Backlinks are external hyperlinks used to link from one website to another. They form an integral part of search-engine optimization, often touted as the main ranking factor search engines use to rank pages.
Keyword research is a market research based activity. Often used to identify words and phrases most appropriate to target, in order to generate brand awareness and attract a specific target audience.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, is the practice of optimizing a website to achieve a higher ranking in search engines in order to increase quality traffic to the site.
The opposite of paid traffic. Organic traffic is traffic generated to a website through organic channels only. SEO and social media are examples of organic traffic channels.
The process of optimising web pages for search engines and end users. Making it easier for search engines to figure out what a web page is about.
A short description search engines use to categorise web pages in their index. Length can range from 120-160 characters.
A header tag, or HTML tag is used to divide up the different headings in a page’s content. They are hierarchically structured from H1- H6 with H1 being the main header and the subsequent tags being the subheadings.
Nofollow is a HTML attribute that instructs Google crawlers not to follow a hyperlink. It first made an appearance in 2005 and was created with the intention of combating comment spamming.
Keyword difficulty is the metric by which website owners can measure how much competition there is for a particular keyword, and in turn determine how difficult it is to rank for it in SERPs. It is scored from 0-100, and the lower the score the easier it is to rank for a keyword.
Anchor text, also known as a link title or link label, is the clickable phrase or keyword that embeds a hyperlink within it. It can link internally or externally. It often stands out from the rest of the text as a coloured link.
Disavow backlinks is the process of instructing Google to ignore unwanted backlinks in order to positively impact ranking in SERPs. This can be done using Google’s Disavow Tool.
A Google penalty is an action of penalisation placed on a website for using ill practices to artificially increase their rankings on Google’s search engine.
A/B testing is the process of testing variations of web pages, which are shown at random to a group of users, and using statistical analysis to determine which variation performed best.
Click-through rate (CTR) is the % of users who clicked through to an offer, after seeing it via an advertisement or campaign. Your click-through rate can be calculated by dividing the number of clicks by impressions and multiplying that by 100.
Topical relevance is a process that search engines use to decipher how relevant a web page is based on the backlinks, keywords and the content.
Target keywords are particular words or phrases that a website knows potential traffic/customers may use when utilising a search engine and seeking out the services that the particular website offers.
The process of analysing the competitive landscape of a business to seek opportunities which could lead to business growth.
An external link is a hyperlink that points from one website to another, also called an outbound link.
Indexing is the process by which Google crawlers store and categorise information and content they find on websites, ready to be displayed in SERPs.
The process of tracking a website's search engine ranking positions for a chosen set of keywords or search queries.
A search snippet, or Google snippet, is a generated extract of content from a web page that is presented in SERPs, drawn from a search term and collated from stored meta data.
Local SEO is the practice of increasing search visibility and brand awareness of local businesses to users who are searching for their product or service right now.
With new platforms and features constantly appearing it’s essential to know which can help you achieve your SEO goals.
Here we’re taking a look at the top SEO tools - both free and paid for - that you should be using in 2020 to streamline your SEO strategy and boost your rankings.
Use on-page SEO tools to optimise your pages and boost them in search engine rankings.
A Chrome and Firefox extension, Ahrefs SEO Toolbar pulls up Ahrefs SEO metrics directly in your browser.
View an on-page SEO report for the visited page with essential data like the page’s title, meta description, headers, word count, and OG tags. You can also check for broken links as well as discover any nofollow links.
Easy to use across your own site, it’s also interesting to use this on your competitors’ web pages and see what they’re doing right and what you can do to improve.
Ever wondered what your web page will look like in Google’s search results? SERPSim gives you a sneak preview so you can ensure your pages look exactly how you want them to appear in search results.
Enter your proposed title, URL and meta description and SERPSim will show you the exact appearance so you can avoid long meta descriptions or titles that don’t fit the required space.
One for WordPress users, Rank Math is an SEO plugin that assists with on-page SEO. Perfect for if you sometimes find your site lacking meta descriptions or optimised titles, Rank Math can help iron out these details and ensure your page is properly optimised.
Using Rank Math, redirect URLs so your users don’t come across annoying dead ends on your site, and identify any dead links to fix.
Keyword research tools will help you discover the topic and phrases users are searching for.
To add another dimension to your keyword research, Answer The Public is an essential SEO tool that will help you create content that users actually find useful and want to read.
Instead of offering typical keyword suggestions based on an initial seed keyword, Answer The Public shows you what questions and topics users are entering into Google and Bing search engines.
Once you know what kind of queries your users have, you can generate ultra-relevant content that answers a few of these questions.
The focus on users’ questions and frequently searched topics is great for if you’re strapped for time and want to cut straight to what topics you should include in your content.
Price: A freemium version offers 3 daily searches while unlimited searches and data are available with a Pro Plan priced at $99/month.
Trailblazer tool Google Keyword Planner has been around for the last twenty years and considering it’s absolutely free to use it’s one of our top SEO tools.
While Google Keyword Planner can be used to pinpoint keywords for paid campaigns it’s also a fantastic all-rounder tool for improving your organic search results.
Using data that’s pulled straight from its own servers, you can rest assured that data is 100% accurate since there aren’t any interfering third party algorithms.
Simply enter a seed keyword and the servers will pull up a list of 300 suggested keywords. View a few metrics like the number of average monthly searches and competition for ranking, to help you decide which keywords will be better to include.
You can then export and save this data for easier access when you’re planning your content strategy according to these new keyword insights.
Price: Google Keyword Planner is totally free with unlimited searches.
If you want a neatly packaged user-friendly alternative to Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest is a great place to start.
Ubersuggest takes keyword research up a notch and gives you a little more guidance when it comes to selecting which keywords will actually help you drive your site’s organic traffic and rankings.
A keywords tab helps you find keywords with less competition and gives you demonstrated uses of your chosen keyword.
The unique word cloud layout of keywords is very user friendly and is great for helping you visualise suggestions.
Price: Ubersuggest is a freemium service offering unlimited keyword searches. Access features like filters for keyword suggestions with a pro subscription priced at $29/month.
The best thing about WordStream is its staggeringly huge database of 1 trillion keywords, which is completely free for all users. That’s right, it really is free with no limits on searches!
The free SEO tool is actually a combination of four that makes it a complete keyword research dream.
Using the Keyword Discovery Tool, access instantly updated keywords from Google Analytics. Download the Create SEO Content web browser extension and view automatic suggestions for alternatives to your target keyword.
The Niche Finder Tool will even show you lesser-known keywords with lower competition levels to give you the edge you need to reach the top of page 1.
While the amount of provided data is enormous, WordStream does an excellent job of presenting data in a clear, easy to understand visual format so you won’t feel overwhelmed.
Retrieving keyword ideas from their own database of over 10 billion keywords in 170 countries, it’s safe to say Ahrefs isn’t messing about when it comes to in-depth serious keyword research.
As one of the leading SEO tools on the market, Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator identifies keyword ideas for Amazon, YouTube and Bing as well as Google.
A combination of detailed keyword research and user-generated questions makes it a very useful SEO tool for digging deeper into what keywords your site should be incorporating into its content.
For the first 10 keyword suggestions, view the monthly search volume, as well as the Keyword Difficulty Score which estimates ranking difficulty on a scale of 1-100. A high number means you’ll need more backlinks to rank highly on Google for that keyword.
Price: Keyword Generator Tool is free for limited searches. If you want access to the full scope of the tool as well as other Ahrefs SEO tools you’ll have to fork out for a subscription.
A Lite Plan for just 1 user is $99/month with plans increasing depending on the number of users and sites. A top tier agency plan is $999/month.
Build more valuable links to your site with these SEO tools.
Build worthy backlinks and understand which backlinks might be negatively impacting your organic search engine results with this SEO tool.
Use Monitor Backlinks to manage and implement link removal rules so spammy or negative backlinks are immediately removed.
Identify backlinks that don’t offer your page any value, particularly noFollow links. View old backlinks that no longer work as well as see the backlinks of up to 4 competitors so you can beat their strategy.
Price: A freemium service offers a backlink checker with limitations. A Start Plan is $25/month while the most advanced 10D4C plan costs $187.42/month.
Following Google, Ahrefs has the most active web crawler resulting in an incredibly in-depth backlink database. Updated every 15 minutes, there are a staggering 22.14 trillion known links on file.
Overtake competing sites in search engine rankings with in-depth knowledge of their backlink strategy. Discover the top 100 backlinks for any site or web page. View the backlink strength, the frequently used anchor text, and referring domains.
Price: Users can perform a few free searches per day but there are heavy limits on displayed metrics. Lite Plans are $99/month for 1 user. Plans are priced based on the number of users and projects with a top agency plan costing $999/month.
Easy to use Linkody is great for assessing your and your competitors’ current backlink strategy so you can focus on future link building opportunities.
One of the best features is the option to set up daily notifications to alert you to new or lost backlinks. Their simple disavow tool makes it easy to remove any spammy negative links. You can also find out the SEO value of each of your backlinks to assess how well a site will rank on search engines.
Price: The lowest-priced Webmaster Plan is for 2 domains and starts at $15/month. A top of the range Agency XXL plan is $160/month.
As we know, when it comes to backlinks, they’re not created equal - a low-quality link will actually cause you to slip in search engine rankings.
When your backlinks come from pages that have high authority in the eyes of Google, your site will be actively rewarded but when they appear to be spam or are just low quality in general, Google may penalise your site.
If your site has suffered from any kind of Google Penalty in the past, Link Detox is an essential SEO tool to help you recover and get your site to where you want it to be. It can also help you prepare for any future changes to Google algorithms so you’re not caught off guard.
Price: A starter Link Detox Smart Plan is $249/month while a Link Detox Agency Plan costs $1799/month.
When you come to actually plan and build a solid backlink strategy, the process can be overwhelming. With so many different sites and bloggers to contact it can feel like whatever you do won’t be enough to ensure success.
Buzzstream takes some of this stress out of the picture by sending customizable emails to your preferred link building prospects. The platform also scours possible prospects’ sites for contact information saving you plenty of time and effort.
If you’re not sure where to begin with your link building campaign, Buzzstream will source relevant sites that match your chosen criteria.
Price: The cheapest plan is $24/month while a top tier Custom Plan is around $999/month.
These SEO tools take the guesswork out of your strategy.
Clickflow instantly shows you the direct impact your copywriting has on your business’s revenue.
Using Clickflow, A/B test your meta descriptions and SEO titles across individual pages or your whole site. This is a great way to improve your organic traffic without having to generate new content or worry about building more links.
Clickflow is ideal for your business if you already have a reasonable amount of content and are generating substantial traffic. Clickflow will identify those pages with high impressions and low CTR to improve those pages that have the potential to push you up in rankings.
Price: A Starter Plan is $99/month with a top Premium Plan costing $499/month.
Optimizely is a digital experimentation tool that runs multiple tests on one page simultaneously to test the variables of your web design.
Using the platform you can also test different components like cookies, geography, ad campaign as well as several parameters like bowser, device and campaign.
Price: Pricing is customizable based on usage.
Content Analysis Tools help streamline your site’s content to be ultra-relevant and useful for your audience.
Textmetrics AKA WebTextTool is one of our favourite content analysis platforms - a new breed of SEO tools harnessing the power of AI to help you provide your audience with highly relevant and engaging content.
Functioning as an on-page SEO assistant, it’s easy to create optimized content from the outset since Textmetrics offers you on-page-suggestions as you write. There’s no need for any copying or pasting or even page reloading since updates are given live.
Use Textmetrics and watch as you climb search engine rankings steadily thanks to thoroughly optimised and readable content that users will love.
Price: Textmetrics’ pricing is customizable and depends on number of users and usage.
If you’re looking to generate relevant content quickly and effectively, MarketMuse could be the one. Their groundbreaking natural language generation engine analyses large numbers of pages on your selected topic before building an original piece of content.
The powerful software also predicts the success of your content, showing you the topics your site will most likely rank for while giving you a difficulty score based on the rest of your site’s performance.
Helping you research, plan and create content, MarketMuse provides in-depth content briefs giving you guidance on what topics to include, suggested word count and KPI’s to make the content planning stage a lot less stressful.
Save yourself piles of time with the suggested keywords, and the right sub-topics to include in the content brief.
Price: Pro Plans begin at $499/month. Bronze, silver and gold tiers are customizable based on user requirements after a product demo.
Using a simple to understand content grading system, Clearscope shows you how your content is performing now based on your selected target keywords.
If you already have a decent amount of content up on your site, Clearscope is great for helping you optimise it and so boost your rankings.
Assessing your content based on its relevance, Clearscope gives you a letter grade based on how well your content is currently optimised for SEO.
The powerful editor helps you rework content to ensure it follows good formatting rules, properly incorporates keywords and includes enough in-depth research to be relevant and useful.
Price: A Standard Plan is $350/month while a customizable Agency Plan for 10+ users is priced on request.
Check out what the competition is doing right and incorporate it into your SEO strategy.
One of the top SEO tools on the market, as well as keyword research and link building tools, Ahrefs has top of the range competitor analysis features so you can uncover what your competitors are getting right and sneakily incorporate it into your own SEO strategy.
Uncover all of the keywords your competitors are ranking for as well as which pages bring in the most search engine traffic. Identify which sites link to your competitors’ websites and see the quality of their backlink profile.
Find out whether your competitors are doing paid search advertising.
Price: A Lite Plan for just 1 user is $99/month with plans increasing depending on the number of users and sites. A top tier agency plan is $999/month. Discounts are available for yearly plans.
SpyFu essentially does what it says on the tin and spies on your competitors’ web pages.
See your competitors’ top ranking keywords, their top backlinks and their Google Ad Spend - all crucial info when planning a strategy to beat them.
With comprehensive competitor analytics, it’s easy to uncover other sites’ closely guarded SEO secrets.
Price: A Starter Plan is $39/month while a top tier plan is $299/month.
Receive detailed analysis of external links and anchor text used by the competition as well as analyse backlinks and domain link counts.
Through a combination of knowing your own link profiles, and monitoring your competitors’ websites and their rankings, you’ll be able to build your own SEO strategy.
Price: A Lite Plan is $49.99/month while API access costs $399.99/month.
It’s easy to miss the finer technical issues on your site, these SEO tools help identify and solve these for you.
Another essential component of the Google SEO toolkit, this is one of our favourite all-around SEO tools for so many reasons.
Identifying indexing and sitemap coverage issues, the tool catches out those blockers that stop your site properties from ranking well on search engines.
You can also use it to monitor the exact search queries users tap into Google to find your site. Drill down into the queries people use to find a specific page and view analytics for that.
Struggling with a painfully slow loading site? It might because your images are too large.
Operating as a WordPress plugin, Smush compresses, resizes and optimizes images to make sure they load super fast and speed up your overall site.
Price: Free if you only optimise 50 images at a time.
A desktop-based website crawler, Screaming Frog will identify a bunch of technical SEO issues you didn’t even realise were across your site. Doing such a substantial website crawl will set you up well for a strong website audit.
Using Screaming Frog, find missing page titles, meta descriptions, too large images, and errors in URLs.
Price: Crawl up to 500 URLs for free. Access unlimited crawls with a yearly subscription of $149.
This technical SEO tool tests how easily a user can access your site’s pages from a mobile device.
It will also show you any specific mobile technical issues like plugins that don’t work or text that is too small.
WebPageTest will help you analyse your web pages’ response and load time which could be contributing to users clicking on other competing sites if yours are on the slow side.
With WebPageTest, do waterfall and competitor speed tests, identify the time to first byte and how long it takes for a site to load.
Use these tools to track your rankings in a specific location.
Few SEO tools can do rank tracking as well as SEMrush. Create keyword lists to track your rankings on varying Google search geolocations. Track both single or several websites across one or multiple territories.
Find out positions, historical data, if your listing appears in a featured snippet, includes sitelinks, and whether the results include images or reviews.
Date filters track changes over time and another filter arranges keywords based on gains and falls allowing you to streamline your keyword targeting.
Price: Pro Plans are $99.95/month. A Guru Plan is $199.95/month while a Business Plan is $399.95/month.
Now a complete SEO tool, SE Ranking initially started as a keyword rank tracker. Track your site’s keywords on a regional, city or country level as often as you’d like. You can also track Google Maps results as well as segregate mobile and desktop results.
While tracking your own websites, you can also keep tabs on up to five of your competitors so you can check their ranking positions against search engines and target keywords.
Price: Plans are dependent on how often you want to check rankings, choose between daily, every three days or weekly.
Use AccuRanker to easily track keyword rankings on a daily basis. While there are a whole host of other SEO tools you can use to track keywords, they generally have limitations and don’t check rankings daily.
AccuRanker updates keyword rankings automatically every 24 hours or instantly if you click through to their dashboard.
If you have a local business and your rankings vary depending on the location of the searcher, you can also track keywords by location, right down to the zip code.
Price: Monthly plans start at $99 for tracking up to 1000 keywords.
ProRank Tracker is an SEO tool that analyses and tracks keyword rankings, offering users a vast amount of data to go through for technical insights.
Receive automatic daily updates and track your rankings when it suits you. There’s international tracking across various search engines with both desktop and mobile results.
An analytics feature helps you dig deeper into rankings for both your targeted keywords and keyword searches that you’re being found in.
Price: A Basic Plan is $25/month while a top tier Business Plan is $180/month.
Moz Pro excels at presenting data in a simple intuitive format that users will find easy to understand.
View data in charts and tables which show any rank changes over time as well as any summaries.
Using their signature STAT checker, you can track millions of keywords, and any changes that take place throughout the day or by geolocation.
Price: A Standard Plan is $99/month. Other plans range in price up with a Premium Plan costing $599/month.
These local SEO tools will help boost your rankings in local listings.
BrightLocal is made up of several tools designed to boost your local rankings in search engines. Monitor your competitors’ online reviews and compare your rankings against theirs.
Identify any low performing areas that might include local listings, on-site SEO, social channels or links and authority. Once you know your weak points, it’s easier to come up with a strategy to boost your site’s performance in rankings.
Price: A Single Business Plan is $29/month while a top SEO Pro Plan is $79/month.
This SEO tool helps you manage how your business appears in Google search results and Maps - essential to ensuring a steady stream of traffic.
Before you attempt any other local SEO tactics, it’s crucial to ensure you’ve claimed and fully optimised your Google My Business profile.
Having a solid GMB profile is undoubtedly one of the top things you can do to improve your local SEO.
Moz Local is a local listing management tool which helps users manage local listings while claiming and verifying listing submissions. Using data aggregators, the platform can also push your listing ensuring your business is visible.
Identifying errors in your citations, the tools will notify you of any major errors that may be harming your local SEO efforts. Receive a summary of what kinds of categories your business is listed under and the type of media used for your business.
Price: A Basic Plan is $129/per year with a Complete Plan costing $299/year.
Local SEO Checklist is an organisational SEO tool that will help you organically boost your local rankings.
Divided into categories like on-page elements, social media and building your blog, there are 40 different options that explain individual tasks to boost your rankings.
It’s quite basic in its layout and tips but is a great option if you’re just getting started in the world of SEO tools.
Yext is a great SEO tool for pushing your business’s rankings that extra mile. With analytics, review monitoring, and local listing management built into the platform, it’s pretty indispensable for a local business.
The standout feature is the automated listing management tool - one of the few on the market. This allows you to get your listing data populated straight away.
Price: Plans range from between $4/week to $19/week.
These SEO tools analyse data on your site so you have a clear idea of the success of your strategy.
This is the number one tool to assess your site’s data so you can work on improving your overall SEO strategy.
Since Google accounts for the vast majority (70% to be exact) of searches, it’s the most accurate source of data. In fact, most other analytics tools simply use Google’s data but just package it differently.
Basically, all of those key pieces of data like site visitors, and traffic all come from Google anyway so if you want your site to specifically reach page 1 of Google’s results, Google Analytics is the right choice.
A freemium website analyser, WooRank can analyse any website in mere seconds and instantly generate a report.
While looking at some of the more obvious SEO metrics, WooRank also investigates some more hidden details - ideal for building a complete picture of any site’s current SEO success.
Providing social shareability metrics, find out exactly how many comments, shares and likes any particular web page has received.
The mobile section is great for showing you how your web pages perform from a mobile perspective and if they’re truly optimised for users to browse easily.
Price: A Pro Plan starts at $75/month with customisable price plans for larger enterprises.
Perform content audits and monitor your backlinks directly on WordPress with the handy Ahrefs plugin.
Using data from both their own backlink index and Google Analytics, Ahrefs gives you colour coded recommendations as to what to do with content already on your site. Suggestions might include deleting, updating, redirecting or reviewing pages.
Price: No need for an Ahrefs subscription - the plugin is free.
Once you’ve been through Google Analytics and have an idea of what your site’s data looks like, Google Data Studio pulls it all together into easily readable reports and dashboards that help you make sense of the data.
Seeing as it integrates with Google’s set of tools, you can pull data from other Google platforms like Search Console to give you as detailed reports as possible.
There you have it - 40 free and paid SEO tools to try out and experiment with across your site. Too many to choose from?
Remember to keep it simple and start by trying one or two that look like they could be a good fit for your requirements.
You can then add a couple more into the mix and go from there. Once you have an organised and streamlined SEO strategy, you’ll be surprised at just how much your rankings will improve.