It seems like every month there is a new SEO tool being advertised and promoted on popular marketing blogs and on Facebook. If you are in the search engine optimization industry you get targeted on social media by all kinds of SaaS tools, and there is no shortage of new options to try.

The truth is that most of these new tools are pulling the same API data that the OG tools use — they just package them up in fancy dashboards and try to get you to sign up for a recurring subscription. It requires very little maintenance on their part and if their marketing and branding is solid they will get plenty of SEO noobs to sign up.

You really only need a few tools to execute effective SEO campaigns, and I want to highlight them. I see so many companies and agencies spending an absurd amount of money on monthly subscriptions and they very rarely use them.

No tool is going to replace the actual work required, but they can assist you and help you make calculated moves, and also help you with things link outreach. The days of tools being used to build links are long gone, but there are a few solid options that I suggest you use on a regular basis if you want to really make an impact in the SERPs.

Not all of them cost an arm and a leg either; this lineup of tools is a must-have for anyone that is serious about SEO and invested in long term success, whether as an agency offering services, or a company trying to increase organic website traffic.

Get yourself familiar with all of these if you haven’t yet. It’s time and money well spent learning how to leverage each one of these.

Here are the search engine optimization tools we use..


1. Screaming Frog

This is one of the more advanced SEO tools, and one that I highly recommend if you are serious about search engine optimization, especially when it comes to the technical aspect of it. Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider Tool is probably its best feature and while they do allow you to download it for free, you need to purchase a license to unlock its most valuable features.

Don’t worry, the license fee is minimal, and it’s billed annually. It’s a very smart investment.

This is my go-to technical audit tool, and while many people only think about link building and content creation for SERP gains, it’s important to understand that the technical side is where you can make huge gains, as most people ignore this element.

When you have multiple errors, it tells Google that your site isn’t technically sound. If there are two websites with similar authority and one has several 404 errors and the other has no errors, what one are they going to show higher in the SERPs? The one that is technically flawless, as they don’t want to risk having their user stumble onto a broken URL. Remember, Google’s goal is to provide the best possible results to their users.

There are three features of this tool I use the most. First, I use it to find broken links that are 404-ing. Correcting these will eliminate server errors. Then, I use it to bulk-analyze all of the title and meta descriptions. This quickly shows me what ones are too long or too short and also if there are any duplicates. These play into CTR so much so it’s important to give them the attention they deserve. Lastly, I use it to detect redirects on competitor sites. This keep me in the loop regarding the power of expired domain redirects, etc.



2. Google Search Console

This is one of the best SEO tools and guess what? It’s completely free to use and takes 2 minutes to get it set up. Google Search Console is a set of tools and resources that allow you to analyze the technical performance of your website in the SERPs and see traffic stats — all of this free data can be used to optimize your campaign and effort.

The best part? This information and data is coming directly from Google. There is no third-party “guessing” or random APIs pulling data that may or might not even matter. I see so many SEO gurus all plugging new tools (that they get an affiliate commission for) and most of them are fancy guesses into what the algorithm wants and looks for.

Why not see what Google is telling you and adjust according to that data? Seems logical, right? One of the best uses of Search Console is looking at the search queries section. This tells you what keywords, terms, and long-tail search queries triggered pages of your website to show up in the organic results. You can see how many impressions were received, the click-through rate and what position it shows for. This is the best keyword discovery method on the planet, and I promise you will find some low hanging fruit to go after simply by checking this data each week.

Being connected to Search Console also notifies you anytime there is an error, whether that’s a broken URL or an outage. If Google is telling you something is broken, you need to fix it right away. I suggest you make this your number one SEO tool, as its information is the most valuable because there is no speculation or guesswork. Google is hand delivering you the data and info needed to move up in the SERPs.


3. SEMrush

I am a big fan of SEMrush and it is a tool that has really grown and advanced over the years. We use their API to run a number of our own free tools here on the blog. Whether you are an agency or just handle the SEO for your business, this is a no-brainer. They have rolled out so many new features recently and now beyond SEO it can be used to help your social media and content marketing efforts as well.

But I still use it for SEO based research and optimization. For our own projects, the keyword tracker is great, and we also look for new terms we start to rank for organically, which we can then target to push them up quickly. The backlink checker is solid too, but remember that no one tool will (or can) discover all links for a particular website. This is one reason to use several different tools. The other backlink checker I use is Ahrefs and I will dive into that tool more below.

Back to SEMrush. One of the best uses for this tool is to monitor competitors’ keywords. When you see what they are ranking for, and where at, position wise, you can put out efforts to beat them to the top. This is a strategy that requires you be very aggressive and also have a budget available.

For example, if you see a competitor made it to page one — let’s say in the 10th position — for a keyword, you can analyze their link profile, the on-site optimization of the page ranking, and then deploy a strategy to replicate their link profile and then 10X it, to make sure you rank above them. The faster you can get above them, the better chance you stand of staying on top. This is also a way you can take advantage of their hard work (keyword research) and beat them by putting more muscle into your link acquisition strategy.


4. Moz’s Paid Arsenal

Moz is a name that has really evolved over the years. Many people (myself included) used to clown on Rand, the founder of Moz, as he was quite out there with his beliefs and really put a lot of weight on their metrics, while they are third-party and not related to Google at all.

Under a new CEO and new direction, their tools have improved, and they have totally revamped their link exploration tool and their golden metric, Domain Authority just went over a complete makeover as well. They have two main products, an SEO toolset and a Local SEO listing audit and submission platform. For this article, I’m just focusing on the SEO toolset.

This is something that can benefit beginner and advanced SEOs alike, but for those new to the game, the on-site optimization grader is handy and does a great job of teaching users what elements need to be changed on each page to achieve an optimal score. After using this tool as “training wheels” users can really understand on-site SEO and these little tweaks have a big impact on organic rankings, especially for low competition long-tail keywords.

While there are keyword ranking and crawl features, I use other tools for that. Personally, I like to use it for identifying link opportunities. I track competing websites and see where they are securing links from, and I also use it to gauge the difficulty of acquiring certain links. Some links, while they are attractive, require too much effort to secure. For the same effort (whether it’s time or money) if I can secure multiple other links I will opt for that, as it ends up passing more juice and contributing to a more diverse referring link profile.



5. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is another tool that has really morphed into a much larger offering than it once was, and I consider this to be the go-to tool for most SEO professionals these days. While not as noob friendly as Moz, its features are definitely tailored for the more experienced SEO or internal online marketing team.

Some of the biggest companies in the world use this tool – Uber, Facebook, Netflix, eBay, Shopify, Trip Advisor, etc. This alone should tell you there are some solid features under the hood. They removed the option to run a URL through the tool as a test on the homepage and they don’t even offer free trials any longer. It’s $7 for a 7-day test drive.

Know what? I respect this move. They know they offer a great product, so they don’t need to allow free users and they require the $7 so they are only attracting quality leads via their trial offer. This is strong.

I find that their crawl index is the most comprehensive, so it’s my main tool for checking link profiles and also tracking new link acquisitions from earned media, paid social media promotion, and content marketing.

When I am in research mode, the domain comparison feature allows me to see all the important data points for multiple sites side-by-side. This is something we use heavily for our outreach campaigns.


6. Pitchbox

I want to end this with a tool that is by far the best when it comes to helping your outreach process, both for identifying opportunities and then following up, with the right amount of automation to enable you to scale and achieve solid results, yet doesn’t have a cheap spammy feel to it, which gets your pitches deleted.

Pitchbox is something that everyone doing outreach should use. In order to secure links via outreach you have to do it at such large scale, making manual outreach impossible results-wise. You might pitch 300 publications or journalists on a given topic and only secure 1 link. Now, what if you could scale up and reach 3,000 potentials in a week because of a tool and at the same success rate it would score you 10 links. These type of acquisition results are what really powers SERP boosts.

What I really like about Pitchbox is how it allows you to really customize your pitch, and the magic happens when the automation then takes your template and makes it custom for each outreach attempt. You can also schedule follow ups for those that haven’t responded, making the entire process hands-off once you start the campaign. For the best results you want to do the follow up on positive replies to make it totally custom, but your time isn’t being wasted on manual work if it’s responding to someone that is into your pitch.

For the best results, let your personality shine when you create your templates for the initial outreach. Most journalists and blog owners get dozens of pitches a day, so you need to be certain to stand out. Be unique and memorable. No tool can do that for you, so it’s on you to make sure your initial touch makes an impact. Then, use the power of automation customization and follow-up to really throw gasoline on the fire. If you have experienced some success with manual outreach, adding this tool to your lineup can supercharge your link acquisition.



As you can see, you don’t have to be overwhelmed by dozens of tools and SaaS subscriptions to see great results. You just need to know what tools to use. This combination can be had for a reasonable monthly cost, and if used correctly it will enable you to do a lot of the work yourself, cutting your costs overall.

Do you have a favorite from the list? Or is there something I didn’t mention that you feel is also a must-have SEO tool? Let me know in the comments — I’m curious as to what other SEOs think are the most effective tools that are worth spending money on.

Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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