Ready to harness the almighty power of search engine optimization (SEO) for your website but aren’t sure what tools to use?
The internet is brimming with SEO tools that promise to get your website noticed, so you might find that choosing the best one for you is a chore.
Some of the best SEO tools are free to use, and others are prohibitively expensive for budget-conscious individuals.
With that in mind, we’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff to give you a go-to list of the best SEO tools in various categories.
But first, let’s go through the basics for those new to digital marketing and SEO.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an approach to improving a website’s content so that it appears higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) than other relevant websites.
To rank higher than your competitors in Google’s SERPs, you’ll need to produce high-quality, relevant content. You should also make sure your website is organized in a way that’s appreciated by Googlebot, Google’s web crawler.
The three main types of SEO are on-page, off-page and technical SEO.
Following an on-page SEO strategy involves making improvements to your website. For example, you could add internal links, tack broken links, create high-quality content and make effective use of keywords and title tags.
In off-page SEO, your goal is to demonstrate authority by getting attention from other websites (e.g., backlinks) and platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter).
Technical SEO relates to tweaking your website so that search engines get a good impression of it. This could involve improving your page speed.
These will help you cater to the algorithms that dictate your website’s search rankings, so you need to keep them sweet.
Why you need an SEO tool to improve your website
SEO novices and professionals use various SEO tools to make their jobs easier and maximize results.
If you have a small business with a niche market, you might not see the value of directing time, effort or money to SEO. However, the principles of SEO can be applied to almost any website.
So even if you think you don’t need it for your business to thrive, you should consider its benefits for your website’s traffic. You can use SEO tools to:
- Find out what your competitors are doing well (or not so well).
- Identify primary keywords and related keywords that can help boost your search engine rankings.
- Streamline your SEO processes (e.g., auditing) so you can spend time on keeping other parts of your website or business ticking over.
- Get an easy-to-understand guide to your website’s SEO performance.
How to pick the best SEO tool for you
It probably goes without saying, but make sure you do your research to ensure the SEO tool you’ve chosen is the best one for your website.
For example, if you publish your musings on a small blog just for fun, you probably don’t need to invest hundreds of dollars a month on an enterprise-grade SEO tool.
Before you decide on an SEO tool, think about your:
SEO and business goals
Before getting an SEO tool, consider your key performance indicators for SEO.
For instance, let’s say your goal is getting more website traffic through backlinks. In practice, that will require you to get another website to link to your website.
While there are many ways to get backlinks, you won’t really know how your link-building efforts are doing without supporting them with an SEO tool that helps you conduct backlink analysis.
The best thing about these SEO tools is that you can access them in myriad ways, so you don’t have to go out of your way to achieve the best possible results.
For example, let’s say you run an eCommerce store and want to get sales while working on increasing your site’s organic search traffic. In that case, you can use SEO-friendly eCommerce platforms or WooCommerce hosting plans to equip your website with numerous tools that help you get a grip on your SEO.
If you run a Google search for the best free SEO tools, you’ll find many SEO tools with free options offering limited features, encouraging you to upgrade to a paid plan.
The good news? Depending on your needs, you may not need to upgrade at all.
If all you need is a keyword research tool, you can get an SEO tool that only does that. That could help drive down the cost and ensure you get a high-quality tool with full functionality.
Level of experience
If you’re just dipping your feet in the SEO game, don’t worry — the water is warm, and beginner-friendly SEO tools are easy to find.
Many SEO analysis tools provide user-friendly graphs and audit reports that save you considerable time and hassle, all while teaching you a few SEO tricks along the way.
If you’re already an SEO whiz, you can get advanced SEO tools to maximize the rankings of your web pages.
Effective SEO requires preparation. In that sense, if your website doesn’t have a lot of content, it might be hard for it to rank highly on Google’s SERPs.
Moreover, SEO strategies aren’t a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. For example, if your website’s goal is boosting the online presence of your local business, you need local SEO — which is different from regular SEO.
If it seems like your competitors are miles ahead in SEO, you’ll probably want to find out why.
A competitive analysis can help you get the scoop on what’s working for your competitors and give you some tips to catch up with them.
Depending on your business goals, you might consider employing SEO specialists or a content marketing team.
Best SEO tools in 2023
If you’ve been working hard at building your website and its content and are ready to show it to the world, check out the tools below.
Best SEO tool for WordPress users: Yoast
With Yoast, you get more than an SEO tool. Yoast recognizes many semantic variants of keywords to aid natural writing, and if you’re a creature of habit, its SEO workouts can help you keep up a routine of maintaining your website’s SEO health.
The Yoast plugin for WordPress is technically free, but we advise going for Yoast Premium to get more perks. For example, the Premium plan includes full access to Yoast’s SEO academy, which is great for beginners.
Best free SEO tools: Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Since Google is by far the most popular search engine, with a market share of over 90% across all devices, you’ll want to closely follow some of Google’s metrics to improve your website’s ranking on its SERPs.
There’s a caveat — not every SEO service Google provides is free. For example, you’ll need to pay for its keyword planner on Google Ads, a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform.
Still, Google’s free services have plenty to offer, and they are continually updated and expanded.
If Google gives your website a clean bill of health on its Core Web Vitals, you’ll have a better chance of achieving a good Google search ranking.
Through Google Analytics, you can get a free report on your website’s traffic in real-time or over different time periods.
A high-traffic period might show you that a marketing campaign is working well or tell you that you need to redouble your SEO efforts.
The conversion tracking feature lets you know how your website is doing in terms of your key performance indicators.
Many SEO novices find Google Analytics 4 to be a bit confusing, so if you fall into this category, you should consider reading a quick guide on how to customize Google Analytics before you get started.
Google’s Search Console, previously called Google Webmaster Tools, promises to help you “make your site shine in Google Search Results.”
While Google Analytics can help you improve many aspects of your website, Search Console is primarily focused on helping your website climb the SERP mountain.
You can use Search Console to identify technical problems that could be hurting your SEO efforts, and you can get to grips with important SEO data, such as your website’s position, keyword rankings and impressions.
If you’re new to Google Search Console, make sure to carefully verify your website ownership after signing up.
Best SEO tool for those on a budget: SEO PowerSuite
SEO PowerSuite classes itself as a “toolkit” rather than a tool. SEO Powersuite can be a great pick for budget customers, not least because it has a free version (“evaluation” option) that you can take for a test drive.
The PowerSeo PowerSuite toolkit covers all the SEO metrics you can think of.
It features a keyword difficulty checker, an SEO content optimizer and a site structure “visualizator.” The word is made up, but the tool isn’t.
If you like what you see, you can substantially increase the functionality of this four-tool kit (Rank Tracker, Website Auditor, SEO SpyGlass and LinkAssistant) for a yearly fee.
Price: Free version available. Premium plans start at $299/year.
Best SEO tool for reporting: Ahrefs
If you’ve been in the SEO game for a while, this probably won’t be the first time you see the name Ahrefs.
For the uninitiated, the first thing you need to know is that it’s pronounced “h-refs.” The second thing? It’s a fantastic SEO tool for site audits.
The Ahrefs auditing feature lets you take a deep dive into your website’s SEO health. Beginners and SEO pros alike will find the data they need, visualized in an appealing manner.
Using this tool, you can easily identify issues such as duplicate content and poor speed, both of which will hurt your SEO rankings.
But the usefulness doesn’t stop at SEO audits — even the basic Lite plan has a lot of other useful SEO features.
For example, the Keyword Explorer will ensure you aren’t stuck for keyword ideas, and the Site Explorer can give you useful data on any website’s organic traffic.
Not to mention that the Ahrefs website offers many free SEO tools, such as its backlink checker, and its Chrome extension comes in handy.
Price: Plans start with Lite at $99/month.
Best SEO tool for eCommerce: KWFinder
Used by Airbnb, Skyscanner and Adidas, the KWFinder tool from Mangools is great for helping you identify long-tail keywords to drive sales at your eCommerce store.
These low-competition keywords are often used when customers are close to the point of purchase.
For the keyword-obsessed, KWFinder makes life easier by identifying specific keywords that strike a balance between keyword difficulty and search volume. KWfinder uses the benchmarks of Moz (e.g., domain authority) and Majestic in its keyword difficulty calculations.
With KWFinder, you can also identify long-term SEO trends, such as seasonal trends. This feature is especially useful for eCommerce store owners, as it can give an overview of the products potential customers are searching for.
The icing on the cake? Mangools has a free SEO browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that has many additional features when paired with a paid Mongools account.
Price: Premium plans start with Basic at €29.90/month when billed annually.
Best SEO tool for blogs: SurferSEO
If SEO blogs are your thing, SurferSEO will have you catching some big waves in no time.
This nifty tool has an outline builder for when you know what you want to write about but need help with structuring your article in an SEO-friendly way.
Other features include auditing, keyword research and a content editor. For bloggers, this content editor is particularly useful.
Writers can get SEO assistance on article structure and keywords, and the overall SEO health of an article can be rated using the Surfer Content Score.
ALT: The multilingual content editor provides a Content Score and identifies SEO issues.
SurferSEO’s content editor, which uses AI and natural language processing, has a built-in plagiarism checker to ensure you aren’t penalized in SEO rankings.
Also, integration with Google Docs and WordPress makes for a great user experience.
Price: Plans start at $49/month when billed annually.
Best SEO tool for local businesses: BrightLocal
Trusted by firms like Hilton and Ikea, BrightLocal has made quite a name for itself as a tool for boosting local SEO.
It provides useful features like local rank tracking, local search grids and local SEO auditing.
For small, local businesses with an online presence, local listings or citations can be a great way to boost both traffic and revenue.
BrightLocal’s Citation Builder is a budget-friendly option for creating listings on hundreds of websites, and it can edit inaccurate business information on current listings.
If you’re a total SEO novice, the free BrightLocal Academy can help you better understand local SEO and put your business on the map.
Price: Plans start at $24.17/month when billed annually.
Best SEO tool for beginners: Semrush
If this isn’t your first SEO rodeo, you’ve probably read an article on the Semrush website. Semrush’s blog articles are often top of the SERPs for SEO topics, which is a testament to its search engine savvy.
That brings us to a standout Semrush feature for beginners — a great knowledge base, which includes blog posts, user manuals, videos, webinars and more.
Yes, you can access the knowledge base for free, and yes, you’re right — a knowledge base isn’t an SEO tool.
So, what do you get for signing up? An arsenal of features that are great for novices, including competitor analysis, content optimization, keyword analytics and social media tools.
Just note Semrush states that 30% of Fortune 500 firms use Semrush for marketing, and the price reflects that — the Business plan is an eye-watering $449.95/month.
Semrush’s basic plan is significantly cheaper and allows you to track 500 keywords simultaneously, which should be more than enough for beginners. If you’re an SEO novice and Semrush’s price point is out of reach, you can use a limited free account or sign up for a free 7-day trial.
Price: Plans start at $99.95/month when billed annually.
Other SEO tools to consider
Ahrefs: Ahrefs is a popular tool that specializes in backlink analysis. It also offers features like keyword research and website auditing.
Moz Pro: This SEO software suite offers a variety of tools for link analysis, keyword research, and site audits.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider: A website crawler that allows you to crawl websites’ URLs and fetch key on-site elements to analyze from an SEO perspective.
Ubersuggest: A free SEO tool from Neil Patel that offers keyword suggestions, site audits, and backlink analysis.
BuzzSumo: While not solely an SEO tool, BuzzSumo helps you discover the most shared content online and the influencers who are sharing it.
Majestic SEO: Majestic specializes in backlink analysis and has its own link index database.
Google Keyword Planner: This is a free Google Ads tool for new or experienced advertisers that’s like a workshop for building new Search Network campaigns or expanding existing ones.
Long Tail Pro: A cloud-based software for keyword research, particularly focused on finding long-tail keywords.
SpyFu: A tool for keyword research and insights into your competitors’ keyword strategies.
Woorank: A website review and SEO tool that provides an in-depth analysis of your site’s on-page and off-page SEO.
SERanking: An all-in-one SEO platform that includes keyword rank tracking, website audit, competitor analysis, and more.
Raven Tools: An SEO platform offering various tools, including website audits, rank tracking, and backlink analysis.
SEOquake: A free plugin that provides you with key SEO metrics, along with other useful tools such as SEO Audit and many others.
AnswerThePublic: A tool that visualizes search questions and suggested autocomplete searches in an image called a search cloud. Useful for finding topic and content ideas.
DeepCrawl: A website crawler that helps identify and monitor technical aspects of your website that could affect your SEO performance.
Google Trends: A free tool from Google that allows you to see how search query volume changes over time.
ChatGPT: A free and highly versatile AI tool that can help with content briefs, evaluating content, and keyword planning.
SEO Monitor: An SEO keyword ranking tool that has a unique forecasting feature to project traffic and revenue gains.
Final thoughts: Best SEO tools for website owners
You’ve found out the best SEO tools for various needs, so now all you have to do is pick the best one for you based on your needs and budget.
Before you reach for your bank card, check if your web host offers any SEO tools with your hosting plan.
Bluehost offers Yoast Premium free with several WordPress hosting plans. Try out today.