The Best SEO Tools: What, How, and Why

I have a confession to make: I am an SEO tools junkie.

In the good old days I had a team of programmers in-house who developed tools to my vision. Today, there are so many fantastic tools on the market that there is no need to deal with the hassles of home grown tools.

In this article I am going to share with you some of my favorite tools, why I love them, and how I use them to create SEO Strategies that WORK.

The 900 Lb Gorilla: LinkResearchTools

LinkResearchTools is my favorite of all SEO tools. It’s very expensive, yes, but worth every cent. I use it on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Within the suite there are a variety of tools that you can use, and I am going to show you examples of a couple of my favorite ones:

Backlink Profiler

This is the most comprehensive report I’ve ever found that digs deep into a site’s statistics and backlinks. It outputs a number of key SEO factors such as anchor density and anchor text breakdown, links from unique C classes, Google Author ID for backlinks, PageRank, ACRank, Seomoz Page and Domain Authority, and so much more. This data, especially anchor density, is essential to determine the health of a site and guides me in building healthy backlink profiles.

Site Audits

By pulling a Backlink Profile report, I am able to determine a site’s strengths and weaknesses, and figure out exactly what we need to improve a site’s rankings.

In some cases for example, I will notice a site has an anchor density of over 30% for a money keyword, so I will recommend varied brand and fluff anchor text usage.

Other times I’ll notice a site has too many inbound links from pages that do not rank for their exact match title tag, indicating sites with penalties or low authority. The tool will also pull social shares and other information regarding social engagement.

Below you can see a sample site audit for my site

Link Research Tools

After looking at a BLP report, I can say that 90% of the time I know exactly what’s going on with a site, what it needs to improve in the rankings, a site’s strengths and danger zones.

Competitive Research

Applying the same extensive research to the major competitors in a keyword sector allows me to find trends and commonalities in the space. For example, I can see keywords that have a lot of social engagement, or keywords with a lot of guest blog links, or keywords with lots of article marketing links.

By running a BLP for the top 15-20 sites I can analyze specific backlinks for each of the top sites, see what kinds of backlinks they have, the anchor density and spread for each of the major sites, and more. Once I know what’s working, I use this data to help me create our strategy to improve rankings in each particular industry.

Link Building

Once I’ve completed my analysis, I drop all of the backlinks for the top competitors into a file and sort it by Domain Authority. I can then work with this list to eliminate all of the pages that are not indexed in Google, that have low Authority, low TitleRank, etc and voila I have a phenomenal list of link prospects.

I take this list and add it to Podio (more on this soon) and I’ve got a targeted list for our link builders to use. Podio keeps our outreach organized and streamlined.

Juice Tool (Bulk URL Analyzer)

This tool is fantastic for comparing keyword sector trends. You can run up to 2000 URL’s at a time and it will spider for the same basic information as above, but without going in-depth into specific backlinks.

Using the Juice Tool, I can compare averages and standard deviations for specific URL groups. For example, I can create a list of the top 300 sites in an industry by using a variety of keywords, scraping and aggregating the results. Then I will look for trends and averages.

Using this data is how I discovered that the average domain age for over 2000 URL’s that I analyzed is older than 10 years old. I also noticed a trend for sites with exact match domains to rank well with a smaller amount of links than others in the same keyword space.

Here’s an example for the keyword how to use pinterest for marketing:


In this image I cannot show the rest of the fields but I have a similar analysis for many fields. When you look at this type of data over the top 10-20 keywords in your space, patterns quickly emerge and then all you have to do is identify and follow similar patterns (if they are white hat and safe!).

Link Detox

Using link detox I can see a list of toxic and suspicious links to a domain. A variety of criteria are evaluated when identifying toxic or suspicious links. The tool will find pages with low link velocity, pages that are not indexed in Google, links from possible link networks, and much more.

Once I run the report, I download and evaluate each of the links separately. From this data I can then easily create a list of links to disavow with Google Webmaster Tools.

Marcela De Vivo
Marcela De Vivo has been an SEO since 1999, promoting thousands of sites including large corporate sites and small mom and pop businesses. She loves to connect, so don’t hesitate to reach out through her Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest or LinkedIn profiles.
Marcela De Vivo

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21 thoughts on “The Best SEO Tools: What, How, and Why

    1. Cognitive SEO, OSE, Majestic SEO, Ahrefs, Ontolo, Link Research Tools are some of the best seo tools, mainly backlink and competitor analysis tools available on the web,

  1. Thanks Marcela!
    This is something really helpful. I was looking out for some of the best tools that can save me time as I am working on some of the very challenging projects.

    I am using Podio to manage my content marketing team. I loved the way you managed the content tasks with the apps. Can you name these apps for me?

    I am just using the ‘Projects’ and the ‘Notes’ for now.

    Thank you :)

  2. Thanks for sharing these links but i use mainly Alexa , open site explorer and back link watch to check my competitors back-links.Thanks

  3. I’m surprised didn’t get a mention, I used that daily to get my backlink statistics and it’s excellent. Thanks for sharing your tools with us though, there’s a couple I didn’t even know about and will try out.

  4. Hello Marcela,
    I’m saving your post for further reference as I develop my SEO skills. I had to go half way through your post before I came to products familiar to me. I’ve got a lot more research to do. In particular, I like the way you not only identify the tool, but also describe how you use it. I can see you’ve put a lot of thought into this, and yes, you should write a book. I’ll buy a copy. I plan to follow you in all the social media we share.

    Boyd Carter

  5. I personally using Ahrefs and Majestic seo. Both are the best tool and proving useful information about our site and competitors as well. These tools gives graphical representation of New and Loss backlinks, Anchor text distribution and Referring domains growth. The cost of both tool is comparatively law than other tools. Here is the latest Infographic which Comparing SEOmoz, MajesticSEO & Ahrefs,

  6. Hi – Marcela,

    As I say, interesting article. I’m re-posting….as previous post seems to have been removed. Linkdex SEO analysis platform covers most of the aspects that several tools provide under one roof. Would be happy to run through a demo if you would be interested……???

  7. Hi, great article. Thanks for the tips. I personally use SEOmoz open site explorer, which you can also use free of charge. Also I am interested to test the searchmetrics essentials suite. They have a new pricing. And it seems very interesting to me. Apart from that I use the free tool
    Best regards Mathias

  8. Thanks Marcela for the great post, I spotted some new tools and info that I will be digging into more. I use Market Samurai as our keyword research tool, although SEOcockpit is a great tool to use.

    I’ve used basecamp for project management but your write it lacks certain features for us marketers and SEO’s. It’s more for other types of businesses.

    I use lot’s of other tools and I use SEOmoz’s tools which are also great to use.

    Thanks and just shared this on Twitter.


  9. If someone does a Google search for “Online SEO Tools” or something similar, Web CEO Online should show up #1 or #2 on any given day. So it’s frustrating for us when someone reviews online SEO tools based on good experiences with other products they may have had but without having checked the Google rankings for that keyword (unless Marcela somehow didn’t like us but was too polite to mention that). =)

    Anyway, we’re there at the top of search engines for a reason. We led the SEO software industry before SEOMoz was founded to pioneer cloud-based tools. In 2011, we finally launched Web CEO Online and, since then, we’ve maintained the huge digital agency & corporate clientele profile that we had before.

    Here are two examples of factors that help us maintain market share with SEO agencies and large ecommerce outlets:

    1) White Label functionality – It’s not just about having reports show a tool customer’s logo. True white label is when SEO reports can be read on an agency’s own website, such as at a sub-domain of their own website where report readers can logon. Also, true white label functionality is when SEO tool users can let their customers logon to collaborate on the SEO tool user’s website.

    2) Extended rank results and sub-folder rank checking – Customers often want to know how they place in Google Places and Google Images and not just in the organic rankings. Also, major ecommerce outlets will want to check how only certain parts of their websites are doing such as the French or German parts (the /FR or /DE parts).

  10. Sure shed some light and Podio is a new one for me. We currently use SOMmoz (the full toolkit) and it seem suficiente but it’s always good to know that there are alternatives out there. Cheers πŸ˜‰

  11. Thanks Marcela! Those tips and tools were very useful. Personally, I think SEORush is one of the best but I will try some of the rest. Cheers

  12. Awesome list of SEO tools. though some of these are paid and very expensive … still a comprehensive list… i wonder why ahrefs is not include??? though its a good backlink checker … better than Majestic SEO