By Jenora Vaswani
These cost-effective tools will kickstart your SEO strategy and take your business to the next level.
Whether you’re just getting started with search engine optimization or are a whizz at rankings, the sheer variety of available SEO tools can make your head spin. From organic traffic tracking to third-party rankings, on-site SEO optimization tools to site audits, there’s sure to be a tool out there to suit your needs.
Here are nine essential SEO tools to help you increase your website traffic, boost brand awareness, improve your Google Rankings, and provide valuable content to your customers.
Google Search Console is a fantastic, free-to-use tool for tracking your website’s organic search traffic, providing extensive data metrics on Google search rankings, impressions, clicks, and click-through-rate (CTR).
This data will allow you to identify high-potential, but low-performing pages on your site, just by filtering by search ranking and impressions. The tool will also enable you to submit site maps, spot technical or mobile errors, and diagnose crawl issues.
However, Google Search Console’s only drawback is that it provides information about your site in isolation, without giving you a sense of what strategies your competitors are using. Given that your SEO is entirely relative to other websites, you should seek other tools to supplement this deficiency.
Developed by one of the SEO giants in the industry, Alexa’s Website Traffic Statistics Tool is free – pop in your website’s URL for valuable metrics on keyword opportunities, comparison metrics, Alexa’s proprietary ranking, referral sites, and audience insights.
A great source of actionable data, Alexa’s Website Traffic Statistics Tool, can also provide you with competitor information if you run their URL. Used in tandem with Alexa’s free Similar Sites Tool, this will allow you to develop your SEO strategy with a broader understanding of the competitive landscape in mind. Plus, their Chrome extension is a handy way to glean a brief SEO overview of every site you visit.
Unfortunately, since Alexa’s primary purpose is to convert visitors into paying customers, this free tool is a great starting point for SEO strategists. Still, its insights are limited in the longer-term – its more advanced keyword difficulty research, backlink checker, site audit, and on-site SEO optimization tools are hidden behind paywalls.
Ubersuggest is a helpful, user-friendly, all-in-one SEO tool. Provided by digital marketing entrepreneur Neil Patel, Ubersuggest will churn out helpful data visualizations of your organic traffic over time and highlight your competitors’ top SEO pages and backlinks, keyword suggestions, and content ideas.
A tool leveraged by Nike, Microsoft, Adobe, and CNN, Ubersuggest is free to use for casual users, but implements a pay-to-use pricing model if you start to ramp up the frequency with which you rely on it. Additionally, its keyword data can be a good starting point, but is less sophisticated than Alexa’s premium keyword research tool, given that it is less sensitive to short-term changes in search traffic.
If you use WordPress, you’re in luck. Yoast is a handy on-site SEO optimization plugin that will let you tailor your meta title and description to Google’s requirements – and optimize the entire page for your focus keyword, from keyword frequency to image alt attributes.
This nifty tool will even remind you to add outbound and inbound links to supplement your backlink strategy, customize your URL to include your keyphrase, and bulk up your text length for a further SEO boost.
Google Analytics is a fundamental, free, and highly sophisticated tool that every SEO expert should be using. Tracking your website’s real-time traffic, Analytics offers comprehensive breakdowns of your audience, mapping out data on everything from the number of sessions to acquisition channels, geographical spread, device, engagement levels, site behavior, and conversions.
Perfect for your end-of-month reports, Google Analytics provides an executive overview of your SEO efforts, illustrating progress in areas where you’ve gone above and beyond as well as where you still have room for growth.
A sophisticated site crawler, Screaming Frog offers businesses a site-wide audit – and the opportunity to identify and fix technical issues such as broken links, redirect loops, and crawl errors for free. Additionally, its software will analyze meta titles, duplicate content, and generate XML sitemaps to help you adhere to industry best practices, all of which are convenient functions to have in an SEO toolkit.
For more technically advanced SEO managers, Google Lighthouse is an oft-underrated open-source tool that audits your site’s performance, accessibility, SEO, and progressive web app for free.
Offering helpful suggestions, Lighthouse will provide explanations and solutions for speeding up your website and improving your SEO, covering everything from integrating lazy loading and reducing dependence on external script libraries to verifying your title tags and meta descriptions.
Trusted by eBay, HP, Wix, and Vodafone, SEMrush targets its all-in-one digital marketing tools at e-commerce sites, enterprises, competitive research, and agencies. The service is equipped with a broad range of functions, including a technical SEO site-wide audit, site comparisons, PPC competition analysis, social media management, SEO content optimization, and market strategies. Whatever your needs, SEMrush probably has a tool for it.
A premium SEO service for SEO experts ready to take their strategy to the next level, Ahrefs is trusted by industry behemoths, including Facebook, Adobe, Netflix, and eBay.
Offering a pay-to-use service that rivals Alexa, Ahrefs offers comprehensive SEO tools that give you a competitive 360º analysis of your site (keyword and backlink research, proprietary rank tracking, content research, and web monitoring) to help you take your SEO strategy to the next level.
Jenora Vaswani is a News Editor and Digital Strategist at Hive Life and a Digital Marketing Consultant at Dot Dot Fire. Specialising in SEO strategy, she reports on business news in the Asia Pacific and has covered global conferences including RISE 2019 and Alibaba’s Jumpstarter.