It’s hard to discuss SEO without mentioning one piece of software or another:
And for those folks running SEO agencies, the number of tools increases.
Because let’s face it, managing multiple clients and campaigns requires more than one tool.
In short: there’s no single SEO tool that covers everything.
But how do you choose the best SEO software for your agency?
Each agency is different. Some focus on Local SEO; others specialize in link building.
Rather than just tell you the tools I use at my agency, I reached out to 49 SEO agency founders, directors and managers and asked the following question:
What SEO tools does your agency rely on most to drive results for clients?
If you want to jump straight to their responses, go here.
But first we’ll take a look at the final leaderboard to see which tools came out on top.
Best Software for SEO Agencies (Overall Leaderboard)
Here’s a list of the top voted SEO tools for agencies:
- Ahrefs (33 votes) [Review & 7-Day Trial]
- Screaming Frog / SEMrush (22 votes) [Review | 30-Day Free Trial]
- Search Console (14 votes)
- Google Sheets (9 votes)
- Google Data Studio / Google Analytics / Sitebulb (7 votes)
Honorable mentions (all tools received votes): DeepCrawl, BuzzStream, Pitchbox, BuzzSumo, Page Optimizer Pro, CORA, Supermetrics, URL Profiler, Majestic, BrightEdge, Mailshake, Botify, KWFinder, Moz, Agency Analytics, Power BI, AccuRanker, Big Metrics, SEO Powersuite, Sanity Check, MarketMuse, Clearscope, Optimiyzr, Click Flow, Ubersuggest, BrightLocal, SEO Monitor, WooRank, SERPbook, Raven Tools, SpyFu, Rankpro, GTmetrix, Teamwork, Asana, Airtable, Hunter, Scrapebox, Trello, Yext, SearchMetrics, AceIDE, Muck Rack, Traffic Think Tank, Digimetr, HubSpot CRM, InVision, STAT
As you can see, a lot of tools were mentioned across a range of use cases. In the following section, we’ll take a closer look at which software received the most votes in each major category.
30 Best SEO Agency Tools (By Category)
Given the breadth of work SEO agencies perform, there’s no shortage of software to consider. And given that each agency and their clients will have different requirements, no two tool kits will be the same.
To help you choose the best SEO software for your agency, I’ve divided the tools into four categories:
Depending on your situation, you’ll most likely need a few tools from each section.
SEO Campaign Software for Agencies
SEO agencies need tools that improve, optimize, and measure the Technical, On-Page, and Off-Page SEO elements of their client websites. This section looks at all-in-one software, as well as tools built for specific campaign initiatives.
All-In-One SEO Agency Software
Agencies rely on all-in-one SEO tool suites to deliver a wide array of services to their clients. Having a selection of tools in one platform helps productivity by centralizing activities tied to campaign execution.
SEMrush provides a comprehensive all-in-one marketing toolkit that many SEO agencies use as their tool of choice. Although best-known for its competitor research, it provides a wealth of data and insights that are valuable when building any type of SEO campaign.
SEO agencies use SEMrush for:
Competitor Analysis – Discover a competitor’s content strategy, keywords, traffic, and content gaps. Plus the Traffic Analytics tool helps agencies spot a rival’s top traffic sources, traffic volume, and audience engagement. It was recently ranked the top competitive analysis tool by 67 SEO professionals.
Keyword Research – Drive content creation via multiple keyword reports. Discover and evaluate high-value keyword opportunities by authority, search volume, and ranking difficulty across numerous countries. It was also ranked the #1 keyword research tool by 137 SEO professionals here.
Link Building – Monitor the quantity and quality of backlinks pointing to client sites and their competitors. Use the insights to find new backlink prospects, and identify the most “linkable” content types and topics per client industry. SEMrush recently renovated its entire backlink database – it now contains data on over 6.7 trillion backlinks.
Rank Tracking – Track the keyword rankings for client sites and their competitors at the domain, subdomain, subfolder, or URL level on mobile or desktop devices.
Site Audits – Find and fix on-page and technical issues to improve search rankings.
Reporting – Check the reporting dashboard to keep track of account changes like rankings and traffic. Use the visual white-label reports to inform clients of campaign updates and changes.
Bonus resource: SEMrush is an integral part of my agency SEO tool set. Check out my SEMrush review to learn 34 ways to use the tool to perform deep competitor analysis and build successful SEO campaigns.
Ahrefs provides a complete suite of SEO tools and resources that lets you audit your website, explore competitors, research keywords, and analyze backlinks. All the tasks that agencies require in their day-to-day operations, and all in one place.
SEO agencies use Ahrefs for:
Keyword Research – Check search volume, keyword difficulty, traffic value, and use the SERP overview reports to accurately qualify search terms.
Backlink Analysis – Discover and check backlink opportunities and domain metrics, analyze competitor link profiles, and qualify targets for link and content outreach.
Content Analysis – Check behind-the-scenes metrics like links, traffic, and social engagement to uncover which content types/ topics perform best in a given industry.
Competitor Analysis – Perform competitive SERP analysis for content strategy and link building, including guest post opportunities.
Rank Tracking – Track client and competition keyword rankings across all devices.
Link Reporting – Monitor new/ lost links, analyze backlink sources, assess anchor text distribution, spot suspicious link activity and see which content topics/types generate the most link activity.
Site Audit: Quickly spot a range of technical, on-page and off-site SEO issues across sites of all sizes. Ahrefs was recently voted the #1 audit tool by 47 SEO professionals.
Bonus resource: Check out my Ahrefs review to see 50+ practical applications of the tool.
BrightEdge is a leading SEO and content performance marketing platform powered by an Artificial Intelligence engine called DataMind. It’s the only SEO solution to give marketers real-time research, recommendations, and rankings in one place.
SEO agencies use BrightEdge to:
- Check the visibility of their tracked keywords and how they appear in the SERPs to see if the landscape and user intent have changed.
- Evaluate keywords that drive organic traffic to client websites and then create better-performing content that engages their customers.
- Discover high-value topics to add and track in clients’ SEO plans.
Moz Pro makes SEO, inbound marketing, link building, and content marketing easy. The all-in-one toolset helps SEO agencies to increase traffic, rankings, and visibility in the search results.
SEO agencies use Moz Pro for:
Keyword Research – Discover thousands of keywords they can target based on keyword difficulty, competitor research, and SERP analysis. Use the MozBar extension to view the link data directly within the SERP to better qualify keyword targets.
Backlink Analysis – Check site metrics, including link profiles, anchor text, and domain authority. Analyze competitor link profiles and uncover new “linkable” topic ideas and content types.
Rank Tracking – Track the performance of target keywords on client sites.
Site Audits – Crawl client sites to unearth technical SEO issues, and recommend fixes and enhancements.
Technical SEO Agency Software
Technical SEO ensures search engine spiders can crawl your site and index. These are the Technical SEO tools that agencies rely on to keep their clients’ sites running smoothly.
The Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is a website crawler that lets you crawl both small and large websites efficiently. It fetches key onsite and technical data like page titles, metadata, broken links, redirects, and duplicate content, so you can analyze results and make informed decisions.
SEO agencies use Screaming Frog to:
- Performing a complete SEO audit when they engage new clients to gather information about the project. Data is exported to a spreadsheet, so it’s easy to identify errors and make a remedial plan.
- Perform monthly or bi-weekly audits to check the health of client sites. A regular maintenance routine highlights any new technical issues and ensures they’re fixed immediately.
- Run audits on competitor sites to identify weaknesses that might be exposed.
The Google Search Console is a primary technical SEO tool for most agencies. The reports help you measure a site’s search traffic and performance, so you can fix issues and get back on track.
Google has recently upgraded the Search Console adding more data, features, and reports in an improved user interface.
SEO agencies use the Search Console to:
- Monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot their client site’s presence in the SERPs. For example, they can identify and fix problems related to indexing and crawling, push pages to be indexed/reindexed, and submit sitemaps to improve crawling.
- Review average ranking positions and CTR data to see which pages can be optimized and improved for quick wins.
- Action direct alerts from Google when it identifies issues with a site.
- Pull data from the Search Console into other tools like Google Data Studio for reporting and analysis.
Sitebulb is a powerful website crawler with the world’s most insightful reporting system. The award-winning SEO tool delivers actionable insights and data visualizations. The graphs and charts are much more digestible and help you understand what the data actually means.
Plus, they look awesome in your client reports.
SEO agencies use Sitebulb to:
- Crawl sites and take action on the ready-made recommendations. Issues are color-coded, so you can focus on the most important tasks without having to dig around for hours.
- Inform clients of progress on their website optimization using the built-in detailed visual reports.
URL Profiler is a time-saving, data-driven SEO tool that agencies use to quickly audit links, content, and social data. It can be configured to retrieve a vast array of data – thousands of URLs at once – without any limits or constraints.
SEO agencies use URL Profiler to:
- Perform bulk actions like running speed tests by connecting to Google’s Page Speed service and downloading link metrics from Mozscape, Majestic, and Ahrefs.
- Check duplicate content across vast URL sets and pull data from multiple third-party data sources – e.g. Google Analytics, Search Console, Ahrefs, etc. – and map them to URLs on a site.
- Extract data from third party applications and map them to URLs at scale. Extremely helpful when running technical content audits.
SanityCheck is an automated tool that lets you make better use of the Google Search Console data. It extracts all the valuable information you need so you can make better-informed decisions in less time.
SEO agencies use SanityCheck to:
- Identify content they can improve to achieve better rankings and clicks.
- Get daily page speed tests automatically delivered so they can fix slow loading pages straightaway.
- Run SEO split-testing to see at a glance how page changes are performing against the previous version.
DeepCrawl is a comprehensive website crawler that enables search marketers to make websites accessible, relevant, and effective. Agencies use the tool for initial technical audits and regular maintenance health checks.
SEO agencies use DeepCrawl to:
- Run technical SEO audits to check indexing status, technical errors, and content quality, and optimize online visibility for all of their clients.
- Monitor sites regularly (hourly, daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) with scheduled crawls to discover and fix any new technical issues that may impact their clients’ sites.
- Create customized client reports, including trends and comparisons depending on their requirements.
GTmetrix is a free tool that analyzes your page speed performance. Using PageSpeed and YSlow, GTmetrix scores your pages and provides recommendations on how to optimize them.
SEO agencies use GTmetrix to:
- Run front-end page tests and fix the highlighted errors by following the detailed instructions. The recommendations are prioritized so the big wins can be addressed first.
- Run tests from different regions to check how users around the world experience the site.
- Schedule regular tests (daily, weekly, or monthly) and alerts to ensure sites remain optimized.
On-Page SEO Agency Software
Sites need valuable, relevant, and high-quality content that answers user intent to rank higher in search results.
These are the On-Page SEO tools agencies rely on to optimize their client’s content.
PageOptimizer Pro helps pages rank better in the search results. Optimizing on-page content is one of the quickest ways to improve rankings, and this tool shows you how to do it.
PageOptimizer Pro uses the “Scientific On-Page Method” to process on-page SEO factors. It informs you how well your content is optimized, and then gives you the exact steps to fix it.
SEO agencies use PageOptimizer Pro to:
- Get a behind-the-scenes look at the on-page SEO strategy competitors are using to rank highly in the SERPs.
- Demonstrate to prospects why they need SEO services, by highlighting their on-page SEO problems.
- Implement the tool’s recommendations, then use the page scoring to show their clients how much they’ve improved their SEO content.
Clearscope is an optimization platform to help you produce relevant, high-quality content that attracts more search traffic. The tool combines real-time search data with natural language processing to make its recommendations.
SEO agencies use Clearscope to:
- Research target keywords and generate a list of related terms to include in the content.
- Write and optimize new content as well as correcting and improving published content to increase organic traffic.
MarketMuse is an online platform that uses AI and machine learning to help you build content strategies, accelerate content creation, and inform content decisions.
SEO agencies use MarketMuse to:
- Optimize existing content to rank higher for more keywords and improve audience engagement.
- Write high-quality content faster using the built-in editor to show how in-depth the topic is and what needs improving.
Off-Page/ Promotional SEO Agency Software
Off-page SEO focuses on the marketing efforts away from the website that will have a positive impact on search rankings. Building authoritative backlinks and promoting content takes time.
These are the Off-Page SEO tools agencies rely on to help with generating, tracking, and reporting on their link building and promotion strategies.
BuzzStream helps marketers promote their products, services, and content to build links, buzz, and brands.
SEO agencies use BuzzStream to:
- Discover the contact information, social profiles, and site metrics of influencers they want to reach. Using one database means team members can collaborate and keep projects organized.
- Keep track of all the outreach conversations (emails and tweets) and review the performance of campaigns in the dashboard.
Hunter lets you find and verify professional email addresses so you can connect with the people that matter for your business.
SEO agencies use Hunter to:
- Find prospects emails for link building and outreach campaigns. There’s also the option to upload a list of people and find the email addresses in bulk.
- Verify email addresses before using them and avoid bounced emails.
BuzzSumo helps find the most shared content and key influencers for any topic or competitor.
SEO agencies use BuzzSumo to:
Analyze which type of content is performing best for competitors, and then reproduce better content for the same keywords.
Reach out to influencers who have promoted similar content previously and ask if they’ll promote their clients’ new content.
Pitchbox is a link building, influencer outreach, and content promotion platform for agencies, publishers, and brands.
SEO agencies use Pitchbox to:
- Customize each outreach email, without manual input, and automatically follow up with prospects who haven’t responded.
- Manage outreach with contact discovery, email integration, scheduled follow-ups, and reporting on all phases of the campaign.
Majestic provides link intelligence tools for SEO, PR, and marketing professionals via its huge link index database.
SEO agencies use Majestic to:
- Perform routine analysis for link reclamation and internal linking structure, checking backlink profiles, monitoring new backlink alerts.
- Analyze data to discover where competitors are finding and attracting links.
Honorable mentions: Mangool Tools, SEO Powersuite, Click Flow, Muck Rack, Raven Tools, SpyFu, SERPbook, WooRank, DigiMetr, Ubersuggest, and STAT.
Local SEO Tools for Agencies
Agencies specializing in Local SEO need specialist tools. Here’s what they rely on to build and manage the visibility and reputation of their clients.
Yext is a data management tool that integrates with hundreds of leading brands to keep your business location-related information updated on multiple directories.
SEO agencies use Yext to:
- Manage local listings for clients ensuring the NAP details, citations, reviews, and feedback are accurate.
BrightLocal is an integrated local SEO and citation platform that helps agencies and marketers increase the visibility of brands and attract more customers.
SEO agencies use BrightLocal to:
- Monitor local rankings, local citations, reviews, and Google My Business.
- Share data with their clients via the white-label reporting tools.
Whitespark’s SEO tools help agencies improve local search rankings and get more business for their clients.
SEO agencies use Whitespark to:
- Track search engine rankings on Google and Bing in any city across the local pack, local finder, maps, and organic.
- Find key citations that competitors already have and would be useful to their clients to improve local ranking factors.
- Build clients’ reputation with online reviews, customer feedback, and testimonials.
Honorable mentions: Synup and Local Falcon
Client Reporting Software for SEO Agencies
This section lists the tools that agencies are using to track client KPIs and provide real-time insights into SEO campaign performance.
Google Analytics helps you understand how people use your sites and apps, so you can take action to improve their experience. It lets you measure your advertising ROI as well as tracking website traffic.
SEO agencies use Google Analytics to:
- Identify the triggers and events that indicate interest and engagement from visitors.
- Analyze traffic acquisition and behavior to identify what’s working and what isn’t.
- Build customized reports to share with clients.
Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio unlocks the power of your data with interactive dashboards and visual reports that inspire smarter business decisions. You can connect data from spreadsheets, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Google BigQuery, and more.
SEO agencies use Google Data Studio to:
- Centralize client reporting by pulling in data from Google Analytics, Search Console, and other 3rd party SEO tools to provide actionable insights.
- Keep track of everything from traffic trends to website index issues in one location.
Supermetrics is a marketing add-on for Google Sheets and Data Studio that lets you pull all your PPC, SEO, social, and web analytics data into automated reports.
SEO agencies use Supermetrics to:
- Pull data from various sources into Google Sheets, Excel, Big Query and Data Studio and generate automatic reports.
- Manipulate data and build custom reports with a simple user interface.
Power BI from Microsoft is a collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to turn independent sources of data into interactive visualizations and business intelligence reports.
SEO agencies use Power BI to:
- Connect different data sources (including sources across channels) to find more insights and dig deeper into specifics.
- Visualize data in new formats so that it’s easier to understand and action.
AccuRanker helps you track keyword rankings and monitor keywords on Google and Bing.
SEO agencies use AccuRanker to:
- Track client keywords and keep a tab on the competition with the daily updates and instant refresh of keyword rankings.
- Analyze SERP history to understand what SERP features drive the most traffic to client sites and their competitors.
AgencyAnalytics helps digital marketing agencies create custom dashboards and reports for their clients.
SEO agencies use AgencyAnalytics to:
- Provide clients with access to their custom dashboards and automated reports so they can measure the success of campaigns.
- Integrate with Google Analytics, Search Console, and other sources.
- Improve clients’ rankings with built-in SEO reporting tools, including Rank Tracker, Site Auditor, Backlink Monitor, and Competition Analyzer.
Honorable mentions: BigMetrics.io
Project Management Software for SEO Agencies
All SEO agencies need a project management tool to manage multiple projects, assign resource and meet client deadlines.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the favorites:
Google Sheets allows SEO agencies to track and monitor their client projects. It’s easy for team members to collaborate and share results with clients.
Agencies use Google Sheets to:
- Manage projects, build reports, and analyze data.
- Apply ‘vlookups’ and ‘filter functions’ to interrogate data.
- Share results with clients in real-time.
Asana organizes everything in one location so you can manage multiple clients, tasks, and teams.
Agencies use Asana to:
- Create visual project plans so they can pinpoint risks and eliminate roadblocks.
- Assign tasks to individuals with priorities and deadlines.
- Track the progress of different tasks, and, if required, reassign or reschedule tasks to balance workload.
- Store and share notes, files, and conversations in one location.
Trello keeps track of everything, from the big picture to the minute details. You organize and prioritize your projects with Trello’s boards, lists, and cards.
Agencies use Trello to:
- Add and assign tasks, with due dates, to team members on project cards.
- Track different project cards for each customer.
- Move cards through a status workflow on a board; e.g. a content creation project card might move through writing, editing, publishing, and promoting.
Honorable mentions: Airtable, Teamwork, HubStaff, and Slack.
By now you should have a shortlist of SEO software to evaluate for your agency. If you’d like to learn more about how agencies of all sizes are using these tools to optimize different areas of their client’s SEO campaigns, check out the responses below.
48 Experts Reveal The Software They Use to Run Successful SEO Agencies
In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the specific tools each agency is using to automate tasks, streamline internal processes and build successful SEO campaigns for their clients.
SEMrush provides great visuals that we can use to pass along information quickly to clients.
Ahrefs is what we use for most of our competitive analysis and content strategy. A good bit of our work focuses on this, including data for reporting. If Ahrefs had better design for clients (aggregate numbers per month) we would use it exclusively and drop SEMrush.
Pitchbox allows us to scale outreach in a way that we couldn’t when we were only using G-Suite (email & sheets).
Data Studio buildouts have been helpful internally, but also allow us to provide real-time reporting for clients.
Screaming Frog has been invaluable for crawling existing sites. We do a heavy amount of website redesign and being able to crawl massive sites, save/store data, etc. saves us any time we need to take a look back at something or make informed decisions going forward. It’s also, on a very granular level, helped us write better pitches and build better client relationships as we can more accurately assess the size of a website prior to an engagement.
Slack is how we communicate within and across teams and move much more quickly than we previously could with only email.
SEMrush is our tool of choice as their site crawl is top notch, their visibility data maps well to what we see in the real world, and they are constantly adding new tools that meet user needs.
Our secondary most recommended tool is Ahrefs, especially for keyword and topic research, as well as competitor SERP analysis at scale.
Ahrefs – This software covers a lot of bases. I use it to assess backlink profiles, track keyword rankings, for competitor analysis, finding guest post opportunities, and coming up with ideas for content. I also use it to assess whether a website will be a good fit to link to our clients.
The alerts feature allows me to outreach to potential link opportunities the day after something was published. As a whole, this tool is really powerful and allows me to perform lots of different tasks all in one place. I’ve usually got at least 1 Ahrefs tab open when I’m working.
G Suite/Google Drive – We do a lot of tracking in Google Docs and Google Sheets, and Google Drive is used to store files. It makes collaboration between team members incredibly easy, as well as sharing files with clients. With all of the information we need in one place, it means team members can work seamlessly if someone is away and if remote working is required. I always have a Google Drive tab pinned in my browser for quick access.
BuzzSteam – This is the hub for our outreach. The fact that you can divide contacts into different projects for different clients makes organizing conversations a lot easier, rather than trying to keep track of everything in one inbox. This is especially the case when conversations with the same people can cross over into multiple clients, or multiple people within one client. When you do a lot of outreach it pays to be able to keep things organised else you can miss opportunities for your clients.
Traffic Think Tank – Not necessarily a tool, but this community still allows me and my team to get results for our clients. Opportunities that have come up among the members are ones that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to secure, and have shown great results in ranking movements.
Also, the ability to bring a question to the community and get lots of different perspectives allows us to tackle project issues in ways we might not have thought of. Being a part of this community has provided results for both our clients and agency.
Ahrefs continues to be our agency’s go-to tool for analysis on our clients and their competitors.
Our favorite (okay, two favorites) features of Ahrefs is the Site Explorer, which has a plethora of value tools in itself. We use this feature to gain a deep understanding of the behind the scenes SEO metrics like links, traffic, top pages, and more.
Our second favorite feature of Ahrefs is Keyword Explorer. In conjunction with our regular keyword research, Keyword Explorer comes in handy for finding unique target opportunities we likely wouldn’t have been able to locate through traditional methods.
Power BI has been a big game-changer at Seer.
We’ve been able to look at more data than would be practical (or even possible) in Excel and we’re able to connect different data sources (including sources across channels) to find more insights.
Data visualization also offers the ability to look at data in different ways – you can identify outliers more easily in a visual chart like a treemap or a scatter plot, which allows you to find major opportunities, then drill down into the specifics.
You can learn more about how we’re using data visualization at Seer in our Guide to Power BI for Digital Marketers.
Clickflow is our platform of choice for SEO A/B split testing. The tool suggest pages with untapped SEO potential — a high-impression count but low click-through rate (CTR) — which can be improved to increase clicks and traffic.
Clickflow lets us choose a target CTR increase and serves up pages, along with a keyword report that lists what your page is ranking for and which keywords will help you get more traffic.
You can then make changes to title, meta description, title tag and body content, inside the app; changes are automatically reflected on the site. Clickflow then runs an experiment comparing the optimized page to the original.
We love it because it isolate the variables that contribute to success — or failure — giving us actionable insights, while also allowing us to make optimizations in real-time. (Disclaimer: I’m a Founder of Clickflow but we use it all the time.)
2. Ahrefs and SEMrush
Ahrefs and SEMrush are both super comprehensive tools that we use all the time. We use them to track keyword rankings, monitor our site’s inbound links, perform competitor analysis, and more. Their content and keyword explorer features drive our content ideation, while the detailed SERP analysis shows us how we can optimize existing content — e.g. potential to add new backlinks.
3. Google Search Console
Google Search Console helps you to monitor, maintain and troubleshoot your site’s presence in the Google search results. You can easily identify and fix problems related to indexing and crawling, you can submit sitemaps to Google to improve crawling, and you also receive direct alerts from Google in case it finds any issues with your site.
Ubersuggest is more than a keyword research tool: It displays domain-level metrics like number of backlinks, top content pages, number of referring domains, organic traffic value and many other important metrics. And it’s free to use! What’s not to love.
We specialize in audits and strategies, and as such use a pretty large tool stack, but the ones we consider most important are:
SEMrush – Because it has the largest and most useful keyword database, across multiple countries, and makes not just keyword research, but competitive analysis and numerous other tasks super easy.
Moz – While we’ve used all the key players (Ahrefs, Majestic, Moz), we just feel that Moz has the cleanest index and matches up the closest with Google. We use them primarily for link profile analysis and competitive research.
Screaming Frog – There are a ton of crawlers on the market now, but Screaming Frog is still the best as far as we’re concerned. Super configurable, capable of crawling huge sites, exports data in an easy to use format, constantly being updated…what’s not to like?
BuzzSumo – The best content/social share database that we know of. For analyzing which content is being created and performing best for competitors, and understanding what content performs well for various keywords and sites, there’s nothing better than BuzzSumo.
GTmetrix – Arguably the best page speed analysis tool out there (though Pingdom and Google’s various tools have their merits). GTmetrix though provides the most granularity into the elements that cause your page load speed.
Google Search Console – What’s better than data directly from the horse’s mouth on how your site is performing? Not much (though it’s got plenty of issues). You can extract a ton of good data from here, particularly re: crawl errors and average ranking/CTR data.We use a ton of other tools, but these form the backbone of what we use.
1. Google Analytics
We do our best to identify the triggers and events that indicate interest and engagement from visitors and log and track everything. Using advanced features of Google Analytics like segmentation in combination with these logs can really give you a ton of insight and shed light to opportunities for quick wins.
There’s simply no better content and link building tool out there that’s better than Ahrefs. You can really get into a rabbit hole of research that can lead to amazing link and content opportunities. It’s also a core tool in our audit toolbox.
3. Screaming Frog
We use Screaming frog as a core tool for performing technical and content audits. With on-page SEO being so important, there’s often a ton of opportunities you can uncover using just Screaming Frog alone.
Project management and tracking pending actions is super important and we’ve built a project management system using Airtable to keep us organized and on-track. Our content creation calendar and outreach are all managed through Airtable.
Screaming Frog – Our go to tool for any technical SEO analysis tasks
Asana – when it comes to SEO Project Managment, this tool is key! A fantastic tool that helps us manage resources, tasks and client deadlines.
Google Sheets + API/Zapier — By leveraging App Scripts on top of Google Sheets we’re able to tap into multiple different tools and APIs to streamline our SEO process. We’ve saved hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars thanks to it.
Here are a few examples:
We use DeepCrawl (DC) for our technical SEO audit. As a result, we created a custom connector that pulls in DC data into Google Sheets, formats them into the appropriate tabs, columns along with generating initial recommendations that our technical SEO leads can review in an easier manner.
Another example is our backlink analysis tool, all we need to do is export the raw CSV data that Ahrefs provides and paste the raw data into a Google Sheet. From there all of the raw data is crunch, analyzed and formatted into a custom actionable report.
A more complex example, is we’ve tapped into a client’s SalesForce account and connected it with Google Sheets which is then synced with Pitchbox (our link outreach tool) in order to build links from sites that the client partners or works with.
One last example is due to the types of clients we deal with (i.e. multi-location & franchise), creating, scheduling and managing Google My Business Posts across all of their locations is a HUGE pain in the butt. We’ve tapped into GMB’s post API and created a Buffer-like Google Sheet that allows us to schedule and publish GMB Posts across all of a client’s locations in an easy way. In fact, we are working on an Algorithmia integration that auto summarizes articles that will then be queued to a GMB profile.
Supermetrics: We pull data from Google Analytics and Google Search Console into Google Sheets to do some of our magic and this tool is a must for us to be able to save a lot of hours per week.
Screaming Frog and CORA SEO: We use Screaming Frog for scraping websites and doing a lot of technical analysis as well as the beginning of on-site seo changes and internal linking strategies.
Ahrefs: For competitive analysis, mostly in the link building department.
We also use SEMrush, Google Analytics, Search Console, Google sheets with lots of Vlookups and filter functions.
Ahrefs – I use Ahrefs daily just like many other SEOs. The primary purposes are to check backlink opportunities, domain metrics, keyword analysis, SERP preview (Search intent change over time) and their powerful API.
Mangools suite – I use the Mangools suite (mainly KWFinder and SERPChecker) for keyword research and SERP analysis. Especially the KW Finder, which helps find new keywords, related questions and autocomplete keywords. It’s fast and works great. I also use SERPChecker to quickly get a feel for the SERP positions and difficulty scores.
Accuranker – I use Accuranker to track keywords and keep a tab on the competitors. It’s cloud-based and works excellent.
SEO PowerSuite – I mainly use Rank tracker when dealing with a large number of keywords (Over 5000 keywords) as the tool runs locally it’s smoother to Install and use. All data is synced to the cloud so I can easily switch between devices.
Sanitycheck – I use Sanitycheck to look for running SEO split tests and especially testing multiple titles.
SEMrush: due to its databases that are really good to work in various different countries like UK, Brazil, Portugal and Spain. All countries that we operate in. For instance, keyword research, organic visibility and ranking monitoring in different countries and areas of Brazil.
Screaming Frog: our universal crawler. It helps us quickly uncover a wide array of issues from website of all sizes. From really small local SEO clients to enterprise clients with over 50.000 URLs.
Ahrefs: our go to source for link building. Also very good databases that help us monitor link profiles in different countries (mentioned above). The Content Explorer feature is also really good to uncover link opportunities and it works very well in UK, BR and Europe.
Basically, we are always on the lookout for tools that enable us to work at the same level as we do in English-speaking countries in other countries, specially Brasil. Many tools tend to have all their focus on English-speaking countries and the above really stand out for us as an international SEO agency
#1 – SEMrush is a great tool as it offers an easy to use reporting dashboard. It’s perfect for the daily account review and helps us keep track of account changes like rankings and traffic with very little time investment. We can pop in and pop out, make sure everything looks good and get on with the rest of our tasks.
Their site auditing features are also great, and while they may not cover everything we would need in a more enterprise-level audit, it covers about 80% of what you need. It is an exceptional resource for keeping on top of your technical SEO.
#2 – Ahrefs is a close second. As of late, it’s our go-to tool of choice for keyword research. We also love Ahrefs for its link reporting functionalities. Not only does it do a great job monitoring our client’s link profiles, but it also is great for reporting what links the completion is receiving.
#3 – Screaming Frog is a must for more in-depth website audits. We might leverage some audit data from the likes of SEMrush and Ahrefs etc, but what makes Screaming Frog great for in-depth website audits is its minimalist data output. There is nothing like a simple spreadsheet of data to get a good sense of where to start your technical SEO efforts.
#4 – Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are of course on the list. We use these both natively and in our custom Google Data Studio Reports to keep track of everything from traffic trends to website index issues.
SpyFu: Huge index of rankings history across lots of niches. It is best for US companies though.
Majestic: Huge backlink index, plus new backlink alerts,
Ahrefs: The most usable tool of all. We just love their intreface and data freshness. We go for competitive and SERP analysis. The only think they miss is historical data.
Miles Anthony Smith
SEMrush is the best tool for keyword research since it allows you to identify keywords and sort them by authority, search volume, and ranking difficulty very quickly.
Ahrefs & Mailshake for influencer outreach; the former allows you to create a hyper-targeted influencer list and the latter allows you to scale and mass-personalize that email outreach.
Screaming Frog for larger technical site audits due its many features and data integrations with other tool’s APIs.
The tools we use a lot –
1. Ahrefs – For link analysis, keyword research and prospecting.
2. SEMrush – Keyword analysis and project management.
3. Google Sheets & Google Data Studio – Management of projects, reports, and data analysis.
4. Mailshake – Email outreach tool we use in the office to secure high quality placements.
5. Hunter.io – Tool we use for finding prospect emails.
6. Scrapebox – Great tool for prospecting and scraping data.
7. Sitebulb – Website crawling tool we use at scale. One of the best on the market.
8. Screaming Frog – another crawler we use for audits.
9. Trello – Good tool we use for project management.
10. Hubstaff – Tool we use for time tracking and project management.
Screaming Frog – One of my favorite crawling tools allowing quick opportunity finds and analysis. Being able to crawl and highlight all on-page attributes quickly is key to deploying strategies and capturing quick wins.
SEMrush – Great tool to track and gauge performance / improvements. The reports and audit functionalities allow for transparent reporting on updates and changes.
When it comes to building our SEO client’s backlink profiles two tools are key for our outreach efforts: BuzzSumo and Muck Rack.
Any combination of these tools allows you to find highly relevant publications and writers quickly and on a large scale.
We rely on BuzzSumo to not only keep tabs on our clients’ backlink profiles, but also to identify key websites, publications and writers who are talking about similar content and subjects. BuzzSumo’s “Backlinks” search pulls quick and easy reports on who shares URLs, their domain authority, and social media engagements.
From an outreach and link building perspective, these reports provide insights into who is amenable to writing about our clients’ work. We’re able to build media lists of relevant and authoritative contacts who can help us strengthen our client’s own authority.
Muck Rack operates as a “little black book” of seemingly everyone in the media. When trying to build media lists to share our client’s content, Muck Rack allows us to search for, categorize, and organize the types of writers and publications we want to work with. The database’s keyword search capabilities and detailed writer profiles help us avoid pitching the wrong people and instead allow us to hone in on the journalists who are the most relevant to our client.
When we are able to target relevant and authoritative publications from the onset of our outreach efforts, we see more powerful results from an SEO perspective.
Time is money, and tools like Muck Ruck and BuzzSumo help take out the guesswork of blanket pitches and allow our outreach efforts to hit the right people and publications that can benefit our overall SEO efforts.
SEMrush: Our agency uses this software for competitor research as it makes gathering those key insights efficient. The data contributes incredible value to the construction of a high performing SEO campaign.
Google Search Console: This is a tool we wouldn’t want to live without. We use it to review average query ranking positions, website health and also to push pages to be indexed/re-indexed.
Screaming Frog: This platform is one of the best SEO tools available. It’s a time saving tool that allows for efficient analysis and auditing of a website. So it’s also great for competitor research!
Aside from your standard Google toolkit (Google Analytics, Search Console, Keyword Planner, and Trends), here are some tools I feel are essential for SEO agency success.
AceIDE – This file editor allows us to make code changes more efficiently and directly from the WordPress dashboard.
Agency Analytics – Agency Analytics is one of our go-to tools for measuring success. It has integrations directly to Google Analytics and Search Console, as well as CallRail. One of the things on which we pride ourselves is radical transparency, so we provide our clients with user and mobile access to these dashboards.
It keeps them informed on a proactive basis and at their convenience: they have control over when they receive data on their campaign.
Ahrefs – An essential tool for competitor backlink analysis, Ahrefs has very comprehensive crawling capabilities. My team finds it intuitive and easy to use.
Our primary use for Ahrefs is backlink analysis; however, we do perform keyword research (using the Content Explorer tool), which details search volume and keyword difficulty, as well as providing keyword ideas.
Screaming Frog – We use Screaming Frog to crawl an entire website in a relatively short period of time. It allows us to take a more granular look at metadata, permalink structure, word count, and just the overall architecture of the site.
This allows us to spot SEO opportunities more easily, since the entire structure is available and sortable as a .csv file.
Smush Image Compression & Optimization – The title of this WordPress SEO plugin is fairly self-explanatory, but we use it to reduce the size of images, and thus improve overall website speed and performance.
SEMrush: for competitive analysis.
BuzzSumo: For content idea generation and data gathering for influencer outreach.
Pitchbox: For outreach management.
There’s such a wide array of tools to use, and it entirely depends on the client’s current needs. Since we developed an in-house SEO Auditor tool, we always start there to get a high-level feel of the client’s existing authority and fundamental on-page factors.
When engaging a new client, performing a complete SEO audit is necessary. The top tool for this is Screaming Frog, with Excel going hand-in-hand to provide the reporting of results. We’ve even used Screaming Frog’s xpath extraction for a site migration to match up key data. SEO is practically impossible to do correctly without it.
To deliver ongoing results, tracking links is critical. We use Ahrefs primarily for that purpose, and it always makes alerting easy when the content strategy obtains new links. However, GSC is also a great place to see links and much more, especially errors.
For keyword research, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz are all great. But, keyword rankings are not something we typically report on. For reporting, Agency Analytics is a great high-level tool, and nothing beats customized reports from Google Analytics. I feel results are best measured on conversions and ROI.
Search Console: One of the most powerful SEO practices I know of is looking at terms that people are using to find your content and then optimizing for those topics that aren’t specifically or deeply addressed presently on those pages. This keeps your site fresh and continually relevant. We look for pages and terms that are already getting lots of impressions and some traffic that are in positions 6-20. When optimizing these pages, we often see fairly quick (when comparing to new content) improvements in ranking, traffic and conversions. You could also take this a step further and begin by looking at your top converting pages, even a small increase in traffic to those pages can work wonders!
Ahrefs: We will often use Ahrefs to look at a competitor’s top pages (depending on the situation- top by links, top by traffic or top by value). This gives us insights into key content topics we may be missing. If we already have similar content, it gives us insight into any topics we may have missed talking about in that content. It also helps us identify backlinks to those pages that we may wish to investigate for our own content.
Personally, I also find great value in seeing what keywords a client is ranking for that are showing featured snippets, video results, etc. This helps me give recommendations on content types that a client could use to be more competitive in their space.
Screaming Frog: This tool, once understood and combined with a good audit process is a life saver! We use it extensively for our initial site audits. While many audit tools will give you information on duplicate title tags, meta descriptions, etc., Screaming Frog gives you much, much more.
We use it to identify redirect chains, 404s (when connected to Ahrefs you can sort these by 404s with backlinks to establish a priority on fixes), canonical issues and more. We’ll often uncover issues that a site owner had no idea existed. This very in-depth audit process with Screaming Frog gives our clients an edge in their respective industries.
Google: While there are many tools an SEO agency could use, a simple Google search should be among the top. When investigating a topic to rank for, it’s essential to look at what Google already thinks is the most relevant for it. Googling a keyword phrase can tell you the type of content you need to create (If the results are exclusively showing product pages, you may be hard pressed to rank your blog post for that keyword).
Additionally, you can gain some amazing insights by paying attention to Google’s questions People Also Ask, and the Searches related to items at the bottom of a search page. These are great related topics to bring up in your content. The guys at Income School even suggest that the autosuggest feature has been more reliable tool to show what gets searches than all those that provide search volume. Testing this out.
Ahrefs for even faster keyword research, competitor link analysis and organic research.
Speedmonitor.io for automated Lighthouse page speed testing.
Ahrefs is by far our single most used tool. We use it in two different areas of the business. The daily use is finding and qualifying targets for link and content outreach. It is easy to pull the backlinks from competitors and niche relevant websites and drop into a sheet. (We still have a Majestic account, but only for Trust Flow). Better quality links normally results in better client rankings.
I love the broken links feature for finding broken pages on client’s website that have inbound links. Redirecting these is a real quick win the client. We use content gap, site explorer, and content explorer to find content ideas for blog posts.
Buzzstream is second on the favorite list – though if they upped their game with more integrations it would be first. Using BuzzStream we can work through a list of target websites for outreach very quickly. BuzzStream helps us keep in touch with every website we have ever written for, it pulls RSS feeds, lets us make notes with reminders, and confirm that all the links are live each week.
Buzzstream will help us move into more traditional PR as we build our lists. SEO will eat PR if we are smart.
This year has seen us focus more with on-site SEO. Using tools like Clearscope to write and optimize current content. Screaming Frog and Sitebulb to crawl sites and keep them in good health. URL Profiler to run speed test in bulk.
Currently our agency is spending around two thousand dollars per month on SEO software. Clients reap the benefits of faster workflows and in-depth research.
Ahrefs, Optmyzr, Buzzstream & default Google products (Google Analytics/ Search Console).
Ahrefs is our most important third-party tool. It runs our keyword rank tracking, link research, new topic & keyword research. For SEO we’d be not nearly as productive without it.
On the paid search side, Optmyzr has been a more recent addition but one that’s proven to help us with managing bids, A/B testing new ads, reviewing budget pacing and other important paid search activity.
Buzzstream has been an important tool to manage all of our outreach and record link placements in a single dashboard.
We use a lot of different tools as finding a single tool that does it all is impossible.
Crawling – We use a few tools for this type of data collection. Crawlers are able to easily identify technical issues with a site without much effort. We also monitor sites monthly with crawls in order to reduce the length of time any technical issues may impact the site. We use DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog and URL Profiler.
ADA Compliance is a big topic for a lot of website managers. WCAG and SEO go hand-in-hand most of the time. As more lawsuits are filed for ADA compliance, we highly recommend testing for WCAG to become as compliant as possible. We use PowerMapper to assist with WCAG compliance.
For competitive research we use SEMrush – it is simply the best tool out there for data of this nature. We use this tool to benchmark our client vs competitors, resarch the competition and assist with content marketing.
Local SEO – yes, you do need a tool that is specific for Local SEO, we use BrightLocal to monitor local rankings, local citations, Google My Business, reviews. We give our clients access to their external reporting tools as well.
At Wpromote many of us rely on BrightEdge to drive results. Brightedge provides us visibility into our tracked keywords and also a visual of what the SERPs look like for that selected keyword. This allows us to understand quickly if the landscape and user intent have changed saving us time to focus on strategy.
We also rely on Google Tag Manager as a way to monitor certain initiatives. By using specific tags, we can give our clients true transparency on the impact of our organic efforts.
Screaming Frog is another great tool that allows us to get a view of the technical well-being of the site in a relatively quick manner. We run our clients URL through this at least monthly, if not bi-weekly in order to ensure the site is sound.
We rely HEAVILY on Ahrefs. It’s getting better and better every day, I love the support, community and the Ahrefs blog is one of our go-to learning resources.
We use Ahrefs for basically everything from link prospecting and analysis to keyword, content research and competitor analysis. I also use it a ton for sales and consulting calls. It’s probably the only tool I open up at least once every single day.
Other than Ahrefs, the only tool I’ve been using recently is PageOptimizer Pro. It’s great for on page insights and I love the fact that it’s based on actual research data done by Kyle Roof. We use it mostly to further optimize content that already has links, but is still not ranking as it should.
Ahrefs: Keyword research and backlink analysis. We use this tool religiously.
Screaming Frog: Provides critical insights into immediate technical issues. We also use this for lead gen – doing initial crawls and sending to prospects as a foot-in-the-door.
Google Sheets: We use custom internal sheets that update clients in real-time on live links & new content.
SearchEye: Our proprietary software we built to manage client campaigns start to finish: automated reporting, citation management via API, Google Maps management, keyword tracking, competitor tracking, link building schedules, and more.
Ahrefs, Google Search Console, Google Analytics and Google Data Studio
I use Ahrefs mainly because of the visibility report coupled with the competitor tracking. The best way to get buy in from your clients is to show them where they stand in relation to their top competitors. And I’ve found the tool’s traffic estimates are fairly accurate.
Google Search console is a staple of the SEO tool set and Google has been investing time into making it better.
Google analytics is by the best tracking platform because of it simplicity, and its free.
Google Data Studio is great because I can bring many reports from different platforms into one clean report.
Why? It’s very good at intersecting different perspectives on data. For example I can
– see share of search for a particular set of key phrases,
– historic data from any given domain showing all of their substantial key phrase searches of movement over time
– their keyword reports are excellent
– the link analysis information is also superb and it gives data on search traffic going to given websites. That’s an important metric for me, because if Google trust the website enough to rank it, then probably a good place for a donor link.
– Overall the data exports are very consistent and quick, which means I can run metrics through Excel spreadsheets have created the give me information you can’t get on Ahrefs
A bulk analysis tool which gives you metrics such as:
– historic traffic volumes,
– proportion of search traffic,
– other sources of traffic,
– meta data
– page views
– time on-site
Along with numerous other metrics.1,000 queries cost about one US dollar. I find it’s very useful for understanding overall characteristics of groups of sites. For example, I’ve got a press release distribution list and I refresh that list through this tool every month or two, so I can identify sites with highest engagement. It is also very useful for analyzing sites for prospective link placement. It’s the only bulk analysis site I’ve ever come across which gives me the kind of data you have to pay for via a pro-Alexa account or similar web.
Similar to Digimetr , this gives you some detailed metrics on websites. For example if you are looking for links, this is a good supplemental tool for checking out traffic and other site metrics that are useful for judging quality. Main bonus: it’s free to use!
When we sort out a client website, it’s because we’ve gone through a gap analysis process where we’ve looked at competitor pages that out rank our client pages and from there were able to come up with a change list they can use to improve user satisfaction.
Google Sheets is great for low level spreadsheet work, where you’ve got collaboration. But Excel is still king when it comes to spreadsheet processing power in my opinion. I hate to say that, because I’m not Microsoft fan 🙁 Fact is: it’s hard to beat the malleability of Excel . And when you mix that in with the quality of data you get from ahrefs… You’ve got something very useful.
It’s a wire framing tool that allows designers to come up with very realistic mockups of websites. It’s probably the most powerful of its kind that I’ve ever seen and clients love it, because sketches are very accessible and easy to change. Coders love it because it automatically creates specifications for front-end development.
It’s free and very powerful. It integrates with Gmail and so we use this as our outreach CRM tool. The reporting is excellent and in many ways it’s far better than any of the paid systems we’ve used in the past.
Mike van der Heijden
At Local Visibility, we specialize in website development and digital marketing for small businesses, therefore we use the following tools:
SEMrush – Keeps us on track to see movements in organic visibility over time, we also use SEMrush for basic keyword research and rank tracking.
Ahrefs – Mostly for link analysis, but have been using it more and more to determine popular pages and content on competitor websites.
KWFinder (Mangools) – these guys have a great suite of tools for quick and dirty on the fly checks, things like SerpWatch to get snapshots of SERPs at any given time, and can set it to take daily snapshots of the SERPs you want to track.
Sitebulb – Pretty obvious why we use this..
Agency Analytics – We use Agency Analytics for reporting, as it has everything we need for smaller accounts.
SEO Monitor – provide all the elements to ensure our content marketing campaigns are at par against competition which we can analyse with the competition in detail with the likes of Sistrix/Searchmetrics.
The key is not only to track what we optimize but also keep an eye out for opportunities and growth of direct/indirect competition which can be measured in depth using the tools mentioned.
Acronym is a tool agnostic search and performance based advertising agency with many technology partners and platforms to research markets, implement and optimize advertising and promotional campaigns for maximum return on advertising spend.
For local search initiatives we partner with Rio and Yext, two of the largest local search platforms in the industry. We implement these tools for expert management of local listings for Clients in the hospitality and education sectors. Our local search team optimizes landing pages and ensures the N.A.P data is accurate, that sites generate and maintain accurate citations, and also manage reviews and feedback.
Acronym’s own propriety search and business intelligence platform called Keyword Objects™ has been designed to offer to our enterprise level Clients deeper insights and clear, uncluttered reporting and analysis.
Keyword Objects™ includes the patented Keyword Provided Algorithm (KPA) which provides a solution to the secure search encrypted keywords problem and brings back keyword data with 90+ percent accuracy. Also featured in this one-of-a-kind platform is the Synergy Module which provides Clients with a side-by-side analysis of SEO and PPC data giving a keyword dollar-for-dollar comparison chart.
From an SEO platform perspective, we partner with a number of industry players such as Search Metrics, BrightEdge, Conductor, SEO Clarity and others. Acting as agency of record for our we both recommend to, and work with, existing technology partners chosen by our Clients. The Acronym team is certified by all major platforms and expertly drive organic performance, find new opportunities (answer box, content gaps) as well as analyzing and reporting market share.
For competitive analysis and backlink insight and tracking we partner with SEMrush, Majestic and Ahrefs. These tools enable us to discover new linking opportunities, analyze sources where competitors are inducing and attracting links from and perform routine analysis for link reclamation and internal linking structure.
For site crawling and audits, we partner with DeepCrawl, Botify and Screaming Frog and Google Search Console. These tools enable us to create check indexing status, technical errors, content quality and optimize online visibility for all of our Clients.
Which SEO Tools Are You Going To Try?
OK, there you have it – 48 agencies revealed the SEO software they rely on most to drive results for their business and clients.
Those are the SEO agency tools our experts rely on most to drive results for clients.
As a recap, here’s the list of the 5 best tools for SEO agencies (by vote count):
- Ahrefs (33 votes) [Review | 7-Day Trial]
- Screaming Frog / SEMrush (22 votes) [Review | 30-Day Trial]
- Search Console (14 votes)
- Google Sheets (9 votes)
- Google Data Studio / Google Analytics / Sitebulb (7 votes)
What tools are you going to try? Any new ones we should add to the list?
Let me know in the comments below.