What are the best SEO tools?
Run a quick search in Google and you'll see a number of posts listing hundreds of different tools covering everything from link analysis to keyword research tools.
While these lists are comprehensive, you often leave feeling totally overwhelmed, not knowing where to start.
Most people don't have the time to learn about, let alone review hundreds of different tools.
So, I took a different approach.
Instead of creating another monster list of SEO tools (this has been done plenty of times), I decided to go straight to the source and asked over 200 experts a simple question:
If you could only use 3 tools to build and run a successful SEO campaign, which 3 would you choose?
These experts are in the trenches every day building successful search campaigns, and have tested lots of different tools along the way.
I wanted to see which one would rise to the top...
Here are the best SEO tools recommended by 97 experts.
Best Tools for SEO (As voted by 97 SEO and online marketing experts)
#1: SEMrush (42 votes) [Get one month of SEMrush Pro for free here]
#2: Ahrefs (33 votes)
#3: Screaming Frog (29 votes)
#4: Buzzsumo (16 votes)
#5: Majestic SEO (13 votes)
#6: Google Analytics & Moz (12 votes)
#7: Google Keyword Planner and Buzzstream (11 votes)
#8: Google Search Console (8 votes)
#9: Longtail PRO (5 votes) [Start $1 trial here or read the full review]
#10: Accuranker, Xenu Link Sleuth & Monitor Backlinks (4 votes)
GET ONE FREE MONTH OF SEMRUSH PRO
The experts love SEMrush, but will you? Take the tool for test drive and decide for yourself. I'm giving all my readers exclusive access to a free one month trial of SEMrush Pro. You'll get access to all the tool's powerful features. Grab a free account, download the 10,000 word playbook below, and learn how to master the top rated SEO tool. If you decide the tool is not right for you, cancel any time before the 30 day trials ends and you won't be charged a penny.
Download the Ultimate SEMrush Playbook
This 10,000 word ebook will take you behind the scenes and show you 24 ways to use SEMrush to perform keyword analysis, audit paid ad campaigns, dissect content strategies, backlink analysis, keyword rank tracking, identify site monetization opportunities...and more.
The Best SEO Tools to Build and Manage Successful Search Campaigns (as Voted by 95 Experts)
Read on to discover each expert's top 3 SEO tools.
#1: Nick Eubanks (SEOAuv)
My go-to SEO tools if I only had 3 to choose from would be:
1.Term Explorer - gets me a mean keyword idea engine, the ability to get search volume and CPC data for up to 90k keywords in one shot (versus keyword planner's ~800 limit), and then I can get all the SERP-level data I want for my competitors across all my target keywords.
2. SEMRush - traffic data and keyword overlap with other ranking domains.
3. Ahrefs/ Majestic - I'd want to be able to take a deep dive into the link profiles of the competitor sites and ranking pages I identified.
#2: Debra Mastaler (Alliance Link)
Three things I can't live without when working are:
Feedspot.com - RSS reader, I pay for the gold level. Privately aggregates webpages by keyword and domain.
SEMrush - keyword and competitive intelligence tool.
Cision Media List - subscription for both traditional and social media influencers.
#3: Ryan Stewart (Webris)
I do a lot of SEO consults and one of the biggest issues I see is the misuse of tools.
Tools are made to automate processes, not services.
1. YouTube, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Drive.
The entire Google suite (ironically) is integral to our campaigns because it's free, incredibly easy to use and it allows me to easily create and share documents with my team. On top of that, the combination of Google Sheets + YouTube allows me to easily train and manage VAs and online workers, cutting my costs and skyrocketing productivity.
2. Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Google Search
I don't touch a campaign until I've analyzed as much data as possible. I use Google Search Console to understand the queries, landing pages, device (mobile, desktop) and type of organic visit (video, image, search). I use Google Analytics to understand the performance of the traffic once on the site. I use Google Search to do topical and keyword analysis for building content campaigns.
By far the best competitive research tool on the market. When combined with the client's website data, you can easily understand the competition and build a better mousetrap to outrank them.
#4: Aleyda Solis (aleydasolis.com)
The 3 SEO tools that I would strategically choose not only because they're really good but I'd cover more than with others - and they do things it's harder & non-productive to do manually - are:
SEO performance planning, prediction & measurement: SEOmonitor
Technical SEO and Content Optimization: OnPage.org
Link Building & Outreach: PitchBox
#5: Tor Refsland (Time Management Chef)
My approach to run a successful SEO campaign is to make it as simple and effective as possible, so I will get the best return on investment (ROI) based on the time I have put in.
Even though I have access to more advanced tools, I have found that these tool sare sufficient.
Tool 1: Google Keyword Planner
Before your create a SEO campaign you want to find the best keyword to target based on search volume and competition.
Tool 2: BuzzSumo
Then you want to check the most popular blog posts based on that keyword.Take a look at the headlines, social shares, read and study the top 10 blog posts extensively.
The last part is very important, since you want to identify WHY these posts went viral. Then you will take notes from each of the top 10 articles, and then find out HOW you can make your article better.
Tool 3: Google
Now you have the keyword, a few ideas of your headline, and you know exactly how you are going to create an epic article.So what´s next?Google your keyword and study the headlines and content on the top 10 articles.Why?Because the most popular articles according to BuzzSumo, don´t necessarily rank on first page of Google.The reason why articles are on the first page of Google, in addition to backlinks,social shares, etc…is the click-through rate (CTR).The CTR is Google´s way of finding out if your article is worth being ranked higher.What´s my point?Study the headlines and the description of the SEO text on the top 10 articles on Google. That information will be essential whether people will click on your article or not through Google.
What was our goal here?
To run a successful SEO campaign, not a successful BuzzSumo campaign.
An example of this is the first roundup post I created, 80 Productivity Tips From Incredibly Busy Experts, that generated:
- 20,231 page views in 6 days
- 1600+ social shares
- 92 comments
Note: This post is not on BuzzSumo´s top 10 for the keyword “productivity tips”.But I don´t care. Why? Because it´s ranked #3 on Google for the same keyword.
To be quite honest, before my first roundup post no one knew who I was (sad,but true).
That specific roundup and me focusing like crazy on blogger outreach, managed to get me featured on 158 blogs in 14 months with my first blog.
If you want to know how to create an epic round post, read my article on SumoMe - Getting 20,231 Views with One EPIC Roundup Post: A Step-by-Step Guide.
I now have several blogs post on the first page of Google.
None of the above would have been possible, if I hadn’t used this simple approach and published my first roundup post.
Want to create a successful SEO campaign?
Keep it dead-simple and follow these steps:
1. Analyze your competitors (see the steps above using the 3 tools I am using)
2. Create epic content
3. Blogger outreach to influencers and build genuine relationships
4. Promote the post like your life was depending on it
When a guy from Norway that has English as his third language can do this…guess what?
So can you.
Start applying massive action and get your article on the top of Google.
#6: Neil Patel (neilpatel.com)
Ahrefs - it helps you see who links to your competition. This way you can reach out to them and ask for a link.
Google Analytics - it helps track your overall success.
Google Search Console - it gives you data on click through rates, so you know which title tags you have to fix in order to increase rankings/traffic.
#7: Christine Churchill (Key Relevance)
Three SEO tools…..Only three??? I use lots of tools but if I can only use three, here are my favorites.
I always start by looking at link data, so Ahrefs is my go-to link tool.
Then I'd want Screaming Frog to index and pull site info so I can quickly analyze the site.
Then I'd use SEMrush to review terms that are currently working and to gain insights on competitors.
#8: Jayson Demers (AudienceBloom)
1. Boomerang for Gmail
SEO is largely about building relationships, and boomerang lets you do that without emails falling through cracks. It reminds you if someone hasn't responded to your email after a set period of time. It's my email lifeline!
2. Agency Analytics
Awesome rank tracking, page auditing, link tracking, and more built into a single tool with a great user interface.
3. Screaming Frog
The best site crawler out there. Allows you to crawl a site and get all the information you could possibly need about it to conduct an audit. Works for link audits, too!
#9: Brian Honigman (brianhonigman.com)
1. SEMrush - Useful for generating data about competitors in your industry to better inform your efforts marketing your business with search.
2. Screaming Frog SEO Spider - I always use Screaming Frog to pull insights on a website's existing on-page optimization efforts like their existing title tags, meta descriptions and URL structure.
3. Google Keyword Planner - When looking for different keyword variations to focus on within my client's content, I use Google Keyword Planner to see the search volume and performance of important keywords that can potentially drive traffic to a client overtime.
#10: Will Blunt (Bloggersidekick.com)
Tool 1: Google (Search + Keyword Planner)
Tool 2: BuzzSumo
Tool 3: BuzzStream
I think of running a successful SEO campaign as a simple 3-step process; Research, Create & Outreach.
A good SEO campaign starts with research...
What content is going to perform well? Which search terms do you have an opportunity to rank for?
To answer these two questions you can use a combination of the Google Adwords Keyword Planner, BuzzSumo and good 'ol Google search.
Use Google search to find "content opportunities" where search terms are lacking in high quality content, and you can create something better than what's already out there.
Then use the Keyword Planner to confirm that these search terms have enough search volume, not too much competition and to discover long-tail partners for the primary keyword group.
Round out the research with BuzzSumo to confirm that your chosen topic is proven to attract a lot of backlinks and social shares, plus figure out the TYPE of content that has performed best in the past.
2. Build an Epic Piece of Content...
Read this to learn how create content better than anyone else
BuzzSumo also helps discover exactly who has linked to similar pieces of content on your chosen topic.
Grab the link building targets and use BuzzStream to outreach at scale.
#11: Geoff Kenyon (geoffkenyon.com)
If I could only use three tools for an SEO campaign, I'd use:-
SEMrush - SEMrush is one of the few tools I couldn't do with out. It's useful for both keyword and competitive research. I've written about this here on the Distilled blog and Ross Hudgens has a great post on using SEMrush as well.
Ahrefs - There are a few different tools for link data but I think that ahrefs has the best signal to noise ratio.-
Google Analytics - While GA (or another analytics platform) is critical for tracking performance to understand what works and what doesn't, GA can also be useful to help you identify which pages on your site need attention and which pages have the biggest opportunity to bring in revenue.
#12: Andy Crestodina (Orbit Media)
My top tools are probably the same as those of other SEOs. I'm not going to include Google Analytics because it's ubiquitous and it's not specific to search. So here are the big three for me...
Track rankings, competitive analysis, social metrics.
Open Site Explorer, monitor competitive metrics, on-page recommendations.
Research collaborators, sharing metrics.
Optimizing for search is really about people.
You need empathy to understand the intent of your searchers, the shared goals of collaborators, creating content that visitors will engage with. But this is all much easier to do when you have tools that give you insights into keywords, competitors and rankings.
#13. Matt Barby (matthewbarby.com)
1. Accuranker: I love this tool. It's by far the best rank-tracking software that I've ever used and it offers some great reporting options.
2. Ahrefs: Hands-down the best link analysis tool on the market. I don't know what I'd do without this tool.
3. Term Explorer: My keyword research tool of choice. I've never worked with a keyword research tool as effective as this one.
#14. AJ Ghergich (ghergich.com)
1. SEMrush because I could do keyword research from competitor domains as well as paid keyword research to mine valuable terms as well as track rankings over time or after Google updates with ease.
2. Buzzstream so we can have a large database of outreach targets and an influencer CRM.
3. Ahrefs so we can track all of our earned links from SEO & Content Marketing and conduct link audits.I really wanted to put buzzsumo and screaming frog on here but this is what I would pick if I could only have 3.
#15. Alex Tachalova (alextachalova.com)
The three tools I'd choose are:
1. SERPstat - a competitive intelligence tool that helps me understand how my current rivals are performing, in both paid and organic Google results. It also has a great keyword research feature!
2. Accuranker - a super powerful and fast position tracking tool that shows the top 500 positions.
3. Ahrefs - the number one tool for link-building; it helps me understand who's referring to a website and how competitors and other websites in my niche are acquiring new links
#16. Eric Sui (Single Grain)
#17. Gael Breton (Authority Hacker)
Honestly, I don’t use many tools for SEO anymore. The reason for that is because Ahrefs got so much better recently (check the review here).
They do my rank tracking, they allow me to reverse my competitor’s backlinks and rankings and crawl my sites for any kind of broken link, error, find top content for any keyword buzzsumo style etc.
By far my favorite function is the keyword research and top pages function I describe in this video:
The other tool I am playing with now is a way to automate a lot of the outreach and the good news is it is free! It’s called Gmass and allows you to streamline the outreach process for link building as explained in this video:
That’s it no need for a 3rd tool ;).
#18. Ann Smarty (Viral Content Buzz)
Majestic: The most in-depth backlink analysis you can find. Also, there link alerts feature sending you emails of new links to you or your competitors just ricks!
Cyfe: My way to organize all my marketing stats and plans into dashboards for easy monitoring. HUGE time-saver!
DrumUp: The newest tool in my toolbox. I have found it to be the easiest way to co-promote my content on multiple social media channels. Easy scheduling and re-sharing options!
#19. James Norquay (Prosperity Media)
The three SEO tools we would use, if we could only buy three.
1. Screaming Frog - On site analysis.
2. Ahrefs - Link profile monitoring and Link Research.
3. SEMrush - Rank Tracking / Keyword analysis for SEO.
#20. Jon Dykstra (fatstacksblog.com)
It took me awhile to discover the many powerful features of SEMRush. I use it regularly to discover keywords and article topics.
My favorite method currently is to search related websites in much niche, usually sites with lower or similar DA to my site, to see which keywords they rank for. I filter the results in SEMRush to narrow the list to kewyords with reasonable search volume such as greater than 500 searches per month.
In a nutshell, what this process does is find reasonably high search keywords that aren't terribly competitive.
During the process I find many topics worth covering as well even if the search volume isn't as high as I'd like. The fact is most of my organic search traffic is long tail so I don't mind covering topics with less than ideal monthly search volume.
2. Moz Site Explorer
I use the Moz Site Explorer in tandem with SEM Rush so that I can determine the level of competition for keywords on the first page of the Google SERPs.
Moz Site Explorer makes it easy for me to quickly assess the competitiveness of page one rankings.
Buzzsumo works great with SEMrush. With Buzzsumo I can find highly engaging topics within my niche. I then take the URLs of the most shared topics and plug it into SEMrush to find out which keywords that URL is ranking for.
Not only can I discover engaging topics in my niche, I can discover great keywords to go after.
#21. Chris Makara (chrismakara.com)
While there are many tools I enjoy using for SEO, here are my 3 must have tools:
This is a must have in that it can do many things for me. I can see the link profile for any domain, use it identify broken link opportunities, keyword rankings, and even use their content explorer to find highly shared content for a topic. It's well worth the cost and I wouldn't be able to anything without it.
Sure, Scrapebox might get a bad wrap for many of the "black hat" things it can do. However, that doesn't mean you can't use some of the functionality to help automate tasks you don't want to do manually. A good example of how you can use Scrapebox for broken link building is to see Ryan Stewart's post on how to do this.
3. Google Analytics
You can't tell what's working if you aren't measuring it. At the end of the day SEO needs to drive traffic. Not only traffic, but traffic that converts. Whether it is as simple as signing up for a newsletter or buying a product, if you can't tie the action to a source your efforts will go unnoticed. Google Analytics allows you to know where your traffic is coming from and when set up properly, you can associate actions/sales to a source.
I find myself using these 3 tools on nearly all SEO initiatives I take on and surely couldn't do my job without them.
#22. Gareth James (seo-doctor.com)
As I specialise in link building and digital PR my tools of choice are focused in this area.
1) Buzzstream - This is the tool I use most and makes outreach so much easier, I couldn't live without it!
2) MajesticSEO - By far the best link research tool for digging out competitor links and monitoring your own new and dropped links. Majestic also has a nice range of other tools like Social Explorer (http://labs.majestic.com/2015/social-explorer) to help you find the most influential twitter accounts in a niche.
3) SEMrush - I like to use this tool to further explorer a link prospects rankings. Metrics like domain authority (DA) can be easily faked and does not truly refelect a sites authority. Looking at a site's organic visibility is a much better indicator.
#23. Jamie Knopp (seoweather.com)
I'll always start off a campaign looking at technical and on-page improvements that can be made, Screaming Frog has my back here. It will crawl an entire website giving me tons of useful information such was bad redirects, duplicate content and page titles. Don't neglect technical and on-page work!
Competitor analysis is a great way to gain insight and form a basis for a campaign. Ahrefs enables me to see who is linking to my competitors and what their top content is. Being able to see who links to my competitors will help identify what forms of links are working in that industry. Knowing what content has worked well for my competitors helps formulate content ideas that are likely to perform well.
My go to software for outreach and keeping track of relationships I have with various websites. It helps me keep my campaigns organised and on track for both link building and content promotion.
#24. Jordan Kasteler (jordankasteler.com)
I recently wrote on MarketingLand about 7 must-have tools for website owners , so if I had to dwindle that down, and consider all tools, I'd choose:
SEMrush - For competitive intelligence, historical insight, keyword rankings of any site.
Screaming Frog - For site crawl intelligence. There's simply things you can catch with a live crawl that a tool (e.g. infinite loops) has a hard time providing.
As a bonus, I love pairing Screaming Frog with URL Profiler for the ultimate 1-2-combo on all needed URL stats.
Majestic - I know I mentioned Ahrefs (Majestic competitor) as one of my favoritess in my article but would love to switch it up here because Majestic has a more comprehensive database.
#25. Rhea Drysdale (Outspoken Media)
#26. Paul Shapiro (searchwilderness.com)
1) KNIME - It's an open source piece of software used mostly outside of marketing, but is excellent for data piping, prototyping custom built software, advanced analysis, and reporting. As far as tools are concerned, it's a jack of all trades. I wrote about how it can be used for http://searchwilderness.com/semantic-keyword-research/">semantic keyword research.
2) SEMrush - There's a ton of data available in SEMRush. There's information about keywords, competition, ads, and much more--and it's all accessible via their API. If you're limited to three tools, then this is an excellent one to be using. It's very all encompasing.
3) Majestic - You're going to need acess to good link checking database if you are building an SEO campaign. I flip back and forth between Ahrefs and Majestic in my preference, but you can't really go wrong with either.
#27. Ana Hoffman (trafficgenerationcafe.com)
I firmly believe that a typical online marketer (not an SEO expert - just a guy or a gal who wants to get more search engine traffic) doesn't need many tools to run a successful SEO campaign. As a matter of fact, why use many tools when one will do that and more, right?
My SEO tool of choice is, hands down, SEMrush. It allows me to do everything from keyword research to competition analysis to SEO audits and more - in an easy-to-understand way.
It's the perfect all-in-one solution.
#28. Larry Kim (WordStream)
I use Buzzsumo and Nuzzel to figure out trending topics to write about. Then use custom audiences in Twitter and Facebook ads to get that content in front of the right people, and remarketing & RLSA to convert them to leads and sales.
This workflow generates a ridiculous amount of links, shares, and customers.
#29. Gabriella Sannino (level343.com)
Three tools... I hate to rely on tools, especially because they can change at a moment's notice. Moz's continual updates, for instance, makes hell for automatic Excel updates. Sometimes that change is good for you, sometimes it's removing features you've come to really lean on. However, if I HAVE to pick tools, I'd pick the three below:
HootSuite - It might seem odd, even now, to talk about a social tool when discussing SEO campaigns, but I've found HootSuite to be invaluable for taking our onsite SEO efforts to the masses. So much so, that I did one of our few videos on the platform, Monitoring Daily Social Media Efforts.
SEMrush - We've recently started using SEMrush for our campaigns, and have found it to be an excellent program for tracking and organizing landing pages vs. targeted terms, as well as pinpointing technical issues.
The Google Pack - You might consider this cheating, but Google Adwords, Google Search Console and Google Analytics pack a powerful punch for creating strong SEO campaigns. Of course, it takes a little Excel magic to get it to work seamlessly, but it's well worth it in the long run.
#30. Mike Ramsey (Nifty Marketing)
I'm going to take the local search marketing route to be different. :-)
1. Google Map Maker - You can see edit histories and fix weird issues that plague Google Map listings. You can also see a lot of information on what competitors have done to your listings.
2. Moz or Ahrefs - Slightly different but same idea - Toolsets for competitive information and deep dives into your own site. I love the Competitive SERP tool that moz does where you can see a breakdown of authority and links from people ranking on specific phrases.
3. WordPress - Without a good site for a SMB they have no hope. Most local businesses could build on WordPress and should. Out of the box there is no other platform that will perform better in search results with very little help.
#31. Casey Meraz (ethicalseoconsulting.com)
If I had to pick three tools that I needed to run a successful SEO campaign I would have to choose Screaming Frog, Link Research Tools, and Google Analytics. While there are a lot of tools in the market, if I was limited it would be those three. Why?
Screaming Frog is a very powerful tool that allows you to crawl your site on demand. Technical SEO issues can wreak havoc on a website. But if you don't know about them how can you fix them? With one simple crawl on Screaming frog you can easily identify problems, differences, and areas of opportunity. You can see what pages aren't optimized and what needs to be optimized better to increase traffic.
Link Research Tools is the ultimate tool for me when it comes to locating links. It's integrations and thorough crawls seem to perform the best for me. When I need to find Good links I turn to LRT.
And lastly I have to mention Google Analytics. Without great analytics data you have no idea what pages are actually performing. Who cares if your page is ranking but it has no engagement? It needs to serve a purpose and Google Analytics is where I turn when I need to find data that will allow me to make actionable steps that will increase our clients website performance.
With these three tools you're going to set yourself up for success for any organic or local SEO campaign.
#32. Adam Connell (adamconnell.me)
Buzzstream - Link building is still a huge part of SEO, and outreach is essential to earn high quality links. Buzzstream makes it easy to manage outreach and it handles link checking too. It's a well established tool and their recent influencer research tool is very useful. I also use this tool as my CRM as well, that way I can hit up existing contacts to secure more links.
Ahrefs - This is my go-to backlink checking tool. It always helps to find out which content is earning the most links. Ahrefs is always rolling out new features, and has a huge database of links.
SEMrush - SEMrush excels at competitor research but I use it as my go-to SEO dashboard. It has a site auditor, rank tracking and it now monitors brand mentions. There is definitely a lot of cross over between SEMrush and the new features Ahrefs has been adding but for my needs, they complement each other well.
#33. Kelsey Reaves (modernize.com)
Infusionsoft. This tool is the bread and butter of any SEO campaign. It will keep all of your contacts organized in one place. It's also easy to build campaigns so you can send automated follow ups or creates tasks for yourself.
Pitchbox.com. I love this tool for pitching article topic ideas to high authority sites. It syncs with your gmail account, and sends up to 2 automated follow ups per campaign. It's also great at tracking responses and can differentiate between an out of office reply versus an actual response.
SalesIntelligent. I only started using this tool a few weeks ago, and absolutely love it. It's great for finding email addresses of Editors, Content Managers, etc. for big publications. It's also super affordable.Feel free to reference my article on Moz that goes step by step through our link building strategy using some of these tools.
#34. Ashley Faulkes (madlemmings.com)
My go to tools for any SEO campaign (not including special cases like penalties) are as follows:
1. Google Keyword Planner
Always a great place to start I find. Working out the lay of the land in terms of what keywords are relevant to a given client's niche and industry. I usually (or eventually) go beyond this to other related tools, but this is a great place to start (Google is still the main search engine of the world).
2. I also use Majestic as my main backlink spy tool, as well as domain authority checker (of course I also throw a lot of domains through Open Site explorer too). Majestic has one of the best indexes and a competitive monthly rate for their tools. I use it all the time to figure out how authoritative sites are as well as where they are getting their links.
3. SEMrush is the last tool I will mention in this post because I use it to take my SEO research to the next level. Once you know who the main competitors are in an industry, I can then figure out what keywords they are ranking for with SEMRush. You can of course drill down even further and figure out who else is ranking in the top of Google for a given keyword phrase and much more. But the primary reason I use it is to steal from the competition.
That is my basic SEO arsenal and I can't see myself changing anytime soon (unless Moz or Ahrefs wants to give me access to their tools - never say never !
#35. Michael Karp (copytactics.com)
If I could only use 3 tools to build and run a successful SEO campaign, I would use:
1) Long Tail Platinum
First, I’d open up Long Tail Platinum for some keyword research. The goal is to find what I call The Holy Grail of Keywords:Keywords with high search volume and low competition.
LTP pulls keywords from Google’s Keyword Planner, but it uses an algorithm to calculate ranking potential for each keyword (on a scale from 1-100). Since your keywords either set you up for success or failure, this is invaluable information.
You can read a step-by-step tutorial on how to find these keywords using LTP in this case study.
2) SEO Spyglass
SEO Spyglass is a great tool for budget marketers, because it’s a piece of desktop software with a one-time fee.
After creating my content, I would grab the URL of each page ranking for my target keyword, plug them one-by-one into SEO Spyglass, and pull up their backlink profiles. Then I’d go through each backlink and try to recreate it for my own content.
Robbie wrote a great tutorial for this strategy.
3) Drop My Link
Drop My Link is a free tool that helps you find link building opportunities.Finally, I’d use this tool to quickly find resource pages and link roundups to pitch my content to.I’d continue using SEO Spyglass and Drop My Link until I was ranking on the first page.
#36. Tom Demers (Cornerstone Content)
It would really depend some on the campaign / the resources (people, content, type of site) you have available but generally speaking / limited to three I'd say:
Google Keyword Planner
And, I'll cheat a little and list Ahrefs, BuzzSumo, and Google Search Console as getting honorable mention (and potentially being more important than SEMrush, depending on the campaign).
#37. Shari Thurow (search-usability.com)
My answer will probably surprise many SEO professionals because my focus has ALWAYS been on human users first, technology second.
That being said, everything should begin with a clear, extensible information architecture. Information architecture (IA) is organizing, labeling, and connecting (website) content so that it is easy to find and easy to use. Target audiences should understand the website’s labeling system, including:
That being said, the tool I like to use for testing information architecture and site navigation is called OptimalSort. Other card-sort software does exist. This is just the one I prefer.
As a search-usability practitioner, I need to understand users’ goals and tasks. Therefore, I use a wide variety of usability tests to observe users complete their desired tasks. I compare these usability-test results (and field studies) with analytics data. Google Analytics is software I use a lot. There are others I use, but this one is what I use most frequently.
As for link development, I have been a HUGE Majestic fan for a very long time. The interface gets better and better...easier to use. Again, there are a variety of other link development tools. I will use them if a project requires it. I use Majestic most often.
If I had to pick #4, it would be keyword research tools. Unfortunately, I haven’t found one that truly shows user vocabularies and mental models. So I use a variety of keyword resources. Honestly? Usability tests and studies tend to give me the best user keywords. Keyword research tools tend to be a supplemental source... not a primary source...of information.
#38. Brian Lang (smallbusinessideasblog.com)
#1 – Scrapebox – One of the most inexpensive, but powerful tools for SEO. Can get backlinks and social share counts from websites and more. Ahrefs and SEMrush are also good alternatives for people who have the budget and looking for extra features.
#2 – Google Tools – Keyword planner, analytics and webmaster tools are still valuable for keyword research and seeing what’s working.
#3 – Rapportive – I created a list of 60+ email finding tools here, but Rapportive is still one of the best tools for finding people’s emails for outreach purposes. I also like using Metric Sparrow’s Email Permutator which to saves time when using Rapportive.
#39. Marcus Miller (bowlerhat.co.uk)
This is always a tough question as the right tools are the ones that suit the job at hand - however, there are a few favourites of mine that tend to be useful in a broad range of situations.
1. Screaming Frog - Not surprising I am sure but this is such a flexible tool. From checking that sites have correctly implemented tags sitewide to getting a good high level overview of all SEO elements a Screaming Frog crawl is usually the very first thing I will look at.
2. Majestic SEO - If Screaming Frog is our go-to on page tool then Majestic is our go to off page tool. There are several link indexes out there but Majestic is built by UK folks (just down the road from us in Birmingham as it goes) and I tend to find the best overall results. You will need a pro account to see the historic index to really get the most from the tool however for getting a good idea of relative authority and the all important link profile Majestic gets my vote.
3. Google / Search Console - Search console provides us with real diagnostic data direct from Google and in the black-box world of SEO we avoid this at our peril. Google itself and the array of advanced site commands can be mined to find real competitive intelligence - want to know who your competitors are? Google your main search terms. You can then even go and look at their sites in Screaming Frog and Majestic if you really want to get a started on a SWOT style competitor analysis. Want to know the biggest sites in your business category - Google around and you can quickly build up a list of candidate sites for link / exposure building practices.
As an honorable mention I like Bright Local for Local SEO purposes, rank checking etc.
#40. Michael Salvo (whitecapseo.com)
"The essentials are of course Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Excel. But, for tools that are more specific to SEO, the 3 we would choose are:
1. Advanced Web Ranking (Cloud) - Primarily for rankings but it can provide more, including simple automated reports with Google Analytics data for those agencies servicing clients with lower budgets.
2. Ahrefs - An intuitive interface and good data make this our favorite backlink index. That said, when we gain a client that is under penalty and work towards removal, we'd never rely on a single source for backlink data.
3. Screaming Frog - In minutes, we can crawl a site to find broken links and get a sense of its on-page SEO. Great for use in quickly evaluating a new site and for site migrations. Screaming Frog is easy to use, has versions for Windows and Mac and has filters that make sense - our jobs would be much more difficult without a quality site crawler."
#41. Matt Banner (onblastblog.com)
"Naming 3 quintessential tools of a successful SEO campaign will probably elicit an array of various weapons we all have in our arsenal. Some tools will be more effective for others while some SEO's just have a different style of achieving the same results.
Here's a few SEO tools I've found considerable confidence in:
Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool - Some might argue against it and by no means is this tool definitive, however, validating the feasibility (https://moz.com/researchtools/keyword-difficulty) of the keywords in your keyword research can help you stay focused on entities and topics that you're more likely to rank for.
FaqFox - This market research scraping tool helps you cover, assess and answer the most compelling questions customers/consumers are asking in your target audience.
CRM of your choice - Using a CRM such as Pitch Box or Buzzstream to help you scale and streamline your outreach is absolutely integral in making a splash with promoting your content. In the past, I've covered how to scale your link building campaign with using a CRM or doing it manually with Google spreadsheets. Either way, if you've got an organized outreach plan, using a CRM will help you run a successful SEO campaign."
#42. Kristi Hines, Freelance Writer
If I could only choose three tools, right now my favorites would be Monitor Backlinks, Rival IQ, and Impactana. Here's why.
Monitor Backlinks keeps track of the latest backlinks for my website and my competitors, as well as any changes to backlinks to my website. It also keeps track of my keyword rankings, MozRank, Domain Authority, indexed pages, and other important SEO metrics.
Rival IQ allows me to do competitor research for clients quickly. I can enter a list of domains and in a couple of hours or less, Rival will pull in their MozRank, Domain Authority, number of backlinks, top keyword rankings, and key on-site SEO settings.
Impactana is the ultimate in content research with a focus on SEO. Instead of just showing content based on social sharing popularity, you can find content based on high number of backlinks, views, and comments. That can come in handy for outreach purposes when you are looking for relevant in-content links.
#43. Shane Barker (shanebarker.com)
I would go with SEMrush, Buzzsumo and NinjaOutreach.
SEMrush is for backlink Analysis, Site audit, PPC bid suggestions, keyword ranking analysis and other clients reporting. It is very handy, and a must have tool.
Also, I prefer keyword cloud and other metrics by Ahrefs and Monitorbacklinks.
The Buzzsumo and NinjaOutreach are for my content generation ideas and influencer marketing to build relation with popular bloggers/editors.
#44. Tom Pick (webbiquity.com)
Choosing only three SEO tools is tough! I use at least half a dozen regularly, and there are so many useful tools available. But if I have to pick three essentials, they'd be:
Google Keyword Planner - Despite some shortcomings and limitations, it's the best tool I've found for providing estimates of monthly search volume for specified terms and recommending large numbers of related terms.
Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress - While only a marketing professional can help with the "art" side of SEO, this plugin makes the "science" side dead simple for any blogger. Not only does it help with crafting optimized meta titles and descriptions, it also simplifies many other aspects of technical SEO, from creating an XML sitemap and connecting to webmaster tools to social media integration and robots.txt editing.
SEMrush - This tool not only identifies keyword opportunities on your site you may have missed, but also reveals the top keywords used by your competitors - in both paid and organic search. It also helpfully provides keyword and ranking data beyond just the U.S. versions of the popular search engines.
#45. Patrick Coombe (elite-strategies.com)
Screaming Frog - This is my go-to "on-page" tool that I use for SEO. It can do everything from basic on-page aspects such as meta descriptions and titles to more advanced items such as directives and ajax analysis. We own probably 5-10 licenses in our office and is definitely a tool that I use every single day.
Ahrefs - While Screaming Frog is my "on-page" tools, Ahrefs is my "off-page" tool. Ahrefs in my opinion has the best backlinks index on the web. It allows you to take a quick glance or in-depth view of your backlinks, and it does a great job of it. I've been using Ahrefs.com now for almost 10 years, and they have never let me down!
Xenu - Scrapebox used to be my #3 but Xenu is quickly taking the place of it. I still use SB but not as much as I did in the past. I use Xenu because it allows me to take a full analysis of a websites broken links. It scrapes the entire website and spits out a great report in HTML format, which can be saved for later analysis. I use Xenu on websites that are 6 months of age and older, and run it whenever I notice a lot of broken links or do at least once per year.
#47. Loz James (contentchampion.com)
1. BuzzSumo - to find proven popular content that I can better
2. Long Tail Platinum - to quickly find relevant/related keywords and assess competition
3. Buzzstream - to research influencers and conduct outreach at scale
1. Twitter search - to find proven popular content that I can better (and research influencers)
2. Google Keyword Planner and Moz Bar - to find keywords and assess top 10 competition
3. Gmail account or any email - to conduct outreach using a cut and paste personalised email
#48. Ed Leake (Midas Media)
I might be going against the grain a little here, but most people when looking at SEO consider three key elements: rankings, keywords and backlinks.
We could of course discuss content, but that's a whole different ball game, so we'll assume for now we have link-worthy content in place!
Call me a contrarian but I like tools that help me achieve backlinks, and therefore rankings. That's not to say we shouldn't monitor too - so I'll start there.
I was torn between Ahrefs and SEMrush because they're both solid tools, but I'm leaning towards SEMrush as my favourite paid 'SEO tool'.
Why? The reality is private network links are real. Paid links are a reality. Natural links are heard earned and not easily repeatable.
Merely assessing your competitors backlinks in order to reverse engineer their rankings is a tired strategy, and full of holes. Therefore tools that mainly look at links aren't enough on their own. Ahrefs understand this, they've a great team behind them, hence the inclusion of top content - they're looking beyond the links.
I like SEMrush because it tracks rankings, it allows you to asses and audit your website for top-level SEO and meta issues. Furthermore the PPC'er inside me likes the competitor assessment elements, which also work for organic too of course.
While SEMrush offer a broad spectrum of tools in their suite, as with many audit tools, it only really touches the surface. Technical SEO's and developers combined working on larger websites can gain a massive amount of actionable information from DeepCrawl. It has solid Analytics integration and an amazing depth of crawl data. I particularly like the dev vs live facility so teams can understand the impact of changing their website and it's architecture. Pretty powerful stuff!
So that's two (kinda three) paid tools, all of which we use regularly and are solid assets, but ultimately we don't actually need them to 'do' SEO.
We shouldn't rely on technical aspects alone.
Building relationships enables marketers to build relevant, high quality backlinks to and from their content. When it comes to SEO, even with all the technical advances in search engine technology, there's no getting away from the fact that links are still really important.
Therefore my third 'tool' is Twitter.
Twitter is a great SEO tool!
It's free for a start. It allows immediate communication with experts in your niche and with time and care, enables you to foster relations that allow you to build real editorial links with aplomb.
#49. Adam Rowles (Inbound Marketing Agency)
Here are my three SEO tools of choice:
SEMrush - We use this for competitor research to find potential keywords. We have found this Semrush tutorial quite useful.
Ahrefs - We use this for monitoring new & lost backlinks, competitor research, & reviewing potential backlinks.
Keywordtool.io - We use this tool to source long-tail keywords and understand how people search a topic.
#50. Jennifer Horowitz (ecombuffet.com)
My 3 tools:
1. My brain – while tools make things easier, nothing can replace human analysis. Strategy is such a big part of SEO and no tool can create that right now. Examples of what is inside my brain can be found here.
2. Raven – love the easy to use reports and at a glance info – but it still gets detailed enough to allow me to dig in and see the full picture.
3. LinkResearchTools – no better tool to understand your link profile and why certain links are bad
#51. Aaron Agius (Louder Online)
The competitive analysis, spying tools, and overall landscape information that is available through this tool make it one that I use all the time and something that gives a massive advantage when launching a campaign.
I find the link index in Ahrefs to be one of the most complete that is available, and love using the tool and the many options that are provided in being able to manipulate the link data.
Screaming Frog is your one stop shop for any technical issues on the site. Using this tool and understanding the data will enable you to identify pretty much all technical issues that could be impacting the site from an SEO perspective.
#52. Bruce Clay (bruceclay.com)
1. Google tools tied together: Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
2. Majestic to analyze link profiles and trust.
3. Adwords data for conversion information and ROI.
4. Of course, for on-page edits and ranking our own SEOToolSet.
#53. Chris Dreyer (attorneyrankings.com)
1. Ahrefs – Before I initiate any SEO campaign I highly recommend checking out the competition’s link profile to see what you’re up against. This will give you an idea of the top linking domains, opportunities to exploit as well as benchmark goals to strive for during your link acquisition campaign.
2. Moz Pro – While I believe rank tracking alone is a somewhat “dated” approach to reporting it is still important to have baseline information for accountability in regards to the performance and achievements of any campaign. Moz Pro does a better job than most because it provides a more comprehensive picture of the campaign than just rank tracking alone. It details link opportunities, competition analysis, traffic, brand mentions, social presence and more.
3. Basecamp – Let’s be honest, you’re not reading this post because you’re in a niche with low competition, you’re probably in a niche with a TON of competitors. The Internet is more saturated than ever and SEO is generally more difficult than ever and requires a multitude of strategies, employees, linkable assets, outreach strategies, etc. If you try organizing all of this on Google Drive, on your desktop or through email it’s going to be a nightmare. Basecamp project management has provided our agency with a competitive advantage due to its helpful organizational elements. It helps deploying any SEO campaign that has a ton of moving parts, a lot easier.
#54. Adam Steele (magistrateinc.com)
Google Sheets, Ahrefs and a good scraping/crawling tool.
Google helps us collaborate, organize and sort through data. It's hard now to imagine how we did it with the likes of Dropbox and Excel and all those duplicate documents that would result. Or even before Dropbox, my team used to share such files via FTP. Funny.
Ahrefs. No one even comes close. If I didn't have Ahrefs, I'd use Majestic. If I didn't have MJ, would I use OSE? I think I would just build my own index. Ahrefs is a tremendous tool for link mining. Their DR metric is totally decent too. I actually prefer it to the likes of other metrics because it's link based. I know what I am getting and reporting on. When I hear a fellow SEO isn't using Ahrefs...I can't help but scratch my head.
And a good scraping/crawling tool for things like getting the lay of the land (crawling sites) to scraping specific data points, or mining footprints is a must have. Screaming Frog deserves a tip of the hat. Every other aforementioned need, I will generally build my own.
#55. Maria Johnsen (maria-johnsen.com)
Copy and paste the following answer:"Before answering your question, let me remind everybody that in online marketing website owners build their websites on various platforms such as: wordpress, magento, HTML etc.
We need to increase awareness about SEO. Many companies still make mistakes by developing wrong website, CMS system, wrong link building strategy and blame it on SEO experts’ incompetency in ranking their websites. So I would like to use this opportunity to give some advice about SEO.
Before thinking of off page SEO, a website owner should start with buying a good webhost or dedicated server with 100% uptime and unlimited band weight, then buy dedicated IP for your domain. You don’t want to share your traffic and data with anybody. You must choose the right domain name for your product or service. Then design or redesign a clear, user, search engine friendly and mobile friendly website. When this is done then measure your site’s speed and optimize it for getting maximum exposure on all platforms. It helps your PPC campaigns.This way you pay lesser if your website is aligned with search engine algorithms. Google has site speed tool here.
Your website should be functioning. Get rid of flash elements, pop up adverts which annoy users and search engine crawlers, have a clear “about us” and “privacy pages”. Why? Because Google gives positive points to websites which have those pages. Avoid writing for search engines and keyword stuffing. I have been working on multilingual websites and still see many websites stuff their pages with 40 keywords.
I read the other day on Google webmaster a well known Japanese website owner who was complaining about getting penalized, so everybody wrote something, none of these” wise guys” mentioned to this business owner that his website was suffering from keyword stuffing! So make sure to use max 3 keywords which you want to drive in sales or generate leads.
If you run your website on a wordpress platform, use a multipurpose mobile friendly template. “All in one SEO” is a good seo plugin for wordpress which does not have injected sneaky links belong to some companies. Why do you think certain companies are top ranked for SEO rated keywords, because they use link injection strategy via SEO plugin tools and SEO browser tools.
My favorite tools are: Google Analytics, Google Webmasters tool and my own in house SEO tool which I personality programmed in order to help our clients with their website ranking and sales. This tool measures all on page and off page elements. I don’t use seo tools which are in the market because I don’t want my clients’ websites’ data to be restored in these sites’ database servers and reveal my customers’ link profile and statistics to their competitors.
I recommend users to measure their online success by mentoring their website’s performances on Google search console. Google has developed their free tools which are aligned with their algorithm."
#56. Keith Bresee (thetraffic.ninja)
For us, we run white hat link building campaigns all the time (Backlinko style) for our clients and there are three core types of tools we use for each campaign.
Keyword Research - Starting with competitive keyword research, SEMrush.com (or Alexa.com if you can afford it) is an amazing tool for finding out who your competitors are, what successful keywords they rank for, and soooooo much more!
Backlink Checker - For researching backlink opportunities, one of the most important tools we use is Ahrefs.com (or any good backlink checker). When running a competitive link building campaign its super important to be able to accurately check your competitors backlinks and Ahrefs.com is the best out there.
Outreach Tool - Once you find all your backlink opportunities you need to reach out to them all to acquire them. We use ContentMarketer.io. Its simple, easy to use, and sexy.
#57. Ross Hudgens (Siege Media)
My three go to tools are Moz, Majestic, and SEMrush. Moz and Majestic we use for link analysis/finding backlink targets and also, analyzing search results to see how competitive they are. We tie this into topic analysis on SEMrush, to determine what kind of potential a search result is, how competitive it is, and how we'll get links (or how many we need). That's the three sentence description, but a more in-depth take can be found in our recent post on increasing website traffic.
#58. Felix Tarcomnicu (prooptimization.com)
There are many good SEO tools out there but the ones that are critical for my campaigns are Monitor Backlinks, SimiliarWeb and the Chrome Extension Nofollow.
Monitor Backlinks is great because it's the platform that makes it very easy to identify your site's bad & good links without having to spend hours doing it. It shows various metrics for each links, including Trust & Citation Flow by Majestic, Domain & Page Authority by Moz and some other useful metrics. Best of all, it automatically shows a warning sign for the links that have poor metrics, so you can decide if it's worth keeping or not. I wrote a guide showing how to analyse your site's links using Monitor Backlinks, here.
SimilarWeb is very useful for spying my competitor's sources of traffic. I find it to be very accurate and it's great that I can see how much of my competitor's traffic is coming from search engines, and what are their best referrals.
The nofollow Chrome extension is very simple and highlights the links that are nofollow, directly in your browser. Any SEO should use this extension, especially considering it's free.
#59. Dave Scheider (NinjaOutreach)
Most of the SEO campaigns we do involve outreach, such as broken link building. For those campaigns we use:
Moz OSE - This is what we use to find out who is linking to a specific tool, competitor, or article.
NinjaOutreach - This is what we use to get the contact information of those people, and manage our outreach campaign.
Fiverr - I might use this to get an infographic done or something else created for a low price.
#60. Stoney deGeyter (polepositionmarketing.com)
Here are my favorites:
Microsoft IIS SEO Plugin - This is a windows add-on that allows you to scrape sites for information related to SEO such as long title tags, duplicate content, broken links and more. The output isn't as user-friendly as some other tools, but it gives a lot of good information.
Google Analytics - You never know how well you're doing unless you're looking at the data!
Xenu / Screaming Frog - I personally have not had much experience with Screaming Frog but my lead SEO loves it. I frequently use the lighter Xenu for quick searches for broken links, grabbing all site URLs and reviewing title tags en masse.
#61. Kerry Jones (frac.tl)
When you say SEO campaign, I hear "content marketing campaign"...
If I can only choose three tools, I'd choose one each for ideation, content creation, and content promotion.
Ideation: Any good campaign starts with research: what's worked, what hasn't, what's my target audience interested in right now? I can't live without BuzzSumo for a multitude of reasons, but it's especially for researching which content has performed well around a topic. This makes it an essential part of my process for choosing content ideas.
Content Creation: This may sound rudimentary, but I can't live without Google Drive (plus I'm kind of cheating since this gives me access to Docs, Sheets, and Slides). I live in Drive since it's collaborative, so the entire team can easily give feedback and make edits. Google Sheets lets me not only analyze and organize data I'm using in my content, but I can also use it to create charts and graphs. Any written content is drafted in Google Docs, and from there I can send to designers or editors for further collaboration. Google Slides are useful for storyboarding content that needs more design work, such as white papers or slide decks.
Content Promotion: Once the content is ready for promotion, I'd need BuzzStream to manage the pitching process. Here I can build media lists and send pitches to publishers I want to feature my content.Bonus: Since I've already run out of tools, I'd use BuzzSumo again to track the success of my campaign, from social shares to backlinks.
#62. Marcus Taylor (Venture Harbor)
If I were limited to three tools, I'd first choose Screaming Frog. It's the single best tool I've come across in eight years for diagnosing technical SEO issues and getting a snapshot view of crawlability or relevancy issues.
Second, I'd go for SEMrush, which in addition to being a good competitive intelligence tool, has a really powerful site audit tool. It's a less-known part of their offering, but works great in combination with Screaming Frog to tackle on-site SEO issues.
Finally, I'd go back to basics and get the best web hosting possible. It may not be a tool per se, but it's an often-overlooked aspect of SEO that has an indirect ripple effect on so many influential ranking factors.
#63. Simon Penson (Zazzle Media)
1. SCOT (proprietary crawl tool) - When approaching any new client, or site we start with the ‘fit for purpose’ piece to ensure that content investment is rewarded fully. That process starts with a crawl of the site and we use SCOT (our own tool) to crawl, categorize and prioritisz fixes. This will include a list of key pages to improve from a functional content perspective.
2. SEMrush - this is a brilliant multi-functional tool and helps cover off everything from keyword research to competitive research and back again. Indispensable!
3. #journorequest or Gorkana - the majority of the work we do is on the digital PR and content strategy and creation side and we would be lost without access to both of these tools as they make it much easier to find the right influencers to pitch ideas into.
#64. Justin Herring (yeah-local.com)
Here are my favorite tools right now:
1) Ahrefs - This is great for looking at a potential and current client sites backlinks and then we use the "Content Explorer" daily to find ideas for blog posts for our clients. Seems to give more options than Buzzsumo.Here is a great post we wrote on how SEO and Content Marketing work together: https://yeah-local.com/seo-content-marketing-work-together-learn/
2) Serplab.co.uk - This is an awesome keyword tracker that is super cheap and works great. I am tracking over 4500 keywords for $45 a month and it send out reports to my clients automatically. I call pull all the keywords from Google Adwords dump them in here and then see where the client's rank to really target terms I never would have thought of. Here is a great guide we did for Small Business SEO: https://yeah-local.com/small-business-seo-guide/
3) Project Supremacy Plugin - This is a paid WordPress plugin that can automatically add schema markup throughout your site for location, type of business, and video. It does a lot else, but just put this throughout a clients site on every page has boosted ranking overnight. I have taken a real estate website from not ranking to #65 just by doing this. Most companies are not doing this at all.
Right behind these:
#65. Josh Bachynski (themoralconcept.com)
Three tools I would use:
1) SEO Knowledge (not to mention marketing and branding knowledge). Most important tool you can use in SEO. Hands down.With SEO knowledge of what really Google is using to rank these days, then all the other tools become useful. Without it, all the other tools are useless as you don't know what to look at and waste your time focussing on unimportant stuff. Or worse, even hurtful stuff.
2) Google Analytics - Free information that shows a lot of important SEO knowledge for 2016+. I am NOT talking about your rankings, but user actions and metrics. How high quality your site is. Conversions. Things Google is directly tracking these days.
3) Search Console (Used to be called Webmaster Tools, Free)This is essential for SEO (for Google anyways). Without it, you just won't know about crucial technical and punitive measures affecting the ranking of your site.In most cases, this is all you need to do SEO in 2016.
Anyone who disagrees, doesn't know what they're talking about. Or just wants to sell you something (likely the tool they use).
#66. Arsen Rabinovich (tophatrank.com)
Just three? Really? If I was limited to just three SEO tools, I would have to go with SEMrush, Screaming Frog, Ahrefs.
Screaming Frog has been my knight in shining armor for many years now, it's my go-to tool for pretty much everything that has to do with audits (even pre-sale audits).
SEMrush is just freaking amazing (also for many years), from keyword research to competitive analysis this tool is just so awesome.
Ahrefs for obvious reasons (link analysis), but also for topic/content ideation.
But I wouldn't just limit my agency to three tools, we are constantly looking for and testing new products that will help with our process and bring value to our clients.
#67. William Harris (Elumynt)
AdWords Keyword Planner - I still find it to be the best at giving me accurate search volume and relevant keyword opportunities.
Moz Pro - It's my favorite suite of tools (does a suite count as one tool?) for finding backlink profiles, keyword rankings, high level duplicate content, and more.
MixMax - Outreach is going to be an important part of that - whether it's outreach for blog articles, link backs, etc., and MixMax makes it easy to track who has opened my emails, and follow up with them if they haven't responded.
#68. Josue Valles (EngageBit)
If search engines can't crawl your site properly, all your SEO efforts will be a waste of time. Screaming Frog alllows you to crawl your website and gain a new perspective on how it looks. This way, you can detect and fix all indexation and accessibility issues with more ease.
Long Tail Pro
Even though some people argue that "keywords are dead," they still playing a very important role in any effective SEO campaign.With Long Tail Pro, you can find relevant keywords with more effectiveness. The data this tool provides is really accurate.
I would use Ahrefs to run my link building campaigns.
#69. Jason Quey (decibite.com)
1. Headline Analyzer - Even if you rank #1 in Google, if your headline bores your reader, you won't get any clicks.
2. Buzzsumo - If rankings are dependent on social signals and links, Buzzsumo can find you the best content that will give you both. Since you can see who has shared similar content to the piece you write, you have proof of concept of who to reach out to. How do you reach out to them? I use...
3. ContentMarketer.io - I've used Content Marketer to increase shares from 202 to 711 using Buzzsumo to find relevant influencers and ContentMarketer to find and send the perfect email. After building relationships with these key influencers, I've been able to gain dozens of quality backlinks, including on press and .edu sites.
#70. Venchito Tampon (sharprocket.ph)
Given that our core expertise as a team is link acquisition, here are three tools we've found useful for the past 6 months:
Mailtrack.io - helps you in calculating open rates for outreach campaigns that is very useful in brainstorming ideas for your next moves - such as improving the crafted email template, making click-baity but straightfoward subject lines or changing the value proposition of your outreach.
Ahrefs - enables you to find lost/removed links, which you can reconnect with to reacquire links and/or get another links from other pages in the same websites.
BrandMentions - notifies you of any mentions of your content/pages and if they're not linked to you, you can ask webmasters to credit you for referencing your works.Here is a comprehensive content that discussed about effective tactics using the aforementioned link building tools.
I recommend creating and executing on a solid, organic content marketing strategy with a strong value proposition and language that is relevant to your ideal customer. The language that your customer is using should be the same language that is used throughout your web site, social media, and any other related marketing materials.
Your web site should also prioritize people over search engines. After all, it's people who are visiting your site and making decisions on whether or not to purchase, subscribe, or form relationships with you. That said, simply using SEO tools isn't going to lead to a successful SEO campaign, but if you're just getting started with SEO (and you have that solid content marketing strategy in place), I'd go with the basics and use Moz Pro, Screaming Frog, and Twitter.
Also make sure that your strategy aligns with Google's Webmaster Guidelines. If you want to take it further, you can get into some really cool things by using Python.
#72. Harris Schachter (Optimize Prime)
So in no particular order, if I had to choose just 3 tools, they would be:
1. Screaming Frog to take care of most of the legwork when doing technical stuff and content audits.
2. BuzzSumo once you get to content production and ideation.
3. Keyword Planner for data-driven keyword research straight from Google. As clunky as it is, I don't think you could do without it completely.
#73. Danny Dover (lifelisted.com)
People - Tools are okay but people are where the real power comes from. I would much rather have even a small group of people working with me than have the world’s greatest tool but without any people resources.
Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs - The best source of insight into areas or niches you want to get into is to analyze the people who are already there.
Google Analytics - Your marketing efforts are nearly useless if you can’t determine what is working and what is not. You need a tool like Google Analytics to measure the success of your efforts.
#74. Joe Williams (Zen Optimize)
1. Buzzsumo: I mainly use it for Identifying key influencers and researching competitors’ top social content successes. I also use to curate content for my weekly SEO roundup and he's a more in-depth Buzzsumo review I've written.
2. Screaming Frog: It's awesome for technical SEO auditing and getting a quick idea of how search engine friendly a website is and how much content it has.
3. SEMrush: It's great for competitor keyword research but I love the Guru subscription that has historical keyword ranking data which can be great in preparing for client SEO pitches where you can review why historical SEO dips have occurred and then you can talk about how they can be fixed.
Here's a Semrush review sharing more tips.
#75. Sean Si (seo-hacker.net)
First-off, I'd be using AccuRanker. It's really the fastest cloud-based rank-tracking tool out there. I really don't know how we could get by without it. Pulling rankings in a span of 3 - 5 seconds in real-time is a bliss.
Secondly, it would have to be Ninja Outreach. It's a complete set of tools that I need for reaching out to prospects and landing links, guest posts, and so on.
Lastly, it would have to be a backlink checker and I've not found a better one than Cognitive SEO. It's awesome, and they are continually developing new features since I started using them 4 years ago.
Bonus: For writing relevant content that people actually want to read, I use Qeryz. My SEO strategy is very content-centric so writing stuff that people want to read is critical for me.
#76. Christoph Engelhardt
First of all, I would select an analytics tool like Google Analytics. The reason is quite simple: I need to positively identify which tactic is working and which isn't. That simply can't be done without proper analytics. How else am I going to gauge how much traffic I get? By charting up the CPU usage on the server? Not the best method.
Google Analytics goes beyond pure traffic metrics as you can slice the data in a hundred ways and it also tracks conversions - meaning you not only know how much traffic you get from the different tactics, but you also know whether you attract the right traffic.
Secondly, I select another Google tool, namely Search Console formerly known as Webmaster Tools. It's the only way to look behind the curtain and get an idea of how Google sees your website. You get notifications about manual actions taken against your website, see which keywords your website ranks for, and much more.
Lastly, I would use Ahrefs as it gives you a lot of backlink data as well as rank tracking and also has a nifty little content tracker. You get a lot of bang for your buck with Ahrefs.
#77. Terry Van Horne (seopros.org)
Screaming Frog - compiles data for content analysis, technical SEO & sitemaps.
AWR - ranking/SERP analysis, “words” and competitor Research.
Majestic SEO is also a tool I use for more than just link analysis it also measures topic strength etc. and Link Prospector all-purpose SERP scrapper for analysis and link prospecting.
It would be a tough decision between the two as they overlap in some ways but also do a number of other things each don’t do.
#78. Nick Loper (sidehustlenation.com)
My 3 tools would be WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin, and the Google Keyword Planner.
I'm far from the most sophisticated SEO strategist in the world but it all starts with the content, and that's where WordPress comes in. For each article I write, I aim to create the most helpful piece of content on the subject, because I know that's ultimately what Google wants at the top of their search results.
For the exact keywords to use in my title and H-tags in the post, I'll use Google's Keyword Planner to see which keywords and variations have the highest search volume. And finally I use the Yoast plugin to optimize the title and meta tags.
#79. Brian Jackson (woorkup.com)
The very first tool I recommend is KW Finder. If you need a quick and easy tool to lookup search volume than this is it! This is one of those tools that never closes on my computer.Whenever I am writing new blog posts or creating landing pages the very first thing I do is “keyword research” with this tool. Don’t assume people are searching! Be smart and look it up.
The second tool I use on a daily basis is accuranker.com. I have used just about every keyword ranking tool that exists. This is by far the best to date. If you are writing and focusing on ranking, this is the tool you want.The powerful filters, instant update checks, competitor analysis, and historical data make this easy to keep track of SERPs and know exactly what you should be focusing on. Take a day and focus on those blogs posts that are ranking on page 2 of SERPs and make them better! Then watch, monitor… and repeat.
The third tool I highly recommend is Ahrefs. Besides monitoring your own content, you should also always be checking on the new inbound links you are building to see what parts of your marketing efforts are working.Not to mention it is a good way to make sure you don’t get hit with a negative SEO attack. Ahrefs in my opinion has the most accurate and up to date backlink database out there. It is a crucial part of my SEO campaigns and backlink building the right way.
#80. Andrew Shotland (localseoguide.com)
1. Google: It's really all you need. Trust the Force young Skywalker...
But if you insist on using tools, let's drop the "if you could only use..." pretense and go with a couple of interesting tools your readers may not know about yet.
2. Text Only Cache Bookmarklet - We just built this handy little gem because I wanted a quick way to get to the text-only version of any URL in Google's cache, which is handy for trying to determine what Google is indexing on a page. We like to solve little painful problems. This one does it in spades.
3. N.A.P. Hunter - A free chrome extension that quickly finds duplicate local citations in Google and lets you export them to a CSV. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nap-hunter/ligeiippheclogiddffemogcgpjmieao?hl=en
#81. Stuart Jewson (fitfizzle.com)
BuzzSumo - Check your analytics for your top visited pages and most engaged blog posts. Group into general topics. Then add each topic into Buzzsumo to find most most popular shared posts in last 6 months. Sort by total shares or by social platform most important to you. Compile the headlines of the top articles into a swipe file, export the backlinks and sharers of these articles into a master spreadsheet You now have a list of the most popular articles on your chosen topics, a list of influencers who have shared similar articles on your topic and a list of backlinks that you can use to contact the blog owners when your ready for outreach after you create a better article yourself.
Screaming Frog - Crawl and scrape all important data from your site or competitors sites. Fix 404's, check for empty metas, duplicate titles and to diagnose other on page common errors.
MajesticSEO - Grab the backlink profile of your top 10 competitors and compile all in a spreadsheet. Order by TF (trust flow), relevancy then mimic their anchor text profile as you know Google is already rewarding these peeps with top SERPS. Go grab the low hanging fruit!
#82. Freddie Chat (ecomhacker.com)
SEMrush – A great piece of kit for keyword research & competitive analysis. Perfect for discovering exactly what your competitors are ranking for and optimising your site to beat them, as well as finding those long tail keywords to include on the page to maximise your results.
Buzzsumo – I’m a big advocate that great content can seriously boost your SEO results and Buzzsumo gives you a complete look at the best performing pieces of content on the keyword/topic of your choice. Also great for monitoring mentions for your brand, website, or people writing about similar topics to you. It is incredibly useful for finding what type content people care about for specific keywords.
Buzzstream – There is no getting away from the fact that links still really matter for rankings and the best way to get links - outreach. Buzzstream allows you to outreach at scale. Whether it’s broken link building, content promotion or influencer targeting, Buzzstream makes it easy for you to build links at scale.
#83. Travis Causey (Moving Mountains)
My favorite public SEO tools would have to be
Network Crusader, Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz toolbar & Serpbook, Longtail Pro, SEMRush.
Ahrefs, Majestic & the Moz toolbar I use for research.
Serpbook I track probably close to a thousand keywords currently and have been using it for a year now.
Network Crusader is a private network management and publishing tool. Its amazing!
If I had to pick 3 tools it would be NetworkCrusader, Ahrefs & Moz toolbar.
Network Crusader is almost so good I don't want to mention it. We currently have over a hundred websites being managed from this one site. I know people that have thousands... We use NC to update plugins, install WordPress all the necessities, plus do all my SEO linking. Its really an incredible swiss army knife for our agency.
Ahrefs is the by far my favorite link research tool. We use it all the time. Checking backlinks, anchors, velocity of links coming in, etc. Ahrefs always pics of more links that the competitors. The features are endless.
Moz toolbar everyone on our team uses to do quick competitive analysis checking DA/PA and competition %. We love it.
We are a full service marketing agency now so here are a few other tools people would love to know about if you ever do a write up on this type stuff. We're always looking to replace and upgrade tools.
Asana has been an absolute game changer for us here at Moving Mountains Advisors. We've been able to cut hundreds of dollars a month in project/task management software and jump to Asana over the last few months. Each project has its own calendar and conversations. You can assign tasks and be reminded of everything going on. Each day our team members wake up and know what on their plate for the day/week/month/quarter.
Slack is our go to team communication tool. We are managing a ton of projects now and our team has gone from 2 to 10 in the last few months so Slack is gold for us to keep up to date. Zapier is awesome for connecting software and automating tasks. Prosperworks is amazing for our sales team and integrates seamlessly with gmail and Google apps.
#84. James Johnson (getstencil.com)
I do all of my SEO work through the SERPed Suite of tools, but if I was only to use three tools from the suite - that readers could also access from elsewhere - I'd have to go with:
A solid backlink explorer. Link's are where the real SEO results are at, especially for the longevity of your site, so being able to see where people are linking to, from and who it's worth contacting is priceless.
A keyword tool. Personally, I use CanIRank for this, because they give you a completely different insight to Keywords and which ones are best for your site. Instead of just a 'pick a word and hope for the best' concept that a lot of tools just give you.
An outreach tool. I love data, but I know that building lasting relationships with the sites - be it other bloggers, competitors or anyone else - is better for your long term SEO. You can recover from a penalty. You can't recover from bad networking.
#85. Jamie Spencer (makeawebsitehub.com)
My top 3 free tools for an SEO campaign would have to be:
3. Screaming Frog
With these 3 tools I think you could have a really good crack at building a really good SEO strategy. In my toolset I haven't listed link analysis tools such as Majestic or Ahrefs as I feel it can be easy to over analyse links and anchor text and not take any kind of action.
SEMrush have a great set of tools specifically their keyword database and competitor analysis tools. With this information you could come up with lots of content ideas and also see where your holes are in the topics and keywords you currently target. I wrote a pretty in depth review of the ways I use SEMRush on my blog.
Buzzstream is my favourite outreach tool at the moment. I regularly produce infographics for my blogs and that means having a good quality CRM at my control which allows me to maintain relationships with my contacts, monitor my link building activities and help me to scale up my outreach efforts.
Finally Screaming Frog's Spider is probably the most under priced tool in the SEO space. While more expensive crawlers have been developed over the past few years Screaming Frog SEO Spider is still the first tool that I renew without even thinking about it. Having a web crawler really helps you to see where there are glaring technical issues holding your site back. If you want to learn more about why I love this tool so much then SEER interactive explained it better than I ever could!
#86. Dave Rigotti
Google Keyword Planner, Google Analytics, and Moz.
Google Keyword Planner helps me estimate search volumes for different keywords and the relative difficulty for ranking.
Google Analytics helps me tie SEO to landing pages to find hidden opportunities and measure performance.
Finally, Moz helps me keep track of all of my keyword rankings. While not a tool, I can't stress enough the role of great content in an SEO strategy -- it's the biggest factor to a successful campaign.
#87. Sean Malseed (greenlaneseo.com)
I use SEMrush every day. It's long been known as an excellent starting point for keyword research and competitive analysis, but the Site Audit feature has become so good that I use it as part of every technical SEO audit I do.
I do a lot of technical website audits, and Screaming Frog is an essential part of the process. We even have a dedicated super-powerful machine in the office that runs big crawls. In addition to technical SEO, Screaming Frog is great for on-page - especially using regex and custom crawls.
For backlink analysis, Majestic is my go-to. I always use Majestic data to evaluate backlink profiles, and then use other tools like Ahrefs to add more data.
#88. Kevin Cotch (toprankmarketing.com)
If I could only use three tools to build and manage a SEO campaign I would choose Screaming Frog, SEMrush, and Google Search Console.
Screaming Frog is a great tool to find information about any website from basic on-page optimization elements to response codes. Screaming Frog also allows you to export the report to Excel to manipulate the data further.
SEMrush is another great tool that has multiple capabilities to help make running a SEO campaign easier. SEMrush provides a solid user experience and helps with technical SEO audit, keyword research, and competitive analyses.
The last tool I would use is Google Search Console. Google Search Console offers more information about your website that can help with optimization efforts and you can tell Google more information about your site.
Those are the three SEO tools I would use if I had to pare down the list from all the tools we use.
#89. James Richardson (optimising.com.au)
Tough question to answer as we use lots of tools for various reasons internally on all our client campaigns.
Fact is though, people rely too much on tools, and most things can actually done without a reliance on tools. Running a campaign without too would not be a stretch - and could be done quite simply.
If I had to choose three tools to use though they would be:
Google Docs: This can be used for everything from content planning and creating, to data storage and mining. Also the go to tool to collaborate with a team Gmail: Goes without saying - best email tool out there and vital for everything from outreach to client contact.
Gmail extensions: Boomerang & Banana tag I use all day every day for outreach and much more. Vital when doing any kind of manual SEO.
Some notable mentions are some classics such as Ahrefs and Screaming Frog - super useful but not vital.
#90. Chuck Aikens (chuckaikens.com)
Screaming Frog: One of the first steps in SEO is to improve your existing website and content and this desktop crawling tool does an amazing job of collecting a ton of SEO relevant data about your existing website.
V9 SEO Dashboard: One of the best features of this SEO tool is the content scoring component that analyzes the top ten SERP results for a particular keywords and provides relevancy recommendations to enrich your website content for RankBrain.
SEMrush: Competitive intelligence tool that identifies the keywords and pages currently ranking on Page 1 and 2 of Google for your website. You can also run it on competitor sites and look at trends over time. This is a must-have tool before, during, and after running a SEO Campaign.
#91. Eric Hebert (evolvor.com)
1. Phone & Email - the core of my SEO strategies involve creating relationships between my clients and influencers - and this is only done by picking up the phone or sending a well written email!
2. Evernote - With all of our client and project information, ideas and notes, tasks, bookmarks, etc, I need to be able to sync a lot of information to all of my devices. Evernote does that for me and has a ton of other features as well.
3. Google Analytics - keyword trackers are great, but at the end of the day all I care about is REAL traffic from organic search - and converting that traffic into leads and sales. Google Analytics tells me a lot about how a campaign is really doing and it's having a positive effect on my client's business!
#92. Rohan Ayyar (e2msolutions.com)
Here are three tools that no SEO campaign, in our humble opinion, can do without:
1. SEMrush: SEMrush allows you to see your competitors’ keywords and rankings, and their competitors’ keywords and rankings, and so on without with a few clicks.
2. Buzzsumo: Content marketing is central to SEO and Buzzsumo helps keep your content strategy laser focused by showing you what kind of posts work for what topics.
3. Screaming Frog: Simply the best crawler ever. Millions of pages, meta data, errors, duplications can all be mined and analyzed.
#93. Pierre Zarokian (submitexpress.com)
1) Majestic - This tool allows to check the number of backlinks and the details about them. There are several other available tools out there such as MOZ and ahrefs, but I like this better as it seems to have bigger database than all competitors.
2) Advanced Web Ranking - This is a ranking checker. I like this tool because it is cloud based. When I was choosing this, I looked at several competitors and I like this the best due to different formats of reports it offers. I specifically like the fact that one of the report views offers competing website reports, which if you do reputation management it can be configured to show results for positive and negative sites on one page with color codes. If you run an agency, this is also great as you can give your customers direct access to only their own websites.
3) Link Research Tools - This is a great tool to use to find low quality backlinks that may be penalizing your website and to create a disavow file for Google. LinkDetox is a subset of this tool and is also available standalone. This tool can be pretty pricey, so if you need to run only a few reports, I have seen a few people selling audits using this tool for $5 to $15 on fiverr.
#94. Everett Sizemore
1. Screaming Frog hosted on AWS
2. URL Profiler
I don't typically look at "SEO" in terms of campaigns. We have content marketing campaigns, PR and publicity campaigns, paid advertising campaigns... all of which are tied together in a cohesive digital marketing strategy. When it comes to SEO, we tend to start with audits and move on to whatever implementation is required based on the audits.
With the three tools above I can audit 90% of what I'd need to look at on an average site in terms of SEO.
#95. Hayden Miyamoto (nohatdigital.com)
The way I see SEO, it breaks down into a few different components. Keyword Research, Competition Analysis, and Linkbuilding.
For KW Research, I use Long Tail Platinum. The KC score makes doing KW Research easy (especially if you're a beginner). It allows me to filter out a whole bunch of KWs - and also allows me to zero in on individual KWs and see the top ten results when I've struck gold. The software's been around for a while, but as far as Keyword Research goes, I don't see anything on the market that can beat it.
For Competition Analysis: This is a tough one - for me it's between SEMrush and Majestic. SEMrush is great for seeing what the competition is ranking for, and no other tool really provides this data (at least not well). On the other hand, if I'm looking at what I need to do in terms of links to beat someone in the SERPs, Majestic is my go to tool (I like Ahrefs as well, but Majestic's Index is better).
For Linkbuilding: Buzzstream is incredibly useful for linkbuilding - but beyond that, it's great for building real relationships with influencers. If you're trying to build authoritative, white-hat links, Buzzstream is probably the tool that will save you the most time. It's possible to do outreach manually of course (and if you're just starting out, that's probably what you want to do) - but Buzzstream allows you to automate the tasks that typically take the most time.
Outside of Google itself, there are a small handful of tools I use to set up and manage search campaigns:
1. SEMrush: There is a reason this tool was voted the #1 keyword research tool by 58 online marketing experts. I use the tool every single day to perform keyword research for both SEO and PPC campaigns. It saves me thousands of dollars in wasted ad spend by being able to quickly see what is, and is not working for my top competitors. I've been using the "Pages" report a lot lately to find out which content is driving the most organic traffic for the competition. I wrote a 10,000 word SEMrush review here. It covers 24 actionable ways you can use the tool to build successful online marketing campaigns.
2. Ahrefs: The best link analysis tool out there. I use it every day to analyze competitor link profiles, see which content types are best for link building in different industries and measure link acquisition efforts for client link building campaigns.
3. Gmass: I lean heavily on outreach to build links for my clients. This is one of the best free outreach tools you'll find.
Mention: I'm going to cheat and rattle off a couple additional tools I use regularly for SEO audits - Screaming Frog and Xenu Link Sleuth.
Are You Ready to Expand Your SEO Toolset?
A big thanks to all the experts who contributed to the roundup. Please share if you enjoyed it!
97 Experts Reveal Best SEO Tools to Build Successful Search Campaigns
I know there was a lot of information there, so here are the top results once again:
Best Tools for SEO (As voted by 97 SEO and online marketing experts)
#1: SEMrush (42 votes) [Get one month of SEMrush Pro for free here]
#2: Ahrefs (33 votes)
#3: Screaming Frog (29 votes)
#4: Buzzsumo (16 votes)
#5: Majestic SEO (13 votes)
#6: Google Analytics & Moz (12 votes)
#7: Google Keyword Planner and Buzzstream (11 votes)
#8: Google Search Console (8 votes)
#9: Longtail PRO (5 votes) [Start a 10 day trial for $1 here]
#10: Accuranker, Xenu Link Sleuth & Monitor Backlinks (4 votes)
If you could only use three SEO tools to build and manage your search campaigns, which three would you choose?
Are there any tools you are using that weren't mentioned above?
Let me know in the comments below.