The Most Effective SEO Tools in 2020
The route to success in nearly everything requires the use of the correct tools – from repairing an iPhone screen to software development. And this statement couldn’t be truer in the world of SEO.
Every well-executed SEO campaign needs to begin with the very best tools – ones that allow valuable discovery information through keyword research, link building techniques, competitive analysis, and in-depth reporting.
Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, creating an ever-shifting environment for SEOs as they attempt to improve organic rankings and site authority. So the better the tools, the more effective the results.
Most of the tools that I am going to highlight here are tools that I’ve used to perform SEO, but there are some I haven’t. I’ve polled SEO professionals from around the industry to get insight into what they are using as well and they even provided reviews.
The following list of tools are a must for optimization of any website, from technical aspects like 404 errors and the quality of other sites linking to you to theme-related keywords when building out content.
- Google Tools
- Screaming Frog
- Merkle Schema Markup Tool
- Text Optimizer
- Keywords Everywhere
- Sanity Check
- Internet Marketing Ninjas Rich Snippets
SEO Tools You or Your Agency Should Be Using
The Google Suite
Google has many free tools as part of its tool suite that allows you to perform your SEO strategy flawlessly. I think it’s best if I highlight the Google tools that I like to use daily:
Google Analytics/Tag Manager
Google Analytics is a must for reporting purposes. It allows you to get insight into historical and real-time data on your audience which you can filter and segment into more granular metrics. Personally, I like to implement Google Analytics through Tag Manager which basically keeps all of your tags in one container. It’s more organized. To me, it is also easier to set up goals and events, like tracking every time someone clicks your click-to-call button on your website. Check out Google Tag Manager is you are not using it!
Google Search Console
Google Search Console provides the truest organic search data. You can’t get true keyword data right from Google Analytics anymore. Most of the traffic data associated with keywords filters into the “not set” bucket. Search Console, on the other hand, allows you to see your organic keyword data. It allows you to see what keywords a page is ranking for and how that page or its keywords are performing in terms of clicks, impressions, CTR, and average position. Outside of performance, Search Console is also a great tool for submitting your sitemap and monitoring index status, monitoring site errors, and to use the new enhancement features like checking page speed and mobile usability.
Google My Business
If any aspect of your business is somewhat local, you need a Google My Business. Your GMB should be optimized with what type of business you have, the correct name, address, and phone number, a description of your business, and posts, offers, or products. A majority of organic searches today populate map listings. You need to ensure you show up in them. Also, don’t forget to leverage reviews from happy customers by creating a short name link to share!
Google Keyword Planner
Even though this tool is a part of the Google Ads platform, this is one of the best keyword research tools for SEO. You can type up to 10 keywords into the tool and it will spit back average monthly search volume, competition level, and then additional semantic keywords or keyword ideas.
Google Data Studio
This tool excites me. It’s become a staple of our reporting here at LSEO. It gives a sense of ease to reporting as it is all dynamic. You set up the metrics that you want to track and it will automatically populate the data for the time frame you have chosen and compare it to whatever comparison period you choose. We like to use month over month and year over year. Data Studio allows for so many different connectors that you can basically pull in any type of data you can imagine, even from other tools we will highlight in this article.
Chrome Developer Tools
Google Structured Data Testing Tool
There are many types of structured data and some of it needs to be on your site. This tool allows you to see if you are utilizing it on your site. It is worth the test as many themes and platforms bake it into their web builds today. Structured data allows you to make your organic search results richer by pulling through information like star ratings, price, address, and more. This can help you gain a click over your competition.
Google Pagespeed Insights
Speed is important. Google Page Speed Insights allows you to get a high-level overview of how your site is performing on both a desktop and mobile device. It will give you insight into what is slowing your site down and how to fix it. You want to keep users on your site, not make them bounce.
Google Suggested Keywords
In addition to keyword planner, you can also use Google’s suggested keywords as a keyword generation tool. Once you start typing a term into Google, it will provide suggestions as to what are the most popular terms associated with what you start typing. This is a great way to get specific keywords to use for your SEO campaign.
SEMrush has multiple uses, but its primary role for LSEO is finding keyword and keyword phrases. The database has over 35 million keywords and keyword phrases available, which can help set search results apart from the competition.
The tool shows keyword/keyword phrase monthly volume; KD (how difficult it would be to rank for); CPC (average cost per click for PPC use); Com. (competitive density); Results (how many websites rank for it); Trend (the keywords trends over the past 12 months); and SERP (snapshot of the keyword results page).
SEMrush can also help you discover technical issues through its audit feature, monitor your website’s rankings, and provide an insight into what competitors are doing. Kuri Khailo, SEO Supervisor at Best Price Nutrition, told us, “We have the paid version and I am glad we do because we can run monthly or weekly site audits to make sure we didn’t miss any errors and be mindful of the warnings to catch them before they turn into errors! It’s one of my favorite things to do because it’s somewhat like a checklist and you feel great when it’s all done.”
SEMrush has many new awesome features to check out as well, like their topic suggestion tool, writing assistant (which I used to write this article), and keyword magic feature.
Screaming Frog is my favorite SEO spider tool. It’s my go-to when kicking off an SEO account and also to do periodic health checks. You can set the user-agent to crawl as Google and gain a look into what Google will come across when they crawled your site. It allows you to easily locate errors, mixed protocols, where your pages need optimization. It’s not very expensive either as you will only pay an annual fee.
Jeff Romero, a 12 year SEO veteran and founder of Octiv Digital uses Screaming Frog and said, “This tool seeks to mimic how a website is crawled by Google, reporting on all technical SEO factors like titles, headings, crawl traps, server response codes and more. It’s free up to 500 URLs (which covers most small business websites) and there is a paid option for larger e-commerce sites.”
HARO has been a game-changer for me and LSEO. It’s one of the best tools to sign up for and it’s completely free. You get pitches sent to you 3 times a day. These pitches are from other websites looking for you to contribute to their content. You just need to make sure you have the staff in place to filter through the queries and to respond if one fits you or your client’s niche.
It’s free, so sign up!
Moz is an SEO software tool that allows you to do a variety of things, and also features loads of education on everything within the digital marketing space.
Moz provides four different products: Moz Pro, which is for boosting online visibility; Moz Local, which is for increasing online visibility for local searches and citation consistency; Moz Content, which is meant to increase content strategy; and, finally, Followerwonk, which is a way to optimize your social media presence.
Almost anyone can use Moz – it’s meant for beginners and experts at SEO. Alina Krivopalova, the marketing manager at Flippingbook, uses Moz and said this about the tool, “Moz helps to increase traffic, rankings, and visibility across search engine results and has helped me take Flippingbook’s organic results to the next level.”
Yoast is twofold – it offers an amazing WordPress tool that LSEO recommends to everyone on the WordPress platform, and also has an audit/review tool that takes a deep look at websites. It’s so easy to generate and maintain a sitemap and edit your robots.txt file with Yoast.
With Yoast, you have a variety of options for SEO website reviews you can choose from. These options change in price and what level of how much you want Yoast to do for you. The cheapest option is $699 for the Silver SEO Review; with this review, you will have insights on how to improve your SEO; optimize content; optimize code; and improve site speed.
Aside from the cheapest option, the most expensive package is the Diamond SEO Review. With Diamond SEO Review, you get the platinum review, and three Yoast SEO books included. All of the website reviews cover six weeks of support.
I absolutely love this tool. It’s a web-based audit tool. You can plug a domain into Varvy and it will tell you if the site has any major errors. I like this tool because I feel that it does more of a technical dive than other audit tools.
One of it’s best features is the redirect tool. This allows you to see if a site has it’s homepage redirects set up properly. You may find that the rewrite condition in a site’s htaccess file needs some attention.
Ahrefs is a “do it all” SEO tool. One of it’s best features is the backlink portion of the tool. It can help you find broken links to fix, discover unlinked mentions, and really just audit your backlink portfolio.
It does much more than that though. Ahrefs can also perform keyword tracking, generate new keyword ideas, audit a website, and much more. It’s a direct competitor to SEMrush, but they still both have their own unique features which is why we here at LSEO have a subscription to both.
James Both uses Ahrefs to perform SEO on One Hour Smart Home and he had this to say about it, “In 2020 one of the most useful tools I use is Ahrefs. Ahrefs allows me to check backlinks and traffic to my own site but will also give me analytical data on competitor’s sites and provide me with Google keyword data for them. I use Ahrefs on a daily basis for planning keywords in posts and making decisions on what content searchers are interested in. It’s a tool packed with features that provide valuable information to enhance your search presence in an easy to use format.
Shaan Patel, Founder and CEO of Prep Expert, also added, “We often use Ahrefs as a part of our marketing and SEO analytics. The best thing to use Ahrefs for is keyword and domain tracking. We use this data for our backlink strategy, where we can get an idea of how many new domains are linking to our site. We also use it to see which keywords can help bring in a greater volume of traffic.”
Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator
I talk about tools in this article that will help you test if your structured data is set up properly or set up at all. What do you do if it’s not? I like to use Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator tool. It’s super easy to use and has so many types of structured data to choose from, all the way from local businesses to how-to or FAQ structured data.
Bing Webmaster Tools & Bing Places
Since Google is so popular, I think SEO professionals forget about Bing and the other search engines. Bing has some of the same types of products as Google in Bing Webmaster Tools and Bing Places. Even though a majority of users use Google, there are still users who will utilize Bing, so why not create a Bing Webmaster Tools profile and monitor data, submit your sitemap, and submit URLs to be indexed.
Likewise, if you are local, take advantage of Bing’s local results and create or claim your Bing Places listing. When someone searches a “near me” search in Bing, you better show up. Even if the search volume is limited in Bing, go get more visitors!
Calling all you SEOs and content marketers. This is a phenomenal tool for researching and finding the top questions users are typing into search engines. These are topics you should be centering your content around and answering these important questions for users. It’s one of the best ways to gain new traffic to your site if you hit on the right subject and get something to stick.
Anthony Bianco operates The Travel Tart, a content site centered around traveling. By utilizing Answer the Public, he helped grow his traffic to over 12,000 visitors per month. I think this is a good example of utilizing this tool’s capabilities.
Ubersuggest is Neil Patel’s take on SEMrush. It has recently been updated and revamped and you can immediately see the similarities. The difference is that Ubersuggest is a free tool. It’s a great way to see what your domain is ranking for, but also to generate new keyword ideas. It can even do some backlink digging for you. If you are looking for a cost-effective way to do keyword research, Ubersuggest should be the route you go.
Ronald D’souza, a professional at Angel Jackets, told us, “Ubersuggest is one of the best all in one SEO tools, it has everything including competitors backlink research, content ideas, keywords data, traffic analyzer, site audit, and so many other features for free.”
Fatrank is an awesome Google Chrome browser extension from the company FATJOE. When you are on a site, you can load the Fatrank extension and type a keyword into it. It will then tell you where that site ranks for that keyword and what associated page ranks for it. This takes manual research out of the equation.
Tonya Davis of ThoughtLab said this about Fatrank, “This is a simple plugin that you can install for Chrome. This tool is purely about convenience. It makes it very easy to quickly see where a site ranks for various keywords.”
MarketMuse is said to be one of the best content marketing tools out there. It helps you with all things from content research and strategy to creation and optimization. If you are looking to scale through content marketing, then you should look into MarketMuse.
Madison Smith is an SEO and content marketing specialist at Best Company. She uses MarketMuse and it has been a true game-changer for her. “I have struggled in the past spending hours mining through keyword data on Ahrefs or Spyfu to craft my own content. MarketMuse simplified this process. It analyzes all those keyword opportunities for you and gives you content suggestions that are predicted to be popular. MarketMuse can even create outlines of content, such as blog posts so that you can truly maximize every point that you are trying to make.”
Mangools is another cost-effective tool that comes with a powerful cloud-based tool suite. Those tools include KWFinder, SERPChecker, SERPWatcher, LinkMiner, and SiteProfiler. SEO thought leaders like Brian Dean even approve of tools like KWFinder.
Check it out if you are in the market for a cheaper all-in-one SEO tool.
Zapier is a workflow that connects over 1,500 web apps. It’s an easy solution for all of your different apps to work together. For instance if you use Slack and Google Calendar, Zapier can get them working together. That is just one example out of a thousand. In the business world, it can help you stay organized and make your life a lot easier, especially if you are doing search engine optimization where there are so many moving parts.
Alfredo Bernal, Head of Acquisition at SamBoat.com, who manages Yacht charters all around the world said about Zapier, “A must-use tool is Zapier. To maximize efficiency, we automate as many daily processes as possible. It is really easy to use and you can automate processes on pretty much every platform.”
At most, Buzzsumo is not particularly an SEO tool, but rather a social media tool. BuzzSumo is best to spark ideas for creating content. It also is a perfect tool to analyze what headlines are working for stuff to go viral. It will give you insight into what type of content is going to perform the best in the SERPs.
“Buzzsumo is my go-to tool to find the trending articles in a niche and see who shared a similar article to the one I am trying to promote. With that information, I can reach out to the sharers and see if they like my article too,” said Tarun Jain of Distill.io who has been doing SEO for over 5 years and uses Buzzsumo on the daily.
Surfer is another all-in-one SEO tool that can handle tasks like SERP analysis, content editing, keyword research, and more. It’s said that this tool can look at over 500+ ranking factors in one sweep of a website.
Paul Strobel of eRideHero has more experience using this tool than I do, and he said, “The new hot name on the block in terms of on-page SEO is SurferSEO. It’s an excellent tool that’ll help you perfect your on-page by comparing it with the top rankers for your desired search phrase. With very little effort, I’ve been able to land some awesome keywords and rich snippets just by using Surfer. It isn’t all that expensive, either. They have a content creation tool as well that’ll allow you to export strict guidelines for your writers which saves me a ton of time on a daily basis.”
SEOJet is a backlink SEO software that gives you insight into competitor’s backlink profiles. specific page scoring, and even helps with anchor text generation.
We spoke directly to the founder of SEOJet, Adam White. He had this to say about his tool, “Because Ahrefs integrates with SEOJet I am able to use their data to build out awesome backlink plans for the pages I am trying to rank in Google. SEOJet lets me do a deep dive into the backlink profiles of the top ten ranked pages for any of my main key phrases. With that data, I can see who I should be trying to mimic and what I need to do to catch and surpass them in the search results. It makes it super convenient when I am deciding on which key phrases are worth targeting when doing long-form blog posts.”
If you are also a user of Ahrefs, check out Adam and SEOJet.
This tool is deemed “the world’s fastest keyword rank tracking tool.” It’s capable of giving you on-demand updates on keyword rankings. Something other tools are incapable of doing. Sometimes it takes other tools a period of time to update true rankings.
Colin Ma of Digital Software Products who has been doing SEO for over 6 years uses Accuranker. He said, “Accuranker is a ranking monitoring tool that is easy to use and extremely accurate since it updates every 24 hours. You simply plugin the website you want to track and enter the keywords you want Accuranker to gauge.”
Text Optimizer is a great tool as it uses semantic analysis to generate keywords and questions that you should be answering in your content. It’s a great tool to use to avoid duplicate content on multiple pages as you will always be answering different questions.
Brian Robben, the founder of Robben Media, is an avid fan of Text Optimizer. He had this glaring review, “After recently discovering this, I’m obsessed with the SEO tool Text Optimizer. This semantic analysis tool analyzes a page to better improve the content for Google and searchers. Text Optimizer shows you which search snippets are included in your page and what ones you’d be wise to add to optimize the text. I’ve seen this do serious damage in improving my organic keyword rankings.”
Keywords Everywhere Browser Extension
This is another awesome Chrome browser extension that all SEO’s should add. Keywords Everywhere pulls data like CPC, search volume, and competition levels into different keyword analyzer tools like right into the SERPs or Google Search Console.
Niles Koenigsberg, a digital marketing specialist at FiG Advertising, said, “One of the most essential tools that every SEO professional should use is the Keywords Everywhere browser extension. This add-on quickly reveals key stats on your search terms, like the average volume of searches per month, the competition for the phrase, and the cost-per-click. While this tool is no longer free, the data is well worth the cost. With this tool, you’ll quickly understand which keywords you should be targeting on your site and which ones you should avoid. It speeds up your keyword research and makes your SEO planning much easier.”
Brightlocal is one of the most powerful local SEO tools out there. It handles tasks like citation building, citation audits, review building, and multi-location reporting. If you specialize in local SEO, Brightlocal should be on your radar.
Patrick Garde of ExaWeb Solutions said, “With BrightLocal, you can track local SEO performance, create and build citations, monitor online reputation, track rankings and run SEO audits. This is an important tool for local SEOs if you want to improve your client’s local search performance.”
Hunter.io is a great tool if you are doing anything related to sales in a digital marketing agency or for SEO link building. Hunter will allow you to find contacts associated with a domain for you to ultimately do cold outreach and gain them as a prospect.
Joshua Joseph, SEO and Content Manager at Motivosity, said, “When I need to find someone’s email, I use hunter.io It’s an awesome web crawler that helps you find virtually anyways email address. If it can’t find an address it’ll give you an estimate with a probability score.”
Sanity Check takes Google Search Console data and turns it into actionable tasks to complete. It will help you improve your click-through rate (CTR) for keywords and pages, and also help you avoid keyword cannibalization. It will also give automated reports.
Sam Hurley, Technical SEO Expert and Co-founder of NOVOS, said, “Sanity Check is good for quick and easy a/b testing of SEO page titles. It will give you a bird’s eye view if your change will improve your CTR for the page(s) you want to change the title on.”
Internet Marketing Ninjas Featured Snippet Tool
Since I love technical SEO, this tool is for me. This tool allows you to put a domain into the tool and it will give you insight into what phrases you are ranking for also contain a rich snippet, like an answer box. With this information, you can see what it is going to take for you to compete for that snippet.
Lee Savery, Content Executive at Ricemedia, had this to say about the featured snippet tool from Internet Marketing Ninjas, “Featured snippets (or Google Answer Boxes) are goldust to content marketers and this tool helps you find the low-hanging fruit for quick wins. Simply pop your domain into the tool and it will deliver a report detailing the snippets you can target. It displays the current snippet and can even help you optimize your content.”