Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art of ensuring your webpages are pushed to the top of relevant search results, but the process can be long and arduous if done manually. SEO tools help automate the process, whether it's determining which keywords are the best to strategically target, how many backlinks you've established on other websites, or even the SEO health of your competitors' webpages.
SEO is crucial to any business that wants to draw in customers looking for their services on search engines like Google or Bing. Boosting your organic search is a great way to attract new customers, and SEO tools are central elements of achieving that goal. Here are some of the best SEO tools out there, as well as some tips on how to select the tools that best suit your business.
State of the Industry
As of May 2016, the SEO tool industry was worth $65 billion and growing. Projections have the industry burgeoning to $79 billion in total value by the year 2020. A 2016 survey entitled What Works in Online Marketing found that of 357 marketers, 94 percent planned to increase their SEO budgets or keep them flat through 2017. Those results portend continued growth into 2018, as do the trends of more users online, more user searches on search engines and the increased sophistication of SEO tools in general.
Some of the biggest names in SEO tools today are Moz, SEMrush and SpyFu. However, it's a crowded industry with a huge number of brands vying for supremacy. Many are paid, but there are also free SEO tools. Using a combination of paid and free tools to verify results is a generally accepted way of operating.
One worthy consideration is the differences between each SEO tool. Use two different tools for the same thing and you'll likely get two different responses, sometimes wildly so. This is because each utilizes Google's specifications in its own way, meaning accuracy is a bit of a moving target. As Michael King wrote in Search Engine Land, "these are all just different tools storing the same data in different ways."
The absence of an industry technical standard means SEO practitioners have two major options: take their tools data at face value or use multiple tools and aggregate the data as best as possible. When selecting an SEO tool, it's important to know how it collects and analyzes the data so you have a full picture of what your final numbers truly represent.
SEMrush is one of the market leaders for SEO tools. It includes features for website audits, social media monitoring, rank tracking, competitive analysis, link building, and paid and organic search. It is one of the most comprehensive pieces of SEO software we reviewed in that it covers the entire SEO ecosystem and provides detailed analyses of competitors' SEO, helping you to avoid their pitfalls and capitalize on the most effective areas.
By comparing yourself to various domains in your market, SEMrush makes it easier for you to strategically target the areas where you have the best opportunity to increase your ranking relative to your competition. SEMrush also turns this analysis around on your company, showing you your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as recommending steps you can take to improve your current ranking. Backlink audits also help you pinpoint which backlinks are working and which ones you might consider removing.
Klipfolio is a solid all-around marketing program that focuses on email, digital and social media marketing. The SEO component of Klipfolio tracks traffic for both organic and paid searches. It comes with a customizable central dashboard that grants you an overview of your SEO campaigns and allows integrations with third-party applications like Google Analytics, a highly useful feature for monitoring SEO.
Klipfolio can also benchmark your actual traffic, both organic and through ads, against goal-completion metrics so you have a clear overview of how your site is performing. Through its SEO traffic key performance indicator Alexa, Klipfolio monitors things like unique monthly visitors, site engagement, historical traffic trends and current traffic metrics.
SpyFu does exactly what the name suggests: It spies on your competitors' strategies and SEO history. Armed with this information, you can gain an edge with keywords, rankings and your pay-per-click campaigns. This SEO tool makes it easy to identify new opportunities to challenge your competition.
If your competitors are using keywords that you aren't, SpyFu identifies them and allows you to break into the same space and challenge them for primacy. Likewise, it helps you capitalize on their mistakes by identifying which keywords haven't worked for them. It reverse-engineers this feature to identify keywords that might actually be harming your ranking as well, allowing you to clean up your overall SEO strategy.
Hootsuite for SEO focuses heavily on social media tracking. This unique software monitors the social media conversations that your customers are having with your social media accounts. This makes it easier to track your profiles and understand how customers are engaging with them so you can better market to your target audiences.
Social media and SEO often don't come up in the same sentence, but Hootsuite recognizes the importance of a holistic campaign that includes social platforms. Monitoring social with Hootsuite helps you keep track of customer feedback about your product, services and web presence; this makes it easier to improve operations or build on current successes.
Pricing for SEO tools ranges from $30 to $300 per month for the average small business plan. Enterprise-level SEO tools are generally costlier and might even require a quote. Most tools also offer free versions with limited functionality.
Pricing can vary greatly depending on which services a given tool offers. Some platforms are comprehensive SEO tools, while others are only focused on one aspect of SEO strategy, such as keyword research.
Most SEO tools charge for a monthly subscription, though many can bill annually for a slight monthly discount. For example, SpyFu charges $79 per month for its professional plan, but when billed annually the price comes out to $58 per month.
Editor's Note: Looking for online marketing services? We can help you choose the one that’s right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:
When selecting an SEO tool, it's important to first understand what the software you're considering offers. Some tools cover the gamut of SEO – keyword research, web crawling, backlink analysis, social media, etc. – while others focus on just one or two areas. Oftentimes, SEO requires the use of several tools in conjunction with one another, so don't be afraid to look into more specialized tools and then consider others to fill in the gaps. It all depends on your needs and budget. It's wise to get all these aspects down on paper before proceeding.
Once you're ready to move forward, gather a pool of suitable vendors and compare services and prices. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of any subscription or contract. It's also smart to seek out user reviews from a third party, and if you know someone who can give you a recommendation, that's even better. Don't just take the vendor's word at face value. Once you've gathered a pool of candidates and verified their offerings, you'll have a clearer picture of services and pricing that fit your circumstances. Only sign on with a vendor when you're sure it provides what you need, and always check that canceling is easy and doesn't incur substantial fees.
Common SEO Tools and Rank Tracker Questions & Answers
Have an SEO tool or rank tracker question of your own?
Having a solid on-page SEO plan in place is one of the simpler things a marketer/webmaster can do to ensure they are optimizing the reach of their content and site.
Before you worry about maintenance I would make sure that you’re considering the following on-page elements for the URLs on your domain:
- The subject of the page is part of the title tag
- The subject of the page is in the URL
- From a thematic perspective you have diversity in the terms used covering the...
SEO and organic rankings in Google are still one of the best ways to increase traffic and market your site or business online.
SEO is all about the content you create and how you promote it.
No matter what niche market you are in, it’s extremely important to know your audience and what type of content they want. This will help with SEO and ranking for long tail keywords that your audience is likely typing into Google.
Also make sure you niche down as much as possible, as this is...
Hi Karen, because there are so many moving parts in a successful digital marketing strategy of any size, you will be hearing different answers to your questions. I will offer you one fairly simple solution. This is a very basic perspective but if you're not very experienced, this should help you.
You seem to understand that SEO & social media are 2 important components of digital marketing. There are others that are just as important but my answer is based solely on your question.
I would like to know how to rank on keywords that are considered difficult to rank by some SEO tools.
It depends. If you build a NICHE SITE. you can rank easily. STEPS:
Sayou you want to rank for 10 KW's.
1) make a list of those KW's
2) Make a Page that offers unique content with STATS And data that you competitor do not have. Use 2 main keywords and lot of long tail semantic words here in Title and page content with 2 % density max. The page needs to be 2500 words.
3) Now do...
Your question got me curious so I did a quick audit of your site to see if anything stood out and you've got a lot going on. However, you're not unlike a lot of the people I work with and I hope this helps.
Here's a laundry list of some of the things I found...
106 internal links are broken - Broken internal links can cause a webpage to return an error status. This can occur due to an incorrect or malformed URL, or because the page the link is leading to is broken or no longer exists,...
Mark's advice is pretty good - if it's not your core area of expertise, hire it out. However, with SEO, you have to be extremely careful who you hire it out to. It's entirely possible to do it completely wrong, get temporary good results for a few months, even a year, and then get slammed by a penalty. Don't hire it out to India because they use SEO tactics from 2010 bound to get you penalized.
You want to hire a firm that focuses on building good content (if you don't have it already) and...