Eight Webmaster Tools for SEO

By Michelle Lentz On December 19, 2019

Eight Webmaster Tools for SEO
If you're in charge of managing a website, you know how big of a job it can be. Responsibilities can include anything from making sure your open graph game is on point, enhancing speed performance, writing content, meeting accessibility compliances, and so much more to enhance SEO and ultimately make conversions. The good news is whether your job requires you to focus on just one or two responsibilities or a wide-range of them, like myself, there are tools out there to assist you in doing your job. Although there are an endless amount of tools, in this blog post, I'll share with you the eight tools I use most frequently to keep myself and our website on track.

Here are the eight webmaster tools I use most often:
  1. GTmetrix
  2. Google PageSpeed Insights
  3. Siteimprove
  4. Screaming Frog
  5. Facebook Debugger
  6. Grammarly
  7. Unsplash
  8. Squoosh 

Page Speed and Performance

When it comes to your site, user experience and performance are some of the most critical factors. If your site is slow, your bounce rate is likely to be high; additionally, if Google sees that your site isn't performing well, they will penalize you, making it even more challenging to be discoverable in search results.

To prove how important speed and performance are, here are some stats:
  • 53% of visitors abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load - Google Data
  • 79% of visitors will not return to a poor performing website - Kissmetrics
Luckily, there are ways to benchmarking your site and making necessary improvements. Some of my favorite tools for site optimization are GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights. 

GTmetrix

GTmetrix is my first go-to tool for checking for speed and performance. This tool checks both PageSpeed and YSlow metrics, assigning your site a grade from F to A. Its reports are divided into five different sections, including PageSpeed, YSlow, waterfall breakdown, video, and history.

With GTmetrix, you'll get a summary of key performance indicators like your page's:
  • Page Load Time
  • Total Page Size
  • Total Number of Requests
  • Image Optimization
  • and more
GTmetrix Performance Report

GTmetrix will display your page's performance relative to the average of all sites analyzed on the platform and will make recommendations so you and your dev team can start improving your website. It will even generate optimized versions of your images for you to download (however, I'll talk about a better tool for that later on).

Although you can use this tool without creating an account, I recommend making a free account as you will get access to additional features, such as historical data of your site's performance. 

Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights is a website speed test tool that grades your website on a scale of 1 - 100. The higher the number, the better optimized your site is. Anything above 85 indicates that your website is performing well. 

PageSpeed gives you reports for both the desktop and mobile versions of your site. Much like GTmetrix, you can view recommendations for improvements, such as needing to minify CSS or optimize your images.

PageSpeed Insights Report

PageSpeed Insights measures how the page can improve its performance on:
  • Time to above-the-fold load: Elapsed time from the moment a user requests a new page, and to the moment the above-the-fold content is rendered by the browser.
  • Time to full page load: Elapsed time from the moment a user requests a new page to the moment the page is fully rendered by the browser.

Content Quality and More

The quality of your site's content is essential if you want your site to work for you. If your user sees things like misspellings, grammatical errors, or broken links, the likelihood of them stick around on your website isn't very high. Additionally, you'll want to make sure you provide an excellent experience to individuals visiting your site that are hearing or sight-impaired.

Siteimprove

Siteimprove is a cloud-based software that helps you to enhance content quality, work towards accessibility compliance, drive search engine traffic, meet data privacy requirements, and measure website performance and ROI. 

Sitimprove's scoring model, The Digital Certainty Index (DCI), uses more than 200 checkpoints to test your website's performance across the three major categories: Quality Assurance, SEO, and Accessibility. The DCI Score indicates the effectiveness of your website, while its sub-scores indicate how well it lives up to quality standards, how discoverable it is for search engines, and if it meets accessibility standards. 

Siteimprove Dashboard

This overview also offers specific recommendations on how and where to improve your website. Each task is tied to a numerical value—so when you address these issues, you watch your DCI score improve. Some of my favorite features about Siteimprove is its interface and the satisfaction I get from watching the scores climb. 

Another one of my favorite features is the way they break out the issues list. You can view all issues at once or view it by a specific role; Editor, Webmaster, or Developer. 

Our team actually developed a custom extension so that Kentico users have a seamless integration between Kentico and the Siteimprove Intelligence Platform. The extension is free to download, give it a try here if you’re already a Siteimprove customer: https://www.toolkitforkentico.com/extensions/siteimprove-for-kentico

Screaming Frog

We often use Screaming Frog to audit our website as well as our client's sites. Screaming Frog is a website crawler that crawls URLs and returns valuable data on URI’s including Page Title, Page Description, H1’s, H2’s, etc. for us to analyze. Once the report is generated, we'll look at a variety of things that can help improve SEO; this includes code restructuring, improper use of header tags, missing metadata, duplicate metatdata, and more. Screaming Frog is a powerful tool that offers many features on both their free and paid versions; check them all out here.

Screaming Frog Report

Facebook Debugger

I've mentioned Open Graph a couple of times already, but why are they so important? When you share a link on Facebook, Facebook will scrape the page's HTML code and create a card that includes:
  • an image
  • URL
  • title
  • description 
To control your brand image, increase your click-through rate, and enhance SEO, you want to have control of what is displayed, and that's where Open Graph meta tags (OG tags) come in. OG tags specific type of metadata that tells Facebook (and other social platforms)  the exact content you want to show in the preview card.

facebook-degugger-tool-example

Kentico allows developers to create a series of text boxes so content admins can easily add og information and images, without having to touch HTML or ask for a developer's assistance. 

Og Tags in Kentico

To ensure your content is being displayed exactly how you'd like, you can use the Facebook Debugger tool. This tool will give you a preview of what your link's card will look like, allowing you to ensure your title and description is accurate, as well as making sure your image is pixel perfect.  

The other thing the Facebook Debugger tool will do is force Facebook's server to clear their cache, which ensures that your link previews display the most recent information. If you don't run your link through this tool, your changes won't be updated for up to 30 days, which is how often Facebook scrapes links.

Use the Twitter Card Validator to manage your Twitter cards if you’re using them. 

Grammarly 

Grammarly is a tool that I use every day across multiple platforms; Gmail, Google Docs, social media profiles, and inside the desktop app itself. Grammarly is an app or extension for your browser that checks your grammar, spelling, plagiarism, and more in real-time. It also offers definitions and synonyms via double clicks. While I use the platforms mentioned above, Grammarly will also work in Microsoft Word, WordPress, and more. 

After using the free version for over a year, I decided to upgrade to Grammarly Premium. The premium version offers additional features, such as:
  • Readability
  • Vocabulary enhancement suggestions
  • Genre-specific writing style checks
  • Plagiarism detector that checks more than 16 billion web pages
Grammarly Corrections Example

One of the cons to Grammarly is that if used outside the desktop app, it won't offer you as many features, which leaves me writing most of my content in Grammarly, rather than say, Google Docs, making collaborative work a bit of a pain. However, Grammarly is currently in Beta for Google Docs, so fingers crossed that this is only temporary!  

Check our more information on Grammarly here: https://www.grammarly.com/

Image Tools

High-quality images will help convert your online leads by driving more views to your site, which means more chances to convert. Images can also help to increase user engagement and encourage users to spend more time on your site and decreasing your bounce rate, which means more traffic, which means higher rankings.

Unsplash

Unsplash is the internet's source of high-quality, freely useable images. The website claims over 110,000 contributing photographers and generates more than 9 billion photo impressions per month on their growing library of over 810,000 photos.

If possible it’s always ideal to have high-quality photos of your own that feature your team, product, workspace, etc. but Unsplash provides a great alternative when using your own photos isn’t a possibility. My favorite use of Unsplash is creating Open Graph Images, like below. 

Unsplash Homepage Example

Start exploring all the stunning images here: https://unsplash.com/.

Squoosh

Once you've raided the Unsplash library, you'll want to check out this next tool! 

Google Chrome Labs has designed a web tool called Squoosh that lets you compress and reformat images. Squoosh is relatively straightforward to use: it supports a range of web formats such as JPG, MozJPEG, WebP, and PNG. It also shows you a 1:1 visual comparison of the original image and the compressed version, to help illustrate the differences. When you're done editing, tap download to save the image locally, and you're done! 

I've found that Squoosh allows you to further compress images without losing too much quality, easier than Photoshop, and better than the generated optimized images GTmetrix creates.  

When compressing images, be sure to remember that you still want your images to look crisp and clean. You will need to find a balance between optimizing for performance yet still providing your viewers with beautiful imagery. 

Squoosh Tool

Continuing Maintenance & Updates

Because BizStream understands the importance of site performance, we offer our clients a support tier; we call Continuous Improvement Engagement (CIE). The CIE is a great way to ensure our clients' sites stay well maintained as they grow. Our team uses all the tools mentioned above, along with a variety of custom tools crafted to help improve all areas of our clients' sites. We treat our own website as a client site (with the marketing team as the client), running the monthly maintenance and improvements through our CIE process.

BizStream Site Crawler
BizStream Site Crawler - part of the CIE

The above was just a quick overview of some of the tools I find myself using most regularly in my day-to-day tasks. Some of these tools offer way more features than I was able to cover, but I hope that you were able to gather enough information to pick up on some tools that may help you to start generating more online leads. 

There are so many more tools out there, I’m interested in what tools you find most useful, please share them below!

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Photo of the author, Michelle Lentz

About the author

Michelle has an eye for design and aesthetics and enjoys applying these principles to business. Merging her love of all things artisan with her business experience, Michelle joined BizStream in 2013 to take on our marketing efforts. Michelle is skilled in web admin, digital marketing, design, content creation, event planning, driving our unique BizStream culture and more. In her free time, you’ll find her gardening, making, fermenting, or exploring nature with her husband and two daughters.

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