To be successful with search engine optimization (SEO), you must use the right tools.
It’s simply impossible to conduct keyword research, analyze competitors, track rankings, track traffic and conversion trends, identify technical problems, and implement effective content marketing without the proper tools.
Yet with so many tools on the market, how do you know which to choose?
Here is a roundup of the top 13 best SEO tools to use.
1. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a powerful and completely free website analytics tool. Once installed properly on your website, you’ll be able to report on which marketing tactics drive the most traffic, which marketing tactics drive the most leads and sales conversions, how visitors use your site, which content they prefer, and so much more.
2. Google Search Console
Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is Google’s free SEO tool. Once you set up your account, you’ll get alerts if Google finds errors on your website and you’ll be able to view key stats like keyword rankings, number of clicks per keyword, number of times your website showed up in the search results per keyword, and your click through rate when your website showed up in the search results.
Plus, you can link Search Console to Analytics to unlock even more reporting tools in your Analytics account. For example, once you’ve linked these two tools, then in Analytics you’ll be able to review keyword rankings, click-through rates, impressions, and the landing pages that are ranking in Google.
AgencyAnalytics is our go-to platform for reporting. AgencyAnalytics offers automated reporting, client visible/shareable dashboards, as well as a clean interface for teams to review performance for various different services. We use AgencyAnalytics to report on and review metrics for Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google Ads, Facebook, Facebook Ads, Bing Ads, Yelp, LinkedIn, and many others. Whether it’s sending out reports each month in a timely manner or drilling into metrics to review client performance, AgencyAnalytics is one of our most widely used tools and we can’t recommend it enough.
4. Rank Ranger
Rank Ranger is a robust, all-around SEO analysis tool. But before you get lost in the data, focus on what Rank Ranger does best: tracking your keyword rankings. You’ll be able to track your website’s organic rankings over time in the major search engines, plus your local rankings in the “map” results. This will help you identify trends up or down in your rankings so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Rank Ranger also offers automated SEO reporting, competitor analysis tools, and many other helpful features for analyzing the performance of your SEO campaigns.
5. Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is another SEO tool with lots of bells and whistles. What sets it apart is the free SEO Spider tool that you can use to quickly conduct a technical SEO audit of your website. After downloading the tool, all you need to do to get started is type in your website’s domain name, and click Start.
The best part is that this tool is free (for crawling up to 500 URLs per website.) After downloading the tool, all you need to do is enter the website’s domain name, and click Start.
In just a couple of minutes, you will see a detailed audit of all of your webpages. From meta tags to error status codes, you can spot problems without taking the time to manually audit each and every one of your website’s pages.
Ahrefs is our favorite tool for analyzing backlinks, SEO content opportunities, and SEO keyword research.
The main tool we love at Ahrefs is the Site Explorer tool. Ahrefs is probably best known for the backlink analysis functions within their Site Explorer tool. This tool is very helpful for identifying the different types of websites that are already linking to your website. You can also view trends in the growth of your backlinks over time. In addition, you can use the Site Explorer tool to analyze backlinks to competitors and find new link-building opportunities.
In our experience, the Site Explorer tool is also incredibly valuable for analyzing top-performing SEO content on your website. You can use this tool to identify what pages and keywords are already ranking well in Google and driving traffic to your website. For example, you can see what pages are driving the most SEO traffic, and which particular keywords the pages are ranking for in Google.
And then, you can also use the Site Explorer tool to identify what pages and keywords are working best for your competitors, and then apply those lessons to your own SEO strategy. For example, if you see some competitors have certain types of SEO landing pages that you don’t have, and they are generating traffic on some keywords that you aren’t focused on, you may want to incorporate those types of content ideas into your SEO plan.
In addition to Site Explorer, we also love Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer tool. It provides a fast, easy way to generate dozens of new keyword ideas for SEO content creation.
MozPro (including Link Explorer)
Moz is one of the most popular SEO software suites and we use their tools regularly. Moz is probably best known for their ‘Domain Authority’ (DA) metric. DA predicts how likely a website is to rank in Google, with a range from 0 to 100, with higher scores corresponding to greater likelihood of ranking. The main factor with DA is the quality and quantity of links.
Moz Pro is a suite that includes many tools, including Link Explorer, a backlink analysis tool. Unfortunately, no tool is 100% accurate when it comes to finding all of your backlinks or the backlinks of your competitors. That’s why we recommend using multiple tools (Ahrefs, Moz, among others) to get the full picture.
MozBar is a simple tool but saves a tremendous amount of time when reviewing websites. It’s a Google Chrome extension that allows you to quickly and easily view a site’s Domain Authority, Page Authority, backlink information, and spam score. At the click of a button, you can also view a Moz page analysis, as well as followed and no-followed links on a page.
One of the biggest factors in your local “map” rankings is citations. A citation is simply a mention of your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on another website online. The most common citations are business directories like Yelp, Bing Local, and even Facebook business pages.
Moz Local is one of the best tools available to quickly audit your citations. You’ll see if your information is consistent across all directories, if you’re missing any important directories, and if you have duplicate listings that could be dragging down your rankings.
SpyFu is an amazing tool that allows you to see how your competitors are performing with SEO (as well as Google Ads). By using this tool, you’ll be able to find out:
- The keywords your competitors are ranking for in Google organically
- Which pages are generating SEO traffic
- What types of inbound links they have
- SEO traffic estimates and trends in SEO traffic
Plus, SpyFu is our go-to tool for Google Ads competitor intelligence. With SpyFu, you can see competitor Google Ads data such as:
- Which of their keywords are performing the best.
- How long their ads ran or have run for certain keywords.
- The clicks and impressions they received from their ads.
- The best performing ads.
- Your competitors’ ad copy.
- Your competitors’ monthly ad spend on campaigns.
So if you’re managing SEO as well as Google Ads campaigns, we definitely recommend using SpyFu to analyze your competitors.
SEMrush is one of the most complete all-in-one SEO software packages.
This platform pretty much does it all, including:
- Competitor research
- Keyword research
- Backlink analysis
- Automated On-page SEO audits
- And much more
Our favorite feature with SEMrush is the toxic backlink audit feature. In our view, their backlink audit tool is the best option for quickly analyzing potentially toxic backlinks to disavow via Search Console.
Citations (directory listings with your business name and contact info) are important for ranking high in Google’s local “map” results. But how do you find citations?
That’s where WhiteSpark comes in…
Citation Finder is one of our favorite tools offered by WhiteSpark. In a simple interface, Citation Finder allows you to add a business alongside some priority keywords. Once you’ve added the business info, the tool will start running and after a few minutes, Citation Finder will present you with a list of citation opportunities that competitors have. At this point, you also have the ability to add additional competitors. Once the list of competitors is set, you can review citations the business you added already has, you can review opportunities in a single list, and finally, you can review opportunities in comparison to the full list of competitors. In particular, we’re big fans of the ability to export these findings as a CSV.
Plus, WhiteSpark also provides the option to pay them to set up the citations to save you time.
BrightLocal is yet another citation building tool that is similar to WhiteSpark. In our experience, these tools will uncover different citation opportunities so using both can ensure you get the most exposure. Plus, BrightLocal has the same option to pay them to create the citations for you.
12. SEO Quake
SEO Quake is an all-in-one SEO toolbox that comes in the form of a browser plugin. Essentially, it’s a very handy quick reference tool for evaluating both your own site as well as the competition. Quick and easy SEO metrics for individual pages or a full SEO Audit function which instantly evaluates the quality of a site’s on-page and off-page SEO.
OK, this one isn’t exactly a tool, it’s a formula that is available in Google Spreadsheets. If you’re comfortable with spreadsheets, but you’re not familiar with ImportXML, then you’re going to love this!
Although it can be used to pull any type of data into a Google sheet, from sources as diverse as XML, HTML, CSV, TSV, and RSS feeds, it is particularly useful for businesses trying to organize SEO webpage data. For example, you can pull the current title tag, meta description, and even headers of a webpage into a single sheet, so you can review and document edits. Here’s a quick primer on using ImportXML for SEO.
This is a huge time saver!