Good SEO requires having the right tools at your disposal. Without them, the success of your campaign is always going to be limited. It’s a skill that is built around data and information and using these to your advantage, and no successful or effective SEO campaign is complete without all the right tools. Even the best and most experienced SEOs will struggle without their tools.
An SEO’s toolkit is one of the most important elements of their job. While the best of these tools often don’t come cheap, it’s vital that you’re able to secure the right tools for the job. Thankfully, there are a lot of options out there to choose from to use in your SEO campaign. Whether you need something high end and powerful or you’re just looking for a decent free option to get the job done, it’s a guarantee that there’s something out there for you.
But the world of SEO tools can be confusing and daunting – especially if you’re new to the world of SEO. Fortunately, here at Embryo Digital we have spent a lot of time testing and trying out a wide range of different tools. From content optimization and keyword tracking to backlink analysis and technical SEO (LINK), we’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the best tools out there. Here’s our take on some of the best and most commonly used SEO tools on the market.
Keyword Research Tools
It doesn’t matter if you’re building a new blog, taking on a new project and building an improved content strategy for a client, reassessing a long term project or anything else – keyword research is an undeniably important part of modern day SEO. When your results rely upon targeting the words and terms your users are searching for, having the right keyword research tool for the job isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Having your finger on the pulse and employing a great keyword strategy is a great way of boosting your content and on page SEO to attract more of the organic traffic you’re looking for. There are a lot of tools out there to choose from, both paid and free, so let’s take a look at some of our favourites.
The Paid Tools
One of our favourite keyword research tools here at Embryo (to be honest, one we could barely live without) is the excellent SEMrush. Why is it so great? Well, SEMrush offers you a more targeted list of specific keywords that your top competitors are already using. This, along with yearly keyword trends, thorough keyword difficult analysis and more makes SEMrush a must – and there are various packages and pricing plans for you to get the option you need. A great alternative to SEMrush is the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, another tool we use often. Ahrefs is great because it also offers accurate target keyword difficulty while also offering thousands of keyword suggestions at a time.
If your focus is on hitting low difficulty keywords, KWFinder is one of the best tools for this and has an incredibly easy to use and clear interface making it easy for beginners to pick up and use. But if you’re working on a niche site and need detailed metrics and a big focus on long tail keywords, Long Tail Pro is an excellent choice. If you’re looking for a budget friendly but excellent all rounder for your work, Serpstat is a great paid choice that offers a comprehensive solution.
Want to keep a keen eye on your competitors, their strategies and what’s working for them? SpyFu is a great tool for analysing your competitors’ target keywords and keyword rankings. Need to keep an eye on your overall site health while easily finding low difficulty target phrases and keywords? Majestic is a really nice tool and a good price. The Moz Keyword Explorer is also worth mentioning because it offers two unique and insightful metrics – organic CTR score and priority score, the latter of which offers a combination and mixture of individual factors to offer a picture of your overall keyword priorities.
For real SEO success, you need to do more than simply scratch the surface when it comes to your keyword research. Often, the best keywords for you to target are the ones that aren’t that obvious. That’s why the free version of Rank Tracker is so useful, boasting 23 different keyword research tools in one package, delivering variations from different data sources. For one of the internet’s favourite free keyword research tools (and one we particularly like here at Embryo), Answer The Public can offer an organic and wide branching set of common user questions and queries around your given keywords.
Need a long term perspective on your keywords, perhaps looking at popularity over a period of years? Google Trends is an excellent tool that gives a kind of bird’s eye perspective to help you plan strategies and content calendars. If you’re relatively new to SEO and want to play around with a free tool that’s quick and easy to use, a great tool for the job is Keyword Generator. Maybe you want a free tool to use on the go and to complement a paid version you’re already using, in which case Keyword Surfer fits the bill. Keyword Surfer is actually a chrome extension that displays estimated global and monthly search volumes for any term you search in Google.
More than just another online forum, Reddit has become one of the go to spots to research niche and unique topics. Keyworddit is an interesting and unique tool that specifically pulls keyword ideas from Reddit. Questiondb is a similar tool that focuses on gaining keyword research from Reddit but with more of a focus on generating related questions and queries. Need as much bang for your buck as possible? Bulk Keyword Generator is a free tool that provides a lot of valuable keyword information based specifically around business-type, sectors and industries.
Technical SEO Tools
Identifying and fixing technical issues is a fundamental and crucial part of any SEO campaign. One of our favourite tools for technical SEO here at Embryo is the Screaming Frog SEO Spider – a crawler that will go over your website and give it a full audit. There’s a free version, but really it’s the paid version with all the bells and whistles that you want to get elbow-deep in your website. Another great option is SEObility, a user-friendly tool that’s great for beginners and that offers the feature of ‘page levels’, which identifies which of your pages are buried in your site’s architecture.
The life on an SEO means putting yourself at Google’s mercy a lot of the time. With frequent algorithmic changes and updates, it’s easy to find yourself scratching your head as to why your rankings have changed – SERPmetrics is a great tool for checking Google’s volatility for insight into how yours and your competitors’ rankings have changed in the last month. If you’re not too bothered about pricing and just want as much helpful and insightful information as possible, Site Analyzer is a tool that provides a boatload of useful information to improve page and content optimization.
If you want to get a really in-depth view of your site’s link structure, Site Condor is an excellent tool that visualizes the linking on your site as a graph. This allows you a clearer link analysis that displays how authority flows and spreads across your website – allowing you the insight you need to make changes and improvements. Managing redirects is another aspect of technical SEO, and EasyRedir makes redirecting traffic between domains much easier. It’s a simple case of entering the URLs that you want to send traffic both to and from, and EasyRedir will give you all the information you need to manage this.
Believe it or not, Google has a wide range of free SEO tools for you to have at your disposal. Needless to say, Google Analytics is a top quality analytics tool that provides in-depth information about your website and user behaviour. if you want insight into how and where you should be making technical tweaks, Google Analytics is a great tool. On the other hand, Google PageSpeed Insights tells you exactly how fast Google sees your website’s loading speeds. You already know that page speed is a known ranking signal, so getting this insight straight from the horse’s mouth is invaluable. It also makes actionable suggestions too. But if you need to make sure your site is mobile optimized, the Google Mobile-Friendly Test gives you a very straightforward answer of yes or no. With mobile the future of search and Google increasingly taking notice, this is a quick, free and easy tool you should definitely be using.
It can be a little difficult to understand how spiders and crawlers and seeing your website – especially if you’re new to SEO. Fortunately, Browseo is a useful free tool that lets you see exactly how search bots view and analyse your website – a great insight to have completely for free. If you find out that your page speed is a little slow, GTmetrix is our go-to in order to check load speed. While Google PageSpeed Insights is great and scans your code, GTmetrix actually loads up your website and provide a tonne of information and recommendations for getting that speed up.
Schema is an increasingly important part of technical SEO but it can be a real hassle, especially for those new to SEO or who haven’t done SEO before. Fortunately, Microdata Generator will actually cut out the grunt work and generate local schema markup for you automatically – all you need to do is fill in basic information and you’re set. For a free, quick and easy to use on-page SEO tool, you can’t go far wrong with Plugin SEO. This great little tool will keep an eye on things and flag up issues with recommendations to make sure that you don’t miss any of the simple stuff, such as meta descriptions and more.
Backlink Analysis Tools
Need thorough link analysis? You can’t go far wrong with one of our favourite tools here at Embryo – Ahrefs. A definite SEO favourite, Ahrefs is often considered the very best link analysis tool out there, with a massive index of links that is kept updated daily alongside the fact it is incredibly easy to use. If you’re looking for a paid backlink analysis tool, Ahrefs is the first place you should look. One of Ahrefs’ closest competitors is Majestic, which offers interesting metrics like ‘TrustFlow’ and ‘CitationFlow’ let you know just how useful that link you’re chasing is going to be. But if you’re looking for something else, you might be interested in Open Link Profiler, a really interesting tool offering insight into your competitors’ link profiles. With its great hub finder feature, Open Link Profiler allows you to enter your competitors into its engine and find out who exactly is linking to them and not you – a really brilliant way to start and set up a link building strategy.
Want email alerts every single time you earn a new backlink? Who doesn’t? LinkBird is an all in one tool that covers your rank tracking, link building and backlink analysis in one and keeps you updated every time it finds a new backlink. Want to take things even further? Linkody actually sends you an alert every time a competitor gets a new backlink, allowing you to keep your finger on the pulse. With Linkody, every time a competitor secures a new backlink, you can try and swoop in and secure the very same link, keeping you one step ahead.
Now, a lot of tools like to consider themselves the ‘Swiss army knife’ of SEO tools (and the fact is that tools that try to do everything usually don’t do anything as well as more focused tools), and ScrapeBox is one of those tools. You might have heard of ScrapeBox as a tool used for black hat SEO, but it actually makes for a great white hat link building tool. With great link prospecting and contact information gathering, ScrapeBox is worth taking a look at. But speaking of black hat SEO, you’ll know that there might be backlinks to your website that are actually doing more harm than good. Having a backlink that’s causing a penalty is an easy thing to miss. Fortunately, cognitiveSEO has a great feature called ‘Unnatural Link Detection’. This feature allows you to keep on top of your link profile by flagging up risky backlinks. Kerboo is another great backlink analysis tool that identifies spammy and dangerous backlinks. It’s easy to use and visualises your data, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Content Optimization Tools
If you’re looking for an SEO writing tool, then you can’t get much better than our personal office favourite here at Embryo – Frase. Providing excellent content optimization features, a branching and detailed insight into what keywords and terms are appearing and where, and an excellent look at what your closest competitors are doing, Frase is a fantastic overall content research and optimization tool. Another great SEO writing tool is Copywritely. While Copywritely focuses on grammar and readability, it also features measurements for keyword stuffing and uniqueness, making it a great SEO tool. Also, Copywritely has a ‘SERP Checker’ which identifies a few metrics and keywords from other top ranking pages for the search terms and phrases you’re targeting.
You might already have a lot of content on your site, in which case it might be time to assess what is working and what isn’t. Moz Pro On-Page Optimization can provide a lot of information about the content that’s already on your site, its effectiveness and its performance. While the Moz Pro On-Page Optimization won’t help you actually optimize the content itself, it’s fantastic for providing the data you need to do the job. A similar tool is BrightEdge ContentIQ, which aids your content marketing by easily identifying what content on your website currently needs your attention, all based on the certain terms, keywords and phrases you want to rank for – and providing competitive analysis on which pages are already ranking for those keywords.
But when it comes to content marketing, keyword optimization and research is only half of the battle. You need to make sure that the content you’re putting out is of a high quality – trust us, Google will notice if it’s not. Some of our favorite tools for the job include (obviously) Grammarly, the now famous browser extension that keeps a close eye on your grammar and style – with a paid version that even checks plagiarism and gives more detailed grammar suggestions. Also, the excellently named Hemingway Editor will check your content for things like passive voice and complicated sentences, making your copy more readable and user friendly. An interesting alternative is MindMup. If you want a visual and interactive space in which to brainstorm and just dump all the ideas out of your head, MindMup will let you. Then, you can drag and drop ideas, connect them and more – it’s experimental and fun and definitely worth a shot.