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SEO Software & Tools Guide: Types, Benefits, Best Practices

December 1, 2023

Table Of Content

SEO and the role of SEO tools and software

SEO (search engine optimization) refers to strategies, techniques, and practices that aim to increase a website’s rankings in organic (non-paid) search engine results. The goal of SEO is to have your website appear among the top results when people search for terms or phrases related to your business. The higher your site ranks for relevant searches, the more visible it is and the more search traffic it receives. SEO is hugely important for businesses and websites today because of the dominance of Google and other search engines. Studies show that organic listings receive over 50% of all clicks for an average search. So if your site isn’t findable in organic search, you are missing out on huge opportunities for driving relevant visitors.

There are many elements involved in effective SEO. These include things like using targeted keywords across your site, creating compelling meta descriptions and titles, optimizing page speed and technical elements, building high-quality backlinks, creating useful and engaging content, leveraging alt text and image optimization, exploring voice search optimization, and more. Managing all these important elements can be extremely challenging. This is where SEO software, tools, and platforms come into play.

The role of SEO tools and software in SEO strategies

SEO tools refer to software programs and online platforms designed specifically for carrying out various search engine optimization activities. There is now a vast array of SEO tools available, covering all aspects of SEO strategy. Some of the key capabilities include keyword research, rank tracking, site audits, backlink analysis, website crawlability diagnostics, content gap identification, local SEO management, SEO performance reporting, and more. These tools arm SEO professionals and website owners with the data, insights, and workflow efficiency to optimize their sites effectively and boost organic visibility and traffic.

The rise of sophisticated SEO tools and software plays an invaluable role in modern website promotion by automating many crucial optimization tasks. Some of the key benefits good SEO tools provide include:

different types of SEO tools and software 

There are many categories of SEO tools available, each serving different core functions required for effective ongoing search optimization and rankings success. Choosing the right tools matching your needs and capabilities is key. The main types of SEO software and tools include:

Keyword research tools

Thorough keyword research lays the foundation for an impactful SEO strategy. Keywords are the terms and phrases users enter into search engines to find information online. Identifying the optimal set of keyword targets that have significant search volume and competition aligned with your offerings is critical. Leading keyword tools include:

  • Google Keyword Planner:
    Google’s free keyword data tool providing monthly search volumes for keywords
  • SEMrush:
    All-in-one SEO platform with extensive keyword research capabilities surfacing volumes, suggested terms, questions, related keywords, and more
  • Ahrefs: Powerful keyword explorer providing search volume, CPC data, topic categorization, seasonal fluctuations and other data
  • Moz Keyword Explorer: Long-standing keyword research tool helping find new targets with thorough data including volumes and difficulty scores

Rank tracking tools

Understanding where your important pages currently rank for target keywords is essential for gauging SEO success over time. This requires consistent rank tracking. Rank tracking software also enables insights into ranking fluctuations, competitors’ positions, and organic CTRs. Leading rank trackers include: 

  • SEMrush: Robust rank tracking features with historical rank data, filters by device, location, keywords, and automatic email reports 
  • SERPwoo: Affordable rank & position tracker providing smooth UX and helpful data visualizations
  • Rank Ranger:
    Powerful enterprise-level rank tracking with support for mass tracking, API integrations, and white label reporting

Technical SEO tools

Solid technical SEO health is required for peak rankings performance. Technical SEO analyzes elements like site speed, security, accessibility, proper indexing by search engines. Technical tools like:

  • Google Search Console: Free service providing key indexing, crawl error, and performance data 
  • Screaming Frog:
    User-friendly crawler allowing in-depth technical SEO audits revealing issues to address
  • SEMrush: Catch technical problems with the customizable site audit tool and get actionable recommendations

On-page SEO tools

On-page SEO refers to the optimization of individual pages and content for search visibility. This requires properly optimizing elements like titles, meta descriptions, headers, image alt text, content, etc. Key on-page optimization tools:

  • Frase: 
    AI-powered writing assistant providing guidance on writing optimizable text 
  • Surfer SEO: Chrome extension for skimming pages and flagging on-page issues needing improvement
  • Clearscope: Optimization platform allowing managed team-based page-level content optimization workflows

Link building tools

Securing backlinks from external sites remains central for gaining domain authority and rankings lift. Link building tools empower outreach to high-value websites and streamline analysis. Useful in this category include: 

  • BuzzStream:
     Enables targeted, personalized outreach tracking for link building campaigns
  • Ahrefs: Discover untapped backlink opportunities with their database of >3 trillion links
  • Linkody: SaaS platform designed to amplify
    link building workflows, outreach and reporting

Content marketing tools

Creating amazing content underpins modern digital marketing success. Content tools help streamline ideation, creation, amplification, and reporting. Top content marketing platforms include:

  • SEMrush Content Marketing Toolkit:
    End-to-end solution for content planning, creation, promotion, and measurement
  • BuzzSumo:
    Analyze what content performs best for any topic and uncover content idea
  • Grammarly:
    Power up your writing with Grammarly’s AI-powered grammar, plagiarism, and style checks

SEO reporting tools

SEO reporting tools collate the crucial SEO data from various sources into unified dashboards and intuitive reports for monitoring and demonstrating the ROI of SEO. Reporting tools include: 

  • SEMrush:
    Customizable automated reports on all key SEO data from SEMrush and connected tools
  • Raven Tools: Build white label reporting for clients showing SEO KPIs and success stories
  • SeRank Analytics: Visualized SEO reporting delivering analytics on rankings, links, keywords and more

benefits of using SEO tools and software 

SEO tools and software provide immense value for businesses and websites looking to improve their organic search visibility and rankings. When selected and utilized effectively, they offer a range of benefits:

Improve website visibility and organic search rankings

The number one goal of SEO tools is to directly help you enhance your site’s visibility and performance in unpaid search engine results. Comprehensive tools empower you to:

  • Uncover the most valuable keyword targets aligning with search intent
  • Diagnose and resolve technical flaws hampering crawlability and indexation 
  • Optimize on-page content for search spiders and users
  • Identify and secure valuable backlinks from trusted external sites
  • Streamline content creation aligned with rankings potential

Together this leads to improved organic visibility, click-through rate and conversion growth.

Increase website traffic and leads

Higher visibility in organic search translates directly into increased qualified visitors to your site. A first page ranking for just one additional key term can drive thousands of extra visitors per month. This influx of relevant new visitors enables higher lead generation and customer acquisition.

Generate better ROI from SEO campaigns

SEO involves ongoing effort across many areas – content, outreach, technical enhancements, etc. SEO tools enable you to direct those efforts for maximum ROI. For example keyword research tools steer content creation and outreach to the terms that really matter. Rank trackers help double down on pages with the best shot at #1 rankings. Link opportunity finders locate the sites where outreach will bear the most fruit.

Save time and resources

SEO tools automate the heavy lifting aspects of search optimization that are incredibly tedious and time consuming to handle manually. This includes everyday tasks like:

  • Tracking rankings for all major pages across search engines 
  • Crawling through site architecture checking technical health factors
  • Researching relevant keyword variations and search volumes
  • Testing website page speed and mobile friendliness
  • Monitoring latest Google algorithm updates
  • Analyzing backlink profile and new earned links

Automating these recurring tasks results in dramatic time savings that enables focus on higher value strategy and content output.

Make SEO more data-driven and strategic

The data and intelligence SEO tools provide lay the foundation for evidence-based strategy optimization over time. With insightful data tracking key elements like rankings, traffic, links, citations, mentions and more – you can continually refine approach for better outcomes. SEO transitions from guesswork to a numbers-driven pursuit tracking clear KPIs and ROIs.

choosing the right SEO tools and software 

The SEO software landscape has expanded dramatically over the past decade. There are now tools catering to every imaginable aspect of search optimization. Sifting through the options and identifying solutions well-aligned to your resources and needs can be challenging. Here are best practices to consider when selecting SEO tools:

Assess your SEO needs and goals

Not all SEO tools are created equal. There are wide ranging solutions specializing in areas like technical audits, link building, rank tracking, reporting and more. Start by considering your biggest SEO needs and gaps. 

For example, if you are struggling to crack first page rankings on important keywords, rank tracking and link building tools should be the priority. Have difficulty generating enough SEO content consistently? Look into content creation and amplification tools. 

Have a solid handle on execution but need better reporting? Reporting solutions are key. Clearly defining 2-3 biggest SEO needs ensures you narrow down options to tools with maximum relevance. 

Consider your budget and resources

SEO tools range widely in terms of cost and resource requirements. Many powerful all-in-one suites like SEMrush, Ahrefs and Moz can run $99-$200+ per month requiring serious budget. On the other hand, standalone point solutions like Surfer SEO or Pitchbox are very affordable at $5-$30 per month. 

Think about how much you can reasonably allocate for software and ensure selected options align with spend thresholds for each seat. Factor in implementation and management bandwidth as well when weighing options.

Evaluate features and benefits thoroughly

Keyword research seems straightforward right? Just show search volumes! But savvy tools offer additional filters for location, device type, adwords competition and more that prove very useful. 

Assessing features that are “need-to-have” rather than just “nice-to-have” for your goals ensures you choose most appropriate tools. Prioritize must-have capabilities over extraneous bells and whistles to maximize value.

Read credible software reviews

SEO tools represent considerable investment so it pays to thoroughly research how actual users rate solutions of interest before buying. Credible review platforms like Capterra, GetApp and Software Advice aggregate genuine user experiences identifying pros and cons. 

YouTube tutorials and product walkthroughs also provide helpful insight into evaluating features and functionality in action. Focus on candid feedback from real users over marketing hype on software sites.

Get free trials or demo access 

Most leading SEO tools offer free trial periods typically lasting 7-14 days. This enables hands-on experience using the tools applicable to projects rather than just generic walkthroughs. Even premium solutions offer demo access opportunities upon request.

Leverage free trials and exclusive demos to assess factors like UI/UX, available integrations, ease of generating reporting and more. This builds conviction around shortlisted options most appropriate before purchase.

integrating SEO tools and software into your workflow 

Once you’ve invested in new SEO tools, careful integration into your organizational processes and workflows is required to extract maximum value over the long-term. Critical elements for effective integration include:

Create a workflow that incorporates SEO tools

Don’t just tack on your shiny new software expecting it to magically deliver value. Carve out time upfront when adopting new capabilities to strategically update existing workflows integrating relevant tool functionality. 

For example, your content creation process can build in mandatory keyword research and topical clustering via tools like SEMrush and AnswerThePublic before writing ever begins. Competitive rank tracking can inform the ideal pages and terms to target. SEO copywriting tools like Frase, Surfer SEO and Clearscope then help craft posts optimized to rank. 

Without baking tools into existing workflow systems and rituals, usage tends to decline over time as people revert to previous habits. Set your team up for success.

Train your team on using the tools

Simply buying expensive SEO software tools doesn’t equate to productivity gains if your staff lacks proper training. People innately resist adopting new systems so make training a priority from the start. Designate power users across teams to lead initial software onboarding and skills development for peers. Many tools also provide self-paced courses and video tutorials to leverage.

Schedule training intervals allowing teams to gain competency and progressively take on more advanced functionality when they’re ready.also Create spaces for people to ask questions and spreadsheet tips and tricks as they arise. 

Set clear goals and track your progress

Tie utilization of new SEO tools directly to tangible goals and KPIs so their value can be measured over time. Rather than just generic software adoption metrics, look at how tool integration impacts things like:

  • Increased organic site traffic 
  • Higher rankings for priority keywords   
  • More referral visitors from earned links
  • Growth of domain authority/trust metrics
  • Reduced website crawl errors

Continuously track performance against markers like these demonstrating the business case for your SEO tools investment.

Make adjustments as needed

Periodically inspect whether enhanced processes involving SEO tools are working smoothly or facing adoption issues. Be ready to make tweaks addressing pain points. Maybe the initial training wasn’t sufficient and more resources needed. Perhaps additional workflow step automation makes sense. When processes stall, identify why through user feedback and reinvigorate activities.

best practices for using SEO tools and software 

SEO tools provide remarkable capabilities. But simply buying the latest hot solutions guarantees nothing. You must leverage SEO software properly following best practices to achieve results. Critical success factors include:

Use high-quality tools from reputable providers

The SEO tool landscape hosts both outstanding products and buggy or shady offerings from less scrupulous vendors. Stick with recognized tools boasting positive reputations and many satisfied customers to avoid hassles. Research carefully before purchasing little-known niche solutions even if promises seem appealing. Integrating inferior tools that rarely work as expected hampers outcomes.

Keep your tools up to date

SEO software products constantly refine offerings and introduce beneficial new features. Don’t stay stuck using outdated legacy versions. Stay reasonably current updating to newer tool iterations so your teams can benefit from the best available functionality. Just don’t risk destabilizing workflows updating the moment any new version debuts before proper vetting. Find balance.

Use tools in conjunction with other SEO strategies

Despite the amazing growth in SEO tools, software alone won’t magically deliver high search rankings. Technical fixes are only one piece. You still must execute well across areas like content, keywords, UX, pages speed, secured links and social signals. Maintain holistic SEO visibility leveraging both automation and human creativity/effort for maximum positive impact.

Avoid over-reliance on tools

The vast insights and efficiencies SEO tools enable can lull companies into complacency, forgetting the human analysis and judgment still required for success. If you become too enamored by or reliant on software guidance alone your outcomes eventually plateau. Keep custom contextual analysis and decision making alive to build on technical foundations.

Don’t automate everything

Certain SEO activities like scaling link outreach can be highly automated but most facets still benefit from nuanced human thinking and discretion. Wholesale automation generally backfires producing subpar, robotic content lacking uniqueness and relevance. Manual touch when used judiciously separates SEO leaders from laggards. 


SEO software and tools have evolved from niche utilities for tech consultants to indispensable solutions delivering transformative value across functions in modern organizations. They now underpin success driving enhanced organic visibility, lower cost per lead, and higher conversions for businesses worldwide. When leveraged properly following best practices, SEO tools facilitate data-driven decision making, informed strategy, streamlined workflows and amplified results at scale.

The most fundamental benefit conferred by advanced SEO technology is unlocking the actionable competitive intelligence required for evidence-based optimization – whether identifying valuable new keywords, surveying competitor links/rankings, pinpointing technical flaws limiting performance or monitoring latest algorithm updates. Tools paint a precise picture of current capabilities while illuminating untapped opportunities. Rather than strategies grounded in assumptions, tool-driven insights reflect strategic reality.

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