The world of search engine optimization (SEO) can be overwhelming for those who aren’t accustomed to it. The number of tools, strategies and changes by Google is virtually limitless. If you’re new to SEO, where do you start? Here are five SEO tools we think are among the best for monitoring your website’s performance and making improvements.
Why Measure SEO Performance?
There’s an adage out there that says, “you can’t improve what you don’t measure.” While cliché at this point, it rings true. If you’re just improving your website without a benchmark or goal, you’ll only experience success if you’re lucky. For the rest of us unlucky ones, we can actively improve our website’s performance based on specific metrics like organic traffic, search engine rankings and conversion rates.
You see, most of what’s visible to your prospects and website visitors is content. And, according to HubSpot’s Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2021, “the majority of companies (67%) use organic traffic to measure their content success.” Why? Because organic traffic (as opposed to paid or direct traffic) reflects how valuable your content is to your prospects.
So, how do you get your valuable content in front of the right eyes? These days, a good SEO tool is really a requirement. Fortunately, we have some recommendations.
The Best SEO Tools for Performance Monitoring
Any “best” list is going to be subjective, but the truly best tools will show up again and again on recommendation lists or articles. That being said, here are the tools that we’ve seen over the years that have had a demonstrable impact on improving SEO performance for websites.
Are there other better all-in-one marketing tools out there? Maybe. But few software alternatives come close to SEMrush when it comes to SEO. After all, search engine optimization is SEMrush’s bread and butter. It’s the company’s specialty. (Just look at the company name. “SEM” refers to “search engine marketing!”) If you’re going to try an SEO tool, we recommend starting with SEMrush.
- Pros: Robust, deep and packed with features. Extremely helpful customer service team.
- Cons: Fairly expensive and a bit of a learning curve to use.
- Best SEO Features: Keyword research, position tracking, organic research, traffic analytics, backlinks, keyword gaps, competitor comparisons, social media management, content marketing suggestions, local SEO and much more.
Moz lost a bit of its luster and appeal when Rand Fishkin exited the company, but it remains a solid SEO option. One of the best parts about Moz is that many features are free! You just need to sign up for an account and there are limits to queries you can submit. But if you have a single business or don’t check in on SEO metrics very often, this might be a good starter tool for you.
- Pros: Moz also excels at backlink data and has a proprietary Domain Authority score that is a standard in the industry.
- Cons: You must upgrade to a premium/paid account to use all features.
- Best SEO Features: Domain analysis, keyword explorer, link explorer.
I admittedly have a soft spot for HubSpot, as I’ve obtained dozens of certifications from the company and have used their tools for many years. When it comes to user experience and customer service, HubSpot can’t be beat. While it’s true that HubSpot isn’t an SEO-exclusive tool, it does have many SEO-friendly features that will help you improve your website’s performance. If you’re looking for an all-in-one tool with plenty of SEO features, HubSpot is a can’t-miss option.
- Pros: Easy to learn, with top-notch UX/UI. Friendly, helpful customer service team.
- Cons: Expensive (though you get what you pay for). SEO data isn’t as rich or accurate as SEMrush or Google Analytics (based on the traffic sources the tool references), but you still get valuable insights for improvement.
- Best SEO Features: Content optimization recommendations, topic clustering, robust reporting and valuable SEO-related tools like blogging, landing pages and marketing automation.
4. Screaming Frog
If you have technical aptitude and some SEO experience, Screaming Frog is a tool that will allow you to dive deeper than others on this list. Screaming Frog basically crawls your site in a way similar to search engine robots, helping you identify crucial issues like improper tags, meta information that’s too short or long, missing alt text on images and more.
- Pros: Rich, deep data, which is easily exportable/sharable.
- Cons: You’re limited to 500 pages on the free plan. May be too much for new SEOs.
- Best SEO Features: Site crawling, integrations with other SEO tools, advanced metrics.
5. Google Analytics
Last, but probably first in the list of tools you should consider is Google Analytics. There really is no replacement for the data you’ll see straight from the source with GA. Customizing reports and diving deep into advanced metrics is attainable with Google Analytics, though you definitely need to know what you’re doing.
- Pros: Most accurate data for organic traffic from Google; highly customizable. Integrates with most SEO tools.
- Cons: Very steep learning curve; not ideal for new SEOs. Permissions/security can be annoying.
- Best SEO Features: Visitor behavior tracking, identifying top pages/content, annotations for big changes, customizable tracking and reports.
We’re huge fans of this final SEO tool, which is ideal for monitoring links in particular. You can easily build reports, identify broken links, set up auto-linking settings for blog posts (limiting them to one per post) and more. If you’re looking to automate the internal and external linking part of SEO, LinkWhisper is worth checking out. (It works with most WordPress-hosted websites.)
Should You Partner with an SEO Agency?
With all these amazing search engine optimization tools available, why would you need to partner with a marketing agency for your SEO? Well, if you notice from some of the cons above, many tools require search engine optimization knowledge to get the most out of them that you can. (This is why several companies like HubSpot and Google offer certifications.)
Additionally, some of the more expensive tools may be out of reach for your company and its budget. An agency, however, may already be on an agency plan and you’ll be able to enjoy the amazing benefits of the tools without the premium price tag. Other benefits include easy integrations, more precise reporting and flexibility.
If you’re interested in learning more about these tools or how we can help with your SEO efforts, contact us today.digital marketing, marketing, marketing agency, saas, search engine optimization, seo, seo tools, website performance