Search engine optimisation is a group of marketing tactics used to improve a website’s rank in the search engine result pages (SERPs). It’s a marketing priority for many business owners, as a better position in these search results can potentially bring a lot of high-quality traffic from Google and other search engines.
If you’re new to the world of SEO and have started looking into it, you’ve probably come across what’s known as “SEO tools” and are perhaps wondering what they do exactly, and whether they can help your business in its SEO journey or not.
In this article, we’ll unpack the topic of SEO tools and see exactly what their purpose is and which ones are the most effective.
SEO Tools: A Short Definition
SEO tools are pieces of software designed to analyse a website’s potential to rank in organic search results. These tools will identify key issues in a site that might need extra work to make them more search engine-friendly.
SEO tools do not fix website issues; they are simply research tools good at identifying its problems, which is why you’d commonly use them in the beginning stages of an SEO strategy when you are conducting a website audit. SEO tools are pretty diverse and can focus on different metrics, so you may also need to use a few of them to get a better sense of where you’re at in terms of SEO.
Usually, SEO tools will look at SEO metrics, such as:
● Aspects of page SEO, such as meta descriptions, URL structure, number of backlinks, etc.
● Website loading speed
● Keyword research, such as the monthly search volume of a specific keyword, and related keywords to include on a site;
● Find duplicate content, broken links, or other flaws
● Some may even run comparison analyses of competitive websites
The applications of an SEO tool vary greatly depending on the specific type of software you are using. In the next sections, we’ll look at some of the most prominent SEO tools, and how they may help your marketing efforts.
Top SEO Tools in 2020
Google Search Console
Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) is a free SEO tool that helps you ‘monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot’ your website’s presence in Google’s organic results.
The tool includes many SEO metrics, such as:
● Tests if Google can find and crawl your website
● Identify any indexing issues, fix them, and request re-indexing right from the tool
● Stats on traffic data, how often your name appears in search results, what queries trigger it, and how often your links are getting clicked;
● Set up alerts for any issue with indexing, spam, or technical SEO issues to address them fast;
● Show your backlinks
● Troubleshoot for AMP, mobile-friendliness, and other search features.
Google Search Console is quite a comprehensive SEO tool, and all you need to do in order to use it is add a piece of code to your website through Google Analytics and submit your sitemap for indexing.
It’s worth noting that you do not need a Google Search Console account in order to appear in organic search results, so if you want to use other free SEO tools or even pay for something, it will not affect your results. However, since it is a service offered by Google, it is worth getting familiar with the tool to understand how Google views your site, and what it thinks needs improving.
Moz Pro is an all-in-one SEO suite from Moz. To gain access to it, you will need a paid plan that costs $149 per month, but you do get a 30-month free trial to try it out with no strings attached.
Moz Pro is a highly detailed suite that covers just about every corner of SEO and makes it easier to understand even for newcomers.
Some of its functionalities include:
● Track rankings: track local and national searches, and get a sense of how your keywords are ranking right now all in the same tool;
● Extensive keyword research tool: find out accurate keyword volume, and difficulty metrics;
● Site auditing: identify all SEO issue of your site, and set up alerts to quickly find new bugs;
● Page SEO optimisation tips: suggestion for future content, best-performing topics, etc.
● Get link opportunity suggestions
Plus, you can create custom reports through Moz Pro and save a lot of time if you need to send them out to clients or shareholders.
If you don’t want or can’t afford the Moz Pro, fear not because the company has a few free SEO tools you can use as well:
● Keyword Explorer
● Link Explorer
● Moz Bar (a Google Chrome extension which includes analyzing social media presence)
Moz Pro is worth your time, and well worth the money. Apart from access to the tools themselves, you’ll also gain access to a lot of blog posts and additional content made by their experts that can help you refine your marketing strategy. Remember, Moz is a giant in the world of SEO, so it’s not really that surprising their SEO tool is so well designed.
Screaming Frog is a UK-based company that created a website crawler that scans your site and helps improve SEO. It extracts data and audits common SEO issues, and signals what changes you should make to improve your efforts.
Here are some things the SEO Spider can help with:
● Broken links
● Analyse page titles and metadata
● Review meta robots and directives
● Identify duplicate pages
● Conduct site visualisations
These are all features part of the Spider’s free version, more than enough to gain a few more insights into how your website is doing in terms of SEO. For this version, there is a 500 URL limit per license, and a license lasts a year. For smaller websites, this should be enough.
If not, you also have the paid licence that comes with unlimited URL, and a few more advanced features such as:
● Spelling and grammar checks
● Google Analytics integration
● Search Console Integration
● Free technical support
The paid version costs £149.00 per year, which is around 270.09 AUD per year. If you’re not sure which one you need, we’d recommend you start with the free license to get a better sense of the software and go from there.
Site Explorer by ahrefs
Site Explorer is an organic search traffic and backlink analyser you can use to find more information on any website and URL.
The tool is actually comprised of three different SEO tools:
● Organic traffic research – used for keyword research, and to find out which keywords your competitors are using, or the top 100 keywords in your industry;
● Backlink checker – see the referring domains of your competition and the quality of their backlinks;
● Paid traffic search – learn what type of ads your competitors are running in the search network.
Of course, you can use these tools to research your own website, but competitor research is where the Site Explorer shines the brightest. To remain competitive in any industry, you need to get a good sense of what your competition is doing, to learn from them and identify ways to push yourself forward, and this tool is perfect for this endeavour.
Site Explorer has two current payment plans, the Lite version at $99/month and the Standard version at $179 a month. Like Moz, ahrefs also offer a variety of free SEO tools as well, they do not go so in-depth with their data results.
Lastly, we have another free SEO tool from Google. Google Trends shows you how frequently a given search term is entered in Google’s search bar relative to the platform’s entire search volume.
The tool is quite helpful in performing keyword research, and even topic research for your content marketing strategy. For example, you can use it to analyse the monthly searches of a particular keyword you were thinking of using in your content. Google Trends will show you whether that keyword is increasing in popularity (in which case you should leverage it), or declining in queries.
Additionally, you will also get access to:
● Interest levels by nation or region, depending on how wide or narrow you define the search
● Related topics
● Related queries, which could uncover additional keywords to target
So for keyword research purposes, you really cannot go wrong with Google Trends.
Which SEO Tool Should You Use?
There are a plethora of other SEO tools out there, but at the end of the day choosing which one to turn to will depend on:
● The functionalities of each tool
● What you need in terms of SEO analysis
● Or budget (if you can afford a paid tool, or need to rely on free ones)
● How much SEO experience you have. Some tools just give you the basics, while others go deeper into the dark corners of SEO and need an experienced eye to interpret them correctly.
Any tool you use will be a good addition to your SEO strategy, however. These tools are designed to help you improve your efforts and get better results, and even the free SEO tools can be enough to help you reach your goals.
Australian Internet Advertising can help with your SEO strategy
SEO tools and only do so much. What’s really going to help you improve your website rank in organic search is a good SEO strategy designed for the specifics of your business, and its industry.
At Australian Internet Advertising, we specialise in helping Australian business improve their SEO efforts and assist them in their journey, with professional support and customised solutions. If you’re looking for a good SEO them to help you, that’s us! Feel free to book a 30-minute strategy session with us to start your SEO journey, or call our office at 1300 304 640 for a quick chat. We’re ready for any SEO challenge you throw at us.