March 14th, 2014 By Greg Rodriguez
When it comes right down to it, the world of search engine optimization is built upon two major factors; the great minds auditing sites to determine what makes the Google algorithm tick and, perhaps even more importantly, the tools used to carry out those precise specifications. From keyword research tools to site audit tools to link building helpers and more, the world of SEO is built upon applications meant to make our lives easier. Though SEO is indeed possible without these powerful tools, it’s only just so, and much fewer would try their hand at influencing search engine rankings. Fortunately, this is not the case and we have a wide variety of tools at our disposal, all of which can be used to lessen the load on your shoulders and uncomplicated the process. SEO tools make this a much easier world to live in, without a doubt!
But, like most facets of SEO, using and choosing the tools for success is not exactly a straightforward process, and—in many cases—you may have difficulty determining what to use or how to use it (particularly if you are just starting out). Luckily, we’re here today to help you with just that! So sit back, enjoy the post, and try not to fall asleep as I rattle off my favorite SEO tools that you can use to further your efforts.
Keyword Research Tools
As a writer, content and keyword research are two things that I find myself doing throughout a large portion of my day, and tools are what help me power through and ensure that I’m doing precisely what I need to. Just a few of these tools include:
- Google Keyword Planner: There are hundreds of keyword research tools on the web, but make no mistake; none are better than the Google Keyword Planner. Previously known as the Google Keyword Tool, this incredible application not only gives you suggestions for further keywords based on the ones you enter; it also provides traffic information, relative difficulty for ranking statistics, and even a wealth of information that you can use for an SEM campaign (like cost per click and how much you would have to bet to show up for certain keywords). Best of all, because this is Google’s very own keyword tool, all of this information comes directly from the source. This means it is the most recent and updated data that you can get. Overall, the only thing that I would ever complain about with the keyword planner tool is the fact that it is often difficult to organize the information that you receive intuitively; but, with some Excel spreadsheet magic and a little bit of working at it, you can make the Keyword Planner into one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. Just remember; you have to have a Google AdWords account in order to utilize the Keyword Planner. Try creating an account here.
- Ubersuggest: While I truly enjoy Google Keyword Planner’s suggest function, it can be hard to get started without having a handful of ideas first. This is where Ubersuggest comes in. Just enter the vertical you are aiming for, or a basic keyword that you hope will work, and it will spit out a host of relevant, creative keywords that often start dipping into the long tail (which, as we’ve said before, you should be doing). Though Ubersuggest won’t give you any finalized data or keywords, it still is helpful for getting started or even continuing your keyword search once you run out of ideas; in other words, use it to get through those hard times!
- Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool: Once you have a variety of keywords that you think may be good for you or your site, it might be a good idea to type some of those into the Moz keyword difficulty tool. This will give you more insight into how hard it will be for you to rank for those keywords and whether or not it’s worth going for them, which is an invaluable tool if you count your time as a valuable asset. Unfortunately, Moz is not a free tool (though you can get a free trial) and you will have to shell out some dough in order to make use of this spectacular product. With that said, it is extremely powerful and we would certainly recommend it.
Link Building Tools
Though we haven’t talked a lot about link building as of yet, it is still an incredibly important part of running an SEO campaign. Unfortunately, there are not any automated ways of doing it, and most tools are mainly used to organize your link building efforts. However, this is still very helpful and should not be looked over when all is said and done:
- Majestic SEO: Majestic SEO is also a powerful site explorer tool that, like Raven Tools, gives you an idea of who is linking to who so you can go after those ripe fruit your website needs. Though it lacks the link storage component of Raven Tools, it also offers a free component that is useful in analyzing your own sites. This can help with auditing your site to determine whether or not you have negative sites linking to you so you can remove the threats and, hopefully, improve your site’s ranking.
- BuzzStream: BuzzStream is a very similar tool to Raven Tools that, in all honesty, mainly differs in how it’s set up/what it looks like. They both provide site exploring tools and a place to put your prospective/completed links, while expediting the link building process. However, what makes BuzzStream useful is the actual outreach portion of the link building process. Not only does it make it easier to remember contact information and make relationships, it also provides statistics on what outreach method seems to work best, along with a full history of the relationship you’ve made with prospective linkers. Overall, if you want a tool that helps with outreach, BuzzStream is the tool you want, while Raven Tools is the site you should choose when trying to determine who you want to outreach too. But, they are both fantastic and equally deserving of your money.
Onpage SEO Tools
Here are just a few tools that are perfect to assist with your onpage SEO tasks:
- Screaming Frog: If you want to determine precisely what is wrong with your site, Screaming Frog is the tool for you. With a simple download, this tool will spider your website’s links, CSS, images, and script before displaying SEO elements by type within the dashboard. This allows you to easily pinpoint the SEO problems your site may have so you can locate where to begin your SEO journey. Trust me; though it may be a bit difficult to use right away, the pure amount of information this application garners along with its ability to display exactly what you need to work on make Screaming Frog an invaluable tool when all is said and done. Let me just sum it up this way; site audits are hard, annoying processes that everyone hates and no one wants to do. Screaming Frog makes it easy; it’s simple as that.
- Pingdom Website Speed Test: One aspect of search engine optimization many beginner SEOs forget is the fact that the actual usability of your site matters to Google. That means if your site is running slow, you may not show up as high in the search rankings as you normally would. Fortunately, Pingdom can provide you all the relevant information you need in terms of website functionality, including the load time of your web page and different bottlenecks that may be slowing it down. It’s also free, making it a very useful tool for first time search engine optimizers.
At the end of the day, there are hundreds of SEO tools that you can use, some of which I may not have included on this list. These are simply my favorites that have worked well in the past and should provide you with a good start.