The world of SEO can be intimidating—scary even.
Furthermore, looking for SEO tools is like seeking a needle in a haystack.
One of the initial considerations to decide when researching SEO tools is exactly what about your website you want to optimize.
At first, it seems like SEO is one easy fix, but it’s really a blanket term for lots of different areas.
The Different Types of SEO
On-site SEO is extremely important and can make or break your online success. On-site SEO deals with what actually occurs on your website and how it affects your search engine ranking.
This could be as specific as certain codes you alter to help boost your rank.
Backlinks are an entirely different field in themselves but are still a huge part of SEO.
Some SEO tools help you create and monitor backlinks to improve your rankings.
Competitor analysis is another huge part of SEO and there are also entire tools dedicated to it. Without monitoring your competitors, any efforts you make could easily vanish if your competitor stays one step ahead.
Many specific types of SEO exist, but the real trick is to try multiple types of SEO tools to find out what you need and like.
That’s why in this article we’ll discuss eight of the most popular SEO tools and their specific uses.
Popularity isn’t always an indicator of usability or usefulness, but it just so happens to really help in the world of SEO tools. The most popular SEO tools offer the widest range of analysis, the best user interface and the most accurate data.
These eight tools we’ll discuss are extremely useful and it’s highly recommended that you, as a website owner, try them to get a feel for what you need.
Using a combination of tools compounds their usefulness, which ultimately allows you to be even more successful. So I’ll also give a few pointers on how to best combine these tools to create a “super tool” of sorts.
What to Look for in an SEO Tool
What you seek in an SEO tool is largely a matter of personal preference, but there are certain characteristics you should place top of your list.
- Flexibility is one of the most important aspects to look for. If you use an SEO tool that cannot be used to fit your exact needs, you’re not using the right tool. The ability to change and modify what a tool analyzes and reports is important to change your website’s performance.
- Usability is another incredibly important aspect of a great tool. The right tool should be easy to use and doesn’t frustrate you when you’re trying to access basic information about your site. If you don’t enjoy using the tool, that’s a good sign that the usability is not great.
- In-depth reports should be given to you so you can stay up-to-date on your progress. Without good, detailed reports, you’re much more likely to fall behind in your SEO efforts, so in-depth reports deserve attention when looking for an SEO tool.
- Personal preference is quite possibly the most important aspect of an SEO tool. If the tool only provides information you don’t want, stop using it. If it helps modify your social media presence when you want to focus on search engine rank, find a different tool.
Explore various tools and use the favorites that provide the best information for your needs.
Combining several of your favorite tools from different areas of SEO, you can create a strong SEO tool suite that provides you with diverse angles you need to manage your website successfully. Using at least two tools ensures you don’t get blindsided in unexpected areas.
The 8 Most Popular SEO Tools to Skyrocket Your Website Traffic
SimilarWeb is a very popular tool for traffic engagement and industry analysis. It ranks 2,345 on Alexa and is one of the most commonly used tools for analyzing competition and audiences.
Using SimilarWeb is a great way to monitor site traffic like how many pages your audience visits, how long they stay, what the click and how they got to your site. Since understanding your audience is one of the essential tools you have at your disposal, this is crucial information.
You can also use SimilarWeb to check up on your biggest competitors and how they rank. This includes spying on their keywords, audience and ads.
These two areas are where SimilarWeb shines, but it’s very flexible and a great all-around tool as well.
SimilarWeb is priced variably, which means you’ll get a quote for your particular needs after you contact them.
However, they also have an excellent free trial that allows you to glance at the most important details like audience engagement and competitor data.
SEMrush is a fantastic resource for improving technical on-site SEO and, according to insights.com, has 3,900,000 unique visitors per year.
Its popularity is due to the practical, easy-to-follow approach to on-site SEO.
Although there are many different features to this tool—like social media audience engagement analysis and PPC tools—it truly shines in its technical website audits.
What that means for you is that SEMrush will conduct a thorough inspection of your website and report what needs to change to improve traffic.
This audit includes details like backlinks, keywords and the technical side. You’ll then receive helpful instructions on how to fix the errors SEMrush finds and how to capitalize on your strengths.
SEMrush is a truly versatile and flexible tool with something to offer almost everyone.
Its paid version begins at $99.95/mo and includes access to 28 different tools to help you understand your website and how to increase traffic.
Using a tool like SEMrush to lay the groundwork for a successful website is a great way to start your business and learn to manage online presence with SEO tools.
Ahrefs is an incredibly popular tool for learning about your competitors and how they rank as high as they do.
It’s also an excellent tool for content research and used by many large companies including Facebook, Netflix and eBay. At the time this article was written, there were over 1,500 new user sign-ups in the last seven days.
Anybody who has ever tried to maintain a functioning website knows that keeping high-quality content is a demanding part. It’s hard to find good content and keep it coming.
Ahrefs is like a bloodhound with content research—it finds the most popular and desired content and brings it to you. It bases its decisions on things like social media shares, search engine traffic and referring domains.
With Ahrefs, you can also search based on metrics like word count, traffic, backlinks and others. Use this discovered content to your advantage to help maintain a strong online presence and keep visitors coming back.
Ahrefs is popular because of the wide range of tools it provides.
One of the most popular is the Site Explorer, which provides organic search traffic data and backlink profiles of websites. This has clear applications in competitor analysis. Simply type in your competitors’ URLs, and you can download detailed information about their traffic and backlink strategies to help you understand and beat them.
Similarly, Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer allows you to search keywords based on length, difficulty, traffic potential and other parameters. With these tools, you have a powerful ability to generate content, rank for keywords and understand competitors.
For these tools and others, Ahrefs costs $99/mo and can upgrade to other payment options.
Overall, Ahrefs is a great tool for learning about content and generating excellent content on your website to improve traffic.
Moz is another fantastic site for technical SEO audits, but they’re also incredibly recognized for most SEO aspects. They have one of the largest and most active user communities in the SEO world due to their accurate and usable system.
Using their site crawl tool, you can uncover underlying website issues that keep search engines from ranking you higher (while offering an easy path to fix it). Moz notes all errors in your website’s technical side and reports them to you, keeping track over time as you complete your to-do list.
As you work through the list, you’ll be able to read constructive notes about how everything you’re doing affects SEO (and instructions on how to make changes).
Going through this checklist of technical changes often drastically improves your website, so it’s well worth the time.
Moz starts at $99/mo and has more advanced options—the most popular choice is $179/mo—with increased limits and features.
Using Moz to conduct technical site audits is an excellent way to get your SEO efforts off the ground. It’s handy for anyone who has recently created a website and will improve ranking and increase traffic in a systematic, well-structured way.
Monitor Backlinks is another popular site focused on increasing and improving backlinks to gain a higher rank. Today, at just six years old, Monitor Backlinks serves over 71,000 users.
Backlinks are an entirely different realm in the SEO world, and Monitor Backlinks helps users understand exactly how to advance and make changes.
With Monitor Backlinks’ tools, you can monitor current backlinks and create new ones through focused backlink campaigns. Its monitorization features include technical information such as landing page info, country of origin, domain type and more.
You can also check which backlinks come from no-follow sites and disavow any harmful links that affect your overall ranking.
Monitor Backlinks offers many tools to monitor other forms of your website’s SEO such as ads, keywords and competitor analysis, but backlinks are the focus and area where Monitor Backlinks truly shines.
Using Monitor Backlinks, in conjunction with another tool focused on technical SEO, is a combination that can’t go wrong. Whichever tool you decide to use, Monitor Backlinks is a great addition to your repertoire for backlink control as well as other SEO aspects.
Get started on Monitor Backlinks for only $25/mo for a single domain.
Available are several advanced plans, but explore Monitor Backlinks’ excellent free trial first to see if it suits your preferences.
Majestic, which ranks 29,503 on Alexa, is another incredibly popular SEO tool that’s great for focusing on competitor analysis. It has the largest link index database in the world, which means you draw from the most extensive information available.
The reason Majestic is excellent for competitor analysis isn’t due to its neat tool that details how to outrank competition, but rather the extensive information you can reveal about your opponents.
You can discover detailed information and metrics about competitors, like the number of backlinks, backlink history and what type of similar topics appear on their website (and how they compare to yours).
When you understand precisely how competitors use backlinks and how they draw traffic, you essentially peer into their strategies, which allows you to differentiate yourself and succeed.
Using Majestic allows users to compare up to 5 domains at a time, which means you can compare competitors against yourself to analyze how to either beat them or stay ahead.
Majestic starts at $49.99/mo, but the recommended PRO plan is $99.99, which gives access to more data and tools.
SpyFu is a competitor research site targeted at the ad marketing and SEO campaigns of your toughest competitors. That means you’ll delve deep into their SEO strategy to learn precisely how they attract visitors and generate sales.
Using the SEO Overview page, you can analyze historical SEO data and look at how your competitors have progressed over time. You can also see exactly where each of their keywords rank, including a page-by-page analysis of their best keywords.
SpyFu also gives you a side-by-side SEO keyword comparison against your main competitors’.
SpyFu also provides you with other tools to research new keywords and develop new strategies to attract visitors while avoiding your competitors’ mistakes. They’re even well known for the PPC data they provide about competitors.
The basic plan with SpyFu, which includes unlimited access to all SpyFu data, is only $33/mo billed annually. There are advanced options that also include more sales leads, more tracked keyword rankings and a few other features like branded reports.
Mangools’ SERPWatcher tool is one of the best rank tracker tools out there. It already tracks more than 15,000 domains and 410,000 keywords. The most refreshing part of SERPWatcher is that it’s different than other rank tracking tools, which probably is why it’s so popular.
The primary goal with SERPWatcher is to deliver the information you need most efficiently and effectively possible. It’s an extremely usable tool and simple to find the information required.
How do they do it?
They consolidate all of the data into one screen of charts and indexes, telling you everything you need to know.
The Dominance Index tracks overall progress and displays it in just one metric, which makes it easy to monitor. This one screen also shows you estimated visits, ranking distribution charts and daily rankings.
It beats having to click over and over again to get an update on your progress.
For the basic plan, SERPWatcher is only $29.90/mo billed annually, but there are also other plans that include access to more lookups, suggestions, etc…
Using a tracker like this, in conjunction with the other tools shown here, is an excellent way to keep tabs on your overall progress while you use other tools to delve into the details. It’s incredibly important to monitor overall progress and get updates about how to improve while you use more accurate tools to make changes and monitor each individual area.
Final Thoughts on the Most Popular SEO Tools
Whichever tools and whatever tool arsenal you end up with from this list, you can’t go wrong!
Each of these tools is popular because they provide detailed, helpful information, along with useful ways to apply it. Without tools like these, SEO would be impossible to manage.
The most important aspects to remember as you go on your search for SEO tools? You should look for flexibility, usability and something that suits your needs and style.
Also, try out and experiment with the combination of multiple SEO tools. No one, singular tool will have everything you need, so pick two that cover your bases well. Doing so will be an incredible help in the long run.
Whatever you decide to do, these eight most popular SEO tools are a great place to start!
Yassir Sahnoun is a content strategist, writer and co-founder of WriteWorldwide. He helps SaaS businesses with content strategy and SEO. You can learn more about Yassir at YassirSahnoun.com.