IIS SEO ToolkitThe Microsoft SEO Toolkit is a great tool for checking your site for SEO issues.

It’s an add-on for IIS7 and will work on Windows Server 2008 and R2, Windows Vista and Windows 7. I’ve run it on a couple of my sites and the reporting it provides is comprehensive – perhaps even too much at times.

It has been available in beta for a little while, and was officially released in early January.

There’s a stack of tutorials on how to use it (example) and in my experience it runs pretty quickly.

Full details are here on the IIS.net site.

Here’s a quick overview of how to use it:

Once installed, run up IIS and then click on the Search Engine Optimisation icon in the Management section.

IIS Manager

You can run a site analysis (or view reports of a previous analysis), setup sitemaps and robots.txt files. Our main interest is in the Site analysis.

IIS SEO functions

You can also view previous analyses.

 Analysis history

Digging into a report you can view a summary, violations, content, performance and links.

Analysis report summary

Drilling into the Violations you’ll see them segmented by levels and context (eg SEO versus content)

Analysis report

Double click on a Violation title to view the list of violations. You can then work your way through the violations and start making fixes.

Spurious error

I won’t dive into all the different violations, except to say that it can be overwhelming. One of the problems with the SEO Toolkit is that is needs some refinement (it is only a version 1 product). For example, it will list simple little markup issues (like paragraph tags not being closed) in the same severity as missing title tags or duplicate content. This is misleading and needs to be separated out.

Also, if you notice in the screen shot above, it is highlighting an Error (ie think it is very bad!) for a button that is referenced in a WordPress theme CSS file. This is actually not a problem at all (it is switched depending on the activated theme), and yet is highlighted as a canonical issue. I’d imagine errors like this will get refined in time.

Here’s another example of an issue that isn’t really an issue:

Unhelpful warning

In this case it is referring to text in table (ie not in a paragraph). It’s not really an issue, and yet has been flagged as such.

These kinds of things cause a lot of extra noise, that will work against the add-in (since people will get sick of seeing non-errors being flagged).

Luckily one of the big benefits of the plugin is its reporting and Query tools.

You can generate custom reports for the different violations. Plus you can export the reports and share them between the different analyses (or with your friends).

I’ve set up custom reports for giving cleaner violation summaries (and stripping out unnecessary errors). This is great, but frustratingly the queries aren’t OR based (ie you need a separate query for each violation, you can’t group multiple queries in one report).

Custom Violation reports are easy

And, as mentioned earlier these queries can be saved. For example, here’s what the XML for the report above looks like:

IIS SEO Toolkit report saved as XML

Note, an easy way to create custom reports is to right click on an existing one and choose ‘View Group Details in New Query’:

Generate a Custom report easily using right-click from the Summary page

And adding additional columns is easy

Adding columns to IIS SEO Toolkit reports

You can also group by error titles, such as the following:

Errors can be grouped 

Finally though, the results can be exported to CSV for further analysis. You may find this is the best way of working through all the clutter of low priority analysis results.

Feature requests

If I were to request two features (besides reducing the noise) it would be the ability to schedule regular analyses, and perform delta reports (ie only the things that have changed since last run).

That way I could have the Toolkit analyse my sitea each week and send me just the list of new items I may need to action. (If you have numerous sites, you don’t want to be wading through big reports for each one.)

Summary

Overall, the SEO Toolkit is a useful tool for analysis your site and highlighting issues. It’s fast, easy to query against and stores a history of analysis results. Highly recommended.

5 Responses to “Microsoft SEO Toolkit”

  1. CarlosAg 07. Aug, 2010 at 4:20 am #

    The first request we have heard before, for now the solution is that you can create a console application that uses the API that can be set for a scheduled task in Windows.

    The second one actually exists, you can select any report and use the “Compare to another report” task inside the report and it will give you a detailed comparison of what violations are new, and which ones were fixed.

  2. Robert Went 03. Jun, 2013 at 2:15 am #

    Nice review, but if you try and validate your contact page you will see that the errors reported are not false positives and your html contains errors.

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