11 best features of Screaming Frog

As an SEO specialist, I sit in many different tools to get data around a website. And of course you have your favorites. One of mine is Screaming Frog. It's a real holy grail for an SEO's, but also an equally useful tool for site owners and web editors!

Today I would therefore like to take this opportunity and share with me the most useful features of the tool that all webmasters benefit from!

First, let us get a little closer with the tool.

What is Screaming Frog?

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a tool that crawls an optional website content, links, images, CSS and much more that is interesting from an SEO perspective. In other words, the tool basically tells you what a crawler sees when it crawls the site. The program needs to be downloaded and installed locally on your computer and works just as well with Mac as with PC.

It costs nothing to download the program. The free version of Screaming Frog crawls a maximum of 500 URLs per site, so for a smaller website it works great. For larger businesses that need to crawl several thousand pages, there is also a paid version where you can crawl unlimited and access other convenient features. You can check out their site to read more about how the different versions differ.

Useful features of Screaming Frog

Here are my 11 favorite features of Screaming Frog that I (for real) use daily in various missions.

1. Length of meta titles

Meta title is the title you see in the search results and is visible even when you hover your mouse over the tab in your browser. Here there are clear directives on how long the title max can be to fit in the given space on Google. And if it is too long, it is cut and ended instead with "..." which you want to avoid.

Click on the "Page title" tab to get a full list of all meta titles. Then click the filter button to see the pages where the meta title is missing, is too long, too short, or if there are duplicate titles. Screaming Frog is good at updating the tool at regular intervals, so be sure to have the latest version. It generally includes an updated interval of what Google considers to be too long a meta title.

Use Screaming Frog to review your meta titles.

2. Length of meta descriptions

The meta description is the text that appears in the search results under the meta title. Like the meta title, there is a limited space that we want to stay within. Click on the tab "Meta description" to get a full list of all meta descriptions. Like the meta titles, you can filter between missing descriptions, being too long, too short, or duplicated.

Tip If you want to use the Hard to decide which meta descriptions to grab first? My tip is to start with what takes the shortest time. So cut down the descriptions that are too long – it goes fastest. Then sort out which pages of the duplicated should have new descriptions. Of all the pages that now lack meta descriptions, prioritize them based on which pages are most important to your business and start with them.

Check the length of Meta descriptions.

3. Broken Pages (404)

Broken internal links contribute to a poorer user experience, something Google is also aware of. Click on the "Response codes" tab and filter on "Client Error 4xx" in the drop down menu at the top. Here you will find a list of 404 pages that exist on your website that you should correct or redirect (301).

Locate your 404s

4. Pages that link to 404

Curious to know which pages have a dead link to a 404? Scroll sideways in the "Client Error 4xx" view to the "Inlinks"column. If the URL has 0, does that mean you don't have any pages on your site that link to the 404. Click the URL, then turn your gaze to the bottom pane and click the lower tab "Inlinks". Here you can see which pages on your website link to the 404 and what anchor text the link has to more easily identify where the link is on the page.

Find pages that link to 404s

5. Heavy Images

Heavy high-resolution images slow down the web page and reduce the user experience. Instead, aim to have images that are less than 100 kb, that size is good enough. In Screaming Frog you can identify heavy culprits by clicking on the "Images"tab and filtering on "Over 100 kb". Sort the list in descending order and see which images are unnecessarily heavy and compress them. Photoshop or web-based tools like Imagecompressor.

Identify heavy images on your web

6. Images without alt text

Make sure your website is accessible to everyone. One step along the way is to implement alt text on all images. Alt text stands for alternate text, this text is added to the CMS when the image is uploaded. The text should describe what the image illustrates to someone with visual impairment who uses a screen reader. If for some reason the image cannot be loaded on to the page, the alt text replaces the image instead. The alt text also describes to Google and other crawlers what the image contains, a clear alt-text can thus help the image to rank in the image search and drive traffic that way.

In Screaming Frog, simply click on the "Images" tab and filter on "Missing alt-text" to get a list of all images that do not have alt text at present.

Identify images without alt-text - this text!

7. Pages without head title (H1)

A web page without a header is like an untitled chapter. The main title is the page's most important title and describes to search engines and visitors what the page is about. In order for Google to be able to identify which title is just the main title, it should be tagged with H1 in the code. Click on the "H1" tab, and then filter "Missing" to get a list of all pages that don't have a main title. Maybe it could be that you have pages with big clear headlines but that they are not tagged as H1? If so, ask your developers or agencies to correct this!

Find pages without H1s in Screaming Frog

8. Indexability

Screaming Frog crawls the entire* of your website including pages you have selected should not be indexed and thus be visible in search results on search engines. You can easily see which pages are indexable and not by clicking the "Internal" tab and scrolling sideways to the "Indexability"column. Then sort in descending order to see which pages are indexable and not. If a page isn't indexable, there's also a comment in the column next to it about the status of the page. Maybe someone has the status "Non-indexable" that you want to be indexed? If so, change it to enable visibility on Google.

*With the paid version.

See which pages are indexed.

9. Number of words on the page

You've probably heard the concept of content is king both once and twice. When it comes to SEO, more text is almost always better, as long as the text provides value to the visitor. In Screaming Frog you can see how many words all pages have and thus identify pages that have very little text and could offer more information to your visitors. Click the "Internal" tab and scroll sideways to the "Word count"column. Here you get an insight into the amount of text on each page, but remember that this includes all the text on the page including menu, footer and other blocks of text that do not belong to the main text – so don't be fooled!

Review the length of texts on your pages.

10th SERP Snippet "preview"

Curious about what a page looks like in Google search results? There are many handy tools to get a preview, but even this you can see in Screaming Frog. Click on the URL you are interested in seeing a preview of, then click on the tab "SERP Snippet" in the lower menu – and voilà – there is preview based on the text available to download. So if the page lacks a meta description, in other words the preview will also lack that text, even though Google will in reality autogenerate a meta description based on the text available on your page.

Get a preview of the results with SERP Snippet.

11th Overview

Last but not least, I want to tell you about Overview, which is the section on the right side of Screaming Frog. There you will find the majority of the points that have been mentioned in this blog post. In other words, Overview gives you a clear summary of all the data contained in the tabs in the top menu of the tool. If you would like to export this data, you can easily do so by clicking "Reports" and then "Crawl Overview".

Overview gives you a good compilation in Screaming Frog.

Try it yourself!

So, now you have lots of features you can test on your own in Screaming Frog. But if there's not enough time, I can do the work for you. yes, you read it right. Our free SEO analysis uses Screaming Frog data that is packaged in a smooth PDF. The main thing is that you learn something new about your site, for the opportunity to make it even better!

Want more SEO tips and visibility into different tools? Check out our webinars – I'll hold one on July 8th!

Sabine Ljunggren
Head of SEO

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Blog of the year - Anegy.se. Young Marketing Professional of the year, Sabine Ljunggren.