Screaming Frog: An SEO Website Crawler Guide For Beginners

Safalta expert Published by: Vighnesh Pandey Updated Wed, 31 May 2023 11:07 AM IST

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In the realm of digital marketing, understanding the intricacies of your website's performance and search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for success. Enter Screaming Frog, a powerful website crawling tool that unveils a wealth of insights and empowers marketers and SEO professionals to make data-driven decisions.

With Screaming Frog's intuitive interface and extensive features, you can embark on a comprehensive journey to analyze and optimize your website. Let's explore the key functionalities that make Screaming Frog an invaluable asset in your digital marketing arsenal.

Table of content
Unearthing website issues

Unveiling Technical SEO Insights
Analyzing On-Page Optimization
Extracting actionable data 
Enhancing Website Structure
Customized Analysis and Reporting:
The First-Timer’s Guide to Screaming Frog
Performing a Content Audit with Screaming Frog 

Unearthing website issues

Screaming Frog's website crawling capabilities are unparalleled. It meticulously explores your website's pages, uncovering issues like broken links, redirect chains, and missing meta tags. By identifying and rectifying these issues, you can enhance your website's user experience, bolster search engine rankings, and mitigate potential obstacles to organic traffic growth.

Read more: Yoast SEO: What, Why, and How it Works 
 

 Unveiling Technical SEO Insights

A solid technical foundation is the cornerstone of an SEO-friendly website.

Source: Safalta.com

Screaming Frog equips you with the tools to assess crucial technical elements such as duplicate content, missing alt attributes on images, and improper redirects. With these insights, you can refine your website's technical aspects, ensuring optimal performance and improved visibility in search results.

 Analyzing On-Page Optimization

Effective on-page optimization is vital for SEO success. Screaming Frog allows you to analyze meta tags, headers, and other on-page elements, ensuring they are optimized for relevant keywords and align with best practices. By fine-tuning your on-page optimization, you can increase your website's visibility, attract targeted organic traffic, and improve user engagement.

 Extracting actionable data 

Screaming Frog goes beyond surface-level analysis by extracting valuable data for in-depth SEO evaluation. It provides comprehensive information on URLs, title tags, meta descriptions, headings, and more. Armed with this data, you can identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement, enabling you to devise effective strategies that align with your SEO goals.

Enhancing Website Structure

A well-organized website structure is crucial for both the user experience and search engine crawlers. Screaming Frog offers insights into URL structure and hierarchy, allowing you to evaluate and optimize your website's architecture. By organizing your website effectively, you can improve crawl ability, facilitate navigation, and enhance the overall user experience.

Customized Analysis and Reporting:

Screaming Frog enables you to tailor your analysis and reporting based on your specific needs. You can create custom filters and apply advanced search options to focus on specific areas of interest. The tool also generates comprehensive reports that can be exported and shared with clients or team members, facilitating collaboration and showcasing the impact of your SEO efforts.

The First-Timer’s Guide to Screaming Frog

No matter the size of your website, it's important to conduct a thorough site crawl to identify and address any issues. This analysis ensures your site's integrity and functionality are maintained. Don't assume everything is error-free without verifying it first.

To make sure you haven't missed anything, I'm going to assume you are using Screaming Frog's full version.
 

Again, just purchase the license; it's very affordable.

To get started, follow these steps for a thorough site crawl using Screaming Frog:

1. Open the configuration menu and select "Spider."

2. In the menu that appears, make sure to check the option "Crawl all subdomains." You can also choose to include CSS, JavaScript, Images, SWF, and External links for a comprehensive analysis. If you prefer a faster crawl focusing only on page and text elements, leave those options unchecked.

3. Initiate the crawl and patiently wait for it to finish. The crawl speed will depend on your configuration settings and the processing power of your computer. A more powerful computer will result in a faster crawl.

4. Switch to the "Internal" tab and filter the results by HTML.

5. Click on the export option to generate a CSV file containing all the crawled data, organized by individual HTML pages.

If Screaming Frog crashes while crawling a large site, it might be because it's using a lot of memory. The spider uses all available memory, sometimes going beyond what your computer can handle.

To prevent crashes, access the spider configuration menu and navigate to the "Advanced" section. Check the option "Pause on high memory usage." This feature pauses the spider when it exceeds your computer's resource limits.

If your crawl times out, the server may not be able to handle the volume of requests you are sending. To limit the crawl rate, go to the speed submenu in the configuration menu and specify the maximum number of requests per second.

If you intend to use proxies for competitive research or to avoid bot-capture blocking, click on the configuration menu and select "Proxy." Within this menu, configure your preferred proxy setup

Screaming Frog supports various types of proxies, but ensure they are fast and responsive; otherwise, your crawl may take an excessive amount of time.

Remember to maintain the originality of your work by using proper citations and avoiding plagiarism.

 

Performing a Link Audit with Screaming Frog 

Auditing links can be tricky due to the difficulty of harvesting them. With numerous links on a typical page, along with parameters, gathering the necessary information can be overwhelming. However, using the Screaming Frog spider tool simplifies the process:

 

To configure the spider settings effectively, follow these steps using the Screaming Frog tool:

1. Access the spider configuration menu and select "Check All Subdomains." However, uncheck options such as CSS, images, JavaScript, Flash, and any others that are unnecessary for your specific needs.

2. Decide whether you want to include no followed links in the crawl and adjust the settings accordingly.

3. Initiate the crawl and allow it to run until completion.

4. Navigate to the Advanced Report menu and select "All Links." This will generate a comprehensive CSV file containing details of all the crawled links, including their locations, destinations, anchor text, directives, and other relevant data.

5. Export the CSV file to have a convenient record of the crawled links and their associated information.

From here, you can export the data or you can sort it as much as you like. Here are some sorts of actions you can perform

Access the internal tab in Screaming Frog and sort the pages by out links to identify the pages with the most links.

1. Pages with over 100 links may be flagged as suspect by Google, so conduct an audit of these pages to determine the reason for the excessive number of links and find ways to minimize them.

2. In the internal tab of Screaming Frog, click on the status code option to check the status of each link

3. Look for links with a 404 status code, indicating broken links that need to be fixed.

4. Pay attention to links with 301 or other redirect codes, as they may redirect to home pages or potentially harmful pages. Evaluate whether these redirects should be removed.

5. Use the Advanced Report drop-down to generate specific reports for different status codes (3XX, 4XX, or 5XX) to focus on redirections, client errors, or server errors, respectively.

6. By utilizing both Majestic and Screaming Frog, you can effectively identify internal linking opportunities and resolve issues related to excessive links, broken links, and improper redirects.

Performing a Content Audit with Screaming Frog

Content audits play a crucial role as they heavily influence search ranking factors. While factors like site speed, HTTPS integration, mobile compatibility, and Schema.org implementation are significant, they are not as vital as having exceptional content, appealing images, and avoiding duplication. Conducting a content audit helps ensure originality and high quality, enhancing search engine optimization.

1. Analyze HTML pages with a word count below 500-1000 words. Determine if these pages should be improved, indexed, or removed, considering their relevance and value, especially for e-commerce sites with minimal but valuable product information.

2. Identify images without alt text or images with excessive alt text (over 100 characters). Add descriptive alt text to improve user experience and search ranking.

3. Review page titles and truncate or edit titles longer than 70 characters. Google typically displays up to this limit, so excessively long titles offer no additional benefits.

4. Identify duplicate page titles and meta descriptions. Duplicate titles indicate duplicate content, which can negatively impact search ranking. Modify titles to reflect unique content and promptly address lazy duplicated meta descriptions.

5. Check for duplicate URLs and employ canonicalization to resolve similar duplication issues.

6. Evaluate URLs for non-standard or non-human-readable characters, particularly for pages with non-ASCII characters or excessive underscores. Consider modifying such URLs to improve readability.

7. Use the directives tab to identify pages or links with specific directives like index/noindex, follow/nofollow, and other less common directives. This can help you identify existing canonicalization implementations.

 By following these steps, you can optimize your site's content, enhance user experience, and improve search engine rankings.

Creating an XML Sitemap

Sitemaps are highly valuable for Google as they provide information about your website's pages and their last updates. Generating a sitemap can be done in various ways, and Screaming Frog offers its own method. Here's a simplified guide:

1. Perform a complete crawl of your site, including all subdomains, using Screaming Frog.

2. Navigate to the "Advanced Export" menu and select the XML Sitemap option.

Save the sitemap as an Excel table and open it. Choose "Read online" and "Open as an XML table," ignoring any warnings.

4. Edit the sitemap easily in table form and save it as an XML file.

5. Upload the modified XML sitemap to Google.

In conclusion, Screaming Frog is a versatile tool for optimizing your website's performance and SEO. It helps unearth issues, analyze on-page optimization, enhance website structure, and create XML sitemaps. With its comprehensive features and actionable insights, it empowers digital marketers to make data-driven decisions and improve their online presence.




What is Screaming Frog?

Screaming Frog is a powerful SEO website crawling tool.

How does Screaming Frog help improve websites?

Screaming Frog identifies issues like broken links and duplicate content, enhancing website performance and user experience.

What insights does Screaming Frog provide?

Screaming Frog offers technical SEO insights, on-page optimization analysis, and content audit capabilities.

Can Screaming Frog help with website structure?

Yes, Screaming Frog helps evaluate and optimize website structure for improved crawlability and navigation.

Can I customize analysis and reporting in Screaming Frog?

Yes, Screaming Frog allows customization of analysis and generates comprehensive reports tailored to specific needs.

How do I create an XML sitemap with Screaming Frog?

Perform a complete website crawl, save it as an Excel table, edit, and save as an XML file for Google submission.

Is Screaming Frog suitable for all website sizes?

Yes, Screaming Frog is suitable for websites of any size, from small business sites to large e-commerce platforms.

How often should I perform a site crawl with Screaming Frog?

Regular site crawls are recommended, especially after updates or changes, to ensure ongoing optimization and issue detection.

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