I’ve been building and ranking websites for over a decade now, and as a result I’ve seen many tools come and go. However, the best tools that provide valuable insight for ranking websites have generally stuck around and have even improved with time. I’ll be discussing some of the more valuable tools and when they are truly worth your money.
Do I Use SEO Tools?
Absolutely. And I’m not just saying that. Some tools provide insight into the health and progress of your site that would be near impossible to view without the collection of big data.
Do I Pay For SEO Tools?
The answer is “sometimes.” I generally try and use the free SEO tools as much as possible, and then when I’m focusing on certain strategies or tasks I’ll sign up to paid services for a month or two. Let’s be honest, most of the paid SEO tools have become extremely expensive. If you’re new to building and ranking websites, having to pay $100 a month just for some insights that you may not be using on a regular basis doesn’t always make sense.
Best SEO Tools
Google Search Console (Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools)
This is by far the best SEO tool when tracking the health of your website, and its FREE! I literally look at my search console almost every day. For me, tracking the analytics of my money sites is almost an addiction. I’m always tracking how my site is performing by keyword.
One of the most important aspects of the Google Search Console is being able to view the links that google counts towards your sites. Sometimes there are links that google does not attribute to your site that may be crawled by other private paid SEO tools. It’s important to recognize that these links do not affect your site if they are not found in your Search Console link list.
This is the best tool for learning about how users interact and move around on your site. Even though this tool has removed some of its most valuable information it is still extremely helpful in ranking a website. They used to let users know which keyword was bringing in traffic. From that information you could then see which of those users converted into buyers. Talk about powerful. Unfortunately, Google now hides the keywords most users now come in from. There are ways to get around this. For example, if you run an ad that brings traffic through a specific sales page URL, then you can track how much of that ad traffic turned into ad revenue. While this is a powerful tool, it is not the easiest to setup some of its most valuable features, making it a more advanced tool. Because it is a free tool you can find all the tutorials you could ever need on youtube.
Moz is one of two paid tools I use on occasion. I say “on occasion” for a reason. Most of their tools I don’t need on a daily basis. The tools they offer that I will pay for include access to the Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), backlink data, and spam score. This is good if you’re trying to understand what links and keywords are helping or hurting your ranking. When building a disavow link list this is one of the most valuable tools, but you will need the paid version.
I never know how to pronounce this tool out-loud, but it hasn’t stopped them from developing a variety of rich features and gaining a large share of subscribers. This site really does offer just about everything you could expect from a 3rd party SEO tool set. While you can use their tools for just about anything, I would say it shines for those who still believe in building private backlink networks (PBNs). This is also a great site for helping to develop a concise disavow link list. Since people usually aren’t doing these two things on a daily basis, most people should sign up to this site’s subscription intermittently.
I find that the Majestic Citation Flow (CF) and Trust Flow (TF) scores are two of the most effective for understanding a site’s true authority for ranking in google. Lots of individuals will try and manipulate their site’s numerical ranking on 3rd party tools to sell backlinks or even the sites themselves. In my experience the TF has been pretty resilient to this. If you’re thinking or trying to get backlinks from a specific site, I’d recommend taking a look at the sites TF. Majestic is nice enough to let users have a certain number of free searches a day. If you’re wanting to look at the TF of a large number of sites you will need to pay for their services.
I love SEMRush but mostly to feed my addiction to statistics. They generally update their traffic estimations on a regular basis, making them a fun tool for viewing your sites progress. While many of the sites have put extreme limits on their free tools. SEMRush still provides some valuable information for free. I think it’s a good tactic going against the grain on this one because it allows users to become familiar with their offering before purchase.
This site might be new on the block but it is owned by one of the most well-known and successful online marketers, Neil Patel. What I love about this website is their free tool set. Neil has not held back on giving users a fresh set of statistics and information presented in an easy to digest format. I’m sure they are doing this in large part to help pull over some of the market share from some of the more established players, , and I’m sure in the long run it will work for them.
Now that you know which sites I use most frequently when evaluating sites, links, and performing SEO I challenge you to familiarize yourself with each one of these on the list. If you can do that, you’ll already be well on your way to being an SEO master.