Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tools have a mixed reputation in the market currently. Some marketers believe that such tools and resources reduce the overarching quality of the SEO performed. Moreover, some tools are said to violate the search engine Terms Of Service as they send automated queries (this is especially the case with rank tracking tools).
Why use SEO Tools?
Whilst SEO gurus’ around the globe have differing opinions on such resources, we are of the opinion that SEO is not what it used to be in the early 2000s. Gone are the days when you could fill your website with keywords, or hire a black-hat SEO specialist to build some links, and thereafter appear at the top in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Google’s latest algorithms take into account a myriad of factors ranging from user intent, quality of links pointing to your site, relevancy of your content, to of course, keywords. With this in mind, an SEO specialist has a vast number of variables to take into account.
True, no SEO resource or tool can replicate what an expert does. But these SEO tools do help us in automating tasks and analysing data which may take days for an individual or a team. Through such resources, we have access to gigabytes of data, through which we can obtain useful insights into how Google’s algorithm works.
Let’s have a look at some of the best SEO tools on that market that you could be using to boost your SEO processes.
Keyword Research Tools:
There are a wide range of keyword tools available in the market. Generally, each of them is suited for a specific purpose, resulting in very few options with the capability to provide a solution to all of your requirements.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner (GKP) was developed with AdWords advertisers in mind. GKP enables users to:
- Search for new keywords based on a simple phrase or category.
- Gain an estimate of search volume.
- Multiply certain keywords to get new ones.
The basic framework is similar across all three of the above options. You enter a ‘Seed Keyword’ and set filters based on location, minimum search volume, or competitive bids. GKP provides you with either new keywords, or with a range of estimated monthly search volumes.
Advantages of GKP:
- Being Google’s own tool, GKP contains actual keywords searched by users and appropriate estimates of search volumes.
- GKP has a myriad of filtering options, enabling one to filter keyword results based on location, language, minimum search volume, minimum bid, and so on.
- GKP also enables you to ignore certain keywords that you aren’t interested in ranking for (e.g., a closely related competitor’s business or keyword).
- The program lists keywords in two categories, being ‘Ad Group Ideas’ and ‘Keyword Ideas’. ‘Ad Group Ideas’ provides excellent keywords if you want to monetize your content.
Disadvantages of GKP:
- GKP requires a Google AdWords account. However, you need not set up the actual campaign to search for keywords.
- The program as a whole is quite advertiser-centric, which may be disadvantageous to some users.
- GKP cannot provide one with entirely new keyword ideas or LSI keywords.
- The monthly search volume provided by GKP is usually in a large range, especially for queries related to holiday seasons. Thus, GKP doesn’t enable a monthly list of the volume of such queries.
Ubersuggest/Seed Keywords/Answer the Public
Ubersuggest, Seed Key Words, and Answer the Public are three free tools that provide Google autocomplete data and actual ‘seed keywords’ entered by the user.
Advantages of Ubersuggest/Seed Keywords/Answer the Public:
- UberSuggest scrapes Google’s autocomplete data to find any related keywords. It is especially helpful in finding keywords and generating new ideas in a specific niche.
- Seed keywords display ‘actual queries’ that users search for. These are often short phrases that users pluck out of thin air.
- Answer the Public combines Google autosuggest data to provide a list of keyword ideas in question format. Because voice searches currently account for almost half of user queries, this type of information is very useful for organisations to monitor.
Disadvantages of Ubersuggest/Seed Keywords/Answer the Public:
- All of the aforementioned tools only scrape Google autocomplete data and provide keywords in a very narrow category.
- The above platforms do not provide actual monthly search volumes of keyword or CPC bids.
- Upon finding an idea or a keyword, one would then need to use Google Keyword Planner to find volume estimates.
SEMrush is a comprehensive tool that helps you search for keywords, analyse your competitor’s website, all whilst aiding you in your overarching online marketing campaign. Alike to GKP, you enter a seed keyword and are provided with two sets of results: keywords that contain the seed keyword, and related keywords that do not
These keywords can then be sorted by search volume, keyword difficulty, and CPC bids. Additionally, you can enter your competitor’s websites and analyse keywords they are targeting and access their backlinks. You can even see their most profitable ad copies, budgets, and gain insights into their PPC marketing activities.
Advantages of SEMrush:
- SEMrush is an all-in-one tool. It offers not only keyword research tools but also tools that can be used to support marketing processes as a whole.
- The platform enables you to analyse your backlink profile and verify the integrity of pointing links.
- Insight into competitor strategy and processes can be accessed through the program.
- SEMrush shows you best performing ad copies and most popular content for any keyword, enabling one to mold ideas in the appropriate direction.
Disadvantages of SEMrush:
- Due to SEMrush being your ‘one-stop-shop’ marketing solution, professional plans may be expensive for those organisations only looking for keyword research.
LTP (Long Tail Pro)
Long Tail Pro (LTP) focuses on finding long-tail keywords based on seed keywords provided by the user. LTP differs from other programs in that, long-tail keywords are longer phrases containing four or more words, and are in many cases relatively easier to rank for.
Advantages of LTP:
- LTP provides long-tail keywords that in many cases are easier to rank for.
- The program enables the user to gain information regarding their competition by providing the top ten websites competing for each keyword.
- LTP additionally allows you to check if a particular domain name is available through an inbuilt tool, based on your final choice of keywords.
Disadvantages of LTP:
- LTP can only provide the user with long-tail keywords. Moreover, it does not provide options to estimate website traffic or detailed competitor and backlink profile analysis.
Finally, Moz Pro is an all-in-one website SEO toolset that takes a more streamlined approach toward keyword research and analyses.
Advantages of MOZ Tools:
- Upon entering a seed keyword, Moz Pro populates a range of keyword suggestions and options. This makes the search process faster and easier for the user whilst uncovering related keywords in turn.
- MOZ enables you to group keywords on the basis of low/medium/high lexical similarity, and from this provides LSI keywords, which are extremely helpful in ensuring overall website relevance.
- The platform additionally provides the user with an indication of rank potential through ‘Difficulty’, ‘Volume’ and ‘Opportunity’ metrics, enabling enhanced keyword building, prioritising, and analysing.
Disadvantages of MOZ Tools:
- At $600 p.a. for 5,000 reports per month, and $1,800 p.a. for 30,000 reports per month, the stakes are high. This factor is especially emphasised considering that you will likely need alternate tools for other SEO processes.
SEO Ranking Trackers:
Advanced Web Ranking
Advanced Web Ranking (AWR) is a comprehensive SEO solution toolkit that is mainly used to track rankings of keywords over time. The platform additionally provides multiple features and options that make it a favorite to many SEO experts.
Advantages of Advanced Web Ranking:
- AWR is available both as an installer file with a one-time license, and in the cloud with a web-application and monthly subscription. Therefore, depending on your usage requirements you can opt for the plan that fits your needs and budget.
- AWR can integrate with Google Analytics, MOZ, MajesticSEO and many other tools so that you can manage your website activity, social activity, and backlink analyses all via one medium.
- AWR has a website audit function, keyword explorer, and a host of other tools that provide insights into not only your website, but also those of your competitors’.
- AWR has a very clean and easy-to-use interface.
- The program enables users to create visual reports of both the progress and effects of an SEO campaign, including certain metrics over a period of time.
Disadvantages of Advanced Web Ranking:
- The on-site version of AWR can be slow depending on the user’s computing power.
- The platform unfortunately does not allow for link building analysis, which is often extremely important to SEO professionals in optimising their website.
- AWR slightly lacks in terms of its competitor analysis. Although it does allow users to view their Keyword Ranking and their competitors’ websites, that is about as far as it goes in terms of depth.
SEO PowerSuite combines many of the best SEO tools on the market into one easy-to-use program. SEO PowerSuite enables users to collectively manage the key components of their SEO campaign by offering: keyword optimisation, link building, and competitor analysis.
Advantages of SEO PowerSuite:
- With SEO PowerSuite, you can track unlimited keywords and websites, and create custom reports for each of them.
- With this tool, rankings are geo-specific (e.g., the local and organic results do not get intermingled).
- SEO PowerSuite uses other inbuilt keyword suggestion tools (e.g., AdWords, GKP, and SEMrush) to suggest profitable keywords you may have been missing.
Disadvantages of SEO PowerSuite:
- SEO PowerSuite needs to be installed on a local system. With no cloud functionality, computing power needs to be high.
- Some reviews of SEO PowerSuite have mentioned its lack of customer-service contact and live-chat facilities.
GeoRanker allows users to track local rankings across more than 50,000 cities in the world. If you are a business targeting the local crowd, this SEO tool is a must have. GeoRanker uses depersonalized search queries, wherein cookies are deleted before sending a query.
Advantages of GeoRanker:
- GeoRanker has a clean interface that displays the SERPs at the cities you selected based on a keyword entered.
- GeoRanker additionally uses a heat map to display results, where recurring pages are identified with a colour code. Thus, helping users to analyse the competitors they are up against.
- GeoRanker enables monitoring and tracking of website ranking and keywords for alternate locations.
Disadvantages of GeoRanker:
- Other than helping in local SEO, GeoRanker has no other functionalities.
URL Checking and Analysis Tools:
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is one of the best SEO tools on the market for site audit. It indexes all your webpages and generates a spreadsheet with details of pages, internal and external links, redirects, heading tags, attribute lengths, anchor text, and so on. With this spreadsheet, you can find and fix pages that are generating 404 errors, 301 redirects, bad tags, no-directs, and no-follows in both incoming and outgoing links.
Advantages of Screaming Frog:
- Screaming Frog is free to use for websites that contain less than 500 pages, which may be especially ideal for Small-to-Medium Businesses (SMBs).
- The platform is compatible with Windows, Mac as well as Linux.
- Screaming Frog can uncover every technical SEO problem within your site.
Disadvantages of Screaming Frog:
- Screaming Frog requires some HTML knowledge to make the most of all of the features that the tool offers.
- The platform has no cloud functionality.
DeepCrawl is a cloud-based website auditor tool that scans your website’s architecture and identifies issues with your on-site SEO. DeepCrawl is very similar in nature to Screaming Frog, however, it does provide some extra features and add-ons to its users.
Advantages of DeepCrawl:
- The dashboard within DeepCrawl allows you to fully customize your crawl process. Other than your website URL, you can add data from Google Analytics, specific backlinks, and URL target parameters for a quick crawl.
- You get an interactive visual report of all the pages that have issues, such as broken links, duplicate links, pages with SEO improvements, and so on.
- DeepCrawl houses a metric called DeepRank, which uses a scale of 0-10. The lower the DeepRank of your pages, the more issues it has, thus allowing you to prioritize technical SEO improvements.
- Different from most other auditing tools, DeepCrawl provides metrics based on your website load time and mobile-responsiveness.
- DeepCrawl allows you to not only view reports, but to also take actions and set up tasks to address the SEO issues.
Disadvantages of DeepCrawl:
- The program has no other functionality other than site crawling, not even web-wide indexing features.
Ahrefs is an extensive collection of SEO resources and social media tools developed to help in every sphere of content and PPC campaigns. Ahrefs boasts the traditional crawl features aforementioned above, along with rank tracking and content exploring capabilities. But perhaps the function that Ahrefs is most famous for is it’s Link Analysis tool, where you can have a complete overview of your backlink profile.
Advantages of Ahrefs:
- Google has repeatedly stressed the importance of having quality links that point to your site. With an easy inbuilt Disavow option in Ahrefs, you can disavow a spammy link that is pointing to your website within minutes.
- Ahrefs enables users to create a link profile with multiple criterias included, such as Nofollow, Dofollow, Redirect, Site Wide, and so on.
- Ahrefs can help to create outreach opportunities by showing broken links that either point to your website or the other way around.
- Ahrefs shows influencers who have shared the top posts for the keyword you typed. You can sort these sharers by retweet ratio, and reach out to them with new content to maximise your chances of gaining increased content sharing.
Disadvantages of Ahrefs:
- Ahrefs as a dedicated link checker is an excellent SEO help resource. However, the rest of the features (e.g., Keyword Explorer and Rank Tracker) are considered to be relatively elementary.
- Ahrefs is an expensive tool, with plans covering major features starting at $179 per month.
Follow Google’s Guidelines
For an effective SEO campaign, you must use the above tools judiciously, whilst also keeping an eye out for Google’s guidelines. If you are found to violate any of the policies, your website can be de-indexed from Google’s search engines or receive a penalty. Both of these can be detrimental for your business.
Here are some of Google’s Guidelines to keep in mind:
- Submit a Sitemap using Google Search Console. A sitemap can help Google’s algorithms understand your site architecture better.
- Display important names and information in text rather than images. When using images, use the ‘alt attribute’ to include a descriptive text.
- Optimize your page loading times and make it cross-platform compatible.
- Do not use irrelevant keywords. This will increase your bounce rate and your rankings will fall.
- Monitor your site regularly for hacked and spam content.
As long as you do not violate any of Google’s policies and use these tools appropriately, your SERP rankings should elevate. Take a look at a related video by Google.
Keyword Research, Rank Tracking and Website Audit are the pillars of any successful SEO campaign. Thus, a winning combination of data and insights from these tools, and enriched content that is relevant to your users should significantly boost your SERPs rankings.
So, which tool is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
Friday, 2nd of February 2018