If you’re a business owner looking for a straightforward and informative list of pages on your website, and key page details, Screaming Frog will probably be your tool of choice. The tool is incredibly egalitarian in that it provides both business owners and experienced digital marketers with crucial information. In short, regardless of how technically savvy you are, this simple tool can save you time and allow you to better understand the pages on your site in their totality, and quickly identify site improvements.
At some point, it seems like every business owner feels like their site has gotten away from them. Maybe a slew of people have worked on the site recently and you don’t really know what’s what. Or, maybe you just haven’t been able to dedicate the necessary time to it. Either way, let’s talk through how to quickly get your head around the details of your site using Screaming Frog.
Using Screaming Frog
First, download Screaming Frog. (What… too obvious?) There is a paid version we find incredibly useful, but let’s focus on the free version so you can give it a go without commitment. The big difference between the free and paid versions is the number of URLs that can be crawled. The free version crawl limit is set to 500. If your site has fewer than 500 URLs, you’re golden.
After downloading the program all you need to do is enter your website, click start, and wait for Screaming Frog to complete its crawl.
Analyzing Crawl Results
After the site crawl is complete, it’s most helpful to download an Excel document. Once downloaded, you’re free and clear to analyze the results. Let’s discuss the top five things to focus on if you’re a business owner just getting started in this tool.
We've created a template to make this step easy for you
Simply copy and paste all the data from the “Page Titles”, “Meta Description” and “Protocol” tabs and paste them into the template below. Watch the video if you have any questions! If your site has any optimization issues. Our template will catch them.
Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Page titles - or title tags - are what a user clicks on in Google to get to your website. As you can imagine this is a key element. Not only does a title need to help users quickly understand what a page is about after performing a Google search, but search engines use it to determine page relevance. Basically, it’s important.
Likewise, meta descriptions fall just underneath the page titles in a search result. The words in a meta description do not directly impact search rankings. However, they are an important and highly visible conversion tool that you want to ensure is consistent with your brand voice and messaging.
With a single document in hand to view the title tags and meta descriptions of your website, you can quickly and easily change them as you see fit before importing into your CMS.
Primary page headers - also known as H1s - are another important page element both for users and search engines. Questions to ask when viewing your H1s are:
- Are they there at all?
- Are they unique to each page?
- Are they sufficiently descriptive?
- Does the terminology align with the title tag and other messaging?
Again, having a single view allows you to look at the pages of your website in a holistic way to ensure the information you want to provide is there, and ensure that information contains the necessary messaging.
Needless to say, duplicate pages are to be avoided. Using Screaming Frog you can ensure that duplicate pages either don’t exist or if they do exist that they are coded to indicate to search engines which page is primary (a canonical tag).
A canonical tag is placed on a page to essentially tell Google, “Yeah I know this is duplicate, but this tag points to the other page which is primary, so just pay attention to that in search results.” Ensuring that any duplicate pages have the appropriate canonical tagging is another key feature of Screaming Frog.
To ensure duplicate pages don’t exist simply do the following:
- Organize the column of your Excel document with the URLs alphabetically. Scan the pages to see if there are any duplicates.
- If there are duplicates, ensure that the page you want to give less weight has a canonical tag attached to it.
- If your pages have URL parameters those would typically have a canonical tag attached to them as well (again preventing duplicate content in the eyes of the search engines).
Finding Broken Pages
This one is pretty straightforward but nevertheless important. To find broken links on your site simply look at the “Status Code” column in Screaming Frog to find those marked as “404” indicating the page was not found.
Last But Not Least, View All Your Pages!
When thinking about what new pages you might need on your site, Screaming Frog provides a quick and easy way to view all your pages, identify content gaps, and ensure you’re not doubling up on your efforts.