When you’re thinking about your content strategy, there are several resources available to help you think through the process — books, articles, templates, frameworks, best practices, definitions, and more. But some of the most helpful resources are literally just a click away.
There are many online tools and plugins that can help you more quickly understand what components of information are contained within a webpage, assess their quality or structure, and even benchmark against best practice. This can be particularly helpful in the content audit phase of a web project, but they are also great to reference on an ad hoc basis when you have questions about a website.
The caveat, of course, is that raw information and data can’t tell you everything about your website — not without a little context. But these tools and plugins are great sidekicks in your content strategy hero’s journey as you seek to better understand your web content.
Here are some of the tools we’ve found helpful:
Browser Plugins and Bookmarklets
- MetaSEO Inspector: This awesome plugin pulls out webpage metadata for easy review without having to muck around in source code. This includes title, description, keywords, canonical links, header tags, microformat data (like Open Graph and other social metadata), and more. As a bonus, it also easily points you to other evaluation tools, such as the Google Developers Structured Data Testing Tool, Backtweets (to see who is tweeting about a given link), Keyword Density Analyzer, and domain information.
- Awesome Screenshot: This versatile and easy-to-use plugin allows you to take and edit screenshots of webpages, even capturing full-page images beyond what is visible in your browser window.
- BuiltWith: Want to know which systems are powering a given website? Just activate the BuiltWith plugin and get a full accounting of which systems are spinning on the backend. (Also usable as a standalone website.)
- Google Analytics: View your website with a robust overlay of analytics data, allowing you to evaluate user behavior in page context.
- Breakpoint Tester: This handy tool helps you see how content resolves across a responsive design.
- Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool: This tool will scan a webpage for issues such as missing ALT text on an image, issues with links and link text, and skipped header levels.
- Google Analytics Spreadsheet Add-On: This nifty tool directly connects your Google Analytics data to your Google Docs account, allowing you to evaluate (and share!) data and dashboards directly in a Google Spreadsheet document.
- Tone Analyzer: This open source service, hosted by IBM, analyzes your text for emotional tone and style and makes recommendations for improvement.
- Hemingway: One of my favorite tools, Hemingway evaluates the readability of web content, providing a grade-level score and tips for improvement. Simply put, as the tool brands itself, it’s a “spellchecker for style.”
- KnowEm Social Media Optimizer: Similar to what MetaSEO provides, this tool evaluates how much a page is optimized for being shared via social media, including Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Card, and Google+ Authorship tags, as well as at-a-glance optimization scores.
- Dynomapper: This visual sitemap generator helps with information architecture and content inventories, including checking for broken links, accessibility evaluation, and Google Analytics integration.
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner: Even if you aren’t planning advertisements, this tool can provide you with benchmarks for keywords relevant to your web content.