The vast majority of people use browsers to access the web.
But most SEO professionals take it a step further and use those same browsers to do a lot more.
In fact, some of the most vital tools in my arsenal are my browser and its extensions.
So, let’s dive right in and see what we can do with them. And the best part is, all of them are free.
1. Ghost Browser
Ghost Browser is built on Chrome so everything accessible to you there’s available in Ghost Browser… and more.
The ultimate reason I switched to Ghost Browser is for what they call “sessions.”
Essentially a session is a fresh instance of Chrome that operates inside new windows or even tab(s).
In the image above, you’ll see there are four different coloured tabs, each with a unique site up.
Each of these colors represents a session and they’re independent, which is why one of them is not logged in, one can be logged in, and another is logged in from a different location.
You can run multiple tabs for each session.
So, for example, I can be logged into one session as me to manage an AdWords campaign but also logged in through a different account to access the client’s analytics and Search Console (where they aren’t controlled by the same account).
Similarly, each session can be used to log into other social accounts, etc.
The free version supports three sessions at a time – so even it is three times better than what you’re likely currently working with.
2. Chrome Developer Tools
There is nearly no way I could cover all the features, functions, and uses of Chrome Developer Tools in this article.
The tool is built into Chrome and is accessed via Chrome Menu > more tools > Developer tools.
Easily the foremost common tasks i use it for is to seek out code, verify the size of elements, and troubleshoot them.
As illustrated in the image above, the tool permits you to hover over and choose an element on a given web-page and it’ll show its code and (in this case) the computed output characteristics.
You can even modify the code right in the Developer Tools to see how it would render prior to creating the changes to the live site. you can try this on the desktop web site or set it to render the page as it would on many popular mobile devices.
3. SEO Quake
SEO Quake is a classic among the extensions and plugins used by SEO pros – and for good reason.
Essentially, SEO Quake gives speedy access to an array of data that we all want.
On any given web-page an easy click to pull in the metrics can list back-links data, cache dates, indexing info, and more.
With a couple extra clicks you gain access to the internal and external back-links data, keyword density info (if you’re interested in that), and plenty of information regarding the use of Schema, heading tags, metas and more.
SEO Quake is not a replacement for site audit and analysis tools but gives an excellent quick snapshot of a page’s information.
Perfect when you need just some limited info or are on a phone call and need to pull up some core metrics.
It even ties in with SEMrush to yield some basic traffic stats as well – handy for competitor research, especially when considering new content strategies.
4. User-Agent Switcher
This is very useful when developing new websites – particularly when that site is built using less predictable technologies. It is also a classic among the extensions and plugins used by SEO pros – and for good reason.
Essentially User-Agent switcher is precisely what it sounds like: a simple to set up plugin that switches the user agent info sent allowing you to look at a web site as a different browser or bot.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve used it to troubleshoot crawl issues or uncover differences in how Googlebot is viewing a page versus a browser.
Obviously, it can also be helpful when determining how a site will load with different browsers or operating systems as well.
5. Tag Assistant
Google Tag Assistant is an extremely useful tool, especially for those who use Google Tag Manager.
It can also be handy when you simply need to identify issues with analytics or other tracking codes (AdWords, etc.)
The icon for the extension changes color depending on whether there are problems detected and makes note of the problems when clicked.
Tag Assistant also reports on duplicate or analytics code problems.
It handily lets you record a session allowing you to navigate paths within your site (or other’s) and then review the recording to find errors and issues.
Here’s Google’s video outlining some of its core features:
6. Show Title Tag
By no means a crucial plugin but a handy one, Show Title Tag merely displays the page title within the browser. It is also one of the classic among the extensions and plugins used by SEO pros – and for good reason.
You can move it to any of the corners of the browser and the red text indicates where it’s likely to be cut off in search results.
It’s helpful when viewing competitors’ sites to quickly seeing how they’re doing their titling beyond the short snippet that would appear in the tab and without viewing the source or opening Developer Tools.
This plugin is additionally useful when you’re navigating your own website, highlighting instances where your title might be too long.
7. Ghost Proxy control
Basically, you’ll add your proxies in and access them easily via the extension.
One of the big perks to the combo of Ghost Browser and Ghost Proxy control is that you can load completely different proxies into different session and basically have a tab for every location.
I’ve found this incredibly useful for checking SERP results from varied location and having the ability to look at them at the same time, side by side.
The ability to examine not simply rankings from completely different locations but compare simply how the layout might differ.
The control allows for a proxy to be assigned to one tab or an entire session (indicated by multiple tabs of the same color).
There are undoubtedly more browser extensions and plugins than what I’ve enclosed on this list of essentials.
However, most of those require subscriptions, are too similar to one of those noted above, or don’t apply to the duties of virtually every SEO pro I know.
For example, Moz and Buzzsumo have great extensions. But they can be quite frustrating unless you have a paid subscription.