Technical

Dipping into new tools: technical SEO with OnPage

by on 1st August 2016

SEO Tools. There are a lot of them. But only the best endure. I’ve been very settled with my few personal favourites for some years (namely: URLprofiler, Kerboo, Screaming Frog, aHrefs and so on) but every now and again something comes along that you just look at and think “wow!”.

That’s absolutely the case with OnPage. Every time I’ve sat down to write about it I’ve struggled to know where to start. It’s just that feature rich.

Perhaps starting from the beginning might be a good idea.

OnPage Zoom

OnPage is a collection of 6 major features: Navigator, Zoom, Focus, TF-IDF, Keywords and Monitoring. Let’s start with Zoom by checking out the dashboard:

The OnPage Zoom Dashboard

The OnPage Zoom Dashboard with Marcus Ready to Explain

There’s more information about your site health on this dashboard than most SEO applications have in their entire toolset.

Each tile on display can be manipulated in some way; including a short link to the correct API call to extract the data via your own means:

The API and Crawl Settings dialogues are a tell tale sign of the level of control you can have in the software.

The API and Crawl Settings dialogues are a tell tale sign of the level of control you can have in the software.

Crawler settings are extremely in depth.

A 22 million URL crawl limit with controls on subdomain inclusion and crawl location origin are really helpful. There’s a weekly refresh of all data including a new URL discovery feature via your sitemap.xml files. If you want a staging server crawled (needing authentication), no problem. If you want to specify the User Agent, no problem. If you want to limit or increase the request thread parallelisation, they’ve got that too.

Useful Reports and Data Points

“SEO Aspects” presents a list of quick win SEO checks, including “Canonicals to other Domains”, “Indexable pages which are not in Sitemap.xml”, “Indexable pages with less than 3 incoming links” and so on.

Monitoring our old site I certainly found some interesting bugs introduced over the years.

aspects

“Content Aspects” includes useful data points like “Links to potentially shady pages”, “Indexable pages without Twitter Preview Image” and “Indexable pages with less than 300 words”.

Finally, “Technical Aspects” are quick win reports to any technical issues likely to get in the way of your SEO: “Broken pages”, “Pages loading more than 1MB”, and “Pages without compression”.

All of these aspects are items that can easily be missed from a site audit; sometimes requiring data consolidated from several tools or a stroke of luck to find.

Indexability

Nearly every mention of a URL or domain in OnPage’s reporting includes the inexability of the resource. The flag, “Passes PageRank to” is a great little addition. You can find some epic problems with sites (or the sites that link to you) in an instant:

Indexability reporting will resolve where PageRank is sent.

Indexability reporting will resolve where PageRank is sent.

As you’ll see in a few screenshots in this post I found a few bugs on the old production version of our agency site (no doubt fixed by the time of publication). Evidence, as if any was needed that you should always leave something monitoring for changes on your site that can affect SEO.

Track Performance of Assets: Images, JS, CSS

Anything related to page performance optimisation piques my interest. OnPage has some really interesting reports in “Content” but the “Assets (Static Content)” is definitely amongst the coolest.

JS File Performance

JS File Performance

This is a report showing all JavaScript files found via the crawl. I’ve added a customisation to the data table: “Load Time”. Page performance optimisation wise, this is gold.

Custom Reporting with XPath / Regex

As you start to browse down the list of reports in the left hand nav, something really stands out under “Content”. “My Custom Fields” is an xPath / CSS Path / Regex driven data parser which is configurable in “Settings”.

Custom Fields allows extraction via

Custom Fields allows data extraction via OnPage’s Settings

In my example I extract the article author name. In My Custom Fields, I can combine the data I’ve extracted from the site with any other OnPage data point I need. In this case, I’ve combined author with page load:

custom-fields-with-pageload-data

You need to take a moment to consider the power of this feature. I could just have easily extracted the number of comments made by author; crawled a client site to extract data for a content marketing project or carried out some sort of data driven study. I’m sure as this feature gains momentum users will come up with more and more creative ways to use the feature. It’s very, very clever.

Get Focused with Focus

OnPage’s Focus tool is an amazing, “drive-by” audit tool. The data provided in the single page Focus report is very complete and quite often; it’s stuff you could easily forget to always check consistently. To be honest it provides more useful data in a single page than I’ve seen in a lot of other tools:

Focus provides a list of the most important SEO aspects to address.

Focus provides a list of the most important SEO aspects to address.

For a quick, drive-by SEO audit I’ve added the Bookmarklet to Chrome.

Server Monitoring

I’m a big fan of WPengine (who are quick and very reliable) but nevertheless, it absolutely doesn’t hurt to have ongoing uptime monitoring for your site. This is where Onpage’s Monitoring tools come in handy.

Server Monitoring will help keep an eye on your uptime, 5xx errors and so on, while Robots Monitoring will keep an eye on your robots.txt integrity:

Server and robots.txt monitoring.

Server and robots.txt monitoring.

Other Cool Stuff

OnPage has a few other great features that I didn’t have time to cover, but I recommend you take a look at their TF*IDF (to learn more about TF*IDF – take a look here) tool for body copy optimisation and take a look at their rank tracker feature.

OnPage's TF*IDF Tool for content optimisation.

OnPage’s TF*IDF Tool for content optimisation.

For me, Zoom’s weekly crawl and Focus’s immediate SEO diagnostics are a must have. Give it a whirl and shout the OnPage team on Twitter if you have any questions.

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Responses

  1. Awesome review man – I am now giving onpage a try!

  2. It would be good if they have something inbetween free and pro package, though. But looks like great tool, really. Thanks for review.

  3. Same here. Thanks for the heads up. Will check it out.

    Tomislav

  4. This looks an amazing service, but the trial offer doesn’t appear to be an automated process

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