How can SEO help you?
In 2020, every day of your life is intertwined with search engines like Google. Whether you have a physical product to sell, an article that you want people to read, or are building your first marketplace or community site, it has to be your main goal to be easily found, reachable, and widely known by your target audience. You want to be the primary search result and dominate your market niche. That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help you.
Search engines crawl and index all content on the web such as web pages, images, embedded videos, and links. This is a very complex and constantly changing process but some basic SEO practices can help these mechanisms work for your advantage.
The foundation from which you will build your website, is also very important, and it’s easy to get an initial baseline with Google’s Lighthouse tool, where you want to see results in the green for your site eg:
* This screenshot was taken from the Lighthouse review of https://documentation.platformos.com
It doesn’t matter where you are in the process of building your digital future, SEO is an essential part of the process that has to be reviewed and adjusted continuously. If you don’t want to hire an SEO expert, our list of the best tools for SEO in 2020 will be a great resource. Below, we highlight free and paid tools that can help grow your business using search engine optimization.
We start this list with the basic tools and move on to the more advanced applications. Feel free to jump to the section that best suits your needs, but don’t forget to come back and read other parts of the article to get professional insights into the field of SEO.
Best tools for Search Engine Optimization in 2020
Google-friendly SEO tools
Since Google has dominated the search engine market maintaining an 87.35% market share (as of January 2020), we will first focus on how to be Google-friendly for the best search results.
If you have your website set up, you can add a range of Google’s SEO tools for no cost. You just need to verify your website and submit your sitemap for indexing. You don’t need these steps for your site to appear in Google’s search results, but once you have your Search Console set up, you can monitor and fine-tune your presence on Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). Search Console constantly monitors your site’s performance and will offer valuable tips on how to improve your results, how to troubleshoot possible problems, or how to be Google-friendly for better indexing. Search Console is definitely where you should begin your SEO process — sign up for GSC here.
Once you are set up in Google Search Console, you should learn how to use Google Trends to your advantage. If you don’t know yet which strategic keywords will benefit your ranking the most, or what topics you should address in your content, Google Trends is one of the best and probably the most underrated SEO tool that can help your business at any phase. Not only can you find out your target audience’s interests over time, but you can identify their geographical dispersion (based on IP location). You can also receive great insights on trending topics and top queries.
If you know the interests of your target audience, research your strategic keywords further. This will not only help you understand your market better, but it will also help you develop your SEO strategy. Keyword research is the first crucial step in planning your content and giving your customers the information they are seeking in a search engine friendly way. Google AdWords keyword planner is completely free and very easy to utilize. You only need your URL to start working with it and you will immediately get many keyword suggestions. You should review these suggestions thoroughly because choosing the right ones will give you the impact you need for better organic search results.
Once you’ve done your keywords research and developed your SEO strategy, and you want to further leverage free tools offered by Google, you can explore Google Optimize. It is not a tool for beginners — sometimes it can be daunting for even an experienced SEO consultant. As Google Optimize works on top of Google Analytics, you will need sufficient traffic on your website for it to bring value. Once in play though, you can carry out A/B testing, multivariate testing, and much more. You can customize your testing to fit your website and SEO strategy.
Keyword research tools
Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing the search terms that people enter into search engines to find your content online. The more accurate the match, the higher up your site will show in organic (free) search engine results, and consequently the more visitors you will get clicking through to your site - and importantly, the more satisfied they will be with what they find there!
Creating content fine-tuned to the interests of your audience is a fruitful approach. Answer The Public helps you find topics, insights, or context to inspire you when producing content. It is very user-friendly and you can get a lot of information in a single search with a few minutes of work. When you find out exactly how your customers search for those terms it can save you a lot of research time. You can find certain pain-points or get a deeper understanding of your audience with this tool, whether you use the free version with limited daily searches or the pro plan.
Note, there are the terms called ‘vanity keywords’ being keywords that usually don’t give you the ranking advantages over your competition. Vanity keywords are the basic keywords that describe what your site or business is about. These phrases often describe generically your business type or market and it is usually very hard to compete on such a wide scale.
- Free with limited daily searches
- Pro plan $99/month - $79/month paid annually
Your SEO strategy should involve utilizing long-tail keywords. This is important if you want to dominate your niche. Keywords are not always about higher traffic. Long-tail keywords usually have a lower traffic rate but a much higher conversion rate. So if you are effective in aligning with your audience’s search habits as it relates to long-tail keywords, you can get excellent results (great ROI). SEO experts use KWFinder to research the best possible keyword combinations to use while learning about the level of demand/competition for those keywords (popular keywords are more expensive). You can also run backlink analysis and SERP analysis.
- Basic - €49/month - €29.90/month paid annually
- Premium - €69/month - €39.90/month paid annually
- Agency - €129/month - €79.90/month paid annually
SEO strategy tools
Your SEO strategy is the process of planning, outlining, and implementing the activities that will improve your search engine rankings, drive more traffic to your site, and lead to better conversion.
Majestic is a highly respected SEO tool that specializes in backlinks and link building. Backlinks have a huge impact on your SEO performance and your search engine ranking. You can analyze your website, compare it with the sites of your competitors, and research keywords that work the best for you. With the “Majestic Million” feature you can view the top 1 million websites based on ranking — you will definitely learn some lessons from this sample.
- Lite - $49.99/month - $41.67/month paid annually
- Pro - $99.99/month - $83.33/month paid annually
- API - $399.99/month - $333.33/month paid annually
The company certainly has an amusing name, but they take their SEO business very seriously. With the SEO Spider tool, you can crawl your site, do lightning-fast site audits, and get insights regarding errors, duplicate content, broken pages, or redirects. The free version has some limitations so it's best to use it for smaller sites. For heavy tasks, you should check out the advanced features in their fairly priced paid version.
- Free with 500 URL crawl limit
- Paid - £149.00 paid annually
As their name suggests this tool lets you spy on your competitors without much effort. They also provide all the SEO tools you need to improve your rankings in SERP. The free solutions are a great way to start your work and advance later into the paid plans. You can gain serious insights about your competition with SpyFu’s competitor analysis, domain comparison, competitor backlink analysis, and PPC competitor research tools. They have all the basic and advanced keyword research tools you need to succeed. (Side note: their databases work best if your company and competitors are doing business in the US or UK)
- Basic - $39/month - $33/month paid annually
- Professional - $39 first month then $78/month - $58/month paid annually
- Team - $299/month - $199/month paid annually
Their main approach is to simplify your SEO work while keeping all the high-level functions. The easy to use interface lets you track and analyze your website’s data and performance regarding online visibility. You can do side-by-side competitor analysis to develop your strategy on how you can overcome those competitors in your rankings. The Site Crawl tool will help you understand your technical issues and overall SEO health.
- Pro - €59.99/month - €39.17/month paid annually
- Premium - €179.99/month - €119.17/month paid annually
- Enterprise - Contact the Sales team
Siteliner is a rather simple but very useful tool specializing in finding duplicate content. While the site crawl tool is checking the content of your website you will also get insights on on-page SEO and how to improve your site's presence in SERP. You can also find broken links, check average site speed and page size, as well as internal and external links. Google uses many different metrics to determine a site’s ranking and investigating the uniqueness of your content is definitely worth your time investments.
- Free with monthly 250 pages analyzed
- Premium with 25 000 pages analyzed - Contact Sales for pricing
All-in-One SEO solutions
If you have the budget for a professional Search Engine Optimization tool, and you want to know everything about how you might increase your organic search traffic, ahrefs is one of the best tools in the market. They have a wide range of SEO tools such as Site Explorer, Rank Tracker, Keywords Explorer, Content Explorer, and their Site Audit tool. They also have a YouTube channel with tutorials and a Google Chrome toolbar for live results. They have a simple user interface from where you can do all your research. Their main optimization approach is through backlinks, so you will constantly find link building related menus and suggestions. If you want to dominate your market you can learn a lot about your top competitors with their backlink strategy tool.
- Trial week for $7
- Lite - $99/month - $82/month paid annually
- Standard - $179/month - $149/month paid annually
- Advanced - $399/month - $332/month paid annually
- Agency - $999/month - $832/month paid annually
There are a lot of opinions from SEO experts on choosing the right SEO tool, and most of them tend to agree that SEMRush stands out from the crowd. They have a dashboard that is extensive from which you can do detailed keyword analysis, monitor your rankings, review your website’s performance and so much more. One of the more powerful features is being able to easily compare your domains or specific keywords with competitors. In the Traffic Sources tool, you can analyze from where your competitors get most of their traffic - such as referring sites, backlinks, digital marketing channels, etc. They also give you recommendations about new ranking opportunities or how you can enhance your site’s performance.
- Pro - $99.95/month - $83.28/month paid annually
- Guru - $199.95/month - $166.62/month paid annually
- Business - $399.95/month - $333.28/month paid annually
- Enterprise - Contact the Sales team
This is another great example of an all-in-one SEO software. It has a complete toolset for every aspect of your SEO work. You can do full site audits, research your keywords and find new combinations, analyze your backlinks, and research your domain authority. While tracking your site rankings you will get plenty of recommendations and insights on how you could improve your performance and search engine visibility. They have a series of free SEO tools that can support your professional work such as the Moz Bar Chrome browser extension, that can show you real-time metrics about the page you're visiting. If you are new to the field of SEO, Moz has a helpful beginner's guide.
- Some free SEO tools
- Basic - $129 paid annually
- Plus - $199 paid annually
- Complete - $299 paid annually
Created by Neil Patel, Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool that offers so much, even in its free version, and can assist you significantly in securing better rankings in Google. With the keyword search tool, you can get hundreds of suggestions for short and long-tailed phrases, and what's more, you will also identify competitors that are aligned with those keywords. This will give you invaluable insight into which keywords are worth considering, and how competitive they are.
- Free tools with limitations
- Individual - $29/month - $290/month paid annually
- Business - $49/month - $490/month paid annually
- Enterprise - $99/month - $990/month paid annually
Serpstat is a truly all-in-one SEO platform that comes with reasonable pricing. They have all the tools a company would need to improve their SEO skills. Their toolset includes keyword research, search analytics, advertising analysis, content marketing ideation, competitor research, rank tracking, market intelligence, on-page audit, and backlink analysis. You can visualize your reports in diagrams, charts, and infographics to better understand your data, and you can share your findings in fully customizable reports with management or your clients.
- Lite - $69/month - $55/month paid annually
- Standard - $149/month - $119/month paid annually
- Advanced - $299/month - $239/month paid annually
- Enterprise - $499/month - $399/month paid annually
- Custom plan - Contact the Sales team
Cora from SEOToolLab is an advanced SEO software focused on serving medium to large enterprises, and their pricing reflects this. They use more than 2,000 factors to analyze your ranking and show you exactly how to fine-tune your site. They obsessively follow Google’s algorithm updates and automatically adapt to them. Your subscription will not only give you the core SEO software but also offers additional tools like Cora Diff and Cora Trends to further help you adjust your SEO tactics. It's most beneficial if you have a large number of pages or a team of content creators who need a sitewide guidance system.
- SEO editor Pro - $50/month
- Cora lite SEO software - $125/month
- Cora SEO software - $250/month
Browser Extensions for fast results
SEOQuake is a free browser extension, made by SEMRush, that you can install on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, or Edge browsers, or you can use the iOS or Android versions. With this SEO checker tool, you can make quick site audits, as well as get insights about your internal and external links, and you can compare your site to your competitors. The Keyword Density checker can come in handy, as well as the reports on technical issues and performance-enhancing tips. Once you get familiar with the controls you can get a wide range of SEO metrics in an instant, with the ability to also download and share the data.
This Chrome/Firefox extension collects data from a batch of free SEO tools and displays a live analysis of keywords based on the search term you entered. They use tools such as Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Trends, and AdWords — it will even analyze YouTube, Amazon, and Etsy search information. You will get useful information on related keywords and “people also search for” suggestions. The AdWords competition and Cost Per Click data will come in handy when you come to planning your paid ads. You have to buy credits to use the various functions.
- 1 credit = 1 keyword
- 100 000 credit - $10
- 500 000 credit - $50
- 1 000 000 credit - $100
- 2 000 000 credit - $200
- 5 000 000 credit - $500
- 10 000 000 credit - $1000
Fatrank is another great Chrome extension on our list that gives you fast and easily understandable information about your keyword rankings. It only shows the top 100 results for a keyword so there is a chance that initially you will not show up in the results, but still, it will give you information about how you can optimize for that specific keyword. They also have an iOS and Android app, and no matter which one you use you will get unlimited searches for keywords and domains.
Here you can see a comparison chart of the SEO tools listed in this article. We hope this helps you get on the right track as it relates to finding the right toolset at the right prices, as dictated by your current circumstances.
5 pro tips to help you succeed
SEO is a process that needs to be constantly measured and tracked to check if all the hard work you do is taking you in the right direction. Here is a list of tips based on our experience, that will help you fine-tune your SEO tools and SEO strategy.
1. Incognito mode
You should always look at Google searches in your browser's incognito mode to get neutral results because your search history will always alter the results to your learned preferences. Browsing the SERP in incognito mode will show you how you rank in the search results for newcomers. Don’t forget the autofill function when searching as this will give you the first glimpses into how your audience thinks.
2. Speed is the key
Google Lighthouse is a must-have tool for checking your site’s performance. You will get priceless information about your site’s speed and accessibility, your use of best practices, and your search engine optimization. Your site’s loading speed performance can seriously compromise your rankings and can easily keep you from the first page of SERP. We live in a performance-driven world where slow site speed can turn your visitors into hit-and-runners instead of steering them the right way to convert them into customers.
Webpagetest is another indispensable tool for testing the speed of your web page.
At platformOS, we’ve put a lot of work into the performance of our low-code multi-experience development platform so you can build the fastest websites you can wish for.
Here are some key factors we provide for your online success:
- 100% Google Lighthouse speeds
- Performance tuning and scaling
- Dedicated server stacks
- Performance testing
You can learn more about:
3. Social Media Cards
A “Social Card” is the preview you see when you post a link to your social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. It includes an image, a title, and a description of the content you want to share. If not defined correctly it can cause a fair amount of frustration, as it will be put together automatically. In 2010 Facebook created the Open Graph Protocol to provide a solution for this problem, and other social media sites have used them as well since. With Open Graph meta tags you can control how your Social Cards will be displayed. High-quality Social Cards can increase conversions, click-through rate, and brand visibility so it is critical to optimize them correctly.
You can learn more about the technical background of Social Cards here:
4. Optimize for long-tail keywords
Vanity and generic keywords come with a high search volume, very high competition rates, and painfully low conversion rates when you analyze your data in depth. Long-tail keywords typically produce lower search volumes with lower competition rates, but if you hit the nail on the head with your target audience's interests you should see very strong results (and quickly too) in your SERP rankings. Taking time to deeply understand your market, and being attentive and diligent in optimizing your SEO tactics around long-tail keywords can go a long way to maximize your ROI - it can offer the biggest bang for your buck.
5. Be the solution
Your SEO strategy should be built on your content. Piling up keywords won’t bring you the result you are looking for. When crafting your content, always keep in mind that your business should provide solutions for the pain points and needs of your target audience. This is why thorough keyword research is always the first step for building a successful SEO strategy.
The future of the web is more than just HTML pages. As your product evolves, you are not limited by what you can build so you don’t have to start again. You will be able to build progressive web apps, internet of things integrations, or native mobile apps.
platformOS built a limitless PaaS that allows you to build ANY application - from e-commerce stores, multi-sided marketplaces, to interactive community portals. You are only limited by your imagination.
You can learn more about our platform’s flexibility from our success stories:
In this article, we have listed some short-term and long-term solutions for Search Engine Optimization. The SEO tools listed here can help you get a breakthrough in better search results and website optimization, but none of them will do the work without your concerted effort. There is no ‘magic bullet’. You have to constantly measure your SEO data and SEO performance. Don’t forget to update your old content from time to time, as well as adjust how you create content to suit your overall branding and niche market.