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The Best SEO Tools of 2017

We've spent over 200 hours reviewing this category for over four years.

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SEO Tools Review

Why Use SEO Tools?

To improve your website's traffic, you need to increase your ranking, or where you show up on the search results page of a search engine. Using search engine optimization (SEO) tools can help you climb to the top of search results, which can lead more people to your site.

Top Ten Reviews spent more than 200 hours researching and evaluating this category for over four years. We've considered over 150 services and honed the list to the 10 best SEO tools.

For our buying guide, we've recommended certain individual SEO tools you can use to work on a key aspect of your SEO campaign. For our recommendations on full software suites with multiple tools, check out our SEO Software buying guide. You can also read our articles on SEO.

Choosing the Best SEO Tools for Your Business

There are many SEO monitoring tools, but the one that's best for your business depends on what you hope to accomplish with your SEO campaign. Here are our top picks:

Best for Auditing Your Site
Before starting any SEO campaign, it's best to first analyze your site and identify what you need to fix. Using Raven Tools' Site Auditor can help you figure out what steps you need to take to most efficiently and effectively improve your site rankings.

Raven Tools can monitor your mobile and desktop SEO. It lists all of your optimization opportunities in order of impact so you can prioritize tasks. It also alerts you when new problems arise, and you can analyze your site from any device.

Recommended SEO Site Auditor – Raven Tools Site Auditor

Best for Analyzing Your Competitors
To gain an edge in your industry, you need to know how well your competitors are doing and what strategies they're using to reach consumers. This is where competitor analysis comes in handy.

SimilarWeb provides metric on not just your competitors' websites, but also their apps and your industry as a whole.

Recommended Competitor Analysis SEO Tool – SimilarWeb

Best for SEO Keyword Research
One of the best ways to increase your SEO rankings is to choose the right keywords to include in your online content, titles and metatags. Many tools are available to help you pick the best keywords; we recommend SECockpit.

This SEO tool can find keywords for all languages and countries practically instantaneously, which means you'll spend less time planning your SEO strategy and more time executing it.

Recommended Keyword Research Tool – SECockpit

Best for Backlinking
The more prospects you have online, the higher your SEO ranking will be. Prospects can be anything from content marketing, mentions and reputation articles like reviews, backlinks or more.

Ontolo helps you find prospects across the internet that will be the most beneficial for you, including high-quality backlinking opportunities. Ontolo even gives you the contact information for each prospect.

Recommended Backlinking Tool – Ontolo

Best for Tracking Search Engine Rankings
Accurate data is vital for all SEO campaigns, especially how your website is ranking in search engines. This is where an SEO analysis tool is valuable. Our pick, RankTrackr, emails reports on a schedule that works for you, whether it's daily, weekly or monthly.

Reports are customizable, and you can filter which keywords you receive data for. RankTrackr also gives you a historical overview so you can see your progress over time.

Recommended Search Engine Tracking Tool – RankTrackr

Best for PPC Research
With any SEO campaign, you want to increase your ranking in organic search results, but another important component involves ad campaigns – specifically, pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

You don't want just any PPC campaign, though; you want one that has the highest chance for success that is relevant to your company. PPC research tools like SpyFu can help. SpyFu locates profitable PPC keywords for you. In addition, it researches what campaigns have worked (and not worked) for your competitors, which benefits you.

Recommended PPC Research Tool – SpyFu

Best for Local SEO
Local SEO traffic can be some of the most important traffic you'll receive, especially if you're a brick-and-mortar business needing to drive more consumers to your store.

Whitespark can help you improve your local SEO by finding citations for you, building your reputation by gathering consumer reviews and testimonials, tracking your local rankings and more.

Recommended Local SEO Tool – Whitespark

Best for Tracking SEO Traffic
SEO campaigns take time to build momentum. It can be helpful to see the impact your SEO efforts are having on traffic results as your campaign progresses. Klipfolio has an SEO traffic tracker dashboard called Alexa that identifies and reports on the type of traffic you're receiving, including from organic searches or via paid campaigns. Having this information can help you decide where you can tweak your campaign and where it would be wisest to spend your time and money.

Recommended SEO Traffic Tool – Klipfolio

Best for Experimentation
Once consumers find your website, they should have a good experience while they're there. That's where a tool like Optimizely can help. Optimizely lets you experiment with variations of your website (layouts, product features, etc.) to see what customers respond to best. This way, you can be sure consumers are having the best experience possible on your site, which increases their responsiveness to calls to action on your website.

Recommended Experimentation Tool – Optimizely

Best for Social Media Tracking
Social media is quickly becoming one of the most important tools for marketing, including SEO marketing. While it's not exactly an SEO tool, Hootsuite helps you track your social media accounts and mentions, which can help you increase your SEO standings.

Because it tracks multiple social websites and various aspects of consumer mindshare, Hootsuite is our choice for tracking your social media.

Recommended Social Media Tool – Hootsuite

Do I Really Need SEO Tools?

Generally speaking, it's always a good idea to improve the visibility and functionality of your website in today's digital world. That's why SEO tools are so popular. But your company might not need every SEO tool. What tool you need depends largely on what aspect of your website or SEO strategy you want or need to improve.

An excellent starting place is a website audit, which can tell you what you're doing well and what you can do to improve.

Why You May Need to Track Data for You or Your Competitors
Once you've established your SEO campaign, it's helpful to know how your efforts are paying off. If you're curious about your SEO traffic, search engine results page (SERP) ranking or social media mentions, one of the tracking tools we mentioned above can provide insightful results. If you feel that you're doing well but want to be more competitive, it might be worthwhile to look into competitor analysis tools so you can learn from your competition.

Why You May Need Research Tools
You can build your SEO rankings in multiple ways, especially with keywords, PPC campaigns and backlinking. If you need to improve your website's content to draw more people to your site, a keyword research tool might be beneficial. If you're looking for an effective ad campaign, look into PPC research tools. Finding prospects like backlinks can also be helpful.

What Tool Will Improve My In-Store Foot Traffic?
If you're looking to boost foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store through SEO, an important tool for you is one that focuses on local SEO, as this specifically targets people in your area.

How Can I Improve My Website for Consumers?
If your website generates a good amount of SEO traffic but consumers aren’t buying your product or service, then you probably need to improve your site's material. A tool that tests variations of your site can help you determine the layout and content that appeals most to consumers, thus leading to increased sales.

SEO: Is it Worth the Investment?

Using SEO tools is by no means a guarantee you'll jump to the top of every search result. Many factors go into search engine algorithms. Still, you can't survive in the digital world without using SEO in some form or another. SEO is a huge market and is growing.

Recent statistics bear out that:

  • Spending on SEO services will grow to over $80 billion by 2020
  • Spending for AdWords is estimated to increase an estimated 75 percent in 2017
  • 60 percent of companies are spending more on PPC campaigns
  • 75 percent of consumers are more likely to visit local physical stores if these shops show up prominently in search engine results
  • 77 percent of specialists believe businesses should perform full SEO audits of their sites every six months

I Don't Have a Budget for Tools; How Else Can I Improve My SEO?

If you're a new or small business, you might not have the budget for SEO tools. Thankfully, you have options to improve SEO on your own:

  • Use internal links. Linking to other parts of your site is a quick and easy way to improve your SEO rankings. Just be sure your links work. Incorrect links hurt you rather than help you.
  • Redirect correctly. As with links, you need to be certain redirects (when you direct one URL to another) are correct. This can increase your SEO, while faulty redirects lower your rankings.
  • Know your audience. The best content is targeted toward a specific audience. Knowing who your audience is helps you write specifically for their needs, and those readers are more likely to become customers.
  • Remove spam. It can be tempting to accept backlinking opportunities just to have someone link to your site, but be careful. Search engines like Google don't just count the number of backlinks you have; they also judge the quality of those links. If you have backlinks that might be considered spam, remove them.

You can also take advantage of several free SEO tools. They might not have all the features paid tools have, but these free services can point you in the right direction to start your SEO campaign. Here are some to consider:

  • Google. Google has multiple free tools to help with SEO, including AdWords, Trends, PageSpeed Insights and more.
  • MozBar. Moz offers full suites of SEO software, but if you're on a budget, check out its free tools at the MozBar.
  • SEOWorkers Analysis Tool. You can analyze any website with this tool, including your own or those of your competitors.
  • Wordstream. This SEO tool is one of many that can help you pinpoint keywords for your campaign.

Additionally, many of the companies we evaluated for this buying guide have free tools available that are certainly worth looking into.

Contributing Reviewer: Jill Bowers