There are so many SEO tools on the market that it can be easy for a business owner to become overwhelmed by all of the options. Once you have found the tools you need at a price you can afford, then you can focus on implementing your SEO strategy.
To simplify things, it helps to sort the available tools into various categories. Some tools help with keyword and competition research, others are used for metrics and analytics, and some tools are used to run audits and reports. This guide will examine the best tools in each of these categories.
SEO Research Tools
SEO research tools tend to be expensive, but the subscriptions fees are money well spent. A proper SEO strategy will make or break your online business. This is not an area where you should be pinching pennies in your operating budget. However, some of the top line tools are simply overkill for small businesses. If this is the case for you, you might want to consider some of the second tier offerings in this category.
SEMRush, Ahrefs, and Moz Pro are considered the major players in the SEO research field. Each of these
Ahrefs has the largest and most accurate backlinks database of the available tools. Their Link Explorer tool is one of their original products and is still the best on the market for exploring backlink profiles and opportunities. This company’s keyword research and competitive analysis tools are also best in class and have the most accurate data.
This is generally the best
Moz’s link index is not as large as Ahrefs, but it is significantly larger than the database used by SEMRush. The keyword research tools are also more robust than those offered by SEMRush. Moz is well known for its authoritative educational articles about SEO. They literally wrote the book on this topic.
If you run a local business, it makes sense to use Moz Pro and Moz Local together. Moz Pro also offers a robust API for developers.
Moz Local is a separate product from Moz Pro, starting at $15 per month. Moz Local is the only professional grade tool available for local SEO management. There are some second tier local SEO tools on the market, but they cannot compare to Moz Local in terms of reputation, features, and pricing. Every local business should sign up for Moz Local.
Semrush is an
Their tools and reports are able to help marketers that work in the following services: SEO, PPC, SMM, Keyword Research, Competitive Research, PR, Content Marketing, Marketing Insights, Campaign Management.
WP Beginner has published an
SpyFu started out as a competition research tool, but it has slowly evolved into a full scale online marketing research platform. This company now provides keyword research and tracking, backlink building, SERP analysis, and PPC analysis tools. You can create multiple projects and run beautiful reports. Their pricing is half of the major competitors, and they have an even lower pricing special running at the moment. You can currently lock in a $9 monthly rate for SpyFu’s most basic tier of service.
If you’re on a budget, this tool might be all you need. It provides all the tools in the other suites, but the data is not as accurate and the features don’t have as many configuration options. They have great user education and support, and the tool provides all the information you need to seriously improve the SEO of most small business websites.
Ubersuggest is currently offering a lifetime membership for $120. If you sign up for the free trial and cancel, you will be offered even lower rates for lifetime memberships. I have been offered lifetime membership rates as low as $49. If you just can’t afford a monthly SEO tool, you can pay for Ubersuggest once and use it forever. That’s a good deal for a business on a shoestring
SEO Analytics Tools
Once you have your SEO research done and you’ve optimized your site, you need to track your analytics. This will show you the results of all your hard work, and guide you towards improvements that you can make in your online marketing strategy. Both of the major tools in this category are free utilities provided by Google. While there are a few paid alternatives on the market, there really isn’t any point in using them.
Google Analytics tracks everything about your website’s traffic. You insert a small snippet of code into your website, and Google begins collecting data. You can log into Google to view
Google Analytics is currently transitioning from its old format, Universal Analytics, to a new format that is known as Google Analytics 4. Universal Analytics will no longer be supported after 2023. If you are starting a new Google Analytics account, you should start a GA4 property. If you are currently using an old Universal Analytics configuration, you should upgrade your account.
Google Analytics integrates with many other tools. Third party tools are upgrading to work with the new GA4 format. Do not be discouraged by bugs or glitches. The new analytics format is a strong improvement, and it is worth waiting out the adaptation curve.
This Google support document outlines the differences between Universal Analytics and GA4. This article is part of a larger series that details how to migrate from the old format to the new GA4 model. The new concept uses an updated set of metrics to track web performance. It is important to understand how to read and use the new reports.
Google Search Console
After you verify ownership of your site with a simple code snippet, Google Search Console will start showing you valuable data about your traffic, keywords, and competition. Google Search Console also provides tools that let you check for mobile readiness, verify schema data and meta tags, and manage your site maps. Google Search Console data can be combined with Google Analytics data to create a unified Google Data Studio dashboard.
Google Search Console provides up to 16 months of search data for your site, which can be filtered in a variety of ways. There are many
SEO Audit Tools
Screaming Frog is a UK based online marketing agency that produced a tool for SEO technical analysis. Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider has long been the industry standard tool for deep SEO technical audits. The tool can provide many types of technical analysis. The free version is sufficient for most people’s needs.
The Screaming Frog website provides lots of documentation and tutorials that will help you learn the tool. This article from Seer Interactive gives instructions for over 50 common uses of the Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
Other site audit tools
All of the tools listed in the SEO Research Tools section of this article also include site auditing tools. These tools are adequate for entry level technical analysis. If you subscribe to one of these software suites you may never need more advanced auditing software.
However, the tools provided by the other software suites are all limited in scope. If you need to do serious tech analysis, Screaming Frog is the tool that you need. When you need to fix your rankings, it will be worth the learning curve involved. You can relax with the easy tools until you feel that you’ve hit a wall with your SEO progress. Then it’s time for advanced analysis.
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