When you search Google for the phrase “funny cat pictures” a lot happens under the hood. Google has built up a huge index of websites. The search phrase is compared to this index and the most relevant sites are displayed in your web browser. You click on a link, and someone starts making money.
Google uses hundreds of data points to decide which sites are the most relevant. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is all about making your website tick as many of Google’s boxes as possible. This way, when their algorithm checks for the most relevant sites for a given search, yours ranks highly. And if your website ranks highly, you get more visitors and generate more revenue.
There are two main kinds of SEO: on-site and off-site. On-site SEO is concerned with how your website is set up; it’s hugely important. Poorly constructed sites don’t rank highly. Off-site SEO is all about links. One of the strongest factors search engines use for determining what sites are relevant is what other sites link to them, and how they do it.
SEO PowerSuite is a collection of four apps designed to help you optimise your site for Google, Yahoo!, Bing and other search engines. The four apps are Rank Tracker, WebSite Auditor, SEO SpyGlass and LinkAssistant. SEO PowerSuite is available for free (limited features) as well as Pro ($299) and Enterprise ($699) versions. Here’s a feature breakdown of the different versions.
I was tasked with finding out if they’re any good.
Tools versus Solutions
The SEO industry is rife with overblown sales claims and misleading copy. The SEO PowerSuite site doesn’t descend to the level of their competitors. They are open and explain that their apps aren’t magic bullets. They are a tool that will help you develop and deploy an SEO strategy. You can use them to gather a huge amount of highly useful data but you still have to act on it yourself. They’re a tool you can use to help get your website higher up in Google’s rankings, they won’t do it on their own.
The search results for any keyword are constantly changing. Search engines update their algorithms, competitors do something different, a major website links to an up-and-coming site or any one of a million other things happens. SEO PowerSuite’s Rank Tracker app monitors how your site is performing through it all.
Checking your own search results is surprisingly hard. Google uses factors like how often you visit certain sites and your location when they assess what sites to show you. Seeing what someone random searching for your site for the first time would see is not as easy as you’d think. This is what makes Rank Tracker an excellent app. It won’t help your SEO campaign directly but it will let you see if it’s working.
Rank Tracker can monitor your site’s performance across hundreds of search engines — so long as you count Google.com and Google.ie as different search engines — for up to 500 target keywords. Even better, it can also monitor five of your competitors for the same keywords. Rank Tracker gets more useful over time as you build a larger dataset. To make that easier, you can schedule automatic checks.
There are other services out there that do what Rank Tracker does but few do it as well. Tracking your performance in search engines is crucial if you’re doing a serious SEO campaign so you need to use something. I’m going to stick with Rank Tracker.
Having a well made website is necessary, but not sufficient, for ranking highly on Google and other search engines. On-site SEO will only get your site in the top ten for very uncompetitive keywords. It will, however, prevent it from ranking at all if it’s not done. WebSite Auditor does exactly what it sounds like it does. It scans your website for any of the red flags that Google will penalise you for. If your site has poorly constructed title tags, the same keyword used too many time or loads of broken links, WebSite Auditor will tell you so you can fix it.
WebSite Auditor is also capable of telling you far more detail about things like Page Rank that can help you fine tune your website, even if your on-site SEO is up to scratch. It’s a solid tool that anyone interested in SEO will get real use out of it. If your website has bad on-site SEO, but good off-site SEO, and you use WebSite Auditor and act on its findings, you will see your search rankings jump significantly. If your site’s already well optimised, it will highlight any areas where you could do a little more and stop you from messing things up.
Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Rank Tracker and WebSite Auditor were all about knowing as much about your own site as possible. SEO SpyGlass is for finding out what your competitors are doing. Essentially, it looks at all the links that point to your competitor’s site and gathers information about them. SEO SpyGlass can handle a lot of links. I ran it on MakeUseOf and it detected 40,000 backlinks. Most sites won’t have anywhere near that many so you can be sure you’re getting a solid sample when you run it on your competitor’s sites.
SEO SpyGlass is the most useful tool in the suite if you’re serious about running an SEO campaign. You can analyse the sites ranking highly on Google to find out how much work you have to do to compete. If they have thousands of high quality backlinks, you’re going to struggle. If they don’t, you’ll be able to act fast and take the top spot. You can also get an idea of what keywords your competitors are targeting.
If you want to try your hand at making money through Internet marketing, SEO SpyGlass is going to be really useful. You can use it to spot niches that might be profitable. If you just want to get your personal website or blog to rank highly, it’s not going to be as good but will still be useful for seeing what you need to do to rank well.
Finally there’s LinkAssistant. LinkAssistant was originally designed for creating link exchanges. While this review isn’t the place for a full discussion on how Google’s algorithm has changed, in the past few years it’s begun to penalise things like reciprocal and paid-for links.
If you check out the source code for this page, you’ll see that all the links to the SEO PowerSuite have a nofollow tag. This is because Google frowns on anything that manipulates the links to your site — including those from sponsored posts. The same is true of link exchanges.
Instead, LinkAssistant is now useful for managing organically acquired backlinks. If you are a blogger who does a lot of guest posting, you can use LinkAssistant to make sure links back to your site stay up. You can also use the partner finding tools to find sites you could potentially approach about writing a guest post.
Overall, SEO PowerSuite is one of the better sets of SEO tools. I’ve used their major competitor and I prefer the PowerSuite. On its own, the tools will do very little to change your Google rankings. What they will do is give you all the information you need to do it.
If you’re interested in SEO, you need to invest in some tools to automate many of the tedious tasks, track your websites performance and analyse niches and competitors. I’d recommend the SEO PowerSuite on the understanding that you read some modern SEO guides — so you know how to put the information into practice.