Without at least a few in-depth, data-mining, keyword tracking, research-handling superstars in your SEO kit, you may find it hard to compete in the content crowd.
That’s because research, planning, and strategy are located at the bottom of the content success ladder.
You can’t reach new heights without first climbing and conquering these basics.
With that out of the way, here are 10 awesome, dependable, so-worth-it, paid SEO tools I personally recommend.
The only way to ensure your website is SEO-ready across all its pages is to audit regularly. And, to be blunt, you can’t do that without a tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider – especially if your site is sprawling in size.
Quite simply, Screaming Frog is a web crawler that scans your web pages for common errors like broken links, duplicate content, redirect chains and loops, and even meta descriptions and titles that are too short, too long, or missing altogether.
Cost: Download a free version with limited features, or spring for the licensed, full-featured version for about $181/year, per license.
Ahrefs is a fan favorite across content marketers, content writers, and SEO-ers alike – with good reason.
The company boasts some of the most comprehensive data collecting and storage out there so their tools are as up-to-date and accurate as possible. Plus, they’re easy to use and make analyzing all that SEO data simple.
When you buy a subscription, you get access to their entire range of SEO helpers, including:
Site Explorer: See the backlink profile and organic search traffic data for any website.
Keywords Explorer: Research keywords and data like search volume, keyword difficulty, and clicks.
Rank Tracker: Track your Google rankings and compare them to your competitors’.
Site Audit: Get a full visual of your site’s SEO health.
Cost: The Lite plan with Ahrefs (including access for one user) costs $99/month. They also offer a free trial for 7 days that costs $7.
If you want reams of SEO data at your fingertips or an all-in-one tool, SEMrush is the solution to buy.
Here’s a breakdown:
Track keyword rankings, organic traffic, and backlinks.
Zero in on your competitors’ data and analyze how to do better.
Save your searches in lists, and have reports and updates sent to your email.
Do SEO site audits.
Get a LOT of insights and data at your fingertips.
Cost: A Pro plan with SEMrush costs $99.95/month. You can use it for free with an email sign-up, but results will be limited.
Moz Pro is a suite of SEO tools that deserves its inclusion on this list.
It’s another all-in-one solution that could potentially save some pennies in smaller brand budgets (keywords, links, site audits, rank tracking, and on-page optimization are all covered).
Plus, the combination of user-friendly tools and a large support community means this is a good starting suite for beginners to SEO.
Cost: The Standard plan with Moz Pro is $99/month, or $79/month if you pay annually.
KWFinder does exactly what it says, and does it well, to boot.
This is a tool I recommend over and over because of its ease-of-use, simple design, and great UX – not to mention the accurate keyword data.
If you just need to do keyword research, choose this SEO tool.
Cost: The Mangools Basic plan costs $29.90/month. This has limits, but unless you’re doing a researching frenzy, it should be good enough for a beginner or intermediate user.
Searchmetrics isn’t just an SEO tool, but also a valuable helper for your content strategy.
This suite does it all: ROI reporting, competitive analysis, site audits, mobile and desktop site optimization, content optimization, web visibility analysis, and more.
Cost: Searchmetrics offers three pricing plans: Suite Business, Suite Enterprise, and Suite Ultimate. All prices are only available on request.
Are you all about those backlinks? Majestic should be your tool.
It boasts the largest link index database on the planet.
See where your links are coming from, the anchor text other sites use to link to you, and how much weight each backlink has overall.
You can even compare the link profiles of up to five sites at a time.
Cost: Majestic plans start at $49.99/month for the Lite plan.
Yet another wholesale SEO solution for your consideration: cognitiveSEO.
This suite of tools includes all the basics you need to research, plan, and tweak your SEO strategy.
Research keywords, crawl and audit your site, compare and analyze backlinks, and take advantage of local, desktop, and mobile rank tracking.
Cost: The Starter plan for cognitiveSEO costs $129.99/month. Or, sign up for yearly billing and save 30%.
For comprehensive position tracking and rank monitoring, Advanced Web Ranking is a solid choice.
It offers local results tracking as well as tracking across search engines, including Amazon and YouTube.
Along with all that, there are plenty of ways to dig into your data and glean new insights, including customizable filtering.
Cost: AWR’s Starter plan is available for $49/month. Pay yearly and you get a 10% discount.
Yoast is a standard tool in most marketers’ line-ups because it’s so easy to use.
It helps you optimize all your content posts and pages in WordPress, including metas, titles, links, keywords, readability, and more.
If you’re an SEO newbie or need to provide SEO guidance for clients, this is a great tool for the job.
Cost: It’s $89 to add the Yoast plugin to one site. There’s a free version with limited features, too.
Your New Favorite SEO Tool Awaits
Each of the tools on this list is a bit of a monthly investment, but I guarantee it will pay off. Research is one of the best ways to improve your site experience, your content, and your strategy in the marketing game.
Invest, dig into the data, and come out the other side with invaluable insights that will boost your brand to new heights.
On Oct. 31, Google announced the launch of its Site Kit WordPress plugin that, “enables you to set up and configure key Google services, get insights on how people find and use your site, learn how to improve, and easily monetize your content.”
This plugin allows you to easily connect the following Google Services in a dashboard format within your WordPress backend:
It brings the convenience of accessing your site’s performance data while logged into the backend of the site. This is great for webmasters, developers and agencies who are often an admin for their own site or a client’s WordPress site. However, it does not offer the robust and dynamic capabilities of a Google Data Studio report or dashboard to sort data so it may not be ideal for a digital marketing manager or CMO.
With that said, it wouldn’t hurt to implement this plugin as it’s actually a nifty tool that can help you stay on top of your site’s performance metrics. It’s also another way to give Google more access to your site which can have some in-direct benefits organically.
Here is what the Google Site Kit plugin looks like within the WordPress plugin directory.
Installing and setting up Google Site Kit
To utilize the plugin, simply click install and activate as you would any other WordPress plugin. You will then be prompted to complete the set up.
Click on the “Start Setup” button.
You will be prompted to give access to your site’s Google Search Console profile, which means you need to sign in to the Gmail account that has access to your site’s Search Console profile.
Once logged in you need to grant permissions for Google to access the data in your Search Console profile.
Once you’ve granted all the respective permissions, you will get a completion notification and can then click on “Go to my Dashboard.”
Once you’re in the Dashboard you will see options to connect other services such as Analytics, AdSense and PageSpeed insights. You can now choose to connect these services if you like. If you go to the settings of the plugin you will see additional connection options for Optimize and Tag Manager.
Here is what the dashboard looks like with Search Console, analytics and PageSpeed Insights enabled. You can see a clear breakdown of the respective metrics.
The plugin allows you to dive into each reporting respectively with navigation options on the left to drill down into Search Console and analytics.
There is also an admin bar feature to see individual page stats.
In summary, this is a great plugin by Google but keep in mind it’s just version 1.0. I’m excited to see what features and integrations the later versions will have!
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Tony Edward is a director of SEO at Tinuiti and an adjunct instructor of search marketing at NYU. Tony has been in the online marketing industry for over 10 years. His background stems from affiliate marketing and he has experience in paid search, social media and video marketing. Tony is also the founder of the Thinking Crypto YouTube channel.
Bing announced a new link penalties. These link penalties are focused on taking down private blog networks (PBNs), subdomain leasing and manipulative cross-site linking.
Inorganic Site Structure
An inorganic site structure is a linking pattern that uses internal site-level link signals (with subdomains) or cross-site linking patterns (with external domains) in order to manipulate search engine rankings.
While these spam techniques already existed, Bing introduced the concept of calling them “inorganic site structure” in order to describe them.
Bing noted that sites legitimately create subdomains to keep different parts of the site separate, such as support.example.com. These are treated as belonging to the main domain, passing site-level signals to the subdomains.
Bing also said sites like WordPress create standalone sites under subdomains, in which case no site level signals are passed to the subdomains.
Examples of Inorganic Site Structure
An inorganic site structure is when a company leases a subdomain in order to take advantage of site-level signals to rank better. There have been
Private blog networks were also included as inorganic site structure
Bing also introduced the idea of domain boundaries. The idea is that there are boundaries to a domain. Sometimes, as in the case of legitimate subdomains (ex. support.example.com), those boundaries extend out to the subdomain. In other cases like WordPress.com subdomains the boundaries do not extend to the subdomains.
Private Blog Networks (PBNs) Bing called out PBNs as a form of spam that abuse website boundaries.
“While not all link networks misrepresent website boundaries, there are many cases where a single website is artificially split across many different domains, all cross-linking to one another, for the obvious purpose of rank boosting. This is particularly true of PBNs (private blog networks).”
Subdomain Leasing Penalties
Bing explained why they consider subdomain leasing a spammy activity:
“…we heard concerns from the SEO community around the growing practice of hosting third-party content or letting a third party operate a designated subdomain or subfolder, generally in exchange for compensation.
…the practice equates to buying ranking signals, which is not much different from buying links.”
At the time of this article, I still see a news site subdomain ranking in Bing (and Google). This page belongs to another company. All the links are redirected affiliate type links with parameters meant for tracking the referrals.
According to Archive.org the subdomain page was credited to an anonymous news staffer. Sometime in the summer the author was switched to someone with a name who is labeled as an expert, although the content is still the same.
So if Bing is already handing out penalties that means Bing (and Google who also ranks this page) still have some catching up to do.
Bing mentioned sites that are essentially one site that are broken up into multiple interlinking sites. Curiously Bing said that these kinds of sites already in violation of other link spam rules but that additional penalties will apply.
Here’s the kind of link structure that Bing used as an example:
All these sites are interlinking to each other. All the sites have related content and according to Bing are essentially the same site. This kind of linking practice goes back many years. They are traditionally known as interlinked websites. They are generally topically related to each other.
Bing used the above example to illustrate interlinked sites that are really just one site.
That link structure resembles the structure of interlinked websites that belong to the same company. If you’re planning a new web venture, it’s generally a good idea to create a site that’s comprehensive than to create a multitude of sites that are focused on just a small part of the niche.
Curiously, in reference to the above illustration, Bing said that kind of link structure was already in violation of link guidelines and that more penalties would be piled on top of those:
“Fig. 3 – All these domains are effectively the same website. This kind of behavior is already in violation of our link policy.
Going forward, it will be also in violation of our “inorganic site structure” policy and may receive additional penalties.“
It’s good news to hear Bing is improving. Competition between search engines encourage innovation and as Bing improves perhaps search traffic may become more diversified as more people switch to Bing as well as other engines like DuckDuckGo.
Read Bing’s announcement: Some Thoughts on Website Boundaries
Google has released version 1.0 of its Site Kit plugin for WordPress, which means its officially out of beta after 6 months.
In the time since the developer preview of Site Kit was released, Google says it drastically simplified the setup, fixed bugs, and polished the main user flows.
Site Kit allows WordPress users to access data from Google products right from their site’s dashboard. The plugin aggregates data from Google Search Console, Google Analytics, PageSpeed Insights, and AdSense.
With Site Kit there’s no additional code editing required, which makes it easy to set up products like Google Analytics for those without any developer experience.
Anyone can install Site Kit, but Google emphasizes that it’s especially useful for professionals who work on sites for clients. The reasons why include:
Clients and other teams can easily access data from Google products by logging into the WordPress dashboard.
Clients will see performance states and improvement recommendations directly from Google
Site Kit allows you to set roles and permissions and make sure only relevant people can see the data.
To get the most out of Site Kit, Google recommends reviewing the main dashboard on at least a weekly basis. You can also check the stats of individual pages by navigating to the page and clicking on Site Kit in the admin bar.
With this data, Google recommends comparing the top performing pages and seeing how people found them. This can help you discover trends, such as which topics get the most engagement on Twitter, which get the most engagement on Facebook, and so on.
To get started with Site Kit, simply install it from your WordPress dashboard.