Who loves SEO tools? I know we do! However, one caveat that exist with most SEO tools is that the user is reliant to the servers that the tool sits on. This mean that anytime the servers are experiencing down time, the tool isn’t accessible. Also many server side SEO tools that use outside data sources realize that as their tool gets more popular, it becomes harder to sustain traffic because of things like API limits and other load balancing issues. So what is the alternative? Browser plugins and addons! Running analysis directly in the browser means that you are only responsible for the activity you are requesting. Which means that you are less likely to get hit with API limits or be blocked by the engines. It also means that you can quickly access your tool set just by starting up your favorite browser, no logins required!
So with out further ado I am going to review a few of my favorite broswer plugins for SEO! Please let me know in the comments if you have your own favorites, or anything I haven’t mentioned!
The Usual Suspects:
Moz.com’s SEO Toolbar
PRO: This toolbar pulls in a lot of great metrics from Moz even if you aren’t a Pro member. Great for quickly looking at domain and page value. I have been using it for years!
CON: To truly unlock the awesomeness of this plugin, you have to be a Moz premium sub subscriber. Another BIG caveat that I noticed years ago, is the toolbar makes a request back to Moz’s servers with every web page you visit. This applies to even when the toolbar isn’t displayed but activated on the backend. While this isn’t that big of a deal, it does add one more request that the browser has to make, and in turn adds to slower load times. ALSO, I honestly don’t know if Moz’s TOS does enough to explain what these request are for, and if they are tracking the browsing behavior of their logged in users.
RavenTools.com’s SEO Toolbar
PRO: This Chrome toolbar allows the user to easily tie directly into their RavenTools account while they are browsing the web. This means that you can quickly reference data stored, or input new data at the click of the mouse. Great for team members that are all tied into the same Raven account.
CON: It looks like this might only be available for Chrome. Also, you can’t get access to it, with out a Raven account, which makes sense because its primary goal is to tie into an existing account. Which means if you were to ever cancel your Raven account, or lose your credentials the toolbar would likely render pretty useless.
Aaron Wall’s SEO Book Toolbar
PRO: This thing is jammed pack with awesome features and metrics. You can track rankings, get data from several different sources, and analyze on page factors all at once. It is great for both beginner and veteran SEOs. But, the best part is it is completely free when you sign up for a free account at the site!
CON: It updates A LOT, and sometimes it comes into conflict with other extensions already installed. Also, the rank tracking relies on outright scraping the results from your IP. Which if done at scale can get you banned by Google.
PRO: This thing pushes more metrics than I have ever seen on a SEO tool. The SERP overlay makes Google’s results look like a Christmas tree with all of the different data points applied. Great for link building if you are doing prospect searches straight in the results.
PRO: Because this extension is actually designed for developers it is the perfect tool for analyzing markup and on page code. With a simple right click you can inspect any element on the page in a very easy to see collapsible structure. It makes reading and understanding HTML a breeze! I used this religiously when I was a developer, and haven’t stopped now that I am doing SEO.
CON: Because its built for developers, most of the tools and features aren’t needed for SEOs. As a result many SEOs will get confused with all of the different panels, and read out options. However, it might be the perfect tool for SEOs that want to learn how to code.
HTTP Live Headers
PRO: 302? 301? 200? When it comes to figuring out what is going on with redirects and HTTP status codes, this plugin is amazing. It will show you exactly the status code used on every header that is loaded. This is great not only for idenifing which redirects are loading but also which files on page are taking the longest to load, or aren’t loading at all.
CON: Watching the log file is sort of like watching the entire credits of the Godfather scroll pass in like 2 seconds. Its a lot of data to comprehend and digest in a very short ammount of time, which is why it can take a long time looking through the log for the header response you are concerned about. this plugin also gives a lot more data than just the response code which can make it hard for some SEOs that aren’t used to talking to robots. Also I think this one is only for firefox, but it looks like there is something similar for Chrome here.
Web Developer Toolbar
CON: Like FireBug a lot of the features in it are not applicable to SEO, therefore it may be a bit overkill, but it is easier to use than other development tools, so it might be a good fit.
Google Analytics Debugger
PRO: If you do a lot of custom Google Analytics setups, this extension is great! With it you can quickly debug a GA code on a page to see exactly what is going on, or what ISN’T. It’s great for those of us that do weird things with GA and need a way to validate that the code is working the way we need it to.
CON: This may not seem like a con to most, but, this extension is a “single use” tool. You can’t really do much else with it. To me it seems like this is the type of extension that should be integrated into another existing tool set and not sit alone. Because if there is one thing that I hate its installing to many extensions that provide little value and slow down my machine.
Chartelligence Google Analytics Overlay
PRO: When I first saw this thing I was blown away. With it you can easily layover dates of Google algorithm changes on top of a Google Analytics panel. This means that in one action you can see immediately if traffic has changed on the same dates that Google has implemented a new algorithm. No more going back and forth from one page to another to see the data.
CON: It is only available for Chrome. Which means if you are a Firefox fanboy like myself, you are SOL. Also the tool integrates a lot more than just Google algorithm dates. it also includes holidays and other high profile events. They have the option of turning those other events off, but it can get annoying to have to go in and reset settings for features that honestly should be turned off on default anyways.