Essential SEO tools, from free to expensive

Search engine optimization is rooted in data: technical data, analytical data, and contextual data. The tools you use to access this data fuel your ability to make smart SEO decisions to keep your performance in the right direction.

In this article, I will recommend SEO tools in eight categories. Some tools are free or inexpensive. Others are more expensive, with a lot more features. It’s generally true that you get what you pay for, and that’s true for SEO tools. The more expensive ones are easier to use, contain more features and allow you to work more efficiently and efficiently.

However, a rambling SEO pro can run a perfectly good SEO campaign by cobbling together data in Excel from multiple datasets. It will take longer, but the results will likely be similar.

Enterprise SEO platforms. These all-in-one tools offer the convenience and scalability of monitoring and predicting organic search performance across hundreds or thousands of keyword targets and pages and against many of your chosen competitors. – for a price. They will even recommend targeted optimizations for different pages, although in my experience you should take any auto-generated recommendations with a grain of salt.

Major competitors in the enterprise SEO platform category include BrightEdge, Searchmetrics, Moz. Each will cost you thousands of dollars per month. But they are the favorite of SEO agencies and big companies.

Tools for webmasters. Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools should also be the cornerstones of your SEO toolkit. Both are free. They provide access to performance data that cannot be obtained from any other source. They allow the two largest search engines to send you messages about issues on your site that are impacting your rankings.

Keyword tools. Google AdWords Keyword Planner is still the go-to source for keyword data, although the SEO community is increasingly ambivalent about it. Unless you’re in an account that’s running a campaign above a minimum spend threshold, today’s Keyword Planner only provides data ranges for keyword values ​​instead of actual rounded numbers, which makes finer-grained optimization decisions very difficult.

If your business runs AdWords campaigns, access this account to use the Keyword Planner. There is no cost beyond what you already spend on AdWords. If you don’t have access to an actively bidding AdWords account, try one of the other keyword tools, such as Wordstream, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. All are subscription-based and range from tens to hundreds of dollars per month.

Ranking tracking. It’s hard to find a standalone tool that only tracks rankings. The best rank trackers are part of larger SEO platforms or bundled with larger tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs. Remember, though, that Google Search Console offers ranking data for Google search results for free.

Web crawlers. To understand how search engine spiders encounter your site’s basic meta elements, you’ll need a crawler. Use it to find errors, check for duplicate title tags, test launch a new site, create an XML sitemap, and more.

The two main crawler names for SEO purposes are SEO Spider and Screaming Frog’s DeepCrawl. Screaming Frog offers a free version that crawls up to 500 pages at a time. The full version, for unlimited explorations, costs £149 per year. It’s a good starting point.

DeepCrawl is more expensive – hundreds of dollars per month depending on the subscription type – but it comes with additional features such as backlinks and site architecture analysis.

Backlink tools. Links to your website are the cornerstone of organic search performance. These tools identify the links to your site and, also, the links to the sites of your competitors, which you may want to court. They can also help determine which links to your site are doing more harm than good and whether you have been the victim of a negative backlink campaign.

Majestic is the most frequently used standalone backlink tool, with supposedly the largest link index in the world. The cost ranges from tens of dollars per month to hundreds. Google Search Console also offers free backlink data for Google. Ahrefs and SEMrush are the most comprehensive and expensive alternatives, offering a lot more features and a smoother interface.

Spreadsheets. Anyone who says Excel isn’t a basic SEO tool isn’t deeply invested in data-driven decision making. There are so many disparate data sets in SEO that need to be brought together into a single view to make optimization decisions. Even if you have access to the more expensive tools, you will still need to export the data to a spreadsheet to merge it with other datasets to diagnose problems and make critical ad hoc decisions.

Familiarize yourself with at least the basic Excel formulas, such as VLOOKUP, SUMIFS, COUNTIF, IFERROR, and CONCATENATE.

Internet audience analysis. Why are web analytics packages SEO tools? Because if you’re making SEO decisions that aren’t based on current performance and the potential to increase that performance, you’re not optimizing. You just change things randomly.

Google Analytics is the undisputed SEO favorite in the analytics space due to its ease of extracting data at the URL level. And it’s free unless you need an enterprise version. If you don’t have analytics on your site today, stop everything and mount a campaign to implement Google Analytics immediately. Adobe Analytics is another package often used in large companies. But its powerful capabilities come at the cost of ease of use.

Comments are closed.