Search engine optimization (SEO) is a dynamic field that requires a lot of ongoing effort. Whether you’re just starting out or have been trying to master SEO for years, having the right tools at your disposal can simplify the process. Unfortunately, trying to weed through the options available can just lead to further confusion. To give you a hand, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite SEO tools along with some of the advantages and downfalls of each.
What are SEO Tools?
SEO helps businesses increase their online visibility, attract high-quality leads, and turn a greater profit. By optimizing the website and any published content, organic growth and development is more likely to occur. SEO is what moves you up the results pages and gets you closer to the coveted #1 spot.
A Quick Note on Crawling and Indexing
Search engines like Google meticulously analyze different websites to determine which ones should rank highly, and which ones should be banned altogether. This is done by things like Google’s SEO spiders, which essentially crawl a website, collect the necessary information, and send it to the algorithms to be processed. The algorithms are responsible for evaluating the content and indexing (organize) it accordingly. This happens constantly, so both old and new content needs to be optimized regularly.
So, to get closer to the #1 spot on results pages, you need to analyze and optimize everything that goes online. Keyword research needs to match search intent, backlinks need to be reputable, internal links need to be relevant, and user experience needs to be as good as possible (or at least better than your competitors). Although SEO has gotten more complex with the introduction of machine learning and AI, the core concepts remain the same. Visibility, traffic, leads, conversions, repeat.
SEO tools help you analyze, monitor, and take action to improve your visibility and overall ranking across various search engines. Depending on the tool, they may provide you with insight on which keywords you should use across different pages of your website. They could also give you information on how to capture more targeted traffic in your industry or niche. SEO tools are designed to give you a better idea of the data about a website, thus providing an opportunity for improvement.
7 Leading SEO Tools to Try
As a company that focuses on increasing our clients’ online visibility, Operation Technology integrates a number of SEO tools to maximize results and efficiency. Some of our favorites include Ahrefs, SEMrush, Screaming Frog, Ubersuggest, AnswerThePublic, Google Search Console, and Majestic. All prices outlined below were those listed at the time this blog was written (August 2022). You can visit their websites’ pricing pages (linked below) for current information.
Ahrefs is one of the most widely known SEO tools available and was developed back in 2011. It’s extremely popular amongst content creators and web developers alike, as it comes equipped with some powerful features without an intimidating price tag. Ahrefs provides a high-level overview of your various projects or websites so you can stay informed on dynamic SEO performance and easily view your progress. Some of their most notable features include their site explorer, keywords explorer, site audit, rank tracker, and more. They also have a massive web index (i.e., over 295 billion pages, trillions of backlinks) and several tutorials for beginners to utilize. Ahrefs is backed with a knowledgeable team of support staff and a user-friendly dashboard for an overview of your current projects.
One of the biggest downsides to Ahrefs is that it doesn’t currently have a mobile app, so you can’t check your dashboard on the go. They could also improve the overall API integration to make additional tools more accessible.
Ahrefs offers a variety of plans at various prices. Their Lite option is marketed for small businesses and hobbies and costs $99/month. Their Standard plan is $199/month, Advanced plans are $399/month, and their biggest plan is Enterprise, which will set you back $999/month.
SEMrush is a full-service SEO tool that offers a variety of features aimed at solving marketing challenges. There are over 55 different tools and reports available to use, some of which include keyword research, on-page SEO tips, competitor analysis, social media management, link building, content optimization, and more. SEMrush also allows you to compare different pages across your website to see how they’re performing against competition. Their integrated features offer in-depth traffic analytics to better understand bounce rates, conversions, and the average length of time spent clicking through your site. In addition to these pros, SEMrush offers an impressive dashboard and can be used as a standalone SEO tool for smaller businesses.
However, SEMrush does use some industry jargon, which can complicate navigation for beginners. Business plans are priced at $449.95/month but are recommended for large agencies or enterprises. Smaller teams can access their SEO, social, and PPC tools on the Pro plan for $119.95/month. A Guru plan is also available for $229.95/month. There is an option to save if you pay annually and they offer a 14-day free trial for those who want to test their features.
3. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog is a great, UK-based SEO agency that created an impressive website crawler tool and several log file analyzer tools. The Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool is advertised as “the industry leading website crawler for Windows, macOS and Ubuntu, trusted by thousands of SEOs and agencies worldwide for technical SEO site audits.” It works by extracting data from your site, auditing it for issues, and providing you with a detailed overview so you can make informed decisions that improve your SEO strategy. It’s great for use within both small and larger agencies and can help identify broken links on your site, find temporary and permanent redirect, analyze page titles and meta data, generate XML sitemaps, and more.
Some users find that the data exports can be a bit much and there are occasionally errors with larger crawls, but developers are continually updating and enhancing their features. Screaming Frog SEO Spider has both a free version and a paid version for users, making it a good option for those on a budget. The paid version is about $209/year.
Neil Patel is one of the industry leaders of the digital marketing world. He’s well known for his informative blogs and insider information, making it no surprise that he created his very own SEO tool called Ubersuggest. This tool provides insight into well-functioning strategies based on keywords, high ranking pages, and competitor SEO so you can adopt them, improve them, and come out on top. It also helps generate content ideas that can increase your organic traffic and create a more effective content strategy. Finally, Ubersuggest wouldn’t be complete without information on backlinks. It’s free to use and easily accessible directly on the Neil Patel website. Just keep it bookmarked on your Internet browser of choice and use as needed.
One downfall is that some users find it difficult to pinpoint results within specific niche markets and no mobile app currently exists.
AnswerThePublic is an SEO tool created by Ubersuggest that focuses on analyzing search intent to provide you with information on what your audience wants to see. This SEO tool is focused on expanding your content ideas using millions of data on consumer insight. This is a great tool for creating a strategic content strategy that will actually attract your target audience and align with their search intent, thus making keyword implementation much more straightforward. This SEO tool offers both a free and paid plan, but a few people find the price to be unjustified since it lacks further information on keywords. Since data on keyword search volume doesn’t exist within AnswerThePublic, you’ll need to combine it with other SEO tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs. The Pro plan is $99/month, while the Expert plan is $199/month.
6. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is one of the best SEO tools for beginners. Not only is it completely free to use, but it’s extremely user friendly, backed by free support, and provides a great foundation for those trying to learn SEO. Google Search Console can be used to measure your site’s search traffic and performance, optimize content with analytics, identify and fix issues, and analyze click through rates. Since it’s a Google owned and operated SEO tool, it’s great for reviewing index information and optimizing your site for… well, Google. Whenever issues occur, you’ll get an alert so you can fix them in a timely manner and avoid unnecessary downtime. There’s a huge community and plenty of forums to help provide further information for those looking to develop their skills. However, it lacks information regarding search rankings for specific keywords, meaning you’ll have to connect Google Search Console with other SEO tools for a comprehensive overview of your strategies. Google Ads Keyword Planner can be used to supplement this.
Last, but not least, is Majestic and their invaluable SEO tool. They came out around the same time as Ahrefs and have consistently been a leading SEO tool amongst experts and consultants since. The primary focus of Majestic is their backlinks analysis and access to data. You can quickly and easily find out who links to your website, which is integral information when further developing your overall SEO strategy. Some other features integrated into Majestic includes their trust flow, which shows you backlink quality and their citation flow, which reflects backlink quantity. They also have a visibility flow, topical trust flow, flow metric scores, and more.
If you plan to use Majestic, it’s important to understand that their advanced functions can take a little bit of extra time. Some of their features have been said to appear dated as well, but they just updated their navigation on August 1, 2022, in an effort to improve access to reports and tools while enhancing the overall menu system. Majestic offers various plans at different prices. The Lite plan can be used for $49.99/month while the Pro plan is $99.99/month. Larger agencies can also opt for the API plan, which is $399.99/month.
How to Choose the Best SEO Tools for Your Business
Everyone tends to have different preferences for which SEO tools they prefer, but before you start testing them out, it’s important to evaluate your needs. If you’re new to SEO, you don’t want to try and adopt a complicated tool that’s confusing or over the top. Instead, you should find a more user-friendly option. If they have any tutorials available, that’s even better. Just because these SEO tools are beginner friendly, however, doesn’t mean they’re any less adept at performing their job than their alternatives. They may just have less features, which can help you become an expert in using them before moving on to more advanced options.
For individuals or businesses who already have a pretty good background in SEO, more advanced options are recommended. Again, you should evaluate your needs prior to choosing something and don’t write an SEO tool off just because it’s simple or “beginner-friendly.” Your SEO toolbox should adapt with your needs and sometimes, that means going back to the basics.
Furthermore, the size of your business may influence which SEO tools you use. If you’re doing your own SEO and are a new business, you’re going to need different tools than someone who already has an established online presence and customer base. If you’re a marketing agency or SEO expert, the tools you use will also vary. Industry experts will likely need to adapt a few different tools to improve their overall efforts.
Ultimately, which SEO tools you decide to use is up to you. A lot of people prefer one over another simply because of the interface, not the actual features. Budget also tends to play a big role in which option you prefer.
Working with an SEO Expert
While there are some great SEO tools to help you achieve your goals, it’s a time-consuming process that requires a big commitment. If you want to see the results without having to do the work yourself, Operation Technology can help. As an experienced Chicago SEO agency, we offer SEO services to help improve website search engine ranking and gain pre-qualified leads. With over 20 years of experience, our team of SEO consultants understand how to apply best practices and maximize your results. We work with a variety of industries to employ both on-site and off-site SEO campaigns for small, medium, and large businesses across the country.
If you’re ready to start seeing more organic traffic and rise above your competition, contact Operation Technology. We offer SEO services at fees suitable for any size client and priced competitively with other top SEO companies. To discuss your project and get a quote, call us today at 773-789-8636.