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Michelle Morgan
by on May 27, 2020
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As SEOs we get clients coming to us on a daily basis trying to get more information on how SEO works, what's involved and more importantly what tools we use. In my experience, people tend to think that SEO is some kind of magic trick or that there is some software developed where you can push a button and the tool does all the work for you. And that couldn't be further from the truth.

There are tools that can be used to help research and analyse websites, which go a long way towards helping you outrank the competition, so I'm going to list the top 5 SEO tools, with some information on what they do, how they work and what I use them for. These tools help me in my SEO activity; they are not essential, as pretty much everything can be done manually, but would take a lot more time. My theory is that if something can be done to quicken a process, then it's worth doing. For example, I could manually invoice all of my clients or I can use a software that creates the invoices and sends them automatically on the date they're due.

It's no different in SEO. If there is something that can help with tasks, such as research and analysis, and save some of time, then it's something everyone will use.

Over the past years the tools have changed. There is no tool that I can just set up in the morning and it would do all of the SEO I need it to. I want to make it clear that there isn't a tool that can just simply do your whole SEO. SEO requires a human being to go in and do the onsite side of things. Yes, we can do an audit using a tool, but the actual work has to be done by a specialist. The tools listed below are the ones I use on a daily basis to help me do SEO for a client's website.

1. SEMrush

This tool is great and is probably my most frequently used tool. I use this daily, for a number of reasons. It can do a lot of keyword research for you, providing you with accurate data on the keywords you may be researching. It helps with keyword research and, of course, setting up pay per click campaigns, as it provides data such as search volume and cost per click.

SEMrush is a tool that is constantly being developed and it can also do website audits, which will help you fix any problems that the structure of your website may have, that could go unnoticed pretty easily.

You can do a lot of competitor analysis, which involves checking what keywords your competitors rank for, so that you can replicate this in your own SEO campaign. You can also see what backlinks they have and which of these are no-follow, so that you can pursue the good quality follow links which they have.

A recent (and useful) addition is the rank checker.

Overall this is a great tool that is growing and has social media and position tracking, as well as many other features that help me as an SEO with a load of research. When you know the data is accurate, it makes the job so much easier.

2. Ahrefs

People often ask me what is the best tool on the market to check competitors backlinks; there are many to choose from. Over the years I've tried them all and played around with several for months, but have now settled on Ahrefs.

Every backlink checker seems to throw up a different figure, but Ahrefs always seems to dig out some pretty good results, so I use this alongside some other tools, to get all the data I need to check on competitors backlinks.

Ahrefs has trillions of websites stored in their index, which is reloaded every 30 minutes, this is why it's likely to throw up some pretty good data to work with.

They are also doing some other good things, such as their new keyword explorer and positions explorer, so that they are essentially trying to add more data to get up there and offer similar to the likes of SEM Rush. It's a pretty useful tool for any SEO to have and well worth the monthly subscription.

3. SERPed.net

This tool isn't always available to the general public to buy, at the time of writing you needed to join a waiting list to get access to this tool, but I do have access and it's a pretty good tool. Again, I use this one daily, as it does many things, including checking websites' load speed, uptime and many other features.

We provide clients with WordPress websites in a lot of cases and serped.net allows me to schedule and take a backup as often as I want. This is important, as websites on open source platforms are being targeted by hackers, so it's essential to have a copy - this tool makes copying easy.

It also allows me to manage WordPress updates and plugins from the main control panel, which means I don't have to login manually to all of the websites to update them.

It can check domains, run audits, check grammar and also research expired domains and other things that you might want to do as an SEO, such as checking a domain's mozrank, trust flow and other domain metrics.

Essentially, it is a great tool to monitor uptime, do backups and manage WordPress websites from one platform.

4. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool and a must for any website. Again, it's a tool I use daily to monitor clients' websites. The data that you can get from Google Analytics can help you refine your SEO campaign. Installing the tool is easy: you simply add a short code to your website and it's up and running and can track everything from organic web traffic to your PPC campaign; you can even set up conversion goals, to see how well your website is performing.

For example, a goal might be someone buying a product from your website, when they make a payment that works out as a goal, so you are then able to see how many sales you make on your website from your traffic website's traffic. It also provides a wealth of other information, such as what devices your visitors use, whether your visitors are male/female and lots of other useful data. So it's a must have for any SEO pro.

5. Screaming Frog

This is another tool that we use on a daily basis. It is a tool that will crawl your website in a similar fashion to Google and will identify broken links, missing meta data and advise you on what other SEO elements need to be updated. You can set this up so that you can crawl a website prior to starting out your SEO campaign. Make sure that you have a report of the website and it's current condition prior to you starting SEO.

You would then proceed to fix any elements that need to be fixed and you can, of course, report this to a client, should you want to show them what on-site changes you have made to their website. As an SEO, it's more important that you use this tool to fix the client's website, because it will certainly help you find any problems that need tweaking. It's a great tool that will eliminate a lot of manual research and it is very accurate.

SEO does take up a lot of time, but there are areas which, if done manually, will take up most of your time. Some of these include keyword research, checking your competitors' rankings, checking websites for crawl errors and checking competitors' backlinks. When manually doing SEO, these tools assist me with all day to day activities and help me rank client websites.

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