There are tons of SEO tools floating around the internet, each promising to make your job easier. Sorting through the hype and finding the ones that pertain to your business, and then finding the ones from those that actually work for you, is a whole ‘nother story.
While there are oodles of third-party apps, browser add-ons and extensions, and shiny software, finding quality tools that are worth your time can be a daunting task. To start, tap into the resources you probably already have, like the RSS feed or email newsletter of authoritative SEO blogs like SEOmoz and Search Engine Land.
Quick tip: To find quality SEO tools you need to find quality SEO websites first. We use Open Site Explorer and the SEO toolbar extension (both by SEOmoz) to determine the ranking of websites and blogs.
Where to find quality SEO tools:
1. SEOmoz Blog
SEOmoz is the go-to resource for all things SEO. They have two different blogs chock-full of SEO goodies from their staff, guest bloggers, and industry leaders providing a range of knowledge. Sometimes they review tools on their blogs so their readers can get a better idea of what it is, what it does, and why it’s useful. A quick site search for “seo tools” yields over 100 results and recommendations from industry leaders and experts.
This blog focuses on the social side of SEO and reviews a number of tools for its readers. They also have a very active fan base, and readers are constantly commenting on the articles and offering up their own two cents. Questions asked in the comments are always answered, giving you bonus information.
3. Community Question Boards
LinkedIn has an “Answers” section, Quora is a social discussion site, and Facebook and Twitter have polls. These are all excellent places to find out about the best tools and discuss them with people who have an interest in them.
4. Advanced Search Operators
Make Google work for you by asking the right questions. Using OR, AND, intext:, inurl: and other nifty words can narrow down your Google search to give you exactly what you’re looking for without having to scroll through pages and pages of search results. We previously wrote a post about advanced search operators and how to be better at Google, which is a can’t-miss for anyone on the Internet. Using an ASO like related:“http://ontolo.com/ can return results with tools related to Ontolo, while a search for “link building” OR “seo” OR “search engine optimization” OR “link prospecting” intitle:tool OR inurl:tool OR intext:tool will scour the internet for tool reviews with a specific purpose.
5. Social Media
Last but not least, let social conversations do your dirty work. I’ve already mentioned that Twitter polls are great for asking your peers about SEO tools, but you can also search Tweets and profiles to find what you’re looking for. You can even set up search columns in HootSuite or Tweetdeck using similar advanced search operator tricks. For example, you might decide to search for any Tweet that mentions SEO or link building by using the following search: “SEO” OR “link building” tools. The column will now show you any Tweets that mention either of those two keywords. Pro tip: Switch the search to “users” to find people tweeting about SEO and link building tools.
How to know if a tool is right for you:
1. Free Trial
This is easily the most effective way to determine if a certain SEO tool is right for your needs, although it can also be the least time efficient. If you have the time and resources to devote to trying out a new tool and you have the option of a free trial, go for it, especially if you’re already pretty sure this is the tool for you.
Competitor reviews: If your competitors are using a tool successfully, you might want to jump on that bandwagon to start claiming some of those customers.
2. Expert Reviews
Find out what SEO experts are saying about the tool. A good pro and con list about a tool can help you determine if it will do what you need it to. These guys can also probably give you inside tips on how to use a tool in a more creative way than your competitors are. Attending SEO conferences like SMX is also a great way to get the low-down on the top tools; if you can’t attend in person, keep your eye out for conference recaps and reviews which will touch on the topics covered. You can even find whole presentations!
Things You Probably Already Know
Understand the costs associated with the tools you’re researching. A $300/month subscription fee is nothing to a major agency, but can be a deal breaker for a lot of smaller companies. If cost is a factor look into the free or low-budget tools – there are plenty out there that will do exactly what you want without sending your company into Chapter 11.
Understand what you want a tool to do for you or help you do more efficiently. This seems like a no-brainer but unless you have a clear idea of what it is you need you’ll have a hard time sifting through all the great tools out there. Be honest with yourself.
Since we’re nice, here’s where you should start your SEO tool search:
At SEOmoz you’ll find:
- An extensive list of useful and easy to implement SEO tools
- A free 30 day trial that includes all of their great tools
- A free version of most of their tools (albeit in limited versions)
- A paid subscription that gives you unlimited access to all of their tools
- Daily blog posts with helpful information
- A one stop shop for SEO tools that was voted best SEO tool of 2010
Google tools include:
- Webmaster Tools for site owners to learn about visitors in real time
- Analtyics Tools for site owners and/or agencies to track data over time
- Keyword Tool to hone in on local and global searches in an industry
- All of the above in addition to the suite of Google apps, including Gmail, Google Drive, etc.
- All of the above are free (hooray!)