Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website to increase its visibility when users search for keywords relevant to your brand, products, and services. While incremental modifications to your site may seem insignificant, collectively they can have a valuable impact on making the user experience better and as a result, boost your performance in organic search results.
Mastering SEO can be hard—especially when the algorithms that drive our efforts are constantly changing and updating. Fortunately, there are tools to help you get SEO tasks done accurately and efficiently.
In this guide:
- Why Should You Be Using SEO Tools?
- What SEO Tools to Use?
- Which SEO Tools to Use?
Why Should You Be Using SEO Tools?
Imagine this: you’re trying to assemble the flat-pack furniture you ordered online. But, you don’t have the tools to put them together—some screws and a screwdriver, for example. With your bare hands, you can only get so far, can’t you?
It’s a similar case when you try to build a website. Without the necessary SEO tools, it’s virtually impossible to get anything done. Whereas construction tools have specific, individual uses, so do SEO tools.
Some tools help you with keyword research and data analysis. Some also automate your processes such as keyword monitoring, tracking, and reporting. Overall, these enable you to see what’s working and which parts of your strategy could benefit from some refinement. They also give insights into how you fare against your competitors and how you measure based on different KPIs for SEO success—organic traffic, bounce rate, load time, search rankings, domain authority, etc.
It gets better. When you’re managing multiple websites, there are also SEO tools that give you an overview of each site’s performance in real-time and allow you to generate accurate reports at a click. It saves you from having to put up with spreadsheets to analyze data manually—something that’s not only time-consuming but also has a high risk of inaccuracy.
What SEO Tools to Use?
SEO tools get you going and keep you going. While some are there to help you launch your SEO efforts, others gather data to help you assess the overall health of your site. It enables you to see what’s working, identify issues that may be keeping you from ranking in the SERPs, and adjust where necessary—and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Understanding the value of SEO tools is a great start, but with the wealth of options out there, how do you know what tool is best for which SEO task?
10 Best SEO Tools for 2022
You would find a lot of free SEO tools online, including some free versions of the ones that made it on this list. But, keep in mind that these tools are relatively basic and limited in capabilities, and because you’re investing in the success of your website, using paid tools should be worth the investment.
Continue reading as we list some of the best SEO software and tools—both free and paid—that are favorites in the SEO industry.
Semrush is a multi-use tool that helps you track keywords, organic traffic, search rankings, and backlinks, among other things. It provides insights into the keywords you are targeting, including their position in SERPs and the pages to which they drive traffic.
You can also get competitive insights—see what your competitors are doing, what keywords they are ranking for, their traffic patterns, and other information that will help you do better yourself. Perform site audits and optimize your pages for organic search. Semrush offers access to more features with various paid plans starting from $119.50/month. But, you can get started with their 14-day free trial.
Ahrefs is another all-in-one SEO toolkit with tools for link building, keyword research, competitor analysis, rank tracking, and site audits—in short, tools to help you rank higher in SERPs. When it first launched in 2011, it was primarily used to analyze a site’s link profile.
But, over time, it grew to become a fully-featured SEO suite that also allows you to keep track of your keyword rankings and discover content on any topic that is performing well based on social or link shares. You can also use it as a keyword research tool for Google, YouTube, and Amazon.
Pricing for an Arhefs premium plan starts at $99/month or $83/month if billed annually.
Moz Pro tops many lists of the best SEO tools today with many industry experts applauding it for being comprehensive and always up-to-date even with the regular Google algorithm changes.
Being a full-service powerhouse, it offers keyword research, site audit, link analysis, rank tracking, on-page optimization, and other features to help you improve your rankings and boost search visibility. Others also praise Moz for its responsive chat portal that provides insightful answers to almost any questions asked. A standard plan with Moz is priced at $99/month and with its wide range of capabilities, you know it’s a great deal.
Majestic is venerated for having the largest amount of backlink data. Using this tool, you can see which sites link to you and what anchor texts they use to redirect users to your site. It also lets you see how much weight these backlinks have in SEO. With Majestic, you can also analyze your competition—compare up to five sites at a time.
The Lite plan of Majestic costs $50/month and unlocks helpful features such as a bulk backlink checker and access to valuable insights such as a list of referring domains.
Screaming Frog works like Google’s site crawlers: it lets you crawl any website—look at the webpages and follow links within those pages, the same way you would browse content on the web. But, it takes things to a different level by giving you relevant data to see which areas of your website could benefit from some tweaking.
It performs quick site analysis which reports any broken links, missing title tags, duplicate content, duplicate meta tags and other technical errors. It also automates many of your SEO tasks such as temporary and permanent redirect searches, XML sitemap creation, review robots.txt, other directives, etc. The tool offers more premium features which you can unlock with its paid version that costs £149/year.
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that helps make your site better, SEO-wise. When installed to your WordPress site, it will help analyze your page’s content and keywords, and return with suggestions on how to improve them—make your site rank higher in searches and optimize your content for SEO and readability.
The tool also offers complimentary access to various, comprehensive educational materials to further develop your SEO skills. Its premium version is available for $99/year.
Besides Majestic, SpyFu also boasts solid backlink tracking capabilities. A search analytics tool, it scours the Internet for data to identify the keywords businesses target in their paid campaigns. It matches search results with search terms, giving insights into the types of searches for which they appear on SERPs.
In other words, SpyFu is true to its name—it essentially allows you to spy on your competitors by finding competitor keywords and pinpointing the words and phrases that generate the most traffic. SpyFu offers three different plans starting at $39/month or $33/month if billed annually—a competitive price provided the depth, functionality, and other complementary features you get when you sign up.
Free SEO Tools from Google
In one way or another, most of the SEO tools available today are built to optimize your site primarily for Google and it’s not hard to find out why. Being the world’s largest search engine, most of the rules governing what ranks and what doesn’t are from Google. And if there are tools that understand the search engine better, it’s those that are from Google itself—Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Adwords being the big three. These freemium tools let you do many of the things the paid ones can do, if not more: position monitoring, keyword research, site crawls, etc.
Formerly Google Webmaster Tools, GSC is a free tool where you can keep tabs on your site’s presence in Google’s search results. Monitor referring domains, mobile site performance, highest-traffic searches and pages, and rich search results. It allows you to understand how Google and users alike view your site so you can optimize for better search performance. With GSC, you can also control what gets indexed. New websites, in particular, can submit their web pages for indexing.
You can access all these features by creating an account on GSC and adding your website to it. Once verified, you can then submit your sitemap and the tool will crawl all your site’s pages and return with suggestions to improve your search visibility.
Quite possibly the most valuable free analytics tool there is, Google Analytics offers insightful data directly from Google. It tracks almost everything you need to know about your site traffic—where it comes from, which page is receiving it and how users are led to your site. It also keeps count of your overall traffic, conversions, and revenue generated from your site.
With this information, you can take the necessary actions to further optimize your site. The only disadvantage with Analytics is that it has since stopped showing which search terms are sending you organic traffic. But, even that can be resolved by pairing it with tools like Keyword Hero which reveals the keywords visitors use to land on your page.
One often-mentioned best SEO practice is to get valuable insights for your organic efforts from your pay-per-click data. Google Ads, for example, has metrics that identify keywords, ad copies, and landing pages that generate the most number of visitors, leads, and sales. These not only inform your organic efforts—blog articles, metadata, etc.—but also give you insights into the messaging that resonates with your target audience.
With a Google Ads account, you also get access to the free Keyword Planner tool where you can discover new keywords and blog topics to boost your search engine rankings. It also shows the historical trending and search volume data of keywords to estimate how these keywords might perform.
Which SEO Tools to Use?
There are hundreds of other SEO tools out there and there’s no shortage of features to explore. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to try all these tools. You just have to figure out which ones are best for your business. Sit down, assess your needs, and start looking at your options. Compare their features to see which solutions will get your most complicated SEO work done fast and right.
One way to do that is to start with the free versions of the above tools to determine if they are the right tools for your goals. If one works better than the other, that’s when you should consider upgrading to a paid plan—of course, considering other factors such as your budget. Whichever tool or software you invest in, maximize your investment by getting the most value you can get from it.
Having the right tools is essential in a process that’s as time-consuming, complex, and resource-intensive as SEO. But, it’s even more critical to partner with an SEO expert to provide you with a more strategic direction towards the success of your marketing campaigns.
Sure, you can piece together all the SEO data necessary to improve your organic search performance. But, it’s more likely that you don’t have the same logic and creative thinking level as an SEO professional. Getting a professional SEO services provider will help you interpret these insights into strategies that actually deliver results.