There are a million tools for SEO out there. You don't have the time to find and then test them all.
The only reason why you're thinking about SEO tools in the first place is to rank your website in minimal time.
Since I've been practicing SEO for 7 years, I've had the opportunity to test out many tools. Some were great, but others were terrible.
I thought to myself, "If I knew which tools are awful, why would we make you suffer through finding out yourself?" Today, I'm going to show you which SEO tools are worth the time (and money).
Below we've broken down some of our favorite tools and how to use them. Unlike most blog posts on the internet, we have no financial reward for suggesting any of the tools below, so I will be brutally honest.
Ahrefs (Free or $99+)
Ahrefs is one of the industry standards when it comes to gathering SEO data on your competitors. Until recently, you could only get a 7-day $7 trial before committing to a bigger plan, but recently they began to offer a free plan.
They have a whole slew of tools built into their service, but they excel in one particular area.
With the most extensive backlink profile of 17 trillion known links, it's arguably the most comprehensive backlink dataset outside of Google themselves. With this information, you can spy on your competition and see what type of websites and content is giving them the most backlinks.
Ubersuggest (Free or $29+)
I've talked about Ubersuggest before, and I still love the tool. It does a lot of similar to Ahrefs, but Neil did a fantastic job making the information you get more actionable.
The tool is continuously adding features, so our suggestion is to get the lifetime deal while still available to the public. Their data sets are only getting more extensive, and the Keyword Research tool is fantastic.
Search Console (Free)
If you're not using Google search console, you're not doing SEO; you're hoping and praying. Google search console is an essential tool for anyone looking to improve their website traffic.
No tool in the world will give you more accurate data on what keywords your website is showing Google for and where. This data is coming straight from the horse's mouth.
Relying on tools other than Google to get impressions, keyword, click-through rate, and ranking data is like playing a carnival game where they guess your weight. Sure the carnival employee is good at what they do, but the scale will be accurate 100% of the time.
Google Sheets (Free)
What does a spreadsheet software have to do with SEO, you ask. SEO is nothing but decision making based on data and a few set of rules. Google Sheets is perfect for organizing data, especially a large amount of data.
What few people don't know is, it's extremely good at pulling data also. One of my favorite features is pulling a website's sitemap to see how big the website is and what its URL structure looks like.
To do this, type in the following formula:
=IMPORTXML("INSERT_SITEMAP_URL_HERE","//*[local-name() ='url']/*[local-name() ='loc']")
Hunter.io (Free or $49)
I could write a blog post titled "1 billion reasons why it sucks to do backlink outreach." I'm not going to do that, but one big reason it sucks is finding emails to send your outreach email to.
You have to manually go to the website and check the privacy, contact page, or anywhere on their website to see if you can find an email.
Not anymore! Hunter has you covered like a raincoat. Hunter is a service that comes with an exention where with the click of a button or an upload of a spreadsheet, it will find any email related to the website you're requesting.
It also has a feature that can automate personalizing and sending emails for you with follow-ups. Can you tell why I love this service yet?
The customer support is through the roof, and I've never seen a more dependable tool on the internet than this one.
Surfer is quickly becoming one of the most popular on-page SEO optimizers, and for good reason. Some would argue, "Yoast and RankMath both help you optimize pages and grade them."
I agree to an extent with that statement. I would compare Yoast and RankMath to wearing a suit off the rack while Surfer is like wearing a custom-tailored suit. Both get the job done, but the ladder is going to fit you better.
Here's why I made the analogy. Surfer analyzes 500+ ranking factors from your website and compares it to the top 50 web pages you're competing against. With this data, you get an easy to read the report that includes target load speed, word count, target keywords, and much more within minutes.
CognitiveSEO prides itself in its own words, "the only SEO tool you'll ever need." That's a pretty bold claim. Once you get inside of it, you'll begin to notice that it's a massive tool, so let's get into it.
Some services included with CongitiveSEO are backlink analysis, content optimizations, unnatural link detection, rank tracking, and an onsite website crawler.
Where they shine is how they present and report the data to you. It's user-friendly and able to be printed to PDF; if you're doing client work, this is very convenient.
Answer The Public ($99/month)
Want to be a mind reader? Now you can with Answer the Public! Answer The Public is an invaluable tool for my team and I to uncover industry questions that we can exploit with SEO quickly.
It's pretty simple to use, really. Let's say you're doing mortgage broker SEO and stumped on topics to cover. You would type in "mortgage" into their search bar.
From there, Answer The Public will provide you with the most searched (auto completed) searches from Google. These are great long-tail keywords that will be much easier to compete for and attract much more focused traffic who's more likely to contact you or buy.
Screaming frog ($194.14/year)
Screaming Frog's SEO Spider is one of the world's best website crawlers in the world. They get recommended by almost every SEO, and unless you have a huge website, you really don't need the paid version.
The list of what they do is vast, and you should go to their web page to see all the exact features. I am going to cover some of my favorite use cases.
I like to use it to crawl a competitor's website and see which pages are the most internally linked. This check will provide you with a good idea of what pages are most important to your competition.
I also like to use it to find which pages on my website load the slowest. The majority of the tools online only test one page at a time. With Screaming Frog's tool, you can run one crawl and get results for every page.
Schema Markup Generator (Free)
If I asked you to make a JSON-LD schema markup, where would you start? Not sure? Me neither because I am an SEO and not a programmer.
That's why I absolutely love this Schema Markup Generator by Merkle. They have an easy to use generators to create schema markups. Fill in a few fields, and now you've made a perfectly written JSON Schema Markup.
We use the local business one the most because it's a strong confidence booster for Google that your information is accurate, making you more attractive to show as a result. Google even may make you a...
Google Rich Results Test (tool)
Since we're on the topic of Schema, let's talk Google Rich Results. Google Rich Results are those extra boxes you see in searches that answer your question directly in the search or provides more information.
The rich results test tool by Google will show you if you've implemented the JSON appropriately to be eligible for Google Rich Results. That's great information to have, but I like to use good tools for evil sometimes.
A better use case for this tool is to take your competitor's URL of a rich result, and run it through the tool. You can now see exactly which Schema markups they're using and replicate on your site.
WordPress SEO Plugins
LinkWhisper is a dream come true. Neil Patel has mentioned a few times in his videos on YouTube that he has full-time staff members internally linking his old content.
We all don't have a staff of experts to help us do that. LinkWhisper allows the little guys like you and I to get the benefits from internally linking without having to staff a team of experts.
This WordPress plugin goes through all your content and uses magic (probably AI) to find relevant text to other topics you've covered. Is it as good as an expert, nope, but it gets the job done, and it will never ask for a holiday or vacation?
Rank Math (free)
Rank Math is a fantastic WordPress plugin for both novices and experts alike. Once you install the plugin, it will ask you how if you're an expert or beginner.
Once you let Rank Math know your skill level, it will walk you through a setup process to help you set up your local SEO schema, sitemaps, meta branding, and much more.
Some bright spots for this plugin are its ability to select primary and secondary keywords for posts, select schema types for your posts/pages, redirection management, and easily choose what pages should be indexed.
These features come free with Rank Math, who doesn't have a paid/premium version (yet).
YoastSEO (free or $89/website)
This is the original SEO plugin on WordPress. Since it's been around for what seems like forever, it's the most popular.
Yoast helps with your posts and pages by determining how optimized they are for your focus keywords and allows you to modify the meta-information easily.
If you have the budget for it, you can upgrade to the premium features that include redirection management, internal linking, Social previews, and much more.
Their bright spot is they explain standard SEO practices simply and concisely.
Ajax Search for WooCommerce ($49)
Although this Ajax's plugin won't help you rank better or even give you suggestions about improving your SEO, it will help you capitalize on the traffic you do get.
What Ajax does for your WooCommerce site is make your eComm store more accessible. Now your users can search for a key term and get the best products. To make purchasing products extremely easy, they even allow adding to cart straight from the search bar.
Chrome/Firefox SEO Extensions
Keywords everywhere ($10/100,000 credits)
Keywords Everywhere is a very convenient way to always to keep Keywords on your mind. What this extension does so well is provide you with search volumes on various websites that include Google, YouTube, Bing, and much more.
It also provides you with what the Cost Per Click (CPC) value of keywords you search. The information allows you to gauge the profitability and competition of any particular keyword.
It also shines by showing you what searches are related to the search you just performed. This allows you to adjust your SEO strategy by developing a content strategy rather than randomly posting.
Check My Links (free)
This Chrome/Firefox plugin allows you to check all the links on a webpage to see which are valid and which are broken.
Check My Links valuable to SEO's because it can allow you to check a page for broken links and then reach out to the website owner to make them aware of it and suggest replacing the broken link with yours.
This is a broken link building strategy used by SEOs.
Strike Out No-Follow Links (free)
There are two types of backlinks, do-follow and no-follow (there's actually more but not the time or place). Do-follow links from reputable websites have lots of value, and there's no argument around that.
Where there are arguments is if no-follow backlinks add value and how much. This isn't the place to argue it, but it is the place to show you how to spot them quickly using Strike Out No-Follow Links.
An over-simplified explanation of a no-follow link is when a website links to a website but adds additional code to the link to instruct Google not to follow it to the page it leads to (hence the name).
Why should you care about this? It can dictate the effort you put into reaching out to a website for a link. If you notice a website is in the habit of no-following all external links, then you're not going to get much SEO value from it (you might still get traffic from the site, though).
Now you're armed with information and tool to help dictate how you use your unrenewable resource of time while building backlinks.
Meta SEO Inspector (free)
Do you know how to read HTML? No? No big deal because you don't need to. Meta SEO Inspector allows you to see what the metadata looks like on any webpage quickly.
This makes life easy when you're reviewing your own pages to find errors or just snooping on your competitions' metadata.
If you're a local business, then Loganix is worth every penny. Loganix creates multiple citations on websites like Yelp, Apple Maps, Bing, and more with Name, Address, and Phone number (NAP) consistently to make Google more confident that your information is correct.
Many services provide citation services, but Loganix's customer service stands out from the rest. We use them for our clients all the time. If you've ever used Moz, you'll appreciate the friendly team who goes above beyond when compared to Moz.