Traffic down? Conversions starting to wane? It could be any number of SEO issues. Finding free online tools to hone search optimization for an ecommerce site can be tough. There are a lot of them out there, often promotional in nature, and they offer varying degrees of features and reliability. Some spit out data that is simply erroneous and applying this sort of information to website design can be useless at best and deadly, in Internet terms, of course, at worst.
Some of these free tools should be avoided at all costs. On site I was recently investigating offers keyword-related statistics so cryptic, disorganized and just plain wrong that it attracted a group of giggling SEO specialists around my cubicle. I checked back a few days later just to give the site the benefit of the doubt, and the results were the same.
Of course there are many SEO tools out there that cost money and are quite worth it, but not all websites and ecommerce companies have the income or SEO focus to merit such an investment. So, are there any tools out there that are free, accurate, and relatively easy to use? There are several, but it’s best to start with the basics.
One tool that is fairly new to the market and addresses core SEO issues is the Website Health Check created by SEO guru Aaron Wall. Not only does it offer reliable information, but it’s also uncomplicated — just type in a website’s URL, and the site offers complete, easy-to-read reports listing problem pages via clickable URL links. The tool seems capable of crawling and reporting on websites that have thousands of pages, including big ecommerce sites, though larger sites can take a long time to process. In the event that one only wants to analyze part of a website, entering a subdomain address will limit the analysis to that section. SEO aspects the Website Health Check covers include:
Missing Title Tags and Description — checks to see if any pages in the site are missing title tags or description tags. Every page in a site should have both.
Missing Descriptions — looks for missing descriptions alone.
Duplicate Title Tags — lists title tags that have duplicate content. Every web page should have unique title tags representing the unique content on that page.
Duplicate Descriptions — checks for repeated description tags. Descriptions don’t have a lot of direct SEO value, but are used by search engines as snippets and are therefore influential to click-through decision. Every one of them should be as unique as the page they represent.
www Versus Non-www— analyzes the status of your true home (canonical) address and whether or not one (www or non-www) is forwarded to the other. To avoid search engine spider confusion and splitting of Google PageRank, there should be only one canonical URL for a website
Multiple Index Pages – looks to see if you have more than one true index page.
Check Error Handling – analyzes the website’s error handling abilities (404 errors, etc.).
Working out these basic website parameters is a great first step towards an optimized site. There are other testing options that Website Health Check offers, but these are the core tools. Use them to check and test basic SEO parameters on your website, and don’t be afraid to check out competitors as well. See what those sites are doing right and avoid what you think a websites is doing wrong.
Remember, all of your further SEO efforts — keyword research, link building, social media, and so on — will have their affect limited if the underlying structure of your website has issues. Like a house, SEO is best built from the ground up. Unlike a house, you can fix your website’s foundation after it has been laid. This tool analyzes the foundation of your SEO. Take advantage!
For more SEO tool information and suggestions, check out Stephan Spencer’s articles on developing ‘ title=’Click here to go to Spencer’s article on developing an SEO Toolkit.