Post updated May 29, 2013 due to the launch of Moz and the MozBar redesign.
When I started as an SEO Associate at Powered By Search in early January, one of the first things I was introduced to were web browser SEO extensions. Coming in as basically a beginner SEO, I’ve only explored these types of tools in passing, but quickly discovered how useful and powerful these tools could be.
Originally, my first post for the Powered By Search blog was going to be another general list of top 10 SEO extensions for Google Chrome that’s been done more than once around the web already. However, while building the framework for it, I ran into a bit of a problem; I quickly found that I was going to write extensively about my personal favourite SEO extension – the MozBar, and little about the others.
MozBar is an SEO extension that I am finding to be an incredibly convenient and time saving tool for gaining insights on critical elements for SEO, such as on-site HTML tags, and the link profiles of client and competitor websites alike. As a beginner SEO, I am quickly finding it to be an essential and irreplaceable tool that I am going to be using on a daily basis for a very long time.
So, with that said, this blog post is going to be entirely about the MozBar extension. I’m going to explore it in-depth, explaining exactly what it is, how to use it, and most important, why an SEO would use this great tool on a daily basis.
This blog post is an extensive look at the MozBar SEO extension and the data it provides for SEO purposes. Use this menu to jump to a specific section.
- 1.1 What is MozBar?
- 1.2 Paid vs. Free – What’s the Difference?
- 1.3 Chrome vs. Firefox – What’s the Difference?
- 2.1 The MozBar SEO Extension
- 2.2 The SEO Toolbar
- 2.3 SERP Overlay
- 2.4 Page Analysis
- 2.6 Other Features
1.1 What is MozBar?
The MozBar is a web browser extension available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox that provides valuable metrics about a webpage and its link profile for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes.
As the name implies, MozBar is primarily accessed via a toolbar, although it also integrates into Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
In brief, the data it provides includes onsite metrics vital to SEO, such as the contents of a webpage’s title tag, alt text, meta robots, etc. as well as insights on the link profile of a webpage & domain, such as Domain Authority, number of backlinks, and so forth. This will be explored in much more detail throughout this post.
MozBar was created by the awesome folks at Moz. Download it below!
1.2 Paid vs. Free – What’s the Difference?
The MozBar SEO extension is available as a free download, but with somewhat limited functionality. Full access requires an Moz PRO Account, which costs $99 per month, and includes access not only to MozBar’s full features, but Moz’s entire suite of tools as well.
However, For the most part, both the free and paid versions provide almost the same data & features, but there are two key differences:
- The free version only gives you limited data on the link profile of a webpage, such as hiding the number of linking root domains, and the number of links pointing to the domain. However, Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA) metrics are always provided.
- MozBar also includes links to Moz’s suite of tools, such as Open Site Explorer, and the Keyword Difficulty Tool. To fully utilize these tools you need an Moz PRO Account.
Despite these shortfalls, the free version is certainly still highly useful if you don’t have or want an Moz PRO Account. In particular, it still provides valuable insights on on-page elements, and can also certainly help an SEO get a rough idea of the authority of a webpage and its domain.
1.3 Chrome vs. Firefox – What’s the Difference?
Both the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox versions of the MozBar SEO extension have essentially the same functionality, with the main difference being the location of some of the extension’s features. For instance, all of MozBar’s features are accessible right from the toolbar in Firefox, while in Chrome, some are accessed through the MozBar button in the extension bar.
However, a very significant difference between the two is that the Firefox version allows you to export Page Analysis and SERP data to a .csv file for easy analysis and management of the data. Unfortunately, the Chrome version does not support this, as explained here.
Which Version is Best?
Both versions are basically equal, with the main difference being the ability to export data to .csv in the Firefox version. However, what you choose is mostly up to personal preference.
I have personally been using MozBar in Chrome because it’s my main web browser here at Powered By Search, but after exploring the tool for the purpose of this post, I have found the Firefox version a bit easier to use. I also prefer having the features easily accessible from the toolbar, and really like the ability to export data from the SEO toolbar to a .csv file.
2.1 The MozBar SEO Extension
In Google Chrome, MozBar is visible in 3 areas – as a button in the extension bar, as a toolbar, and as an overlay in the SERPs. In Mozilla Firefox, MozBar is accessible through the toolbar and also as an overlay in the SERPs.
The remainder of this post will explore MozBar’s main features and how they are valuable to SEO. To jump to a section, click on one of the links below.
2.2 The SEO Toolbar
The SEO toolbar provides valuable data on the link profile of a webpage, such as authority metrics and even a count of the number of backlinks pointing to the page. This data is also found through Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool, but the benefit of having it available in a toolbar is that you don’t need to use Open Site Explorer every time you want to see the link metrics.
Having data about the link profile of a webpage conveniently available in a toolbar helps an SEO quickly gain insights on the strength and authority of a competitor, as well as determine whether a particular page is worth building a link on. However, It’s important to note that the metrics should be analyzed in relation to each other for the best insights. For example, noticing thousands of links pointing to a page with low authority could be a strong indicator of spammy link building.
Page Level Link Metrics
Page level metrics report on the authority and link profile of the specific webpage. The SEO toolbar provides the following metrics:
- Page Authority (PA): Page Authority is a measure of the likelihood of a single page ranking well in search. The higher the number, the better chance of the specific page ranking, the harder it is to compete against, and the more lucrative backlinks from the page are. It is measured on a 1 – 100 scale.
- MozRank (mR): SEOmoz’s version of Google’s PageRank. It is calculated on a 1-10 logarithmic scale.
- MozTrust (mT): Similar to TrustRank, but serves as Moz’s own trust score. A low MozTrust score can be an indicator that the webpage is considered spam.
- Number of (total) links: A sum of all the links coming to a page.
- Number of (total linking) root domains: The number of domains linking to the page.
Root Domain Level Link Metrics
Root domain link metrics report on the authority and link profile of the domain (i.e. poweredbysearch.com).
The data provided is similar to page level metrics, except that it applies to the entire domain. For example, Domain Authority (DA), Domain MozRank (DmR), and Domain MozTrust (DmT), reflects the strength of the website as a whole, influencing the ranking potential, competitive difficulty, and value of backlinks from any webpage on the domain. The number of links and number of domains are a sum of all the links & domains pointing to every page on the website.
Subdomain Level Link Metrics
Subdomain link metrics report on the authority and link profile of the subdomain (i.e. www.poweredbysearch.com). This can be a bit confusing at first, but http://www.poweredbysearch.com and http://poweredbysearch.com are in fact seen as different addresses to Google, and links pointing to one or the other doesn’t count for both, unless you fix it by using a 301 redirect to pass all authority to your preferred address.
Subdomain link metrics include Domain MozRank (DmR), Domain MozTrust (DmT), the number of links pointing to the subdomain (www.*), and the number of domains that are linking to any page on the subdomain.
2.3 SERP Overlay
Aside from the SEO toolbar, MozBar also integrates into search engine results pages with its SERP overlay. It consists of two components, the overlay itself, and the SERP control panel.
2.3.1 The Overlay
With the overlay enabled, MozBar will provide a quick look at the authority and link profile of each webpage listed on the SERPs. The data that it provides is similar to what is provided in the SEO toolbar, showing page & domain authority, as well as the number of links and root domains pointing to both the page and domain. The main benefit from the SEO toolbar however is that rather than clicking on each result to get the link profile data, it’s all conveniently listed below each result in the SERPs.
In addition to the link profile data, there is also a link to Moz’s Open Site Explorer (the compass & ‘Link Analysis’ button on the right of the above below), which will provide even more information about the particular page.
Having quick access to the link profile data of webpages listed in the SERPs can be very helpful in determining the competitiveness of a keyword phrase. This can be of value both in your initial keyword research, or if you are trying to determine the scale of your efforts needed to rank your targeted webpage higher in the search results.
2.3.2 The SERP Control Panel
MozBar’s SERP Control Panel floats on the search engine results page, and provides the ability to define Custom Search Profiles, access Moz’s Keyword Difficulty Tool (Pro account required), and in the Firefox version of the SEO extension, export SERP data to a .csv file.
Custom Search Profiles:
This feature in the SERP Control panel allows you to enable filters that customize search results to a specific country, region, or city, as well as disable personalized search results. It can also execute a query not just on Google, but also on Bing and Yahoo for the sake of comparison.
Custom Search Profiles can be very useful for SEO purposes. For one, the ability to see search results based on a particular location can be invaluable when you are working with a client that is either not in your local area, or they serve somewhere other than your local area. Secondly, the ability to disable personalized search results helps ensure that the SERPs are not influenced by your own past search history, giving you more general results.
Export To CSV (Firefox Only)
In the Firefox version of MozBar, the SERP Control Panel has an additional feature that allows you to export page, authority, and backlink data of the top 7 listings on the search engine results page for a particular search query to a .csv file that can be opened in Excel. It also includes data on the URL, Title, and Meta Description of the 7 results, as well.
The data that is exported provides an SEO with a general overview of the top 7 competitors for a particular keyword phrase. By recording this data, you can get a general understanding of who your competitors are and what their strength is.
Exporting to a .csv file also provides an easier way to view, manipulate, and store SERP data on a particular query, saving the time it takes to record the data manually. Performing this task on a regular basis can also help you easily keep track of changes in positioning, either for your targeted page, or for competitors.
2.4 Page Analysis
MozBar’s Page Analysis section is where the tool really shines as a powerful SEO extension. Here you will find important data on on-page and off-page elements that are vital to SEO activities such as auditing websites, and gaining insights on the link profile of the page you are viewing.
It is split into 3 subsections:
2.4.1 Page Elements
The Page Elements report of the MozBar SEO extension offers a convenient way to inspect on-page elements that are vital for SEO. Rather than having to meticulously browse the page manually, view the source code, or inspect specific on-page elements, it’s all nicely collected and formatted for you with the click of a button.
These on-page elements, as individuals and as a whole, basically define how a webpage is optimized for search. Having everything all in one place makes it very easy for an SEO to get quick and meaningful insights on the overall optimization of a page.
Here is a look at what the Page Elements report provides:
The URL is simply the address of the web page. For SEO purposes, it’s important to check whether or not it is optimized for targeted keywords, and for usability.
Visually, the Page Title shows on the top of a web browser’s window and is listed on search results pages to identify the page to a web user. For SEO, it is regarded as the most critical element for on-site optimization, and you need to ensure that your keyword phrase is prominent in the title tag. MozBar also helpfully reports the number of characters in the title tag – remember that only 70 characters are visible on SERPs.
The Meta Description has no direct impact on search rankings, but is nonetheless a very important element for SEO because it describes a webpage for a searcher on SERPs, and serves as a key factor in their decision to click. For SEO, it’s also important to include your keyword phrase in this meta tag so that it bolds when listed on the SERPs for a query that includes the phrase. Character limit is also important here – Google only shows about 155 characters on SERPs.
Meta Keywords are a deprecated meta tag that factored into rankings in the early days of search engines, but lost all influence after being relentlessly spammed. Today, Meta Keywords are useless for SEO. For on-site optimization efforts, it’s best to just remove or ignore any meta keywords that you find.
Headlines (H1, H2):
Headline tags are formatting elements that are used to organize and define areas of a webpage’s content. They often have unique styling to stand out amongst the rest of the content, such as colours, larger font sizes, etc. Headlines play a meaningful role in on-page SEO, and a best practice is to ensure that your targeted keyword phrases are included in the tags.
HTML Text / Text to Code Ratio:
MozBar’s Page Elements report also provides insights about the characteristics of webpage’s HTML file, such as a count of the number of characters in the file, as well as the amount of actual text content in relation to the code. From an SEO perspective, the exact ratio isn’t anything to specifically worry about, but it’s generally better to have webpages with as much real content as possible to improve its chances of ranking for target keywords as well as long-tail variants.
Bold/Strong & Italic/em:
Bold and italics emphasize content on a page, and while they primarily have an impact on readability, their impact on SEO is uncertain.
MozBar’s Page Elements report collects the alt text data from all the images on a webpage. Alt text (or alt tags) are attributes on an image that describe it to users when the image fails to load, and to search engines, which currently cannot interpret images. The latter point means that alt text is very important to on-page SEO. You need to ensure that the alt text first of all exists, secondly that it is relevant to the image it is describing, and if applicable, mentions your targeted keyword phrase.
2.4.2 Page Attributes
MozBar’s Page Attributes report provides a quick look at the more technical characteristics of a webpage, as opposed to the content/formatting aspects outlined in Page Elements.
The data provided here, even though it isn’t visually noticeable on a page, can have a very significant impact on your search optimization efforts, as it reports, among other things, the indexing status, tags and, and other factors that give you insights on how a search engine sees a page.
Here is what you can find in the Page Attributes report:
The Meta Robots tag, found in the ‹head› section of a webpage’s HTML file provides similar functionality to a robots.txt file, except that it allows you to control attributes of search engine crawler access on a page-by-page basis. Knowing the contents of a webpage’s meta robots tag is very important to SEO, because it can control whether a page is indexed. If your page is marked as ‘noindex’, all the work that goes into creating a well-optimized webpage will be for nothing.
This tag is very important to utilize in order prevent duplicate content. It essentially tells Google which page, out of other similar pages is the ‘master version’ and the one to be indexed. For example, if you are working on an eCommerce website, you may have different pages that for each size, colour, etc. for an item. Adding a rel=’canonical’ tag to these pages that link to the main product’s page, helps ensure that only that page is indexed and not the others that address each variant.
Page Load Time:
The Page Attributes report also tells you how long it took for the webpage to load. This is primarily a usability factor (users don’t want to wait for a page to load), but Google also considers it a factor in determining rank.
Google Cache URL:
Here you will find the URL for the cached version of the webpage. This is important to SEO for two reasons – it tells you if the page is indexed, and clicking on it will tell you exactly what Google sees when it crawls and indexes the site.
IP Address / Country:
These attributes provide the IP address and location of the server. This can play a role in search ranking if your webpage is targeted to a specific location.
Provided here are the attributes of the links on a webpage. It doesn’t tell you which specific links are internal, external, followed, or nofollow, but instead gives a big picture view. This data can still be useful to SEO efforts, as it can tell you whether it’s worth trying to get a link on a page (if there’s 100s of external links, or they’re all nofollow, it’s less appealing), for example. For a better look at the links on a webpage, use MozBar’s Highlight Links tool.
HTTP Status Code(s):
HTTP status codes will tell you whether a page successfully loads, has a redirect, or what error it returns when it fails to load. For SEO purposes, it’s most important to look for redirect codes (301 or 302). If a page uses a 302 redirect, none of the link authority is passed to the new destination, so you must ensure that a 301 is used instead. A list of status codes is available here.
2.4.3 Link Data
The Link Data report of MozBar’s Page Analysis section provides data on the link profile of the webpage. It offers the same data as the SEO toolbar does, including metrics on page/domain authority, mozRank, and mozTrust. It also provides data on the number and type of links pointing to a page & domain.
As with the SEO toolbar, the metrics provided here can give you an understanding of the authority of a webpage and its domain, as well as the characteristics and strength of its link profile. This can be useful in gauging the strength of a competitor’s webpage, or for seeking valuable backlink opportunities for your website.
2.4.4 Export To .CSV (Firefox Only)
A feature unique to the Firefox version of the MozBar SEO extension is the ability to export all the data in the Page Analysis report to a .csv file, which can then be analyzed in a spreadsheet application, such as Excel.
This can be a great way to keep a record of the on-page elements of a webpage rather than having to revisit the page every time you need the data.
2.5 Highlight Links
MozBar’s Highlight Links feature is a useful way to check the status of links on a webpage. You can discover which links on a page are dofollow, nofollow, internal, and external, all with just a quick click of the mouse. For SEO, the characteristics of the links on a webpage are very important, and can influence your decision to pursue links on a page, or help you correct link issues on your own webpages.
Here is a look at the types of links that the Highlight Links feature focuses on, and why they are important for SEO:
Followed links are the default type of link used on the web. They are ‘dofollow,’ meaning that they pass authority to the destination page. When using the highlight links tool, both internal and external followed links are highlighted green.
For SEO, it’s important to find webpages might offer dofollow (as opposed to nofollow) links to your website, as this is a key factor that influences your authority and rankings. If you are publishing a directory listing, leaving a blog comment, or posting an article, you need to know whether or not the link going back to your website is going to be worth the trouble.
Adding the rel=’nofollow’ attribute to a link tells a search spider not to crawl it, and also prevents the passing of any link authority to the destination page (source). In the world of search, links act as ‘votes’ that vouch for the value of a page. In the case of a nofollow link however, it’s similar to saying that you don’t vouch for page being linked to.
Nofollow links are very important to watch out for when conducting SEO. In order to improve rankings, the links need to be ‘dofollow,’ or else you will see no benefit in search from it. Commonly, nofollow links are found in blog comments, but can be utilized on any link.
Internal Links (Orange)
Internal links point to other links on the same website, and are commonly found in website navigation, footers, and within content to point to relevant or related pages on-site.
Isolating the internal links on a webpage can help in primarily two ways. First, when auditing and optimizing your target webpage, it can help with identifying missing or problematic links. Secondly, if you are seeking a link on a webpage, and find that the links are overwhelmingly internal, it can be an indicator that placing a link on that page or website could require significant effort.
External Links (Blue)
External links simply point to other websites, and aside from a website’s navigation, these links can be utilized in a multitude of ways from sourcing and supporting on-page content, to a webpage that collects and lists various resources around the web.
Understanding the external links on a webpage can be valuable in determining whether or not it’s worth it to pursue a link of your own. For example, the number of links on a page dilutes the amount of link authority passed to each one (source), so if you find a page with 100s of external links, it may not be worth the effort of building your link there.
Keyword Highlight (Yellow)
Rather than highlighting a type of link, this feature in the Highlight Links section allows you to enter a keyword and have it highlighted wherever it shows on the page.
An on-site optimization factor worth at least some of your attention is keyword density. While the actual count of keyword occurrences isn’t an on-site factor worth much consideration, it’s important to check that they keyword doesn’t appear excessively and unnaturally in content as it can result in a penalty. Furthermore, if you know the keyword you are trying to optimize for and enter it into this tool, you can use it to ensure that it exists in key on-site tags, such as headlines, for example.
2.6 Other Features
Aside from MozBar’s main features, the SEO extension also includes a few useful tools and links for your search engine optimization needs.
2.6.1 Country Based on IP / Site Location
While this data is available in the Page Attributes subsection of MozBar’s Page Attributes report, it can also be accessed directly via a button on the SEO toolbar.
2.6.3 Help & Feedback
2.6.4 Moz Quick Links
2.6.5 Moz Tools
This section of the SEO extension provides links to Moz’s suite of tools, as well as other resources valuable to SEO efforts.
Hopefully by going through, or even skimming this blog post you have a better understanding of not only the power, usefulness, and convenience of the MozBar SEO toolbar, but also have a stronger grasp of the data it provides and how it relates to your SEO efforts.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments below. Most importantly, don’t forget to download MozBar and try it for yourself!