There are a lot of tools that we use at CommonPlaces to do competitive analysis, and track SEO progress on a day to day basis. Here are some of my favorites. While these might not make you an SEO pro, they will definitely give you some insight into how your site is doing with the organic search engine results:
1. SEO Quake:
This is my all time favorite tool because it's so easy and quick to use when going through Search Engine results, or looking at your sites. All you do is install this toolbar and then go to a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) or website and it will tell you all kinds of things that will help you tell how your site is doing with key SEO factors.
Some of these things include: - Google Page Rank - a rank that Google gives or doesn't give each individual page on a scale of 1 to 10 - 10 being highest. - Number of pages recognized and indexed by Google - Number of links Google recognizes that are linking to your site - Number of pages recognized and indexed by Yahoo - Number of links Yahoo recognizes that are linking to your site (which is always higher then Google's #) - The Number of listings in the Yahoo Directory - The Number of pages indexed by MSN - Number of links, linking to the site that are recognized by MSN - Number of listings in the Open Directory Project (Dmoz.org) - The number of links submitted to the Digg.com social bookmarking site - Number of links submitted to the delicious social bookmarking site - The number of links submitted to technorati social bookmarking site - Alexa traffic rank which is a relative rating assigned by a sampling of traffic with #1 being the top site and every site ranked in order below that so a smaller number is better here. One thing to be careful of when using this tool is to make sure it's not on all the time, or else Yahoo and Google may ban your IP address for continuously looking up this information.
To get an even more complete view of all of your, or your competitors backlinks and anchor text check out BacklinkWatch.com. Here you get a very comprehensive list of all the places a site is getting it's links from. This tool is great when doing your own link building.
3. All the Search Engine Webmaster Tools:
Each search engine has a "Webmaster" section where you can submit your sitemap.xml file, check out what they feel are your most popular SERPs, find errors, find popular keywords and more. Here are the links to the two major Search Engines' Webmaster Tools: Google and MSN. With both of these you'll need to add a file or meta tag to your site for verification purposes.
4. NoFollow Tools & AddOns:
There are many of these types of free tools that show you where all the nofollow links are on a page (How To Sculpt PageRank Using Nofollow Article), but I personally use the "ChromeEdit Plus" plugin for Firefox, so all my nofollows show up in a red box all of the time:
5. EBAY'S NOFOLLOWS
I learned to use this scrip years ago from Matt Cutts' blog, so go there and learn how to do it: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/2005/08/ Today there are much easier ways to do this, but I still like my Chrome Edit gadget . Check out these plugins for Firefox if you don't like Chrome Edit:
Rank Checker by SEOBook This is a quick and easy tool, and although it doesn't go that far into the SE's listings, it serves it's purpose for a quick multiple kw lookup. I prefer using a paid tool for this, such as WebCEO or SEOElite, but for a free tool that you need to use for a split second it's pretty good. Nearly all intermediate and advanced SEO'ers know about all these tools and have used them all, but for the beginners I hope this was informational!