Analyzing your site with free tools

Often, we are so close to our own sites that we fail to look at them with objective eyes. Are you really seeing the big picture? Sometimes it is helpful to step back and just run your site through some tools to see what you may have missed. I've listed some free tools below that you most likely already know about and may occasionally use, so there's nothing really new to see here. But what I'd like to stress is that you should actually use them once in a while, looking at the patterns they present to you. Notice the trends you see. Pay attention to those things that are missing from your site that are not missing from sites that rank very well.

What I usually do is take a screenshot of the output from each tool and then print them out. You could print them directly from the browser, but the screenshots allow me to save the results so that I can look at them again later for future analysis and comparison. Once printed, line up the pages on your desk and look for patterns, trends, missing items, etc. More often than not, something will jump out at you and slap you upside the head.

The following tools are online and free. I usually run them in the order presented, but any order is fine.

Remember to first look at the big picture. If you didn't know anything at all about your site, what would these reports be saying to you about it? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Once you've got a firm idea of the big picture in your head, you can then start to focus on the details and put an action plan into place. The point is to step away from what you believe you already know, and let a few free online tools show you something new.

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