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SEO Doctor is a modern SEO tool with one simple goal - make your website better optimized for search engines through an easy to understand, step by step, scoring and recommendation system.
What's new in SEO Doctor
- Added support for Sucuri security scan
- Compatibility with Firefox 18.0
- Fixed a bug with robots.txt validation
SEO Doctor is made with both beginners and experienced SEOs in mind and it's scoring system and recommendations are based on official SEO documents, namely Google Webmaster guidelines, Google Image guidelines and Google SEO starter guide as well as my own experience.
Main features of SEO Doctor are:
- Points out to potential problems and assigns a score for your pages based on currently accepted SEO methodology
- Shows link structure and helps track page rank flow for your pages
- Detects and warns you about pages not indexable by search engines using most comprehensive methods available in any tool
- One-click access to most popular SEO tools allows you to additionally inspect a site
- Fully customizable
Note for beginners
SEO Doctor is an extension for Firefox browser only and you need to use this browser in order to install SEO Doctor.
For Firefox extension installation instructions check this article.
Also check my tutorial on how to use SEO Doctor to diagnose websites.
Note for Firefox 4+ users: Mozilla decided to hide the status bar by default. You'd need to enable it in the menus View -> Toolbars -> Addon Bar.
By default SEO Doctor will place itself in the browser status bar, immediately providing you with the following information (see image).
SEO Score represents the result of on-site optimization analysis of the currently viewed page. Maximum SEO score is 100.
Green flag will indicate everything is OK.
Yellow flag indicates non-critical warnings exist.
Red flag suggests that concrete SEO elements can be improved.
In a special case when the current page is not indexable at all by search engines, SEO Doctor will show a special 'no-trespassing' icon.
Flow shows how much of the Page Rank has been preserved on the site.
100% means that you preserve 100% of all the Page Rank on your site, while 0% would mean that all outgoing links are to other sites.
Links shows total number of external links vs number of all links on the page.
Visits show estimated number of daily visitors for the site.
First number is retrieved from Compete.com and is available to you if you register for a free API key.
Second number shows estimated daily visitors from search engines alone, data from SEMRush.
Introduced in 1.4, backlinks will show total number of backlinks for this domain, as returned by Yahoo site explorer.
Clicking the nofollow icon allows you to instantly highlight all nofollow links on the page on and off.
Finally the red disable icon is useful to quickly disable the addon when you are not using it. I recommend keeping the addon in disabled state when not used, for optimum browsing experience.
SEO Doctor has a unique scoring system based on the following SEO factors:
- Page Indexable
- Meta Description
- H1 and H2 tags
- ALT Image Tag
- SEO Friendly URLs
- Title Tag
- Number of links
- Page Rank Flow
- Loading time
- Web analytics
The Stats tab shows actual SEO diagnosis for the page you are viewing.
Page indexable is a crucial check and it will tell you if the viewed page is indexable in Google. Pages that are not indexable will not appear in the search engine results, and this is the first thing to check if you have a problem ranking a certain page.
SEO Doctor will run the most comprehensive test you can find in any tool online to determine if the page is indexable including looking for:
- meta noindex tag in the HTML code of the page
- x-robots-noindex directive returned in the HTTP headers for the page
- deep analysis of robots.txt directives
- looking for rel="canonical" tag indicating the page is actually anchored at a different location
Rel canonical can be especially dangerous when not used properly. Read more about rel canonical issues.
Good practices for robots.txt
Use more secure methods for sensitive content - You shouldn't feel comfortable using robots.txt to block sensitive or confidential material. One reason is that search engines could still reference the URLs you block (showing just the URL, no title or snippet) if there happen to be links to those URLs somewhere on the Internet (like referrer logs).
Also, non-compliant or rogue search engines that don't acknowledge the Robots Exclusion Standard could disobey the instructions of your robots.txt. Finally, a curious user could examine the directories or subdirectories in your robots.txt file and guess the URL of the content that you don't want seen. Encrypting the content or password-protecting it with .htaccess are more secure alternatives.
• allowing search result-like pages to be crawled (users dislike leaving one search result page and landing on another search result page that doesn't add significant value for them)
• allowing a large number of auto-generated pages with the same or only slightly different content to be crawled: "Should these 100,000 near-duplicate pages really be in a search engine's index?"
• allowing URLs created as a result of proxy services to be crawled
Meta description tag is used for a brief description of the page. Although not a significant search engine ranking factor anymore, it is still used by all popular search engines when displaying search engine results. Having a good meta description can improve your chances of the visitor clicking on your result in the search engine.
Recommendations for meta descriptions include:
- Write a sensible description and avoid automated tools for generating meta description
- You can include your popular keywords n the meta description as they will be bold when displayed in search engine results
- Keep it up to around 70 words (350 characters). Search engines display variable length but they will pick the best bit to display based on user search
Accurately summarize the page's content - Write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw your description meta tag as a snippet in a search result.
• writing a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page
• using generic descriptions like "This is a webpage" or "Page about baseball cards"
• filling the description with only keywords
• copy and pasting the entire content of the document into the description meta tag
Use unique descriptions for each page - Having a different description meta tag for each page helps both users and Google, especially in searches here users may bring up multiple pages on your domain (e.g. searches using the site: operator). If your site has thousands or even millions of pages, hand-crafting description meta tags probably isn't feasible. In this case, you could automatically generate description meta tags based on each page's content.
• using a single description meta tag across all of your site's pages or a large group of pages
H1 and H2 tags
The H1 heading tag is the most important of the heading tags and helps search engines understand the main focus of the page. Also, text in the H1 tag is usually larger than normal text and helps users quickly learn what the page is about.
- Use H1 and H2 tags to highlight important keywords
- H1 tag should be used once on the page
- H2 tag can be used as many times, after the H1 tag
Imagine you're writing an outline - Similar to writing an outline for a large paper, put some thought into what the main points and sub-points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use heading tags appropriately.
• placing text in heading tags that wouldn't be helpful in defining the structure of the page
• using heading tags where other tags like em and strong may be more appropriate
• erratically moving from one heading tag size to another
Use headings sparingly across the page - Use heading tags where it makes sense. Too many heading tags on a page can make it hard for users to scan the content and determine where one topic ends and another begins.
• excessively using heading tags throughout the page
• putting all of the page's text into a heading tag
• using heading tags only for styling text and not presenting structure
ALT Image Tag
ALT image tag has became particularly important with the increase in demand for image searches which can significantly contribute to your search engine traffic if used properly. The best practices for image search optimizations are:
- Use alt and title tags in your images to describe the context of the image with relevant keywords
- Images are best ranked when surrounded with a description text and a heading. HTML structure <h><img><p> (meaning first a heading like <h2> then the image and then normal text in <p>) seems to work particularly well
- If you use WordPress check my SEO Friendly Images plugin
Use brief, but descriptive filenames and alt text - Like many of the other parts of the page targeted for optimization, filenames and alt text (for ASCII languages) are best when they're short, but descriptive.
• using generic filenames like "image1.jpg", "pic.gif", "1.jpg" when possible (some sites with thousands of images might consider automating the naming of images)
• writing extremely lengthy filenames
• stuffing keywords into alt text or copying and pasting entire sentences
Supply alt text when using images as links - If you do decide to use an image as a link, filling out its alt text helps Google understand more about the page you're linking to. Imagine that you're writing anchor text for a text link.
• writing excessively long alt text that would be considered spammy
• using only image links for your site's navigation
Store images in a directory of their own - Instead of having image files spread out in numerous directories and subdirectories across your domain, consider consolidating your images into a single directory (e.g. brandonsbaseballcards.com/images/). This simplifies the path to your images.
Use commonly supported filetypes - Most browsers support JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP image formats. It's also a good idea to have the extension of your filename match with the filetype.
SEO Doctor uses Yahoo API to get backlinks information for your current page. You need to register for Yahoo API key and enter it in the options to get Inbound links information in the SEO Score.
If there are no links to your page an error will appear, and it is advisable to link to your page form at least one location. Notice that several days can pass until the Yahoo bot finds your new link.
SEO Friendly URLs
SEO Friendly URLs or so called static URLs represent an URL structure where links on the site appear to have a static structure like "/category/subcategory/page" in contrast to dynamic structure like "index.php?cat=3&subcat=4&page=11".
The value of SEO friendly urls is that it can provide more information to search engines about the intended structure of the site (category, subcategory and page hierarchy) and for the fact that keywords can be used in the links. Also these keywords will be presented in bold in search engine results, drawing more user attention and improving click through rates.
Use words in URLs - URLs with words that are relevant to your site's content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be more willing to link to them.
• using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
• choosing generic page names like "page1.html"
• using excessive keywords like "baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseball-cards.htm"
Create a simple directory structure - Use a directory structure that organizes your content well and is easy for visitors to know where they're at on your site. Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL.
• having deep nesting of subdirectories like ".../dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/dir6/page.html"
• using directory names that have no relation to the content in them
Provide one version of a URL to reach a document - To prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (this could split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URL in the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the same content through multiple URLs, setting up a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL is a good solution for this.
• having pages from subdomains and the root directory (e.g. "domain.com/page.htm" and "sub.domain.com/page.htm") access the same content
• mixing www. and non-www. versions of URLs in your internal linking structure
• using odd capitalization of URLs (many users expect lower-case URLs and remember them better)
Browser title tag is one of the most important on-page SEO factors. Recommendations include:
- Always include a title tag on your pages
- Keep the title length up to 11 words or 70 characters
- Use relevant keywords in your title tags
- Do not duplicate title tags throughout the site. Every page should have it's own title.
Accurately describe the page's content - Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the page's content.
• choosing a title that has no relation to the content on the page
• using default or vague titles like "Untitled" or "New Page 1"
Create unique title tags for each page - Each of your pages should ideally have a unique title tag, which helps Google know how the page is distinct from the others on your site.
• using a single title tag across all of your site's pages or a large group of pages
Use brief, but descriptive titles - Titles can be both short and informative. If the title is too long, Google will show only a portion of it in the search result.
• using extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to users
• stuffing unneeded keywords in your title tags
Number of links
Number of links represents number of links found on the page. It is generally accepted that search engines consider only a certain number of links on a page and would ignore others for purposes of page rank calculation.
SEO Doctor will warn you if your page contains more than 100 links.
Page Rank Flow
Page rank flow is a number expressed in percentage of the links on the page going out of your domain, versus the total number of links. A page where all links are internal (going to the same domain) will have Page rank flow of 100% while the page where all links go to external sites will have page rank flow of 0%.
In a nutshell this number represents how much of the incoming Page rank is kept on your site.
This feature is still in beta. SEO Doctor will try to detect if a sitemap file is present on the site by looking up sitemap.xml and sitemap.xml.gz files. This is a simple test and if the location of your sitemap is different SEO doctor might not be able to find it.
An XML Sitemap (upper-case) file, which you can submit through Google's Webmaster Tools, makes it easier for Google to discover the pages on your site. Using a Sitemap file is also one way (though not guaranteed) to tell Google which version of a URL you'd prefer as the canonical one.
Put an HTML sitemap page on your site, and use an XML Sitemap file - A simple sitemap page with links to all of the pages or the most important pages (if you have hundreds or thousands) on your site can be useful. Creating an XML Sitemap file for your site helps ensure that search engines discover the pages on your site.
• letting your HTML sitemap page become out of date with broken links
• creating an HTML sitemap that simply lists pages without organizing them, for example by subject
Loading time is most commonly associated with user experience. Fast sites are more likely to attract visitors and convert sales. And since Google announced that page loading speed is becoming a ranking factor, SEO Doctor features page loading timer.
SEO Doctor will try to detect major web analytics codes on the page and inform you if they exist. You want to use Web analytics to better understand sources of your traffic, user behavior on the site and insights on conversions. Practically speaking web analytics allows you to have a measurable insight for your SEO efforts.
Inspect tab (shown below) is available as a panel after you left click anywhere on the status bar.
It shows list of all links found on the page with their count and percentage of total number. The list can be sorted by pressing the table column headers and exported as CSV.
Clicking any link here will highlight it on the page.
Menu is available by right-clicking anywhere in the status bar. Items in the menu represent links to most popular online services to get further information about the page/site you are viewing.
Also if you are not currently using SEO Doctor, for example just browsing and otherwise using large number of open tabs, I suggest using Disable option from the menu (or clicking red disable incon on the status bar) to temporary turn off all calculations and make your browsing comfortable. When disabled SEO Doctor will literally sleep and do nothing. You can invoke it again by clicking SEO Doctor text on the status bar.
The services accessible through the menu currently include a number of popular SEO tools.
Conveniently you can open all of them at once if you click 'Open all in tabs'.
You can also define your own tools in the User menu, which will be saved even after upgrade of SEO Doctor.
SEO Doctor has a variety of options to better tailor it for your needs.
Ignore www. prefix on domains instructs SEO Doctor to treat www and non-www versions of the domain as a same site for purposes of calculating external links.
Show stats on document ready will attempt to show the stats even before the document is fully loaded (for the impatient ones).
Ignore links containing keywords is for filtering out links in caclualtions, for example those that appear on the page only for logged in users etc.
Compete API key will allow you to retrieve daily visitors metrics.
Further you are allowed to edit the right click menu in the 'SEO Links' tab of the Options window
That will allow you to add new links, edit the existing ones or delete them. You can also set their position in the menu by moving them up and down.
SEO Doctor is privacy aware and never sends or stores any information to any servers other than those used for strictly scoring purposes (normally Google and Yahoo servers).
SEO Doctor really shines in quickly determining any problems that could cause poor ranking of your pages in search engines. If you need more then that, you can hire me for a professional SEO audit.