Every website or blog owner out there is concerned with online visibility and ranking high on search engine searches, especially on Google search. In this article, we have curated the best SEO tools to boost your site’s chances of ranking high on search engine result pages (SERP) when people search for keywords related to your website. This is known as search engine optimisation (SEO)
One may keep a diary to hide their thoughts secret but that is not the same with a website. For anyone who creates a website for whatever reason, online visibility is a big deal. There are several means to achieve this, one of the most effective is SEO.
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What is SEO?
If you stay around blog/website owners or administrators, SEO is a term that you would hear – a lot. Nothing gets that much mention and popularity without good reason, right? Before we dive deeper, let’s find out what all the fuss is about then.
SEO simply stands for Search Engine Optimization. Defined simply, it is the art of ranking high in the Organic Listings of search results. The Organic Listings are simply the unpaid sections of results search engines bring back. 90% of the time this search engine is Google.
The only time anyone ever goes to “page 2” and beyond of a Google search is if they’re doing that horrible class project, which even the library is short of resources on (you would be surprised that there are people who are oblivious to the fact a Google search result produces more than a single page). In fact, people hardly look beyond the first 5 results, and Google wants it so! This is because they want more people to trust their search engine as their guide on the internet. So far, they are achieving that aim because according to Internet Live Stats, there are 40,000 search queries every second on average.
When you remember that you are surely not the only one delivering that content you share on the internet, the last thing you want is to get lost in the pile among those over 3.5 billion searches run daily by internet users worldwide.
SEO is therefore how you make your content likely to be at the top of the pile when someone searches a keyword related to your article. In other words, SEO is how you make your website Search Engine-friendly.
Some statistics to make you think
So, you’ve read all the things about SEO and have a very basic understanding of what it’s about. Your next question could be how important SEO is. Well, here are some statistics to highlight the importance of SEO in generating traffic.
According to research by Conductor on 30 websites in 6 different industries, 64% of visits came from users being redirected by links in organic searches. In fact, by far more people click on the top organic result than the paid Google Ads. The reasoning for many is that anyone can pay for an ad but you have to be top of your niche to have your site sitting pretty at the top of search results.
This is why in any given Google search, the top organic result has a 32% click rate. Results 2 to 5 get a combined 36% click rate. This means everything else – results 6 to the last page and paid ads share a combined 32%. That’s a measly Click Through Rate (CTR) for that many search results to share.
Putting all these in context means having great SEO is more valuable than paid ads.
A crash course on search engines
Search engines are websites used to look up information on the internet. They do this by looking through many webpages and looking for results that are most relevant to the user’s query. This query, which is usually inputted in the search bar, is known as the keywords.
Google is unsurprisingly the most popular search engine in the world. That fact is the reason they are the guys whose “good side” you really want to be on. A basic understanding of the criteria with which they rank their sites is important. Google has over 200 ranking factors, most of which are kept secret.
However, knowing the basic ranking will put you in a better position to judge why some tools will help your website’s SEO. Before we go into some of the popular SEO tools, here is a list of Google’s top 10 ranking factors
Google’s top 10 ranking factors in 2020
- A Secure and Accessible Website
- Page Speed (Including Mobile Page Speed)
- Mobile Friendliness
- Domain Age, URL, and Authority
- Optimised Content
- Technical SEO
- User Experience (RankBrain)
- Social Signals
- Real Business Information
Ranking the right way
There are several means of meeting Google’s criteria for ranking high. However, search engines have guidelines for ranking correctly. Find below a summary of Google’s guidelines.
- Make pages primarily for users, not search engines
- Don’t deceive your users
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you would feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging
Things to avoid
- Automatically generated content
- Participating in link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content (i.e. copied from somewhere else)
- Cloaking — the practice of showing search engine crawlers different content than visitors.
- Hidden text and links
- Doorway pages — pages created to rank well for specific searches to funnel traffic to your website
Source: Moz Pro
Anyone interested in the long-term success of their organic online visibility would not take shortcuts. These short means are known as Black Hat SEO. The long-term result of using these strategies ranges from creating awkward, spammy websites to being blacklisted by Google.
Also, being blacklisted in visitors’ minds is not a good thing. Users are not likely to revisit a site built on clickbait without substance. Our concern then should be on White Hat SEO strategies and the best tools to achieve these.
Filtering out the noise: Best tools to use to improve your site SEO
The plethora of available SEO tools are so many to filter through. We have a list of the best for you.
Effectiveness, practicability and price are how we have judged and ranked these tools. Truth be told, having just one of these tools is enough to keep you far ahead of the game and not need to download endless plugins.
SEMrush is a result-oriented SEO tool that helps users perform search engine optimisation (SEO) research. It is actually a suite of a varying number of tools. Within the suite, users can do a lot such as viewing data of competitions, keywords tracking, finding backlinking opportunities, running SEO audits, as well as finding and fixing SEO issues, to mention a few.
SEMrush is one of the tools we use at Sidomex Entertainment, and have seen weekly traffic shoot up by over 1000%. SEMrush has also helped us to identify keywords that ordinarily we wouldn’t have targeted, which has been great for our website traffic and session duration.
Broadly speaking, SEMrush has conveniently divided their tools under 5 broad categories:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Points Per Click (PPC)
- Social Media
- Content Marketing
- Market Research
It is surely not hard to see why this is many users’ go-to suite for all things web analytics. Anyway, our focus is on the SEO category.
The most relevant features of SEMRush to SEO to check out are:
SEO Writing Assistant: Your content is optimised on the go based on your top 10 rivals in Google rankings. It checks content for SEO friendliness and originality online. Based on the results, you can adjust your copy’s readability and tone of voice.
On-Page SEO Checker: This contains everything you need to make your website smoother, healthier, and high-performing. The tool pinpoints your website’s weaknesses by taking data from different sources. It compares your page with the top 10 real-time organic competitors. Each of your target keywords is used to suggest ideas on page rankings improvement.
Keyword Magic Tool: SEMRush touts its database of keywords as the biggest in the market. You can easily sort through the noise with search filters to pick the best ones for you with ease.
Keyword Overview: The tool provides a snapshot of a particular keyword’s value. It makes use of metrics, such as volume, keyword difficulty, competition in paid search, top-ranking pages, ad copy, etc.
SEMrush offers an initial 7-Day trial plan. However, users must choose what plan they want to try before jumping in. The Pro plan is priced at $99.95/month while the Guru plan costs $199.95/month. Both come with varying degrees of tools available. Before this 7-Day trial can be activated though, the user must make a commitment by entering their credit card details.
They also have a business plan that is suitable for agencies. The Business plan cost $399.95 per month
Considering what SEMRush is offering though, users would surely be getting their money’s worth if the tools within the suite are properly utilized.
- Continually innovating
- Extremely powerful keyword research utilities
- A huge number of really useful tools
- Well-detailed and consistent reports
- Effective Performance Tracking
- Free trial
- No trial without credit card details
- Too many tools can make UI confusing at times
The most popular and useful features of Ahrefs are:
- Keywords Explorer: With this tool, you can discover thousands of great keyword ideas, analyze their ranking difficulty and calculate their traffic potential.
- Site Audit: Site Audit crawls all the pages it finds on your website. It goes on to provide an overall SEO health score, visualises key data in charts, flags all possible SEO issues and provides recommendations on how to fix them.
Content Explorer: Helps you discover and analyze top-performing content in your niche. A very useful tool to know the topics to write on to stay relevant.
- Rank Tracker: Monitors your rankings over time and charts your performance against your competitors’. Scheduled reports are sent directly to your email.
- Site Explorer: Analyzes your competitors’ websites to know what’s keeping them relevant. It uses Organic traffic research to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for. Backlink checker sees which websites link to your competitors’ sites and gauges the quality of these backlink profiles. Finally, Paid traffic research learns whether your competitors are doing paid search advertising and where they funnel their paid traffic.
Ahrefs offers a 7-day trial of any of their plans to new users. However, this is not a free trial and costs $7. After the trial, users can choose to continue with either of their available plans. The two available plans for trials on Ahrefs are Lite and Standard. The Lite plan costs $99/month while the standard goes for $179/month.
They also have Advanced and Agency plans for multiple users. These cost $399 and $999 per month respectively.
- Lots of useful tools
- Arguably one of the best backlink tracking tools out there
- Abundance of learning materials
- An active community of users
- Can have a sneak peek use of features for free
- No free trials
- Web traffic stats aren’t comprehensive enough
3. Alexa Marketing Stack
Alexa Marketing Stack is a product of Amazon. It is one of a set of suites under the broad Alexa company. Other services Alexa offers are Website Traffic Analysis and Certified Alexa Rank. A variety of tools you need to improve your SEO strategy and discover new ideas for growing your traffic are available on the Alexa Marketing Stack.
Alexa Marketing Stack offers so many amazing features to boost site SEO:
- Site Audits: This offers a detailed, page-level assessment of your site’s SEO, performance, usability, and more. Step-by-step recommendations for how to improve your site SEO are included in reports. Reports are downloadable. Users are limited to 2 site audits per month on all plans.
- Keyword Utilities: Alexa Marketing Stack offers a variety to aid the productive choice of keywords. Tools include Paid and Organic Keyword Research, Competitor Keyword Matrix, Keyword Difficulty Tool and Keyword Share of Voice.
- Competitor Backlink Checker: This helps you find sites that link to multiple competitors. Uncover backlink gaps you are missing.
- On-Page SEO Checker: Evaluates how well your pages are optimized for search. The actionable report is provided highlighting means to improve site performance.
Alexa offers 2 pricing plans for users; Advanced and Agency. Both plans offer the same services, the difference being that the Agency plan allows multiple users. With the Agency plan subscription, you get access to all the services in the Advanced plan but for 20 users, 35 sites and 35 projects. The Advanced plan costs $149/month while the Agency plan costs $299/month. Both plans offer free trials with Advanced offering 14 days free and Agency, 30 days.
- Actionable information provided in the Site Audit
- Highly detailed analysis of top competition with Competitive Analysis Tool
- Access to Alexa Ranking
- Lots of useful tools
- Relatively pricey
Ubersuggest is a free SEO tool with a speciality in keyword ideas generation. It was originally developed as a tool to scrape Google Suggest terms. Ubersuggest was recently acquired by entrepreneur Neil Patel. Since the change of ownership, the feature set of Ubersuggest has been greatly expanded. They now offer their services to such business empires as Microsoft, Dell, CNN and Nike.
Some useful SEO features of Ubersuggest are:
- Site Audit: Checks your site for SEO issues and suggests detailed instructions on how to fix them.
- Backlink Data: Keeps track of your links. Finds opportunities for getting new high-quality links for your website.
- Keyword Discovery: Finds profitable keywords that are easy to rank. Ubersuggest shows you where to target your work for maximum results.
- Daily Rank Tracking: Shows your daily changes in your rankings as well as feedback on your SEO. It is available on Desktop & Mobile.
- Competitor Analysis: Lets you see what your competitors are doing in their SEO. Learn their tactics and stay ahead of the curve.
There are 3 major pricing plans in Ubersuggest; Individual, Business and Enterprise/Agency. All plans cost $29, $20 and $49 per month. However, users who choose to pay annually would get a 2-month discount on any of the offered plans. Users can opt for the 7-day trial on any of the plans.
The is also the free mode of Ubersuggest, which is pretty useful.
- Relatively very cheap
- 30-day Money-back guarantee on annual payments
- Really useful and extensive free mode
- SEO Training and Support
- Data on each keyword also includes detailed charts and stats
- Top pages of keywords are presented in batches of 10. Would like to see it in full without clicking “next 10.”
SEO is probably all the help your small business has always needed to gan organic online visibility. The best SEO tools help you make your website user-friendly, robust and fast and rank higher in search engines. The result is usually more potential customers to your site and eventually increased conversion rates. The best part is the cost of all this is significantly less than other alternative means of getting visibility.
Anyone of the above tools is really all a site owner needs to use to scale up his site SEO.
Now that we have done the hard part of finding the best SEO tools out there, which would you be going for? Any other useful SEO tools we didn’t mention? Drop a comment below.