Screaming Frog - The Multi-Purpose SEO Tool
Screaming Frog is an SEO tool that I consider to be the "Swiss Army Knife" every optimizer needs in her toolbox. I'm going to give you a few reasons why I highly recommend purchasing this tool, especially if you only have the budget for one SEO software application.
First, you can do a very decent website audit for SEO issues using just this tool. You can see all the usual suspects that usually need attention fixing like:
- Page titles
- Page descriptions
- H1/H2 tags
- Image alt text
- 3XX, 4XX, 5XX errors
However, you get so much more than just these. My favorites are reports you download and analyze:
- Redirect chains - how many 3XX "hops," or redirects for a URL - the fewer the better.
- Canonical errors - you can make sure all of your canonicals are pointing the proper URLs, and not back to themselves!
- Insecure content - elements within an HTTPS URL that are not secure.
This is not the most beautiful tool you'll ever use, but to me, that's part of the charm. You have a plain dashboard with no-nonsense data presented very clearly.
Screaming Frog Uses
Sure, you can do a website audit, which is mainly why pretty much every SEO professional uses Screaming Frog for:
You get a complete rundown on all of your page titles, like you see above.
You get all of the meta description tags and if they're too long, too short, missing, duplicate, etc.
While many people don't think about H1/H2 tags, they can help just a little with on=page SEO.
You can download all of this information in individual Excel spreadsheets for further analysis and use.
More Uses For Screaming Frog
There are some reports that don't immediately jump out at you, but I think they're more important than the tags information.
These are Excel files as well. The crawl overview is great to get a quick look at all the data in one tab.
As I said earlier, the redirect chains report is invaluable, as you can see on a per-URL basis, how many 3XX redirects exist. I go into a lot of detail about 3XX redirects when I teach SEO, so I refer to this report.
Canonical errors and insecure content reports are also gold mines to uncover site technical issues that may be dragging pages down in ranking.
There's a good user's guide you can look at now to see if you'd like to use the tool. While the download is free, you are really limited as to how many URLs it will crawl unless you pay the yearly fee for it. Right now, it's probably about $150-some in U.S. dollars (this is a UK company), but I think the price is well worth what the tool gives you in terms of getting to the bottom of technical and on-page SEO issues.
If you'd like to learn how to do basic and advanced search engine optimization, get your SEO knowledge with Invenio - we do custom, one on one training classes for business owners, marketers and webmasters. Not only that, but we have an online version of our SEO basic course as well!
Until next time, keep it safely between the ditches!
All the very best to you,
Screenshots courtesy of author, May 2017