So many tools, so little time.
The world of online digital marketing tools can be an overwhelming one. If you search ‘digital marketing tools’ in Google, you’ll get hundreds upon hundreds of different tools, all claiming to be the latest and the greatest. It’s because of this I decided to put together a list of 13 of my favorite tools, used specifically for search engine optimization (SEO).
This lists covers the tools I utilize the most, for technical site audits, page tagging and reporting. Enjoy!
- Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is, in my opinion, one of the most useful tools for SEO. I use it at the beginning of every project, particularly when I’m putting together a technical site audit for a client. I use this tool to review errors, redirects, HTML titles, meta descriptions, headers, image alt text, canonicalization, and more.
Additionally, with Screaming Frog you can create sitemaps (both HTML and XML), look at how other bots crawl your site, and at inlinks and outlinks.
SEMRush is great for researching domain and keyword analytics, as well as tracking historical keyword positions.
SEMRush is also useful in identifying rich snippet opportunities and in competitive research (overlapping keywords, backlink profile, search ad history). I, particularly, love the domain versus domain feature it provides. You can compare your site to a competitors’ to gauge who has the most dominance in organic search and where your pain points are within keywords.
Typically I’ll use the MozBar, an SEO toolbar from (you guessed it) Moz, during the competitive research phase of my analysis.
I like the MozBar because it’s easy and straightforward to use, and enables you to grab high-level insights. quickly The MozBar can be used to look at Domain Authority, Page Authority, a site’s spam score, on-page elements, link metrics, markup, Http Status and general attributes.
The one drawback about the MozBar is that it can slow down your browser’s speed. When starting up MozBar, it will reload every tab you have open, so just be cognizant of this.
BuzzSumo is a tool I was introduced to a few years ago. I use this tool to research top shared content via social media (by domain or by topic), identify social media influencers to promote content, as well as research social media posting habits.
This tool can be used for competitive research, as well as internal marketing efforts. BuzzSumo offers insights, like the best times/days to post on specific social media channels. It is also useful for seeing the backlinks to your site which can be broken down by each piece of content.
As many SEOs know, link building, and keeping track of link building outreach is an arduous and difficult process, especially if you’re unorganized.
Luckily, BuzzStream helps you manage and organize this process. From building template emails, to getting notices when it’s time to follow back up on an email, BuzzStream is a godsend for managing link building relationships. It’s also a savior when keeping track of the emails you send as it stores the messages you send out as well as the ones you receive.
- PageSpeed Insights
As site speed and accelerated mobile pages (AMP) become more and more essential to UX and SEO, it’s important to have the right tools to check your site’s speed.
My go to is Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which can be used to analyze existing sites, and will provide recommendations on how to make your site work fast. Google’s tool page speed is ranked on a 1 to 100 scale, and it provides a score for both your desktop site as well as mobile.
- Google Docs/Sheets/Slides
My life would be over without Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, you name a Google product – I use it. Now, that may be an exaggeration, but seriously, I use them all day, erryday.
These various tools help me stay organized, and collaborate with team members and clients, efficiently and effectively. Think about how many times 6 versions of the same document are floating around, which one is the latest? Who knows. Google solves this with their fleet of business tools.
- Google Analytics
Duh. This should probably be first, on the list, as well as first action item for your site.
Google Analytics is crucial to have on your site, as it lets you track and report on website traffic, engagement on site, as well as conversions and audience demographics.
If you’re more of an advanced Google Analytics user, than I’ve put together a list of common mistakes you may not know you’re making.
- Google Keyword Planner
Another no brainer, I’m a big believer in utilizing Google’s Keyword Planner for keyword research.
I’ll type in as many applicable keywords as I can think of, competitor keywords, as well as questions, to see what is suggested in the keyword planner. You can also plug in a URL and get a list of recommended keywords that Google sees fit for that particular page.
- Campaign URL Builder
Google’s Campaign URL Builder in invaluable for creating, and making sure you don’t screw up, UTM tracking tags.
UTM tags are incredibly important for filtering your campaign data to the correct spots in Google Analytics. Why does this matter? Having the data in the right area (aka source/medium, campaign), allows for a holistic look at a campaign.
- Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools)
Search Console is an integral part of SEO. It can be used to check site health, indexing status, rich snippets, defining URL parameters, as well as reviewing keywords referring traffic to the site, content opportunities, and top linked content.
These are just a few benefits you’ll get. I highly recommend setting up profiles for your various domains (it’s extremely simple), especially if you have HTTPS and HTTP versions of your site.
- Structured Data Testing Tool
As Schema becomes increasingly important for search engines to deliver more informative results for users, it’s crucial that it’s implemented properly.
Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool is fantastic for ensuring that your markup is is properly implemented, and if not, where the errors are, so that it can be fixed. The one ‘drawback’ to this tool, is that when an error is occurring, it isn’t always clear on what exactly is wrong. So I suggest learning about schema before jumping in head first.
Bonus Tip: If you don’t have access to your website’s backend, but do have Search Console, you can utilize the Data Highlighter to markup pages.
Every website is built differently, that’s where Wappalyzer comes in. I utilitize the Chrome Extension, which, can give you a high level view of what a website is utilizing, everything from Drupal to Google Analytics, to Marketo to WordPress.
I hope this list helps you navigate the world of endless digital marketing tools. This goes without saying, but these are my favorite tools, if there’s something else you feel comfortable using, I say go for it. I also recommend continually testing new tools that come out, you may find your next go to.