Any public facing web site has one very important goal to achieve: be reachable. That means it has to be correctly crawled by search engines and appear in the relevant search results. The IIS SEO Toolkit is a great tool that will help you achieve this goal and increase the traffic to your website.
Search engines have a set of rules to determine the relevance and rank of any page they crawl. As developers we know about simple rules like giving adequate title and description tags to our pages, but there are a lot of rules that we don’t know, and many others that we will forget, especially when you are developing a bit site and are being pressured by tight deadlines.
To be honest, assessing the state of your site and pages to determine if they are SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly is a daunting task. Fortunately, the IIS team provided us with a nifty tool that can quickly shed some light on most common problems and also throw you a couple of surprises along the way.
The IIS SEO Toolkit can be downloaded from the IIS website: http://www.iis.net/expand/SEOToolkit
It integrates with IIS 7 Manager, but can also be run as a stand-alone tool. It’s really simple to use: you simply point it to your site (doesn’t have to be a local site, doesn’t have to be hosted in an IIS server, or even a Windows machine), and it will act as a search engine, crawling your site. In the end, it will generate a nice report for you with all the SEO violations.
The tool itself has a bit more functionality like letting you manage your sitemaps and robot exclusion rules for your own webserver, but I’ll let you explore those features.
I’d though it would be nice to run it against my blog, so I can get some tips on how to improve the number of page views I get (which is nice as it is, but there is always room for improvement). Unfortunately, I will be limited in the extent of the changes I can make because I’m using a blog engine and do not control the source, but there might be some useful tips in there anyway.
Opening my local IIS Manager, I access the SEO Toolkit feature:
I select the option “Create a new analysis” and I specify some very simple properties:
After clicking OK, the tool will start crawling the specified website, following links and reporting any errors or details that can affect your ranking by search engines:
In the end, you will receive a nice report with all the violations, grouped by category:
If you open up any of these rules, you will be presented with a detailed explanation of the rule and how it affects your ranking:
Interesting enough, although I don’t have access to either the title or description tags in the blog pages, it seems that every post page will use the first paragraph as the description, and my first paragraphs are too long.
Other interesting and simple rules are the canonical formats of your urls, presence of broken links, missing alt attribute on images and so on. The good news is that these problems are very easy to fix and can greatly contribute to improve your ranking on search results.
So, please go embarrass your friends by pointing this to their website and then let them know how they can improve their traffic by a good amount. They will most likely thank you for it.
For now, I’m going to try and fix some of these issues so you guys can find your way to my blog more often.
Until then, have fun!