Everyday search engines are getting more advanced and SEO more complex. You need more than the right tools to be good at SEO, but without the right tools success is impossible. With this in mind, I’ve endeavored to give you a description of the most used and most useful SEO tools so that you can figure out what tools you need in your shed.
There are a ton of SEO tools out there. Some of them are meant to be a comprehensive solution for every aspect of SEO (Moz), others are meant to help with one area of SEO (ahrefs). As I said, there are a ton of good and bad SEO tools out there, and this isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list, just a list of some of the ones that I think are the best.
Alright, let’s get into it…
Ahrefs is newer to the world than these other solutions, but it’s already proving to be a heavy hitter in the SEO world. They are especially strong as a backlink checker.
Usability: Arhefs is very intuitive. It’s got a pretty interface and logical navigation.
Pricing: They offer a free version that’s extremely limited. They have three paid options ranging from $79 to $399.
Verdict: It’s a good tool for checking backlinks, but their tools are a little skimpy from what I can tell.
Using Google’s tool to disavow spammy links to your website can be a complicated and vague process. Most of the time, there’s no way to know for sure if a link is hurting your site’s authority or not. This is where DisavowFiles comes in. This tool allows you to see how many times links in your disavow file have been disavowed by other websites. It also allows you to see if your website has been disavowed by anyone.
Usability: This tool comes with a handful of other useful features like “Alexa rank” that helps you measure your website prominence. All in all it’s a pretty useful and straightforward tool.
Pricing: This is a free product.
Verdict: This product makes the process of fighting negative SEO much simpler. If you are suffering from negative SEO, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Google recently rebranded their “Google Webmaster Tools” as “Google Search Console.” This tool has a lot of useful functionalities. Even if it’s not the only tool you use, it’s indispensable for website owners to use because it’s a direct line of communication with Google.
Usability: Google Search Console has a bare bones design, but is pretty intuitive to use and has some powerful tools. It allows website owners to submit site maps to Google, understand their content and keywords better and manage their link profile. Want to learn more about GSC? Check out this article: 4 Ways To Use Google Search Console for B2B Marketing.
Pricing: Google Search Console is the only tool on this list that is completely free.
Verdict: This tool is a great starting place for website owners to begin to understand the different factors of SEO. A website owner might need another tool to help their SEO efforts, but they will never outgrow the need for Google Search Console.
This tool is for a very specific purpose: fighting negative SEO, or more specifically “disavowing” spammy links to your website. This tool is for very specific use cases and should be used with caution.
Usability: This tool can be difficult to understand and use correctly, but is a valuable tool for SEO’s, especially if one of your domains has been penalized by Google.
Price: This tool is free 🙂
Verdict: This tool is essential to know how to use, if only to be prepared if your website becomes the target of negative SEO.
5) Link Detox
Similar to DisavowFiles, Link Detox helps SEO’s identify spammy links to their website that could be hurting it’s authority. Link Detox allows you to upload links to your site and see which ones are spammy and could be helping.
Usability: Link Detox has about a 90% accuracy rate, so users will need to manually go through the links that Link Detox has marked as bad.
Price: Unlike DisavowFiles, Link Detox is not free. Link Detox offers three different plans ranging in price from $289 to $1,299.
This is one of the most well known SEO tools, perhaps because they also have one of the best blogs on marketing and SEO in the world. Moz has a few different tools. Their Moz Analytics tool is the hub where you can monitor your keywords, links, social presence, crawl diagnostics and more. They also have a few tools outside of the analytics dashboard: Open Site Explorer, Fresh Web Explorer, Crawl Test, Rank Tracker, Keyword Difficulty and On-Page Grader.
Usability: Moz’s navigation isn’t super intuitive to me. Even though they have places in their analytics dashboard that deal with links, crawling, keywords and on-page optimization, they decided to create separate tools that deal with the exact same things. As someone that’s pretty new to SEO, I found it difficult to figure out what I should be looking at.
Pricing: They have four different versions that range from $99-$599 a month. I personally think Moz is a little overpriced. They do offer free 30 day trials for the two cheapest versions.
Verdict: In my opinion Moz’s tool is overhyped because of how much great content they have surrounding it.
Screaming frog is one of the most well known, tried and true SEO crawling tools around. You can crawl up to 500 urls for free, thus it’s great for analyzing smaller sites.
Usability: Screaming Frog doesn’t have collaboration tools which can make it unattractive to SEO teams. It does let you export crawls.
Pricing: As I said, you can crawl up to 500 urls for free. To crawl more than that you need to buy the license which is around $150.
SEMrush, like Spyfu, focuses on SEM and SEO. I think it’s a better tool for measuring your SEM performance against competition. There aren’t a lot of things in the tool that allow you impliment SEO.
Usability: The interface is very intuitive. As I said above, it isn’t the best tool for implementing SEO.
Pricing: they offer a very limited free version and then three paid monthly versions that range from $70 to $550 a month. They also offer yearly billing options that save you money in the long run.
Verdict: Since most small to medium sized companies will get more out of SEO than SEM, this tool is probably best for larger enterprise companies to measure their SEM efforts.
This tool is the only program that you download onto your computer, instead of logging onto a website. Powersuite includes four tools: SEO Spyglass (backlink optimization), WebSite Auditor (onpage and content optimization), Rank Tracker (search rankings and keywords), Link Assistant (link building) and Buzz Builder (social media tool).
Usability: Powersuite is incredibly intuitive. Unlike Moz, it’s easy to know which tool you need to get things done. One drawback is that you can’t export anything unless you go with enterprise (the more expensive option). In some of the reviews people said that it didn’t handle large amounts of data well.
Pricing: Powersuite’s price is a major plus. They are the only option that you don’t pay for monthly, you instead pay one price upfront. They have a free version that allows you to try out their tools, but doesn’t allow saving and only gives you limited information. They only have two paid versions: professional is $299 and enterprise is $699.
Verdict: In my opinion, this looks like the best option for small to medium sized businesses. It’s accessible, cheap, and powerful.
Spyfu is an SEM tool as well as an SEO tool. For this reason it targets larger agencies. It doesn’t have as good ratings as Moz on TrustRadius.com or G2crowd.com, but this may be because it isn’t as well known (probably because of Moz’s stellar blog).
Usability: Spyfu doesn’t offer a free trial right now, so I wasn’t able to try it out for myself, but it generally has a good usability rating. This is a serious drawback though. It’s a pretty big leap to pay money for something you’ve never used before.
Pricing: They only have three versions that vary in cost depending on whether you choose to pay annually or monthly. Prices range from $49 to $999 a month.
Verdict: I can’t make a very educated assessment of Spyfu because they don’t offer a free trial. My impression though is that it is better for larger enterprise level companies.
More tools and options
Want free tools that make your SEO work easier? Check out this comprehensive article detailing tons of great free tools: My 15 Favorite Free SEO Tools.
Want a more detailed review of some of the top SEO tools? Check out this in depth review of Moz, Raven Tools, Buzzstream, AnalyticsSEO, Web CEO and Advanced Web Ranking: SEO Tools Comparison: Raven Tools, Moz, Buzzstream & More.