20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier

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.

SEO Tools

Ahrefs (Free or $99+)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 1

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+)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 3

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)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 5

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 ($49.20+/month)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 7

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 ($129.99/month)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 9

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) 

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 11

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)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 13

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)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 15

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 ($77+/year)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 17

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)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 19

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)

20 SEO tools/services to make SEO in 2021 Easier 21

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. 

SEO Services

Loganix ($249)

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. 

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition’s SEO

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition’s SEO

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition’s SEO

It doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated to get started on an SEO journey.

Not knowing where to start is a normal feeling to have, and a lot of times can put you off from starting.

For starters, you have competition who likely motivated you to begin taking SEO seriously.

That means they have a head start on you.

Don’t worry – that’s excellent news.

Having competition who had a head start with SEO makes your life easier.

You should send them a thank you card for making your life easier. All you need to do now is emulate and improve on their strategy.

It’s easy to do once you have the right tools, and you know what to look for.

For our SEO Services, we use tools like ahrefs and SEMrush, which both start at $99 a month, and we pay way more than that.

We have to afford to do that because SEO and content marketing is what we do.

You don’t have to break the bank upfront to begin your SEO strategy. You can get started for free.

We’re going to explore how you can leverage free tools to look at your competitor’s strategy on each of these fronts:

  • What Keywords They Rank For
  • What Content Is Working Best
  • What Search Terms Are Profitable
  • How Often They Post
  • What Titles You Should Use

If you were going to try to figure this out all on your own, you would be reading a handful of SEO guides and would likely be persuaded to buy unnecessary tools.

You would be getting conflicting advice and self-serving recommendations.

I was there when I was first learning, and I have to admit I likely lined someone else’s pockets because they pushed a tool that I didn’t need (yet).

I don’t want you to waste time or money I did.

That’s why I’ve created this guide to uncovering your competition’s SEO strategy with free tools.

#1: WordPress SiteMap

According to Whois Hosting This, 455,000,000 self-hosted websites are on the WordPress platform.

Odds are your competitor’s website is on WordPress also. Of those websites, they’re likely one of the 7,412,434 sites using the Yoast plugin.

What you can take advantage of is that Yoast has the same URL structure for every sitemap.

A sitemap is a blueprint that shows Google crawlers, where every page on your website is to help Google crawl your site faster.

We take advantage of this by quickly uncovering pages and categories a website uses.

The way to get to a website’s site map is to type in their domain like this:

competitor.com/sitemap.xml

You should see something like this come up next:

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition's SEO 23

Looking at a sitemap could get overwhelming for a large website, but for smaller or local sites, it’s a great way to uncover service location pages.

#2 Ubersuggest

Update: Ubersuggest is no longer a free tool but I made a concious decision to leave it on this list because despite being $10/month (likely less then what you spend on coffee in a week) it rivals tools that cost over $100. 

I stand behind everything I’ve said below. Also considering that only 14% of users need the additional data Ubersuggest can provide, you can still use it for free to get actionable information. 

I cannot speak highly enough about UberSuggest. UberSuggest is the tool I wish I had when I first began my SEO and Content Marketing Journey.

Before UberSuggest, I had to pay for tools like ahrefs and SEMrush (when I couldn’t afford it) and scraped by to get access.

Neil Patel put together a tool that’s 100% free to use and gives the services above a run for their money.

In case you don’t know, Neil is one of the world’s leading SEO/Content Marketers.

I learned the majority of my content marketing and SEO techniques by working directly with Neil and his team.

Some of the advice here actually comes straight from him (sorry, Niel :-P).

Ok, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of how to use UberSuggest to it’s fullest.

Steal your competition’s keywords

Take your competitor’s URL and paste it into the search bar on the screen.

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition's SEO 24

The first thing you’re going to see is your competitor’s SEO stats like traffic, keywords, domain score, and backlinks.

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition's SEO 25

Click on top pages to see what content is performing the best for them.

Once the page loads, click on view all under the Estimated Visits column, and now you’ve uncovered all of the keywords that page is showing up for in Google.

Now you can go through their best pages and start to place them into your keyword research document.

Now create content that targets these keywords and create something better than what your competition created.

Steal their backlinks

Backlinks are when a website cites your website for information. Think of it as a vote for your content.

These votes get tallied by Google to establish how trustworthy your website is.

Not all votes are created equal, though. The more relevant the citating website is to your niche, the more influential the vote.

How are you supposed to find relevant websites out of the 1.74 billion sites that exist on the internet, according to Web Hosting Rating?

That’s easy, under the backlinks column on the same screen, press View All and it provides you with a list of everyone who’s linked to the content.

You know the keywords already, and you’ve created content that is better than their content.

 

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition's SEO 26

 

It’s time to approach the websites which are linking to your competitor and say something along the lines of:

“Hey, Website Owner – I noticed you are linking to an outdated blog post about XYZ. I recently expanded and updated that topic to be more current, and I think your visitors will appreciate the most up to date info.”

On the surface, this might not sound that exciting, but consider this.

Your competitor didn’t know who would link to them and likely reached out to 100’s of people to get those links.

They’ve done the hard work for you by finding these websites interested in the blog post.

If your content is better, up to date, and expanded, they have no reason not to link to you.

You’ve now successfully stolen a link from your competitor.

#3 Screaming Frog

This next trick will show you which pages are most important to your competitor.

We are going to use a program called Screaming Frog.

Screaming Frog is a software that crawls your website or your competitors in this case and gives you a bunch of information.

When you first see the information, it can be overwhelming because you likely won’t know what most of it means.

That’s ok because we want to gather the purposeful information.

In this case, the purposeful information we are looking for is what pages matter most to your competition.

Download Screaming Frog to your computer then launch and type in your competitor’s URL:

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition's SEO 27
Go to the filter button and select HTML. Scroll to the right until you find the column “InLinks” and sort it from highest to lowest.

At the top of the list will be the pages that your competitors internally link to the most.

Think of your competitor’s site as if it were a museum or amusement park. Once you get in, you can’t get out without going through the gift shop first, where you might spend some money.

The concept is the same when it comes to websites. Your competition is going to do their best to guide their visitors to the pages where they can pitch their products.

Once you uncover these pages, you can see what their offer is and how they’re making the offer. From there, you can emulate their layout, sales angle, and calls to action.

#4 Google

How many times have you heard, “Google it?”

According to Hubspot, they estimate Google handles 5.8 BILLION searches a day.

Odds are you’ve likely heard the phrase once or twice a week. Well, keeping up with your competition is not different.

What we are going to show you is how often your competitor is creating content for their website.

Most people don’t know this, but You can dictate how Google performs your searches with special commands.

Here’s how you do it:

First type into Google’s search box, your competitor’s URL with “site:” in front of it.

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition's SEO 28
The command told Google you want to limit all the results to your competitor’s domain only.

Once the results come up, under the search bar, you can to click on the tools button.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll see two more buttons appear, “Any Time” and “All Results.”

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition's SEO 29
This shows you the amount of effort your competition is putting into SEO by how frequently they’re posting to their website.

From here, you have a few choices.

You can decide if you want to match, exceed, or do a little less than what your competition is doing.

There is no right answer here because, ultimately, frequency, along with quality, and many more factors play into Google rankings.

If you have the resources to meet or increase the frequency of your competition’s production rate, I would suggest it.

If you cannot, don’t sweat it. Just make sure you remain consistent and provide quality content.

#5 Ngram Analyzer

Ngram analyzer is an online analyzer that helps you take a handful of titles and find patterns.

What it does is it looks through the titles, and you ask it find strings of words that often go together.

Ngram Analyzer will provide you with is an idea of what type of content your competition is creating and how they are titling their content.

With the help of UberSuggest, we can export all of the top pieces of content to excel.

Copy all the titles from Excel and paste them into Ngram Analyzer.

I first start very narrow and use 4grams, which is a string of four words that are together more than once.

5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition's SEO 30
You should see results like this, which are terms and the number of times they show together.
5 FREE Ways for Spying On Your Competition's SEO 31

In this example, you can see phrases like “is transportation and logistics” and “transportation and logistics management” are important to them because they string them together a lot.

You can go further by broadening the criteria to 3gram and 2gram to see if you can gain any more insights.

You should see results like this, which are terms and the number of times they show together.

Bonus Tip – Use Netpeak Spider

This hack will show you which web pages are most valuable to your competitors.

We’re going to use a tool named Netpeak Spider.

Netpeak Spider is an SEO software that crawls websites (even the websites of your competitors) in several minutes and shows you various information regarding technical optimization.

The first time when you get all that information, it can be baffling because you possibly won’t know what most of that means (highlighted SEO issues depending on its importance like 4xx or 5xx errors, duplicates, redirects, and many more). Advanced issues description inside the tool is that thing that saves you time looking into it. Just select the issue, and you’ll find out info about that issue and tips on how to solve it.

Download Netpeak Spider to your computer or laptop then launch and enter in your competitor’s URL:

Netpeak Software Screen

Source: https://img.netpeaksoftware.com/fortis/1PPJEFW.png

Go to the Database and select Incoming Links. And then you’ll get to what pages of its website your competitor guides its visitors and what offer they’re making to the clients.

Once you open up these pages, you can see your competitor’s strategy. From there, you can imitate their purpose, sales intention, and CTA.

You can sign up and get a 14-day trial for free. This is definitely the kind of tool you need to take your SEO work to the next level.

Conclusion

You may not be an expert in SEO, and that’s ok because you don’t have to be to develop a decent strategy.

If you know how to spy on your competitors for free, you can see what’s working for them.

Use the free tools we mentioned above, along with my strategies, and you’ll quickly uncover what they are doing right.

>