Want to level up your SEO?
Need to find the right tool to help you but not sure which search engine marketing tools to choose?
In this post, I’m going to give you a primer on some of the most popular SEO tools on the market.
This isn’t your typical ‘best of’ style list…
I’ll share my opinions on each one and give you an idea of how each one could fit into your SEO strategy and go beyond advertised features.
And towards the end, I’ll provide a summary of each tool.
A few notes before we get started:
- The best SEO tool depends on your needs so don’t ignore tools further down the list. Each tool is numbered purely to make skim reading easier.
- I have excluded some heavy hitting SEO tools. This is because I either had issues with the tool or haven’t used it enough to give you an opinion.
- If you work for a company I haven’t included, don’t ask me to add it.
Let’s dive in:
1. SE Ranking
SE Ranking is best known as a rank tracking tool but it also happens to be one of the best all-in-one SEO tools on the market. And it’s one of the most affordable too.
Aside from rank tracking, you can use it for keyword research, site auditing, on-page SEO, backlink analysis, SEO reporting and more.
One quite unique feature that I haven’t seen in many other all-in-one SEO tools is the ability to monitor page changes.
And from a pricing perspective, while it’s still mostly priced based around the keywords you want to check – it works out extremely competitive vs other tools.
The most surprising thing about SE Ranking is how far their backlink database has come. Their index doesn’t appear to be quite as large as that of Ahrefs but its definitely usable.
And one thing to note is that Ahrefs is typically blocked by more sites so combining link data from SE Ranking and Ahrefs would likely give you more of a complete picture of your backlink profile.
2. SEO PowerSuite
SEO PowerSuite is one of the first SEO tools I ever used and I still use it to this day.
It comes with several different tools: Link Assistant (link building), SEO Spyglass (backlink analysis), Website Auditor (site auditing and on page SEO), and Rank Tracker (rank checking and keyword research).
While some may take issue with the fact that its software that is installed to your computer, rather than a SaaS app – that’s one of the reasons why I think it’s particularly useful.
The big issue with online based SEO tools is that you are always using their server resources. So they can get expensive.
Most of them will limit the number of projects, websites, keywords, pages that can be supported as a way to safeguard the experience of other users. Makes sense, right?
However, because SEO PowerSuite is software you get unlimited websites and projects so it works out extremely cost effective. And, you can install the software on multiple devices if required and save your projects to Dropbox.
This isn’t the ideal SEO software for everyone but it is especially useful for certain use cases.
It is worth noting, however, that the software does have some SaaS components – for example the backlink database for SEO Spyglass is powered by SEO PowerSuite’s own servers. And the database contains a huge number of links/websites.
If you want to learn more, check out Blogging Wizard’s SEO PowerSuite review.
Semrush is one of the defacto all-in-one SEO tools and it has been for several years.
To simply call it an SEO tool, even an ‘all-in-one’ SEO tool would be doing the entire company a disservice because it is so much more.
Sure, they have one of the best competitive research tools for SEO, one of the best rank trackers, extensive keyword research, powerful site auditor and a huge index of backlinks.
But Semrush’s toolbox also includes social media scheduling, social media analytics, brand monitoring, content optimization and far more.
And, just when I thought I was aware of everything Semrush had to offer – I found an entire outreach tool. Amazing.
Now, like other tools on this list, Semrush doesn’t fit every use case. If you need a specific feature you can pay a lot for features you don’t need and the learning curve required is extensive.
That’s the double edged sword of offering so much functionality.
If you want a single tool to power your entire marketing efforts – Semrush would be a great option. However, if you’re looking for specific functionality or a tool where you can quickly pull out specific information – it might not be the most suitable.
I have always been impressed by how much Ahrefs have accomplished with such a small team.
What started off as a backlink analysis tool has grown into a full SEO suite that includes link monitoring, rank tracking, site auditing and more.
And for years, no other backlink analysis tool even got close to them. Fast forward to today and other tools on this list are catching them up but they still offer the most comprehensive backlink database around.
Considering the funding their competitors have, it’s damn impressive.
Aside from their backlink database, they have a unique keyword research tool. Not only can you pull out keyword data from Google, you can also do keyword research for Amazon, YouTube, and more.
Ahrefs is a solid option for an all-in-one SEO tool but it works out crazy expensive for rank tracking. This is why I do all of my rank tracking via SE Ranking instead.
And their limits for lower plans can be quite annoying. For example, I have the lowest plan but I run into a lot of data limitations. For example, I can’t see keywords websites are ranking for unless they rank higher than 21. Considering I don’t use their site auditor and rank tracking, I’m paying a lot for restricted access to their Site Explorer.
Recently they added a free offering to compete with Google Search Console. So, for your own website, you can get a huge amount of backlink and search traffic data.
However, there is some concern over how they may use the data if you choose to verify your data via Google Search Console.
Regardless, this is an impressive free offering that provides a huge amount of data for your own site.
Note: In early 2022, Ahrefs updated their pricing plans and removed a huge amount of important features from their base plan. Solid tool but I’ve been disappointed in how they handled this situation. Especially considering they automatically upgrade customers to a higher plan without any warning. This isn’t an issue for anyone on a legacy account but new customers will have to be careful when it comes to their usage limits.
Mangools is an SEO platform that features several different tools: KWFinder, SERPChecker, SERPWatcher, LinkMiner, and SiteProfiler.
So, if you need backlink analysis, rank tracking or keyword research – this is a nice option.
It has the best interface of any SEO tool I have used and it’s so damn simple to use.
The keyword research isn’t as advanced as some other tools but its ease of use and sensible price point more than make up for it.
If you’re just getting started with SEO, this is a great tool to use thanks to its simplicity and lower price point compared to other tools.
BuzzStream is the longest standing outreach tool on the market.
Back in my days as operations manager at a link building agency, this was the tool that formed the backbone of our entire business.
And even though I left the agency game a long ago, BuzzStream is still an important tool in my arsenal.
Now, there’s a lot of outreach software on the market so it’s important to understand where BuzzStream fits in.
The idea behind BuzzStream is to provide a single tool to power your entire outreach campaign. Right from the research and email sending to the management of relationships and reporting.
If you just want a quick and easy tool to blast outreach emails and you don’t care about managing or maintaining relationships – this isn’t for you.
But if you want to make the most of every opportunity and develop a quick win into multiple wins over the long-term – this is the type of outreach tool you’re going to need.
The CRM is pretty damn good as well. And, as a site owner who receives an abusive level of outreach I can tell you that most brands do not coordinate their outreach. They cross over each other, annoy the hell out of site owners and make you look stupid.
BuzzStream puts the functionality in place so you can avoid burning bridges before they’ve been built.
If you’re aware of Awario, you’ll know that it isn’t strictly an SEO tool. In fact that’s just not what it’s for… or is it?
Awario is an industry leading social media listening tool but it just so happens that you can totally use it for SEO purposes.
By now, you’re probably aware that blogger outreach is one of the best ways to acquire good backlinks.
The problem is that most SEOs read the same articles and follow the same courses that offer a very limited number of link prospecting methods. So, everyone ends up finding the exact same websites.
So, if you want to find relatively untapped link building opportunities, give social media listening a go.
And, if you need help, check out this tutorial over at Blogging Wizard. It’ll walk you through the process.
Wrapping it up
Now, here’s a quick summary of where each tool fits best:
- SE Ranking – All-in-one SEO tool that provides a great balance of affordability and functionality. Includes great reporting functionality.
- SEO PowerSuite – Best SEO tool for freelancers with a lot of sites to manage. Free version offers a lot of functionality but you can’t save projects.
- Semrush – The most feature-packed all-in-one marketing tool. Handle all of your SEO and a number of other marketing activities such as social media scheduling, etc.
- Ahrefs – Powerful tool for backlink analysis & competitive research but it’s expensive compared to other tools.
- Mangools – Best for beginners thanks to its simplicity and price point.
- BuzzStream – Best outreach tool I have tested. Research, send emails and keep your campaigns organized.
- Awario – Industry leading social listening tool. Use this when you want to find link opportunities your competitors aren’t looking for.
SEO is one of those marketing channels that requires tools to help you.
The right tools can save you a huge amount of time and give you competitive insights that you wouldn’t get otherwise. These tools in particular are a great starting point.
Finally, if you’d like to check out more tools, check out Startup Bonsai’s article on the best free SEO tools. Or, if you want to brush up on the SEO basics, check out this beginner’s guide to SEO over at Blogging Wizard.
Disclosure: If you buy through links on our site, we may make a commission.