There’s no shortage of search engine optimization tools and platforms on the web, both premium and free. The range of choices available to you is actually a bit dizzying, particularly if you’re new to search engine optimization (SEO).
The first question you’ll need to answer is whether or not you want to shell out for one of the paid tools. They do offer some pretty phenomenal functionality. Some, like Ahrefs, are comprehensive enough that you need only a passing knowledge of SEO to use them.
What you need to decide, ultimately, is if that’s what you want. Do you care about learning the ins and outs of search engine optimization, or do you just want to focus on building out your brand? Are you confident in your technical skills and knowledge of search engines, or is it a field you’re patently unfamiliar with?
There’s something else you need to consider as well. While there are plenty of high-quality SEO tools available online free of charge, they are not all created equal. Choosing the wrong tool can actually be worse than doing the job manually, which might well be your best bet if you don’t have the budget.
So is it worth paying for an SEO platform? If you have the money available, yes.
If you’d rather not shell out the money, here are a few great free options to help you optimize your site on a budget:
- Merkle. A simple tool that lets you test a ton of different technical SEO elements, including pagination and meta tags.
- Google Search Console/Google Trends. You read that right. Google’s own SEO tools are available to you completely free of charge. It’s probably the strongest argument in favor of taking the free route, honestly.
- Barracuda Panguin. If your rankings have been suffering lately, Barracuda Panguin can help you figure out why.
- Answer The Public. Curious about what people are talking about online? Stumped on a topic for your blog? Want to make your keywords more conversational? Check out Answer The Public, which lets you easily track down conversations focused around any of your core keywords.
- SpyFu. A powerful tool for competitor analysis and keyword research, SpyFu is great if you’re just getting started. Plus, there’s a premium version available for you to leverage if you decide you have the budget for it.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t provide a few paid options, too:
- Ahrefs. If you only use a single SEO tool, use Ahrefs. It’s one of the largest, most powerful SEO auditing platforms on the web, with many additional features focused around keywords, content, and audience research.
- Majestic. Another kitchen-sink SEO tool, Majestic offers multiple tiers of service, all giving you detailed insights into the backend elements of your website.
- Moz. If you’ve done even a little research into search engine optimization, Moz has probably popped up at least once. It’s one of the leading authorities on SEO, and the SEOMoz Pro tool reflects that expertise.
SEMRush. SEMRush is noteworthy for the fact that it encompasses more than SEO, but also includes many features focused around paid search. It pulls data directly from both Google and Bing, allowing you to view real-time traffic information for up to five domains.