While most businesses do the sort of bare minimum SEO – alt tags, keywords in first paragraph, etc. – that the major digital marketing blogs recommend, very few utilise dedicated SEO tools. This is usually a serious mistake, as plenty of SEO tools can drastically improve the ROI of your SEO efforts while simultaneously freeing up a lot of your time.
For an SEO agency, it is a no-brainer; using SEO software is a necessity, not a luxury. If your competition is automating profile and Web 2.0 property creation (and auto-generating the content that fills them), then you need to be doing the same just to keep up. If another agency offers far more efficient text mining or keyword research than you, you will start hemorrhaging clients once they realise you’re falling behind.
But are SEO tools worth it for small businesses?
As a local plumber, electrician or solicitor, is expensive SEO software completely necessary?
Does SEO software make financial sense for your business?
Let’s take a look at some popular SEO tools and find out!
Popular SEO tools
To figure out if SEO tools are worth it for your business, you first need to actually price the most effective SEO tools available for small businesses.
There are lots of good SEO software options out there for speeding up or simplifying pretty much every aspect of search engine optimisation. For this article, we’ll focus on three of our favourites (products we use every single day).
Ahrefs is seen as a kind of intensive backlink research tool. But that is to completely miss the point of what Ahrefs can do, or how you can use it to grow your traffic.
Ahrefs has one of the most extensive indexes of backlinks in existence. It is actually where most “free” backlink checkers get their reports from!
It provides in-depth reports on referring domains, backlink numbers over time, and referring domains over time. It also breaks down anchor text, target pages, and primary keywords for any given website.
But it also does much more than that.
Ahrefs’ Link Intersect tool allows you to see which domains link to your competitors but not to yours – backlink opportunities at the push of a button.
The content explorer tool also helps you discover ideas for valuable pages; key in a search term, and related pages will appear ranked according to organic traffic, traffic value, and so on.
Some agencies view Ahrefs as a specialist backlink analysis tool. We think such a view is completely ignorant of what this SEO software can actually do.
Ahrefs starts at just $79 per month, which is absurdly cheap for the value you get from this tool.
SEO Autopilot is probably the cleverest SEO tool we use.
At first glance, this software looks like a throwback to the days of GSA SER or Xrumer (automated backlink generators used to “blast” sites with backlinks – a tactic that worked pre-Penguin).
But appearances can be deceiving. SEO Autopilot is an incredibly sophisticated piece of software, and when used properly, it can save you hours upon hours of boring, labourious work.
SEO Autopilot automates the creation of backlinks. However, rather than creating links en masse like Xrumer or GSA SER, SEO Autopilot allows you to create Web 2.0 (e.g. Wodpress, Wix, Hatenablog, etc.) properties, forum profiles, EDU pages, and wiki pages with your own content, account names, etc.
The software allows you to control exactly how your target pages are linked to, what anchor text is used, and whether or not authority links are also used.
The really clever part? SEO Autopilot allows you to save your account presets for each account. This means your 40-60 web 2.0 properties can get a fresh round of content once a week with minimal effort on your part.
If you’ve ever spent time creating profiles for links to a new site, then we don’t need to tell you what a massive time-saver this SEO tool can be! At $65 per month, it is hardly expensive either.
Page Optimizer Pro (POP)
Created by Kyle Roof of High Voltage SEO, POP is based on a fantastically simple and lethally effective idea: for on page SEO, break down your competition and then do one better.
Sounds self-evident, yet only a tiny fraction of SEOs actually take such a scientific, practical approach to their content. Instead, most SEO “professionals” write what they want to write, not what Google wants to see; they see themselves as creative professionals, not players in a game against an algorithm.
Extensive testing by the creators allowed them to identify dozens of on-page ranking factors. POP analyses your competition for a given keyword and scores their pages according to these ranking factors. You can then see exactly how many times your competition has used an exact match term, different kinds of lists, related terms, H tags, and so on.
You can of course do all of this manually, going through your target page yourself and making a note of all the on-page ranking factors.
But you wont. And at $20 per month for the basic plan, spending the time doing it yourself (and probably missing key factors) is just no worth it.
So are SEO software tools worth it for a small business? That depends – is $165 per month for the kind of tools that a Manchester SEO agency might use really worth it?