I know what it’s like running a business.
There’s always a thousand and one things to attend to. And when it comes to SEO, make that a thousand and one.
Of course, don’t forget that’s without keeping on top of the subject matter and learning all the new techniques and updates. SEO can be complex; it seems like every day there is some new SEO strategy to be learned and 100 more articles to read.
It can be overwhelming and often, force it to the back burner. I know so many business owners who have found it can be too time-consuming to get enough of the skills and knowledge to dive in and optimize for SEO on their sites.
That’s where systems come into play. And systems run better when they’re automated.
The good news?
There are plenty of tools out there that can help you dramatically improve your SEO while saving you time and energy by automating the process. The problem for many is trying to figure out which of those tools are going to let you work smarter and get great results.
Here, you’ll find a number of incredible SEO tools that we’ve used in our business and have helped us create a system to improve our rankings.
SEMRush – From $69.95/mo and up
Keyword research is at the heart of any successful SEO campaign. If you don’t know which keywords are the best for you to target, then chances are, you’re going to be in trouble before you even get started.
That’s where SEMRush becomes a great tool. As a tool for keyword research, it offers a number of options that will let you find the best keywords for both paid and organic campaigns, find keyword matches as well as related keywords, and highlight those long tail keywords that can often be ignored.
SEMRush also has a “keyword difficulty” tool that is specifically designed to highlight those keywords that have less competition, and alternative options for keywords that are notoriously difficult to rank.
Alternative tool: For a free option, it never hurts to turn to Google’s Keyword Planner. While it won’t give you the in-depth reports and information that SEMRush does, if you’re looking for a quick and easy tool that can help with basic keyword research, this works.
Authority Labs – From $99/mo and up
Rank tracking can get complicated; it’s something that you do want to pay attention to but the biggest problem is that keeping track of rankings can be incredibly time-consuming.
The good thing is there is a tool that makes it very simple: Authority Labs. With Authority Labs they offer a very easy to use and reliable tool to get the job done automatically. That means you get all of your daily tracking results in one report. This is going to allow you to be able to pivot quickly and see how your campaigns are doing.
Another big benefit of Authority Labs is it’s really developed for Local SEO as well. It also has options to track results based on zip codes and includes Google+ rankings as well.
Alternative Tool: Google Search Console has replaced what the old Google Webmasters Tools was and offers a suite of options for SEO for free. Use the Search Analytics tool to find out where your websites are ranking.
MozBar – Free
When it comes to search engine optimization, it’s not enough to just look at your own sites; it’s also important to pay attention to what your competitors are doing as well. This is why so many consider MozBar to be such a valuable tool.
Quick and easy to use, MozBar is a Google Chrome plugin that will give you instant and accurate information on a number of key metrics of any website you’re on. While the free version will work well enough for many, if you’re looking to upgrade your intel with the best information out there, MozBar Pro starts at $99/mo.
MozBar has a bunch of features that will help you improve your own SEO by collecting important intel. Some of the most important include social metric tracking, custom searches, data export and on page highlighting to check specific types of links.
Alternative Tool: For quite a few SEO experts, SpyFu is up there as one of the best competitor intel tools out there. Use it to track competitor’s keywords, which can help improve your own strategy. Pricing starts from $79/mo.
Yoast – Free
One of the biggest ways to immediately improve your own rankings and see some small SEO wins is to optimize your content. Most people don’t realize that they are missing some opportunities on their home pages and within blog posts.
One amazing tool to help change that is Yoast. This is a free WordPress plugin that is the go-to tool for SEO on blogs and other sites. In fact, it is the #1 top ranked SEO WordPress plugin, so it’s pretty clear it works.
Once installed, Yoast is incredibly easy to use. It allows you to pick a keyword for each page, create a meta tag, and it monitors the content itself to let you know of any potential problems and opportunities to improve.
Alternative Tool: Another good tool to use to monitor content is Seobility, which bills itself as a site auditor. What’s really helpful is it digs deep into your site and can highlight links that are useful but have been buried and help you rank them better.
BuzzStream – From $24/mo and up
One component of SEO that is very important is link building. There are a number of ways to approach link building. Unfortunately, many brands ( especially small businesses) just don’t have the time or the human resources to devote to it productively.
That’s where a tool like BuzzStream can make the process feel almost automated, saving you and your time a lot of time and effort. BuzzStream was built to let you easily find and connect with influencers to create relationships with people and brands that will get your site placed on quality sites.
Once you’ve got BuzzStream up and running, you’ll find it’s where you can do all your outreach and potential link building in one place. Use it to make lists, contact influencers, and keep track of projects all at the same time.
Alternative Tool: A lot of sites run into issues with broken links when trying to improve their SEO. LinkMiner can help solve that. This tool is a free Chrome extension that highlights broken links so they can be fixed.
Ahrefs – From $99/mo and up
Getting high-quality backlinks is an essential building block of good search engine optimization. In fact, a number of SEO experts cite that when it comes to getting high rankings, it’s important to have at least a few high-quality backlinks pointing back to your site.
One of the best tools out on the marketing for backlink analysis is Ahrefs. It has two big benefits going for it: first, the site has an index of over 12 trillion links, and second, it is incredibly easy to use for such a powerful tool.
Their reports let you see a number of details on any backlink including the anchor terms that are being used for it, it’s ranking, referring pages, the content that it is being linked to, and how strong the backlinks are. In addition, they have an alert system that will notify you if you’ve gained or lost a backlink on your own site.
Alternative Tool: Open Site Explorer is an alternative tool that can be used as well and is part of the Moz Pro bundle of SEO tools. It helps you find backlink opportunities, discover any potentially damaging links, and researches backlinks, too.
Ninja Outreach – From $49/mo and up
Outreach has always been an important piece of any SEO improvement strategy, but over the past few years, it’s been a much bigger part for many successful brands. Much of that has to do with influencer marketing.
Ninja Outreach is a tool that was specifically created exactly for this situation. It helps brands find the biggest influencers in their particular niche or market and then connect with them directly.
What makes Ninja Outreach special is that it provides a treasure trove of information on influencers in one place. You can find links to content they have written, social media shares, and SEO metrics. This data lets you see who can really give your brand a boost.
Alternative Tool: Are you tired of wasting hours scanning the web for link building possibilities? If so, Link Prospector is another great tool. It scours the internet for blogs, guest posts, and resources pages, for new outreach opportunities.
Let’s face it, when it comes to SEO there are a lot of tools out there. Fortunately, these can help really bring your SEO to the next level without having to devote much time and energy to the cause.
As you continue to build your brand, being able to effectively and efficiently improve your search engine rankings and results is going to be a key part of that strategy. That’s why having the right tools to get the job done is so important.
These are just a few of my favorite SEO tools. What about yours?
Screenshot by Tony Messer. Taken October 2016.