One of the distinguishing facets of search engine optimisation is the need to analyse, chart and interpret large amounts of data. Historically Microsoft Excel has been seen as a program more suited to accountants and number crunchers, but make no mistake it is a devastatingly powerful tool in any SEOs arsenal.
Search engine optimisation often involves trawling through a huge number of sites and analysing them in different ways, whether that be for their authority metrics like Page Rank, Domain Authority or Trust Flow, or things like backlinks, social shares or any number of useful metrics. Excel is often seen as a vessel for information like this that has been gathered elsewhere and by other software or APIs. Once exported its functioned as nothing more than a malleable presentation device, able to crunch, chart and pivot the reams of data.
But Excel is not without its own APIs and tools. Niels Bosma’s SEO Tools plugin for Excel is without doubt the most outstanding and powerful Excel add-in available for SEOs, whether they be startups or part of large established agencies. In this article I want to look at some of the key functionality available in this versatile and free piece of software.
1. The Google Analytics API
The Google Analytics API literally puts the power of Google Analytics into your Excel Workbook. The ability to create reports directly in Excel from any of your websites can save you hours by doing away the need to log into Google Analytics in your browser and manually export repots and format them to your liking after finally getting them into Excel. As far as we can tell pretty much all analytics are here and can be dropped directly into Excel, including Visitor, Session, Traffic Sources, AdWords, Platform, Geo/Netowrk, Page Tracking, Internal Search and Social Activities. You can quickly flick between any of your registered website and there are numerous other functions avaialble.
2. Whois Information
You can use the Whois information tool, located under the ‘Networking’ icon in the Utilities section, to grab the Whois information for domains in which you are interested. This tool will give you domain age data, the expiration date for the domain, and other information such as the page rank of the domain. You can use Whois information to watch out for dropped domains, compile a list of potential link and guest blogging partners, or to simply monitor the activities of your rivals so you can emulate their most successful techniques. Although the tool isn’t always perfect in its ability to always return Whois information this API is powerful nonetheless and enables you to analyse registered Whois information on a large proportion of websites you might have listed in Excel.
3. On-page SEO Options
From HTML Title, Meta Description, Meta Keywords, H1, H2, H3 and Canonical URL Meta, the on-page section of Bosma’s SEO Tools is absolute dynamite. On-site SEO is crucial and this tool unlocks the door to analysing thousands of sites at once, in a myriad of ways. Want to work out how many of the URLs you have on record contain a specific keyword in the meta or the page title? The API has it covered. These reporting options give you a chance to identify problem areas before Google does. A word of warning with this API and any of the others; don’t expect Excel to return the results in seconds. As the API has to go and find the information online, it can take a while to return a large number of values. Unless you’re running super-fast internet and have a huge amount of spare computer memory, it might be best to run these formulas in bitesize sections of twenty to forty sites at a time.
4. Off-page SEO
While on-page SEO is important, off-page SEO factors are also a vital part of the picture in website analytics. Metrics such as the number of incoming links may not be the most reliable part of the tools suite of but the CheckBacklink function of the tool is a huge potential time saver and something that every webmaster or SEO should consider using. If you have ever traded links with a site or arranged placement content, this tool will allow you to confirm that the link is still there. It can also assist in qualitative assessment, particularly in the light of the on-going Google Penguin updates.
5. The Majestic SEO API
Majestic SEO is arguably one of the best non-Google APIs available in SEO Tools, allowing you to import Majestic data like Trust Flow and Citation Flow directly into Excel so that you can combine it with other data from Google Analytics, Whois or your own analysis reports. This data can be readily visualised, creating detailed charts, tables and more. Whilst Majestic SEO is a premium service, SEO Tools is not and if you have Majestic already then it is a powerful way to analyse sites you may have already stored in Excel.
Niels Bosma’s SEO Tool Suite may not be perfect but it’s undoubtedly the best free Excel add-in for SEOs and probably the best paid for one as well. Whilst some of its features aren’t perfect, the vast majority offer the opportunity to analyse site information directly into Excel. Combining SEO Tools functionality with Excel’s huge flexibility and power to analyse data is a powerful combination indeed.
Here’s a look of the tool in practice: