Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the top marketing strategies if you want more customers for your online business. What is SEO? It’s the process of improving your website so that more people find it using search engines.
This article covers which SEO tools are the best for different purposes and how to use SEO tools to achieve your digital marketing goals. We also include a guide outlining how to optimize your website to improve its visibility on search engine results pages (SERP).
Best SEO Tools
Our Top Picks for Best SEO Tools
- Easy-to-use and intuitive interface
- One of the most affordable options on this list
- Multiple convenient ways to reach customer support
- 48-hour money-back guarantee
- Mainly aggregates data from other sources instead of collecting its own
- Starting Price:
- $29 per month ($19.90 per month if billed annually)
- Live chat and email
- Free Trial:
- 10-day trial
Why we chose it: KWFinder is easy to use and cost-effective, which is critical for new business owners who want to improve their content’s visibility.
Keyword research, the process of collecting and analyzing data about the search terms people use online, can help you determine which phrases to target in your SEO efforts. KWFinder is a specialized tool from Mangools that helps you do just that. It aggregates metrics from multiple sources and provides a proprietary index value to help you determine keyword difficulty or how difficult it would be to rank (i.e., improve your position on SERP) for a specific keyword or search term on Google.
KWFinder features an intuitive interface that allows you to easily access and view metrics such as monthly search volume, search trends and keyword difficulty. You can also upload hundreds of keywords in bulk for the tool to analyze (and this counts as a single request), see which keywords competitors are ranking for and find longtail keywords specific to over 50,000 locations. KWFinder is a cost-competitive option because it comes with Mangools’ extensive suite of SEO tools such as its SERP analysis tool, rank tracking tool, backlink audit tool and domain authority checker.
Unlike many competing SEO tools, KWFinder mainly acts as an aggregator of data (e.g., SERP analysis, keyword difficulty, etc.) collected from other sources such as Moz, Majestic and Alexa. Thus, much of the value you get from Mangools isn’t from the data it gathers on its own but from the way it presents and organizes that data in a useful manner. Additionally, Mangools only offers a 48-hour money-back guarantee, which might not be enough time to ascertain whether it’s the right fit or not.
The pricing for Mangools’ plans is as follows:
- Mangools Entry: $29.00 per month ($19.90 if billed annually)
- Mangools Basic: $49.00 per month ($29.90 if billed annually)
- Mangools Premium: $69.00 per month ($44.90 if billed annually)
- Mangools Agency: $129.00 per month ($89.90 if billed annually)
As the plans increase in price, they provide access to higher monthly keyword search limits, additional competitive analysis metrics, and user seats. The tool also includes helpful customer support through live chat and email.
- Extensive backlink database
- Powerful keyword research and competitive analysis tools
- Thoroughly analyzes your competitor websites and pages, from traffic to referring domains and keyword rankings
- More expensive than other options
- High volume of data can be overwhelming at first
- Users complain about new credit-based pricing model, which further increases prices
- Starting Price:
- $99 per month (with 2 months free if you pay annually)
- Email and live chat
- Free Trial:
Why we chose it: When it comes to SEO tools, Ahrefs is as close as you get to an industry standard. It provides significant insight into your competitors’ pages and how to improve your rankings.
Ahrefs works by crawling the internet to collect and process large amounts of data you can convert into actionable reports. Its Site Explorer tool provides extensive insights into websites’ backlinks, content and more. Backlinks, which are links that redirect users from one website to another, are a major factor in Google’s algorithm, influencing a website’s ranking in search results.
You can use all of this SEO-related data to see how organic traffic (website traffic originating from search engines) and backlinks of competing websites have grown over time. You can also view broken links on your site, the top five pieces of content on any site based on backlinks and shares, the keywords that specific pages rank for and those for which a site runs ad campaigns.
Ahrefs is pretty user-friendly, but due to the sheer amount of data it provides, it does have a steep learning curve. The company has positive user reviews on various sites and relatively fast, helpful customer support that can be reached through live chat and email.
Ahrefs’ major drawback is its cost. The company has four plans:
- Lite: $99 per month
- Standard: $199 per month
- Advanced: $399 per month
- Enterprise: $999 per month
The Lite plan is fairly priced and provides access to basic features such as keyword research, competitor backlink analysis and rank tracking. The Standard and Advanced plans provide more in-depth access to its data and enhanced analysis tools that break down the SEO performance of a website (e.g., broken backlink finder, content analysis, historical data). However, these plans cost about 40% more than those offered by Ahrefs’ biggest competitor, Semrush.
The company also recently introduced a new pricing model that adds a credit system to the existing plan structure. Under this model, each plan is allotted a set number of monthly credits that can be used to perform actions, such as opening a report, applying a filter or requesting additional data.
If you exceed the credit limit, Ahrefs will automatically charge you extra for each additional credit. While you can opt out of automatic deductions by changing your account settings, consumer reviews suggest this pricing model has been quite controversial among users.
- Includes site crawler that identifies SEO-related errors and offers suggestions to fix them
- Multiseat option allows multiple (unlimited) user logins for a single account
- Advanced data visualizations
- Not intuitive to use
- Customer support is limited to email, and there are no hours of operation or average response time listed
- Starting Price:
- $99 per month ($79 per month if billed annually)
- Free Trial:
- 30-day trial
Why we chose it: Due to its comprehensive suite of SEO tools and unlimited user seats that can be added to one account, Moz Pro is a strong choice for midsize businesses that require the ability to expand their access to these tools as their SEO departments grow.
Moz Pro’s wide range of SEO tools includes everything from page optimization to site crawling, website rankings, link tracking and website analysis. It offers four plans that range from $99 per month with one user seat to $599 per month with 5 user seats. It also offers the option of adding additional user seats to each account at a monthly fee of $49 per user seat. There is no limit to how many user seats you can add, meaning you can scale your SEO team as needed.
Another helpful feature is Moz Pro’s array of visual data representations. These infographics help you quickly pick out ideal keywords according to difficulty, search volume and opportunity, and identify how lucrative a keyword might be to your business. Once you’ve found the keywords you want to target, you can add them to a list and track your rankings for each keyword over time. You can even enter the domains and pages of your competitors to get a better idea of who’s ranking for what.
Moz’s Site Crawler tool is also helpful for identifying problems like broken links, duplicate content, missing page elements and more. Each error comes with a recommendation from Moz for how to fix it and whether it’s a high or low-priority issue. Once you correct the problem(s), click “Recrawl My Site” to have Moz scan the page again and confirm that you correctly fixed the issues.
Moz offers an extensive library of useful content and blog posts on SEO topics. Its SEO guide is a helpful place for beginners to learn about the topic. The Moz Pro platform offers email support and has positive customer reviews on various review websites.
- Many helpful backlink tools
- In-depth keyword analysis and ideas
- Not user-friendly for beginners
- Cheapest monthly plan costs $129.95
- Starting Price:
- $129.95 per month ($108.33 per month if billed annually)
- Phone, live chat and email
- Free Trial:
- 7-day trial
Why we chose it: Semrush is ideal if you’re looking for link-tracking capabilities along with a wide range of tools that help with link building, content planning, site audits, rank monitoring, competitor analysis and more.
Semrush has a database of over 21 billion keywords that is updated almost daily. This database provides detailed information on keyword performance and ideas for keywords you may use to boost your search rankings. It does this by showing you questions users ask related to that keyword, including variations and semantically related phrases. These supplementary keywords and phrases can then either be incorporated into your existing content or used to create new content.
Semrush’s backlink checker includes dozens of filters you can use to find specific types of backlinks. You can pull a list of websites with similar backlink profiles to help find new opportunities for collaboration, link building and content promotion.
Semrush also has a proprietary ranking for domains, called Authority Score. This score evaluates the overall quality of a website or web page and its SEO performance. It is based on factors such as the amount and quality of backlinks (including link trustworthiness, age and relevance), organic traffic levels and various spam scores. Analyzing the Authority Score of a page or site can tell you how it compares to those of competitors and how easy or difficult it would be to have it rank for a specific keyword in the SERP.
Semrush is highly rated on various review websites and is known for quick, reliable support. While its vast capabilities make it a great pick for experienced users, its interface and wide range of features can overwhelm beginners. Nevertheless, Semrush provides a range of useful tutorials and resources to help users get the most out of its product.
- User-friendly, intuitive interface
- Unlimited data on all plans
- Doesn’t report on technical issues that can impact SEO
- Starting Price:
- $39 per month ($16 per month if billed annually)
- Phone, email and live chat
- Free Trial:
Why we chose it: SpyFu offers value pricing and is relatively easy to use, making it a suitable entry-level option for people looking to start doing SEO on a budget.
SpyFu is an SEO tool that lets you “spy” on your competitors by providing extensive keyword and backlink data. Its keyword research tool includes four types of keyword lists: question-based keywords to help you identify user intent, similar keywords, keywords that your competitors rank for and those for which websites are buying ads.
SpyFu lets you carry out keyword gap analysis and filter keywords by search volume, difficulty, clicks, percent of mobile versus desktop searches, ads and more. One useful filter is for “transactional keywords.” These are keywords SpyFu flags as having high buyer intent because they contain words like “discount,” “promo code” and more.
SpyFu’s backlink tool is effective for competitor research. For example, you can enter a competitor’s domain and filter backlinks by type: blog, affiliate links, news, .gov/.edu and forums. To ascertain the value of backlinks, SpyFu includes metrics such as backlink domain strength, monthly organic clicks on the linking page and more.
One final backlink feature worth noting is SpyFu’s Backlink Outreach tool. After you add the domains you want backlinks from to your project, SpyFu gives you the contact information for each site. If you plan to invest a lot of time in acquiring backlinks, this could be a huge time saver for you.
SpyFu is intuitive and easy to use. It provides tutorials and helpful customer support via email, live chat and phone. On the downside, SpyFu lacks a technical SEO crawler. This tool looks for server and website issues that can hurt your SEO performance. If you need this type of technical data, you’ll need to look for an alternative.
- SEO crawler active since 2004 with data from over 17 trillion URLs in its historical index
- Robust, detailed data on backlinks with helpful categorizations
- Outdated user interface and confusing menu structures make it difficult to learn
- Starting Price:
- $49.99 per month ($41.67 per month if billed annually)
- Free Trial:
Why we chose it: With a robust and reliable page crawler and one of the most extensive backlink databases in the industry, Majestic is an excellent choice for those looking to perform detailed SEO audits and backlink analysis.
Majestic’s Site Explorer tool can create a detailed list of a website’s backlinks and provide a variety of metrics to assess their value. The backlinks overview also shows you the most prominent links, the topic categories they fall into, the anchor text used (i.e., the words used to link back to your website) and other data points.
Majestic is also worth considering if you need a tool to crawl your site and report back on errors. The Site Audit tool will crawl your entire domain and keep track of page speed, duplicate content issues, broken links and more, all presented in an intuitive dashboard. You can then prioritize fixes to the most critical issues first, ensuring your SEO efforts aren’t wasted on low-impact outcomes.
If you’re looking for SEO-related data on other sites, it’s hard to beat Majestic for the sheer number of URLs crawled. The platform has indexed over 17 trillion unique URLs in its historical index, giving users a tremendous amount of detail when researching competitors and potential link partners.
You can access Majestic’s customer support via email and book one-on-one training sessions with product support representatives. These one-on-one product demos can be extremely helpful if you’re new to Majestic, as the platform’s complex menu structure and clunky user interface can be difficult to navigate, according to many user reviews.
- Intuitive and easy to use for beginners
- Site crawler provides tips for SEO improvements
- Its $90 to $200 price range is expensive for what it provides
- Some users complain of inaccurate data
- Starting Price:
- $89.99 per month (4 months free if billed annually)
- Email and live chat
- Free Trial:
- 14-day trial
Why we chose it: WooRank is an easy-to-use tool that can “grade” your site for SEO and give you a checklist of what needs to be optimized. Its site crawler stands out for being extremely user-friendly, with clear explanations and tips on improving SEO-related issues.
WooRank’s dashboard overview allows you to analyze your entire site and pinpoint areas that need improvement. It also includes competitor and technical analysis tools that track your site’s keyword performance relative to your competitors, analyze technical SEO issues and reveal which keywords your competitors are targeting. Although WooRank has features similar to many other SEO tools, its site crawler is beginner-friendly and can create an easy-to-understand list of potential SEO improvements such as meta tag optimization, usability issues and mobile friendliness.
WooRank offers a 14-day free trial with complete access to its full feature set. You must add a credit card or PayPal account to get the free trial, but you won’t be charged until your 14-day window is up.
The company has three pricing tiers: Pro ($79.99), Premium ($199.99) and Enterprise (customized pricing). The Pro and Premium plans include mostly the same features, but the Premium plan provides a high limit for the number of websites included, keywords tracked and web pages crawled. The Enterprise plan includes even higher limits, API access, phone support and bulk report generation.
WooRank lacks competitor research features. Additionally, some reviewers mentioned its keyword data could be more accurate and in-depth. That said, WooRank has good reviews from users across the internet, particularly concerning its customer service.
Other SEO Tools We Considered
We evaluated SEO tools based on their features, ease of use, price and customer service. The following companies were competitive in some areas yet lacked valuable features.
Not ideal for backlink research and tracking
SurferSEO’s most useful tool is its content editor. To use it, you enter one or more keywords you want to rank for, and then the tool gives you a content outline and an array of keywords to include, along with the frequency with which to use them. It’s an excellent tool for optimizing content.
Why SurferSEO didn’t make the cut: SurferSEO didn’t make our list because, while it excels in helping you optimize on-page content for SEO, its keyword research module lacks a keyword difficulty score, and other tools are better for backlinks.
- Lets you identify trends and relevant keywords
- Limited to basic trend research
- Lacks the robust feature set offered by most other SEO tools
Google Trends provides relevant topic-specific keywords and insight into recent trends. You can search for keywords in any country to get information like interest over time, top queries and rising queries.
Why Google Trends didn’t make the cut: Google Trends didn’t make our list because it’s not a comprehensive SEO tool. It lacks many features businesses need for effective SEO.
- Provides granular level of details
- Outdated user interface that doesn’t run in the cloud
- Not suitable for SEO beginners
Screaming Frog is a quick, reliable tool for website audits. It helps evaluate website content and find technical SEO errors. (Technical SEO refers to optimizing a website’s technical aspects to make it faster, easier to crawl and easier for search engines to understand and index.)
Why Screaming Frog didn’t make the cut: Screaming Frog didn’t make our list because, while it’s useful for technical SEO, it lacks other features that most businesses need.
SEO Tools Guide
The following guide covers relevant information about SEO tools, including what they are, how they work and how to choose the right one for your business.
What is an SEO tool?
SEO tools are typically cloud-based software applications that provide data and analytics about your website’s performance and issues that could be affecting its ranking on SERPs.
This information can give you insight into how to improve your website’s performance and increase organic traffic. SEO tools can specialize in particular functions or be all-in-one solutions.
You can use SEO tools to help you with the following:
- Keyword research: Keyword research involves researching and finding words and phrases related to a specific subject or area of interest for which people are likely to search for on major search engines such as Google. This can help you discover new content ideas and popular topics, determine the difficulty of ranking for specific keywords and find related keywords.
- Backlinks: The term “backlinks” refers to when one website links to another. Backlinks from reputable or authoritative websites are major trust signals for search engines, helping them determine the authority and relevance of your website. Large numbers of high-quality backlinks will help improve your website’s ranking while also driving more organic traffic.
- Analytics: SEO analytics help you measure the performance and success of your website. You can use this data and SEO analytics tools to track and analyze traffic, identify keyword trends, monitor competitor performance and look for opportunities to improve your website’s SEO performance.
- On-page SEO: On-page SEO refers to the content, structure and HTML source code of your website, including things such as page titles, headings, meta descriptions, image alt text and the content itself. Optimizing your website’s on-page SEO can help improve its visibility in SERPs. At its foundation, on-page SEO comes down to producing factual, user-friendly, authoritative and unique content that is trustworthy and aligned with user search intent.
- Local SEO: Improve your website’s rankings in local search results, such as Google Maps and local SERPs (e.g., best ice cream in Boise). When a search engine algorithm determines that a user’s search intent is local, meaning they are looking for something in their area, the search engine will serve up local results.
- Mobile SEO: Optimize your website for smartphone and tablet search engine users. Google penalizes websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, including those with small font sizes, intrusive pop-ups and slow load time on mobile devices.
- Technical SEO: Optimize your website’s technical elements so search engines can read, understand and index your content appropriately. It’s the tech infrastructure of your site, such as having a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate for security, optimizing page speed, having clean and concise code, and more.
How do SEO tools work?
SEO tools analyze a website to provide data about why a web page ranks where it does on the SERPs and how to improve your website’s ranking to increase visits or conversions.
Most SEO tools consider a variety of factors that influence your rankings and performance, such as backlinks, the age of your website and embedded keywords. They do this by scraping websites to extract public data from them and compile them into useful reports.
How to pick an SEO tool
It can be challenging to choose the right SEO software. You must ensure that a tool will satisfy your business’s particular needs and give you in-depth, usable data about your website and your competitors’. For many businesses, that means finding a tool that offers page crawling, backlink analysis, competitor research and keyword tracking. It’s also crucial to consider a tool’s cost, customer support and ease of use.
The following guide outlines recommendations and some of the most important factors to consider when choosing SEO software.
Know your needs
If you’re not ranking highly for your essential keywords, you’ll want to focus on more basic SEO, such as keyword research and backlinks. If you rank for some keywords but want to beat more of your competitors, you’ll want to ensure that your technical SEO is up to par and focus more on keywords and backlinks. In that case, you may need to look at more expensive tools with a steeper learning curve to delve into the fundamentals of SEO competitive analysis and improve your site.
Choose based on your budget
When it comes to choosing SEO tools, it’s important to keep your budget in mind since the top-performing tools often have a high price point. Prices can vary widely, starting from free options all the way up to several hundred dollars per month. Many of the more expensive SEO software offer numerous tools and features that may be unnecessary for your business.
If you’re only looking for a few specific features, then you may be able to save money by opting for a specialized tool that’s more affordable. Conversely, if you need a comprehensive suite of tools, choosing the higher priced option is likely to be a much more cost-effective solution when compared to buying multiple tools separately.
Decide if you need collaboration tools
Some SEO tools allow you to create multiple logins for different users at your company, making collaboration effortless. Others integrate with content creation tools like Google Docs, making it much easier for teams to work together on your SEO efforts.
Look for free trials
Especially if you’re new to SEO, it’s a good idea to test the interface of a tool before committing to a subscription. Look for free trial options where possible. Additionally, you want to ensure that the tool is something all users at your business can quickly learn and embrace. If the learning curve is too steep, you may want to move on to another option.
Best SEO Tools FAQ
Why is tracking SEO important?
With the help of SEO tools, you can gain valuable insights into your website’s visibility, keyword rankings, backlinks, traffic, technical performance and more. Optimizing these factors can significantly impact how your site performs in search engine results pages and determine whether it brings in large amounts of traffic or gets lost in the crowd.
What is the most important thing to track for SEO?
Some essential SEO metrics include organic traffic, keyword rankings, organic conversions and how optimized your site is. Additionally, it helps to track the same information for your competitors so you can determine how to beat them in the SERPs. The specific metrics to focus on will depend on what you hope to accomplish with your SEO efforts.
How do you improve your SEO?
SEO tools help you do all these things, providing valuable insights into your website’s performance over time and tracking competitors’ performance. By leveraging these tools, you can better understand the landscape in your niche and continuously refine your SEO strategy.
How We Chose the Best SEO Tools
As part of our methodology to create our list of the top SEO tools, we considered the following factors:
- Features: We looked at the range of features each tool had to offer as well as how comprehensive they were. This included things like keyword research, backlink analysis and reporting, and competitive analysis.
- Ease of use: We examined how user-friendly each tool was, including its UI design and navigation options.
- Customer support: We considered the quality of customer support and how quickly issues were resolved.
- Cost: We compared the prices of each tool, considering the range of features that were offered for the price.
- Reporting capabilities: We checked how well each tool was able to generate detailed reports that could be used for further analysis.
- Flexibility: We looked into how versatile the tool was and how it could be used in different contexts.