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The 12 Best SEO Tools – Free & Paid Tools I Used On My Blog

If you run an agency or want to start your own blog, you’ll know that tracking your SEO progress is one of the most valuable tasks that you can do. After all, you can’t improve what you don’t track.

Good reporting helps educate clients, provides value for clients, and helps build a longer, more profitable business relationship for everyone. Bad reporting confuses and distracts clients while soaking up precious time from your agency when you could be doing something.

Based on my experience, the key difference between good reporting that creates value & buys you time and lousy reporting that destroys value and costs you time is having the right reporting toolset.

Whether you are just starting a digital marketing agency, trying to streamline existing operations, or even building a recurring reporting product, here are the best SEO tools that I’ve found useful and that everyone should use.

Some of the SEO tools listed here are free, and some are paid services.

Google Search Console

The first (and most obvious) is setting your website up with Google Search Console.

Google Search Console is a free tool that provides data on how your website performs in Google Search. It’s complementary to both Google Analytics and Google’s My Business.

If you are wondering which is more accurate Google Search Console or Google Analytics it’s Search Console which shows the search and click data. Whereas Google Analytics may miss some of the data because of things like ad blockers and alike.

New Google Search Console

Even if search engine optimization (SEO) is not a primary marketing channel, you still need to know & control how your website performs in search – and how your customers are finding you.

Advantages – Search Console is even easier to install than Google Analytics. It’s also fairly straightforward to learn & use following this guide. It’s Free to use.

Disadvantages – Doesn’t replace the use of a SEO tool like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Mangools. But none of their data is as accurate or as useful for *your* website as Google Search Console.

Google Analytics

If you work in digital marketing, you know about Google Analytics. But not everyone knows that Google Analytics has a basic but still robust reporting feature. You can use it to export reports as PDF, Google Sheets, and more.

If there is a metric or dimension in Google Analytics, you can create a report around it. This even goes with an associated Google Search Console profile. So if your client demands a ranking report, you can include a Position report and much more relevant SEO metrics directly from Google Search Console.

Advantages – You are already using Google Analytics. Your clients use it, and it’s free.

Disadvantages – The reports aren’t super-pretty and need additional explanation.

Best Use – Simple, fast reports for small clients.

Google Sheets

Google Sheets beat Excel because they can easily pull in anything from the Web. The file lives on the Web and is easy to share and update in real-time. If you know a bit about Google Sheets, you can create surprisingly pretty & valuable reports for clients while also providing access to real-time data in a separate sheet.

There are also plenty of 3rd party companies who make templates specifically for Google Sheets.

Advantages – It’s free, versatile, and plain works, especially for large amounts of historical data.

Disadvantages – It’s a spreadsheet that has to be heavily customized to provide a handy report.

Best Use – Clients who love raw data and like to explore metrics in real-time.

Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio is Google’s free reporting software that can pull in data from Google’s products and produce beautiful, useful reports.

Advantages – It’s free and versatile. It does a good job making data pretty & actionable.

Disadvantages – It’s yet another piece of software to learn & maintain. It’s a bit fussy and doesn’t work super well with 3rd party tools (like keyword ranking tools).

Best Use – Mid-size clients who primarily use Google products for marketing data. It’s a significant “upgrade” from Google Analytics & Google Sheets.

Semrush

SEMRush

Larry's Take

When it comes to competitive SEO analysis and keyword research, Semrush is one of the leading tools. there are numerous of features like backlink analysis, position tracking, paid ads research, and even a recent social media marketing suite. While Semrush does fall short in areas like technical SEO and content marketing research, if you can only choose one SEO tool to use, Semrush is hard to beat.
9.0 Out of 10
PlatformCloud
Price$119.95 - $449.95 per month
Annual DiscountYes - save up to 17%
PromotionTry For Free
Learn More

Semrush is a marketing tool suite that includes tools for backlinks, keyword research, content strategy, paid media, and much more.

SEMrush-Reports

The Semrush tool will pull in rankings, backlinks, keywords, and much more. It will also format it with your agency branding and logo to look highly customized for your client.

Advantages – Semrush has lots of data to pull into reports; the reports can also be automated and highly customized to save you lots of time.

Disadvantages – The reporting tool comes with a bundled subscription, so if you don’t need a full subscription for all their other tools, they’re reporting to a loan is not worth it.

Best Use – Semrush is best for an agency that offers multiple services in addition to SEO and wants customized automated reports.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs

Larry's Take

My go-to SEO research tool. I use this tool daily and I highly recommended it. There are too many features to count. If you are wanting to improve your SEO game you must get a tool like Ahrefs to do your research, monitoring and getting a feedback loop of if you are improving SEO over time.
10.0 Out of 10
PlatformCloud
Price$99 - $999 per month
Annual DiscountYes - 2 months free
Learn More

Ahrefs is similar to Semrush in that it can be used for tracking keywords, and SEO research. I personally like it better than Semrush and is my go-to SEO tool.

Advantages – Great site audit tool and keyword research is great for popular keywords.

Disadvantages – Costly compared to other tools.

Best Use – Any blogger or website content creator where SEO is their primary method of website traffic.

Moz

Moz is an inbound marketing tool suite that has a reporting tool bundled with their subscription. It’s customizable and can be automated. It will pull in rankings, backlinks, keywords, and much more. It will also format it with your agency branding and logo to look highly customized for your client.

Advantages – Moz has lots of data to pull into reports; the reports can also be automated and highly customized to save you lots of time.

Disadvantages – The reporting tool comes with a bundled subscription, so if you don’t need a full subscription for all their other tools, they’re reporting to a loan is not worth it.

Best Use – Moz is best for an agency that focused on inbound marketing services, uses Moz, and wants customized automated reports.

Raven Tools

Raven Tools is a marketing tool suite that has evolved to focus almost exclusively on marketing reporting. They have lots of marketing data in their platform that can be pulled into a highly customized, white-label report in addition to lots of integrations with other marketing platforms (Google, Facebook, Bing, YouTube, etc.).

Advantages – Raven Tools can pull lots of data from many different tools and create beautiful, useful reports.

Disadvantages – It’s expensive for many agencies and will probably overlap with other (better) marketing tools, such as keywords, backlinks, and content management.

Best Use – A growing, mid-size agency where reporting is critical and time-consuming for the existing team.

DashThis

DashThis is a reporting platform that builds real-time marketing data dashboards based on widgets. They are popular with marketing agencies that sell many services (SEO plus paid, social, etc.).

The dashboards are beautiful, useful, and accurate. They pull data from a wide range of sources. It’s also white-label, so it can look like it’s *agency’s proprietary dashboard*.

Advantages – DashThis pulls from a wide range of data sources and creates a unique reporting structure that impresses most managers or executives. They have many pre-organized templates (such as for SEO) based on simple set up best practices.

Disadvantages – It’s expensive for a stand-alone tool; however, the pricing scales directly with several clients (or dashboards), so you can easily bundle it with a retainer and/or pass along the cost.

Best Use – A growing agency with clients who expect or value high-value, detailed reports.

Agency Analytics

Agency Analytics is analytics reporting software specifically built for, well, agencies. It’s the tool that you are probably imagining existed when you first started reading this article.

It integrates with SEO, but also PPC, social, email, reviews, and more.

Advantages – Agency Analytics has all the “small,” but extremely useful reporting features take care of. For example, they have automated reports that only go out after your approval and a presentation mode feature.

Disadvantages – It’s expensive but also has some caps that you’ll need to check on depending on your clients and other SEO tools that you are using.

Best Use – An SEO agency with lots of clients and heavy demand during reporting periods.

WebCEO

WebCEO is, in my experience, sort of the original SEO reporting software. It’s who I used at former agencies as far back as 2012. It’s straightforward with lots of data and customization options.

Web-CEO SEO Reporting

Advantages – Excellent rank tracking software and 24+ language options for non-English clients.

Disadvantages – WebCEO will have lots of tool overlap, and their designs are a bit dated.

Best Use – An agency that needs to send out basic SEO stats and have a backup SEO toolset.

SEOPress

SEOPress

Larry's Take

A competing WordPress plugin to Yoast SEO, I find SEOPress is more lightweight and doesn't include unnecessary features and functionality. There is a free version but I recommend SEOPress Pro which includes structured data types, breadcrumbs, Google Page Speed, and URL rewriting.
9.0 Out of 10
PlatformWordPress
PriceFREE - $118 per year
Learn More

SEOPress is a WordPress plugin that can help with SEO and social media shares. It is the plugin I recommend over Yoast SEO and the one I use myself on this very site.

I used to use Yoast but in the past few years with bug issues and code bloatedness I have since switched to SEOPress and haven’t looked back. While I recommend SEOPress PRO I do not recommend using SEOPress Insights keyword ranking and tracking service. In my opinion, you are better off going with Ahrefs or Semrush which in my opinion do a much better job.

Next Steps

SEO tools may feel like an overhead expense, but when integrated well into your agency, it can more than pay for itself with increased client retention, a decrease in staff workload, and even additional fees.

Now, your tool doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. But it should make sense for your agency and your clients based on where you are at with budget, growth, and resources.

Larry Ludwig

About Larry Ludwig

Larry Ludwig is an entrepreneur, financial expert, tech & marketing guru with over 25 years of industry experience.

In July 2018, Larry successfully sold Investor Junkie for $6 million.

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