3 Unexpected (and fun) SEO Tools

This is a guest post by Brian Patterson, an SEO Manager at MangoCo – a Virginia Based Web Marketing firm.  You can follow Brian on Twitter at @brianspatterson.

There are tons of SEO tasks that are an absolute grind when done by hand.  From gathering link target lists to analyzing a competitor’s backlink profile, some of the monotonous tasks can really weigh you down.  Luckily, the SEO crowd is a clever bunch, and they’ve developed all sorts of tools that make life much easier.  Need to gather a ton of link targets quickly?  Try Ontolo.  Need to build a large report of Competitors most valuable backlinks?  Give Raven or SEOmoz a shot.

These tools are all great, but you’re probably already very familiar with them and their SEO benefit.  In this post I’d like to share 3 tools that can be great for SEO, but in perhaps less obvious ways.

1.  Tagxedo

This tool is incredibly fun and slightly addictive.  It is a tag cloud generator with an awesome twist… you get to define the shape of the “cloud”.  You start by giving it a source for the words, such as a website, a Twitter account, an RSS feed, etc.  Next, you tell it what shape you want your cloud to be in.  You can choose a word, a predefined shape such as a rose, or you can even upload your own picture/portrait and have it form to that!

Here is a Tagxedo image generated from the famous Mona Lisa painting.  The image uses the Wikipedia page entry for Mona Lisa as the word source:

mona lisa tag cloud

Below is one I created for Adam; it uses the most popular words here on his website, and the cloud forms “ADAM”.  It took all of about 5 minutes to generate this, and the final product is pretty impressive.

Adam Riemer Word Cloud

So how is this an SEO tool, you might ask?  Well, it isn’t directly an SEO tool, but it can definitely help you get some really great links.  Here is a use case:

You’ve found a blog or website that you’d like to get a link from.  Rather than pitch them a guest post or grasp at getting them to link to one of your pieces of content, you instead load their website URL and logo into Tagxedo.  What pops out is their website content in the shape of their logo – very unique and cool!  You send this over to them asking if they’d like to publish it, and of course they do, with a nice link back to your site as attribution.

Want to see how this actually worked in real life?  Simply checkout this post on the uber-popular “Get Rich Slowly” blog (which I should mention has a PageRank of 6!).  Our good friend David de Zouza did exactly what is described above and received a solid link back to his Tax Rebate Applications website.

Webmasters are tired of the same ‘ol pitches from SEO’s trying to obtain links; if you give them something fresh and unique (like their own custom Tagxedo), you might just stand out from the pack and obtain those coveted links!

2.  Grammarly

Since the Google Panda Update hit in March, I’ve ramped up my focus on content quality ten-fold.  Before, I thought it was enough to produce content that was meaningful and helpful.  Now, I think it is important to produce content that is meaningful, helpful, and free of grammar and spelling errors.  In Google’s list of questions they published after the Panda update, they suggested webmasters ask themselves, “Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?”. That is enough for me to assume that Panda includes some sort of spelling and grammar check and that I better be accounting for that in my SEO strategy.

Enter Grammarly, a grammar check tool that I’ve been using to really clean up content that is produced for my sites and my client’s sites.  While I use Microsoft Word frequently, one of the areas where it really falls short is its grammar checking.  I’m assuming that Google’s algorithm is probably fairly robust, so I’m using Grammarly because it performs a grammar check that is much deeper than Word’s.  Running my content through Grammarly ensures that I can catch those issues that Google would otherwise flag as ‘poor quality’ as part of the Panda algorithm.

Grammarly grammar check tool

Now the title of my article promises “fun” tools, but so far Grammarly probably seems more ‘practical’ than ‘fun’.  The spelling and grammar checks are pretty effective on their own, but there is one other interesting feature of the tool – a word analyzer.  They’ll take a look at your content, identify ‘boring’ and ‘cop-out’ words, and then they’ll provide rich alternatives that will really improve the vocabulary of your website.  While this still may be only borderline-‘fun’, your readers will notice that your content and words are fresh, thus improving engagement and traffic.  For me, that’s fun!

3.  Hootsuite

Twitter is fun, so I don’t need to prove the fun part with this tool.  I do, however, need to layout a few ideas on how you can use it very effectively for SEO.  I’m listing Hootsuite as the tool here because it is my Twitter client of choice, but you can really use whatever you like.  Here are some of the ways that I’ve used Twitter for SEO:

  • Reaching out for Guest Posts – While email is still an effective way to reach out to webmasters for guest posts, Twitter is also incredibly effective.  For some reason, people have a lot harder time ignoring an @ message to them on Twitter than they do ignoring an email. This may be because they receive far less contacts from Twitter than in their email inbox.  In fact, I’m writing this guest post right now after communicating with Adam over Twitter!
  • Brand Reputation Management - We’ve had quite a bit of success with contacting webmasters who host negative content about various brands we are helping. Through Tweets, we’ve negotiated the removal of negative and fake reviews.  In many cases, we’ve achieved results through Twitter that we’d never have gotten via email.
  • Analyzing Followers – Many of the people that follow you will have a website listed in their Twitter profile.  If they are following you, they are obviously interested in what you have to say.  Take a look at your follower’s websites and see if there is a way you can obtain a link from them.  Make it a habit to review the website of every new follower you gain… these can be very easy links to obtain!
  • Monitoring Streams Based on Keyword Searches – Hootsuite allows you to save streams that are based on keyword searches.  Having a few of these setup will give you plenty of content ideas and will expose you to new people talking about your keywords (and their websites).

So there you have it, 3 tools with great SEO use cases. These tools have helped me get new links, connect with new people, and ultimately generate more traffic. What are your favorite less-obvious SEO tools?

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  1. says

    Tagxedo does look like the most interesting one you have shared. I like it because I hate tag clouds, I think that they are not relevant to the blog and just take up space. They cry out that someone is trying to “seo” their blog badly (I checked you didnt have one before I typed this). Having them in a shape at least related to your blog makes them a little more bearable!

    • Adam says

      Thanks for the comment Jenny. I agree, tag clouds can be ugly and tagxedo is kind of a cool way to include them without looking horrible.

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