by Lindsay Valdez
I once had an unpleasant panel experience where my co-panelist spent a considerable amount of time talking to the mostly-beginner-blogger audience about really expensive SEO tools they should try. So expensive that I had a hard time persuading my actual employer to invest in them for me. A steep monthly fee for a subscription-based SEO service might not be where I would tell a blogger to invest, but luckily, there are some great tools that won’t break the bank.
Here are my favorites!
#1 SEM Rush – I’m a huge fan of SEM Rush, I use this tool daily. For my job here at SheKnows Media, we subscribe to their ‘Guru’ plan, but for the average blogger, the ‘Pro’ package would be just fine at $99/month. In the beginning, the main thing that attracted me to SEM Rush was the rankings. Once Google stopped providing keyword data in Google Analytics, it wasn’t always easy to find the exact term that was driving traffic. Knowing the terms your content ranks for is valuable from a content strategy perspective. But that’s just the beginning. There is backlink information, competitive analysis data & historical ranking information.
#2 Screaming Frog – Screaming Frog is an agency in the UK, known for their SEO spider software. A spider or web crawler refers to an internet bot, which is how web pages become indexed. These bots rely on links to connect from one web page to another, discovering their contexts and indexing them accordingly. Screaming Frog created a simple software where you can enter a top-level domain and they will return to you a list of all pages within that site. As they return them, they will also scrape the title tag, meta description, header tags and status code (404 if broken). This is an easy way to make sure your pages have the right on-page SEO. Their paid version does have some benefits and costs just $170 for the year. What’s even better though is that they have a free version of the tool that meets the needs of most bloggers. They also have a really great blog you can read, I encourage you to check it out!
#3 AHREFS – This site offers a plethora of tools to grow your search traffic. SheKnows Media Affiliate Marketing Manager, Jed Hunt says “I love AHREFS because it gives us the full picture when it comes to competitive analysis. They capture the most combined data when it comes to keyword rankings, traffic analysis, and backlinks. It’s a must have tool.” You can start a 7-day trial for $7 or their ‘Lite’ package (perfect for bloggers) comes in at $99/month.
#4 Moz – Moz.com is one of the more recognizable SEO brands in the industry. I’ve enjoyed their products for years, particularly their new-and-improved Link Explorer tool. Some other great tools they offer are their Top Pages report, their Orphaned Pages report and their linking assets. Great blog and a set of free tools that can assist in SEO best practices as well, so check those out before you start paying.
And just for fun, here are some free tools that are also worth checking out!!
• Google Analytics & Google Search Console – so these aren’t exactly SEO tools per se, but they are very important. Google Analytics is where you will see your traffic stats. Here you can see which pages of your site are the most popular and other important metrics like bounce rate, mobile traffic stats and how long your users are staying on the site. Google Search Console is a dashboard where Google reports technical site issues like the number of broken pages, the location of your XML sitemaps and how many pages of your site they have indexed.
• Answer the Public– this is one of my ABSOLUTE favorite new(er) tools and their base tool is completely free!! You just drop in a topic, ‘halloween costumes’ for example. The site will return to you all the top questions associated with that term. So I can see that this year, people are searching for ‘soda can halloween costume’, ‘classic halloween costumes’ and ‘where to rent halloween costumes’. From there, I would inform our editorial team about these trending searches and they would create unique and interesting headlines that incorporate them.
• Live search results – saving the best for last, don’t overlook the value of checking the live search results!! Seeing what Google is currently choosing to display for your target terms can give you insight into what they’re deeming valuable for that particular search query. FUN FACT: make sure you’re using an incognito or private browser to get the most accurate results. Otherwise, it’s likely that Google’s results will be at least personalized for you to some extent.
If you have any SEO questions or have a topic you’d like me to cover, I encourage you to send it my way at Lindsay.Valdez@sheknows.com.