Search engine optimization (SEO) remains a popular strategy for a number of reasons. It's relatively easy to learn and adopt, it offers compounding returns over time, and it doesn't require a lot of money to be successful, making it approachable for big and small businesses alike. But inevitably, new entrepreneurs and marketers run into trouble in their SEO campaigns. 

Typically, this is due to an error in approach, such as bad inbound links or poorly-optimized on-site pages, or an inability to measure results properly. Thankfully, when you encounter such obstacles, you don't have to look far for help. There are hundreds of online SEO tools designed to help you analyze, understand, and improve your campaigns--but some stand out more than others. 

The Best SEO Tools Available

To be a "good" SEO tool, an online tool should be easy to understand, affordably priced, and effective in improving your campaign in some way. Using these criteria, we evaluated dozens of different apps on the web, and came up with the 10 best SEO tools businesses can rely on: 

1. Google Analytics. Any list of "great" SEO tools is incomplete without a mention of Google Analytics. It's free, easy to understand, and it offers hundreds of different data points to better understand your site's performance, from organic traffic (visitors to your site from search engines) to user behavior (what visitors do when getting to your site). With this data, you can better understand and improve any SEO campaign, and prove the merits of your work. 

2. BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo is all about content performance, which is a major factor in any SEO campaign's success--more popular content means more shares, more links, and ultimately higher domain authority. BuzzSumo helps you identify trending topics and key opportunities for content development, and how well your own content is performing compared to the rest of your industry. You can try it for free as well. 

3. Open Site Explorer. Moz's Open Site Explorer is the perfect tool for improving your inbound link profile, and like BuzzSumo, you can try it for free without a paid subscription. Open Site Explorer serves as a kind of search engine for links, helping you find and understand all the links pointing back to your domain, weed out the bad links, and find more good ones to build. 

4. Rocket Ranking. In terms of all-around help, Rocket Ranking is one of the best SEO tools available. With Rocket Ranking, you can analyze your on-site optimization, get recommendations for improvement, and measure your results over time. You can also monitor competitors' backlink profiles, citations, and performances with a unique Backlink Builder tool, and improve your social media performance with a Like and Follow tool. 

5. SEMRush. Another leader in the industry, SEMRush specializes in helping you find competitive information, such as where your competitors are ranking, where they're building backlinks, and of course, what you can do to overtake them. 

6. Authority Labs. Authority Labs is a rank tracking tool, which is especially helpful now that Google doesn't explicitly publish keyword search query information in Google Analytics. You can specify a custom selection of keywords and keyword phrases, and track your performance for those keywords over time, even on a daily basis. 

7. Sprout Social. Social media doesn't directly affect SEO, but it does indirectly affect it through social signals--plus, the more you understand about your audience, the better content you can write. Sprout Social exists to help you schedule, manage, and track your social media campaign. You can then use those insights to fuel your content and SEO campaign, and vice versa. 

8. Majestic. Majestic is a link index database that helps you visualize how different sites around the web link to each other. Similar to Open Site Explorer, you can use this tool to compare multiple domains and better understand (and subsequently improve) your own backlink profile. 

9. DeepCrawl. DeepCrawl describes itself as "the world's most comprehensive website crawler," and that seems reasonably accurate. With it, you'll be able to identify 404 errors, replace duplicate content, fix redirect and canonical issues, and generally improve your site's performance. 

10. Google Search Console. Another free tool from Google, Google Search Console will help you identify some of the biggest search trends relating to your website, and some of the most potentially lucrative opportunities available. It's essential for monitoring for manual penalties, and for being notified by Google about various issues that need your attention.

Every business has unique needs and unique goals, even under the same umbrella of an "SEO strategy," so don't be surprised if not all of these apps serve your needs exactly. It takes time to find the right combination of resources to properly aid your campaign, just like it takes time to build authority and rank. 

Remain patient, experiment with these innovative apps, and keep the ones that seem to be helping you make consistent progress. 

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based content marketing & social media agency. You can contact him on LinkedIn, Google+, or Twitter.


Leave a comment


You can also subscribe without commenting by submitting your email address here:

Search Engine Guide > Jayson DeMers > 10 Must-Have Tools for Small Business SEO