When I first started working in SEO, I didn’t know a thing about which tools to use. I had complex spreadsheets with my own form of rank tracking and I used out the daily limits on all the free backlink checkers I could use in one day. In 2017, I’m using some of the best SEO tools out there in order to get my work done.
I know — there is a little tool overshare when it comes to the SEO community, but I’ve put together my favorite tools from this year and organized them by business size. After all, not every team has the same budget — what works for a local restaurant won’t work for a large online retailer.
SEO Tools for Small & Medium Businesses
There are three types of tools that I think are important for any business, even small and medium ones. If you’re working to bring more organic traffic to a small or medium site, then you’re probably writing content for your landing pages, or maybe even your blog, targeting certain keywords. My three favorite SEO tools for small and medium businesses in 2017:
2. Monitor Backlinks
3. Screaming Frog
Best Rank Tracking Tool: SERPs
If you need to track more than a handful of keywords, then you could save a lot of time by just getting a good rank tracking tool. My favorite rank tracking tool for small and medium businesses is SERPs. I think these guys gives you the most data for the price.
It’s a simple, intuitive tool for SMBs and scales fairly easily. There are two features that I think are most helpful for businesses: historical rank data and tagging. Instead of creating multiple columns to remember what a keyword ranked last week, SERPs gives you weekly and monthly + or – points to see how your keywords have moved. You can look at a year of keyword raking data to see how individual keywords performed over a 12-month period.
You can group keywords based on certain page types or services to get an idea about how different parts of your business are performing in search. Scott is really helpful and I’ve been personally impressed with the platform’s growth over the past few years.
Best Backlink Monitoring Tool: Monitor Backlinks
Finding the right backlink checker has been a challenge for me when it comes to SMBs. A lot of rank tracking tools are good for larger websites, but not as many are good at finding links for smaller sites. Their link index usually just isn’t big enough.
Monitor Backlinks has been my personal favorite when it comes to SMBs because it has the ability to find links that most rank trackers wouldn’t. I’m also a big fan of the workflow. So far, it’s been the best SEO tool in 2017.
Best Web Crawler: Screaming Frog
For small websites, it’s useful to monitor your HTTP errors codes by checking your site with a crawler every now and then. If you’ve had a site for your SMB over the past few years, then you might find parts of your site where you need to cleanup some technical crud — from relative URLs to internally broken or redirecting links.
My favorite tool for this is Screaming Frog. For the smallest of businesses, like a restaurant or local jewelry store, the free version is more than enough. Whether you’re putting together a sitemap or trying to diagnose a site problem, chances are you won’t hit your crawl limit.
For sites on the larger side, like an online eCommerce shop, then you might consider upgrading to the paid version. I recommend weekly and monthly crawls to monitor HTTP errors and make sure your technical SEO is in place.
SEO Tools for Enterprise
When you have thousands or millions of pages to deal with on a daily basis, the importance of good tools becomes much more noticeable. Fortunately, there are a lot of great tools out there that can handle the large data sets we have to handle at the enterprise level. The best SEO tools of 2017 on the enterprise level have been:
2. Moz Open Site Explorer
Best Rank Tracking Software: STAT
As far as advanced keyword tracking is concerned, enterprise businesses have the biggest challenge ahead of them. Tracking tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of keywords requires software that can help you visualize how your aggregate rankings are changing over time.
I want to be able to easily create different categories of keywords and see, in aggregate, how keywords for certain positions have moved. Have we gained a lot rankings for a certain position or was across our entire body of keywords?
STAT has good visualizations that allow you to see how your site is performing compared to your competitors. In a world where SERPs are filled with answer boxes, image carousels, and PLAs — STAT let’s you know your true rank for a given keyword by giving you the ability to compare your rank out of 10 blue links and your rank with all the special SERP features.
Best Backlink Checker: Moz Open Site Explorer
You know I’m a longtime lover of the SEO community’s golden child — Moz! My introduction to the backlink checking world actually happened on Moz’s Open Site Explorer and it continues to be my favorite place for enterprise-level keyword research.
Its interface is easy to use and you get the score for Domain Authority and Page Authority — two of the industry standards since the loss of PageRank. I often like to use their Spam Score when looking at competitors backlink profiles and find myself regularly using their CSV export to comb through larger backlink profiles of competitors.
Best Crawler: DeepCrawl
When it comes to working with an enterprise site, the depth and control you need to have over your crawler becomes more important. DeepCrawl is one of the best crawlers that I’ve seen on an enterprise level.
You can customize the bot to work for your site and create recurring reports for you and your team. Compare crawl reports over time to identify patterns that might be holding you back from more traffic.
Overall, there are lots of different options out there when it comes to SEO tools, but these are the best I’ve found in 2017.
As a rule of thumb, make sure that you try out and compare a few different ones before making your final decision. Whichever you choose, assign someone to regularly monitor your tools so that you’re getting the most out of it for your site.