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Hubspot Website Grader – Review (Video with Transcript)

One of the Most Well-Known SEO Checkers

By virtue of its position as one of the major players in digital marketing, Hubspot’s SEO checkup tool, the Website Grader, has been used to do an SEO check on literally millions of websites. In this review I take you through the results of a check I did as part of our ongoing series of reviews of free website analyzers. How does Hubspot’s Website Grader stack up? Watch the video here and find out.

[Note: Check out the other SEO Checker reviews we’ve posted on our blog or on our YouTube channel]

And, in case you’d prefer to to read, we’ve included a full audio transcript with screen captures below the video.

Audio Transcript

Hi there. Do deep pockets make for a great SEO check up tool? We’re going to find out in just a minute.

Hi, I’m Ross Barefoot, with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. We’ve been working through a series of free online tools that’ll help you do an SEO check up on your website. Now these SEO checkers are pretty common, there’s a lot of them out there, and many of them are made by small teams of developers, laboring away, sometimes more of a labor of love than anything else, and we’ve reviewed a number of good tools. This time we’re going to turn our attention to a tool developed by one of the big companies out there, a company named Hubspot, that you may or may not have heard of.

Hubspot is a major player in digital marketing. They’ve got a great platform for marketing your business. I can’t really review the platform here, but they also have a lead magnet tool, that is a tool designed to generate interest in their business, called the Website Grader. So we’re going to take a look at that tool and see, okay, this was developed by a company with deep pockets, does it show up in their free SEO checker? So let’s have a look.

When you arrive at the website, you know that you’re dealing with a heavy hitter here because their domain is “grader.com.” That’s a pretty high end type of domain for a company to have, and they’ve got “website” as the sub domain, so it reads website.grader.com. You can see it’s powered by Hubspot at the top, very simple interface. It asks, “how strong is your website?” It asks you to put in the website and they also want your email. Hubspot is great for being out there and trying to build their email list. And I’d first like to point out that Hubspot offers lots of great content online. And so I certainly, nothing in this review should detract from the fact that they’ve really made some positive contributions in the world of digital marketing.

Now we’ve been running a website that we’ve been using as kind of a test website, called Artisans of Colorado, and as you can see, it’s pretty plain. This is what it looks like. And it has not been optimized for search, as a matter of fact, we’ve thrown some errors in there just to see if some of these tools will pick up on the errors. So here’s the report that I get when I run artisansofcolorado.com through Hubspot. It tells me that my site is good. That really makes me feel great. It registers it as an 80.

screen capture of results of website grader evaluationThe thing is as someone who’s done SEO for well, going on forever now, since 2002, I can tell you there is no way artisansofcolorado.com deserves an 80 on any scale in terms of search engine optimization. Let’s take a look at what they’ve talked about here. Says that my performance gets a 20 out 30, my mobile readiness gets 30 out of 30, the SEO gets a 20 out of 30, and security 10 out of 10. Then it gives me a screen capture and then we start to get into some of its results.

Now one thing that probably some of you might like, I personally get tired of and that is, they really indulge in a lot of cute descriptions here, so some copywriter went to town on the informal side of things. But I find this tool to be probably the least useful of any tool that I’ve tested so far. It gives me very little data. I’ll give you one example here, it’s showing me my page speed is slow, it’s just giving me an overall number rather than breaking down into the things that Google looks at like when does the page first start to render, when do people first start to see it as opposed to when it completely loads.

Screen capture of speed results from the website grader test

Very basic metrics. Not enough detail to really tell you whether your site is truly slow, and if it is, what to do about it.

The other thing is they tell me that I might try speeding things up a bit. If I click on any of those links to read more, I’m expecting to see some details associated with that, like what specifically I could improve, and instead it just takes me to a very general blog post, and that’s the case with all of this stuff, like page request, page size and so forth. When I drop down here it’ll tell me that I need compression. It’ll tell me that I’ve got some render blocking going on. So it gives me some information, but not really enough. I’m going to have to find another tool to really tell me what to work on with this site.

It will show me that the site is responsive, and this is what I mean by cute, they say, “now that’s a good looking viewport.” You know after a while I probably would rather just have the information than have it expressed in that particular manner. When I drop down here to SEO, they’ll just take a look at like the very most basic of things, does it have page titles, they’ll give me a yes without showing me what the page title on this page is. Same with meta description.

And one of the things I was a little disappointed at, because Hubspot is really great at producing content, like when I clicked on read more for the meta description tag it takes me to this that’s showing me a capture of a search engine results page from like five years ago. You see the little picture here of Ramesh Ranjan up in the left, that type of search snippet hasn’t been seen in a long time, so this is a pretty old page and with something like a meta description tag as they’re talking about here, Google has just in the last six months changed their specifications on that title two different times, so it’s really important to have more current information. When I drop down I see on security, it just basically tells me that I have a secure site, so that’s good. When it says what should I do next, it’s a pretty short list, four different items. And then they’re basically of course offering me a trial of their software.

Screen capture of how website grader does on the seo audit checklist

By the numbers: Website Grader comes up very low. Not many audit items can be checked off with this free tool.

Now, we have been comparing these tools to our SEO audit checklist and one of the things that we do at Horizon Web Marketing and the consulting side of our business is we will do SEO audits on sites and they’re typically pretty thorough, so we’ve taken each of these tools and we’d say, okay, if I’m using this tool, will it help me to clear a particular item on our SEO audit checklist? So the SEO audit checklist here has a total of 91 different items, and the Hubspot website grader is showing here as having been able to help me clear two out of 91 of those items. That’s about the lowest score that I’ve seen, well it’s definitely the lowest score that I’ve seen.

I’m just going to scroll down here through some of the items on our checklist. It was able to tell me that it’s using HTTPS or a secure protocol. It was able to tell me that the site is mobile friendly. But as far as everything else on our audit checklist, it was not able to help me out at all.

So in terms of using the website grader to actually do an SEO check on your website, I’d say choose one of the other tools that we’ve been looking at. That’s not to say anything disparaging about Hubspot’s platform or any of the other things they offer, and as I’ve said before, I really appreciate all their great content, but this particular tool really is not going to be very useful whether you’re experienced or inexperienced in terms of SEO and digital marketing.

Graphic indicating the free download for the SEO audit checklist

Get your own free copy of our SEO Audit Essentials Checklist.

Now that SEO audit checklist that I showed you online, we do offer as a free resource, and I’m going to put a link down in the description of this video where you can click through and get a copy of that checklist for yourself and start working through it. The checklist also has links to videos and other instructional materials to help you to be able to do some of the checks that we have on our SEO audit checklist.

Also, please subscribe to show your support for our video production and the fact that we’re trying to create content that’s useful for business people out there who are trying to do SEO on their own. So just go ahead and click that subscribe link if you enjoy content like this. Also, please let us know if you have any consulting or SEO training needs. We’d be glad to help you out. Again, my name is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and the Horizon Web Marketing Academy, and I’ll see you next time.

Latest SEO Checker Review: Dareboost (Video)

In our latest series on SEO checkers (aka Website Analyzers, aka SEO check up tools), we take a look at Dareboost. This may not be the best choice for someone who has no technical knowledge of website development, however if you have even a basic level of understanding you will find a lot of value here.

[Note: Check out the other SEO Checker reviews we’ve posted on our blog or on our YouTube channel]

I will take you on a quick tour of the program in the video. For those of you who’d rather read than watch, well, first, more power to you, but secondly, look below the video for our audio transcript.

Audio Transcript

Dare I say it? It’s time for another SEO checker check up. I’ll be right back, in a moment.

Hi, I’m Ross with Horizon Web Marketing and as you probably know, we’ve been working through a number of different, free, SEO check up tools, that are available online, that purport to help you be able to take your webpage and plug it in and see how it can be improved from an SEO perspective.

Now we’ve done a number of these tools, the next one on my list is a tool called ‘Dareboost.’ So, let’s see if Dareboost can get the job done.
Here we see Dareboost when you arrive at the website, actually I’ve been here before, as you can see down here, it knows that I’ve already done a check. Now when we do these, we’re using a demo site, basically, called ‘Artisans of Colorado.’ And we’ve been using the same site throughout so we’d have something to compare.

So I went ahead and plugged Artisans of Colorado into Dareboost and it comes back with, a very familiar interface here, it’s got a numeric grade, it tells me it’s 68%, they’ll tell me it has 11 issues, 15 suggestions for improvement, 63 areas where it has passed the test.

Dareboost is a Fairly Technical SEO Tool that Gets a Lot of Things Right

It does a lot of things right, it is able to spot a lot of issues, but often at a level where you’re gonna have to have some technical knowledge to be able to even understand the issue, much less to be able to correct it.

So let’s just scroll down here and see what it looks like. It puts a lot of weight on the speed test, putting it at the top and center of the report screen here. And it gives me a lot of very good information when it comes to the speed of the website.

It’ll give me details such as the first bite, start render, fully loaded, so in other words, it doesn’t just give you a number, “Oh, your page took X amount of time to load,” and that’s a good thing, because Google is evaluating your page based on things like ‘when does a user first have an experience with your page.’ So in this case, it’s giving me a lot of metrics and then as I drop down below, it’ll give me the tips and best practices.

screen capture of SEO speed metrics

Website speed metrics are granular and front and center.

Now, one of the things I like about this, is that it has a really good filtering mechanism. So that I can switch from all categories for its observations to just a few. Before when I came down here, I had it set to ‘cash policy,’ but you can see immediately, when you start looking at this, that it’s really designed for somebody with technical knowledge. When it allows you to sort your categories by things like ‘browser rendering’ and ‘number of requests’ and ‘cache policy.’

These are things, that if you’re new to SEO, even if you’re experienced with the SEO but you don’t know much about website development, you’re gonna have a hard time wrestling with some of these issues. But if you do have some knowledge of these areas, it gives you a lot of granularity and a lot of detail that’s very, very useful.

So, I’m just going to pick out a few things here, as I go down, and one thing I would like to point out is the interface does allow you to hide or reveal, the information. Like for example, it’s talking here about a critical dependency that’s detected, I was able to drop this down, it tells me about what … It’s referred to as a ‘front end single point of failure.’ Here again, we get into some of the text speak that is very common to Dareboost, when it does one of these checks.

Often Includes Good Supporting Information

Now, I’ve brought up here, this is a different blog post, but one of the things that I also like about Dareboost, is they do give you links, not just to kind of a ‘hover over’ tip on what a particular metric or particular diagnosis is about. But they’ll actually do a pretty good blog post, giving you a lot of information.

screen capture of a technical SEO blogpost on the dareboost site

So if you’ve got patience and if you are able to engage with their information, they’ve done a really good job on a lot of these subjects, of being able to educate you and I’d say that has a lot of value, right there.

As I drop down, I can see … it’ll show me quite a few items here, that require attention.

One of the things that I like, just from an SEO perspective, is they do a thing like, it will check that there’s duplicate title tags on this page. We’ve thrown a duplicate title tag into this page, just to see whether tools would pick up on it, and most tools don’t pick up on the fact that there’s a duplicate title tag. It also gives you a nice preview here of the ‘Cert snippet.’ By snippet, I mean how you’re listing is gonna appear and how your title tag might affect that particular display, in a Google search result.

So let me just kinda scroll down here, you can see there’s a whole lot of speed and optimization issues. And the tool is pretty, I wouldn’t say it’s exclusively focused, but it’s got a heavy emphasis on performance issues. And if you’re a programmer out there, you can see they’ll call you out on things like here that other tools, typically, will not, using the exclamation important declaration, used 578 times, that’s basically something that you put into your CSS code.

And again, unless you’re a developer, you won’t really know what that refers to, but if you are, it kinda shows you how you’re relying on something here, that you probably shouldn’t be relying on so heavily.

So, again, there’s a lot of subtle things this tool will pick up on and I thought that was extremely good. I just don’t think that the tool is really appropriate for someone who’s just getting in to SEO, unless they’re doing it, going through it with their developer or with an SEO professional.

That having been said, once you’re a little bit farther down the path, this could be a very good resource. I’m certainly going to keep Dareboost bookmarked for the future.

Let’s run the numbers on this, as you know we publish an SEO audit check list, at Horizon Web Marketing, and we offer it as a free resource. In the description for this video, I’ll give you a link to be able to download this audit check list. And we modify and update it on a regular basis.

We have a total of 91 items on our SEO audit check list. Of those, 31 are technical factors and these tools tend to be more focused on the technical factors. So we ran a score on Dareboost, basically what we do, is we say, “Okay, on these various items, that our SEO audit would include, would Dareboost give me the information I need to be able to either clear it or fix it or know that there’s a problem.”

Graphic indicating the free download for the SEO audit checklistNow, the numbers here are pretty low, for Dareboost, I don’t think that should be a judgment on the tool, because, again, this check list is more relayed with a lot of items that have to do with things like, “Is the content relevant to your end user,” and so forth. And Dareboost doesn’t claim to be able to do that.

So, the fact that it had got, it hit 11 out of 90 of our points, 6 out of 30 on the technical, would tend to indicate a pretty low score. And here I’ll scroll down, just kinda give you an idea of what these are. But I don’t think that that’s a really- a valid score in terms of judging this tool. I think the tool, overall, is a really neat tool. I like it quite a bit, so, definitely keep it in mind as one of the tools in your toolbox, and make use of it as you have the knowledge and experience to be able to do that.

Now, if you want to get other reviews that we offer on free SEO tools, please subscribe. It’s also great if you subscribe, because it just shows YouTube that you support the channel. So go ahead and hit that subscribe button down below and if you’d like to actually receive notifications of our … of new videos that we publish, when you click on ‘subscribe,’ there’s gonna be a little bell icon next to that button. Just click on that as well, so you can actually get notifications now.

We offer SEO consulting and SEO training at Horizon Web Marketing. Training is through the Horizon Web Marketing Academy. So definitely keep us in mind for any needs that you might have for SEO services or for SEO training, as you pursue your own Search Engine Optimization knowledge.

And I will look forward to seeing you on our next video. Again, my name is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing. I’ll see you next time.

SEO Analyser is a Free SEO Checker, How Does it Stack Up?

Neil Patel’s Free SEO Check Up Tool is Easy to Use

(TL;DR – If you’d rather watch the video review of this tool, click here)

[Note: Check out the other SEO Checker reviews we’ve posted on our blog or on our YouTube channel]

Neil Patel is one of the most recognizable names in Digital Marketing. He has his very successful online fingers in a number of different projects. If you do a search for “SEO Checkers,” one of his lead generating website typically comes up in the top 3 (which is a testament to his SEO chops).  This tool is called the “SEO Analyzer.” On the home page of the tool website, it boldly claims: “If you’re struggling to get more visitors to your site, the answer might just lie in this FREE report!” Let’s find out if that’s true.

Picture of SEO Check up tool SEO Analyzer home page

Orange is the new black…or something like that. The current home page for SEO Analyzer greets you with an action oriented field of orange and numerous pop-ups.

Let’s see what insight for struggling web marketers the SEO Analyzer might offer!

First of all, one of the nice things about this tool is that it does not demand your email address to allow you to use it. On the down side of that, you do have to put up with serial pop-up messages, and to dismiss them you have to click on links that say something like “No, I don’t want more traffic.”  C’mon guys, really?

For this analysis, I chose a website called ArtisansOfColorado.com, belonging to friends of mine who will admit the site has been somewhat neglected over the years.

Home page screen capture of artisansofcolorado.com, a website for colorado art and artists

In any case, I think it’s a great site to let a tool like the SEO Analyzer prove its worth, since ArtisansOfColorado.com has never been Search Engine Optimized. It’s the perfect guinea pig.

Page Level SEO Analysis – a Basic 19-Point Check

Screen capture of SEO Score for our test website

ArtisansOfColorado is just a tad above being thrown out of school, with a grade of C-

The first order of priority for SEO Analyzer is a variety of factors that contribute to the success of your site from an SEO perspective. In this case the analysis tells me that the site passed 14 checks and failed or under-performed on 5 other checks. Although this is of course a very short list of checks (Google, for example, uses about 200 ranking signals to evaluate a website and how it will perform in search results), nevertheless, Neil has had his team focus on a manageable list. And the list does include some of the most critical and most often missed factors for SEO novices.

  • Site title tags (presence of one, is it duplicated, too short, too long)
  • Meta description tag (presence of tag, too short, too long, duplicated, etc)
  • The Robots.txt faux pas, i.e. blocking of the page
  • The formation of the URLs
  • Presence of elements that might frustrate Google and Bing, such as flash and iframes
  • Presence of heading tags (e.g. H1, H2, etc) and whether any which are found are too short
  • Poor internal linking practices

If you’re just getting started with SEO, this is a good basic analysis that could be useful in finding some of the key gotchas on your site.

Still, it’s just a start, and numerous factors are not really addressed (for example, SEO Analyzer gave a warning about overly short H2 tags, but neglected to point out that this page doesn’t even have an H1 tag, which is a key missed opportunity for on page optimization).

Page Level Speed Score

screen capture of website seo speed analysis

Here’s the speed score for our test site. These numbers won’t mean much without some context. The actual letter grade is, for some reason, buried in the details.

The SEO Analyzer obviously places a lot of emphasis on the speed component of your web page, as illustrated by the fact that the Page Level Speed Score is placed at the very top of the analytical metrics it offers you. This is certainly in line with current thinking, since the speed with which your page loads is an important factor in how well you do, not only in search results, but also in attracting and retaining visitors to your key pages.

If you click on speed recommendations you’ll be taken to a tabbed box offering three choices:

  • Content analysis
  • Full Report
  • Web Performance

As you might tell from the screen captures below, there’s a fair amount of detail here. Unless you’re comfortable with the technical side of web development, it’s best to just shoot these details over to your web developer (if you have one), or find a web developer (if you don’t) to try to make sense of them and implement them.

Speed analysis screen shot

screen capture of speed recommendations

Time to get a geek involved. This is great detail, but beyond the grasp of non-tech people.

Mobile and Desktop Views

SEO Analyzer addresses the issue of mobile usability by showing you how your page lays out on different devices, although it doesn’t really discuss some of the more technical indicators of mobile usability.  Still, for most beginners, the visual representation is probably the easiest and quickest way to grasp whether your web page is presenting your company properly on that growing percentage of users who will visit your site with their phones. The tool also has a helpful line to show you were a typical user would have to scroll to see more of your message.

screen capture of mobile seo views

Click on the various tabs to see your web page in desktop, tablet, and mobile device views. The orange line shows the “fold,” the invisible line below which your content will only be seen by scrolling.

Backlinks and Indexed Pages

screen capture of a backlinks counter on this SEO checker

The backlinks counter on SEO Analyzer needs to offer more clarity about what its reporting.

This is the weakest section of SEO Analyzer.  The backlinks counter on this page, for example, says that it’s reporting on backlinks to “artisansofcolorado.com,” seeming to indicate that it is reporting on links to the domain.  But on the other hand, it says “websites” linking to artisansofcolorado.com, and in SEO parlance this would be referring domains, a much different metric than backlinks.

Additionally, this number doesn’t match up with other respected services.  Majestic.com reports 173 backlinks and 25 referring domains in their “fresh” index.  Moz.com reports 2,666 links.  So it would be interesting, first to clarify where this number is coming from, secondly if it is reporting on links or referring domains, and finally if it is links to any of the pages on the domain. Until these questions are answered, this metric has limited value.

screen capture of number of pages indexed indicator

This number is perplexing, since Google reports almost 7,000 URLs in its index for this domain.

More disappointing is the number of pages indexed figure. This typically refers to the number of pages that Google reports in its “index” for a particular domain. Although SEO Analyzer doesn’t really specify which index its reporting (after all, in theory it could be Bing), if we make the logical assumption that it is referring to pages in Google’s index then this number is simply wrong.

The usual way to query Google about the results in its index for a domain is to do something called a site search, as indicated in the screen capture.  Google reports almost 8,000 results for this domain, a far cry from zero.

 

 

screen capture of google search results

Keyword Usage Analysis

Like many SEO Checkers, the way that SEO Analyzer handles a context analysis of the text of this pages is to present you with a frequency grid (see screen capture, below).

screen capture of keyword usage grid in SEO analyzer

It divides its results into the number of times a particular keyword appears not only in the body text, but also in key SEO elements such as the <title>, meta description, and headings (all variants, presumably).  It also endeavors to do the same grid for 2-word and 3-word phrases.

screen capture of text usage on web page itselfThis is a useful way to immediately see which words dominate your content, however the 2-word and 3-word phrases often miss the mark, combining words in ways that don’t really make sense, such as the phrase pictured at right, which is listed in the keyword grid as “right place artisans.”

One other minor criticism is combining all the heading <h> elements together.  The SEO importance of an <h1>, for example, is far different than an <h3>, as is its recommended optimization.

But Wait, There’s More…

In this blog post I’ve mainly dealt with the Website Analyzer, but SEO Analyzer also includes two other related tools. The competitor analysis pulls the top-level metrics (Estimated traffic, SEO score, and speed score) for up to 3 other web pages and presents the results. Naturally that’s a very broad measure and doesn’t go very far toward doing a true competition analysis, but it’s something.

There is also a keyword suggestion tool that I find a bit confusing. It is branded as an “Ubersuggest” keyword tool, but doesn’t really operate like Ubersuggest.io (which Neil Patel acquired some months ago). It also states further down that it is providing data from SEMRush, who operate one of the most powerful and comprehensive suite of SEO tools used by professional Internet marketers.

In any case, the keyword tool bundled up on the tools.neilpatel.com site doesn’t appear to be tied into the SEO checker, which is the focus of this series of blog posts, so we don’t really need to say more about it. Since it’s free, feel free to experiment and see what suggestions it gives you.

Summing it Up

Pros: This handy tool from Neil Patel is very easy to use, operates quickly, and doesn’t demand personally identifiable information. It hits some of the major areas of a page where a newcomer might overlook easy opportunities for optimization.

Cons: Some of the metrics are unclear and at least one appears to be inaccurate. We also would like to see more readily available information about how to act on the recommendations given. (That having been said, we would like to point out that Neil’s blog is an excellent resource for learning useful tips and techniques for powering up your Digital Marketing overall.)

Do you use the SEO Analyzer? Do you see important things this post overlooks? Do you have a similar tool you’d like to recommend for future reviews?  Feel free to post a comment below. And subscribe to this post to be automatically notified of other reviews soon to come in our SEO Checkers review series.

By The Way, We Also Have a Video Review for this Tool