Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.

Thomas Carlyle

At 9:30am on this lovely Tuesday morning I was embarking upon a quest of epic proportions, traversing (relatively) great distances in search of a prize which seemed forever out of reach. Dodging the last of a passing troupe of cleaners, I ran the gauntlet that is the office stairwell, all the time hoping that I didn’t miss any important calls back at my desk.

I know right? What could possibly be worth all this trouble? After aeons (a few frustrating minutes) and favoured at last by lady luck herself, I finally reached my destination and withdrew from its resting place my much sought after bounty; the black ballpoint pen.

Why is it that, in a world usually bulging at the seams with pens (clogging up your bag and coat pockets, amassing in countless junk drawers in homes worldwide, collecting in shirt pockets since 1910), there’s never one around when you really need it?

Like all tools, when the moment comes for them to fulfil their destiny, household items like pens scuttle away and cower unseen in some forgotten corner of your home or office. I fully expect to stumble upon an entire warehouse full of brand new batteries someday soon, inconspicuously tucked away behind a door in my two bedroom semi.

So what does this have to do with blogging and SEO tools? Well, like light bulbs, tape measures and paperclips, the best software and websites will never present themselves just when you need them; you have to hunt them down.

With this in mind and in no particular order, let’s take a look at a few online resources which I think could help bloggers and SEO specialists in 2011 and beyond.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

You may already be using something like this, but there’s a good chance that Screaming Frog’s program does it better than your existing tool.

Basically, the software has the endearing quality of making life a lot easier for SEO consultants– primarily by presenting a website’s SEO relevant information in easy to use tabs.

Let the spider out of the box and it will come crawling back with a sack full of meta data, errors, redirects and dodgy URI issues. This data allows for a much faster and more accurate analysis of your site, and problems are much more likely to be spotted and remedied. Additional features include the ability to import data into Excel spreadsheets, which could allow industrious SEO experts to build up quite the portfolio of internal optimisation “do’s” and “don’ts”.

Probably the best feature of the SEO spider? It’s free.

Recorded Future

This company and their software remains something of an enigma, even though it’s been almost three years since they first put their heads together. Think Nostradamus given access to a worldwide assortment of online data and reincarnated as ones and zeros, and you come close to describing Recorded Future.

The self styled ‘Temporal Analytics Engine’ crawls thousands of online data sources and uses the information gathered to predict multiple futures, which are then presented to the lucky user via an accessible interface. Sources include news authorities, blogs, governmental and trade organisations, social media platforms and databases – all of which are scoured for current and trending topics, ideas and sentiments.

The idea is to provide global intelligence for you or your client’s industry, in order to predict sales trends and take advantages of rising interest or search volumes. Of course, limiting the software’s application to SEO would be a juvenile mistake – its real application probably lies in brand building and monitoring.

The movie possibilities aside (I’m thinking ‘The Social Network’ meets ‘Minority Report’) Recorded Future must be barking up the right tree, because back in July 2010 it was given a leg up by both Google and the CIA (to the tune of up to $9million each, according to some sources).


Jeff Bridges, Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman, Sly Stallone….. they all have something in common – they’re old. But strangely enough, in an industry addicted to youth this hasn’t had an adverse affect on their careers. Why? Because every one of them is fantastic at what they do (Jeff Bridges is one of the best actors alive bar non) and the same goes for this next SEO resource.

SEOmoz has been around in one form or another since 1981 (as SEOmoz since 2004) which makes it the venerable elder of these here SEO tools. If you’ve been working in the industry since before 9 am this morning and you haven’t heard of it, then it might be time to hang up the meta tags and head on home.

SEOmoz is still drawing traffic and users because it’s the best at what it does – that is provide an armoury of programs and software designed to enable you to spend less time linking and more time basking in the appreciative glow of your clients’ praise.

Some  highlights include the Open Site Explorer, a beaut of a tool which allows you to identify links (up to 10,000) prioritise them according to domain strength and view and compare all in unlimited daily reports.

Look out for the Rank Tracker too, as this could keep you one step ahead of your SERP obsessed customers. The tracker stores your keyword data from SERPs in easy to use configurations, and can even provide information regarding the fluctuation in your rankings over time. A useful tip is to set alerts using this tool so that when your client’s listing drops, you’ll be the first to know.

Unlike the Screaming Frog Spider, if you want access to their tools, SEOmoz will prize the money from you cold dead bank account for the privilege. I hate to say it, because stingyness is my bag, but SEOmoz is well worth the wedge.

So there we have three tools that you should start using during the coming year, or not, it doesn’t really affect me either way. There can be no doubt though, that if you take the time to trial them and who knows, even part with some cash for those Pro Account extras, you’ll find that all of your time and hard work goes a whole lot further.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The Podium: Top 3 SEO Tools for 2011