My Recommended SEO
The purpose of this post is simple. I frequently get asked about the tools that I use for SEO analysis. This is everything from keyword research, to analyzing the competition, to looking at backlinks. This post will be an ongoing one-stop-shop for me to direct those questions to.
There are a massive amount of SEO tools available today. If there are some that you use that I didn’t list I would LOVE for you to list it in the comments below. One last thing before I start, none of these are affiliate links. They are all honest recommendations.
First up – My Top 3 Most Used SEO Tools
These are the tools that I use most often, and frequently leave open in my browser.
This is an industry standard to me. Ahrefs is what the pros use to check backlinks of a URL. I quite literally use it daily. For me, it makes it super easy to take in a lot of data quickly in regards to linking. It is also usually thought of as the leader in backlink SEO analysis tools. Majestic SEO and SEOmoz are both good to check certain things, but Ahrefs is the best as far as I’m concerned. Easily accessed information about a URL and/or domain:
- Total inbound backlinks
- Unique domains
- Tweets, likes, shares and G+’s
- Link gain/loss chart history
- Anchor text “cloud” (like a tag cloud in wordpress)
- Top 10 anchor texts referred by page and domain
- Inbound link freshness date
- Dofollow/nofollow/image/text link attributes
- Internal/external links
- … you get the picture. It does a lot
The benefits of using this are numerous. If you’re looking at serious competition analysis then combing it with SerpIQ is an awesome punch for in depth research. There is a “baby” free plan with Ahrefs.
Pro-Tip: Anytime a new business approaches me, the first thing I do is go and look at their backlinks in Ahrefs. You can learn a lot about someone from their backlinks. Any site with only 2 links is almost certainly not a big deal, and if you pay attention to the anchor texts you can see what people say about them.
SEMrush is another tool that does A LOT overall, but that I use for very specific purposes. SEMrush will allow you to look at an overview of all the keywords that a website or individual URL ranks for. It lists them in order from highest traffic producer to lowest for the site.
With this report you can check where a lot of their main organic traffic comes from. For example according to their click through distribution settings the #1 organic traffic referrer for Moz is actually “Fridays” ( and #13 is “Uhaul”??).
There is so much that you can do with this data.
- Find your competitors keywords to try and target
- Check your own website to find keywords that you didn’t know about to target
- See if a website is healthy. We use this at Smash Digital a lot for brand new clients to see if the domain is penalized beforehand. There is a nice traffic chart to see if there are any sudden drops at any point.
- Find keywords that need ‘just a little’ love. You might be ranking around #20 for some large terms and not even know it.
This tool does a ton more than I’m talking about here, but these are the main focuses for my use of it. Play around with for an hour and you can have a solid new toy for your tool-box.
Pro-tip: If you are doing PPC advertising, use SEMrush to check out what ads and keywords your competition is focusing on. If you know they are successful, then you now know how to be successful as well.
Buzzsumo has so much functionality for anyone doing content marketing and link building in 2019 and beyond.
First off, the content analyzer tool allows you to see the top content for both your website and other competitor’s website. You can drill down to specific time periods if you want to see how certain content pieces have performed over certain time periods.
This is hugely valuable to us on a daily basis to look for both new content ideas and for continuing to track the performance of content from our website. Their backlink checker is also a great way to see who’s linking to your content and also a great way to spy on your competition for potential backlink opportunities for your website. Links are still valuable for SEO and Buzzsumo helps us track backlinks and look for potential linking opportunities.
Other Great Tools
There are hundreds if not thousands of SEO tools out there. A lot are crap, but many are wonderful. These don’t necessarily merit everyday use, but they are fantastic to know about for whenever you might need them.
Frequently when doing SEO you are presented with abnormally large sets of information that can be hard to organize for various tools. These will help.
- TextMechanic – Change the case of your letters, find and replace in bulk, remove duplicates, randomize lists, and so much more.
(this is one of the few tools that I actually donated to willingly)
- Google Keyword Planner (of course) – The new anti-seo version of the once great Google keyword tool.
- Keyword Shitter – Surprisingly it is a great keyword generation tool! Don’t let the name fool you.
- HitTail – A longtime #Boss in the SEO market. Hit Tail will look at your websites existing niche authority, and tell you what keywords you can rank for naturally without additional backlinks. I also highly recommend this email marketing software by the same creator, but that’s another story.
- Traffic Analysis– TrafficAnalysis was built as an answer to Google’s “Not provided”. The tool allows you to know about 90% of the keywords that bring traffic to your website, as well as the ones bringing traffic to your competitors (the latter feature probably being the most powerful about the tool).TrafficAnalysis also classifies the different keywords by “potential” order (based on current rankings, competition level, and volume), showing you which keywords you should focus your SEO efforts on in order to get maximum results. To provide such information, the tool uses data from the API’s of SEMRush, Searchmetrics, Google Analytics, and Google Webmastertools.”
- KeywordTool.io – Nice tool that I was just recently introduced to. It is an autocomplete keyword generator. You will get some nice and unique relevant keywords here that you problably won’t get elsewhere.
This is for finding broken links, bad structuring, dead stuff, etc… In other words the boring stuff that does matter and should be given attention to.
- Screaming Frog – SEO spider tool. Should be a standard for everyone to audit your websites. (you can also use for broken link building).
- A1 Website Analyzer – The owner of the tool actually emailed me to tell me about it. It looks great! His words: “After site crawl, it can filter and show you all pages (including broken links to internal and external URLs), file sizes, response codes, duplicate content, titles, descriptions, H1, H2 canonical, internal anchor text to pages, image alt text, link line numbers, link follow/nofollow states, navigation click length, all top keywords and a ton of other data.
It will also calculate internal link juice “score” of all pages. (The tool has been in constant development since 2006.) If configured so, it can validate HTML/CSS, spell check and perform custom search for text/patterns throughout entire website.”
- Xenu Link Sleuth – Another great website diagnostics tool to test any crawling problems
Backlink Analysis Tools:
As stated before, I prefer Ahrefs for this, but there are other great tools as well.
- Majestic SEO – Has some unique metrics that I do like.
- Open Site Explorer – The Moz version.
Content Generation And Spinning:
I don’t recommend usage of these unless it’s for backlink blasts, but either way here it is.
- WordAI – This is the single most impressive “keyword spinner” that I’ve ever used. I put “keyword spinner” in quotes because it does much more than just spinning. It actually intelligently rewrites.
Example: “I will shoot a panda tomorrow” is rewritten to: “Tomorrow I will shoot a panda“. It’s probably a better writer than me. Test it for yourself and see.
- The Best Spinner – Everyone and their Grandma has abused this.
- Kontent Machine – Awesome content generator to be combined with the spinners above for blasts.
Tracking large amounts of keywords is key to know what’s working. Especially now that the analytics is blocking most keyword data, keyword tracking is now more important than ever. Not to mention it’s a nice vanity metric to look at 5 times a day in order to help you procrastinate. When it comes to picking a rank tracker, everyone seems to have a different opinion. It really just depends on which one works the most organically with your brain. There is no right or wrong.
- SERPfox – This is my favorite rank tracker for Google. For me it makes it the easiest to take in large amounts of data quickly. You can select what geo-location to track, and can easily generate easy to understand charts to see keyword progress. The downside of SerpFox is that it does not automatically track both Google and Bing. You have to add Bing in separately, which can also eat up your keyword tracking quota. Either way I still use it.
- Microsite Masters – This tracker is undoubtedly superior in many ways. It has some great features for ROI tracking so that you can see what’s working, and the timeframe for certain SEO tactics to work (always an average). It also lets you easy share ranking charts publicly with others if you so choose. The only major downside of this for me is that the UI doesn’t work organically with my brain. I can’t take in the data as quickly, and when you track the SERPs of hundreds of sites like I do that time can really add up.
I’m heavily involved in the Amazon space, which I see as more or less just another search engine to game, errr, I mean optimize for. So with that I’ve invested in two companies that really help out for others playing in this space.
- Ad Badger – Amazon PPC Software – This is kinda self explanatory. It’s a kickass software that was just released that automates Amazon PPC management to a new level. Takes management of the Amazon PPC campaigns down to minutes a month, while seriously increasing profitability. If you’re not quite ready for the software, then at least check out their simplified paid traffic guide.
- AMZ Refund – Amazon Seller Reimbursement Service – This is just a beautiful app for ANY Amazon seller. It’s almost literally free money. As a seller you probably know that Amazon warehouses lose or damage inventory, and sometimes Amazon support will give refunds when they shouldn’t. Well, AMZrefund simply audits your seller account and then shows you how much money Amazon owes you, it then takes an 8% cut for the work and you keep the rest. (see what I mean by no-brainer).
Please let me know what you think of the list, and add in any other tools that you use in the comments below.