To win at Google, you need to have not only a strong SEO skillset to influence its algorithms but you also need access to the right SEO tools that make this process easier and more effective.
I’ve spent countless hours reading SEO blogs, scouring the internet for the most popular/useful SEO software, and talking to plenty of SEOs in my career.
And time and time again, I’ve seen the same tools being referenced by SEOs as their must-haves to conquer the search engine results pages (SERPs).
And we all know whether you’re working as an in-house SEO or in a remote marketing team, having the best tools at your disposal gives you an edge over your competitors.
This is not going to be a laundry list guide where I reference 200 plus SEO tools and put you in a state of indecision, but only the most essential tools you will need to win at Google.
Here are the seven absolute essential SEO tools this guide will cover:
3. Yoast SEO
You’re probably familiar with SEMrush as an all-in-one marketing suite. While not entirely free, it’s one of the most comprehensive tools on this list due to the sheer amount of features it offers.
With SEMrush, you can track all of the
- Social Media
But where SEMrush really shines is in its ability to help you improve your content marketing and keyword research efforts through deeper keyword analysis and tracking keyword movements, as well as do robust competitor research across multiple marketing channels (and not just SEO).
Not only that, but it has also dedicated features for various areas of SEO, ranging from competitor research, off-page SEO (link building, guest posting, content marketing) as well as a decent toolset for conducting technical SEO audits.
So, if you want to reduce your reliance on individual tools for researching your competitor’s pay-per-click (PPC) strategy, scheduling social media posts, or finding new keyword ideas, SEMrush should be your SEO tool of choice.
“I absolutely love the SEMrush Keyword Magic tool for building exhaustive lists of terms. The tool lets you filter by broad match, exact match, and related keywords so you find every possible opportunity.
It also has an intuitive filtering system to dive into (or exclude) sets of keywords that aren’t relevant or don’t have enough search volume. It’s hard to know where to start with keyword research, and SEMrush is an excellent compass.” – Jonas Sickler, SEO Manager at Terakeet
Ahrefs is one of our favorite SEO tools and for good reason. And with the sheer amount of tools at your disposal with Ahrefs, the sky’s really the limit.
Not only that, but it’s also one of the most popular SEO tools out there. Almost every SEO I know either uses Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz. And while Ahrefs isn’t free, it’s well worth it.
Ahrefs comes jam-packed with features such as:
- Site Explorer: get details on any site’s organic traffic, backlink profile, top-performing pages, etc.
- Keyword Explorer: identify valuable keywords, keyword volume, difficulty, and pages ranking for said keyword.
- Rank Tracker: monitor performance and keyword rankings against your competitors.
- Content Explorer: find top-performing content for outreach or discover guest blogging opportunities in your niche.
Pro Tip: Ever tried your hands at link building using infographics? You can combine Ahrefs’ content explorer and an infographic maker to conduct targeted guestographic outreach and watch those links pour in.
Having done a decent job at overselling Ahrefs so far, does that mean you should only use Ahrefs and ignore SEMrush or Moz?
Well, not really.
Plenty of SEOs I know use all three tools in conjunction because each tool offers something the other tool can’t. But if you’re on a tight marketing budget or have specific needs, picking just one tool out of the three would be the most logical.
Here’s a SEMrush vs Moz vs Ahrefs comparison guide by Ryan Stewart to help you make an informed decision.
“We use Ahrefs on a daily basis, as we’ve found no other tool offers the wealth of information this one does. The insights on any website’s domain rating and the keyword research possibilities have helped us build a better guest posting strategy.
Not to mention the vital feedback we get on our own website that allows us to see where we stand and how we can improve.” — Liviu Tanase, CEO of ZeroBounce
3. Yoast SEO
We optimize all our content using Yoast and it’s always been on point with its keyword, readability, and other optimization recommendations.
Here’s what I like most about Yoast:
- Powerful keyword optimization recommendations
- Internal linking suggestions
- Optimize meta titles and descriptions for higher click-through-rate (CTR) performance
The result? Recommendations that help you drive more performance out of your content, be it an improvement in your CTR, readability improvements as well as simply helping you drive more traffic.
While Yoast is free, I highly recommend you sign up for their premium version for the full experience. Pricing is per site and starts from $89. You can set up Yoast for more than one site and end up saving by purchasing bulk licenses.
“We exclusively use Yoast plugin on the Mailtrap blog. We mostly write about transactional emails, infrastructure, and development. Optimization of technical content can sometimes be overwhelming, but, with Yoast, we are certain that we are not missing anything important.
Along with managing SEO title and meta description, it provides a comprehensive readability check and offers helpful tips.” — Andriy Zapisotskyi, Growth Manager at Mailtrap
4. Detailed SEO Extension
A new entrant in the SEO tools world this year, but one I’ve found massive value from time and time again ever since I started using it.
Created by Glen from Detailed and one of the most well-known SEO experts out there, this extension does exactly what its homepage suggests: it gives you detailed SEO insights in just one click.
In the past I used SEOQuake but this extension does everything SEOQuake does and much more, such as:
- Get important info like title,
description, keywords, links, etc without having to go through the source code of a webpage.
- See all the header tags and get their hierarchy on a page.
- Quickly highlight nofollow links on a page.
- Perform advanced operations like conducting inurl: searches or even one-click site searches.
Another cool feature is that it allows you to view the current page you’re on right within your favorite SEO tool, again, all with just one click!
If you value both speed and details, this is a great extension to have in your SEO toolkit. The real kicker? It’s completely free.
“Here at Tidio we use the Detailed extension on a daily basis to grab general information on our competitors like their content structure, internal and external links as well as social sharing. The extension also serves us as a quick method for assessing the quality of content published by our competitors.” — Pawel Lawrowski, Head of Growth at Tidio Live Chat
5. Google Analytics
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know what Google Analytics is and what it does.
A staple among some of the most popular business intelligence tools, Google Analytics is free to use and gives you a ton of data about your site’s health, who’s visiting and from which channels, and how conversions are occurring.
Analytics can also help you view your SEO output from a critical eye, with useful metrics to help you identify your highest performing landing pages, keywords users use to discover your site, test new SEO tactics, or stop ones that could be hurting your site’s performance.
Google Analytics can help you track KPIs relating to individual pages like:
- Organic sessions
- Bounce rate
And even metrics pertaining to site performance, such as:
- Overall site speed
- Traffic distribution
- Exit pages
Without Google Analytics, you really have no way to quantify your SEO efforts or even improve upon existing SEO processes.
”We use Google Analytics to monitor all of the sources of traffic to our website. It provides us meaningful insights to know where users are going when they visit our site.
Using this data, we can know which content pieces are driving the most conversions on our blog to optimize our content strategy and site performance.” — Tope Longe, Content Marketer at Time Doctor
If you haven’t already, sign up for Google Analytics.
6. Google Search Console
The next tool Google offers SEOs is Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster tools).
Google Search Console is a powerful tool for deeper insights and tools to manage the technical aspects of your site’s performance, metrics on keyword rankings, and how your site appears on the SERPs.
Here are some notable things Search Console can help you with:
- Identify high ranking pages with low CTR.
- Identify pages that could be losing organic traffic.
- Identify and fix performance and sitemap issues.
- Suggestions to improve mobile usability.
Just like Google Analytics, Google Search Console is also a free offering so you really have no reason not to set it up and start using it.
“There are plenty of robust SEO analytics tools available today, but ultimately nothing beats a smart GA + GSC setup. Both tools with Google Sheets and Data Studio allowing for endless analyses and visualization. Sure, you might need to do a bit of customization yourself, but why reinvent the wheel?” — Alex Williams, Head of Research and Reviews at Hosting Data
7. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
While SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Moz offer some technical auditing features, Screaming Frog SEO spider is the absolute holy grail when it comes to technical SEO.
So what does Screaming Frog do? For starters, it’s the tool of choice when it comes to performing in-depth technical and on-site SEO audits.
Some notable benefits of using Screaming Frog:
- Information on all the internal, external and nofollow links on any website.
- Quickly check if your robots.txt file is working correctly.
- Find pages on your site that aren’t ranking or indexed.
- Identify which pages are missing the Analytics or Tag Manager tracking code.
While the free tool is great for some quick and dirty data analysis, the paid version is well worth it. They also have a handy video guide on how to use the tool:
“Screaming Frog is my go-to tool not only for technical SEO but also for content audits. With years of content marketing and hundreds of posts on our blog, it’s the best tool to quickly grab a ton of valuable information, find where your site needs work, and uncover new growth opportunities.” — Jory MacKay, Content Marketing Manager at RescueTime
The takeaway: SEOs need their tools
Having the right tools at your disposal, you’ll be much more effective at SEO and your SEO efforts will drive real business results, quickly.
Before you start using (or buying) these SEO tools, start with the basics. What are your business goals? What do you aim to achieve with search? Is SEO a crucial component of your growth strategy?
Once you have the answer to these questions, come back to this post and pick two or more SEO tools you will need (or all) in your arsenal to win at Google.