Those of us who are into content marketing are reminded of the old saying, “It’s a jungle out there.” After all, we have to compete with other marketers and brands for our customer’s attention. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if people didn’t leave negative reviews on websites, or if we didn’t have to contend with scammers. But the internet is a platform where everyone has access, so the competition is fierce, even cutthroat. To combat this, we are forced to use search engine optimization so people will find our content instead of that produced by our competitors. And if you think of the digital influencer that search engines like Google have, these might just be the most important marketing tools in your arsenal. Here are a few of the best SEO tools to help you succeed in the SEO game.
Note that these 16 best SEO tools are in alphabetical order, not any order of preference ;-) If they WERE in preference, using all of the 3 basic Google tools listed below followed by the free Yoast SEO WordPress plugin would be the basic SEO infrastructure that EVERY business should have.
While SEO is challenging for most industries, some have a greater level of difficulty in staying on top. If your company (or client) falls in this category, consider using Ahrefs. That’s because they are especially good at monitoring industries and competitors for SEO-boosting opportunities. For instance, they’ll tell you who’s linking to your website, and who’s linking to your competitor. They also offer insight into how you can get other websites to link to yours. In other words, Ahrefs takes much of the guesswork out of meeting the competition. Of course, they also do much more, including standard keyword research and reputation monitoring. Especially with keywords, Ahrefs will tell you which ones are easier to compete with, and which ones to try and avoid. Ahrefs is also well known for their competition-watching capabilities.
Pricing: Starts at $99 per month for the “Lite” version.
While most people don’t think about this tool for SEO, Google Analytics is a wonderful free tool to assist your SEO efforts. That’s because they will tell you how many times your website is visited, how much time is spent there, and what searches caused people to land on your page. At the same time, you can get extensive information on customer behavior and demographics. While this isn’t the same thing as telling you upfront which keywords to use, it does help to know which ones are working, and which ones aren’t. Spikes or declines in website traffic let you have an idea when efforts are successful. So while I wouldn’t use only Google Analytics, it should be part of the picture.
Pricing: Basic tool is free.
While the tool is mainly intended to be used alongside Google Adwords campaigns, Google Keyword Planner is also a good keyword research tool. Essentially, Google is buying into the fact that they’ll make more money if you choose the right keywords for your Adwords campaign, so they’re willing to help you choose the right ones. While the tool is free, the catch is that you have to set up an Adwords account to gain access. With that said, you are taking advantage of PPC campaigns, right? For SEO applications, the value of Keyword Planner is that it will tell you which keywords are hot, hot, hot. What are people looking for? Because if everyone wants it, you’re going to have to pay more for Google ads on that topic. To leverage this info in your SEO, be sure to give the tool an accurate view of what your website is all about. Pricing: free.
An option only available to those who own or maintain the website, Google Search Console is a way of tracking results and troubleshooting. One of the big features of Console is that you can help Google index your website by sending them site maps and snapshots. However, Search Console is more than just helping Google out: they will pay you back by telling you how your website is performing. For instance, the dashboard displays problems, such as broken links and 404’s, that need your prompt attention. It also gives you valuable insights into consumer behavior, such as the route by which people visit your site: this could include by Google search, through ad campaigns, and mentions on social media. All of these datapoints give you an idea of what weaknesses might need to be addressed, and what’s working well for you. Pricing: free.
If you need fresh keyword ideas, KWFinder by Mangools is a great tool. I love the fact that they’ll give you an independent opinion on how hard it’s going to be to optimize for any given keyword. In other words, where’s the competition putting their emphasis? This is rated on a scale of 1-100, and includes the opportunity to find “uncrowded” keywords. These might be phrases that people are looking for, but not finding, or they might be variants of popular keywords. KWFinder even looks at your direct competitors to show you what they’re doing right, and where they’re weak. It’s your choice to compete directly on popular keywords, or use a less direct approach with secondary selections. Do keep in mind that this is part of a suite of other tools, and you have to purchase access to all of them.
Pricing: cheapest (single-user) plan is $30 per month.
Although most of us think about keywords when the term SEO is mentioned, links and site credibility are important too. That’s where Majestic comes in. With this tool, you can get a comprehensive view of which backlinks are performing for your website, and which highly-credible sites are promoting you and your content. You also can learn about link density, and the anchor texts used to accompany those all-important hyperlinks. Another tool within Majestic is “trust flow,” which helps your website gain credibility online. Part of this is link prospecting, where you can seek out opportunities for guest posts and product page placements.
Pricing: Starts at $49 per month for the Lite version.
Trying to do battle with the spammers and scammers? With Moz, even these websites are accounted for, so you know how to work around them. Even using SEO best practices, unscrupulous actors sometimes need to be given extra attention for that takedown. Moz isn’t only about taking out the spammers, though: it’s about earning customer loyalty and trust. Something that spammers don’t understand. How? With expert SEO audits, website crawling, and keyword selection. They’ll even help you with backlinking and domain-level credibility rankings, allowing you to leave those other guys in the dust. Are you a locally-based business? MOZ is one of the few SEO tools that has features dedicated to local marketing.
Pricing: from $99 per month after a free trial.
Do you need an all-in-one search marketing tool? Screaming Frog is an excellent choice for comprehensive search marketing efforts. More than just doing SEO, Screaming Frog will help you maximize your PPC spend and public relations efforts. For you SEO needs, Screaming Frog has a variety of solutions: keyword and backlink research, website analytics, and the famous spider tool. The spider tool is intended to find broken links, perform an SEO audit, and discover duplicate content. Just the sort of thing you might need in a competitive environment. Pricing: Some tools are free, others are licensed on an annual basis.
Businesses in highly competitive industries need to learn a lot from their competitors to win at SEO. And SEMrush is one of the best tools out there for this task. For example, you can see which keywords perform best for your competitors, and observe changes in search engine rankings. Both of these help you see who’s up and coming, and who might be vulnerable to replacement on page one. Need to know how much a competitor spends on advertising? SEMrush is able to shed light on this area, and tell you when a new content publisher appears in your industry. Naturally, more common features such as backlink generation, keyword research, and analytics are part of this service as well.
Pricing: Starts at $100 monthly, with other plans available.
Disclaimer: I primarily use SEMrush as my go-to SEO tool.
SEOlium is a professional rank tracking tool. It only does one thing and does it well: monitoring your Google search rankings over time. But the really unique feature, aside from its outstanding accuracy and a fair usage-based pricing model, is the “no artificial limitations” policy. Doesn’t matter whether you’re on the non-expiring free trial, or if you are a paying customer – with SEOlium all features are enabled for all users and you also have unlimited projects, reports, websites, competitors, users, etc. You only pay for the actual number of keywords they need to track on your behalf! So just because other rank tracking tools are famous, it doesn’t mean they are accurate, or affordable. SEOlium is an accurate rank tracker priced right.
Pricing: Free, and then based on actual keyword query consumption.
How does a free-forever browser extension sound? With SEOQuake, all you have to do is click a few buttons and you can do an SEO audit on any website. This is a super-easy way to go head-to-head with competing websites by knowing more about how they operate. Perhaps most importantly, this browser extension will tell you what weaknesses a website has from an SEO perspective. If you’re analyzing a competitor, you can exploit those weaknesses to try and knock them down the rankings. On your own site, this same functionality can help you fix problems before other people can exploit them. Rather than bombard you with automatic data, SEOQuake lets you expand the dashboard to see what you want to know-or not. Finally, this extension provides much of the standard analytics and keyword analysis provided by other tools, but for free.
Do you ever worry that you’re saying the same thing over, and over, and over again? With Siteliner, you don’t have to worry if your content is getting too similar over time. They’ll tell you. Just plug a URL into their search engine, and the crawler will explore every page of the target website. Once that’s done, you’ll get a report on any duplicate content found. Think of it as Copyscape for internal content, especially since Siteliner is made by the same company. Depending on the number of pages on your website and the desired frequency of searches, you might need the premium version.
Pricing: free for smaller sites, and 1 cent per page over 25,000.
Need to know what keyword searches are making your competitor the most money? With SpyFu, you don’t have to wonder any longer. Just login, and they’ll run analysis on any competitor you choose, both for organic and paid search. This lets you and your marketing team aim with pinpoint accuracy at the competition’s strengths and give them a bad day on the search engines. Being able to dig deep on your competitor can help your own SEO as well as general digital marketing in so many ways, allowing you to leave your competition in the dust with the superior intelligence you gleaned from these best SEO tools. Never underestimate the power of knowing your competitor well!
Pricing: Paid monthly, plans start at $39.
Tired of writing content, and then finding out nobody reads it? With Ubersuggest, you can find out what everybody’s into, and then create content that is just as good. I mean, why take competition lying down? Neil Patel is the new owner of this tool, so you know it’s designed by and for marketers. With recent improvements, Patel claims that you can practically reverse engineer the competition’s website. This allows highly accurate targeting with your own content and website copy. That’s not to say that you can’t get the keyword suggestions that made this app famous, however. These are still available, and for free. However, site ranking, SEO audits, and competitor analysis are exclusively for paid subscribers.
Pricing: Ubersuggest Pro costs $10 per month, per user.
Are you spending hours and hours pouring over analytics figures, and still wondering why your website doesn’t rank well? Woorank is designed for the website owner who’s fairly new to the world of SEO. Rather than confuse you with a bunch of figures that don’t make sense, Woorank will tell you what needs to be done if you’re going to move higher in search engine ranks, or even earn that first ranking. One way they do this is by helping your content become shareable on social media. Not only that, but you’ll get actionable suggestions for your site.
Pricing: Starts at $59 monthly.
Those of you who run your site on WordPress should check out Yoast SEO. This advanced plugin helps you with keywords, but it does a lot more as well. For instance, they’ll make sure that there isn’t any duplicate content, and that the site is easy for Google to read. This helps your search engine rank right away, without your having to do much else. Another thing they offer is a readability score, helping your content managers know what’s more likely to appeal to target audiences. Lastly, the plugin makes sure that technical stuff isn’t clogging your page load speed.
Pricing: there’s a free version, or buy premium for $89 annually per site. This site uses the premium tool, but I used their free tool for many years before converting into becoming a paid customer.
What do you think are the best SEO tools? Any one of your favorites missing? Please let me know in the comments.
Best SEO Tools FAQs
SEO tools are online applications that help you understand how your website can rank better in search engines like Google. SEO tools will recommend what changes you can make to your website as well as what content you might want to create to help your website get more traffic from search engines.