Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is the art and science of improving your website’s ability to rank in search engines like Google for search queries that are relevant to your website. When done well, this can result in substantial amounts of organic (free and natural) traffic from search engines to your website. If you sell a product or service, this represents a tremendous way to attract new customers without having to pay directly for that traffic. Furthermore, you’ll be earning qualified traffic, searchers already interested in what your site offers.
SEO is a complicated industry and as a result there are a myriad of industry-specific tools available to make the job easier. Let’s discuss some of the most powerful and influential tools professional digital marketers have available at their disposal!
Some of these tools are specialty tools that focus on one task or type of SEO. For example, Screaming Frog is a website crawler app which “crawls” your website in a very similar way to Google. It then saves all of this data in a user-friendly interface, and allows you to export all of your data in a bunch of useful ways. It can’t do 99% of what big tools like Ahrefs or SEMRush can do in terms of overall functionality, but it is by far the best at what it does.
When it comes time to identify SEO tasks to perform, many of the big tools can run basic site audits and provide other useful insights on changes that can make a positive impact on organic traffic. We recommend partnering with a search engine marketing consultant or agency to help you identify opportunities and then leverage these SEO tools to either do your own SEO work or review the work of the SEO agency you work with.
Other tools, like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMRush, often have site crawler tools built in, but offer a wide variety of other tools and data as well. Let’s review some of the most important SEO tools digital markets have at their disposal.
Ahrefs is one of the biggest SEO software providers out there, along with Moz and SEMRush. Ahrefs is known for its expansive backlink index which holds over 12 trillion known links coming from over 200 million domains. Ahrefs’ competitive advantage to date is its powerful crawler capable of visiting over 12 billion websites per hour. Ahrefs provies backlink data, keyword research tools, competitive research tools, and much more.
Moz was founded by infamous SEO guru Rand Fishkin as an SEO blog, but they have evolved into an SEO software service provider as well. MOZ is equally powerful to the other big industry tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs. Really, you should try a few of these products before choosing one, as they all have advantages and disadvantages. Find one that offers tools most in-line with your SEO goals, and with a user-interface that you don’t find clunky. Moz is also famous for their Whiteboard Friday where they discuss somewhat advanced SEO techniques each week, and their SEO blog remains one of the best in the industry.
SEMRush is a powerful SEO software that you can subscribe to on a monthly basis. SEMrush is one of the most popular SEO tools (along with MOZ and Ahrefs) because it truly is a jack of all trades type of solution. From keyword research to site audits, SEMRush can arm your business with invaluable information and insight about your website, the competitiveness of your industry as it pertains to search engine marketing, and much more. SEMRush’s backlink audit tool is one of the best in the industry and seamlessly integrates with Google Search Console for easy management of your disavow file.
The big tools mentioned above have plenty of keyword data and research tools at your disposal, but the Keywords Everywhere browser extension is another great way to do keyword research. The plugin allows you to get keyword data via a chrome extension while you browse the web. For those that can’t afford bigger tools, Keywords Everywhere can be an affordable way to accomplish keyword research, or to find additional long-tail keywords the big tools may miss out on.
Screaming Frog is a website crawler that allows you to crawl a website and retrieve important SEO elements about each page. You can then use this information for extensive technical SEO audits and onsite optimizations. Screaming Frog is hands down the best website crawler available, and is one of the most important SEO tools out there.
The above SEO tools should be more than enough to get you started. After you’ve done some research and tried some of these tools yourself, you will have a much better idea of what you’re looking for and can choose the tool or set of tools that makes the most sense for your business and digital marketing initiatives.