Setting up the Perfect SEO PC

At the core of my existence, I am a PC nerd.  I literally started programming when I was 8 years old in BASIC, when my Dad brought home a TRS-80 computer to play around with.  My Dad built an accounting system of some sort and I built a snake game that didn’t really work (I could never get it to go through the walls.)

That said, I love computers.

In addition to my day to day activities at work, I also am the “in-house” IT guy, so I find myself quite often helping our staff get their PC’s up to par for the duties they.

The Operating System

The operating system of choice for SEO’s is Windows 7.  Sure some  SEO’s use a Mac but let’s face it most use a PC.

Windows 8 is still kind of whack and while XP was an excellent operating system that will forever have a place in my heart, will be retired soon enough.

I’m actually in the process of writing another post about the perfect Linux Desktop setup for the SEO technician, which is a little more technical in nature but will be a good read.

SEO Desktop Essentials

Your desktop is your choice, but I am a huge advocate of using a hierarchical structure using files within folders.  A desktop with rows and rows of icons makes it difficult to find what you are looking for.

Find a good category system for you and stick to it.

While most data is now stored on the cloud, most of the day to day type of files are stored on your local PC.

An example setup would be:

  • Pictures Library – make a folder for each client/project you are working on so you can access logos, etc at any time.
  • Videos: same
  • Keep your most common used folders on your desktop, or make a shortcut for those folders on your desktop
  • Mount your laptop (or VPN) as a drive and put a shortcut on your desktop to access your other devices quickly
  • I keep all applications in the launcher, and none on the desktop.  Desktop is for files/folders and system icons only

Bare Bones SEO Applications

I’m not here to try to sell you the pros and cons of Majestic SEO vs Ahrefs backlink checkers or why Moz is great, I’m talking bare bones here.

Here is a list of general applications that I feel are “must haves” for all SEO’s:

  • Filezilla – the best FTP client on the market
  • Notepad++ – a great way to edit text, code, and play with all sorts of data
  • The Microsoft Office Suite – Microsoft Word/Excel will do for many people.  Having Excel as part of your arsenal is essential for any good SEO
  • Photoshop – Most SEO’s aren’t designers, but it gets tiring when you have to send a tiny little change to a designer when you can do it yourself.  Learn the basics of Photoshop to cut down on basic tasks.
  • Windows Snipping Tools – This comes included with Windows. We SEO’s love to take screenshots of darn near everything. The Snipping Tool makes it easy to take partial/full screenshots of whatever is on your screen at the moment.
  • Firefox, Chrome, IE – Whatever your personal choice is is fine, but having all 3 browsers is essential to debugging various different situations and are just good to have.
  • Malware/AV – Just have it, whatever your choice is.
  • Skype – SEO’s use Skype.
  • Scrapebox – the only actual SEO application that I have installed on my PC
  • Command Line: Make a launcher for the command line and save yourself the trouble
  • File Renamer – You will find many situations where you need to rename a ton of files, images, etc at the same time.  This is a great free utility.
  • Cam Studio – Video screenshots, this is a great tool to have
  • WinRar – While Windows can natively unzip files, it cannot unrar them.  SEO’s like to Rar things so you better have this.
  • Oracle Virtual Machine – Install a virtual machine on your PC to test anything you are unsure of.  If you get a virus just scrap the machine and start over!  You can also play with other OS’s without rebooting.
  • Sticky Notes – This app comes with Windows.  It is good for pasting temporary notes.

I’m sure there are a few others that I missed but these are the bare bones that you don’t want to forget.

An SEO’s Optimal Browser Setup

Let me start out by saying that I am a minimalist.  I don’t like a lot of clutter and always feel “the less the better.”  Some SEO’s like having plugins such as SEOquake and other add-ons that clutter up your view.  While some of these are useful, I find that they really get in the way of actual work.

There is one application that I really cannot live without, and that is Wappalyzer. How many times a day do you ask these questions: “what framework is this” or “I wonder what analytics they are running.”  Wappalyzer digs through all of a websites source code and other info to determine everything and displays it for you in a very non-invasive tiny icon in your location bar.


In addition to Wappalyzer, I also have Roboform installed.  In my last count, I have over 1045 passwords stored on 900 different domains.  Roboform installs right into your browser and will save/fill in your passwords when you go to a website that you are on.  This tool is a lifesaver.  I have a “digital will” that I’ve left for my wife in case something happens to me, it contains only my Roboform password which will get her access to anything else she needs, god forbid.

Other than those 2 add-ons, I like to keep the bookmarks toolbar displayed at all times with my most commonly used sites and RSS feeds.  I generally keep my cloud tools, analytics, news sites, and personal sites in the toolbar.

Monitors and Such

It is ideal to have two monitors no matter how you slice it.  Moving back to a single monitor setup even for the day makes me feel like I’m not getting any work done.

Monitor 1 is the “work” monitor typically where I have a web browser open doing work, normally inside some CMS.  Monitor 2 is normally dedicated to real-time communication such as Skyp, FTP, and note taking for later.

This is more a matter of preference and my only suggestion is to let whatever system you have fall into place.

Stay Clean Man

If you ask anyone that knows me, I am very adamant about keeping your PC free from junk.  If you don’t use it, delete it.  If you don’t absolutely need it, don’t download it.  Don’t keep more programs open than you need to.

Being an SEO means putting together a lot of different pieces, and most of the time that doesn’t require the latest and greatest tools.  Notepad++, Excel and Firefox is what I use for 90% of my day, and I get a lot done.

In order to be efficient you need to have a PC that is working optimally.

Most virii these days are installed on your computer without you even knowing it.  That is, the purpose of most virii is not to delete all the files on your computer.  Today’s malware programs are designed to steal data from your computer and web browsers.  Why would they want to delete your hard drive when they can get your Chase Banking password?

Keep your PC clean from any software with an unknown vendor or browser add-on that is unknown.

A race car driver wouldn’t have Mountain Dew bottles rolling around the floor of his passenger side, so don’t install programs that you don’t need.  Also, think twice before you answer any question/prompt that comes up on your PC.

Closing thoughts

A lot of this might sound really obvious to most people, but I firmly believe in having a PC that is minimally designed for maximum performance.  If you have any questions about any of this, please feel free to reach out in the comments section.


Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe is the founder and CEO of Elite Strategies Llc. Patrick takes a hands on approach to managing Elite Strategies and loves to get involved with technical projects relating to clients inbound marketing needs.
Patrick Coombe
Patrick Coombe
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