The industry is ever-changing and you need to start adapting to cover every vertical, whether that be link building; content writing or technical SEO, it’s more important than ever, especially now Rank Brain is becoming more sophisticated and its wizardry is growing day-by-day. You don’t want to be eaten alive by machine-learning, you need to start adapting to the AI changes that everyone will soon be capitalising on across the board – it’s happening right now.
If you’re new to search engine marketing (SEM) scene- you don’t want to have to go through the hassle of investing money into the tools that won’t play its part. Luckily enough for you, I have tried quite a few tools in every vertical, whether that be free or paid, so, I thought I’d compile this post outlining the most useful ones for ya.
As an SEO, internet marketer, guru, magician or wizard, you can’t be a wiz kid in every vertical, well, if you are then I am very jealous. I like to consider myself very technical minded, therefore, I’m relatively good at providing technical SEO advice, however, I’m terrible at the link building aspect of search and I’m ‘okay’ at content writing. It’s difficult to find someone who’s good at everything in SEM, therefore, you’ll need some SEM tools to help you better your understanding of what’s happening and to give you the insight you need to dominate that particular field.
There are many different verticals in SEM:
- On-page SEO optimisation;
- Link Building/Analysis;
- Technical SEO;
- Multilingual and Multiregional SEO;
- SEO Content Writing;
- Website Analysis;
- Keyword Research;
- Lots of other areas.
Compare yourself against all of the above methodologies, how many of these would you consider yourself to be particularly good at? I think I’m relatively good at about 5 of these, so yes, not everything. If that’s the case, you’ll need to get your hands on some good tools in those verticals. Please be advised that I will be actively updating this SEM tools list, feel free to check back on a regular basis.
If you’re looking for the best SEM / SEO tools currently on the market, then I’m sure you will really enjoy this post.
On-page Optimisation Tools
1) Broken Link Checker – Chrome Extension (Free)
The easiest way to identify all of the broken links on a specific page. This broken link checker tool will go through and individually check each and every link on the page, highlighting red the ones that don’t work. It’s that simple.
2) Redirect Path Extension (Free)
This extension kindly flags up any 301, 302, 500 and 404 HTTP status codes as well as client side redirects. It’s a brilliant tool to identify any redirect errors.
Website: Download the extension here
3) Moz Bar (Free)
This free extension by Moz (as long you create a Moz community account) allows you to obtain relevant metrics that’s associated with a site, such as page authority, domain authority and other important metrics, automatically. The bar will update itself everytime you navigate to a new site, therefore, you won’t have to conduct manual searches for each of the sites to obtain PA/DA numbers. Lots of other freebie features included that can enhance on-page SEO.
1) Majestic (Paid)
Majestic is a well-known link analysis tool that is used by leading SEO’s to obtain relevant metrics in regards to a set of domains and the power associated with those URL’s. Majestic has a link index of 52 billion pages, 350 million unique URL’s and 2.6 trillion mapping relationships (URL’s that point to one another). It can be used to obtain metrics such as trust flow and citation flow, these metrics are a trademark of Majestic and are used to score a site based on quality. In essence, higher the trust flow, the better the site is from an SEO perspective.
2) Moz – Open Site Explorer (Paid)
A similar tool to Majestic, but the Open Site Explorer has its own metrics, such as domain authority and page authority. These metrics are used to calculate a site’s ranking power.
3) Ahrefs Backlink Checker (Paid)
Ahrefs is another leading backlink tool and it can help you learn why your competitors are ranking higher than you, and what you can do to outrank them by clearly-defined link analysis. You can obtain data in terms of how many backlinks your website has, referring domains, how many organic keywords you rank for, how much organic traffic your site is obtaining and more.
4) SEO Spyglass (Free & Paid)
SEO Spyglass is one of a kind and it uses multiple sources in order to obtain it’s backlink data, however, it’s run by a desktop application. In other words, you will need to run it on your computer, you can’t access it via a website. The tool will fetch all of the links it can find that’an associated with your domain, obtain the status of links, the page rank, anchor text and other useful metrics.
5) Raven Tools (Free & Paid)
Raven is another tool that can be used to obtain backlink data, this one is free for a 30 day period. It’s very similar to the Moz suite, however, it’s not quite as complex I don’t think, due to the back-end user interface and their hefty pricing structure (cheaper, better solutions elsewhere), but it is an alternative.
Technical SEO Tools
1) Screaming Frog (Paid)
If you consider yourself a technical wiz kid, investing £149 into this tool will be the best thing you’ve ever done. I couldn’t imagine working in SEO without this tool, it’s part of my fundamental toolset now. This SEO tool is the king of finding broken links, errors, redirects, duplicate pages, hreflang attributes and more. Its extraction feature allows you to do almost anything, literally, whatever requirements you may have, you’ll be able to use the extraction feature to do so. As an example, I had to recently find every hyperlink that referenced an external URL on a website, I did so by using a custom XPath query.
2) Botify (Paid)
Botify can be used to measure site speed, numbers of HTML errors on a site, click depth, the number of times Googlebot has visited your site via their log analyser. Lots of useful stuff.
3) DeepCrawl (Paid)
DeepCrawl is another beasty tool and it definitely does live up to their own name. The software will scan every page on your site to then generate a comprehensive report that outlines how many heading tags you have on each of your pages, how many pages with a no index tag set, the number of broken links it had found during the crawl, lots of good stuff that you need to know about your site.
4) EasyRedir (Paid)
EasyRedir can be used to easily setup and manage URL redirects, whether that be 301’s, 302’s, HTTP to HTTPS and DNS redirects. It’s super easy to setup and you all you need to do is specify the from and to destination and it will give you the DNS info needed to implement those redirects.
5) Google Page Speed Insights (Free)
As we all know that page speed is a ranking factor, it’s important to get on top of your game when it comes to creating a fast site. Therefore, Google has released a page speed tool that allows you to submit your website and Google will rate it out of 100. As you can see, we’ve got some improvements to make!
6) SEMrush Site Audit Tool (Paid)
It’s always nice to get an extra set of eyes on your website from a technical perspective, the SEMrush audit tool can be used to find and fix SEO issues, whether that’s hreflang errors, broken links, missing title tags, duplicate meta descriptions, broken images and more.
Multilingual and Multiregional SEO Tools
1) Hreflang Tag Checker Extension
This extension can be used to automate the process of checking hreflang tags and whether or not they are configured properly. This tool will grab all of the hreflang tags currently on the page, automatically, and then check to see if the linking URL has a return tag. This tool has saved me a tonne of time in the past when working on multilingual and multiregional SEO projects.
Website: Download the extension here
2) Google Analytics – Demographics (Free)
As part of Google Analytics, you can check to see how many of your visits, conversions and trends are coming from different countries and languages, along with the keywords used to find your site, sources and what pages were used. All of this data is accessible in Google Analytics within the ‘Geo’ section on the left-hand sidebar within ‘Audience’.
3) SEMrush – Magic Keyword Tool (Free & Paid)
The magic keyword tool provided by SEMrush is a free/paid keyword research tool that can be used to check the search volume in different markets for particular keywords. If you’re looking to check the search volume for ‘web design services’ in the Netherlands for example, this can be done.
4) Webmaster Tools – Geolocation Feature (Free)
Google offer a geo-targeting feature with webmaster tools that can be used to tell Google what country you’d like to specifically target and rank for. However, this doesn’t reduce your website’s visibility in other countries, it’s just used to signal the primary location to Google.
Website: google.com/webmasters (Go to “Seach Traffic” > “International Targeting”)
5) Google Trends (Free)
Google Trends can be used to find out what’s trending, even in other countries outside your own. Use this to your advantage when getting your content marketing strategy together.
SEO Content Writing Tools
1) Grammarly (Free & Paid)
Grammarly is my all-time favourite writing tool, period. Its free version is an absolute beast and it’s saved me from making thousands of mistakes in my writing, if you aren’t on Grammarly, you need to re-consider.
2) Google Keyword Planner (Free)
Google Keyword Planner is another free option that’s developed by the world’s most prominent search engine: Google. This KW tool can be used to identify keywords that users have a particular interest in and is generating quite a lot of hefty visits each month, you can then include these keywords in your content to raise keyword density.
3) Word Counter (Free)
Word Counter is a free tool that can be used to count how many words are included within your content, very useful when writing a blog post to get an an accurate representation of how many words you have typed.
4) Hemingway Editor (Free)
Hemingway is an alternative to Grammarly if for some reason you aren’t a fan of it. You can use the Hemingway editor while writing your copy to be given a list of errors and improvements that it finds whilst scanning your content, this is another good tool to spot punctuation errors and spelling mistakes.
5) Paper Rater (Free)
Paper Rater is another awesome writing tool that can be used to check spelling and punctuation errors, it’s free so why not?
6) Keyword Density Tool By SEO Book (Free)
In order to get an idea of how many times you have referenced your target keyword, you can use the keyword density tool by SEO Book. This tool will read your content and outline how many times each word has been referenced. If you’re attempting to rank for ‘web design services’ – then it may be worth having a keyword density of 2-4%.
7) Spell Check Plus (Free)
This tool checks your content for spelling mistakes, it’s that simple.
8) Word Hippo (Free)
Word Hippo is an easy way of finding synonyms or antonyms or your target keyword, according to some industry SEO experts, including relevant keywords to your primary keyword will help search ranking.
Website Analysis Tools
1) Google Analytics (Free)
Google Analytics, otherwise known as GA can be used to track your visitor’s movements. If you’re serious about SEO and increasing your websites positioning, then you’ll need to get your site setup on GA, no questions asked. How will you know that the techniques you are implementing to your site are working? Exactly. GA can be used to see what pages on your site are generating organic traffic.
2) Clicky (Paid)
Clicky is an awesome alternative to Google Analytics, everything is in real-time and it provides ridiculous detail of every segment of your visitors.
3) Piwik (Free)
Piwik is an open-source analytics platform that can be used to watch a real-time flow of the visits to your website and how they navigate your site, lots of customisable features too.
4) Gauges (Paid)
Gauges is another affordable alternative to Google Analytics, as you’ve probably realised by now, using Google Analytics is a no-brainer and you should only use these tools as an additional. Gauge works in a similar way to GA but its interface is more easily understood for the non-technical minded, it’s also well known for its real-time analytics.
5) Mix Panel (Paid)
MixPanel sets itself apart from the rest of the competition as it focuses on events, rather than page views or sessions. This is of course, a big different as a session doesn’t necessarily tell us much about how that user is interacting with our site.
Keyword Research Tools
1) SEMrush (Free & Paid)
SEMrush is the king of both generic and long-tail keyword research, it’s one of my favourites and I’d take a license of this tool any day over the other leading keyword research kits currently on the market. It allows you, the user, to generate keywords based on volume, keyword difficulty, SERP features, word count and more. You can learn more about using SEMrush for long-tail keyword research here.
2) Scrapebox (Paid)
Scrapebox is another tool that can be used for generating keyword ideas, even though it’s primarily used for black hat SEO and it’s known to be the ‘swiss army knife of SEO’ – it’s still a beast when it comes to conducting white-hat SEO tasks like link prospecting, keyword research and gathering the contact details of webmasters.
3) Google Webmaster Tools (Free)
This is a must-have tool in your inventory, the best part: it’s free. As you’ve probably realised, it’s Google’s product and it can be used to identify what keywords are currently being used to find your site in the search results. If you’ve seen an uplift in customer enquiries, it may be worth checking webmaster tools to see if you’ve seen an increase in traffic from a specific keyword in search – this may be because you’ve increased in ranking. It only takes a couple of minutes to learn how to setup webmaster tools
4) Google Keyword Planner (Free)
Yet another Google product that can be capitalised on, this time, the data is coming straight from Google’s systems, therefore, you can get an accurate representation of how many people are searching fro specific terms. This data can then be used to align it with average CTR based on positionings, then by conversion rates and average order values.
5) Google Trends (Free)
When I’ve decided that I’m going to conduct some keyword research, I always submit my queries to Google Trends first. Why? Because I want to know if the keyword is potentially future-proof. I don’t want to spend all of my time optimising a page on my site for a keyword that’s dying.
6) Moz – Keyword Explorer (Paid)
A keyword research tool by the friendly faces at Moz, they’re known to have built one o the best SEO tools currently on the market: Open Site Explorer. I use OSE on a daily basis for link analysis, however, their KWR tool is a gem for generating long-tail search queries.
7) Google Auto Suggest (Free)
Have you ever typed a search query into Google (I’m sure you have) and it then starts providing all of these recommendations in a drop-down menu below. That’s Google’s auto-suggestion feature, these predictions are compiled by what other users have searched, related to your search term. These ideas can be used to help you conduct keyword research, free of charge.
8) Word Streams Keyword Tool (Free)
Word streams SEO tool can be used to generate keyword ideas around the search term that you have entered. It’s that simple, if you’re a subscriber, you can then obtain other data like search volume and difficulty. It’s a great tool to quickly generate keyword ideas.
9) KWfinder.com (Free & Paid)
KWfinder offers a generous freebie to those that visit their site, a freebie of 3 KW lookups per 24 hours, however, the premium version(s) support up to 100+ KW lookups over that 24 hour period. You can search based on suggestions, autocomplete or question-based keywords. It’s a monster for picking up long-tail keywords and it can be used to identify the difficulty associated with obtaining a first-page placement.
10) FAQ Fox (Free)
FAQfox is a question-based scraper tool that can be used to scrape websites to generate keyword ideas. E.g, if you’re looking to get keyword ideas from a specific target audience on another website, you can do so.