As industries grow and expand, marketing resources grow along with them. This comes from ages of needing to outrank competitors in their target audience's eyes. Starting from newspapers, mail pieces, billboards, MySpace, and so on and so on. We have evolved in our way of thinking and now instead of going out into the world to find information and places, we use search engines to lead us wherever we need to go. This, of course, leads to companies wanting to find ways to be found quicker than their competitors regardless of geographical placement and that led to companies needing to find a way to optimize their business. This is where SEO (Search engine optimization) came to be.
With Google dominating a roughly estimated $120 billion market, people needed strategists to help them use this market in their favor. Today we’re going to go over the top 10 tools used by these experts and strategists around the world and speak on why these tools are used.
Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO tool that helps you to find out your competitors' backlinks, keywords, and more. With 2 million pages of data, Ahrefs has an extensive database of backlinks. Ahrefs isn’t on the top of its market as much anymore but the company is known for one of its most innovative projects recently which is yep.com. A search engine that’s meant to give back to the owners of the content. It’s a cool concept that is definitely a left turn for an SEO tool company.
Ahrefs has a learning curve like some of its top competitors but also can be worth it if you have the right consultants to partner with and create unlimited traffic potential.
A lot of its features and tools come together and work flawlessly such as the site audit tool that provides all the flaws your website could be facing and suggestions and resources on how to get them fixed, site explorer helps you analyze your competitors and give a complete research overhaul that encompasses your keyword strategies, similar content, backlinks you share or are missing, and too many more tools to count.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one tool that works like Google Marketing Platform but gives a third-party view to your site and so many more tools at your disposal, there are only two tools I’d recommend. Ahrefs is one and my next entry is the second.
SEMrush is a complete marketing suite for any online presence and the competition. Everything from keyword research, link building, site audits, and more!
SEMRush has a vast variety of uses and of course, with that comes a bit complexity, but with the right digital marketing agency at your side, you can have one of the most powerful tools in the industry that will drive traffic to your brand and improve your search rankings which will also create a higher CTR for your goals.
SEMRush’s Best Features
Position Tracking - This is a tool that’s often called SERP Tracking and lets you keep tabs on your website’s daily rankings on search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and so on.
On-Page SEO Checker - This tool gives a detailed list of things that can be done to your website to help increase its rankings and overall visibility on search engines.
Domain Overview - This is an overall dashboard that pulls up metrics about your domain throughout the web and its overall presence on the internet.
Site Audit - This is another overall tool that uses a crawler bot to do a deep dive on your website and give you metrics on the health of the website.
Keyword Overview - A top-level reporting tool that can you give you in-depth metrics and analytics on any keyword or phrase you enter into the search bar.
This tool is used to give any website developer or business owner an overview of what’s causing their website to perform terribly. Maybe the hero image is too big and hasn’t been compressed, maybe there are plugins that are adding an extreme amount of CSS files that are needing to load first, or maybe there’s just a terrible cache policy that’s causing everyone to consistently load all of your website each visit.
As a developer, it’s hard to see past my flaws sometimes and that’s where this tool comes in handy beyond belief. Listing out all my flaws, giving me a second to shrink my ego, and create a beautiful project with little to no flaws that’s prepared to rank on google’s first page in no time!
Google Search Console
If you’ve looked into digital marketing or SEO at all, more than likely you’ve already created a project in one of Google Marketing Platforms products. We have a couple of those products on this list as no-brainers but I think it’s important to give some credit to one of the most amazing tools they have, which often gets overlooked. This tool is the Google Search Console or GSC.
GSC is used to show you all the analytics strictly driven through organic search results. This is one of the most important tools of any SEO Strategist is going to be a comfortable chair, inspirational quotes, and Google Search Console. It’s a completely free tool that you only need to verify ownership of the site through and you’re off to the races!
You can find out about your organic traffic and what search queries were put in to find you, how many people had you pop up in their results, how many clicked on your from those results, performance issues that Google is noticing, product placement on organic shopping results and so much more!
This is a worthwhile tool and if you haven’t already set it up with your website then go to GSC and set up an account!
Google Analytics (GA4)
Next, we have Google Analytics 4. There’s been a rift in the digital marketing industry with the sunsetting of Universal Analytics by Google only because it’s integrated into all kinds of third-party services that people use. MailChimp, Shopify, BigCommerce, HubSpot, GoDaddy, and more. These third-party services understood the importance of integrating with analytic platforms as big as Google but left it at adding Universal Analytics as them doing their part.
Now with that specific product being sunset and Google analytics 4 or GA4 taking over, customer and digital marketing specialists alike are trying to get their favorite platforms to integrate so they aren’t missing important data for their business or clients.
Even though this rubs a lot of people the wrong way, Google analytics 4 is an amazing update aesthetically to the old platform and leaves some room for customization more than Universal Analytics did. There are smoother reporting features, more helpful tips, custom report areas, and even a more integrated data stream area.
As people come to terms with UA leaving, I think there’ll be a lot of happiness with the new analytics software stepping in its place.
Mangools SEO Extension
Now we get to a pretty amazing tool that if you have Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, then you probably already know about. Mangools SEO Extension is a free-to-use tool that’s packed full of information for a website that you may not have access to the backend on or you just want to check on from a user perspective.
It’s a quick install and right after you’ll be able to open it from your browser on any page and find out some extremely important stats from the page you are on. Everything includes SERP Titles, Meta Description, Number of Words, Robot Text File, Sitemap, How many pages are indexed, Structured Data, Heading Structure, Keywords, Linking Strategy, and more!
This tool comes in handy whether you’re giving a client a set audit, giving your own site an audit and checking off the boxes, or if you want to do some competitive research and see what your competitor's backend looks like for their pages compared to yours.
I’ve used this tool for various steps in my process of helping clients. Keyword strategies, Linking structure Sheets, Rich Snippet Audits, and of course website audits. If you’re looking for something quick to get on, easy to use, and most of all it's FREE, then you’ve found a handy tool to add to your arsenal.
Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager or GTM, is used to give a more broad analytics pull for sites that need things reflected in Google analytics but can’t directly integrate the two or simply don’t want to.
This tool gives you the ability to implement various code snippets into your website without having to manually code or edit any files on the website.
With all types of Revenue Management Systems and Custom Relationship Management platforms among other things, people have a need to track what’s working and keep up with what’s bringing in leads, converting into transactions, and all the information dialed in with it. This gave GTM a perfect spot to crawl into and grow.
As it is can communicate anything you need back and forth to Google Analytics and doesn’t require insane knowledge to do so.
Google also has made it a priority to sync Google analytics 4 and Google Tag Manager as much as possible so people with code snippets from third-party systems can still use them with minor fixes and updates.
Anytime you look up a question or statement in google, they’ll have a section somewhere close to the top that says “People also ask” and this section is meant to give you some insight on what else you could be looking for with the search query you just asked. This is just helpful to the normal user that Google regularly but for a strategist, this is a gold mine for keyword research and understanding their target audience better.
Also asked is a keyword research tool that uses just this area to give all strategists and business owners a better understanding of the journey their users are on when they’re looking for certain search queries.
How can this be helpful you say? Well, let’s take the example of a lovely family after Thanksgiving, having toilet problems (go figure) and needing someone to come to check it. There are thousands of plumbers who would love to be the first on their list, but since they’ve never used a plumber before, they’re going straight to google to find the best of the best. They search “who is the best plumber in Utah” and their search results are flooded with the different users who consider themselves the best.
Before they even get to an organic listing, they find the “People also ask” section and decide to dive in to see, “How do I find the best plumbing company?” And being the listing that pops up for any of those answers is a business's dream.
This tool gives you the chance to understand what you should be ranking for in a deeper way than just a word or two.
Now Yoast SEO by some is seen as a beginner tool that pros wouldn’t dare come across or use but I think it’s time we put that myth to rest. The fact of the matter is, Yoast gives you the ability to set various SEO analytics upfront without having to code or copy and paste snippets.
You can edit everything from what your keyword is focused on with each page, to SERP Titles, Meta Descriptions, keyword density, image alt tags, automatic rich snippet insertion, and more. These tools made understanding SEO a lot easier for a lot of business owners and upcoming SEO strategists and there’s nothing better than finding a website with this integration already inserted because you can get a grasp on what’s been done before you got to this client and what can be done moving forward to increase the drive to their website.
This tool is completely free but a lot of users don’t know there’s a premium yeast SEO feature as well which covers even more advanced features that might require some more knowledge to use but will ensure greater chances of being seen in various search result pages.
Last but not least is Bright Local. This tool is rather new to me but not at all new in the industry. As the times grow and everyone wants to be seen not only in the world but also in every local directory and search they can digitally, Bright Local has capitalized on specializing in just that.
Link building, local ranking tracking, review management, local digital presence auditing, and so much more. Bright Local has made it easier than ever for local companies who want to conquer their city or metro area more than they want national traffic. They’ve figured out algorithms and ways to provide those businesses with the tools to succeed and with a knowledgeable digital strategist at your side, you’ll find that skyrocketing past your competition has never been easier.
So those are my top 10 SEO tools for 2023 and this list shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some of these tools can cost a pretty penny to get the full features for and some of these tools may only be one facet of what you’re looking for in your project but none of these are to be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to digital marketing.
What’s an SEO tool you don’t see on this list that you can’t live without?