Search engine optimization (SEO) is more important than ever. These days, new trends such as the AI revolution and voice search via digital assistant are on the rise which means that your SEO game should be on point.
So, where do you start?
You could partner with a reliable SEO agency to ensure that you have a customized SEO strategy that best fits your needs. Or you can roll up your sleeves and tackle it yourself. The first step is to learn the basics of SEO. Then, you need to learn how to use the best SEO tools so you can audit, implement, and manage your strategy. Mastering SEO can be very difficult but it’s worth it in the end.
In this blog article, I’ve compiled the best tools that will give your SEO strategy a much-needed boost.
Categories of SEO Tools
To be honest, there’s a wide variety of SEO tools out there—and they’re constantly changing. Therefore, it can be difficult to know which tools are still effective and relevant, and which ones are busted. To help you determine which tools you can use, I’ve made a rundown of the different SEO tool categories.
1. Keyword Analysis Tools
Without keywords, SEO wouldn’t really exist. People use SEO keywords when they conduct a search via a search engine. If your website’s SEO is good, they’ll find your website at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Therefore, the popularity of your website depends greatly on how you utilize keywords to your advantage.
Over the past five years or so, efficient keyword analysis and research have become a lot harder because of Google’s Keyword Planner “hidden” data. However, it’s a critical tool for finding hidden opportunities, increasing traffic towards your website, and for showcasing useful and relevant new content.
Keyword analysis tools are essential for any SEO specialist, as they provide you with important data. However, interpreting the information and extracting insights are keys to a successful SEO strategy.
Examples of Keyword Analysis Tools: Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner
2. Ranking Tools
Staying on top of your SEO campaign is a must for any business—this includes knowing exactly where your website ranks on the SERP. To do this, you’ll need to use ranking tools that enable you to determine which strategies are working best for you. This way, you can reinforce the strategies that work and give more attention to the areas that need improvement.
Using the right ranking tools will help you maximize ROI and drive significant traffic to your website. Plus, you’ll be spared from hours of wading through hundreds of search results.
Examples of Ranking Tools: Google Search Console, Authority Labs, SEMRush
3. Content Tools
Content is king! When it comes to digital marketing, there’s just no way around it—content is the heart and soul of effective optimization. A successful SEO strategy must revolve around content of some kind. High-quality and useful content is favorable for your ranking signals, making your website relevant and more engaging for your audience.
Using the best content marketing tools, you will not only receive more traffic, but your posts might also get shared in social media. These tools can help you create the type of content that your target audience demands.
Examples of Content Tools: BuzzSumo, SEMRush, Uberflip, Yoast WordPress Plugin
4. Link Building Tools
Although Google isn’t exactly a fan of link building, it’s still a very valuable strategy as long as you do it right. Proper link building can help reaffirm your site’s credibility, garner traffic, and rank higher in search engines. However, if you’re going to game the system with backlinks, Google will give you a hard time.
However, if your website’s content is consistently strong enough, many backlinks will happen naturally, as people will want to quote and reference your website. Backlink analysis tools are essential tools that help you build your SEO foundation. By analyzing your backlinks, you can make a benchmark where you are, check out how your competitors are doing, and spot opportunities to partner with other websites.
Examples of Link Building Tools: Buzzstream, Ahrefs Site Explorer, Moz SEO Toolbar
5. Link Removal Tools
The search optimization space is like a war zone. While there are so many benefits of SEO, one wrong move and you’ll be outranked by your competitors or be penalized by Google. Link removal is hopefully something that you don’t have to go through. However, if your website has been hit with the Google Penguin Update, link removal tools are necessary to breathe new life into your website.
Link removal can also be used even if you haven’t received a penalty. Maybe you’ve purchased some links before or been in the receiving end of a negative SEO attack. You can use these tools to remove links that are negatively impacting you, so you can still be on Google’s good side.
Examples of Link Removal Tools: Disavow Tool, CognitiveSEO
6. Technical SEO Tools
Being able to dig around on your website’s backend and learning to understand its technical elements is a pivotal step to SEO mastery. These are the tools that will bring your SEO to a whole new level. Some of these tools have a high learning curve but there are ones that are fairly user-friendly as well. In addition, these are tools that are likely to be used by an SEO agency or developer.
Examples of Technical SEO Tools: WooRank Plugin, Barracuda Panguin Tool, Schema App JSON-LD Generator
7 SEO Tools You Should Be Using
There are hundreds of tools that you can use to take your SEO efforts up a notch. While it’s great to have so many options, it can be overwhelming to sift through them. So, I’ve made a list of the seven best SEO tools that you should be using. The list includes both free and paid options.
Formerly Webmaster Central, the Google Search Console is an essential SEO tool for newbie and veteran webmasters alike. Regardless if you have a small or larger website, Google Search Console provides a myriad of highly-useful tools that should be one of your starting lines. This tool is free for everyone who has a website and it allows you to monitor and report on your site’s presence in Google’s search results page.
The Search Console’s suite of tools provides you with at-a-glance information. You can evaluate your site’s performance and maybe spot potential problems to fix. It’s a tool to help ensure that your website is Google-friendly.
All you need to do is to verify your website by adding a generated code to your website or via Google Analytics, then you can submit your website for indexing. It’s one of the most useful SEO tools out there and I can’t imagine doing modern SEO without it.
2. Ahrefs (Paid)
Ahrefs is one of the most popular SEO tools online and for good reasons. When it comes to site crawlers, it’s the second-largest next to Google. SEO specialists can’t get enough of the Site Audit feature and it is widely used for preparing an audit report.
One of the things that I like to do with Ahrefs is the Site Explorer tool. Using this feature, you can find out how your competitors are acquiring links. And with that knowledge, you may replicate their strategy and build similar links for your website.
Another thing that you can use Ahrefs for, is finding low competition keywords. Contrary to popular belief, using only a keyword’s search volume is a poor method of predicting the amount of search traffic to a page. In this case, you can use the Content Explorer tool to find low competition keywords but with high traffic potential.
Ahrefs is a paid subscription tool but it’s certainly worth the investment.
3. SEMRush (Paid)
SEMRush is another top-notch digital marketing tool that’s actually a collection of SEO tools. SEMRush is a full-featured digital marketing suite which means that it’s not only used for SEO but other marketing methods such as pay-per-click (PPC), content marketing, and social media advertising.
Using SEMRush, you can identify SEO trends that are taking place within your industry niche. The Site Audit feature can help you check your site’s health in terms of SEO. You’ll also be able to stay on top of your optimization progress and detect issues to fix. In addition, you may also use SEMRush to find valuable keywords for your campaign. You’ll have insights into the keywords your competition is using which gives you an idea of how you stack up with your competitors.
SEMRush is another very popular SEO tool, and it’s a good option if you have the time and patience to learn SEO. SEMRush gives you the ability to take full control of your SEO campaign and it’s quite user-friendly as well. Again, this is another paid SEO tool that’s worth checking out.
4. Bing Webmaster Tools (Free)
For many website owners and SEO specialists, Bing tends to take the backseat when it comes to SEO efforts. However, you have to keep in mind that Bing is the second largest provider of search engine traffic. If you’re someone who’s taking advantage of traffic from Bing or planning to, the Bing Webmaster Tools is an essential choice.
Similar to Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools offer unique data and features that will benefit your SEO efforts. Bing Webmaster Tools is all about site diagnostic reports and testing opportunities. For starters, you can use Bing Webmaster Tools to monitor the security of your website. It’s not the most must-have SEO feature out there but it’s certainly a nice tool to have.
On top of that, Bing Webmaster Tools can also be used for keyword research and optimization. It has a built-in keyword research tool that is similar to Google Adwords Keyword Planner. The main difference is that Bing’s tool provides data for organic keywords instead of paid.
Overall, there are lots of new features and additions to Bing Webmaster Tools, and it’s highly recommended if you’re planning to work with Bing.
5. Answer The Public (Free)
As mentioned earlier, a successful SEO campaign revolves around useful and well-crafted content. Keyword research is an important step for publishing strong content and is one of the most fundamental and highest ROI activities for SEO. With the right keywords and content, you can attract potential customers and direct them to your website. A good entry-level tool for keyword research is Answer the Public.
At its core, Answer the Public is a keyword research tool and a customer insight tool. The tool gives you current phrases from Google and Bing. With a quick input, you now have an overview of the questions that people ask when using search engines like Google. For instance, if you search for the term “digital marketing agency”, you’ll see results with questions like:
What is a digital marketing agency?
Why choose a digital marketing agency?
What does a digital marketing agency do?
These questions or phrases can be the pillar for your content. You can organize your articles and optimize them for answering these questions as opposed to exact match keywords. Answer the Public is a free tool but it has traffic limitations. There’s a Pro version as a paid subscription but in most cases, you won’t need it.
6. Google Analytics (Free)
Google Analytics is the most widely-used analytics tool in the world. It’s a free service that will help you get the most value from your business website. Google Analytics is used to track the performance of your keywords, so you’ll know which keywords are performing best.
There’s really no reason not to use Google Analytics. One of the best benefits of using the tool is that it’s free of charge. Despite being a free tool, it offers plenty of features and information that will let you see the big picture of your campaign. With Analytics, you can also determine where and how your visitors found your site.
However, the main reason I use Analytics is for reporting. This tool provides a visualization that will help you make sense of the data. And with a report at hand, you can interpret the data and draw conclusions from it. With Google Analytics’ reporting capabilities, you can collect, present, and compare any combination of data.
Although Google Analytics is a powerful tool, it does take a bit of practice to become proficient with it.
7. Woorank (Paid)
Woorank is another website analysis tool that will help you keep tabs on everything that affects your SEO performance. You type in the URL of your website and it displays a detailed SEO audit with a score based on a 100-point scale. The higher the number, the better your rankings are. It’s essentially a report of your website’s health.
Woorank doesn’t just display the things that you’ve done right, it will also show you the things that you can work on to improve your score. Under the Marketing Checklist category, you’ll see recommendations such as “Optimize Your Videos and Images” or “Engage and promote within your Twitter presence.” When you click on these recommendations, the tool explains why it’s important and how you can get it done.
Under the SEO section, you can also see the things that you’re doing right and the ones that need improvement. You’ll see information like internal links, sitemap, alt attributes, and other on-page factors. Next to each factor are scores based on how important that factor is and how easily you can solve the problem.
Overall, Woorank is not only a solid analytics tool but it’s a great learning platform as well. It’s especially good for beginners since it’s very easy to use but robust enough for seasoned digital marketers.
Best Tools for SEO Success
That wraps up my quick SEO tools guide. This isn’t exactly an exhaustive list but hopefully, this roundup will help you better understand how you can use these tools to take your SEO to the next level. Just a quick reminder that these tools won’t do the work for you—you still have to put in the work to get the results that you want.
If you’re not sure that you want to master SEO or you don’t have the time, you can still partner with an experienced SEO agency. If you have any questions about how to develop an effective SEO strategy, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re happy to help you figure out the next steps to get your website ranking at the top of the SERP.