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Evaluating Web Marketing Tools

I’m currently evaluating SEO and web marketing tools, and will be posting a series of reviews and experiences over the next few months. I do this sort of hands-on review about every 18 months, although I haven’t published my thoughts previously. This year’s high level of change in the web search world demands a new review now.

My methodology for review is rather straightforward. I am a competitive web publisher and I do some web strategy/SEO consulting for clients. So my needs cross over from publisher to multi-site publisher to service provider. I work with small sites and very large sites.

I take an academic or experimentalist approach to my work, paying close attention to details. I take time to try and understand what I am doing, and what results are provided, rather than accept findings as what they are supposed to be. Contrast that to an agency style of working, more concerned with uniformity, scalability, and simplicity. In other words, rather than seek automation of tasks I don’t mind interacting manually with my work tasks… provided that effort delivers value. I almost always seek unique value from my work, and consider it more like research than task work.

I will be using these tools and services to solve real problems in real time, during the evaluation period, but using test sites or competitor sites or sites associated with side projects (the local youth hockey league, my dentist, sites I have offered to consult to as a favor etc). For those I choose to continue to work with, I hope to address specific SEO/SEM problems further using the tools, as a means of figuring out if they can be used successfully that way, or how else they may prove insightful. I hope everyone reading will participate in those cases.

For most of my serious work I use tools I have developed in house, or tools accessed via client accounts. Part of this review is a consideration of the state of the art of third party tools for search marketing and competitive web strategy — including whether or not it appears wise to trust them with business activity data. I hope to identify some new opportunities.

If you know of a SEO/SEM related tool or service that should be included in this evaluation, please leave a comment to that effect.¬† If you have a specific reason for suggesting it, please say so, since that can help prioritize and maybe streamline some of the evaluations. I will try and evaluate everything according to my priority, regardless of cost, but of course I will be limited by my ability to gain access to tools and services. Expensive services that require term commitments and services which only provide limited trial versions will probably be excluded from consideration. I think that a company that can’t arrange for full evaluation of its offering doesn’t deserve to be considered.

The types of tools and services under review:

Those are examples of the types of tools I’ll evaluate, not necessarily ones I will be using/evaluating. I’ll post the specific tools by name when I review them.

Again, if you have specific tools or services to suggest, please comment (comments here are moderated so if you can mark your comment private if you don’t want it published here). Thanks in advance for pointing to good tools/services I might not already know.


  1. Might I suggest reviewing SEO Spyglass. Its a software tool I have purchased myself and get some good use out of but i’m not sure I am truly using it to its fullest potential. Would love to hear your take on it as well if there are better alternatives. Thanks and great idea!

    Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  2. Keith wrote:

    It would be interesting to hear your views on some of the Firefox Add Ons for SEO as well as rank checking resources such as Advance Web Ranking (sister product to ALM)…we’re not big fans of ranking reports but…they seem to have become an expectation from clients (which hopefully will die down when universal/personalisation/social search are fully bedded in to the SE algorithms and ranking as such becomes a lesser issue/benchmark).

    Not sure if you have access to some of the SEOMoz resources… (sentence edited due to acknowledged potential conflict of interest – ja)
    As always. appreciate your insightful comments and looking forward to some of your reports/analysis over the coming months.

    Best regards


    John replies: thanks Keith. I removed the seomoz note because of your acknowledged potential conflict¬† of interest, thanks. Personally, I have yet to see an seomoz tool I valued above the cost of using it; a cost which includes not only the significant direct cost of subscribing, but also the indirect costs of dealing with seomoz the company. I have not had good experiences…

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink