Top SEO Experts Reveal Their Favorite SEO Tools and How They Use It
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- 1. Steven Macdonald
- 2. Julia Morrissey
- 3. Clayton Johnson
- 4. Ian Cleary
- 5. Dixon Jones
- 6. Robbie Richards
- 7. Stuart Shaw
- 8. Marko Saric
- 9. Douglas Karr
- 10. John Gibbings
- 11. Bill Sebald
- 12. Eli Schwartz
- 13. Kathryn Aragon
- 14. Fili Wiese
- 15. Adam Collins
- 16. Idan Shnall
- 17. Christopher M. Labbate
- 18. Ryan Jones
- 19. Jeff Ferguson
- 20. Corey Jansen
- 21. Emory Rowland
- 22. Olivian Breda
- 23. Jan-Willem Bobbink
- 24. Barry Feldman
- 25. Kate Toon
- 26. Aleks Shklyar
- 27. Suhail Kareem
- 28. Murray Dare
- 29. Kristina Azarenko
Proper SEO has become a critical need for all marketers aiming for that sweet organic traffic. And, marketers need tools.
Using the right SEO tools can make or break your SEO efforts. But here’s the thing…
Picking up the right SEO tool can be really challenging as there are a lot of well-known tools in the market offering very similar features but bringing different kinds of data. We have tried out market-leading tools and found out that the results produced vary from each other. Many of these tools work by crawling the search results and fetching information and different tools find different sets of information.
To help you make your choice, we asked SEO experts and influencers a question:
“Which tools do you love the most for SEO and why?”
The reason for this was simple. Our goal was not to populate the article with a curation of 10, 20, 30, or 100 tools. This would have confused the readers even more. Instead, we wanted to get practical suggestions directly from the field and know the ‘why’ part. We asked industry-leading experts, agencies, and professionals this question and here are their answers:
1. Steven Macdonald
“I love using Ahrefs for backlink analysis and keyword opportunities.
I’ll typically check their New Backlinks report on a daily basis to see which sites have linked to my content in the last 24 hours. I’ll also use the Best By Links report to find highly linked-to pages that I can use to leverage the page authority and link to newer, mid-tier ranking content.
But my favorite Ahrefs feature is Keywords Explorer – it’s great to find potential keywords to target. For example, I recently used the feature to find new topics to create content for. Among them was “Relationship marketing“, which has low competition, but more than 21,000 monthly searches. That’s an untapped opportunity that we want to take advantage of and it’s exactly why Ahrefs a must-have for any SEO.”
2. Julia Morrissey
“The most helpful tool to me for SEO services has been Ahrefs. I use this tool for everything from keyword research to rank checking to reporting. The Keywords Explorer tab is especially helpful for analyzing the SERP to determine which queries a client can rank for based on search intent, competition, and long-term link/traffic value. After creating a piece of content Ahrefs also enables me to analyze how well it’s ranking for the keyword I targeted, what other keywords it’s ranking for, and how many backlinks it receives.”
3. Clayton Johnson
This allows you to check vital SEO stats like title tags, metas, headers, etc, on any page rapidly. I use it all the time!”
4. Ian Cleary
“My favorite tool is SEMRush.
SEMRush is a very comprehensive tool with excellent functionality. I really like that I can do most of my research from one tool. I use it for all my keyword research, competitor research, site auditing and much more. The keyword research functionality is great with such a large database available. I also really like the SEO plugin that can be added to Chrome so that when you are creating content in a Google doc you can get recommendations on optimising your content. This is particularly useful for clients I work with that don’t have much SEO skills because it provides them with clear guidelines to follow.”
5. Dixon Jones
“Well – I am biased, but here’s why I believe so much in InLinks.net right now. It is pretty much the only decent SEO tool which builds knowledge graphs. It’s whole approach from the ground up is based around entities, not keywords. Entity SEO is dramatically changing the way its users curate, create and change their content. Once you understand what it is doing, very few people leave it. So, TLDR? It’s the Entity SEO tool.”
6. Robbie Richards
“My favorite all-in-one SEO tool is SEMrush.
The platform provides a range of Toolkits and features that can be used to execute on all the major areas – keyword research, content analysis, link building, technical audits, rank tracking and reporting – of an SEO campaign. Specifically, I use the tool regularly to reverse-engineer my client’s top organic traffic sources. SEMrush allows you to perform this analysis at the domain, subdomain, subfolder, URL and keywords levels. Powerful filtering options also make it easy to drill into different intent buckets on a site. Eg: filter out all the terms with specific modifiers. I cover my process in great detail in this guide.
On top of finding organic traffic sources, I also use the tool to identify keyword gaps, quickly find which topics and content types drive the most links to a site, and where they come from. I also love their site audit tool for running quick scans to uncover a range of technical issues, and also the rank tracking tool.
SEMrush provides a ton of data and insights across a range of areas. And, at $99.95 a month, it’s a fairly cost-effective option if you’re looking to consolidate lots of standalone tools into more of an all-in-one platform.”
7. Stuart Shaw
“As much as I love ahrefs and our own proprietary toolset, the automation of big data through Supermetrics is one of my favourite techniques to teach new SEOs. It provides an accessible entry point when junior SEOs wish to specialise in SQL or advanced data-handling and allows us to scale our enterprise toolset right down for medium-sized clients. The automation of data merging from scheduled CSV downloads is invaluable to the production of competitor insights that far exceed even the best web-based tools. When coupled with data blends in Google Data Studio, you’re able to provide clients with sliceable, filtered and near-live data within just a few hours from the point of setup.
For me, this means that the heavier investment tasks like keyword research and intent-mapping result in significant long-term value, rather than it being a tick in a box or single deliverable piece of work that is outdated within weeks.”
8. Marko Saric
“I like to hear straight from the horse’s mouth so my favorite SEO tool is Search Console. It’s a great starting point for me to review and understand what’s the state of the current SEO for my site. I see the traffic I get from Google, I see what keywords and keyword phrases my site is ranking for and I see my position in search results too. I also like that I can dig deeper and for instance look at a specific query for a specific page for a specific country and see how my traffic and my position have changed over a certain period of time. It gives me great ideas on how to improve my post headlines, descriptions, and how to update the body of the content itself. Very useful, simple to use, and information coming directly from Google themselves.”
9. Douglas Karr
“The tool that enables me to closely monitor the trending health of my customers is SEMRush. By observing their visibility in search, their competition’s visibility, linking domains, and trending searches, I’m able to research and develop content strategies as well as their promotion to maximize their return on marketing investment. Search continues to be the best channel for reaching prospects with an intent to purchase. Building a complete content library that encompasses all mediums that are consumed by search is essential. An investment in this tool is critical.”
10. John Gibbings
“Google Search Console is my go-to tool when it comes to analyzing Organic Search traffic for a website. It is a powerful tool that represents Organic traffic based on a site’s landing pages and the keywords that drive visibility. The Search Console API is a fantastic extension to the tool that can be called by any number of 3rd party tools and Python scripts for unrestricted access to your site’s traffic data. A site’s GSC data allows for SEOs to take a deep dive into countless optimization strategies. My favorites include: aligning content with user-intent, monitoring traffic shifts due to algorithm changes, discover emerging search trends, and content prioritization.”
11. Bill Sebald
“I can’t pick one tool. I really tried. For the wide definition of SEO, there isn’t one tool that can do everything needed. Sitebulb would be crucial for me (for technical SEO), but so would Pitchbox for doing scaled link building. Outside of Google Search Console and other data providers, these are the tools that I use most.”
12. Eli Schwartz
“My two favorite tools are Oncrawl and Rank Ranger. Oncrawl because it is the easiest tool to get a clean technical overview of a site in the cloud. And Rank Ranger is my go-to Swiss army knife for reporting and research. With each of these tools I am constantly discovering features I did not know existed.”
13. Kathryn Aragon
“My favorite SEO tool right now is Ubersuggest. It’s the new kid on the block, but it’s getting new features all the time. Already, it gives you the data you need to make smart decisions and get results — at a fraction of the cost of other tools.
That said, you shouldn’t discount Ahrefs and SEMrush. Ahrefs saves you time on advanced SEO tasks, and their search results are more comprehensive than any other tool I’ve used. SEMrush has tools that make it easy to do in-depth keyword research and create SEO content around those keywords.”
14. Fili Wiese
“There are a number of professional SEO tools that greatly enhance any SEO project and that I like to utilize when working with client sites. Among them are in no particular order: DeepCrawl, Botify, Screaming Frog, RYTE, Ahrefs, LRT, Majestic and Searchmetrics. This isn’t a complete list of course and it’s important to remember that even the best tools are ideally used simultaneously, as every single one of them has the potential to supplement the information provided by the others. No list of essential SEO tools is complete without mentioning Google Search Console, which is the first and most important source of information on confirmed SEO signals of any given website. For anyone interested in keeping an eye on superb SEO tools, I’d like to recommend following my manually curated list of SEO tools. Last but not least, when dealing with backlinks and mitigating associated risks check out https://disavow.tools/. Free of charge, no registration or sign-up are required and it is the only tool that validates a disavow file and makes it ready for submission.”
15. Adam Collins
“Im a true sucker for SEO tools, I have more subscriptions than I care to admit, however when it comes to one tool I couldn’t run my business without, it has to be Ahrefs. It without a doubt has the largest index of live links, but what really impresses me is the speed new links are picked up, something less than 24 hours.
We rely heavily on AHREFS DR & UR metrics when link building for our customers after switching from DA a couple of years ago. AHREFS is more than just a backlink analysis tool, it’s also fantastic for keyword research, the keyword explorer now allows you to easily find keyword ideas, traffic estimations & judge competition.
It’s definitely a Swiss army knife when it comes to SEO.”
16. Idan Shnall
“Here at Zen Media we utilize many SEO tools, from SEMrush to Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest, to elevate our clients’ rankings. One unique tool I have found useful in our SEO efforts is Answer The Public. Answer The Public helps us understand and identify what our clients’ potential customers are typing into search engines and allows us to optimize to drive relevant traffic to client sites. It provides us with question-based searches, as well as compositions and many relevant keywords in an alphabetical order.
For example: If we want to learn more about what people are searching about “ice cream”, we can utilize this tool to indemnify keywords such as: “can ice cream make you sick?” or “are ice cones vegan?”.
With all these ideas, we can write robust posts that cater to some of the popular questions and drive more traffic to client sites from search engines alone.”
17. Christopher M. Labbate
“This tool is fairly new to the SEO world, but it is the one I can not live without and I want to share it with you all. It was invented by Dixon Jones who was in fact the same creator of the Majestic Backlink Software. His new venture, Inlinks has been helping me crush rankings on all my client sites.
The core feature of Inlinks is the Content Brief to help you craft perfect content. It uses a different optimization tactic than the usual keyword approach to rankings.
By taking all the top-ranking pages directly from Google and analyzes the pages it gives recommendations on these things. Search intent, topical relevance, and the overall depth of comprehension of the article being written.
I see this tool as a “Triple WIN!” as you get amazing content that is well optimized for Google’s RankBrain AI, with extra ranking benefits from optimizing your internal links and Schema!”
18. Ryan Jones
“I wouldn’t be an SEO or marketer if I didn’t mention my own sites: serverheaders.com and seodataviz.com – two tools I made to help make my everyday SEO job easier. My most common tools are the ones provided by the engines themselves. Whether it’s fetch and render, the search cache, or google/bing search consoles, they’re my first go to when I need to diagnose any SEO issue or get to the root of something.”
19. Jeff Ferguson
“This answer may sound a little cheesy, but my favorite SEO tool is understanding how search engines really work. In my over 25 years in search engine marketing, I’ve learned that most of the issues people have during the search engine optimization process come from a lack of understanding of the search engines’ basic mechanics and ranking algorithms. This lack of knowledge leads to chasing goofy “tricks” or “hacks” that have no long term effect on their search engine positioning, or worse.
That said, we use MOZ, SEMRush, and Ahrefs along with Google Search Console for monitoring and research.”
20. Corey Jansen
“Google App Script is the most versatile tool for any SEO Expert, combine that with the Google Tools (Google Sheets, Docs) and you have a complete powerhouse. I use it for everything from syncing data between sheets, using it to integrate different software together through their APIs, create powerful spiders to crawl websites and track data in Google Sheets. When trying to automate something or create a process around a service Google Script can almost do anything. The latest solution I have found by using Google App Script has been creating a script to allow me to send emails as any of the other employees in the office. Previously our account managers were having to manually send onboarding documents to the customer whenever they would get onboarded but now when they get onboarded they get fed into a good sheet and then they automatically get their onboarding email which comes from the account manager themself without them having to lift a finger. This ensure that the email gets sent out every time and saves them time every day. You can check out the Google App Script for this here on my blog.”
21. Emory Rowland
“For starters, you can click a few buttons and lay bare the SEO elements of an entire site with Screaming Frog SEO Spider. That’s only the beginning, though. All of the big technical SEO deep diving tasks can be done with it. Of course, you have to know how to interpret what you see. There are too many features to mention and I haven’t used half of them yet. Instead of bulking up the browser with extensions or finding a different tool for every task, there’s probably a way to solve the problem with the Frog.”
22. Olivian Breda
“The SEO tool which I appreciate most has to be Screaming Frog. Its free version allows crawling for 500 URLs, but if you have a list of URLs, you can scan them all for free (you can get a list of URLs from the Sitemap.xml file or via http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html)
Screaming Frog can give you a lot of answers for your technical SEO dilemmas. There are plenty of other things which you need to check separately, but to get a quick overview of how well optimized a website really is, Screaming Frog does wonders.
And the free version works well for smaller websites.”
23. Jan-Willem Bobbink
“It is difficult to choose any specific tool as the best tool since there are unlimited scenarios in which you will need one specific tool to do the job. At the end of the day, the tool I use the most is at the moment is Sitebulb. Quick way to gather insights on the technical quality of a specific client domain or a set of competitors.”
24. Barry Feldman
“Keywords Everywhere is a brilliant, affordable, and amazing time-saver. Sure, when it’s time to go deep, I may reach for SEMRush—and occasionally, Moz. However, Keywords Everywhere, in an instant and dynamic way, answers the most pressing questions: What’s the monthly search volume? Related searches… estimated traffic… search position… backlinks… annual trend data. It’s an amazing tool that spares me time digging in Google’s overbearing applications. And though it’s not 100% free, it’s damn cheap.”
25. Kate Toon
“So many SEO tools, so little time.
I’m guessing other experts will focus on the tech and the keywords, so let me focus on the words. SEO copywriting isn’t (and never was) about forcing awkward keywords into your copy.
It’s vital to consider human connection, readability, flow, comprehension, and conversation (as well as conversion, right?).
One of my favorite free tools to help with this is Hemingway Editor.
It’s an in-browser and desktop app that helps evaluate the readability of your copy, including checking for passive voice, complex sentences, overuse of adverbs, and difficult phrasing. Ultimately, giving you a readability score (I recommend aiming for Grade 7 or 8 max).
While it won’t make you the next Stephen King, it might just help you build more connections with your customers and write for humans first, Google second.”
26. Aleks Shklyar
“My absolute favorite tool to use for SEO is SEMRush. While originally the tool was the go to for keyword research (it tracks keyword ranks and models traffic for those keywords), today it’s much much more. Some awesome features of the tool include:
– Backlink audits to see if there are links you need to disavow
– SEO audits that show technical issues that need to be reviewed and fixed
– Keyword magic tool that will help you brainstorm keyword ideas
– Competitor overview based on keyword overlap
– Position tracking over time that does not require setting up
– SEMRush sensor to track SERP volatility and predict big Google algorithm updates by topic
– Logfile analyzer
– Many more features outside of SEO and also new SEO features currently in alpha testing
To say SEMRush gives you everything you need to maintain your site for SEO is an understatement. Though you will not get the same level of granularity as specialty tools like Ahrefs or STAT, you get a little bit of everything. Overall, I recommend any company or SEO add SEMRush to their toolset if they haven’t already. I expect even more great features in the near future from them that are guaranteed to make waves through the SEO world and earn them, even more, industry credit.”
27. Suhail Kareem
Both these tools are well-detailed and provide a well-audited report on the desired website. It also shows all the SEO, Speed, Keywords and all other basic issues along with their suggestions to solve the issues.
Keyword Tools – Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Everywhere, and Uber Suggest
These are the Keyword Tools that we use here. Each has its own advantages. Google Keyword Planner is very simple to use, Keyword Everywhere shows the exact number of searches and search value for each word whereas Uber Suggest gives an advantage by showing related blogs on the subject.
Google Analytics gives us the exact analytics of our website, like the audience, search terms, bounce rates, etc. Search Engine Console shows the SEO related issues and ranking problems. Yoast Plugin is highly efficient to do On-Page SEO in WordPress pages in a very simple way. And Small SEO Tools is a hub all important and powerful SEO Tools.”
28. Murray Dare
“Personally, I don’t think I could do without SEMrush.
SEMRush provides great insight across loads of different data points and is fundamental to a lot of what we do. It is simple to use, yet holds loads of useful info.
The insight we obtain helps us to create great content marketing and backlinking strategies to rapidly increase the SEO performance across all our projects.”
29. Kristina Azarenko
“My favourite SEO tool is Google Search Console. It provides first-hand data right from Google, so if I could use only one SEO tool, I’d 100% choose Google Search Console.
It has helped me uncover many technical issues for my clients. And even when I use other tools that I love, I find myself re-checking things in GSC. ”
That’s all for today folks! As you can see, we have got opinions from industry leaders, agencies, and veteran SEO experts for you to know their favorite tools and understand why they use it. It comes to no one’s surprise that Ahrefs and SEMrush are mentioned the most but we also got to learn about some other lesser-known tools and how experts are leveraging them. We hope this curation helps you find the SEO tools of your dreams.
We would like to thank all the experts for contributing to this article. If you like their style, please check them out on Twitter or LinkedIn.