Though I'm trying to build up some supplemental online income, the job that still pays the mortgage is my position as a web and database application developer working primarily with development systems from Microsoft. The other day I was browsing through some of the developers' sections of the MS web sites and I noticed a brief mention of a product known as the SEO Toolkit. SEO software from Microsoft? I figured it would either be Bing-centric or would be part of some expensive suite of web tools, but I looked into it anyway.
I'm glad I did! Not only is it a powerful tool, it's also free! If you're running Windows Vista or 7, you can download it from MS and gain a powerful website analysis tool.
A Test Run
To try out the Toolkit I decided to point it at a blog site I recently set up and see it could tell me about where the site needs work. After installing the software I fired it up via All Programs > IIS 7.0 Extensions > Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit and was presented with several options. The option I wanted was "Create a new analysis" under "Site Analysis".
I was then presented with a dialog asking for project name and the URL of the site to analyze. I entered them and the software connected to my site and spent just a few minutes churning through all its public pages.
I didn't expect to see much in the way of results - after all, there are only a half dozen posts on this blog so far - I haven't had much time to mess it up! Turns out I was maybe a little optimistic. SEO Toolkit reported 96 "violations"!
When I drilled down into the Violations tab I was presented a list of types of violations encountered along with how many of each were found. It found bad HTML and broken links, and told me some of my pages needed description meta-tags and heading tags on important text. It also suggested I might come up with shorter titles for some of my posts.
Right clicking on an item in the summary list opened a menu from which I chose the Group Details option and was taking to the screen where the real magic happens. I was presented with a list of each violation, and clicking on one populated a series of tabs showing detailed information on the violation means, recommended corrections, and even statistics like word count analyses for the pages in question.
I'm highly impressed with this tool so far, and hope to make time to track down and fix some of the issues it reported. It's a powerful product for search engine optimization and even for just making your site better by pointing out things that might be broken. My intention has been to test out a few of the many WordPress SEO plugins for this blog, and now I have the means to instantly analyze the results when I do!
Other SEO Toolkit Resources
Microsoft provides some tutorials and videos that may be of use for getting started:
- Site Analysis Video Walkthrough
- Using Site Analysis to Crawl a Web Site
- Understanding Site Analysis Reports