SEO tools are a dime a dozen with new ones launching all the time, but a tool is only as good as the person using it. Just in the last week I have learned about new rank tracking, crawling, and reporting software that all claim to make your life easier. But when I’ve gotten under the hood of these tools, they just provide the same service as the existing and dominant tools on the market just with a prettier CSS file.
Because of this and the frequent questions I get about what tools to use as a consultant, I want to open up to all of you and tell you exactly the tools I use that make my life as a professional SEO and digital marketer easier.
I don’t use a million of them, but the ones I use I get my money’s worth.
Robust SEO Tools
SEMrush is, hands down, my favorite SEO tool right now. I think I severely underestimated the amazing power of this tool for way too long. It’s incredible for keyword research (especially competitor keyword research!), keyword tracking, competitor analysis, and historical data to reverse engineer competitor strategies. It’s hard to even write this description because it’s so useful for so many things.
If you want a great idea of what’s possible, SEER Interactive has you covered.
It starts at $99 a month and goes up from there. I happily pay this subscription each month.
If you’re in the SEO space, you know Moz. From their active blog to their well-loved MozCon conference, Moz is a leader in the digital marketing space. Their main app, Moz Pro, allows you to set up campaigns to track keywords and crawl data against your competitors weekly. You also get access to other tools in their toolbox like Keyword Explorer, which is quickly becoming a go-to tool for many digital marketers for keyword research as Google continues to tighten the net on free keyword data.
Screaming Frog Crawler and Log Analyzer
In my consulting work, I have to do a lot of technical analyzing of websites. Because of current level of clients I do not need as robust of a tool as DeepCrawl or Botify (though those are amazing for big accounts with big budgets). Therefore I use ScreamingFrog’s SEO Spider and newly their Log File Analyser (written with an S because they are British :-)).
After leaving my last job where I had an enterprise-level budget and we used Splunk to plumb log file data, I have felt at times that I was flying blind when doing technical SEO because I had very little idea what the search engines were actually finding and where would make the biggest difference. The Log File Analyser solves that problem for SMBs and anyone without an agency or enterprise budget.
Each is available for a £99 (~$149) annual license. They’re well worth the money.
For a long time I resisted getting AHREFs because I already had SEMrush in my toolkit. Eventually I was convinced to try it, and I must say that the tool has become my most-used SEO tool in a little under 7 months.
From their keyword database (and competitor insights) to their link database, AHREFs has become the place I go to get a first look at a site and then to dive deeper into the site and its rankings, links, and more.
Highly recommended. It’s more expensive than SEMrush, but it’s a great tool.
I also use a smattering of Chrome extensions that make life easier because they are directly in my Chrome browser and allow for quick analysis, which often leads to using one of the above tools to go deeper.
Link Research Tools Redirect Trace
For a long time I used Ayima’s redirect checker, but I began to experience some issues from it as it was not being kept us. So I switched over in early 2017 to the Link Research Tools Redirect Trace extension and have not looked back. This extension tells you the redirect hops that are taking place when you go to a URL, which has proven useful for both SEO audits and identifying rogue affiliates.
Moz’s MozBar is another tried and true tool that I have used for years. While I usually just leave it on DA mode in the top right of my screen, it can also be great for analyzing a specific SERP or while link prospecting.
This extension is more useful for link outreach than anything technical for SEO, but it is worth a mention here (and is top of our how to find someone’s email address post). Basically, Hunter has a huge database of email addresses associated with domains and they provide a free as well as a paid tier. Using Hunter I have been able to find everyone from a small mommy blogger to a Fortune 500 CEO.
Web Developer Toolbar
User Agent Switcher
The User Agent Switcher is simple – it lets you spoof your User Agent as Googlebot/Bingbot or even Safari, Kindle, or any of the web browsers. This is especially useful when looking for cloaking or what Googlebot/Bingbot are actually able to see on your page.
This one hearkens back to my link builder days, but LinkClump allows you to click and drag your cursor over a set of links, either opening them in new tabs or saving them to your clipboard to then paste into Excel. It’s great for copying lists to prospect or opening big lists in tabs to manually vet. It’s simple, but oh so useful.
What SEO tools should I have mentioned? The main one that I have not yet incorporated into my workflow is Ryte, but I’ll save that for another post.