Microsoft SEO Toolkit

by Aaron 20. May 2010 07:28

The Microsoft SEO Toolkit isn't anything new, but I never used it before.  I finally got the opportunity when my wife, Sarah, decided to buy an online baby boutique.  She's since divested herself of the site, but during the short time that she was running I managed to team up with Marketing Gurl to make some minor, and a few not so minor improvements to the site.

After installing the toolkit, I ran it against the site as-is to see what the toolkit does.  After running it and viewing that first report, I was both shocked and amazed!  Initially I was shocked because of the sheer number of errors and warnings that were returned.  It at first, seemed overwhelming.  I was amazed at the information that it returned along with those errors and warnings.  It stated what the error was so that Marketing Gurl could correct it or direct me on how to fix it, but it also gave information explaining why it's important to correct the error.

I worked for a digital marketing company for a couple of years, and during that time I learned the significance of some of the things that the SEO Toolkit returned.  But for the developer that maybe doesn't have a marketing background at all, or a loving wife that works in search engine marketing for a large insurance company, this information is great!

Back to being overwhelmed: the analysis told me that there were 9,532 violations!

"Whoa, that's a lot!" I said, using a few not very gentlemanly words.  Upon further investigation though, I discovered that batches of them could be fixed with individual changes.  You see, the back end of the web site is some kind of PHP-based, ecommerce content management system.  Errors were propagating to multiple pages because they were templates.  This made me very happy, as you might imagine.

So the next thing to happen was a re-skinning of the site.  I'm glad that happened before i did any real work on it!  Marketing Gurl hired a vendor that was recommended by the hosting company.  Sarah picked out the template from a selection of templates recommended by Marketing Gurl.

We were pleasantly surprised by the service received from the design agency that implemented the template.  They were very communicative, and added a little customization for Sarah giving her purchased site a slightly tailored look.  The end result looked very nice, but the markup was typical designer implementation.

After running the toolkit again, there were even MORE violations than before.  In fact, we ended up with more than 2.5 times the original number of violations!

One of the other major features of the SEO toolkit is that it will report pages that have malformed HTML.  I don't know if that hurts a site's ranking in the search engines, but it hurts my brain to think that somebody would write code that generates HTML that isn't well-formed!

Working through an iterative process of searching through the PHP templates, we slowly worked through the issues.  We never resolved all of the SEO issues before Sarah decided that the business wasn't for her.  With the help of the SEO Toolkit though, we were able to easily identify issues that eventually would have helped the site rank in the search engines.

I just scratched the surface in this post regarding the features available in the toolkit.  There's information on site performance external links.  But, for better optimization, you really need somebody that's familiar with and experienced at identifying keyword optimizations and even paid search suggestions to name a couple of examples.  For the standard developer though, the Microsoft SEO Toolkit is a great way to make the standard optimizations and get some good feedback on your site.

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