With rankings fluctuating daily and Google updating their algorithms every few months, SEO is, without a doubt, a tumultuous practice. Staying ahead of your competition is nearly impossible without the latest SEO software. With this in mind, it is helpful to have a list of the essential SEO tools that digital marketers and SEO pros rely on to grow their organic traffic. But with new SEO software products coming onto the market at a rapid pace, how do you navigate through this slew of digital marketing software to find the cream of the crop? I asked over 45 SEO professionals what, in their minds, are the absolute “must have” SEO software tools that are currently available. Whether you are looking for SEO tools for bloggers, small businesses or agencies, for website content analysis or link building, or for keyword research and tracking, this list will be sure to help you out. Several tools are either free or come with free options. The tools are ranked by the the total number of recommendations they received. Without further ado, here is the list of the Top 21 Best SEO Tools that the SEO Pros REALLY Use:
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Linkio is a tool that monitors your website’s backlinks, but that’s not all. It will help you optimize the anchor texts of your backlinks for maximum SEO power while avoiding over-optimization penalties. Maintaining a quality backlink profile with diversified anchor texts can sometimes be very difficult, so using a tool made especially for that purpose is extremely valuable.
Communications & SEO Manager
Auto Accessories Garage
BrightLocal has helped us monitor listings and even goes as far as updating the information for us, but recently, they introduced a new reputation management platform and I’ve got say, I’m a huge fan. I ended our service with another platform because BrightLocal’s is much better. It’s seamless, allows me to have different types of emails to send out to clients, and keeps it all organized in one platform.
We use BrightLocal to manage local SEO campaigns, from citations and reviews to review monitoring and more. In [the coming year], we expect to see Google rewarding sites and companies that go beyond simply having online reviews consistently posted; it will become increasingly more important for companies to have good reviews found in a diverse group of review sites, from Google My Business to Yelp and beyond.
Founder and Managing Partner
Serpstat is an all-in-one SEO tool. Great for keyword research, backlink analysis, site auditing, ranking tracking and more. My primary favorite features are keyword research, rank tracking, and competitor analysis. You can enter a website and see what keywords a site is ranking for and it’s estimated web traffic. You can also see other competitors in your niche and see how many keywords they are targeting and how it’s compared to yours. This tool saves us a lot of time. Not only this is useful for SEO purposes, but it also for PPC advertising. You can find the estimated CPC and the competitiveness level of that keyword.
Project | Marketing Manager
18. Pro Rank Tracker
We use Pro Rank Tracker to help with our client’s keyword rankings. This helps us see where their website lands on Google based on certain keywords. For example, we can see if a keyword search lands them on page 1 or on page 12. Our goal is to get our clients on page one, this way they receive more recognition and traffic. Pro Rank Tracker will show us the keywords that are lacking and what we can do to fix it.
Lead Technology Coordinator
17. Yoast SEO (Free Option Available)
Since I build mostly WordPress sites, I use Yoast as a guideline for optimizing pages for keyword use and density. This SEO plugin also gives me great suggestions for internal linking, making sure that I link to cornerstone content. I also use this to create XML sitemaps, redirecting attachment pages to the parent URL, noindex-ing tag pages and post types that I don’t want in the search results. I also utilize the custom title tags and descriptions for individual pages. Yoast also adds Schema data for your organization.
Founder, SEO Consultant
Lockedown Design & SEO
SEOquake is one of the best free SEO tools and it is comparatively less-used among the top-runners. This is basically a Chrome extension tool which brilliantly acts as a SEO checker. This tool can perform on-page site audits, checks internal and external links of the website and at the same time runs comparison to find how your SEO drive is working against your rivals. This outstanding SEO tool offers keyword analysis to successfully manage your keywords. It has an easy-to-find dashboard through which you can control the tool with simple clicks. In addition to that, the export feature of SEOQuake allows you to download and exchange data within your team.
CEO and Digital Marketing Specialist
15. SE Ranking
SE Ranking is an all-in-one SEO tool I use daily. It is entirely web-based so I can login to my account from anywhere to monitor and manage my website to ensure we feature as high as possible in SERP’s. Some of the features include Keyword rank tracking, Traffic analysis, Backlink monitoring and the ability to run your website (or individual pages) through SE Ranking’s website audit that gives a detailed report on how SEO-friendly your website is, and what changes should be made to improve the overall performance and ranking of a website. It also includes some really useful SEO tools to help analyze your competitors, the ability to research and group keywords so that you can create keyword Silo’s for each web page and it is also allows you to integrate the website with Google Analytics and Google Webmaster. This tool is a must for every business that wants to jump up the search rankings!
IT Support Analyst
EC2 IT Ltd
SpyFu is a paid tool that is worth every penny. While it offers a lot of different tools and features, there are two aspects I love to use. The first is checking what keywords we are losing rank for. I find it’s pretty accurate and updates often and it helps us make sure we’re taking care of our content/keywords that are falling. The second is the Kombat tool. You can see what keywords your competitors have gone after that you have yet to use. It’s a great way to write competitive and new content.
Content Marketing Manager
BuzzStream is my favorite tool for prospecting and outreach. The tool discovers contact information, social profiles, and site metrics for you, so it’s easy to prioritize contacts. Everything is stored within the BuzzStream platform, which gives your entire team one centralized database to work from. You can collaborate with teammates, share notes, and keep projects organized.
BuzzStream’s outreach tool allows you to quickly send personalized emails and schedule automatic follow-ups, which really streamlines the process. The tool also provides customizable campaign reports on how many targets saw your email, opened it, clicked, replied, linked to your website, etc. so you can see how you’re performing and update your pitch as necessary.
Content Marketing Manager
One of our best tools is Buzzstream. You can create the most optimized piece of content in the world but if it doesn’t have any other sites linking to it, chances are it won’t end up ranking very high on Google. Buzzstream helps us get eyes on our content and earn quality backlinks. It makes sending outreach emails and following up with potential collaborators very easy. I highly recommend it if link building is a part of your SEO or content strategy.
Sr. Content Marketing Specialist
12. Answer the Public (Free Option Available)
Answer the Public is one of the most powerful tools for SEO that I know. Apart from the fact that this tool is free of charge, it provides its users with an excellent opportunity to find the questions people are actually asking while using a particular keyword. I think this option is extremely useful considering the fact that there has been a spike in the number of people who tend to use voice search.
11. Ubersuggest (Free Option Available)
My favorite free SEO tool is Ubersuggest by Neil Patel, a keyword research and optimization tool that you can access through your browser. Ubersuggest is useful because it provides keyword information in seconds including the difficulty to rank, the top ranking content for a given keyword, and the cost for paid SEM. I use Ubersuggest to quickly learn keyword information for new content I plan to create and research keyword synonyms or easier keywords to rank for. Ubersuggest is an excellent tool for marketers interested in SEO to get their feet wet by researching what content to create with what keywords. As mentioned, Ubersuggest also offers paid keyword cost alongside organic difficulty so you can do your research from one page.
KWFinder has a better presentation of results than other tools when you are doing keyword research, especially in the field of content marketing. Everything you need to know is just a click away. The keyword and related keywords with all the data (trend, search volume, CPC, PPC, and KD) are shown together. Plus, you can immediately see detailed monthly search volume and pages with the best SERP for the entered keyword. The tool responds fast even in the free version. [I’ve used the tool] mostly for the UK clients, but this has proven to be the best tool to use for smaller markets as it gives reliable results for languages used in smaller European countries.
Best Response Media
As they say, SEO Powersuite is an all-in-one SEO tool and really it is, they have 4 tools in 1 package and each of them are really useful. The Rank Tracker is one of the most accurate keyword trackers i’ve seen and you can connect your Adwords and Analytics accounts making Keyword Research and website traffic easier to do in one tool. The Link Assistant tools makes looking for link building prospects easier, just input the keywords you are looking for and you’ll have a gold mine of link building opportunities. Their SEO Spyglass, which recently got an upgrade, gives a powerful link audit to any website. I love that you can simply click on “Penalty Risk” and immediately see what are the links that might give your website a penalty from Google. Their last tool, the Website Auditor, shows great data for our website structure and their content analysis feature is really insightful to improve our landing pages and blog posts.
BuzzSumo is simply the best site that exists for finding out what is popular and providing actionable information that you can use to promote your own content and get backlinks. After entering a seed keyword or two, BuzzSumo shows you:
- What the popular articles/videos were for those seed keyword phrases and how many likes/shares/tweets each piece got on the top social networks.
- The handles of all of the people who shared a link to each of the content pieces on Twitter.
- The number of sites that linked to each article/video and the URLs of all of those linking sites (especially helpful for getting links to your own content).
You can export all of the above for link outreach tracking purposes.
Hunter is by far the best tool for finding email addresses when you’re trying to do outreach for link building and guest posting purposes. I’ve found it always has the most up to date contact information, proven by how little my emails bounce due to invalid recipients. Plus, there’s a plugin available for Chrome, which makes it easy to find emails while you’re on a page.
Many SEO professionals use this tool to find email addresses of top publishers, editors, and other professionals. It can help you approach and pitch top publications to earn high-quality backlinks for your website.
Shane Barker Consulting
Keywords Everywhere is the most powerful tool I have added to my stack. It adds volume, CPC and competition data in useful places like Google Search, Google Search Console, Google Analytics… the list goes on. My preferred use case is paring it with MozBar in Google SERPs. These two tools combined with data provided in the SERP like “People also ask” and “Searches related to keywords” make for the perfect semantic research tool. Discover paid search opportunities at the same time to double down on your efficiency.
Director of Marketing Strategy
5. Google Search Console (Free)
I like to hear straight from the horse’s mouth so my favorite SEO tool is Google’s Search Console. It is free to use, very simple even for beginners to get started with but has accurate data and is incredibly powerful. It’s the best way for me to know what keywords and keyword phrases my content is ranking for. At the same time, it gives me great ideas on how to improve my post headlines, post descriptions and even how to upgrade the body of the content itself. Recommended!
Digital Marketer and Founder
One of the best SEO tools our team uses is Moz.com. Moz not only tracks the performance of your keywords and your search visibility, but also gives you the tools and insights you need to improve those stats. A weekly site crawl from Moz reports on errors your site is facing (missing descriptions, 400 errors, duplicate content, etc.). Meanwhile, a page optimization tool gives you detailed tips on how to improve the search visibility of specific pages (add more content, decrease your title length, add an image, etc.). There are also other tools Moz includes, such as competitor analysis against your three biggest competitors, search traffic tracking via Google Analytics, and weekly reporting. Finally, a keyword explorer for users allows you to search for other possible keywords based on search traffic, difficulty, and CTR. While other programs may simply give you the data, Moz gives you the tools to improve the data.
It’s easy for SEO specialists to get pulled into the weeds. You can spend hours on a single page or post tweaking content, finding the perfect internal links and scouring sites for backlink opportunities. Screaming Frog makes it easy to pull the lens back to 30,000 feet and examine your web properties on a systemic level. If you’re making large-scale site changes, changing fundamental parts of your brand or just checking for red flags like 404 errors and unnecessary old pages, there’s no substitute.
VP, Innovation & Strategy
My favorite tool is ahrefs.com. It’s my one-stop shop to do keyword research, competitor analysis, and track rankings. The first thing I do is research keywords I want to rank for and build a list of them in Ahrefs. Then I add my competitors in to see how they’re doing. Finally, I start to optimize my website for the keywords I want to rank for and I track the results each week against my competitors to ensure I’m going in the right direction. I also use it for backlink generation.
Marketing Consultant and SEO expert for SAAS companies
I set up all my clients as projects in this tool. Ahrefs has the most complete link index of any SEO tool that I’ve seen, which is useful for tracking both the link profiles of clients and their competitors. Like most SEO software, they use a proprietary metric for measuring the link strength of individual pages and domains, which they recalibrated in 2018 to make some artificially inflated domains score lower. Ahrefs also has an analysis of the top pages, most shared content, and anticipated traffic for any domain. I use the Content Gap tab to see what content a given client should create when compared to similar profiles of competitors. There are the expected features, like competitor tracking against your given keywords, automated site auditing, etc, but where Ahrefs stands out is in organizing the information in a way that SEOs can use easily. (If I couldn’t use Ahrefs, SEMrush would be my next choice for a multipurpose SEO software suite).
Founder, SEO Consultant
Lockedown Design & SEO
Our team uses SEMrush as one of our main SEO tools, and throughout the year, as the platform has expanded, we have found ourselves relying on it even more. The most significant benefit of SEMrush is the sheer amount of features. Most often, we use the Organic Research section to analyze our client’s keyword rankings. The recent updates to these reports, which group similar keywords together, make it easier to discover new topics when performing keyword research. Also, SEMrush has an on-page SEO checker, SEO audit capabilities, tools to help develop content outlines, brand mention monitoring and much more. If you are looking for a tool that goes beyond SEO, SEMrush has tools for social scheduling and search engine marketing (SEM) built in, as well.
Digital Marketing Specialist
That wraps up the list of the best SEO tools the professionals actually use. Hopefully this list helped you to make a determination about what your next SEO software purchase will be. Be sure to read the list of the best marketing books for more great digital marketing advice. As always, keep aiming for that first spot in Google search results and best of luck to you in your future digital marketing endeavors!