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The Best 7 SEO Software Tools [May 2020]

The Best 7 SEO Software Tools [May 2020]

We get asked about the tools we use for our client projects, and we use many different tools for different aspects of SEO. After years of trying over 50 tools, here’s our winners across 6 categories.

Our Choices

ToolCategoryMonthly Cost
Best Overall SEO Tool$99 / Free Trial
Best Keyword Ranking Tool$99 / Free Trial
ahrefsBest SEO Tool$99 / Free Trial
Best Local SEO (1) + Best Small Business Option$29 / Free Trial
Best Local SEO (2)Pay per use
google search consoleBest Free SEO Tool$0

screaming frog
Best Technical SEO Audit£149.00 / year
Best WordPress SEO PluginFree

SEO Tools – An overview

SEO tools and apps are built to tell you:

  1. Where your keywords rank on Google
  2. How many links you have pointing to your site
  3. If there are technical improvements to be made

1. SEMRush – Best Overall SEO Tool

semrush

If you need only one tool, SEMRush is a great option. It’s got SEO, PPC, content, reporting, social media scheduling and linkbuilding all in one platform.

All-in-One Tool

SEMRush became famous in the digital marketing industry for its PPC research features and data. They are, after all, called SEMRush. PPC research is still a major strength, but over the years they’ve built in very helpful additional features.

If you’re only investing in one or two tools to run your digital marketing campaigns, this is a great option. 

Quick Technical Audits – Try Here

You can find any real glaring errors immediately with a site by running an audit. It generally only takes 3 or 4 minutes on a small site. When it’s done you can get a real sense of whether there are enormous blockages to ranking well.

The technical audits aren’t perfect. If you have an embedded social media module on your site, they may see the code in that and flag it as something to improve. In that specific case, it could be Facebook’s code that they’re worried about and you can’t exactly pick up the phone and tell Zuckerberg to minimize his .js files. It’s a robot’s audit that requires a human eye.

The Features We Use The Most:

  • PPC research
  • Display ad research
  • SEO keyword research
  • SEO audits
  • Link disavows
  • Social media posting

SEMRush already won our Best SEO Tool, but it’s worth specifically mentioning their technical audits.

These technical audits are fast and great. You can usually get one spit out for you in 2 minutes, but it depends on the size of the site.

Speed

As an SEO agency, we require speed. We need to generate reports quickly in order to diagnose issues and fix them to get results.

SEMRush’s audits only take a few minutes and provide you with 90% of what you need from a code perspective. There will be elements that require a manual review, but being able to get a full technical audit right away is a lifesaver.

Detail

It has enough detail to single out what’s wrong and why. It will provide either an overview snapshot of the issues or you can select the more detailed version of every error.

Website: semrush.com

2. AccuRanker – Best Organic Keyword Ranking Tool

We’re huge fans and use the AccuRanker tool 100 times a day.

It’s simple to use, very fast, and has everything you need for keyword ranking reporting.

Speed

We first signed up with AccuRanker because of its speed. A few other ranking tools were unable to automatically provide keyword rankings, and we’d have to wait a day for the result to come back. With AccuRanker you can drop in cities, devices, keywords and get their rankings back in less than a minute. 

Simplicity

Many other tools try to add a lot of features on, which is great if you’re only looking for one tool. In the case of an SEO agency, we’re just looking for one extremely solid tool to provide us with detailed keyword ranking reports per city when we need them. We can log in, check out the numbers and do something about them.

There’s also competitive reporting and the Share of Voice metric which is very helpful.

Website: accuranker.com

3. Ahrefs – Best Organic SEO Tool

If you’re looking to focus specifically on organic SEO, this is a top option.

Link Index

Links have always been a crucial part of SEO. Having strong referring websites link to yours is one sure way to convince Google that the referred page is worth ranking highly.

Ahrefs has built the most robust link index of all of the SEO tools out there. They know about 3 trillion links, so you’ll be able to immediately look up your competitor’s links and see what they have.

Ease of Use

Once you plug in your domain, Ahrefs does a lot of the work for you. Since it has much of the web indexed, it can immediately know which keywords you have opportunity for.

An example of this is their organic movement tool. You can hit Organic Search > Movements and see your new keyword rankings, positions, and areas of opportunity in a few seconds. No exporting or sorting required.

Features We Use The Most:

  • Referring domains tool
  • Broken links
  • Organic research
  • Link intersect
  • Competing domains
  • Content gap

Website: ahrefs.com

4. BrightLocal – Best Local SEO Tool + Small Business Option

bright local logo

BrightLocal is primarily a platform used for Local SEO. Its toolset is geared towards generating better results for local businesses where their physical location matters to their customers.

Local Signal Building

The strength of BrightLocal is in the screenshot above. It tracks local citations by strength, type and cost. This is important for newly launched businesses because citations are key. Citations are the name, address, phone number, link and info about your business. They’re so important because they help build confidence in Google’s ability to learn about the business and rank it appropriately.

You can either find important citations and begin building them yourself, or use their Citation Builder Campaign. The Citation Builder means using their experts for a small cost to find and clean a handful of meaningful listings.

Listing Management

If you have several locations in Google My Business, this is a decent way to see all of the information in one place.

It doesn’t replace Yext or listing platforms, but it can centralize Google listings so you can keep track of reviews and accuracy.

Everything Else

Like many tools, Brightlocal has developed add-ons onto their core offering.

When logged into Brightlocal, you’ll see the above menu display all of the options on the left hand column. They have everything from keyword rankings to social media reporting.

Website: brightlocal.com

5. LocalFalcon – Best Local SEO Tool – 2

I had to reserve a winner’s spot in Local SEO for Local Falcon. Why so few people have heard of this is beyond me. It’s a game changer for your rankings.

Neighbourhood-Level Rankings

Above is the Granville Island Toy Store’s Google ranking for “toy store”. The ranking shifts dramatically depending on where you are in the city.

Local Falcon specializes in reporting on where your website ranks per neighbourhood.

This view can be revelatory for local businesses and explains how Google behaves. Google really does prefer user location over everything else as a ranking factor, which this tool makes obvious.

This helps explain there is no such thing as a single keyword ranking. A website doesn’t simply “rank 5th”. The site ranks 5th on Main Street, but 45th on Cambie Street.

It Challenges Other Ranking Tools

Google Search Console can only generate national numbers for keyword rankings, which at times is not very helpful. Other ranking tools spit out one number per city which is great, but can be misleading at times. It’s crucial to know the ranking per neighbourhood.

The pricing is the only thing that’s confusing about the tool. It’s a cost per credit system. $50 will get you around 8 – 40 scans (ranking report for 1 keyword) depending on the radius of the map. 

Website: localfalcon.com

5. Search Console – Best Free SEO Tool

google search console

This tool should be installed on 100% of websites. It’s free and has more than just keyword rankings.

It has Google’s Actual Data

Other tools try to cobble together search data, but Google Search Console just has it. You can rely on this information a little more than other providers.

Looking at the Performance tab, you’ll be able to see your rankings by keyword, country, page and device.

Error and Coverage Issues

Diagnosing search errors in Google Search Console is an essential part of a professional SEO’s job. Running audits with SEMush or Screaming Frog will catch many of the issues, but hearing directly from Google what they are seeing as coverage errors is crucial.

Website: search.google.com

6. Screamingfrog – Best Technical SEO Audit

screaming frog
  • Sign up here
  • Free version with limited functionality
  • £149.00 / 1 license

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a must for any technical SEOs out there. This desktop app indexes your entire website and its elements. Having a full crawl of your site (and not just what shows up in Google) allows you to pick apart what’s working and what needs improvement.

Detailed Analysis

screaming frog interface

Picking apart every page is absolutely necessary if you’re looking deep. Not just the pages and their elements, but it’ll crawl every .js, image and file on your site which you can then examine.

Technical SEO audits aren’t just about wholesale changes to code, they are very much about looking at every page’s elements and opportunities. Skimming over the site just won’t get the results you’re looking for. That’s why the Screaming Frog SEO Spider is so great – it gets into the weeds.

Integrations

There are integrations with Ahrefs, Google Analytics, Search Console, and others. Importing that data into the Screaming Frog platform is fantastic because you can then see additional data per page.

An example of this is cross referencing every page on your site that you have crawled with how many visits that page has gotten. That would be essential in a content audit, which the tool is often used for.

7. Yoast – Best WordPress SEO tool

yoast logo

Yoast is pretty famous at this point. There’s over 7.4 million active installs of the WordPress plugin.

It started out as the easiest way to update the <title> element, but has evolved into a strong toolbox of ways to improve your WordPress site.

Page Titles

There’s no denying how important the page <title> element still is in SEO. It still allows search engines and people to understand the value proposition of the page from the Google results.

It has a live preview of what people would see in Google, which you can craft to your liking.

Everything Else

Yoast has a ton of usable and essential tools, which has made it the best all-in-one WordPress plugin. A few of the great examples of can’t-live-without features are:

  • Search Console verification
  • Global indexing settings
  • Global search appearance settings

Paid vs Free

The free version is great, but here’s a few things that we use consistently in our paid version:

  • Redirect manager – upon deletion of a page or a change in url, a box pops up that asks if you’d like to redirect the old version to the new version
  • Internal linking – there’s a sidebar that recommends pages to link to
  • Social previews – what the page will look like in social media channels

Website: yoast.com


Honourable Mentions + Future Considerations

We’ll be giving these another spin in the near future!

Market Leaders:

  • BuzzSumo – content optimization
  • Deepcrawl – technical audits
  • Google Keyword Planner – the free Google Ads keyword planner
  • Majestic – link index and research
  • Moz – great overall tool
  • Raven Tools – strong SEO tool
  • Spyfu – paid and organic research

Keyword Rankings:

  • Advanced Web Ranking
  • Agency Analytics
  • Authority Labs
  • GeoRanker
  • Keywords Everywhere
  • NightWatch
  • Pro Rank Tracker
  • Rank Ranger
  • SEO Rank Monitor
  • Serpfox
  • Sistrix
  • Unamo
  • WebCEO
  • WordTail

Local SEO:

  • Bright Local
  • Whitespark
  • Moz Local
  • Places Scout
  • Local Viking

Did we miss one?

Is there an SEO or PPC tool that should be considered for the list?
Contact us and let us know!

Note: Although we do believe in these tools the most, we may earn a commission on purchases through some links found on this page.

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We're a boutique search marketing company in Vancouver and love what we do. (604) 558-1448 or visit our Contact Page.

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