When it comes to managing the process of search engine optimisation, there is a number of tools and software solutions to be found online. From free to premium, professional to amateur and everything in between, there’s every grade and spec available to make
With so many out there, it’s hard to know which you should be implementing in your business. Whether you are a small one-man blogging operation, or a huge web development company, SEO is always going to be essential. SEO is the paintwork on your online shopfront, presenting your business to the world and jumping you into your customer’s line of sight.
Without quality SEO, your online business is going to struggle to reach the required levels of traffic, and traffic is the lifeblood of any online business. The software I review below feature various tools and diagnostic features that allow you to accurately and consistently improve rankings, some do it better than others, some are more intuitive, and some offer more features. Hopefully, this will help you choose the software you use for your SEO needs
SEMrush is a professional premium keyword research and domain analytics tool, offering backlink tracking, as well as desktop and mobile search breakdowns. SEMrush’s project based search engine optimisation campaign system is unique and very useful for managing multiple SEO projects at once. SEMrush also offers proactive SEO recommendations, and keyword suggestions, which can really give your SEO campaign an edge.
Offering a useful, focused range of tools and analytical options, SEMrush is a great SEO optimization platform. Covering all bases with potent, valuable tools for domain monitoring, crawling and keyword research, it’s truly a professional grade platform.
However, it does have a few shortcomings, it’s not perfect. With many of the tools and features still in beta, as well as sometimes being a bit unwieldy and unintuitive for the new user. SEMrush can come in especially useful when it comes to examining your competition and gaining that edge over them.
Here are some of the great features offered by SEMrush, allowing you to sit high in your niche in search rankings: keyword research, backlink analysis, website traffic reports, site audit tools, databases which are regularly updated for accuracy, advertising analysis reports, domain competition, keyword position tracking, product listing ads which tell you your competitors advertising information. As a package, if you can get to grips with it, it’s a powerful combination.
SEMrush is priced with 3 tier of monthly plans; Pro ($99.95), Guru ($199.95) and Business ($399.95). The three different tiers obviously increase in features with the heftier price tag, with the business option being much more flexible in terms of search, monitoring and user options and potential. These tiers are great for businesses and operations ranging all the way from small, one-man bloggers trying to get more attention, all the way up to bigger companies.
What’s the difference in what the different tiers offer then? Pro ($99.95) offers 10,000 results per day, 3,000 reports, 5 projects, 500 keywords to track and 100,000 pages to crawl. Guru ($199.95) offers 30,000 results per day, 5,000 reports, 50 projects, 1500 keywords to track and 300,000 pages to crawl. The most potent package, and the most expensive; Business ($399.95) offers 50,000 results per day, 10,000 reports, 200 projects, 5000 keywords to track and 1000,000 pages to crawl.
In comparison to many other online SEO optimisation platforms, SEMrush is competitively priced, and good value, however, you do need to factor in getting used to using the system, as well as potentially a little training. As a beginner, the Pro package is all you need, but before you do that, have a look at the 30-day free trial offered, allowing you to get to grips with the platform, and see how it can work for you.
Screaming Frog is a java program available for Windows, Mac and Linux machines, which crawls websites and analyses the data for SEO purposes. Available in a free version with five hundred URL searches, this can be the perfect beginner SEO program. Beyond those five hundred searches, you can pay for the full licensed version for £149.99 (around $180). The full licensed version has many more customisable features, allowing lots of tweaking and adjusting, making for a pretty thorough SEO analytical suite.
The free version offers plenty of features for those getting started, offering up to five hundred URL searches, as well as exportable data and some limited analytical features. This can be more than enough when you’re just getting started, plus it’s an easy way to learn if this particular tool is for you. If you do decide to go with Screaming Frog, and buy the yearly £149.99 licensed version, you’ll find yourself with access to a huge range of premium additions and extras that can allow you to easily perform professional grade SEO analytical work.
Some of the features of Screaming Frog web crawler include; Google search and analytics integration, exportable data allowing you to move your data to a spreadsheet, finding duplicate pages and content, tracking meta robots allowing you to find and deal with nofollow and noindex issues, measuring file sizes, organising in and out links to any particular URL, tracks the follow and nofollow status of links, custom source code searches allowing you to peruse the source code of a website, and tracking page depth, all while being capable of throwing up a variety of reports and other analytical services. Essentially, it’s a pretty thorough SEO suite, offering a huge range of analytical options, some of which are highly technical, but effectively covering virtually all your SEO needs.
It’s pretty hard to fault Screaming Frog. Their software offers a huge range of options for SEO, and many of those are available completely free, which is amazing if you’re only running one website, or trying out multiple software applications. However, if you do choose to get the licensed version, at an annual cost of £149.99 ($180), then the software becomes entirely professional grade, and at a price that far outdoes many other SEO programs and software, especially compared with the more common monthly payments you see everywhere else.
The only major shortcomings of Screaming Frog are its somewhat clunky, unappealing and unintuitive UI design. It can be a little hard to get into using, although after a while you’ll wonder how you were struggling. It’s also a little taxing on slower PC’s, with it taking up a lot of processing power. This can mean that if you’re running a slower, older PC, you’re probably going to want to upgrade before investing in that £149.99 yearly license. Overall, it’s a fantastic analytical tool with a great range of features, including free ones, and it can prove absolutely invaluable, it boasts an amazing online reputation too, so don’t just take my word for it!
Moz is a great professional grade SEO tools suite, offering a huge range of varied SEO tools, and priced competitively with a tiered pricing structure for Moz Pro from Standard ($99/month) up to Professional ($599/month) with discounts for those that pay yearly. For the vast majority of peoples SEO needs, the standard option will do just fine, and at that price is pretty competitive. The services and tools that are offered cover most of your bases when it comes to getting great rankings for your sites. There’s also the cheaper and smaller Moz Local software, which is focused on local search engine analysis and is much cheaper at $9-21/month, with a similar tiered price structure. Available on the site are several free analytical reports and tools, including a keyword explorer and open site explorer, which, while limited, can prove very useful.
Moz Pro includes; a rank tracker, allowing you to study your search engine ranking for a variety of different keywords and comparisons, as well as tracking over time to view improvements, and email notifications for rank changes, an on-page grader which analyses your websites keywords and gives recommendations for on-page SEO improvements, keyword difficulty information, as there’s no point trying to compete with highly sought after keywords, Moz can keep you up to date by examining the competitions SEO statistics, and a crawl test, which is a useful tool that checks out your websites links and looks for any issues preventing indexing.
One particularly useful tool I found was the fresh web explorer, which analyses mentions of your site and competitors sites, allowing you to accurately track popularity, and where you should be applying more marketing focus. This is such a great tool for identifying opportunities and exploiting them with great relevant and shareable content sure to boost your rankings. It really allows you to keep your finger on the pulse.
The substantially cheaper, and more focused, Moz Local focuses predominantly on local search engines and smaller local businesses. Offering a range of services designed to boost your local web visibility, such as submitting accurate location data for your business to all the major data aggregators and several top-tier online directories, as well as providing a wide variety of metrics and analytical reports allowing you to quantify your local SEO efforts and tweak your site.
In terms of pricing, Moz is fairly standard, but still quite competitive. With their tiered pricing structure ranging from the Standard package at $99/month, up to the $599/month Premium package, and with tiered options between, you’re sure to find a suitable option for your needs ($99, $149, $249 and $599). Smaller operations will find the Standard package entirely sufficient, and when it comes to checking out Moz, they offer a great 30-day free trial, which can be absolutely invaluable for seeing how well you can work with the software. It’s worth mentioning as well that there are discounts for those who pay yearly as opposed to monthly, which can entail significant savings, and they do cater to even bigger organisations than the Premium package can cover. Moz Local stands at much cheaper than the Pro software, but does less.
At $99 a month for the standard version, Moz very much holds its ground when compared with similar software in terms of pricing. However, where it really excels is its intuitive simplicity and great user interface, when combined with its simplified yet effective SEO features. Moz Local offers some useful local SEO tools and analysis within the same interfaces, which can be very helpful. You’re not bombarded with data like so many other SEO suites, it’s much more focused and straightforward, which can make it very easy and quick to start using, and start seeing results.
Regarded online as one of the most exhaustive SEO keyword tools out there, Ahrefs, while not a particularly cheap option, is very well thought of. With a complete suite of tools allowing you to perform all the necessary diagnostic and analytical tasks to get your site ranked highly. Of all the SEO software I’ve reviewed and had a look over, this is one of the slickest and most professional. However, that comes at a price with their standard package coming in at a slightly steep $179/month, which is substantially more expensive than the competition.
Offering a huge and exhaustive range of tools and analytical features, Ahrefs essentially covers everything you need to get your site from Google page thirty-six, to number one. Their onsite checking and analytical maintenance tools are effective, and their keyword research and comparison reports are hugely useful and focused. Other key features of the software include a content explorer, site explorer, keyword explorer, alerts, rank tracker, domain comparison, content gap, backlink checker, batch analysis, link intersect, and my favourite, their SEO toolbar. This potent and extensive range of tools covers almost all the bases, leaving you able to analyse, research and execute almost any SEO operation.
One of Ahrefs great successes is their highly functional, user-friendly user interface design. While it might take a tiny bit of getting used to, once you settle in, you’ll find yourself whizzing along. By making their program very easy to pick up and get used to, they’ve essentially minimised the need for training for any staff needing to use the software, which is potentially a great saving for a company looking for SEO software. This, combined with their exhaustive range of features makes Ahrefs a very serious contender when it comes to choosing your SEO software.
The main drawback is price, however, when compared to similar suites with perhaps slightly fewer features, or less usability, Ahrefs comes in at much more expensive for the standard package. That’s not to say it’s not worth it, it’s just a lot more expensive. They do offer free trials online, which is ideal, allowing you to have a quick go and look over how they can help you accomplish your SEO aims, and see how quickly you can get into using the software.
The pricings are as follows; Lite ($99/month), Standard ($179/month), Advanced ($399/month) and Agency ($999/month). As you can probably see, these prices are pretty substantially above those of other SEO software suites, but there’s definitely an argument to be made for it being worth it. With such an exhaustive range of tools and features, as well as such a clear user-friendly interface, Ahrefs can make for some very smooth search engine optimisation.
Unlike some of the other SEO software I’ve reviewed previously, Majestic SEO is a focused link analysis tool, boasting an index of 52 billion pages, 2.6 trillion mapping relationships and a record of 350 unique URLs. Maintaining their own web crawler, and keeping their own database of the web, much like the major search engines, Majestic SEO offer analytical tools that aren’t to be trifled with and can offer a lot from an SEO perspective.
With pricing plans ranging from Lite at £39.99/month, to Pro at £119.99/month, and up to API at £319.99/month, Majestic SEO’s pricing structure is fairly competitive and allows you to choose the right package for your needs, with the most popular being the Pro package. Free trials can be found online, so you can take a look yourself without dropping any cash.
Essentially, Majestic SEO is a great link building and analysis tool. Operating much like one of the major search engines in terms of maintaining their own database of the web, Majestic SEO offer a great range of highly useful services and analytical tools. Some of the things offered by Majestic SEO include; number of referring domains pointing at site, number of backlinks pointing at site, trust and citation flow, topical TF and CF metrics, as well as anchor text profiles. As you can imagine, with that combination, as well as other analytical options, there’s not much you can’t do in terms of backlink analysis within Majestic SEO.
However, with plenty of unfavourable reviews online, and some real issues, Majestic SEO isn’t without its problems. The biggest of which being that while Majestic SEO is priced much like a full online SEO analytical suite, it really on offers detailed analytical tools around backlinking, which is pretty poor value, and for complete SEO analytics, you’d essentially have to invest in a second set of software, which at these sorts of prices isn’t really an option.
Having said that, what they do do, they do very well indeed. Their focus on backlinking analytics has lent them something of an edge when it comes to the competition, and they can offer some pretty in depth, detailed reports and information that can prove invaluable when it comes to backlinking and everything associated. All in all however, I’d say try and find a free trial, because within its own narrow confines, Majestic SEO is one of the best tools on the web.
Widely regarded online as one of the best, if not the best tool for content research and analysis, BuzzSumo offers a range of tools allowing you to monitor the social media shares of a sites content, find influencers in regard to certain topics, alerts for keywords, links, author names, domains or brand names, as well as tracking competitors and performing analysis on their content, giving you something of an edge on them! Essentially what we have here is another more focused SEO software, this time with the focus on content research and analysis.
In terms of pricing, BuzzSumo offers a tiered pricing structure ranging from $79/month for the Pro package, up to $559/month for the Enterprise package, which, while competitive enough for a professional grade piece of SEO analytics, is a little on a the steep side for such a focused, potentially limited set of tools. A free trial is offered, which is always great for when making your mind up, and really shows the companies faith in the product they’re selling, try before you buy always instills faith.
With a focus on social media marketing, and analytical tools allowing you to see how your content is performing, as well as tools and analytics designed to help you latch on to new content ideas, BuzzSumo can prove invaluable when it comes to generating the right kind of content, and making sure it’s performing. In terms of its user interface, BuzzSumo is fairly intuitive and straightforward to use, and pretty easy to pick up within the fourteen-day free trial offered, meaning you’ll be ready and raring to go long before the trial runs out.
Like other SEO software I’ve reviewed, BuzzSumo’s primary shortcoming is its level of focus. It’s priced like many full SEO analytical suites, but is focused entirely on content research and analytics. While it does offer many more in-depth features in this area than many of the more general SEO suites, this does render it a little more niche, and potentially great value for anyone looking to get started within SEO. It’s all about knowing where your focuses lie. If you’re going to be heavily pushing content based SEO work, as well as social media, then BuzzSumo could be the perfect SEO software for you, and with a fourteen-day free trial, you can always find out.
Google’s own tracking software Google Analytics is primarily free software, offering a huge range of tracking metrics for SEO purposes. Integrated with Google AdWords, Analytics makes for great marketing schemes and data collection across different software, Google Analytics tools is ideal for small business owners, bloggers, and even enterprise level clients.
While the free version of Google Analytics does offer many great, useful features, the full, commercial version offers much, much more, but comes in at the princely sum of $150,000 per year, which really rules it out for all except larger corporations. If you’re in a position as a business to invest in it however, it can pay for itself fairly quickly, providing the situation is right.
Google analytics offers a huge range of tracking services and tools, even in the standard free version. There’s so much you can do, and you can really take SEO projects far with just the free version. Features include various tracking metrics and reports, setting goals, e-commerce tracking, connecting up with AdWords, campaigns, site search, safety net profiles, and integration with other Google webmaster tools as well as filtering out internal traffic. It’s not limited to these features either, these are just some of the highlights.
As a SEO software suite, it offers a potentially bewildering array of options and settings to play with, which in combination with its sometimes unwieldy and unfriendly user interface can make getting used to using Google Analytics a little difficult at first. However, it is free, so you can’t really complain! You’ve got all the time in the world to get good, you’re not wasting any money! Quality user interface can sometimes make up a huge chunk of the value in more expensive SEO software, so if you can get round that, and adjust to using a slightly clunkier system, you’re going to save yourself some cash.
Another limited element of Google Analytics is the lack of support. This can make getting used to the software even harder in the beginning, especially when you factor in the fact that the only active support network is the forums, which can be awkward and not always satisfactory. However, again, it is free, so what’re you going to do?
Having said all that, Google Analytics has become steadily easier to work with over the years, without losing features or becoming simplified. As they continue to refine it, it’ll surely become steadily easier to utilise in your SEO campaigns, but for now, it’s just a very effective free tool, providing you put some time in to learn how to use it right.
Google Search Console
Another free tool from Google here! Previously Google Webmaster Tools, and now rebranded as Google Search Console, this is a useful piece of software that could potentially replace premium software in terms of features and tools. Like with other free software, the primary issue people have with it is always going to be the lack of support and a potentially cumbersome, unintuitive user interface, but that just comes with the territory. Within Google Search Console’s range of features, you’ll find useful tools for analysing and reporting information back to Google on your site, such as sitemaps and disavow links.
As this software, along with Google Analytics get better you can expect to see them smoothly replacing lots of the popular and expensive SEO software suites, but we’re not quite there yet. The range of features available from Google Search Console is extensive but limited in some ways, so it’s not time to put all your focus into freeware just yet. The fact is, you’re going to be wanting to know whether or not you can switch from premium SEO services to free ones, and unless you’re an expert at SEO, it’s not going to happen with Google Search Console.
One of the key limitations of Google Search Console is that it only gives you data and reports based on your own website domains. This means no spying on the competition, which is commonly available from other, albeit premium, software. This can be a pretty hefty limitation. In order to use Google Search Console you have to register and verify your site with them, which is potentially something of a hassle and a limitation. However, once again, this IS free software, so you can’t complain too much.
Some of the great information offered by Google Search Console include link data, keyword rankings, crawl reports and website auditing, as well as page speed insights. As a combination, these allow you to do a lot of research and analytical SEO work on your site, and can be a pretty powerful combination. Having said that, as a collection, it’s not going to replace any of the premium services anytime soon.
The fact is, the biggest selling factor of Google Search Console is always going to be the price tag. It’s free, which means that while it might not directly compete with some of the expensive premium SEO software suites, it can do some of the same stuff, and allow you to get vital SEO work done on your site, for nothing. As with most free software, it’s at times unintuitive and a little bewildering, with little to no support, but it more than makes up for that with price and usefulness combo.
When it comes to the interconnected relationship between social media marketing and SEO, it can prove very useful to have effective management and analytical tools. HootSuite is one such tool. A professional social media marketing software that can offer advanced social media marketing management tools, planning features, and, of course, analytical reports and tools, HootSuite is also substantially cheaper than most of the other tools and software commonly used for SEO and digital marketing.social media marketing and SEO, it can prove very useful to have effective management and analytical tools. HootSuite is one such tool. A professional social media marketing software that can offer advanced social media marketing management tools, planning features, and, of course, analytical reports and tools, HootSuite is also substantially cheaper than most of the other tools and software commonly used for SEO and digital marketing.
HootSuite’s primary focus is on social media marketing, but their analytical reports can prove very useful for SEO purposes. Priced between £7.99/month up to £69.99/month, HootSuite offers a full tiered range of options allowing you to select the package that best suits your needs. With a slick and intuitive user interface and a wide range of applications and tools, HootSuite could prove very useful when it comes to handling your social media marketing and SEO campaigns.
HootSuite’s analytical reports are very useful when comes to tracking the effectiveness of your social media campaigns. With the inarguably connected nature of both social media marketing and SEO, you need a handle on both. HootSuite’s analytical reports allow you to do just that, with plenty of metrics and figures. Combined with their social media management and planning tools, they can make the running of two essential parts of your business much smoother and easier.
HootSuite’s analytical reports can also give you a huge amount of information on your customers. Things like age, gender and location, as well as feeling towards your company or products all can prove hugely useful information when it comes to tailoring SEO campaigns. On top of that, HootSuite massively simplifies management of social media campaigns, which can make things easier. With SEO becoming ever more linked and entwined with social media, it pays to make sure you cover both bases.
In terms of price, they offer a four-tiered price scheme, ranging from the most basic at £7.99/month way up to smaller professional packages at £69.99/month. It’s worth mentioning that beyond that they do mention catering to bigger corporates, but don’t specify a price. HootSuite is very intuitive, and affordable, but fairly limited when compared to some of the more dedicated SEO software out there, however, despite this, it could still prove highly useful when it comes to getting a handle on your combined social media marketing and SEO efforts. Many online users report finding it very non-technical and easy to get into using, with minimal training or effort required, which is always a plus for software. However, that lack of technicality could work against them if you’re primarily after heavier duty SEO focused details and reports. Their support is also very good, helping deal with problems and issues quickly and effectively.
WhiteSpark offer some great software tools for local SEO purposes, in terms of price they’re pretty reasonable and competitive, as well as having some completely free software available to use. When it comes local SEO campaigns, based around nearby cities and Google Maps, it pays to utilise software like WhiteSpark. Local SEO is an increasing arm of search engine optimisation at the moment, with every more focus on more integrated and targeted marketing.
Their analytical reports on a variety of different elements can prove invaluable when it comes to conquering local SEO rankings, and getting your business seen. Offering a straightforward and easy to use platform, WhiteSpark’s local SEO focused reports, tools and analytics can really make a marketing campaign go.
However, much like other software, more focused suites like this tend to ignore crucial elements and not go into enough depth on others, leaving you with a very narrow focus. This can mean that in order to get the full depth and breadth of needed information for a full and well-rounded SEO project, you’re going to be finding yourself needing to invest in a variety of different SEO software.
Services offered include the local citation finder which helps you find all the critical citation opportunities you’re missing, so you can increase local search rankings, as well as the local rank tracker and reputation builder. The local rank tracker and local citation finder are both predominantly centred on increasing local SEO rankings, and can make it much easier to get those high rankings with their range of analytical reports, statistics and figures allowing you to make the necessary tweaks to your site and online presence. If yours is a predominantly physical business, such as a restaurant, software like this could potentially prove invaluable. They also offer managed local SEO campaigns and other services.
In terms of pricing they offer a tiered payment system ranging from $20/month, all the way up to the professional services at $100/month. This system allows you to pick the package best suited to your company and aims. It’s definitely worth mentioning that they have a very basic free package which can allow you to get used to their software and how it all runs. It’s all pretty intuitive, with solid user interface design throughout, and the free basic package allows you to explore that, albeit in a very limited way. When it comes to making sure you’re hitting the local SEO rankings you need to be, especially for locally based businesses, you need software like WhiteSpark. However, if local isn’t your predominant focus, you’d be better off going with another more expansive SEO software suite.
With so much different and varied software out there, each with long lists of features, services, and tools, it can be hard to know you’re investing in the right one. This is especially true when you drop great free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console into the mix. You definitely do not want to find your business paying through the nose, on the regular, for one of the more expensive SEO software suites only to discover the same tools available for free elsewhere.
The fact remains that without search engine optimisation behind it, your business is going to struggle to reach the dizzying heights of success that you deserve, and as such great quality SEO software is an absolute must. It’s just a case of finding the ones that work best for your projects.