Friday, October 25, 2013

SEO Assignment Support

Most, but not all, of this assignment is based on SEOLand's Periodic Chart here, and its subsequent descriptions here. You'll also incorporate class notes and the Google SEO Starter Guide.

The site you are analyzing is Nature's Seed, at
Specifically, you're focusing on it's Types of Grass Seed product-category page and related product-level pages. You may consider the Lawn Grass Seed product-category page, but it's pretty sparse.

You'll be comparing your SEO research to Home Depot's Grass Seed product-category page, and any related sub-category pages and product-level pages.

Nature's Seed currently ranks 21st in Google for "grass seed."
Home Depot currently ranks 2nd in Google for "grass seed."

You want Nature's Seed to rank higher for "grass seed," so you're using Home Depot as a benchmark comparison site.

[If ever during this assignment you can't find a tool you like, try or or]

I.  Keyword Research and Performance

1. Research (Cr): First, look through the assigned web site, and study the pages you will optimize. Make a list of potential keywords (really, key phrases) -- be strategic with short tail v. long tail choices. You only need two, good additional phrases. (Your first phrase is "tennis racquets".)

Use BOTH Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner tools. Use to help you determine the relative amount of traffic for each of your chosen keywords. Use this Google Keyword Planner (you need to sign up for a free account -- no credit card necessary) to help you determine the value of your chosen keywords. This tool will also help you with keyword ideas. Take screenshots of relevant Google Trends results -- as we discussed in class. You have to conduct several searches -- do not put a screenshot of every search you conduct in your paper. Just include 1-3 relevant screenshots. And be sure that if your screenshots do not show the entire keyword phrase, that you somehow label your screenshot accordingly for your paper!

You can also try out Google Correlate to find similar keywords.

The SEMrush Keyword tool also gives you keyphrase volume data. Type your keyphrases into the search bar, and you'll automatically be taken to the Keyword Overview results page. Use the Organic Search Volume number -- that number indicates the estimated number of times per month that the keyphrase is searched.

The Moz Keyword Explorer also gives you both ideas and volume. Use this as a secondary source, or if you cannot get into AdWords to use the Keyword Planner.

And this is a great source that lists a number of different tricks for finding good keyphrases.

2. Keyword Performance on SERPs for Recommended Keywords: Use Mikes-Marketing-Tools to analyze current performance for your chosen keywords. Use your assignment sheet for formatting details. Don't forget that you're just tracking the keywords you're recommending to the site, so the site is not yet optimized for those keywords. So, if you see that a keyword isn't performing well now, that's okay. It just means that you've got something to recommend to the web site that will help them drive more traffic!  [Note: Tool not working? Try or or or  SEOCentro's Google Rank Checker   or  Find another one here.]

II.  Current Traffic
Use and/or to determine the current monthly traffic at each site. You may have to register for a free account -- not a free trial, but a free account. If these two sites don't work for some reason, try or, Google "free web traffic sources."

III. Content Analysis  (Cq, Cw, Vt)

Use SearchEngineLand's Content guidelines. See more tips at this Google page. And there's always Moz to provide you direction.

Generally, you are looking for the items covered in your notes. Remember that Cq is a +3, which means it's important. So, that means it's important for your paper, too.
  • Is your content "readable"? Use the text readability tool at (Only free for one or two tests at a time, so test for the main URL. )  IF THIS TOOL DOESN'T WORK FOR YOU... Google another (use keywords "readability score" or "readability score checker" or "readability score tool") to try to find another, like this one.  If you can't find a tool that works, explain that in your paper, and use your class notes to come to a conclusion on the readability of the text.
  • If the site is selling something, does it go beyond being a simple brochure with the same information that can be found on other sites? 
  • Does the site provide a reason for people to spend more than a few seconds reading the pages?
  • Is the content "unique," meaning, does any content appear elsewhere? [Try or or others for checking the "uniqueness" of your site's content.]  [Want more: Moz "How Unique Does Content Need to Be?" Whiteboard Friday]
  • What does your site offer that adds value to the content? 
  • Is the content accurate and free of typos? (Try a typo checker!)
  • Is the content well written?
  • How up-to-date is the content? 
  • (Cw): Does the site use words that you think will drive traffic to the site?  Do your product category page(s) and product-level pages actually contain the keywords you are optimizing for?

IV.  Trust

Authority (Ta):

For Authority, focus on:
  • Is your site an authority on the topics you are researching? 
  • Is the content written by an expert in the field?
  • Is there insightful information, beyond the obvious?
  • What other authority signals can you see? 
Use the Moz Open Site Explorer. This will give you a score for domain authority and page authority. Use the data provided, and compare with your benchmark site.

Use SEOReviewTool's Website Authority Checker. In addition to providing the Moz Page Authority number, it also provides number of external links, age of URL and number of social shares.

You'll also want to check the domain registration length, or expiration date. You can do that at any WhoIs database, like this one.

 Engaging (Te):  (For relevant engagement data, use and/or For your analysis, answer these questions:
  • Does the site's content engage? Which areas?
  • What are the engagement data points for your site and competing site: bounce rate, time on site, page views, comments, reviews, shares
Your analysis will also take into consideration some quality content items from the previous section to determine how to make your site's content more engaging.

V.  Architecture

1. Speed (As)
Use and Google Page Speed Insights, (or feedthebot speed test,  other similar speed testing tools) to determine the load speed for both sites. Be sure to note the speed of each web site so you can compare. You can use screenshots to capture the results, but don’t rely on the screenshots to do the explaining for you. And, don't paste the entire test results into your paper -- if you use a screenshot, just use key elements, like the pie chart summary.

Determine what file types slow down each site, and show screenshots of the image files that take the longest to load. Try to determine which other files slow down the site. On, the pie chart summary is quite useful (hint, hint). This article may refresh your memory about the importance of a fast site, which we covered earlier in class.

2. Architecture: URLs  (Au)
[This should take you 20 minutes.]
Use SearchEngineLand's explanation about URL structure (see Au section), as well as Google's SEO Starter Guide's section, "Improve the Structure of your URLs" beginning on page 8. You will have to look through all relevant pages of your site -- there are several to assess. Start with the category page, but also assess several product-level pages. Consider also assessing the URLs of landing pages from significant SERPs (for example, "tennis racquets".) You can also use SEOSiteCheckup's URL checker. Compare with similar pages at your competing site.

3. Architecture: Mobile  (Am)
You're trying to determine if your site (and your benchmark site) is mobile-compatible. This is not necessarily a responsive design issue. You just want to know if the site is mobile compatible. Start with Google's Mobile Friendly Test Tool. This will assess your site's mobile friendly status.

You can, then, check to see if your site is responsive. That would help you assess speed: If you've determined there are speed problems, it _could_ be because the site is responsive (if it is).

It's also good to actually look at your site (specifically the page/pages you're analyzing) to see what the content looks like -- is the site putting the same information on the mobile version as the desktop version? (Even if the site is responsive, someone still decides which content shows and how it shows.)  Are the navigation items the same? In the same order? Does the mobile version have ads? Comments?

There's also a lot of great information at this SearchEngineLand page.  

VI.  HTML: Current Keyword Location Analysis (Ht, Hd, Hh)

This is the area we'll spend time in class digging into code. You will be assessing keywords in three areas: Title tags, Description meta tag, and Images. Use class notes to analyze your keyword strength, along with this page and Google's SEO Starter Guide. will help you find images, but be sure you analyze the specific category page and some specific product pages. If Varvy isn't finding relevant images, try this tool, or Google something like "alt tag checker tool."

For your recommendations, this article will help you re-write current titles and description tags.

VII.   Links  (Ln, Lq)
Use -- the same source you used for your first assignment -- to determine the quantity and quality of links to each site.  (You might need a free account, but you probably established one for your first assignment!) If you have any problems with MajesticSEO, just find another free backlink checker... there are several around. Here's a link to a Google SERP to help you along!

For some extra material you can use to assess the value of links, here's an excellent source.

VIII. Social Analysis

 Social  Sharing (Ss):            [This is page-level social analysis.]
  • For shares, analyze social gestures on the web site itself, such as shares, likes, pins, tweets, etc.  You're looking for tools the site provides to users to get them to share content -- specific, product-level content. Look around several different areas of the site; capture relevant screenshots. What can the site do to improve social sharing on the site itself?

VIII.  Priority Recommendations
Congratulations!  You now have enough ammunition to recommend real improvements! This is exactly what SEO managers get paid big bucks to do every day! Of course, your paper requires you to make recommendations as you go. So in this final section of your paper, you should incorporate the Periodic Table's weighted values to help you prioritize your recommendations -- tell the client where to start SEO efforts for the quickest and biggest impact.

You aren't covering these topic in your paper, but if you're interested, here are some sources:

   a. Social Reputation (Sr):           [This is brand-based social analysis.]
  • Start by looking for how often your site/brand is mentioned in social media. You should use, and any other social media analyzer you can find.
  • Then analyze your site's presence in social media. You're checking for the degree to which the site is using social sites, and especially the amount of action and engagement that's happening on those sites. (For a guide of which social sites to include, use this check list. )
  • Be sure to comment on the degree to which your site incorporates its social brand into its web pages -- don't confuse this with the next section. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Guidelines for what to include for the "Social Reputation" area

Here's a list of check-points you can use to evaluate your site, and competing site, for Social Reputation (Sr). Remember, this is reputation, so this is all off-site analysis. You are not analyzing Social Shares or Engagement here.


  • Likes 
  • Talking about
  • Year joined 
  • Most recent posts
  • Comments and likes on posts


  • Tweets
  • Followers/Following
  • Most recent tweets
  • Comments, Favorites, Retweets on tweets

Google Plus:

  • Followers
  • Number of posts that have been +1'd
  • Most recent posts
  • Comments on posts


  • Number of videos
  • Number of subscriberts
  • Number of views on videos (range, average)
  • Comments on videos (range, average, positive or negative)
  • Thumbs up and down on videos


  • Followers/Following
  • Number of posts
  • Favorites (range, average)
  • Comments (range, average, positive or negative)


  • Number of boards
  • Number of pins
  • Number of likes
  • Followers/Following


  • Tumblr
  • StumbleUpon

Saturday, November 3, 2012

HTML Tools

Use this tool to see how the title and description tags might look in Google's SERPs.

Analyze how well images are coded with this tool from

Lists of SEO Tools only hosts a few SEO tools that are most useful for class projects. However, there are a number of additional tools that are helpful for those building web sites.'s complete list of tools's complete list of SEO and web tools's list of 21 best free tools.

Microsoft's free SEO audit tool.

Content Quality

Here are some sources to help with assessing content quality:

Remove'em's anchor text over-optimization tool. checks a site for plagiarism.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Keyword Ranking Tools

To check the ranking of specific keywords within search engines, try these web-based tools:

1) Mike's Marketing Tools Search Engine Ranking tool -- this is the best ranking tool, but it's not perfect -- it is good enough for our class project and to give sites a general idea of how they rank.

[Note: Sometimes Mike adds a layer of access on his site. If this happens to you you'll see an "ad" in the center of the page that you have to click to get access to the tool -- this opens an annoying window that takes you to some SEO software. If you're having trouble figuring this out, it may be because you're using Chrome and the "keyword" box is missing. This is because you can't turn JavaScript on in Chrome, so you'll have to use another browser.]

2) keyword ranking tool. Use "Organic Research" menu, and "Positions" submenu. (You only get a few free searches with this site.)

3) SEOcentro keyword raking tool.

4) -- Rank checker

5) -- Rank checker (You have to download the SEOBook's free version to Firefox; but this link lists most free and paid keyword ranking tools.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Keyword Density Tools

Check these sites for keyword density tools: article, analyzer density analyzer
ArticleUnderground: density analyzer (and more!)