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SEO Software Tools - Harmful or Helpful?

So many programs....so little time



1:24 am on Sep 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I have been reading threads about SEO tools here by using the site search. In a nutshell, my impression is that using many of these programs that query search engines for rankings, keywords, etc. violates their TOS and may even result in site url being banned. Which ones specifically, I am not sure of at this point.

And on another note, some threads are discussing SEO tools that are recommended (do they query in a way that SE is not overloaded?)and so they are acceptable?

Why am I asking this question?

I have been a member here for about a year or so and as a result have applied the most basic tools I have read about here: keywords in title, keywords in discription, keywords in copy, in theme link gathering (one by one by personal email), and submission to DMOZ, Yahoo Directory and PFI sites that I see are listing and promoting themselves in area I am targeting, so worth the investment for returns. Not much else, but tweeking internal pages, checking that my links are "keyword text links" whenever possible, and avoiding anything that would be considered spamming with no long term value. "Build a clean site, content is King, keep reading here"....

I am being asked to research several SEO tools!

Why?...I have been offered a position to work on their sites for SEO. They have dynamic pages (new to me so I read up on it here), are targeting thousands of keywords (yikes!) and sent me a list of 14 SEO tools/programs to take a look at. In their words: "In addition to reviewing our site, please evaluate the following tools"

The "tools" as they have been listed and described in their request (specific urls and programs not listed here to comply with WW rules:

Linking: software automates linking and competitor analysis, free link popularity checker, analyzes keyword text of inbound links by competitor url

Search Engine Optimizer - URL Analyzers to Achieve Top 10 Results: checks your web page against 62 optimizing components for all major search engines, details what the top 10 results for any keyword on a specific search engine are doing to get top listed

Dynamic Page Generation: allow web site owners a method of presenting different web pages depending on who or what is requesting the page over the web. Most often these systems are used to send a search engine "friendly" version of a web page, while presenting a "consumer" version of the page to your human visitors. (YIKES! ISN'T THIS A NO NO!)

Robot Manager: browses a site, selects those documents and directories which are to remain private and creates Robot txt files for you. It analyzes the web site log file, telling exactly what pages have been indexed and by what search engine, enabling precise and unambiguous permissions to be set either globally, in groups, or for individual robots.

Competitor Web Page Changes Monitor: allows you to monitor any number of websites for updates and changes with a minimum of time and online costs, can alert you to specific events on any given webpage, using a process that's just slightly more complex than saving and managing bookmarks

Competitor Traffic Analysis: monitors and reports competitor traffic and results

Keyword Products: evaluate keyword density of a specific URL, etc. etc. etc.....

I am overwhelmed by what appears to be a daunting task of examining several "trial versions" of all these products and I don't know where to begin (although I already started downloading and looking at many) and even if I should....there is so much conflicting information here in WW about the use of these tools vs patient one by one submission, copyrighting, on page optimization, link gathering, etc.

I still consider myself the freshman student here in WW, and just need some feedback on how to approach this very huge project of "evaluating" all these automated programs that generate information about one site vs competitors sites and what I should do with all this information.

I do like that you can see what search terms are ranking or similar terms to target, that makes sense. But I have never used most (if any) of these programs, just my Excel spreadsheet to track my submissions, and my own painstaking online searches and checking backlinks to see where else I can offer my url for inclusion, along with on page search engine friendly optimization that is clean. But my experience is with small regional local businesses, and I have done well with what I am learning here...very well, and they bring in targeted business to local companies, and I am being asked through word of mouth to optimize sites here in my community for small business sites...a domino effect if you will, purely unintended and yet a blessing.

If there are programs out there that can assist me in analysing a site and/or competitors, check my keyword density, or whatever that is recommended here by people I have come to trust and rely on for honest information, please...bring it on!

I have seen Brett's Tools and will definately use them where I see that I need to....other than that, for someone totally in the dark about all the "streamlined" SEO tools that will assist me in my journey....I know that "product references" are not allowed here (although the Members Forum is apparently more relaxed I read, and I am a member), please if you can give me any advise (yes I read to stay away from these automated programs), or advise on tools/programs that are "truly legit" and useful in SEO....I would be eternally grateful....I am looking at an entire weekend of "trial SEO tools" and it's not fun....reading here can be fun...or atleast it's kept me entertained and informed, and it's like having a pen pal (or several) that you get to know and ultimately know to respect. Quite possibly my longest post to date.... :-)

Faithfully, Lindavh


1:42 am on Sep 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Hi Lindavh,

You do have quite a daunting task at hand. Over the years I have used and tested so many programs. In the supporters forum, there have been a couple of threads where people mention the tools that they use, "tools of the thread" if you may.

I'll address some of your questions without mentioning specifics:

1. Rank checkers - don't use them, don't need them. We monitor traffic, not rankings.

2. Log Analyzer - yes. We use Urchin to check keywords, traffic, pages visited, etc.

3. Spider Analyzer - yes. This is homegrown. We monitor what sites are being spidered, how often, when, what spiders, etc. We also keep an eye out for new spiders.

4. Link Popularity - yes. Homegrown again. We run URL's to check for backward links from the major engines: Google, Alltheweb, Altavista, Inktomi. Also, we use this to determine what sites we do link exchanges with.

5. Link Checker - yes, Xenu. We use this to spider our sites for broken links.

6. Cloaking - no. There are several scripts that work, but this is a bit "iffy".

7. Search Engine Analyzer and Competitor Research - I do this myself with my mind and an Excel sheet. Mainly, I just look and look at sites and after a while I notice trends. Nothing like the mind.

8. Robot Manager - no. Never found a need for this.

9. Competitor Traffic Analysis - didn't know you could do this. Only the website owner can know their traffic. I'd be wary of "programs" that tell you this.

10. Keyword Products - yes. Wordtracker, Overture, Google, and my logs.

My suggestion is to rely less on tools and more on your knowledge. Read here a lot - you'll be able to learn the basics. Then get on the SERP's and analyze, until you start noticing trends. Then you can build your own tools based on your experience. What you'll find is that most programs are built for the most common denominator, therefore there are things that you need that they won't do. So you'll end up having to use bits and pieces here and there. So it's best to create your own for your needs.

Anyways, that's just my take. Good luck.


4:53 pm on Sep 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

2_much, thanks again for your generosity in always coming to bat in these forums and answering my questions once again!

So does that mean I can take the day off?

Actually, what it has prompted me to do, is to look up the terms in our glossary here and read, read, and read. It also makes me think I need to remember how important it is to know the basics and there are some great threads I have revisited.

I may be asking some questions here that have been asked before, although it is usually after I go to the glossary to see what I can dig up in the archives. Some of the posts naturally are dated from last year, and that information may be changing, so I keep searching for updated information. And then there are "opinions" that vary which makes one think and ponder more.

Sometimes I think when I spend hours reading and questioning if I get too a point of "too much information" and then I get a bit overwhelmed, but that's just me.

Back to my morning tea and some more surfing the posts and thank you!



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