Reading about which tools other people use has always been a fun pastime for me.
First of all, it helps me discover all the latest cool stuff on the web. I found Calendly through such an article and have used it ever since.
Secondly, it tells me about trends – e.g. BuzzSumo is getting a lot of buzz lately (pun totally intended).
So why am I telling you all this? Because I have asked a few friends to share which tools they love. So without further ado, here are everyone's favorite SEO tools.
Michael Bergen – Riverbed Marketing Inc.
Michael is the Content Marketing Manager of Riverbed Marketing, a digital marketing agency based out of Vancouver, BC. His background is in technical link analysis and penalty recoveries which allows him to pair off an aggressive link development strategy wih his content marketing campaigns.
Majestic allows you to check the backlinks of your website or a competitor's website. This is important to monitor for low quality links which are increasingly under more and more scrutiny with Google. Majestic prides itself on having one of the best and most robust link indexes in comparison to the competition, ensuring you don't miss any links in your reports.
BuzzSumo allows you to research content that has top social engagement. In the marketing world of 2015, social media is one of the channels that fuels your newly published content. This tool allows you to easily identify top shared content based on trigger keywords, or top shared content of a target website itself. Through this process you can discover top social channels for your industry, and the types of topics and do and do not exist in the space.
For the most robust competitor research data, there is simply no other comparison to SEMrush. Uncover competitor keyword positions, PPC performance, and overall traffic forecasts with this tool. Easily identify the reach of your online marketing campaigns in comparison to competitor efforts. Easily determine weak points and points of opportunity in your overall marketing efforts.
David Leonhardt – THGM Writing Services
With this tool, I can quickly get a number that tells me how strong a domain is. The number is not the be-all and end-all any more than PageRank used to be, but it does give a good snapshot as to whether a website is worth further exploration relative to others.
With this tool I can immediately see what kind of backlinks a URL has, whether some of them would be appropriate also for my website, whether a website has a wide variety of backlinks and even the quality of the links (like if they mostly come from posting on forums,, for example). I can also get an idea of the anchor text, which can fuel all kinds of ideas.
With this tool created by Brad Knudson I can get a good sense of how active a website is. If a couple slightly-aged blog posts have almost no shares, that tells me that many of its backlinks are fairly contrived.
Gary Dek – StartABlog123.com
I use SEMRush to analyze my competitors and determine the keywords they are ranking for so I can create content and compete for the same keywords. In the process of reviewing different URLs, you also get ideas for new keywords and types of content.
I then leverage Ahrefs to find all the links my competitor's have earned from websites. If a website is willing to link to my competitior, who has similar content to me, I'm willing to bet that website would link to mine.
Finally, I use Gmail for outreach. Gmail has a lower chance of being labeled as spam, the interface is excellent for productivity, and I can combine all my email addresses at one destination.
Andrew Isidoro – AndrewIsidoro.co.uk
AWR allows me to track a clients rankings, social media account growth and overall search visibility in one place. What's more; I can automate bespoke low level reports for each client so they are always in the loop.
Outreaching to bloggers, journalists and influencers can become a messy affair if you're not organised. Excel spreadsheets really don't cut the mustard, especially when working closely with clients and partners; that's why I use Buzzstream to organise my outreach efforts and always ensure I pick up conversations with a large number of people straight from where we left off.
Time tracking is a pain for any freelancer. That's why I've made it simpler with the help of IFTTT and bt.tn; just by pushing the bttn button in my office to start / stop activity I can automatically count my work hours in a spreadsheet which I can quickly annotate later. Saves time and as I'm not window swapping I eliminate the opportunity to procrastinate.
Brian Lang – Small Business Side Ideas
A lot of SEO's complained that Google Keyword Planner has much less data than it's predecessor, Google Keyword Tool. Although there are plenty of other keyword tools out there, I still like to start with Google Planner for keyword research. The data comes from Google and it does show most of the higher volume keywords that are worth targeting to begin with.
Scrapebox is one of my favorite competitive analysis tools for SEO. For under $100 one time cost, this tool will allow you to query the search engines and get data like social counts for a site's blog posts, backlink data, and more. I would also recommend getting a few private proxies, but even with this monthly cost, it is still very affordable.
Although Buzzsumo is fairly new, this tool has become indispensible. You can search by keywords to get an idea of the social media popularity of your keywords as well as the type of content that is getting shared. Keywords that are popular in both search and social media tend to be easier to promote and usually get more traffic.
Ann Smarty – SEO Smarty
Generate hundreds of popular keyword suggestions in a matter of minutes and dig deeper for long tail suggestions on any of them
Quickly run your backlinks through this tool to see if there are any suspicious patterns. And it's the only FREE option out there
Quickly run on-page analysis to see if there are any obvious issues with your web page
Kai Davis – Double Your eCommerce
Kai Davis is an Outreach Consultant in Oregon, who helps retail eCommerce stores increase their traffic and generate sales. He connect with influencers and finds opportunities to expose your best products and content to their audience.
There are four tools that I'd love to share with you today. These are tools that I find myself using everyday to help my agency operate. While not directly SEO tools, these are tools that help us do better work.
Slack — If you have a team, how do you keep in touch with them? Email? That can get… overwhelming. Slack lets me stay in touch with the freelancers, consultants, and employees that make up my agency, making it easy for us to stay up to date.
Basecamp — And when it comes to managing client communication, I use and love Basecamp. Basecamp gives a single digital 'home' for all of the emails, attachments, threads, discussions, and questions that always come up during a client engagement. I love Basecamp because they make it easy to keep all discussion in one digital home, instead of in multiple email threads.
OUIBounce — If we're doing our job right, our clients are getting more traffic… but what, exactly, happens once those searchers arrive? Or if those searchers reach for the back button? OUIBounce is a free, open-source, easy to add 'Exit Intent' lightbox. Add in your (or your client's) email service provider of choice, and you'll be able to capture some of those 'bouncing' visitors into your (or your client's) email nurturing campaign, providing additional ROI for your SEO campaign.
Value-Based Fees: How to Charge – and Get – What You're Worth — This book, by master consultant Alan Weiss, will help you escape from hourly billing, and focus on value based billing, charging based on the value of the project, instead of the hours that you're able to bill. Value-Based Fees is priced at $50 on Amazon and, honest to god, put $10,000 in additional revenue in my pocket last year. It's one of the most valuable books I've ever read and I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't recommend it. Go order this book right now.