Keeping on top of the constantly-changing world of SEO can make even the most experienced marketer feel like a white-water rafter at times. There are so many metrics to measure and monitor, so many strategies that can be deployed – it’s understandable that clients often come to us for advice to stay ahead.
One thing making all of our lives easier is the huge number of SEO tools that have sprung up. Using the right tools, it is possible to greatly enhance and speed up optimization tasks, identify opportunities, and track online efforts made by your competitors.
We’re often asked what tools we use and recommend, so I thought it would be good to dedicate a blog post to the topic. These are tools we know and love – we deploy them on a daily basis to help our clients reach their online revenue and traffic targets.
(None of the below are sponsored promotions, so you can be sure that the reviews are totally unbiased!)
Let’s leap in.
Main Use: Analysis, Site Audit, Comparison, Testing
Ooh, straight in at the deep end! Have you ever seen those 3D “exploded” diagrams – the ones that show every component of a piece of machinery, and how they are all fitted together? Well, imagine something that does that for your website….only be prepared for much more detail! DeepCrawl is valuable not only for the extraordinary quality and volume of information it will yield on your site, but also for the ways in which it processes that information, highlighting areas of concern, checking links and redirects, spotting opportunities, and so on.
It saves many hours of manual labor, fact-finding and diagnosis. It will pull out technical issues, duplicate pages, slow-loading pages, and more. A regular site audit using DeepCrawl is the best way we know of spotting and sorting issues before they become a major issue. Although we undertake professional website design projects from scratch for our clients, this is typically just the beginning.
Readers of this blog would know this, of course. A website that is not constantly being updated is a site that is, in fact, going backwards both in terms of search engine rankings and customer/prospect engagement. And as a site gets developed, developing in complexity with myriad extra pages, internal and external links, tags, and more, it has the potential (if not kept in careful control) to become the Frankenstein character of your worst dreams!
With DeepCrawl you can keep a close eye on both detailed metrics and also a complete overview of your business website and how all of the pages are interacting. It also acts as a safety net, with advanced testing features giving us more confidence that the ongoing website development we undertake on behalf of our customers will bring only positive results, and no nasty surprises! By testing proposed changes before they go live and comparing them to live pages from the site, we can understand the impact and tweak our approach if necessary.
In summary, DeepCrawl is an extremely comprehensive tool that allows you to either get a site under control, or maintain a website at a consistently high level of performance even as it is developed and expanded. These are the primary purposes for which we use it, although there are of course many more ways that the information yielded by DeepCrawl can be put to good use!
Main Use: Keyword Research, Link-Building, Competitor Analysis
Other tools come and go, but SEMrush remains one of our favorite tools, especially for link-building work. Getting to truly high quality backlinks requires digging below the surface statistics and this is where SEMrush quickly comes to its own.
Some sites with a good number of inbound links might appear at first to be ideal for outreach work in view of getting quality back links, but under the SEMrush microscope, all will quickly be revealed. Like a jeweler peering through an eyeglass magnifier, you will quickly be able to make out the hallmarks of a site that is worth getting a link from – and the sites that may glitter, but are not gold. If a site does not rank for keywords in SEMrush then it’s probable they have been penalized. A quick look at their organic traffic might show a steep fall – if so, we will save ourselves a lot of wasted time in reaching out to a site that will generate few to no results even in the event we do get a backlink.
It also has brilliantly useful keyword research functionality. (For example, you can find a site that ranks highly for a chosen keyword and then look at all the other keywords that site ranks for to build a very comprehensive list of keywords!) You can even analyze your competitors’ online marketing, SEO, and PPC efforts – SEMrush is like the Swiss Army Knife of SEO Research Tools!
Main Use: Brainstorming, Content Creation, Content Optimization
If you haven’t met BuzzSumo before, let me tell you, you’re in for a treat. It’s one of those tools that gives you a level and depth of information that at first use, seems almost too good to be true! All professional website developers know that content marketing is the new gold rush – and this tool helps you leverage the power of social media and SEO to craft content that is much more likely to get high results for your business blog and social channels.
Trying to create content that will produce a high number of shares from scratch can be incredibly difficult, but BuzzSumo makes this task easier by giving invaluable insights into what’s already working out there, right now. It’s impossible to overstate how valuable this is, but let me try by sharing a quick story with you:
Many years ago, a famous marketer was teaching a group of students the art of copywriting. He demanded to know:
“If you and I both owned a hamburger stand and we were in a contest to see who could sell the most hamburgers, what advantages would you most like to have on your side to help you win?”
The answers vary. Some suggest better meat. Others suggest lower prices, or a better location. When they’re all done, the teacher replies:
“O.K., I’ll give you every single advantage you have asked for. I, myself, only want one advantage and, if you will give it to me, I will (when it comes to selling burgers) whip all of you!”
“What advantage do you want?” they ask.
“The only advantage I want,” I reply…”Is… A Starving Crowd!”
This is what BuzzSumo leads you to. Now, you can create content that you know there is a burning demand for – your very own starving crowd – and massively increase your chance of success!
Not only do you get to see what is taking off right now on social media, you get all the vital statistics you need to see and compare, presented in an easy-to-absorb format, so you can focus on the data that you can take action. You can compare your performances against that of your competitors, and see influencers that are building a following in your online “space” that you could partner with.
To wrap this up: for making an impact with your content, BuzzSumo is an absolute must. SEO and content marketing are increasingly intertwined, and this is a trend that looks set to continue.
Main Use: Competitor Analysis, Keyword Research, Outreach.
This is another tool that makes you wonder if you should be checking over your shoulder while you use it – incredibly, it lets you instantly see exactly what any website (hint: including those belonging to your main competitors…) has been ranking for on search engines. Think about this. Every place they’ve showed up on Google. Every organic search ranking. Every keyword they’ve ever bought on AdWords. All laid bare for you to pick over.
This means you can sweep in, identify opportunities and low-competition keywords, find sites that you can partner with, get smart recommendations for your own site….all from one piece of software. You can see what was a hit and what was a miss for others that have gone before you, and craft your strategy accordingly. You can also cut your wasted ad spending with the negative keyword match suggestions in SpyFu. There is also a feature built-in to help you get contact details for webmasters of domains you might want to work with. Another potential time-saver!
Needless to say, your competitor can always sign up to get the same insights into what you are up to, also! (If your company is the one blazing the trail, don’t sweat about the information your competitors could pick up this way – even if they do know about SpyFu, there is always that old truism: “Don’t worry if a rival imitates you. As long as he is following in your path, he cannot overtake you!”)
Now, you and I both know there are a ton of other SEO tools out there to choose from. So, now I ask you: What’s your favorite, can’t live without it, SEO tool? Tell me in the comments below!