its link acquisition efforts.

See also  How To Use Google's Structured Data Markup Helper

This is where BrightLocal comes in.

It is normally not thought of as a technical SEO tool, but its application can help you uncover technical issues with the site’s local SEO profile.

For example, you can audit the site’s local SEO citations with this tool. Then, you can move forward with identifying and submitting your site to the appropriate citations.

It works kind of like Yext, in that it has a pre-populated list of potential citations.

One of BrightLocal’s essential tools is that it lets you audit, clean, and build citations to the most common citation sites (and others that are less common).

BrightLocal also includes in-depth auditing of your Google Business Profile presence, including in-depth local SEO audits.

If your agency is heavy into local SEO, this is one of those tools that is a no-brainer, from a workflow perspective.

18. Whitespark

Whitespark is more in-depth when compared to BrightLocal.

Its local citation finder allows you to dive deeper into your site’s local SEO by finding where your site is across the competitor space.

To that end, it also lets you identify all of your competitor’s local SEO citations.

In addition, part of its auditing capabilities allows it to track rankings through detailed reporting focused on distinct Google local positions such as the local pack and local finder, as well as detailed organic rankings reports from both Google and Bing.

19. Botify

Botify is one of the most complete technical SEO tools available.

Its claim to fame includes the ability to reconcile search intent and technical SEO with its in-depth keywords analysis tool. You can tie things like crawl budget and technical SEO elements that map to searcher intent.

Not only that, but it’s also possible to identify all the technical SEO factors that are contributing to ranking through Botify’s detailed technical analysis.

In its detailed reporting, you can also use the tool to detect changes in how people are searching, regardless of the industry that you are focused on.

The powerful part of Botify includes its in-depth reports that are capable of tying data to information that you can really act on.

20. Excel

Technical SEO Tools - Excel TricksScreenshot by author, December 2022

Many SEO pros aren’t aware that Excel can be considered a technical SEO tool.

Surprising, right?

Well, there are a number of Excel super tricks that one can use to perform technical SEO audits. Tasks that would otherwise take a significantly long time manually can be accomplished much faster.

Let’s look at a few of these “super tricks.”

Super Trick #1: VLOOKUP

With VLOOKUP, it is possible to pull data from multiple sheets based on data that you want to populate in the primary sheet.

This function allows you to do things like perform a link analysis using data gathered from different tools.

If you gathered linking data from GSC’s “who links to you the most” report, other data from Ahrefs, and other data from Moz, you know that it is impossible to reconcile all the information together.

What if you wanted to determine which internal links are valuable in accordance with a site’s inbound linking strategy?

Using this VLOOKUP video, you can combine data from GSC’s report with data from Ahrefs’ report to get the entire picture of what’s happening here.

Super Trick #2: Easy XML Sitemaps

Coding XML Sitemaps manually is a pain, isn’t it?

Not anymore.

Using a process of coding that is implemented quickly, it is possible to code a sitemap in Excel in a matter of minutes – if you work smart.

See the video I created showing this process.

Super Trick #3: Conditional Formatting

Using conditional formatting, it is possible to reconcile long lists of information in Excel.

This is useful in many SEO situations where lists of information are compared daily.

Although Tools Create Efficiencies, They Do Not Replace Manual Work

For any SEO agency that wants a competitive edge, SEO tools run the gamut from crawling to auditing, data gathering, analysis, and much more.

You don’t want to leave your results up to chance.

The right tools can provide another dimension to your analysis that standard analysis might otherwise not provide.

They can also give you an edge in creating an output that will delight your clients and keep them coming back for years to come.

Which of these tools will you use to wow your customers?


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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Google Enhances Bard’s Reasoning Skills

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Google Enhances Bard's Reasoning Skills

Google’s language model, Bard, is receiving a significant update today that aims to improve its logic and reasoning capabilities.

Jack Krawczyk, the Product Lead for Bard, and Amarnag Subramanya, the Vice President of Engineering for Bard, announced in a blog post.

A Leap Forward In Reasoning & Math

These updates aim to improve Bard’s ability to tackle mathematical tasks, answer coding questions, and handle string manipulation prompts.

To achieve this, the developers incorporate “implicit code execution.” This new method allows Bard to detect computational prompts and run code in the background, enabling it to respond more accurately to complex tasks.

“As a result, it can respond more accurately to mathematical tasks, coding questions and string manipulation prompts,” the Google team shared in the announcement.

System 1 and System 2 Thinking: A Blend of Intuition and Logic

The approach used in the update takes inspiration from the well-studied dichotomy in human intelligence, as covered in Daniel Kahneman’s book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

The concept of “System 1” and “System 2” thinking is central to Bard’s improved capabilities.

System 1 is fast, intuitive, and effortless, akin to a jazz musician improvising on the spot.

System 2, however, is slow, deliberate, and effortful, comparable to carrying out long division or learning to play an instrument.

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Large Language Models (LLMs), such as Bard, have typically operated under System 1, generating text quickly but without deep thought.

Traditional computation aligns more with System 2, being formulaic and inflexible yet capable of producing impressive results when correctly executed.

“LLMs can be thought of as operating purely under System 1 — producing text quickly but without deep thought,” according to the blog post. However, “with this latest update, we’ve combined the capabilities of both LLMs (System 1) and traditional code (System 2) to help improve accuracy in Bard’s responses.”

A Step Closer To Improved AI Capabilities

The new updates represent a significant step forward in the AI language model field, enhancing Bard’s capabilities to provide more accurate responses.

However, the team acknowledges that there’s still room for improvement:

“Even with these improvements, Bard won’t always get it right… this improved ability to respond with structured, logic-driven capabilities is an important step toward making Bard even more helpful.”

While the improvements are noteworthy, they present potential limitations and challenges.

It’s plausible that Bard may not always generate the correct code or include the executed code in its response.

There could also be scenarios where Bard might not generate code at all. Further, the effectiveness of the “implicit code execution” could depend on the complexity of the task.

See also  Mastering Website Navigation: The Ultimate Guide

In Summary

As Bard integrates more advanced reasoning capabilities, users can look forward to more accurate, helpful, and intuitive AI assistance.

However, all AI technology has limitations and drawbacks.

As with any tool, consider approaching it with a balanced perspective, understanding the capabilities and challenges.


Featured Image: Amir Sajjad/Shutterstock



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Microsoft Advertising Boosts Analytics & Global Reach In June Update

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Microsoft Advertising Boosts Analytics & Global Reach In June Update

Microsoft Advertising details several important updates and expansions in its June product roundup.

The new tools and features aim to enhance website performance analytics, improve cross-device conversion tracking, expand into new global markets, and integrate more seamlessly with other platforms.

Introducing Universal Event Tracking Insights

This month’s standout news is the introduction of Universal Event Tracking (UET) insights, a feature that gives advertisers a deeper understanding of their website’s performance.

The new feature requires no additional coding and will enhance the capabilities of existing UET tags.

“We’re introducing UET insights, a valuable new feature that we’ll add to your existing UET tags with no additional coding required from you. You’ll get a deeper understanding of your website’s performance and also enable Microsoft Advertising to optimize your ad performance more effectively via improved targeting, fraud detection, and reduced conversion loss.”

The new insights tool will roll out automatically starting July 3.

Cross-Device Conversion Attribution Update

Microsoft Advertising is introducing a cross-device attribution model later this month.

This update will enable advertisers to track and connect customers’ conversion journeys across multiple devices and sessions.

Microsoft explains the new feature in a blog article: “For example, if a user clicks on an ad using their laptop but converts on their phone, we’ll now credit that conversion to the initial ad click on the laptop.”

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While the update doesn’t introduce new features or settings, advertisers may notice a slight increase in the number of conversions due to improved accuracy.

Expanding to New Markets

In line with its expansion push throughout 2022, Microsoft Advertising announces it’s expanding its advertising reach to 23 new markets.

The new additions include diverse locations ranging from Antigua and Barbuda to Wallis and Futuna.

This expansion allows advertisers to reach their audiences in more parts of the world.

Seamless Integration With Pinterest & Dynamic Remarketing

Microsoft Advertising is releasing Pinterest Import in all markets via the Microsoft Audience Network (MSAN), allowing advertisers to import campaigns from Pinterest Ads.

Further, Dynamic remarketing on MSAN for Autos, Events & Travel is now available in the US, Canada, and the UK.

The remarketing tool enables advertisers to use their feeds to create rich ad experiences on the Microsoft Audience Network and match their target audience with items in their feed where they’ve shown interest.

In Summary

Key takeaways from the June product roundup include the automatic rollout of UET Insights starting July 3, introducing a new cross-device attribution model, expanding into 23 new global markets, and enhanced integration with Pinterest via the Microsoft Audience Network.

These developments collectively offer advertisers increased insight into campaign performance, improved accuracy in conversion tracking, and more opportunities to reach audiences worldwide.

See also  The pitfalls and practical realities of using generative AI in your analytics workflow

Source: Microsoft
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Apple Safari 17’s Hidden Gems: JPEG XL & Font-Size-Adjust

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Apple Safari 17's Hidden Gems: JPEG XL & Font-Size-Adjust

Apple’s recently announced Safari 17 brings several key updates that promise to enhance user experience and web page loading times.

Unveiled at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC23), two new features of Safari 17 worth paying attention to are JPEG XL support and expanded capabilities of font-size-adjust.

As Safari continues to evolve, these updates highlight the ever-changing landscape of web development and the importance of adaptability.

JPEG XL: A Game Changer For Page Speed Optimization

One of the most noteworthy features of Safari 17 is its support for JPEG XL, a new image format that balances image quality and file size.

JPEG XL allows for the recompression of existing JPEG files without any data loss while significantly reducing their size—by up to 60%.

Page loading speed is a crucial factor that search engines consider when ranking websites. With JPEG XL, publishers can drastically reduce the file size of images on their sites, potentially leading to faster page loads.

Additionally, the support for progressive loading in JPEG XL means users can start viewing images before the entire file is downloaded, improving the user experience on slower connections.

This benefits websites targeting regions with slower internet speeds, enhancing user experience and potentially reducing bounce rates.

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Font Size Adjust: Improving User Experience & Consistency

Safari 17 expands the capabilities of font-size-adjust, a CSS property that ensures the visual size of different fonts remains consistent across all possible combinations of fallback fonts.

By allowing developers to pull the sizing metric from the main font and apply it to all fonts, the from-font value can help websites maintain a consistent visual aesthetic, which is critical for user experience.

Conversely, the two-value syntax provides more flexibility in adjusting different font metrics, supporting a broader range of languages and design choices.

Websites with consistent and clear text display, irrespective of the font in use, will likely provide a better user experience. A better experience could lead to longer visits and higher engagement.

Reimagining SEO Strategies With Safari 17

Given these developments, SEO professionals may need to adjust their strategies to leverage the capabilities of Safari 17 fully.

This could involve:

  • Image Optimization: With support for JPEG XL, SEO professionals might need to consider reformatting their website images to this new format.
  • Website Design: The expanded capabilities of font-size-adjust could require rethinking design strategies. Consistent font sizes across different languages and devices can improve CLS, one of Google’s core web vitals.
  • Performance Tracking: SEO professionals will need to closely monitor the impact of these changes on website performance metrics once the new version of Safari rolls out.
See also  When & How To Use It

In Summary

Apple’s Safari 17 brings new features that provide opportunities to improve several website performance factors crucial for SEO.

Detailed documentation on these Safari 17 updates is available on the official WebKit blog for those interested in delving deeper into these features.


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