In August, we alerted webmasters to the news from the Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) team of the beta 1 release of their excellent new tool, the IIS SEO Toolkit. The public response we received was very enthusiastic and supportive. In response to many requests, we followed that up with a more detailed article explaining how the new tool is installed as an extension of IIS 7.
Since that time, the tool was refreshed in a beta 2 release and, as of November 13, a full version 1.0 release. Given the deserved popularity of the tool among web developers and search engine optimizers, I wanted to take a moment to explore what has changed with the IIS SEO Toolkit since the beta 1 article was published.
Technical requirements unchanged
This remains unchanged from the first beta release. The tool was built as an extension of IIS 7, so you need to use an operating system that can run IIS 7 in order to run the tool. That means you can run any of the following IIS 7 and higher-compatible operating systems:
- Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (and higher — you may need to first upgrade the default version of IIS to 7.0)
- Windows 7
- Windows Server 2008
- Windows Server 2008 R2
Because of the toolkit’s core dependency of running as an extension to IIS 7, Windows XP, which cannot run IIS 7, can’t be used as a platform for the IIS SEO Toolkit.
However, make no mistake about this important point. The IIS SEO Toolkit is a client-side tool. Once it is installed on your computer workstation, you can use it to perform a detailed analysis on your website regardless of the web server platform it uses, be it IIS, Apache, or even if the “site” is simply a collection of HTML and associated files and folders stored locally on your computer.
Install the toolkit
Admittedly, the beta 1 product was a bit complicated for some to install. We got some complaints about it in Bing. But that’s beta software for you! The IIS team developers took your feedback and streamlined the process tremendously for the final release. Now the installation of version 1.0 of the IIS SEO Toolkit is an automated process (click the preceding link to start). You don’t even need to uninstall any beta versions! How cool is that?
New and improved features since beta 1
In our first blog article about the IIS SEO Toolkit, we did a decent rundown of the basic features found in beta 1. So what’s changed? Let’s take a look:
There are many improvements here. First and foremost, after installing the new version of the IIS SEO Toolkit, you can start the tool through an icon on your Start menu (I found it at Start > IIS 7.0 Extensions > Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit 1.0). This provides users with much more intuitive, direct access to the tool.
Other usability improvements include streamlining the query builder interface, the addition of a Violations tab on the Details dialog boxes for direct access to affected pages, new context menus for copying content from the tool, new Help shortcuts, keyboard navigation has been improved, and much more.
The toolkit has been opened up with a new set of APIs for developers who need to extend the tool’s potential. Now you can create custom modules that can extend the crawling process through augmenting existing metadata reports with your own, parsing new content types, and defining new violations based on user needs. The extensibility even enables developers to add new user interface (UI) elements for both the Site Analyzer and the Sitemaps and Sitemap Indexes tools. For more information on how this feature works, check out the IIS developer team’s blog article IIS SEO Toolkit – Crawler Module Extensibility.
By using the aforementioned extensibility of the tool, the HTML parser can now store the contents of the <meta> tags from all pages within the analyzed site and use that data for new queries.
You can now compare two reports side-by-side to track various changed metrics over time from your website. For more information on this, check out the blog article IIS SEO Toolkit – Report Comparison.
The tool’s custom crawler, IISBot, can now crawl secured pages that use either basic or Windows authentication. This will be a significant boon to users who want to use the toolkit on secured intranet sites and on protected staging servers prior to publication.
The toolkit supports canonicalization efforts by accepting the use of the rel=”canonical” attribute of the <link> tag. It can look for and identify several new canonical error violations in the site’s code. Support for sub-domain canonicalization is provided. The toolkit also provides link position information for canonical URLs.
Data export options
You can now choose to export a comma-separated-value (CSV) format list of all detected violations, all URLs, or all links from the toolkit.
New reports include a redirects summary and links depth, which identifies the deepest-linked pages in your site. For more on this, take a look at the blog article IIS SEO Toolkit – New Reports (Redirects and Link Depth).
New Routes query
The routes query is an entirely new type of query, which identifies deeply-linked pages (pages that are buried on your site and require several clicks to finally access from the home page) and more.
Local files cache options
Users now have the option to disable the toolkit from keeping analyzed site files in a local cache. Disabling the cache allows reports to run faster and consumes far less disk space. Note, however, that disabling the cache also prevents the Site Analysis tool from presenting the Content tab from the Details dialog box, disables the contextual position of links, and disables the Word Analysis feature from appearing.
Better robots.txt file handling and management
The Robots Exclusion tool can directly open your robots.txt file for processing.
Better Sitemap.xml handling and management
The Sitemaps and Sitemap Indexes tool has been improved with better filtering and managing of canonical URLs.
The IIS SEO Toolkit development team blog lists more details of the features from each successive release of the toolkit, from beta 1, through beta 2, up to the new version 1.0. Check out these articles and their team blog for ongoing, detailed posts on how to take full advantage of the tool for your website.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post them in our SEM forum. Until next time…
— Rick DeJarnette, Bing Webmaster Center