Even though I am not an aficionado “pilot” of SEO tools, I confess that it is impossible to live without some. In the early days of search engine optimization we had few resources, the use of spreadsheets was the flagship of our “intelligence”. Fortunately, this has changed and today we have a plethora of tools and languages (e.g. Python, R) that have come in strong to help those who want to optimize their site for search.
I will show you below 10 SEO tools that I use for virtually all my clients and that you can (and should) also use on your website to optimize it. This is a list with personal preferences. There are other excellent free tools, more expensive and also cheaper. Each team should choose the tools with which they feel most comfortable and can get the best results.
What are SEO Tools?
SEO tools provide you with the resources you need to track your site’s performance in search engines in a more streamlined way.
They help you uncover opportunities and identify weaknesses or problems that may prevent your site from ranking well in the SERPs.
SEO tools can help you, among other things, with:
- Keyword research;
- Site Structure;
- Link building;
- Local SEO;
- Site performance;
- Content SEO;
- Positioning check.
It is important to point out that tools do not do the job by themselves. I mean, some of them even do, but you have to know how to use them to get the maximum result.
Some tools are very specific, focused on solving a single problem while others are more comprehensive, helping in several areas.
Do you need SEO tools?
Regardless of the size of the SEO project it is essential to use a few tools.
Without the right tools you will not be able to:
- Monitor the traffic to your pages;
- Identify HTML errors that may be hurting your positioning;
- See who is linking to your pages;
- Know which terms are most used in searches;
- Understand how your competitors are performing, etc.
Can I do SEO only with free tools?
However, depending on the size of your project, it can become very difficult to achieve good results with free tools alone. You can participate in a Formula 1 race with a popular car, but don’t expect a good result.
I could make a list of hundreds of free tools, but I prefer to indicate my “top 10”, the ones I consider essential for an SEO project. (If you are interested, the Search Engine Journal has listed 109 free SEO tools).
Top 10 SEO Tools
When it comes to analyzing the traffic of a website possibly Google Analytics is the best tool for the job. It is possible to install GA on your website, app, and even on external connected tools like a retail outlet, for example.
It is a tool that is already 15 years old but Google has been updating its functionality. Recently the App + Web properties have brought new data modeling and great features.
Its free version is sufficient for most sites. Larger sites can subscribe to the premium version and get more features and extended limits.
Google Tag Manager
The Google Tag Manager allows you to manage implemented tags without having to edit your site’s code with every change.
With it, you can implement Google Analytics, Google Optimize, configure events that you want to monitor, and implement scripts from other tools.
With GTM it is easier to send additional data to GA by using custom dimensions that can be configured to extract site data from datalayers, for example.
It is a free tool.
Google Search Console
Perhaps one of the main if not the main tool for SEO.
With Google Search Console you can see how your site and pages performed in searches over a given period. Impressions, clicks, CTR, and positioning are shown for the searched term and triggered page.
GSC even offers features to analyze the health of your site, to know when and how your pages are being crawled by the search engine, whether your AMP pages are up to date, and much more.
Despite all these features it is a completely free tool.
With Google Trends you can search for interest in a certain topic from 2004 up to an hour ago. Sorting by category, country, and search type are some features.
Especially useful for understanding how people search for some product or solution. You can compare terms and analyze by region.
It is also a free tool from Google.
Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio is a powerful tool for data visualization. With it you can add various data sources such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console and generate reports and dashboards.
Although there are many data visualization tools available (Tableau, Power BI, etc.) Data Studio offers excellent features and can be used by everyone. Because it is not a plug and play solution it can scare less familiar users, but with a little practice it is possible to extract good insights with this tool.
Another free tool, but to connect to some products you may have to subscribe to other services. I suggest taking a look at the Supermetrics connectors.
An exceptional tool for on-page SEO. With Screaming Frog you track your site and can detect errors that compromise performance.
The free version can track up to 500 URLs so it is not enough for most sites. The premium version is powerful and has numerous features.
Read also: 10 Important items for on-page SEO
Use GTmetrix to see how fast your site loads. Find out what might be slowing down the loading and see tips for optimizing site speed.
Along the same lines as GTmetrix you can also use WebpageTest to perform site speed tests from different locations using different browsers.
Both are free of charge.
SEMrush is the Swiss army knife of digital marketing tools.
With it you can perform keyword research, monitor backlinks, do technical site audits, etc. It is also possible to monitor competitors and discover terms and pages on which they rank well.
Due to the high volume of features it was hard to expect it to be free. Although it is not the cheapest tool on the market, investing in any of the plans is an excellent business.
PageSpeed Insights / web.dev / Lighthouse
I mention the three tools as one because they have basically the same functionality and are built on top of Lighthouse.
They offer a very complete overview of the loading of your pages and provide good suggestions for improvement and documentation for fixing weak points. It also provides a clear view of the performance of Core Web Vitals, a ranking factor already announced by Google for 2021.
Yoast SEO (for WordPress)
My last suggestion is the Yoast SEO plugins for WordPress sites. Although they are intended for WP sites, so much can be learned from them that any developer should have them as a reference.
Yoast’s SEO plugins offer all the resources you need to produce high-quality content, link well, structure your site properly, and more.
The free version of the SEO plugin already has good features, but the premium version is even better. With the recurring subscription you get additional plugins for local SEO, video SEO, etc.
Working with SEO has never been easier with as many tools as we have today. Many tools are free, but without a doubt the premium tools I mentioned above are worth the investment.
It is worth pointing out that tools alone do not work miracles. It takes a good analyst to get the most out of each tool. This, with the right tools, can provide valuable insights for the business.
10 SEO tools for every project:
- Google Analytics;
- Google Tag Manager;
- Google Search Console;
- Google Trends;
- Google Data Studio;
- Screaming Frog;
- GTmetrix / WebpageTest;
- PageSpeed Insights / web.dev / LightHouse;
- Yoast SEO (for WordPress sites).
Choose the right tools and make a good SEO project!