When I search for “SEO software,” Google comes back with 40,000,000 results. Even if only 1% of those results are unique SEO software product pages, that leaves me with 400,000 SEO software options to choose from! Some of those options can be downright expensive too. A while back, I had been considering giving an SEO software like SEOMoz or Link-Assistant a try, but I always found myself unable to pull the trigger and actually make the final purchase. I just couldn’t justify the cost of SEO software for my company.
As an SEO Professional—
Let’s take a step back for a second and lay the ground rules for what constitutes an SEO professional. I’m going to cast a wide net and just say it applies to anyone who calls themselves an SEO expert/guru/mogul/maven/consultant/freelancer/etc. It will also apply to those that work in SEO firms/agencies/companies/business/corporation/etc but don’t get a fancy New Age title.
I have had the opportunity to test and review some really great SEO software tools over the course of my 12 years in the industry—I’ve also come across some pretty bad ones. Most of them make running a link audit or ranking report or a competitive analysis (one of the favorite tasks of any SEO professional) a breeze. I just drop in whatever URLs I need data on; let the software chug and POOF, out comes a shiny report for my client that looks very impressive. I know the data is reliable, which helps guide my decisions for the SEO campaign. Whenever I need an update on what is going on with that particular client’s site, I just boot up the software and wait for the finished report to download. The software does the heavy lifting, the client is pleased and I look good—what more could an SEO professional want?
Here is where you have to get into cost-benefit analysis. I run a small SEO agency. We have a good amount of long term clients and I’m hustling as best as I can to drum up new business, but I’m not pulling in 3 new clients every week. And as much as I would like to see growth like that, I doubt that’ll happen any time soon. So those big time consuming projects that SEO software is great for aren’t cluttering up my calendar. I might have to run a link audit or two every month, but do those two link audit justify the price tag that comes with a good SEO software tool?
If I owned a larger SEO company that had hundreds of clients and dozens of account managers I might be singing a different tune. With so many reports to crank out every month, SEO software tools must seem like a God send. It helps account managers automate some of the easy, yet time consuming tasks associated with SEO and lets them focus on link building, content marketing and social media marketing for their clients. Whatever it costs each month is well worth the price.
I would love to hear from other SEO professionals about their experiences with SEO software. Was it worth the cost?
As a marketing professional—
Again, let’s take a step back and define “marketing professional.” This can be the marketing manager/director/assistant/etc. of any sized company in any industry. They might work in PR, advertising, brand management or any other form of marketing that isn’t SEO. They could be a one man marketing team for a small company or the head of a 5 person (minus SEO) marketing team. Is SEO software worth the cost to them?
I can see the pro-software argument. SEO software is great for DIY marketers, it keep SEO in-house without having to hire another full-time employee, it might be cheaper than hiring an agency and so forth. Yet a common problem I’ve run into with many consulting clients over the years is that they mistake an SEO tool, like software, for actual SEO knowledge. Microsoft Word is a tool, but it doesn’t do you much good if you don’t know how to write. I feel that SEO software works the same way. The SEO software might come up with a list of 10 on-site SEO recommendations, but if a marketing professional doesn’t have the knowledge as to how to actually implement those changes what good are the recommendations? Even if they do implement the changes, if they don’t understand why it’s important for SEO they are missing important information.
Marketing professionals also have to account for the learning curve when using SEO software. Even the most user-friendly interface ever created takes a little getting used to. Do you as the marketing manager of a mid-sized company have the time to spend an hour a day learning how to fully utilize this new software? I think about how confused some site owners are with Google Analytics and all the ways data can be interpreted there. SEO software is going to spit out the same data in a different format, but that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically know what it means and what to do with it. If you are unable to fully leverage what the SEO software can do for you, is it worth the cost?
I would also love to hear from marketing professionals about their experiences with SEO software. Was it worth the cost?