17 Tools to help with Technical SEO

Technical SEO continues to be one of the most valuable stages in any SEO campaign. Ensuring that the technical foundations are laid provides you with the ability to become more creative with content.

In this post, I have provided 17 tools that you can use to during different areas of technical SEO.

You, Pen & Paper

Tools are great, but you are better! Tools allow you to get an understanding of any technical issues quickly but it still requires brain power to analyse what has been identified. Therefore, whilst you are running a crawl of the website using your preferred crawling tool, you should also give it a visual inspection. This part of the process is one that is often missed as we rely on tools to do all of the heavy lifting for us.

During your visual review you should be manually checking each template and the source code for the following items making notes as you go:

  • Title Tags
  • Meta Tags including description and directives such as the rel=canonical and robots tag.
  • Heading structure
  • How layered navigation is managed
  • Pagination management
  • www vs non-www.
  • Checking canonicalisation issues
  • Robots.txt
  • HTAccess

Once you have conducted your review you can see if they have been verified through the use of tools.

Crawler of choice

Running a crawl of the website is one of, if not the most important part of any technical SEO feature. Using tools such as those highlighted below will provide you with lots of information with regards to the current state of the website.

Once the crawl has completed, the first step is to export the data into a spreadsheet so that it can be analysed fully. It is at this point that I generally export by section such as response codes, Images, Directives, Protocol etc. This allows me to dive into any issues with a specific set of data rather than having to filter the entire crawl.

Example Crawlers:

Screaming Frog crawler

Google Search Console (GWT)

Recently named Google Search Console, this tool provides you the information that Google can see and is willing to show you. To conduct through technical SEO checks it is essential that you get access to Google Search Console, and if it is not available then make sure that you implement it.

Once you have access, it is key to identify any significant issues that have been highlighted, and from a technical point of view they are likely to be found in the following three areas:

  • Google Index

Under the Google Index section of Google Search Console, you will find a number of options including Index Status and Remove URLs. These two options provide you with with the current indexation figures, and what URLs have been removed. If you compare these stats against the number of your pages or the number of pages within your XML sitemap you can start to identify whether you are suffering from duplicate content issues.

Google Webmaster Tools Index Status report

  • Crawl

Here is where Google gives you insight into the state of current websites in terms of errors identified, how often your website is crawled, how your sitemap is performing and whether there are any errors and where you can handle your URL parameters.

  • Search Appearance

Within Search Appearance you will be able to compare the number of missing and duplicate title and metas with what you found within your crawl. You can also identify any issues with the structured data that may be available on the current website.

Page Speed Tool

As consumers are constantly switching between devices, page speed has become more important not only from a rankings perspective but also from a usability point of view.

Google currently state that if your website / page does not fully load within 1 – 2 seconds then it is below average. This is supported by users hitting the back button if the website is not visible almost instantly, this is also true for mobile devices where users expect the website to load quickly even if they are on a 3G connection.

There are many ways in which you can speed up your website including image optimisation, minifying code (JS, CSS, HTML) and enabling compression. These issues can be identified using one of the following tools:

Speed tools:

Google PageSpeed Insights

Change Log

This doesn’t happen very often for one reason or another, but it can be an important part of conducting a technical SEO. If your website has taken a hit in visibility or traffic/conversions, you may be able to track it back to a technical change.

One way to keep on-top of the technical changes is to add an annotation to your analytics package. This is a very simple process when using Google Analytics and can be shared with everyone that has access to the project. Further to adding information about technical changes, annotations can, and in my opinion should be used to keep a record of any marketing activities (PR, email, campaigns) as well as tracking any confirmed algorithm updates.

By tracking these activities it will be easier to identify what has either helped or hindered your website over a period of time.

Markup Checker

Structured data has become a larger part of the technical process over the past few years, however, there are still a large number of websites that have not implemented any markup.

Those that are early adopters to structured data are seeing the benefits of increased click through rates and conversions. Implementing the correct markup for your website doesn’t have to be that difficult, with the following tools allowing you identify, create and test your specific markup.

Markup tools:

Google Structured Data Testing Tool

XML Sitemaps

Surprisingly missing XML sitemaps are a common theme in technical SEO especially audits, yet it is one of the most basic features to implement.

At the most basic level you should implement a manual XML sitemap that has been created and uploaded to the server by yourself. If you can, and it is advised implement a feature to automate the creation of the XML sitemap and publication to the root for search engines to be able to access it.

Two following tools will allow you to create either a manual or automated sitemap, whilst the other two will allow you to validate the XML sitemap that you currently have. you can also

Sitemap Tools:

These are just some of the tools that are available to be used during the technical SEO phase. What tools do you use for technical SEO? I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments below or over on twitter @danielbianchini.

[Image Credit: Flickr – OZinOH]

About Daniel Bianchini

Daniel Bianchini is the Director of Services at White.net, a creative digital marketing agency based in Oxford, UK. Having been in digital marketing since leaving University, Daniel has worked in-house at Dixons Stores Group (Dixons Carphone), with many leading UK brands and helped start a digital marketing agency based in Hertfordshire.

  • I’ll add at least 2 tools better than the cited above.

    For crawling:
    Visual SEO Studio.

    For Pagespeed the only needed and absolutely the best:
    WebPageTest (no contest)

    😉

    • Adam Lapsley

      I agree with webpagetest.org, many useful options: servers in multiple configs and countries, deep dive into response headers, first and second passes, visual build, all very useful. The other tool I use continuously is a Chrome plugin called Ayima, gives instant redirect information on any url, fantastic for finding redirect chains, 302s and other issues.

      • Daniel Bianchini

        Hi Adam,

        The Ayima plugin is great. I tried to keep this list to desktop applications as I use a lot of browser plugins that help during the research stage. Maybe that is my next post.

        Thanks
        Dan

    • Daniel Bianchini

      Ah yes WebPageTest, good addition.

      Haven’t come across Visual SEO Studio so I will take a look at that. Thanks for the comment.

      Dan

  • Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for including Schema-Creator in your technical SEO tools roundup. You may not be aware that Raven also developed a website auditor tool that crawls a website and reports on many technical elements you mention. In fact, we invited an online marketer to provide a unbiased review of the top 11 SEO audit tools. http://raven.im/1is0HsH

    • Daniel Bianchini

      Hello Nicolette,

      No problem at all. Really like the tool. I will take a look at the link you provided as well.

      Thanks
      Dan

  • Daniel, thank you for the deep dive technical insights. Huge props for leading off with old-school pen, paper, and brain power.

    • Daniel Bianchini

      Hello Michelle,

      I think a lot of people forget that you are most likely the best tool there is. The other just support and provide you with the detail to analyse.

      Thanks
      Dan

  • Supper article :)))