I have been doing SEO for well over 10 years and in that time I have used most of the SEO tools that have come and gone along the way. Some were great, some were not so. Based on my experience, I’ll tell you which SEO tools are worth using today and why.
I am not going to make a list of 300 tools like most blogs do, that’s pointless fluff that helps nobody. I’m trying to save you time by simply telling you what you should be using.
NOTE: If you’d like me to review your SEO tool for inclusion, email me.
SEO Tools & Software – PAID
First, let’s start with all of my favourite paid SEO tools.
It’s important to understand that you can’t be cheap when it comes to your investments in SEO software and tools, because nothing free is available on the market that can provide what these paid tools can. These, in my opinion, are a necessity to please SEO clients.
Ahrefs is, without doubt, the best backlink analysis tool available right now.
Moz, Majestic, SEO Spyglass and whatever other backlink tools you’ve heard of, none of them come close to Ahrefs. They have the best, freshest data and the largest database along with the best features and tools. See this great case study for proof, if you need it that is.
At its core Ahrefs enables you to monitor your backlink profile and analyse any new inbound links you’re picking up. That means you can do the same for your competitors…
You can sort referring domains by link type and TLD (top-level-domain).
And you can sort individual backlinks by link type as well, but also by platform such as blog, ecommerce, CMS or forum. Or language, traffic level or keyword. It’s very powerful.
Here are some of my favourite Ahrefs features:
- Site Explorer
This is where you’ll spend most of your time when using Ahrefs. You can really dig down into a backlink profile and get powerful insight that will help you to gain a competitive advantage. Discover broken inbound and outbound backlinks, anchor distribution, organic keywords and top linked pages.
- Link Intersect
Reverse engineering competitor link profiles is an important part of any SEO campaign. Enter your domain and a competitors domain and Ahrefs will show you all of the links they have, that you don’t, giving you the opportunity to gain ground on their SEO efforts.
- Keywords Explorer
Just enter a keyword, or group of keywords, and Ahrefs will show you average search volumes, keyword difficulty, keyword ideas, SERP position history as well as a SERP overview of all ranked sites for a selected keyword along with all of their important metrics in-line for useful insight at a glance.
Ahrefs starts from $99 per month, but you can get a 7-day trial for just $7.
I get it, it’s quite expensive, but if you’re serious about becoming a better SEO, or delivering the best possible results for your client, then you cannot afford to not be using it.
2. SEMRush – Organic Visibility Insight
SEMRush, like Ahrefs, is the dominant tool in their field of online visibility analytics and marketing insight. There really is no other SaaS tool offering the data that they do.
Serpstat, Raven Tools, Moz and AgencyAnalytics are just four of the competitors that try to provide similar data but again, similar to the competitors of Ahrefs, they just don’t come close. SEMRush does suck for backlink data, though, I will say that right away.
SEMRush will provide you with awesome keyword and visibility insight for any domain, essentially giving you an idea of what a domain ranks for and how much traffic it is likely getting from its Google rankings. As you can imagine this provides invaluable data for your competitor – expose their best ranking terms and steal them from them.
Here are some of my favourite SEMrush features:
- Domain Overview
This is the place to start with any new domain you’re analysing. Instantly gain organic insight at a glance – how much traffic traffic is the domain getting organically? What keywords is it ranking well for? As well as keywords by country, traffic trends, organic position distribution and main organic competitors based on their common keywords. Everything you need, basically.
- Organic Research
Drill down into organic data. See number of keywords ranked, estimated monthly traffic with historical trends, branded traffic vs. non-branded traffic, top organic keywords, top changes, and more.
- Keyword Magic Tool
I always use this for my keyword research. Just enter a keyword such as “SEO tools” and you’ll be given a huge list of keyword ideas with the monthly search volume, keyword difficulty and history trends for every keyword. You can find keywords in any country and use broad, phrase or exact match results.
SEMRush starts from $99 per month but they do also offer a free 7-day trial.
Again, it’s quite expensive like Ahrefs, but once you’ve looked through all of the actionable data it provides you with I’m almost certain you’ll think it’s a bargain.
3. Unamo – Keyword / Rank Tracking
Unamo is probably my favourite SEO rank tracker. There are many of them out there, all of varying prices but with mostly similar features. The reason I enjoy using Unamo the most is; it’s cheaper than most, and it’s sexier than all of the others. And that’s important.
Simply add all of the keywords you want to monitor, choose which country to track, which device(s) (desktop, mobile, or both) as well as your competitors to track against.
Here are some of my favourite Unamo features:
- Average Rankings
On the average rankings page you will see your average ranking positions by each day over the past month, against your competitors (if selected). The sexy line chart gives you a good idea of your organic growth at a glance, as well as how you’re doing against your competitor(s).
- Ranking Ranges
The ranking ranges page shows you how many keywords you have in positions 1-3, 4-10, 11-13, 14-30, 31-99 and 100+. It’s a great way to see your keywords rising across these groups, into the positions that will deliver traffic (1-3, 4-10). You can also see your competitors against your own.
- Landing Pages
Keywords are grouped by landing page where you can see the average ranking for your keywords by each landing pages. Great for when you’re targeting multiple pages and blog content.
Unamo starts from just $19 with 100 tracked keywords. And also a 14-day free trial.
Sure, tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs will show you keywords too, but you need a dedicated tool to monitor keywords you’re actively focused on ranking.
SEO Tools & Software – FREE
And now for the ones you’ve probably been looking forward to the most. The completely, 100% FREE SEO tools that provide tremendous insight and value.
4. Google Analytics – Visitor Analytics
Google Analytics is obviously the best visitor analytics solution around, and is something that every business owner should be using. After all, what’s the point in working hard to get traffic and sales if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not?
You can see which devices people are using to access your website, which part of the world they’re from, where they’re coming from (search, social, referral, etc.), and more.
You can also hook up goals and ecommerce sales data. Ka-ching.
5. Google Search Console – Organic Search Data
Google Search Console was previously called Webmaster Tools.
It’s essentially a command center for website owners where you can manage, monitor and diagnose everything to do with your website from an organic perspective.
You can monitor mobile usability issues and view your Google search performance including clicks, impressions, average positions and click-through-rates. You can also submit sitemaps, request domain changes, see any manual penalties or security issues, and so much more.
6. Screaming Frog – Spider Tool
Screaming Frog is a spider / crawling tool that looks at all of the pages of your website to find issues such as missing heading tags, missing ALT tags, duplicate content issues, and so on.
It’s great to use as part of an SEO audit or simply to audit your own website from time-to-time to make sure everything is as good as it can be from an SEO perspective. After all, every little helps, right Tesco? And when you’re optimising for top rankings, it really is true.
Screaming Frog is 100% FREE but only for a maximum of 500 pages crawled.
Got anything to add? Drop it in the comments below.