With so many SEO tools available, SEO experts have long debated the supremacy of their favourite ones. But it’s hard to avoid a common question – how did we get to this situation.
Come to think of it. This started after Google led SEOs to a “100% Not Provided” world to bolster their privacy and security efforts. The NSA-Snowden controversy soon following this made it even crucial for Google to present itself as a non-vigilant brand.
With Google cutting-off the lifeblood for search engine marketing by encrypting search data in the name of privacy, SEO professionals who were a part of core marketing teams by now. They were helping them to shape content and design around search engine optimization, were now basically shot in the foot.
Why’d Google done this, though?
Some say it was a calculated tactic by Google to get onboard marketers on their Adwords (Now re-branded and called as Google Ads) platform as the same data was still available on the said platform. Now, is it entirely accurate? Maybe, maybe not!
But this is an entirely logical step on Google’s part as this is what they have been saying about search engine marketing from the earliest of days:
“…make sure that you’ve got high-quality content, the sort of content that people enjoy, that’s compelling, the sort of thing that they’ll love to read that you might see in a magazine or a book and that people would refer back to, or send friends to, those sorts of things…”
Now, having this mission in perspective can help understand these decisions by Google. It commands a certain level of appreciation as it will curb the marketers and SEO professionals who resort to less-than-ethical practices in a desperate attempt of gaming the system and outranking their competition.
Following this, it was being speculated that search engine marketing would start to revolve around content, design, and the readers. So far, so good.
There’s one tangle, though.
Data was still going to be crucial. If it isn’t for gaming the system, it is vital for knowing what the customers need to read.
Enter SEO Tools!
In this post, we are going to focus on the best SEO tools around and how you can leverage them to drive growth and deliver results. This is, in no way, just another review of SEO tools as a part of our “strategy” to rank for keywords like “best SEO tools”. These tools are going to play a critical role in helping you map best SEO Strategy.
I’ll tell you what it is though – a thorough and helpful piece of content on how businesses (the audience) can leverage these tools in different ways (value), so we can rank for keywords like “best SEO tools”.
While it’s true that a lot of these SEO tools existed long before these updates by Google and other search engines, they were never as crucial as they were now.
With cutting-edge crawlers and third-party companies entering, the SEO professionals got the help they needed.
Even Google understood this and launched some tools afterwards. Tools under Google’s Lighthouse project are one of the most popular and powerful SEO tools being used by search engine marketers across the world.
Using the best SEO software for various Requirements
From tracking keyword performance of competitors to using the SEO tools for reporting campaigns, SEO professionals are always using one or more of these tools that are used by SEO professionals.
No SEO task can be completed without these tools. So, for any SEO’er worth his salt, it is important to keep up with the best software for SEO in the industry.
In this part, let’s look at the various tools based on their function and contribution to the overall SEO process. Let’s start with technical SEO:
Best SEO Tools for On-Page/Technical Optimization
SEO experts, or Webmasters as we like to call them while performing technical SEO, use several tools for Technical SEO. In technical SEO, a lot of site architecture and design issues are included. This makes it all the more sophisticated and tough for professionals to crack.
The first challenge in picking the best SEO tools for technical search engine optimization is to understand the requirements properly. Following this, the SEO consultants have to co-ordinate with web devs to craft an action plan.
Yes, it is more marathon than the “sprints” most marketing managers believe it is!
The most crucial SEO tool for the technical SEO category would be Screaming Frog.
1. Screaming Frog is THE crawler to have!
Touted rightly as one of the best SEO tools around, Screaming Frog is an army of frogs that crawl the web and help SEO experts in finding the right answers.
The feature that makes Screaming Frog a stupendous success is the amount of time that one can save by using this fantastic tool. From finding pages with no titles to eros in canonical URLs, you can do it all with this incredible software for conducting an SEO audit.
Not only this, but a lot of SEO experts can also find it helpful to troubleshoot a client’s assets and look more aware.
Whenever an SEO project is started, the first thing SEO professionals want to do is try and find the problems that might hold their progress back. Only then can they start making efforts for improving the SEO.
This is where the time-effort continuum needs to be accelerated. And Screaming Frog is the tool we need.
Apart from technical SEO, Screaming Frog can also help with link-building. This makes it an even more critical tool for the SEO experts out there.
Broken Link-building using Screaming Frog: The first step for using Screaming Frog to perform broken link-building is switching to the list mode. Now, since all we need to do is find external links that are not working – we can save some time and limit the crawl in numbers as well as just to the outer pages.
To limit the crawl, refer this:
Following this, you need to follow Configuration > Spider > Crawl, and then select external links.
Once you have uploaded the URLs and started the crawl, you will get the broken links along with their source pages. Here’s what it would look like:
Following this, you can perform a bulk export and start reaching out to the relevant sites you discovered.
2. Search Console – Google still has some of the best SEO tools
For the best SEO consultants, Search Console is probably the go-to SEO tool that they use daily.
If you haven’t already added your website as a property in Search Console, we suggest you do it soon. All you need to do is click on “Add Property”.
And type your domain name in the “Domain” field.
They’ll complete the verification in 7 days or so, and you’re good to go.
The most important, after setting the property – is to link it with Google Analytics for the given website so both the platforms can verify the data.
As we discussed at the beginning of this post – when Google decided to hold the keyword data back, the valuable data for each keyword that generated traffic was turned into this:
Pretty sad, right?
But there’s a way out!
Website owners can get their all-important keyword data back by linking Google Analytics with their Google search console account.
3. Google PageSpeed – LightHouse for SEO professionals
It is unsettling to keep Pagespeed in the third position of any list. It’s that great!
With so much emphasis on mobile and progressive apps these days, the tools need to adapt, too. Just like the website owners got to do.
Pagespeed provides vital information on how one can optimize their sites for better performance.
Also, these insights are in the form of “tips” with detailed explanations available. It’s very helpful for professionals who aren’t very savvy with the search engines, or web development in general.
4. GTMetrix Page Speed Report
GTMetrix is another SEO tool for technical SEO. The page speed report provided by this tool is quite comprehensive and has better insights than any other tool in terms of direct and detailed comments about a website’s performance.
Not only this, but the developer toolkit provided by GTMetrix can also be a blessing for SEO professionals who wish to work closely with web devs and optimize their site’s performance.
For optimizing the mobile performance of a site, you can simulate the site on various devices with GTMetrix:
Apart from this, you can draw insights about site performance based on screen size and pixels too:
The key here is to test the site for various screen sizes and simulate for as many devices as you can. By doing this, you can be sure of leaving no stone unturned.
5. Majestic, truly! A great SEO software
Majestic is another one of the important software that the best SEO professionals use on a daily basis.
Touted as the tool that brings link intelligence data, this is a prolific tool for technical aspects of SEO too.
Majestic uses a comprehensive and multi-weighted evaluation system to calculate and provide technical link attributes such as Trust Flow and Citation Flow that help us to gauge sites and links based on relevance, trust, and authority.
Majestic has recently added Link Context to their pool of features, and the SEO professionals are lovin’ it!
With Link Context, you can find the links to your site or one of your competitors and also know the context related to those links.
As the demo for this feature shows, you can put the domain name, and it’ll show you the links with details on each of them. So you can save time and effort from going through the links individually. Here’s a snip:
Have a look at some of the links to the given site here:
As you can see, it tells you crucial details about the link and even the domain from which the link they are getting. Not only this, but it also tells you essential information on the domain that is sending the link back.
6. Barracuda Penguin
This is another excellent SEO tool that can easily feature in any agency’s workflow. Even if you are a freelance SEO professional, it can be a handy tool.
Barracuda is famous because it helps site owners to prepare themselves for Google Updates, which is a unique feature honestly.
With this tool, site owners can link their GA data and get alerts as and when the data seems to show a potential penalty is imposed on the site.
1. Majestic, again.
I know we mentioned Majestic in technical SEO, too. But that should not stop us from explaining its utility in link-building activities, right?
Because of the trust flow and citation flow metrics provided by Majestic, SEO professionals can quickly identify high-authority sites that they should try and get a link from.
The primary method that Majestic helps you with is – Broken Link-Building.
An overused method? Perhaps, yes.
But an effective method? Definitely!
The first step here is to find relevant sites. You can do this with Majestic by going to the” Majestic Millions” module and browsing ahead of the select industry leaders in your niche.
Once you have found these relevant sites, you now have to find the 404 gems that they’re linking to. And get started with the reach out.
To get better results, you need to find the broken links with the highest number referring pages. Those should be easier to replace.
2. Muck Rack
We’ve all known the benefits of blogger outreach and helping out journalists (HARO). Muck Rack is a tool that helps SEO and link-building professionals with this.
With Muck Rack, however, the key is to help reporters and journalists indeed instead of employing simple tricks for a link-back.
Think of it as an influencer outreach or PR campaign, instead of dull link-building campaigns.
3. Group High
Another vital tool for building link backs, GroupHigh is used by marketers and link-building professionals for blogger outreach in their respective industries.
Also touted as the world’s most prominent “blog search engine”, GroupHigh can deliver thousands of results for almost every niche.
So, the first step is to find an exhaustive and actionable list of blogs that are worth reaching out to.
You can also perform influencer search here:
As you can see here, the number of results it shows is in thousands. So, you do get an exhaustive list of bloggers and publications:
With the metrics and data provided by GroupHigh, you can also separate the more relevant ones and focus on select publications and bloggers.
4. Ahrefs, yes!
Apart from being widely popular for functions such as keyword research and rank tracing, it is one of the best SEO software for folks who wish to drive better results with link-building.
By using the link-intersect feature from Ahrefs, you can find websites that are linking to your competitors. But not to your site. Here’s how it looks:
You will get a list of sites that are linking to the given targets, but not to you.
Once you have that list, you can get started with some good-ol’ link-building.
Best SEO tools for Keyword Research
1. SEMRush to the rescue.
SEMrush is, by far, one of the best tools for keyword research.
With SEMrush, not only you get a list of keywords for your website and industry, but it also gives you an in-depth and comprehensive report on the keywords that your competitors are doing well at.
Another feature that gives SEMrush the upper hand is its reliable data for different countries and time-zones.
With SEMrush, you can assess the traffic, authority, and relevance of various sites and links more holistically and transparently.
It also gives a SEMrush Rank that is calculated based on organic search traffic to the given website.
The UX and UI considerations are all covered, too, with this tool. This makes it an even better tool for SEo’ ers who already have a tough job – great UX and high ease-of-use quotient in their SEO software is the least they deserve!
Apart from doing domain-wise analysis for keyword research, you can also input a particular keyword to get a string of related keywords that one can target.
Once you input a keyword phrase in SEMrush, it will send out a “Phrase match report” that has the same sentence.
Apart from this, the “Keyword Magic” feature adds a lot of value to SEO professionals.
With the “Keyword Magic” tool, you get a plethora of keyword suggestions, derived from SEMrush’s database of around 800 million data points.
Without much fanfare, this is an incredible tool with really great insights and reliable data for avid SEO professionals out there.
The best part about using this tool is that it tells you actionable details about a keyword, making the process of keyword research intuitive for you.
Apart from the keyword difficulty feature, you can also look at metrics such as “Trend”, “Pos”, and “EV”. More importantly, you can trust these metrics provided by KWfinder.
3. Keywords Everywhere
For experts who always wish to stay close to their keyword research, Keywords Everywhere is undoubtedly one of the best software for SEO to have in their arsenal.
With Keywords Everywhere, you can look at the data from the top 10 websites, so you don’t have to copy and paste keywords from your Google Keyword Planner.
Another exciting feature called “People also search for” is incredibly useful for marketers. The best thing about Keywords Everywhere is that even folks with limited SEO knowledge can use it to simplify their lives.
For example, if you are writing a post and need secondary keywords for the given post – all you need to do is look at the “People also search for” section.
Checking your rankings by googling it and searching for your positions is not ideal!
Especially when you’re working with multiple clients that you help rank for tens of keywords.
Let’s start with one of the best SEO software for rank tracing:
AccuRanker, one of the fastest rank tracking tools, is used by webmasters across the world for tracing the rankings daily.
Not only this, but it also tells you if your link has made it to the featured snippets and other related Google features such as “Related Questions” and “Important Links”.
Not only this, the clean dashboard and the ease of use is also commendable:
Let’s hop on to the next tool that you can use for tracing rankings.
2. SE Ranking, see!
The reason this tool made it to our post is that it is not just a standalone tool for tracing ranks. It offers much more than that.
In a way, it makes up for the shortcomings in comparison to AccuRanker by letting you perform a website audit, link-building tasks, and a few important SEO functionalities with pretty high accuracy.
Another significant benefit of using SE Ranking is that it allows you to track progress and even helps you with overall project management of SEO projects.
Now, if you have been working on SEO for multiple clients, you would understand the importance of rank tracing reports when you raise that invoice. It can take up a good amount of time sometimes. But SE ranking can help you with that.
So, these were all the tools that we could discuss for each SEO function. Now, let’s take a look at how non-SEO marketers can leverage the best SEO tools and drive results for their projects.
What else can SEO Tools do for Non-SEO Marketers?
One of the most critical tasks in marketing – competition analysis can be easily streamlined if you can get hands-on the best SEO tools for the given job.
Let’s look at the process of how you can use these SEO tools to perform an in-depth competition analysis:
Using the best SEO tools to gauge the competition
Ground-breaking ideas in marketing come with in-depth research and long sessions of continuous brainstorming. But ideas of incremental growth, too, add up into sizeable gains.
While conducting a thorough market study is one way to go, marketers must try some of these tools to find insights from their competitors’ strategy.
The first step to do so will be setting up the right KPIs. Based on who the competitor is, and what exactly you are looking to emulate, you will need clarity about the KPIs. Here’s what some of these KPIs can look like:
Audience Growth: This is one of the most underrated metrics/KPIs that us marketers tend to ignore while conducting competitor analysis. By benchmarking audience growth around your competition can be a helpful KPI as it will get your team out of the echo chamber.
Dissemination/Promotion of Content: By using tools like BuzzSumo, you can find the social media channels where your competitor is getting the bulk of its traffic from.
Following this, you need to assess their promotion schedule for those platforms and figure out ways of capitalizing on this.
Engagement/Interaction with the audience: Most marketing campaigns today are judged by the number of interactions they garner. Not only this, but you can also validate/rule out ideas of content that you have been unsure about.
The next step would be to segment your audience into sizeable but workable chunks so you can generate genuine insights from the datasets hence created. By targeting specific segments of your audience based on demographic or localization, you can even grow your revenue while reducing costs at the same time.
In this part, we will be using SEMrush for performing the competitor analysis. The first step would be to input your competitor’s domain into the dashboard. Let’s take the example of Feedough. A relatively new website with decent growth over the last couple of years.
You can also tweak the country settings for more accurate data according to location.
On the right side of the dashboard, you can check out the insights about search rankings, advertising, PLA, Display Ads, or even backlinks as per your requirement.
The first step is to go for Organic Search, and it will show you the keywords that your competitor has been ranking for. As you can see, most of the traffic from the organic search they get has started only after May 2019 – almost a year after they began putting content out regularly.
The best thing about SEMrush as an SEO tool is that it shows your data from various perspectives. For example, it will not just give you a list of keywords that the given website is ranking for. It goes on to share some insightful information about position changes for the given site. With this, you can draw better conclusions and hence make better decisions.
With SEMrush, SEO professionals can dive deeper into the “SERP Features” to find the pages that are featured into various programs of Google.
Say some of its pages are linked as a featured snippet. Now, if you were to use any other tool but SEMrush, you would not even get a hint about this. But SEMrush tells us which pages of Feedough are in the featured snippet. Here’s an overview of the “SERP Features” section:
Once you have found the keywords and pages that are driving organic traffic for the competitor, you can use some other tools such as AccuRanker and Ahrefs to dig deeper and find more actionable insights.
Tracking and Reporting Marketing KPIs
At the beginning of this post, we mentioned how everyone takes help from SEO professionals with a multitude of tasks. Well, that doesn’t have to be the case all the time.
Even the non-SEO marketers can use these SEO tools and use them from time to time. One main application of these SEO tools is into tracking and reporting marketing KPIs for presentations and meetings.
Large or small, every digital marketing agency or marketing team should have access to the best SEO tools for reporting and tracking their performance.
Apart from showing proof of progress to the clients, it also helps you to discover hidden insights from the raw that you might not make much from if you were to rely entirely on Google Analytics or your good-ol’ search console.
From identifying critical action items in your campaigns to tracking the performance of pilot projects in your overall marketing strategy, these tools can also increase domain authority of your website.
As we discussed earlier, SE Ranking is a tool that’s more than just about tracking ranks of your pages. It is, infact, one of the most important tools for agencies and marketing teams use to create reports in a hassle-free and elegant manner.
One of the biggest hurdles toward adopting a software – knowledge transfer to the team, is irrelevant when it comes to SE Ranking. The self-explanatory nature of this software can save a lot of time for your team while adopting the software.
Not only this, but the clean reports generated by this tool is also known to impress clients. Add this to the fact that there’s not much hassle in creating reports with it, and you have found yourself the perfect tool for reporting and tracking KPIs for your marketing campaign.
SEMrush is another vital tool for creating reports. Especially when the report is all about SEO efforts.
SEMrush allows you to create marketing reports that are thorough and comprehensive, covering everything from backlink monitoring and keyword tracking to social media analysis.
Although most folks would not think of SEMrush as a real SEO reporting tool, the white-label, as well as branded templates for generating reports, help it dismiss those claims.
While not the complete reporting and tracking tool one might be looking for, it helps if you do not wish to buy access to another software specifically for creating reports.
Google Data Studio
Like most tools by Google, the power of Data Studio is relatively unknown. Well, doesn’t get the same credit as it deserves.
Also, getting ahold of all the features and being an expert with Google Data Studio can be tough. But it’s worth it!
With data studio, you get access to data from various Google properties and their assets in one place.
Along with the data, it also provides robust and engaging visualization tools that you can use for reporting purposes.
Data Studio can help you with almost every source of data in Google’s ecosystem. It includes:
- Google Analytics
- Google Ads
- Youtube Analytics
- Search Ads 360
- Google Search Console
- Display and Video 360
For beginners, I would suggest to start with some of the default templates and get comfortable with the multiple visualization tools.
Once you have gained considerable experience in working with Data Studio, you can switch to creating your custom themes for reporting performance.
SEO Tools for a higher #Hackerman Quotient for SEO professionals.
We’ve discussed almost every one of the best SEO tools out there. But some SEO tools save more time and effort than any of the expensive tools but stay under the radar somehow.
These tools are the unsung heroes for many SEO professionals who are scrambling to save another 15 minutes for the extra task on our list.
One such tool is the search analytics add-on for Google Sheets.
Search analytics for Google Sheets
What this tool does is bring you all the data, with better visualization and customization, to your google sheets directly. So. SEO professionals short on time do not have to export data and bear the pain of cleaning it and adding it to their reports.
It’s all a click away from you. Just set up the “Search Analytics for Google Sheets” and you are ready to go!
You can also group your data with higher granularity and find actionable insights into how all this data can help you. If you feel there has been a significant drop/rise in your traffic, you can just find the data for those two-time frames, put it in the sheet, and perform VLOOKUP to get clarity on indicators that have changed.
Similarly, in case you notice, there has been a drop in rankings – just go out and look for any 4xx or 5xx errors that might have crept in.
Add-ons for Mail-merge in Google Sheets
SEO professionals have to run a lot of e-mail outreach campaigns regularly.
Using an e-mail marketing tool can save some time, but interoperability is a big issue there.
Whether you use Mailchimp, Hubspot, or SendGrid, you are bound to have one hiccup or the other. And end up spending time on it.
Enter Add-ons for mail merge in Google Sheets.
My personal favourite is YAMM (Yet Another Mail Merge). Because of its ease-to-use and great analytics, this should be your first choice. But you have to buy a premium subscription if you plan on sending more than 50 e-mails a day.
But if you are looking to save some bucks here, you can go with the add-on “Mail Merge with Attachments”. There is no cap on the number of e-mails here, but you still got to buy premium for analytics.
Which great tool did we miss?
So, these were some of the best SEO tools that can make your lives much more comfortable. Apart from these tools, there are some cool Google Chrome Extensions that can give you amazing insights into website analytics.
Did I miss any good ones?
Perhaps one that the rest of us need to start using ASAP.
Let us know in the comments, and I’ll feature it in the next edit.