The Top 5 SEO Software Suites for Agencies


The complicated, multifaceted nature of SEO should be self-evident to most marketers.

Even on a small website, you still need to get the technical basics right, analyze how your audience searches for your products, create great content, then promote your brand.

Amidst all of these moving parts is the need to track progress against business objectives and monitor competitor activity.

If we scale that challenge to enterprise level, where thousands (sometimes millions) of keywords are at stake, across territories and multiple devices, SEO could seem like something of a thankless chore.

This is where the all-in-one SEO software suite comes into its own.

Businesses use these platforms to avail of everything from an at-a-glance performance overview to detailed insights about specific website issues.

As SEO continues to evolve into an ecosystem of interfaces and devices, linked together by searches – both typed and spoken – the need for a unified view of strategy is greater than ever.

Brands are backing this up with their marketing budgets, too.

Marketing spend on SEO in the U.S. alone is projected to reach almost $80 billion annually by 2020, according to Borrell Associates’ Trends in Digital Marketing Services report.

One of the chief SEO-related expenses is technology.

Digging a little deeper, we can see from SEMPO’s State of Search 2016 report that nearly 60 percent of brands manage their SEO program through a third-party software solution:

SEO_Technology

Clearly, the enterprise SEO technology market is big business – and it only looks set to get bigger.

What Is an SEO Software Suite?

The phrase “SEO software suite” can be somewhat tricky to pin down.

There are so many potential components to an SEO strategy that the task of covering them all – and covering them well – in one platform is a sizable task.

So first of all, let’s draw some boundaries for our guide.

When we say “SEO software suite,” we mean technologies that perform at least the majority of the following:

  • Keyword opportunity research
  • Keyword rank tracking
  • Universal search analysis
  • Page reporting and recommendations
  • Content optimization recommendations
  • Competitor tracking and analysis
  • Backlink analysis
  • Site crawl functionality
  • Technical SEO crawling and recommendations
  • Social media metric tracking
  • Analytics integrations

That is a broad spectrum of capabilities, but it is what modern marketers require of an SEO software suite.

It is also worth stating that no SEO platform is the standout performer in every single one of these areas.

Where a platform perhaps falls short of being the industry leader, search marketers may want to complement their SEO software suite with a specialized tool to compensate for this.

Ultimately, this guide will highlight the areas in which each platform excels, to help you navigate this competitive landscape.

Botify

Botify’s DNA is in technical SEO, which has won the platform a significant number of fans in the advanced SEO community.

Along with its proprietary crawling tools that use log file data to analyze search engine behavior, Botify also manages to provide user-friendly dashboards that tie technical SEO fixes to business performance.

Historically, that has been the SEO equivalent of squaring the circle.

However, technical SEO remains absolutely fundamental to improved website performance.

A tool like Botify helps get those essential messages across.

The platform has developed into a full-service SEO software suite that goes beyond technical SEO to provide content recommendations and track social media metrics.

The core Botify Analytics product that uses the company’s proprietary crawler to report on site performance is now tied to Botify Keywords, a new product that reveals the rankings impact of SEO and content issues.

botify

Botify Keywords pulls queries from Google Search Console and will surely benefit from the recent GSC upgrades.

As an SEO software suite, Botify has entered the market in a different way than the other platforms in this guide.

Where others have started as rank trackers that branched out into intent signals and content idea generation, Botify is a technical SEO software that is building organically on that platform over time.

All of these areas combine to create an advanced SEO strategy, but it is worth noting where Botify’s core strengths lie in comparison with the competition.

That means you may want a specialist content marketing platform to complement your Botify license, rather than using Botify to cover every aspect of your SEO campaigns.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Exceptional technical SEO analysis, including a crawl budget report and log file analyzer.
  • Botify Keywords helps to tie technical SEO to performance improvements.
  • Frequency of crawls and availability of data are both at a very high level.
  • The ability to segment website content and isolate issues is invaluable.
  • Intuitive dashboards that communicate technical issues to non-technical audiences.

(Disclaimer: The author has a business relationship with Botify.)

BrightEdge

BrightEdge has gone through a number of evolutions over the past decade, most recently seen in its move into AI-assisted content generation.

The core BrightEdge product is its rank tracking software, which updates weekly and produces automated reports that can be customized to each brand’s needs.

This is complemented by the StoryBuilder, which helps marketers to make sense out of the masses of data available in such a platform.

Perhaps the real game-changer for BrightEdge in the last few years has been the creation of the DataCube:

brightedge

DataCube makes use of BrightEdge’s own index to suggest new keyword ideas and also creates an overview of SEO visibility over time.

The latest AI-driven innovations in the platform include an Insights product that automatically surfaces new site developments for marketers, and a new content platform that can optimize content as it is being created.

With integrations available for a range of analytics software packages, BrightEdge is undoubtedly a leading contender for enterprise sites.

BrightEdge covers a significant number of the bases in our initial list of criteria – and new innovations are frequently released.

BE Insights

One point to consider for the largest sites out there will be cost, as many BrightEdge packages are based on the number of keywords tracked.

As we move into a mobile-first, highly localized, personalized version of organic search, monthly fees for a BrightEdge license can grow quite quickly for marketers in need of accurate tracking across devices and territories.

Tracking a query on desktop and on mobile will count as two keywords from your total allocation, for example.

Furthermore, it is worth corroborating some of the findings in BrightEdge with other tools.

The technical SEO recommendations are somewhat limited and rankings are pulled weekly, based on normalized values from a number of crawls over that period. In the case of the latter, you can end up with a ranking position that does not tell the full story.

Rankings can be pulled daily and at a local level, but again this typically comes at an extra cost.

Those are not hesitations about the platform’s technological capabilities, but they are worth bearing in mind for marketers looking for an all-in-one SEO platform.

BrightEdge does a lot of things – and does them well – but it is still a good idea to use specialist tools for technical SEO and backlink analysis.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Intuitive, customizable dashboards with many API integrations available.
  • Can track rankings in more than 76,000 locations.
  • DataCube is great for keyword and competitor research.
  • Universal search rank tracking is very useful.
  • Latest AI-driven developments could prove invaluable for time-poor digital marketers.

Conductor

Conductor is another enterprise-level software that has developed significantly beyond its initial offering as a rank tracking platform.

In terms of its positioning in a crowded market, Conductor’s focus has shifted slightly more toward the understanding of audience intent and the importance of strategic insight for SEO performance.

Many of the dashboards within this platform are devised with the aim of helping you prioritize your workloads and emphasize the areas that will drive performance.

conductor2

I have always found that Conductor excels in its usefulness as an SEO platform. That may seem a trite and vague observation, but it is perhaps the most fitting phrase.

When working on an SEO campaign, I can use Conductor to get things done.

Of course, it may just be that it tallies well with my particular way of working, but it has the feel of a technology built by SEO pros to help others overcome daily challenges.

For example, Conductor has tools that map content to a particular phase in the purchase journey, highlighting where a site performs well and poorly. This leads to actionable insights through a simple but effective visualization.

conductor

Conductor does not excel when it comes to technical SEO analysis, although it is possible to integrate the tool with DeepCrawl.

It should also be paired with a specialist backlink tracking tool, as this could be considered one of Conductor’s blind spots.

Furthermore, it is arguable that Conductor’s performance dashboards are not quite as visceral and effective as those of Searchmetrics and BrightEdge, when it comes to driving home the top-line numbers.

Overall, however, Conductor offers a sophisticated package that nurtures a healthy approach to organic search, beginning with a more nuanced understanding of consumer intent.

Unique SellingPpoints:

  • Insightful audience and content planning tools.
  • Dashboards help to visualize and simplify the SEO and content marketing work flow.
  • The Business Case tool is handy when trying to demonstrate SEO potential to senior management.
  • Lots of integrations with external Analytics and SEO technologies.
  • Support for over 100 international markets.

Moz Pro

Moz Pro is one of the most popular all-in-one SEO software suite contenders, and for good reason.

Signing up for a license provides access to:

  • A backlink checker (Open Site Explorer).
  • A rank tracking tool (Rank Tracker).
  • An on-page analyzer (On-Page Grader)
  • And quite a few other helpful tools.

Moz Keyword Explorer is perhaps the highlight and is the newest addition to this particular software suite.

I particularly like this tool for keyword research as it fits in with the new landscape of obscured search volumes and topic-driven content generation.

While still sticking to the SEO fundamental of pinpointing search queries to target, Keyword Explorer goes further to suggest new topics and highlight their level of priority for the business in question.

These keywords can then be added to the Moz Rank Tracker, allowing marketers to keep track of their progress.

mozpro

Where is Moz a little weaker than the competition?

Given the significance of backlink analysis for SEO performance, it would be advisable to pair Moz with a tool like Ahrefs or Majestic.

None of these tools lay claim to a “full” index of URLs and there is significant overlap between them, but the differences are significant enough to merit the use of more than one backlink checker.

Moreover, some of the tools (such as Moz Local) are best used for sites with a smaller footprint, as a license will only provide access to a limited number of locations or keywords.

Nonetheless, a Moz Pro subscription starts at just $99 per month, making it a worthy addition to your SEO toolbox.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Access to a range of SEO tools at a reasonably low cost.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer is a fantastic tool for keyword research and SERP analysis.
  • Open Site Explorer remains a useful competitor analysis tool.
  • Mox’s proprietary metrics, such as Domain Authority, are illuminating for SEO strategies.

Searchmetrics

Berlin-based Searchmetrics provides a variety of SEO solutions, ranging from the entry-level Searchmetrics Essentials through to the enterprise-ready Searchmetrics Suite.

The tool is packed with proprietary metrics, including a visibility score:

SearchMetrics_Hiscox

You can see the historical organic search visibility for a site based on its ranking positions and the search volumes tied to those rankings.

Searchmetrics allows for an at-a-glance assessment of SEO performance and is particularly helpful when used for competitive analysis.

Essentially, it helps us answer those perennial-but-painful questions like, ‘Is our SEO working?’

A host of new innovations in the areas of mobile, content, and local search have developed Searchmetrics into a comprehensive SEO software suite that helps marketers understand what impact their activities are having.

The Mobile App Rankings feature should prove very valuable, as it provides insight into rankings on both Android and iOS across paid and organic listings. This is an important aspect of the mobile-first landscape, but not one into which we have always had the clearest of views.

wn-mobile-app-rankings

With support for more than 100 international markets, Searchmetrics is also a good option if you manage campaigns across a long list of markets.

As with the other companies in this guide, there are trade-offs within this tool.

Undoubtedly, Searchmetrics is a great SEO platform for data-driven marketers that want to see the bigger picture and also dig into the details.

The keyword discovery tools within Searchmetrics are not as sophisticated as those available from other platforms, however.

Also, Searchmetrics is lacking in its ability to generate the more creative aspects of SEO, such as content marketing and link building campaign ideas. That isn’t to say that it lacks entirely in these areas, but it is fair to say that Searchmetrics provides less intuitive support for these areas of organic search.

On the whole, Searchmetrics is an indispensable platform for many in the SEO industry, both for the reliability of its data and the competitive insights it can provide instantly.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Huge repository of data (over 250 billion data points, according to the company’s official figures).
  • Intuitive dashboards for monitoring SEO performance.
  • Paid search features are helpful for managing SEO and SEM campaigns together.
  • Renewed focus on content marketing and mobile SEO.
  • Rank tracking available in over 100 countries.

Summary

SEO software suites have diversified their offerings in line with the increased complexity of a modern organic search campaign.

All of the technologies above do a good job of covering the essentials: rank tracking, competitor analysis, and content recommendations.

However, agencies will start to notice distinctions among the platforms on closer investigation.

While no platform is the standout performer in every area of organic search, each contains impressive capabilities and excels in at least a few categories.

Some of these software suites contain more sophisticated technical SEO analysis, for example, while others place the onus on advanced content marketing capabilities.

The important thing for agencies is to enter this assessment with a clear idea of where their priorities lie.


Image Credits
Screenshots taken by author, February 2018. 





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