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Best SEO Tools — Key Considerations for SEO Success

Last updated Jan 29, 2024

How to Pick the Right SEO Tools for Your Website and Business

Selecting the best SEO tools for your website and business includes several considerations for arriving at an optimal SEO software/tools setup.

The type of website/blog you operate and the nature of the business it supports are critical factors that drive SEO activities and software feature prioritization.

This post looks at the topic of finding the best SEO tools for your needs, including insights, tips, and a few example tools that cover specific needs highlighted below.

Let’s get started below!

Table of Contents (+/-)
    mangools keyword finder
    The keyword finder (KWFinder) tool from Mangools is an example of an SEO tool that is both user-friendly and easier on the budget vs expensive SEO tools.

    This post contains a few referral links to vendor partners. We may receive compensation for purchases made via these links, at no additional cost to buyers.

    Selecting the Best SEO Tools for You

    Key Factors When Picking Optimal SEO Tools

    Given the wide range of SEO tools and software platforms available today, it’s not at all surprising that many people feel somewhat overwhelmed by the options at hand.

    It’s ‘the agony of choice’ problem in the world of SEO tools. It’s a good problem to have, though it may not seem that way at first!

    The range of SEO tools available to you is wide, indeed. You have at least these options to consider:

    seo search engine optimization
    If search engine optimization is important to your website and business model, the guidelines below will help you make good SEO tools decisions.

    Naturally, many website owners start their SEO journeys with free SEO techniques and tools, then ‘graduate’ into paid SEO tools when and how it makes sense to make that move.

    In this post, I won’t tell you which SEO tool is the best. There’s no simple or single answer there.

    But I will shed some light on major points to consider when picking SEO tool(s) that will be optimal for your needs.

    SEO Tools and Your Business Needs

    Let Your Business and Website Needs Drive SEO Software Decisions

    As a digital marketing tactic, SEO is just one of many potential ways to drive visitors to your website or blog. It’s a tool and process for driving business and website growth. SEO is a means to an end — but not an end in itself.

    Consider these ‘business needs’ factors while deciding on the best SEO tool(s) for your situation.

    SEO’s Role and Priority in Your Overall Marketing Mix

    How important is SEO as part of your overall marketing strategy?

    If you are using primarily inbound marketing tactics, then SEO is probably at the core of your marketing mix. If, on the other hand, your marketing is very outbound-centric, then SEO and inbound organic traffic may play much smaller roles in driving new leads and business.

    For example, a niche website/blog with a heavy content focus on specific topics may rely heavily on good SEO work to generate website traffic and conversions.

    Or, a traditional small B2B firm with a direct sales model and tiny (or non-existent) marketing team may not use SEO techniques at all to attract new leads and business opportunities.

    For B2B ‘ABMers’ using account-based marketing (ABM) tactics, SEO may still play a helpful supporting role.

    Related: Learn more about how SEO can be an important secondary marketing tactic, as well as how SEO supports B2B ABM marketing strategies.

    Your SEO (and SEO Tools) Budget

    If SEO plays any role at all in marketing your website and business, then budget decisions will also be important.

    If SEO is a minor or secondary marketing tactic for you, then the many free SEO tools and methods available may be all you need.

    If SEO is a critical or primary marketing channel for you, then it makes sense to think about allocating some marketing budget to paid SEO tools.

    The good news is that many paid SEO tools are still rather cheap. This is especially true for single-purpose SEO tools like keyword-only tools, website internal linking tools, backlink checkers, many WordPress SEO plugins, etc.

    The all-in-one SEO software platforms can get quite a bit more expensive, especially for premium toolkits like Moz, Ahrefs, Semrush, etc. For many users and businesses, these premium SEO software platforms are well worth the monthly or annual costs.

    SEO Team Expertise — Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced?

    Another factor that can impact decisions about optimal SEO tools is the level of SEO expertise that you and/or your marketing team have.

    Expert-level SEO practitioners will be comfortable with advanced premium SEO toolkits that cover all the essentials of modern SEO work.

    SEO experts will be able to derive the most value from these integrated, data-rich platforms, whereas SEO beginners (and total SEO ‘newbies’) may be intimidated by the apparent complexity of some SEO software suites.

    Beginner-level SEO practitioners will be better served by simpler SEO tools that cater to their less advanced needs. These solutions will typically have less complicated, user-friendly interfaces, in-product SEO coaching tips, and guided workflows.

    This is true also for small business owners, sole proprietors, etc., who do not have time to become complete SEO ninjas. They have other business-critical matters to tend to every day, and the SEO aspects of their marketing efforts need to remain as simple as possible.

    So, consider the potential learning curve of any SEO tools you may be evaluating. Intuitive and clear user interfaces, data presentation, and reporting are good for users of all SEO skill levels.

    Business and SEO Competitors

    Your business type and competitive landscape may also play important roles when picking optimal SEO software solutions.

    Are you in a business that is highly SEO-centric? This ties back to the point about knowing SEO’s role in your overall marketing mix.

    Do your direct business competitors rank high above you for the most important keywords and search queries related to your core products and services?

    If so, how does this potentially impact your business opportunity wins and losses?

    Does it appear that your direct competitors invest heavily in SEO, organic search visibility, and inbound marketing tactics? What can you learn by analyzing their websites and blogs?

    Your answers here can help inform your budgeting for SEO and organic search as a marketing channel — and therefore your SEO tools decisions.

    serp search engine results page google bing
    SERP analysis — understanding the leading content in Search Engine Results Pages — for your target search queries is an essential part of SEO competitive analysis.

    Best SEO Software Tools — Functionality

    SEO Software Features, Functionality, and Pricing Vary Widely

    After considering the higher-level business factors described above, you’ll be better prepared to make smart decisions about the optimal SEO tools for your specific needs.

    For many people, especially very small businesses and cash-strapped solopreneuers, etc., ‘doing SEO on the cheap’ with free or very cheap SEO tools will suffice.

    Free SEO Tools — Pros and Cons

    In the area of free SEO tools, there’s one big positive and a few potential negatives to keep in mind.

    The plus side of this, of course, is cost savings. Depending on the tools used, you can certainly save hundreds or thousands of US dollars or Euros per year by avoiding paid SEO tools altogether.

    The potential negatives of using free SEO tools exclusively include at least these points:

    Lost time and productivity — Assembling and then using the right collection of free SEO tools for your specific needs can be costly in terms of lost productivity. Your overall SEO workflow may be slower, ‘clunkier’, and much more manual.

    Lack of SEO project organization — Free but disconnected SEO tools make life more difficult by not pulling all SEO elements and tasks into a single cohesive SEO project. Your ability to accurately track, analyze, and report on your SEO program results over time may suffer.

    Missed opportunities or misleading data — Some free SEO tools (e.g., keyword research utilities) may fail to uncover good keyword/topic/content opportunities for you. They may also be misleading when producing keyword search volume estimates or keyword search difficulty metrics.

    Free tools can go away or convert to paid SEO tools — Free SEO tools can disappear at any time if the developer decides to abandon them. They may also convert to paid SEO tools in attempts to monetize a user base that first came on as ‘free’ users.

    This happened with Ubersuggest a few years ago. They successfully transitioned from a free keyword research tool to a complete (paid) SEO software suite that uses aggressive pricing and user-friendly features to compete with premium SEO alternatives like Ahrefs.

    SEO Tools and Your Top Feature Priorities

    What do you need the most out of your SEO software? What are you currently lacking in your ‘SEO tech stack’ today? Areas to consider include:

    Keyword Research — For identifying your best target keywords, keyphrases, or user queries for your core website/blog topics.

    This area includes basic SEO keyword research and more advanced techniques like keyword gap analysis, keyword groups and topic clusters, leveraging long-tail keywords and even so-called ‘zero-volume keywords’ that may still be attractive.

    Keyword monthly search volumes and keyword search difficulty also come into play here.

    Keyword Rank Tracking — The fundamental task of running automated rank-tracking checks for your site’s target keywords (key phrases, user queries, etc.), for specific search engines, locations, etc., over time. This may include SEO competitor rank tracking as well.

    Technical Website Audits — Finding website/blog errors that may negatively impact your performance in organic search. These may be specific ‘on-page SEO’ issues, site-wide technical problems, image SEO problems, page speed, mobile friendliness, and other site usability issues.

    Content Development and Optimization — Developing ‘SEO-optimized’ website content for better search performance. Often now includes content scoring and suggestions based on your SEO competitors’ ranking content, SERP analysis, etc.

    AI-Assisted Content Development — Using AI writing tools to develop site content faster while still focusing on quality. Can include free AI LLM-based tools like ChatGPT and Google Bard, long-form AI content-focused SEO tools or AI-assisted SEO content workflow tools like Frase.

    Comprehensive On-Page SEO Analysis — Identifying and correcting SEO issues at the individual page or post level.

    Backlink Analysis and Link-Building — Understanding your site’s external backlink profile and proactively building new backlinks from trusted 3rd-party domains. Often includes competitor backlink analysis and finding ‘backlink gaps’ as well.

    Internal Linking Optimization — Identifying internal link-building opportunities and creating new internal links between related content pieces.

    SEO Competitor Analysis — Understanding your direct and indirect ‘SEO competition’ in your target search engine(s).

    SERP Analysis — Related to the above, discover who ranks high for your target search queries today. Learn more about what it may take for your content to earn good visibility in the SERP — Search Engine Results Pages — for Google, Bing, or other target search engines.

    Geographic Reach — What is the geographic focus of your website and business? Will your SEO efforts focus on international/global, national, or very regional/local search performance? Will you need to check your rankings for multiple search engines and locations around the world, or for highly localized searches? Different SEO tools have varying features and strengths in these areas.

    SEO Analytics and Reporting — What specific SEO reporting features and customization options will your SEO project(s) require? Do you need to regularly report SEO metrics to your company’s management team, or perhaps to SEO clients?

    Will you need to connect your SEO data to other reporting tools, such as Google’s Looker Studio (formerly known as Google Data Studio)? How much reporting automation do you need?

    There are good ‘point-product’ SEO tools for many of these areas. The best ones are usually the paid/premium SEO tools, though many also have free or freemium options as a way to get started with the specific tool.

    The All-In-One SEO Platforms

    The SEO activities breakdown above makes it pretty clear that SEO involves a lot of different areas.

    As a result, it’s not at all surprising that many SEO software vendors offer complete SEO toolkits or platforms that bring essentially ‘everything under one roof’, so to speak.

    These products are usually web-based SEO platforms, but can also be desktop-based (PC, Mac, Linux). Some are delivered as website CMS add-ons, such as WordPress AI-boosted SEO plugins.

    The all-in-one SEO software suites are more premium products, of course. They are costly to develop and maintain, which helps to explain why some SEO tools can be so expensive.

    Desktop vs Cloud-Based (SaaS) SEO Tools

    Most SEO tools come as free or subscription-based SaaS tools, hosted in the vendor’s cloud infrastructure.

    There are certainly important advantages to cloud-based SEO tools, notably multi-device and multi-user access from any location with internet access.

    However, cloud-based SEO platforms also enforce data and usage limits that can be seriously limiting. Make sure you know about these before committing to a specific subscriber pricing tier with tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and others.

    Desktop SEO platforms don’t incur as many cloud infrastructure costs, nor do they have the data limitations of the cloud-based tools.

    Related: Learn more here about desktop vs cloud-based SEO tools. Also, learn how desktop SEO platform SEO PowerSuite compares with popular cloud-based SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush.

    seo powersuite free software trial
    SEO PowerSuite is a good example of a desktop/laptop-based comprehensive SEO software suite. They offer a ‘free forever’ version for trial purposes.

    Picking Your Top SEO Tools — Additional Considerations

    Other SEO tools-related items to think about include:

    • Scalability — Can the tool handle your website’s size and complexity as your business grows? If your selected SEO tool(s) are cloud-based, will you quickly exceed data allowances and end up paying more than you originally planned?
    • Free Trials and Money-Back Guarantees — Many popular SEO tools offer trials or guarantees to try the tool before committing.

    Best SEO Software — User Support and Resources

    Look for Great SEO Tools Support Options

    Beyond the SEO tools’ feature sets, consider the vendor support resources available as well. This is especially important for beginner to intermediate-level SEO practitioners who need more in the way of direct product support, tutorials, examples, SEO workflows, etc.

    This is an area where the paid/premium SEO tools add significant value vs the various free SEO options available.

    Most, if not all, of the mainstream SEO tools available, especially those that have been around for many years, have a wealth of training materials available in the form of blogs, guides, e-books, YouTube channels, private Facebook user groups, etc., that their users can leverage on demand.

    Some SEO/SEM vendors even provide free SEO certification programs, ‘SEO academies’, and similar focused training tracks.

    Good to Know: Core SEO concepts are definitely not product-specific. SEO tips and techniques you learn from one tools vendor can usually be applied when using other SEO software as well. The product specifics will vary, of course, but the main SEO concepts remain the same.

    Following the tip above, you can certainly learn a lot by watching YouTube tutorials from premium SEO vendors like Moz and Ahrefs, then apply those same concepts when using cheaper SEO platforms like SEO PowerSuite, Mangools, Ubersuggest, etc.

    Other SEO Software Support Channels

    Besides the on-demand SEO product training available, also look for good options for live chat, email, telephone (available in some cases), knowledge bases, and online user groups.

    Also, does the SEO software vendor have a good reputation for providing support? Look for positive feedback from users on popular review sites like G2, Capterra, Trust Radius, etc.

    Choosing Your Best SEO Tools — Closing Thoughts

    Stay True to Your Real Needs When Picking SEO Tools and Methods

    SEO is one of the marketing areas where you can spend very little actual money (cash outlay) on SEO tools and software, or you can spend thousands of US dollars (or Euros, etc.) per month on enterprise-class SEO platforms.

    It’s important to be smart about assembling your ‘SEO marketing tech stack’, combining free and/or paid SEO tools in the areas most important to your website or business.

    Let your true business requirements drive your SEO tools decisions. Don’t become mesmerized by every tool that promises to ‘skyrocket your SEO rankings and traffic’ in just a few quick clicks per week.

    Keep in mind that results from SEO usually take time, including many SEO aspects that you can’t directly control.

    With a realistic, business-driven set of SEO requirements and budget, some intelligent informed software choices, and an attitude of making steady progress over time, you’ll be primed to get good value from your SEO tools choices.

    Questions or Comments?

    I hope the insights and tips above have been helpful! I’ll wrap up with a few questions for you:

    • How important is SEO to your website, blog, or business today? Is it a primary or secondary/supporting marketing tactic? Or is it completely non-essential?
    • If you do SEO at any level for your website, how did you arrive at decisions regarding the top SEO tools for your specific needs?
    • What do you like or dislike about your current SEO tool(s)? Which one thing would you like to change the most?

    Feel free to add more in the comments below with any thoughts, feedback, or related questions. Thanks also for any social shares on this post via the buttons below!

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