SEO Tool How-To: Screaming Frog
If you’re like me, you like to get things done as quickly as possible, so you can move on to something else. That’s why I love using Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider.
Screaming Frog is a free application that has superior powers when it comes to delivering information about your website. Actually, it delivers more information than you really need for basic SEO work. That’s why in this how-to guide, I’m going to show you how to use it to find the most common SEO mistakes, so you can fix them and move on to other pressing matters.
How to Get Started — Download Screaming Frog
Go to Screaming Frog’s website, and download the SEO Spider.
After downloading it, click on the program to install it to your computer. Then open Screaming Frog and enter your URL at the top of the application screen.
Click start for it to crawl your website. The free version of the application crawls 500 URLs, so if you need to have more crawled, you’ll need to pay for the upgrade.
Once the tool has crawled your website, then it’s time to review the data. First, let’s take a look at any broken pages...
Google hates directing its users to nonexistent pages. To ensure all of your pages are live, look down the “Status” column.
If you find any 404s, you can highlight the line by clicking on the number. This will allow you to either export or copy the information.
Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Screaming Frog gives you information on missing, long or short page titles and meta descriptions. Google uses page titles and meta descriptions in the search results when showing its users what a website is about, so they are critical for encouraging people to visit your site.
For page title or meta description information, select the tab Page Titles or Meta Descriptions. You can also access them by clicking the hyphen at the end of the navigation menu, which drops another menu down.
Go through the list of URLs to look for page titles or meta descriptions that are too long, too short, or completely missing. An even easier way to find them is to look to the right of the application. It tells you how many of them don’t meet Google’s best practices.
Screaming Frog will show which URLs don’t meet the guidelines if you click on the issue. For example, if you want to see all of the URLs that have a duplicate page title, click on Duplicate.
You can then work off the list of URLs that come up, or you can highlight all of them to copy or export them.
Headers are important for user experience and telling Google what a page is about for indexing purposes. Screaming Frog will analyze your H1s and H2s for you.
Simply click on the H1 or H2 tabs along the top or the hyphen at the end of the tabs, just as you did to scan your page titles and meta descriptions.
Even if you just click on H1, you will receive information on H2s. You can click on any of the issues you want to review, such as Missing, Duplicate, Over 70 Characters, or Multiple to see the URLs where the headers are located.
Optimizing images improves site speed and SEO. Screaming Frog analyzes image size, so you know which ones need to be decreased. It also tells you which ones are missing alt tags, which is a missed opportunity to incorporate your target keywords.
Additional Tips on Using Screaming Frog
Right click on any of the rows to see a drop down menu. This menu allows you to do more research on that URL, for example:
Along the top of the application, there are options to change the settings, export and run reports. I encourage you to play around with those settings, export some of the most important information for your site, or run a report on some of the biggest issues with your site. This way you can work on fixes without going back to Screaming Frog each time.
Want More Advice on Improving Your Site’s SEO?
Working on your site’s SEO is a good way to increase its ranking in Google’s search engine results pages. To get even more SEO tips, click here to grab our free SEO checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.