WebCEO Online SEO Tool Review

 

This review is part of the SEO tools comparison report. View the entire report here.

Introducing the tool

webceoWebCEO Online

WebCEO is one of the oldest names in SEO tools having been producing a desktop SEO tool for over 10 years. We’re taking a trial run of their relatively new ‘online’ version* which has a SaaS subscription pricing model similar to the other tools we’re looking at in this report and a 100% web based interface (no software to install). Given how established WebCEO is as a tool its surprising how little you tend to hear about it in the SEO world and I have to admit when I’ve used it myself in the past (probably 5 years ago!) I never really got on with it but I’m coming into this trial with fresh eyes and this online version is miles away from the slightly clunky desktop software I remember.

Like Raven and AnalyticsSEO, WebCEO online is an all in one package designed to help you manage your campaigns from start to finish with keyword research, link analysis and rank tracking all under one roof.

Rank checking

Web CEO has many of the same ranking report features as the other tools we’ve looked at here and a nice clean, easy to use interface. Results are returned quickly after adding your keywords to be tracked (compared to Moz Analytics for example where you might have to wait days).

site rankings target internet

Previously I have criticised WebCEO for their tight keyword allowances. Whether this is an issue for you will depend on how you use rank tracking. Personally I like to use keyword rankings to monitor the overall health of my rankings, so movement on the 8th page of Google results is important because it shows something happening and helps to spot trends early. With WebCEO you can now monitor your rankings up to 10 pages deep in Google result pages (previously I criticised the tool for only letting you go 3 pages deep). This does however come at an additional cost. On the Pro plan to scan for 50 keywords on 2 search engines, 10 pages deep, once a week will cost you $18/ month. If you need to run a lot of keyword scans within the tool this is something to be aware of. Probably a smarter way of using WebCEO would be to only use it for rankings on your highest priority keywords and use something like AWR as a standalone rank tracker.

 

One interesting and potentially quite valuable feature of the rank tracking in WebCEO is the ability to localise search results by a city or postcode – potentially very useful if you compete on search terms like ‘car hire’ where you may rank for searches near to your business address but not on a national basis due to localisation.

Localised rank checking in WebCEO

Localised rank checking in WebCEO

The tie in with other tools in the system like the keyword research tool and SEO analyzer (more on this later) is quite slick. Its an increasingly well integrated tool and one which, although limited in places is an increasing competitor to Raven. What WebCEO lacks in complexity it makes up for somewhat in speed. You can fly through the tools both because of significantly faster page load times than Raven and because the interface is so much simpler than tools like Raven and AnalyticsSEO which might help this products appeal for beginners.

Link management/ analysis

Since we first looked at WebCEO they have introduced a new “competitor backlink spy” tool to their link building toolset. This is a competitor backlink checker with data provided by ahrefs.

competitor backlinks

This is a useful tool to have in the toolset, particularly if you don’t have access to any other link databases like Open Site Explorer or MajesticSEO. Right now the tool just provides a list of links pointing to your domain and competitors with the associated Google PageRank of each. As a link builder you probably wouldn’t want to be making link building decisions on the basis of PageRank alone these days so it would be good to see some other data points in these reports in future. For example whether a link is followed or nofollow, how many sites link to the domain and the anchor text of the link – this is all information you get about your own backlinks in the “backlink quality checker tool” which we’ll look at next.

The Backlink Quality Checker is a tool designed to help you analyse your own backlinks and the general health of your link profile. As with the competitor backlink tool this also mostly uses data from ahrefs. These are going to be nice reports for your clients to see as “who’s linking to me” is an increasingly important subject for savvy client side SEO managers in the wake of Google’s Penguin updates. Particularly relevant will be the “Toxic” links report which identifies any links which are deemed to be damaging and should be removed. This is a great idea and to my knowledge its the first all-in-one tool we’ve looked at which has done this (there are dedicated tools for identifying bad links like LinkDetox and LinkRisk if you have a serious bad links problem). The actual formula for identifying the toxic links isn’t in my opinion robust enough however, you can configure rules to help you identify bad links as shown below:

Screen Shot 2013-11-04 at 08.41.06

The easiest way to spot a potentially harmful link is to see if the domain is indexed by Google – if its not its likely the linking website is penalised. The next check should be whether the page with the link ranks for the keywords in it’s page title – again if it doesn’t, its likely to have been penalised. The type of site is also a massive giveaway – if its an article directory or free web directory its far more likely to be an unnatural link. These are the factors I would say this tool should look at rather than trying to work out if a link is toxic based on the sites which link to it and whether or not it has PageRank. Full credit to WebCEO for identifying the need for this type of tool and including it but take the report with a pinch of salt – just because a link isn’t flagged up here as being toxic, there’s no guarantees Google won’t penalise you for it.

There is also a ‘tracked links’ tool which fulfils a similar role to the equivalent link database tools in Raven, Buzzsteam and AnalyticsSEO. However, using this wouldn’t be particularly practical for anything more than a small scale link building campaign with no apparent option to import links either automatically or manually or a toolbar for rapid addition of link partners to the database.

tracked links settingsOnsite optimisation

WebCEO’s* onsite SEO offering comes in the form of its ‘site auditor’ tool. This is much improved from when we last looked at it.

site audit target marketing

The WebCEO tool scans your site for broken links and displays where exactly a broken link is found on a page (including line number in source code) and what is the link that is broken. The ‘SE Optimization issues’ report provides an onsite keyword optimisation check and general optimisation analysis providing a user with recommendations on how to fix the found SEO issues. TheSite Auditor produces a report where a user can specify pages and keywords to be analysed. The Site Auditor now scans very big sites (up to 50,000 pages) for broken links and other errors in a similar way to Raven Tools and Moz Analytics. The onsite features of WebCEO online are generally pretty good, the reports are very similar to what we’ve seen in other tools, looking at the most critical parts of onpage optimisation. As we’ve said on our other reviews, this is only part of the onpage SEO jigsaw so you shouldn’t rely on automated tools alone but the recommendations here are definitely a good place to start.

Price

WebCEO for me is an easy to understand SEO tool which has improved significantly recently and could be a very good solution for solo SEO’s and SME’s at the silver price plan point of $69 / month . That plan will let you monitor 5 sites and 100 keywords which is probably about right for a local SEO campaign. There are higher level plans designed for SEO agencies and they have a free trial which takes about 10 seconds to setup and although it only gives you limited access to the tools features it should give you a good idea whether this could be a good tool for you. (See plans*) Agencies may be interested in the white-labelling features which allow you to pass the WebCEO dashboard off as your own tool – it costs an extra $20/ month to host the tools on your own domain (compared to Raven which costs $50/ month for hosting on your own domain).

Conclusions

I was pleasantly surprised with WebCEO’s online offering* having used previous versions and seeing the improvements they have made. If you want your customers to collaborate with you on your own domain or see reports on your own domain, WebCEO Online may be the right tool for you.

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