SEO Tools Comparison

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What are SEO tools?

SEO tools are programs or services that help companies with Search Engine Optimisation, which is the art of getting your website or products to show up near the top of a search engine’s results page.

To this end, they offer numerous features, including keyword researchers, analytics to track your rankings against your competitors, backlink builders and more.

Check out our review of the 10 best SEO tools

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What’s the point of using SEO tools? Do we need them?

Let’s take it for granted that SEO is vital to any business looking to make waves online. But once you accept that you need to formulate a strong SEO strategy for your business, you face a much tougher question – how do you actually do it?

There are several options. Some of the most obvious are to hire a freelancer expert who can retool your site for better performance. You could also try to implement the same tricks yourself, manually.

Using dedicated SEO tools like SEMRush, Moz or KWFinder is often a better option, however – especially for small or medium-sized businesses.

This is because they’re much cheaper than hiring an outside expert, and offer more powerful tools and techniques than you would be able to come up with on your own.

In other words, they strike a balance between price and power that’s just right for most businesses.

What’s the difference between an SEO tool and a website SEO plugin?

While the difference between the two is sometimes pretty blurry, it’s useful to get the distinction straight in your head.

In essence, a plugin is something you add into your website directly to give it new features. You might, for example, install a new plugin for your WordPress site that adds integration with Google Analytics.

An SEO tool, on the other hand, is something standalone that isn’t inherently tied to any one site.

Rather than being things you download and slot into your site, they’re usually online web-services that help check your visibility, backlinks or load times.

It’s perfectly fine to use both tools and plugins – make the most out of whatever helps solve your problems.

What is a backlink? How do SEO tools help with backlinks?

A backlink just means a link from one website to another. Search engines bump up sites that a lot of other pages link to, because it generally means that they find it useful or noteworthy.

As such, getting other pages to link to your site is a useful way to increase your visibility in the search results of most major search engines.

Of course, search engines are clever enough that they’ll suspect something is up if far more sites than normal link back to you, or if they suspect some kind of reciprocal backlinking circle.

You should try to nurture organic, high-quality backlinks, as anything else might actually count against your rating.

Because they’re so important to your overall SEO strength, most SEO tools offer specialised features for letting you check and manage your backlinks.

Moz, for example, offers a free online service where you can see the backlinks for any site you like. Similarly, SEMRush lets you ‘audit’ your backlinks, checking whether they’re high-quality or harmful to your ranking.

Can SEO tools provide automated SEO audits?

Yes. Most SEO tools make it either much easier or completely automated to generate detailed audits that describe the health of your website, plus identify any glaring issues that you need to fix. Some of the problems commonly found by these audits include:

  • Orphaned pages
  • Pages missing titles
  • Pages without meta descriptions
  • Links that are dead or don’t lead anywhere
  • Actual server errors or broken pages


Using the automated audits generated by these tools saves a massive amount of time, effort and money compared to producing the same insights manually. It’s also more reliable – computers are better at drawing in lots of data to create big-picture overviews than humans.

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How do SEO tools help with keyword planning?

Every marketing campaign relies on its keywords – in many ways, they’re the backbone of the whole operation. But finding the right keywords isn’t easy.

You can’t just go for those with high search volume and low competition, because more and more, the intent behind people’s searches affect the results they see. It’s no use promoting a keyword tied to searches looking for information if your site is selling products, instead.

SEO tools help to make the process of finding the right keywords easier.

They usually offer numerous sub-features to achieve this, and some tools, like KWFinder, are dedicated almost exclusively to finding the best relevant keywords.

Common features in these tools include the ability to save, export and import lists of keywords in bulk, which helps to let you organise them by topic, theme or site.

They also often let you measure your competitor’s keywords to let you judge whether you should use the same ones or find a way to undercut their traffic.

They can also help shift your focus away to different, potentially more profitable areas of keyword research.

KWFinder, for example, has a strong focus on finding long tail keywords that build up clicks and conversions over time, rather than flashy, more expensive keywords your competitors might have already jumped on.

What is on-page optimisation? How does it help?

While some SEO techniques are concerned with how your site relates to other pages online – such as through backlinks, or how your keyword usage compares to your competitors’ – on-page optimisation refers to the things you can do directly in the website to improve its ranking.

There are many things that go into this, and different SEO tools offer different ways to improve your pages.

In terms of content, for example, Moz can scour the web for pages similar to yours to offer ideas for new content you could write about. It’s also common for tools to offer advice on how to make your content more optimised:

  • How many keywords are used
  • What other features, such as headers or bullet-point lists are used
  • The complexity or difficulty of the text to read
  • Whether non-text elements, like images or videos, are used


But there are also numerous other things SEO tools can help you with. One of them are simple technical optimisations which help your page load quicker.

While getting it to load in two seconds instead of five might not seem important, it’s one of the best ways to stop users from bouncing off your site right away.

To that end, almost all SEO tools will automatically implement things like smart image downscaling, to reduce their filesize and load time.

Sometimes they’ll also be able to detect if the code used to build your website is of low-quality: poor JavaScript scripts, for example, can make pages take longer to load than they need to.

Another important technical aspect to keep in mind is how well your website works on other devices, like mobile phones or tablet computers.

SEMRush uses analytics to determine how mobile-friendly your site is, and other tools have similar features. This is an important step to widening the audience for your site and making it more enjoyable to use for people all around the web.

Beyond this, SEO tools can analyse the overall structure of your site to check how pages link together.

Orphaned pages, which aren’t linked to by other pages, are a drain on SEO, and sites on the other end of the spectrum where every page links to everything else are often marked down for link-stuffing.

best seo tools

Which SEO tools should I use?

The first thing to keep in mind is that you likely won’t end up using just one SEO tool or platform. Many of them are focused on different pain points and are specialised for different things.

Before you even start hunting for tools, you should come up with a list of the features you need the most, as this’ll let you decide whether a tool will help you achieve your goals or not.

Of course, that’s not all. Here are some additional factors you should keep in mind.


Most SEO tools work off of a monthly subscription model, meaning that you’re usually not locked-in if you decide a tool isn’t right for you. Despite this, you should still think carefully about how much you really need to spend.

Small companies won’t need the more advanced or complex SEO features that a larger corporation would, so you should make sure you’re not paying for an expensive plan that contains functionality you won’t end up using.


Integration refers to the ways that programs can talk to each other. In the context of SEO tools, this usually means being able to natively interface with platforms like Google Analytics, or other reporting platforms that your company might use internally for its analytics.

Make sure that whatever SEO tool you use supports integration with the software you’re using – manually moving data from one platform to another is a common point of failure for large businesses.


This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. Many SEO tools offer free online reporting services to measure things like the backlinks or visibility a page has.

If you already run a website where you have a good idea of what these figures are, try running it through the service to see how close it gets to reality.

This shouldn’t be the only factor in your decision – a tool might have slightly worse accuracy but offer useful features which make up for it – but if an SEO platform’s figures are in entirely the wrong ballpark, you should treat it with caution.

Use the SEO tools comparison function on this page to find the best solution for you! Check out our review of the best tools for SEO to help you decide which is best for your website.

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