To build your own XML sitemaps for submission, look at Resources of a Resource feeds at www.rorweb.com and, my favorite, www.xml-sitemaps.com. Be sure to get an account with Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo! Site Explorer to track the engine's progress. Google recently updated its webmaster tools and is working on more features.
7. Check domain age, as well as data on owners and events.
You can perform quick domain age checks at www.whois.sc. Some of the information may be proxied but can show important contact information for the company and possibly someone you can exchange links with. To see updated events in your industry and receive automatic notices, get a free account at www.google.com/alerts.
9. Take advantage of Firefox and its all-in-one SEO tools suite.
Download and install the Firefox browser from www.mozilla.com. The browser is an open source, advanced platform for browsing on PCs, Macs and Linux. Most SEO professionals, including me, use it in their day-to-day work.
Start with these plug-ins:
- SearchStatus is a must-have tool for all SEO pros that shows how every website is performing.
- CustomizeGoogle is an extension that enhances Google search result pages with links to other search engines.
- LiveHTTPHeaders is an advanced tool that shows all HTTP header data for both requests and responses.
- Solvent is an extension that interactively highlights parts of the page using capture.
- Seoquake can be used to obtain and investigate key SEO parameters.
- ShowIP displays IP from page search datacenters.
- The whois extension displays Whois information in a new tab.
- LinkChecker color codes links as broken or good, as well as other categories.
10. Find out what people are searching for and what they're doing online.
If you're looking for marketplaces to expand into, these sites are especially useful for business research. Smart marketers look for a marketplace that's hungry and then build a product to fill it--not the other way around, which is what most people do.
11. View content.
The original Lynx Viewer will let you see revealing details about how your site is viewed by Lynx and search engines. You can also see what Google sees by clicking the cached link that appears next to a website in search results and then clicking the "cached text" link on the page.
12. See where visitors are clicking on your page.
Go to www.crazyegg.com to find out which links your visitors are clicking on. Just copy a script to your page and later that day or the next--assuming you have traffic and clicks--you can see a useful heat-map of your visitors' activity. Based on those results, you can change your page for better traffic and focus. You need an account for this, but you can play for free.
This completes your crash course in functional SEO tools that the industry keeps hidden. If you can use these tools properly and create action items from the information they yield, you can gain insight not only into your own pages, but also into the competition's. Use this data to apply better techniques for your own search marketing success.
Jon Rognerud is a recognized authority on the subject of search engine optimization and has spent more than 15 years developing websites and marketing solutions at companies like Overture and Yahoo!. His website, www.microsaw.com, provides a wealth of informative articles, resources and complimentary e-mail courses on everything you'll ever need to know about SEO and search marketing.
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