There are few industries which change as quickly as the world of SEO. With search engines updating the way they work as often as multiple times per day, it can be a challenge to keep up with all the continual developments and still make sure your website is fully optimised.
Search engine optimisation tools can help you to keep your website performing at its best, but the sheer number of them can sometimes be overwhelming. Therefore, selective use of SEO technology is the key to ensuring that you leave no stone unturned when it comes to efficiently improving the performance of your website – and that the tools free up your time as opposed to monopolising it.
In this article, we examine what we consider to be the best SEO tools currently available, based on years of experimentation. It wouldn’t be feasible (or enjoyable for our readers!) to review every single piece of SEO software we use, so we have chosen some of our favourite ones which we use on a regular basis.
To jump straight to a particular area of interest, click on the links below – or read on for a review of all the tools we recommend here.
Analysis and website management
Rankings, backlinks, and competitor analysis
Change detection and notification
Website audit tools
What is the best SEO tool for performing a website audit? If we could only pick one, it would have to be DeepCrawl. DeepCrawl is a website crawler which is affordable, feature-rich, and intuitive to use. It can help you to identify the vast majority of issues with a website and provides suggestions on how to resolve them. The company’s customer support is also first-rate.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
(Free and paid service)
It’s tough to choose between DeepCrawl and Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider – there is little that one can do that the other can’t, and Screaming Frog make some of the best SEO software out there. One advantage of Screaming Frog is that they offer a free version of the tool. Additionally, DeepCrawl is a browser-based tool, while Screaming Frog is an application you download to your computer – there are pros and cons with each approach. We use both, depending on our requirements. It’s also worth checking out the Screaming Frog SEO Log File Analyser if you are a more advanced SEO.
As most SEOs are aware, a robots.txt file provides a means to request that search engines only crawl the areas of your website that you want them to. While website SEO tools such as Google Search Console will help you to identify errors with your file, robots.txt checker offers more detailed information about any issues it may contain, in case you need to dig a bit deeper.
Google Safe Browsing
If you think your website might be unsafe, you can run it through Google Safe Browsing to check if there are any threats present – such as malware issues. While you will get notified in Google Search Console if you site has been compromised, this tool is useful for those times when you do not have access to it, or just want to quickly perform an SEO health check.
BROWSEO is an SEO analysis tool which allows you to view your web page as search engines do, by only showing the pure HTML. It provides a quick way to view your meta tags and also view a search engine results page (SERP) preview. You can check your response codes, redirects, and links – as well as determine the word count. You can then highlight certain elements on the page, check for cloaking, and even download the whole session – or share it with others. Overall it’s a great little SEO page checker.
Fetch & Render As Any Bot
With the Fetch & Render As Any Bot tool, you simply enter your URL and select your chosen user agent. This free SEO software quickly allows you to see how your bot of choice will render your page.
(Free and paid)
Siteliner offers a number of different features, including the ability to check for broken links, related domains, text to HTML ratio, page size, loading time, word count, and internal and external link information – as well as the ability to create an XML sitemap. We mainly use it however for it’s excellent duplicate content identifier – one of the best SEO audit tool features available, due to how few of these seem to exist online. It will scan up to 250 of your pages of your website for free, but if you want to analyse a larger number of pages (up to 25,000), you will need to opt for the paid version.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test
With Google promising to move to a mobile-first index soon, ensuring your website performs optimally on mobile devices is a must. By running a website SEO test with this tool, you can check you are mobile-friendly in the eyes of Google – and if not, will be provided with instructions on how to gain this important status.
Google PageSpeed Insights
Having a website which loads quickly is vital for a number of different reasons. Not only will it please your users, but loading speed is also a ranking factor in the Google algorithm. You can easily check your website speed with this excellent Google optimisation tool; it will assign you a score for both the mobile and desktop versions of your website, as well as offer technical suggestions on how to improve it. Alternatively, you can use Google Test My Site which offers similar functionality.
(Free and paid)
If you want a second opinion after using Google PageSpeed Insights, it’s worth using GTmetrix – one of our favourite online SEO tools – as it offers more detailed information about how to improve the speed of your website (start by looking at the ‘PageSpeed’ and ‘YSlow’ tabs). We use the free version, but there is also a paid version which offers more advanced functionality.
Pingdom Website Speed Test
(Free and paid)
Another useful tool for checking the speed of your website is Pingdom’s Website Speed Test. With the free version, you can check your loading speed from a choice of international locations and receive suggestions on what to optimise. The paid version offers a myriad of different features if you need to investigate your website more thoroughly.
Pingdom DNS Check
(Free and paid)
An additional service from Pingdom that we occasionally use is their DNS Check tool. It lets you check for any DNS errors by checking your servers to see if they are set up and responding correctly. The free version of Pingdom usually provides enough information to see if everything is working as it should be.
(Free and paid)
If you need to find out what technologies have been used to build a website, BuiltWith will analyse it and give you a list of products used. It is one of the top SEO tools for understanding how a website has been put together, and the free version is normally more than sufficient – but there is also a more detailed paid option which lets you view historical data.
Qualys SSL Labs
With HTTPS now being used as a ranking factor by Google, more websites are migrating to its more secure system. If you want to check your SSL setup, Qualys SSL Labs allows you to analyse your SSL server, your browser’s SSL capabilities, as well as look at the implementations of the top one million websites on the Internet – and much more besides.
HTTP Status Code Checker
The HTTP Status Code Checker is a free SEO tool which provides a simple way to view the status code, response headers, redirect location, and redirect chain of an HTTP connection. It also lets you select different user agents, and check batches of up to 100 URLs – which can then be exported.
SEO analysis tools and website management tools
(Free and paid)
There are few SEOs who won’t have heard of or used Google Analytics. While there are other SEO analytics tools available, Google Analytics should give you more than enough information to gain valuable insight into your website’s performance, and create detailed reports on a huge range of metrics. It is so feature-rich that even after more than a decade of use, we are still learning new tricks with it.
The free version offers ample functionality for the vast majority of websites, although there is also a paid option called Google Analytics 360 designed for large enterprises. Most users should find however that the free package meets all of their requirements.
Adwords Robot Analytics Referrer/Ghost Spam Blocker
If you are a seasoned Google Analytics user, you will no doubt have stumbled across the many unusual referral and spam results within its referral reports. The Adwords Robot Analytics Referrer/Ghost Spam Blocker does as its name suggests and helps you to prevent these annoying domains from clouding and inflating your data through the use of its various filters. It’s not a complete solution, but goes a long way in assisting you to achieve more accurate reports.
Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder
One of the more useful free Google SEO tools is their Campaign URL Builder. By filling in a few fields of information, it enables you to add campaign parameters to your URLs, so you can track your custom campaigns within Google Analytics.
Google Search Console
Another staple product for most SEOs is Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). It really is a must-have, as not only does it offer helpful insights into the performance of your website, but also acts as a portal between webmasters/SEOs and Google themselves. If for instance, you were ‘unfortunate’ enough to receive a manual action penalty, you would be notified through Google Search Console – and disavow files and reconsideration requests could then be submitted through its system. It also has the ability to link up with Google Analytics for even more accurate and in-depth reporting.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools is the equivalent of Google Search Console, but is instead for Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Although Bing is less widely used than Google, it shouldn’t be ignored; by setting up Bing Webmaster Tools, you have a better chance of performing well on Bing and as such have the potential to easily add an extra 10-20% to your overall website traffic. You can also set up Bing Places for Business in it, which allows you to control how your business appears as an online entity in the SERPs – much the same as with GoogleMyBusiness.
If you want to see how users interact with your website in a more visual manner, Crazy Egg’s heat map and scroll map reports are fairly unique compared to other types of SEO analysis software. They let you see where users have clicked and scrolled, where they have come from, and a new feature lets you view actual recordings of users’ screen interactions. Crazy Egg is a paid service – although they do offer a free trial – but if you need to visually see how your users navigate around your website, it’s well worth paying the money and deserves a place near the top of any self-respecting SEO software review.
Tag management tools
Google Tag Manager
(Free and paid)
So, whether you want to set up conversion tracking, analytics, remarketing, or more, Google Tag Manager provides a simple and fast way to track your users’ behaviour. As with Google Analytics, the free version is probably more than sufficient for most SEOs needs, but an advanced paid version is available should you require it – which offers a host of other features including dedicated support.
Keyword rank checker tools, backlink tools, and competitor analysis tools
(Free and paid)
SEMrush is one of the most comprehensive SEO tracking tools available, so if you want a jack of all trades to monitor your brand, rankings and backlinks, conduct keyword research, site audits, competitor analysis, and more, it’s a very cost-effective option (the free version is useful, but it’s worth opting for the paid version if you really want to get the most out of it). As we’re focussing on SEO tools in this article, we won’t go into the other channels it covers, but suffice to say it also caters for PPC, social media, and video advertising as well.
It allows you to create custom, personalised reports by simply dragging the various widgets into place, add comments and annotations, easily share and schedule when they are sent, and you can save them as templates for future use.
SerpTrends SEO Extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox add-on
Many of the search engine tools we use are browser extensions or add-ons; we tend to use Google Chrome as our primary browser, though sometimes use Mozilla Firefox. As an SEO, we would recommend you use Google Chrome for the majority of your work.
The SerpTrends SEO Extension is a neat little SEO ranking tool which is available for both browsers, works with Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, and makes it quick to check search engine ranking changes directly within SERPs, by displaying easy to view green and red triangle icons. As it numbers the search results, it also provides a quick way to assess which position your page is ranking at.
(Free and paid)
If you wanted to know how to check backlinks of any website and could only pick one tool, Ahrefs would be our recommendation. The company also offers a wide variety of other website optimisation tools ranging from keyword research and ranking monitoring, through to content and competitor analysis. They have a huge amount of backlink data, coupled with an easy to use interface which is packed with genuinely useful features.
Nightwatch is a relatively new SEO tool which provides rank tracking, backlink monitoring, and reporting functionality – all within a slick and stylish dashboard interface. Its innovative filtering options allow you to dig deep into aggregated keyword data and it can also integrate with Google Analytics and Google Search Console. It offers customisable reports as well as advanced segmentation and data visulisation in an attractive, flexible, and intuitive package.
Check My Links extension for Google Chrome
It’s surprising how common it is to find broken links on a website that haven’t been spotted for months. With the Check My Links extension for Google Chrome, all you need to do is click the extension button and it will scan your web page and highlight any broken links – it doesn’t get easier than this!
NoFollow extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox add-on
If you want to always know which links on a given web page have been set to nofollow, this handy extension/add-on highlights them with a dotted line around them and saves you having to check the source code etc. It’s a good idea to leave it permanently turned on, as you will frequently encounter links which have been set incorrectly that otherwise you probably wouldn’t have noticed.
Google Disavow Tool
Over time, it’s common for websites to accumulate backlinks that are not of the highest quality – sometimes intentionally and sometimes unwittingly. With Google’s Disavow Tool (Bing has a similar feature called ‘Disavow Links’ within Bing Webmaster Tools) you have an opportunity to let the search engines know that you are aware of them – and request that they are not taken into account. There are differing opinions amongst SEOs as to whether it’s a good idea to disavow or not, but at least with these tools, you have the power to control how the search engines view your website’s backlink profile.
(Free and paid)
SimilarWeb lets you quickly view a website’s ranking, traffic, and engagement statistics; it’s like having a cut-down version of Google Analytics, but for any website you can think of. You can then see how its competitors fare, and gain valuable insights into their marketing strategies. If you’re not sure which website you want to analyse, there is also the option to search by industry or country, whereupon the top 50 websites will be displayed.
Meta tag tools
Moz Title Tag Preview Tool
Title tags are one of the most fundamental elements of on-page SEO and it’s important that once you have optimised them, they don’t truncate in SERPs (unless this is intentional – to encourage click-through etc.) Moz’s Title Tag Preview Tool provides a quick way to see how your title tag will appear in SERPs.
Character Count Tool
There are many free character counter tools available, but we use this one to check the length of our meta descriptions. It has a range of advanced features which also makes it useful for other types of copywriting tasks.
Web Developer extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox add-on
If we could only choose one extension/add-on it would be this one. The amount of features it offers is impressive and we suggest you download it now and begin exploring what it can do as there are too many options to cover here. One of our favourites is its ability to highlight the specific header tags of a page on the page itself (no more Ctrl-F trawling through source code), and its alt attribute functions are very handy too.
NoIndex,NoFollow Meta Tag Checker extension for Google Chrome
Although simple, this is one of the best free SEO tools available – which has saved us a lot of time on multiple occasions. It simply produces a temporary pop-up window whenever you visit a page that contains a noindex meta tag. It’s surprising how common it is for e.g. developers to work on a page and forget to remove this tag, so this extension can be a lifesaver.
hreflang Tags Generator Tool
If your website caters for multiple languages and/or countries, then you should be thinking about using hreflang tags. You can easily generate them with this tool, and have the option to upload a CSV file or just complete the provided form.
Keyword research tools
Google Adwords Keyword Planner
When most SEOs start learning how to do keyword research, their first port of call is Keyword Planner. Although designed primarily for PPC, it also offers a wealth of information for organic search. You do need to set up an account in order to use it, and unless you spend some money with Google your results will be bracketed and less accurate, but regardless, the keyword research data you can gain from it should not be ignored.
(Free and paid)
Keyword.io makes a great keyword research partner with Keyword Planner, as it focuses more on long tail keywords. There are a number of different research versions available, ranging from ones for the main search engines, through to those for Amazon, eBay, YouTube, and Wikipedia. If you opt for the paid ‘Pro’ version, you get up to 20,000 keywords per search, search volume and CPC data from Keyword Planner, additional filters, and more.
Übersuggest is a free SEO keyword tool which works slightly differently than most other keyword research tools, as it uses the autosuggest features from Google – and other sources – to create its many keyword suggestions. Once you click on one of these results, it then reveals an even deeper level of long tail search terms. It also allows you to select from various sources, namely: Web, Images, Shopping, YouTube, and News.
If you want to see instant keyword research results from a wide variety of search engines and other popular online services, then Soovle might be for you. It lets you customise which search engines are included in your searches, and you can click directly on a result to open it in your selected search service.
Google Trends is a unique keyword research tool, in that it displays how often a particular search term is entered, relative to the total number of searches at different locations worldwide and at different times – which users can select. Its an extremely useful tool for understanding how user demands change over time.
Somewhat of a sister service to Google Trends, Google Correlate instead analyses how often related keywords are searched over a given time period, compared to your chosen term.
(Free and paid)
How to check website rankings without personalisation and localisation? As any SEO knows, search results are highly personalised and localised, so to get a more realistic view of rankings it is often wise to use a virtual private network (VPN). This allows you to see search results as they would be if you were searching from a different location to your own. CyberGhost is one of the best free VPNs available (the paid version adds a number of advanced features) that lets you see what e.g. users in Spain see when searching for your service.
Word To Clean HTML
If you use regularly use Microsoft Word to draft your blog posts for example, you may have encountered formatting issues when trying to paste the content into your chosen blogging platform. Word To Clean HTML simply strips out any invalid or proprietary tags and produces a clean HTML version for you to use.
There are many situations where you may find you need to alter the case of the words you use, but don’t want to have to manually make the changes. It could be that your exported Keyword Planner results need to be amended to start with uppercase letters for example. Convert Case lets you make such changes at the click of a button, and offers a number of different case amendments for you to choose from.
The excellent Text Mechanic provides a range of useful text formatting tools, but we primarily use its Remove Duplicate Lines feature for when we merge multiple keyword research lists which contain duplicates. There are of course scripts that can be run in Google Sheets to achieve similar results, but Text Mechanic is great when these don’t work as desired – or if you are using a different program that doesn’t support this type of functionality.
(Free and paid)
How to check for plagiarism? Search engines favour unique content, so to ensure yours isn’t being plagiarised and published online, you can use Copyscape to check that no one else is appropriating it. All you need to do is enter your URL and it will scan the web for any instances of plagiarism. It’s free to use, although a more advanced paid version is also available.
(Free and paid)
If you’re wondering how to check website content to ensure you maximise audience engagement, you should check out Clarity Grader – which analyses your content for clarity and readability. You can explore its features with a free trial, or can pay for a more expanded set of options. If you use Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin however, you can also achieve quite similar results, so check you definitely need this advanced functionality before you buy.
Website monitoring tools
(Free and paid)
Whether you work in a large agency or just on your own single website, you need to know when a site goes down. Uptime Robot is one of our most frequently used SEO monitoring tools, which allows you to monitor up to 50 websites and will send you an email alert if one goes down, and another one when it comes back online – as well as letting you know how long the outage lasted. Although a ‘Pro’ package is available, the free version is more than adequate for most users’ needs.
Change detection and notification tools
It’s difficult to keep track of when your business (or other entity) is mentioned online. By setting up Google Alerts, you will receive customisable email notifications when this occurs. This can make you aware of any positive or negative reviews for example, or can help you to identify potential linking opportunities if you are mentioned by another website.
MozBar extension for Google Chrome
The MozBar extension for Google Chrome provides a quick way to check a website’s Domain Authority. You can also use Moz’s Open Site Explorer if you need a little extra information about Page Authority, and additional backlink information.
(Free and paid)
If you’re wondering ‘what is my ip address?’, it’s as simple as typing ‘ip address’ into Google, but if you want to find out who a specific IP address belongs to – or the IP address of a page you are visiting – you can use ipinfo which will provide you with this, plus a range of related server information. Their ipinfo.io – website ip address details Google Chrome extension is also very useful.
(Free and paid)
There are many reasons why you might want to find out who owns a particular domain – perhaps you cannot find a webmaster’s contact details when conducting outreach for example. Whois Lookup lets you do this and offers plenty of additional domain related information.
(Free and paid)
Having a valid XML sitemap is a must for any respectable website and Web-Site-Map provides a simple way to generate and validate your own one. The free version of their tool currently works for websites up to around 5,400 pages and the paid version is unlimited. Of course, if you are using the Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin, this will take care of your XML sitemap needs.
Redirect Path extension for Google Chrome
Redirects are an invaluable tool in any SEO’s arsenal, but can also cause a variety of issues if not implemented correctly. The Redirect Path extension for Google Chrome identifies a range of HTTP status codes, as well as displaying which redirects are in place on the page you are viewing, server IP addresses, and more.
User agent tools
User-Agent Switcher for Chrome extension
If you want to see how a website functions on both desktop and mobile browsers, then this Google Chrome extension is for you. It lets you switch between various user agent strings and you can even set up specific URLs that you want to spoof every time.
Responsive testing tools
(Free and paid)
QuirkTools offer a number of different tools including a sitemap builder, wireframe builder, diagnostic tools, and our most used tool of theirs – Screenfly – a responsive design testing tool. It covers everything from desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, through to televisions, and provides the ability to check custom screen sizes – all within an elegant user interface.
Structured data tools
Google Structured Data Markup Helper
Structured data is playing an increasingly important role in SEO, so if you want to implement it on your website, Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper lets you easily add it to your website page.
Google Structured Data Testing Tool
As its name suggests, the Google Structured Data Testing Tool provides a quick and easy way to test the structured data on your website and identify any errors that need to be resolved.
Local Business Schema Generator
Schema structured data markup plays an important role in local SEO. By filling in the required fields of the Local Business Schema Generator, you can generate JSON-LD markup – Google’s preferred version of Schema markup.
AMP testing tools
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are part of a project started by Google and Twitter which aims to provide lighting-fast mobile pages, through the use of stripped down HTML. This AMP validation tool lets you check everything is set up as it should be.
(Free and paid)
HTML compression tools
Online image compression tools
(Free and paid)
Images are often one of the main causes of slow loading pages, but with TinyPNG, you can losslessly compress your PNG or JPEG images. It works by reducing the number of colours used and stripping out any unnecessary metadata – and the results are impressive. Frankly, we struggle to see any noticeable degradation in image quality when using it.
Like TinyPNG, Compressor.io is another image compression tool. It can also process GIF and SVG files, but which one you use is really a matter of preference.
What is the best SEO software for link building? Our vote goes to BuzzStream. While the methodologies of building links have changed over the last few years, BuzzStream remains one of the best paid SEO tools out there. Although it is a paid service, it’s worth the expenditure, as it makes link building as simple and efficient as possible. With one click, you can add new bloggers, websites, and social profiles to your database as you browse the web, upload a list of URLs – whereupon it will automatically find contact information, website statistics, and social metrics – and it can intelligently segment your list of contacts.
You can then personalise your outreach messages using preset and customisable templates, schedule when they should be sent, and set follow-up reminders. It also offers a great way to manage your (or your entire team’s) campaigns.
(Free and paid)
One of the frequent challenges of outreach is how to find the email addresses of the people you wish to contact; with hunter, this is a breeze. Just enter your chosen domain into their search box and they will provide you with any available email addresses. The free version limits you to 100 searches per month, but a paid version is also available. They also offer a handy Hunter Google Chrome extension.
A key part of outreach and PR processes is making sure you are contacting the most relevant and influential people. With JustReachOut, all you need to do is enter your keyword – or a competitor – and it will search the web to find journalists who have previously covered similar topics, or those for your competitors. It will then provide you with their contact details and suggest the best templates you should use to contact them – or alternatively, JustReachOut can even do the outreach for you.
Mixmax offers a range of useful outreach solutions covering everything from email tracking and scheduling, through to one-click email templates. It integrates with Gmail, Inbox by Gmail, and Salesforce. In addition, it provides in-email polling, surveying, and GIF features, and lets you undo the sending of an email in error, customise your branding, and set up multiple email signatures.
Link prospecting can often seem like a thankless task, so finding any way to reduce the time spent is imperative. LeadIQ speeds up the process by allowing you to quickly compile lists of up-to-date and verified contacts which can be synced with a spreadsheet – or Salesforce. It can find many different types of contact data besides just email information, including social media profiles, name, location, position, phone numbers, and more.
Voila Norbert doesn’t do too many things, but what it does it does very well. If you’re looking for an easy to use tool which will help you to find corporate email addresses, it’s simplicity makes it a very good choice. Although it is a paid service, you can even pay as you go – for just 10 cents per lead (and you get 50 free leads when you set up an account).
(Free and paid)
Sometimes you want to write an email now, but don’t want your recipient to receive it straight away; this is where Boomerang comes into its own. All you need to do is click the ‘Send later’ button and select your preferred time from either its calendar or its intelligent text box (so you can type e.g. ‘next Wednesday’ and it will send it then). Furthermore, it allows you to control what emails remain in your inbox and which are temporarily archived until you need them, and also lets you set notifications and reminders if, for example, nobody has replied.
Inkybee offers an array of useful outreach tools ranging from blog searching, Twitter bio searching, and Twitter influencer analysis, through to list and contact management, reporting, and keyword monitoring (so you can be notified when your targeted bloggers mention your campaign keywords). It integrates with Google Analytics, so you can see how much traffic has gone to your domain from each blog.
Broken link building can be a very effective way to acquire backlinks from authoritative sources. As Wikipedia’s editors are under-resourced, it’s hard for them to keep on top of all the broken links in their articles. WikiGrabber works by finding relevant articles which contain missing citations or broken links. Although Wikipedia’s links are nofollow, they can still be a source of valuable traffic, whilst helping you to achieve a natural backlink profile.
Google review tools
Positive online reviews of your business can have a significant effect on attracting customers, but sometimes, managing how you acquire them isn’t easy and often gets neglected as other tasks take precedence. GetFiveStars is an automated system, and all you need to start the process is a customer’s email address or phone number (or alternatively, the platform offers website pages or iPad kiosk modes). It will then send them a customised message which requests their feedback; if this is positive, they will be asked to review your business on your chosen review platform (you can also follow up and aim to resolve any negative customer experience privately).
The system can integrate with your CRM, POS, or database via an API, and their testimonial widget makes it easy for customers to leave positive feedback on your website – which can be manually controlled by you – or automated based on predetermined criteria. With over 40 integrated review sites, GetFiveStars should not be ignored.
So, we know this is quite an expansive article, but trust us when we say that you have actually saved yourself a lot of time by reading this! New SEO tools seem to pop up every few minutes these days and while many are ingenious, the reality is that a lot of them simply hinder rather than help your workflow. By following our recommendations you can use your time to focus on what really matters: helping clients achieve their goals – or making your own website more visible.
If you found this article useful, you might also like to view our other related articles:
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