It is not so simple to explain what SEO is and what the best SEO tactics you should use to improve website performance. It requires not only knowing SEO tactics for your clients and having some technical skills, but also need to have much patience and useful SEO tools to handle your daily tasks.
Fortunately, today it is easy to get this information, as SEO experts are incredibly generous with their knowledge. I have asked 20 online experts two simple questions how they develop their marketing strategies and what SEO tools help them to improve their marketing tactics.
Here are the answers to the questions and top SEO tools recommended by the experts:
The Best SEO Tools (voted by 20 experts):
1. Ahrefs – 5 votes
2. SE Ranking – 5 votes
3. Screaming Frog – 5 votes
4. Semrush -5 votes
5. MozBar – 4 votes
6. BuzzSumo – 4 votes
7. Google Analytics – 3 votes
8. Google Search Console – 3 votes
9. Google Keyword Planner– 2 votes
10. Open Site Explorer – 2 votes
Pam Sallegue from SEO Hacker
#1. Our marketing efforts always start with identifying who our audience is, the demographics, even their professions, or positions in their marketing team – there we found out that we have good numbers of marketers as audience that want to know more about SEO and content marketing. That’s why we’re building content that aims to teach people how to optimize websites, how to build content that converts, and everything else that we know will cater to the needs of our audience. Our objective has always been to maintain the right audience – we don’t need audience that don’t need us. That’s why we still try to focus on creating content that matters, not just any random content.
#2. There are lots of tools that we’re using. One is Qeryz, because aside from Google Analytics, we get a better understanding of who our audience are by putting a microsurvey tool. To check website positions and backlinks SE Ranking tool is a great SEO helper for us. You can check our Toolbox to know all the tools we’re using.
David Trounce from Mallee Blue Media
#1. I believe that people who usually know the most about a business are those actually running it. Whenever I begin a new marketing consultation I always start with some broad questions to get them talking about what they think they are doing.
This not only helps the prospective client, but it very quickly gives us a picture of whether we are going to be able to provide any value to their business.
1. Auditing the Business Objectives
In order to develop a marketing plan for our clients, we first want them to be able to answer three questions for us. Answering these questions not only helps us to develop a plan of action, it is often very enlightening for the client. Those questions (if they are in the service industry, for example) are usually questions like:
- Can you narrow down your core business to three key services?
- Who are your most important clients or target audience?
- What do you want to achieve by hiring and SEO or Marketing Consultant?
Here is the motto that runs our development stage of any marketing plans we create…
If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it.
Before we begin giving them direction, we want a crystal clear picture of where they think they are at. This is our opportunity to really understand what is driving the business and gives us good information to guide us in the audit stage.
2. SEO and Marketing Audit
Once we have some clear business objectives down on paper, we want to take those and apply them to the current circumstance. These stated goals, services and objective become our measuring stick for auditing the current state of affair and for the subsequent development of an actionable marketing strategy.
If the focus was on developing a SEO plan as a part of their marketing, we would want to:
- Undertake keyword and competition analysis
- User experience, on page call to action and design
- Measure the results of their existing marketing efforts
With this information, we can develop a marketing strategy grounded in the stated objectives, nature and niche of the business. That keeps us speaking the client’s language. We can make recommendations and steps into the relationship with greater confidence that they know we are going to do, and so do we.
#2. I really like using Ahrefs. It provides a good amount of quality data on content performance and engagement across a range of industries. For Link Research and competitor analysis, I like the clean interface and amount of useful information I find on Similar Web.
As someone who likes to hold on to his money until I have really become familiar with the SEO tools and marketing resources that a site can provide, I like to stick to a number of really cool free tools.
Those tools include:
My choice of tools is always based on a clean interface, uncluttered and clear navigation and the ability to store and retrieve data. If it keeps historical data (like link and position tracking), even better!
Cormac Reynolds from My Online Marketer
#1. I think that a warts and all effort tend to be the best way to start off with a client. Obviously, asking them their aims and goals is one thing, albeit something most but not everyone asks a client. I also think that asking them about issues and problems they have in the business is very important. A lot of companies are happy to discuss why they’re fantastic but not the things holding them back or limitations. Knowing these limitations allows you to work within their boundaries or even resolve them and I think that’s very important.
#2. At the moment I absolutely love Ahrefs – it’s really come on in leaps and bounds in the last six months and provides a very up to the minute links data base, as well as the excellent positions explorer tool – something we loved SEMRush for until now – we also used Majestic. When contrasted with the way these tools were 12-18 months ago, it’s way ahead of the game and something we’d find it hard to deliver without.
Jane Kryukova from Texterra
#1. The development of a marketing strategy always begins with the clear understanding of the aims of the project. What do you want to achieve by doing this or that kind of promotion? The answer should be as concrete as possible. “We need more traffic” or “we need more clients” are too abstract. You need to have a clear aim that can be easily measured. For example, if you need more traffic, you should say how much traffic exactly you need, how much time you need to achieve these results, what strategy will help you to achieve them as soon as possible. The more details you provide at the very beginning, the more effective your promotion will be.
#2. I personally adore the following tools:
- BuzzSumo. This is my number one tool. I use it almost every day when searching for new ideas for our company blog.
- Monosnap. I adore this tool for ease of use and beautiful design. Use it in all my guides with tons of screenshots.
- Hello Bar. A free tool that helps me to promote new blog posts, promotional events and ebooks.
- Reformator. This is a Russian tool but the language doesn’t really matter. It’s an online service that helps you to quickly code your new article. What you should do is to simply paste the text of a new article from your editor.
Bill Slawski from SEO by the Sea
#1. I ask my client about their audience, and try to understand who that is; I look at their industry to get a better sense of it.
#2. I like to spend significant time with a client’s website and do a Screaming Frog crawl to learn about its structure.
Michiel Heijmans from Yoast
#1. One of our main goals, besides keeping our business healthy, is sharing knowledge. We do so by writing a lot of blog posts on Yoast. Content is king, right. We write a lot about what is going on with Google and share a lot of best practices for website owners. Most of that content is optimized for certain keywords. Practice what you preach. We are only focused on white hat SEO techniques, and optimizing content is a very large part of that.
#2. We monitor a lot, using for instance Searchmetrics.com and Google Analytics / Google Search Console. These tools help us identify keywords we need to push. One of the tools less people will point you to, are simply the main SEO blogs (like Googleblog). Keep a keen eye on developments and try to anticipate as soon as possible!
Cyrus Shepard from Moz
#1. How do I develop a marketing strategy?
Because I work primarily in SEO and product marketing, there are two questions I’m continually trying to solve for:
How can we increase the visibility of our website/content/service/product to the right audience?
After we capture our audience’s attention, how can we help them complete their task?
In my opinion, too many marketers focus on the first question, while paying too little attention to the second. In SEO, it’s no longer sufficient to “win the click” – what’s increasingly important to both humans and search engines is what happens after the click. Does the user find what they want? Are they satisfied (even delighted)? Are we helping them to complete their task? If the answer is “no”, then there is no reason for Google or other search engines to continue promoting us in search results.
So much of SEO today is focused on keywords, which leads us to ignore user intent. So that’s where I start to develop my SEO-focused marketing strategy: smart keyword research followed by deep diving into the user intent implied by those keywords. For example, if I’m marketing for a car mechanic, I might find highly valuable keywords such as “best car mechanic in New York”. My next step is to try to tease the intent behind that keyword, which is someone looking to actually hire a mechanic. In the end, my marketing strategy will focus not on helping establish my client as the best car mechanic, but instead helping users to hire a good car mechanic, and I’ll structure my campaign from there.
#2. What SEO tools help you to improve your marketing tactics?
A few SEO tools I commonly use:
- Google Search Console
- Screaming Frog
- Open Site Explorer
Francisco Meza from Planet Marketing
#1. The way I develop a marketing strategy is based around the company’s business objectives. I learned that from my old coach Avinash over at Google Analytics. I normally meet with the company in person if I can. Then I ask them about their company and how it works. Sometimes it makes sense to use PPC while other times a straight out email marketing campaign might be more useful.
Here’s a real example. I have a client that cannot wait for organic rankings. So, we have to throw a Hail Mary right now by sending out 10000+ emails using SendBlaster. This morning I was told we are having a very good response.
I find that business are just like people; they have the same stresses and want to make more money. Only with a custom marketing strategy can this be accomplished. For many clients, Social is not a priority because of their industry or the amount of time it takes to build that following.
#2. I use a lot of tools, but for many I don’t use daily.
- SE Ranking
Adam Connell from Uklinkology
#1. There’s a lot more to a marketing strategy than I can include here, but here’s a quick snapshot of what I’ve found to work well:
Every marketing strategy starts with understanding your goals. From there you need to get a handle on who your target customer is, the problem’s they face and how you can help them. Persona’s are a great way to do this.
The next step is to figure out where you fit in the market. How do you shape up against your competitors? What makes you stand out? What can you improve?
Then you can figure out who and what influences your target customer, and plan a strategy that has the ability to leverage the power of that influence.
Above all else, focus on solving your customers problems in the best way possible. Make things easy for them, and switch your approach to helping rather than going for the hard sell right away.
#2. Tools that I use are:
- SEMrush – Possibly one of the most useful tools I’ve used so far. SEMrush tells me what keywords my competitors are ranking for. It’s the perfect tool for keyword research and so much more.
- BuzzSumo – The truth is that content marketing and SEO go hand-in-hand so you need to be able to quickly spot trending content, monitor and analyze to find what’s working as well as being able to find influencers to help your content go further. BuzzSumo makes all of this possible in one tool.
- SE Ranking – While SEMrush has rank tracking built in, I prefer SE Ranking’s interface and find it much easier to navigate.
- Ahrefs – This is an incredible backlink checker. The interface is slick and there’s plenty of data. What’s even better is that they’ve rolled out more content-focused tools such as the content explorer.
Michael Bergen from Riverbed Marketing
#1. The backbone of any good marketing strategy is developing smart goals based on in-depth research and informed planning. For this, you will need a plan on what you aim to achieve, and utilize tools to find the supporting information you need to make concrete decisions about what the strategy is. Basing your goals on competitor difficulty, what it will take to match competitor influence, and many other details will help you create actionable strategies with realistic timelines.
Establish a specific goal that clearly defines the objective (Traffic increase by X unique visitors with a 0.1% conversion rate by DATE). Make sure your performance in meeting the goal is measurable through tools. Determine whether the goal is attainable with well-informed decisions based on research and the past experience in the industry. Ensure the goal is relevant to the company’s overall objectives. Always set a specific date for when your goal should be completed.
#2. For the research components of my marketing & SEO strategy, I like to use a series of tools that cover several key areas. Covering research of competitors in areas of Backlinks, social engagement, on-page practices of top ranking competitors all play a vital role in the decision making process of building your strategy.
- RavenTools – On-page analysis & backlink analysis using Majestic SEO api.
- SEMRush – Competitor research and ranking analysis, one of the best industry tools in terms of historically indexed data. This help show competitor traffic estimates and their top performing pages at a glance.
- Screaming Frog – Website crawler for on-page seo analysis. I like to use this on competitor websites to get a sense of the common title tag and meta strategies of top ranking competitors.
Atish Ranjan from TechTricksWorld
#1. Marketing is the most important thing if you want your blog posts to be viewed by hundreds or thousands of people.
When it comes to promotion, I am a strong believer of SEO because SEO helps rank well in search engines. Ranking well in SEs is the best thing a blogger can do because it helps drag massive organic traffic that is the best traffic source among all.
I optimize my content with profitable keywords, and I follow all the On-page strategies to ensure that my blog posts are better optimized.
After content creation and publishing, I work on to build some quality backlinks to each of my blog post. I also share my blog posts on social media sites, blog communities, and send newsletters to my subscribers.
#2. Here are a few SEO tools that I use:
- Long Tail Pro: I use LTP to research profitable keywords. The best feature of this tool is that it shows you the keyword competitiveness (KC) that helps you know which keywords are easy to rank and which not. You can choose the keywords that have medium competition with good search volumes.
- SE Ranking: Though this tool offers a lot, I use it to track my blog’s keyword positioning. I have added my keywords, and it sends a weekly report in my email about the position changes. It is such a relief that I don’t need to check the rankings manually.
- Ahref: I use ahref to analyze my blog’s backlinks to find out if some bad neighborhood links are there.
I also use it to keep an eye on competitors’ backlinks and then do reverse engineering to beat the competition.
These 3 SEO tools are the ones I am using primarily, but there are a few more I use sometimes which are given below:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Majestic SEO
Matthew Boley from Marketing of America
#1. I develop my marketing strategy by testing what is working and is ethical. I start by reading blogs, threads, and discussions in the MOZ forums. I like to watch the whiteboard Friday videos by Rand Fishkin. When I find something that is new or that interests me I test it on my own websites. If it works and isn’t just another spam tactic or short term gain, I then implement it and deploy in my marketing campaigns for clients. I feel that if you stay away from short-term gains, anything that is unethical, and any type of automation do it all SEO program you will succeed just fine.
#2. A list of a few tools that I use are the following:
- Google Keyword Planner – I feel this is a must for anyone.
- MOZ – for statistical information and a great community to answer a lot of questions this is a must and well worth the fee they charge monthly.
- HREF – I like this better than MOZ’s open site explorer tool in some instances, because it finds and shows more backlinks.
- Majestic SEO – I like to see the dropped links and some of the statistics that their tools allow me to see.
- I use MOZ chrome add on so I can quickly analyze a websites domain authority.
- I use Wappalyzer to analyze the apps or platform that someone has used to build their website.
- I use Meta SEO Inspector for a quick analysis of someone’s meta tags to insure they are properly setup and not over the character limit.
Seph Cadiz (@sephcadiz)
#1. I like to treat each client as a special case study. Each client is different, and yes, of course each case study falls into a particular ‘persona’ or ‘category.’ However, many variables like: industry verticals; market trends; marketing objectives; expected volume, budget constraints, client expectation, agency standard play a role in the overall outcome. So, after I probe and identify the key problems and key performance indicators and ‘show off’ my oh-so-shiny-fundamental sales-and-customer-service skills with a client, I identify the special case. Depending on whether the lead meets with my standard of trust, I identify each special case and provide each problem with an analysis. Now I take this analysis and try to inform and educate the client as much as possible. From there I tailor marketing strategies to help solve each problem. From there I set the baselines for research and development and work my magic.
#2. Google has been very generous to the SEO community. They offer the best analytical tools for webmasters to aggregate insightful data; simplifying our audit process. SEO tools like Google Analytics, Google Webmasters, Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool all help provide insight on the overall health of a special case. Other SEO tools one can use to help improve marketing tactics are tools like SEM Rush or Open Site Explorer to assess specifically the SEO execution of website predecessors and our competitors.
Martin Harrison from Copify
#1. We have tried many things in terms of marketing our product, Copify. What works best for us is a focus on lead generation through keyword targeted landing pages which we promote through high quality outreach and thought leadership pieces.
Increasingly, we are also driving traffic through content marketing efforts such as guides. Generally, we find that Google is looking for long-form content – 800 words plus to have the best chances of ranking. We don’t spend too much time on social as it is very difficult to assign an ROI.
#2. We use a very simple ranking tool: Rank Watch – to keep tabs on rankings, but this is the only paid tool we use.
I’m not a big advocate of data analyzing from different sources, I mostly go on gut instinct in terms of what is and what isn’t a good thing to do. Focus on producing content that is genuinely useful, interesting and engaging and the rankings will come. Content and links that are easy to come by aren’t likely to have much impact.
Sean Si from SEO Hacker
That’s quite a handful and I hope you’ll take time to try some of those tools. We don’t have a lot of people in our team (right now we’re just 22 strong) but because of the tools we use, we work like there’s over 50 of us. The time it saves us coupled with the extra work it helps us to do is just too much to overlook.
- Qeryz – We use this to find out what topics our audience prefer to read. Content marketing is a huge way to leverage SEO these days after all.
- SE Ranking – Tracking your rankings online can be a huge pain if you need to run a rank tracker manually each day. SE Ranking takes that off and tracks your rankings quite accurately online.
- Buzzstream – Doing outreach to influencers is easy when you’re doing it solo. However if you’re doing it as a team, you could waste some of your efforts if you’re not careful on reaching out to an influencer your teammate has already reached out to. Buzzstream helps us manage our efforts toward efficiency.
- Screaming Frog – There’s just no better crawler than Screaming Frog. We use this for on site audits, finding broken links, content gap analysis, you name it.
- Cognitive SEO – This is the main backlink checker we use for our site and for all our clients. I’ve yet to find a better backlink checking tool than Cognitive SEO.
- Monitor Backlinks – After you’ve built links, you have the responsibility of monitoring it – whether it’s live, it’s 301’d, it was nofollowed, or if it went down. It’s a hassle to check each one everyday so we use Monitor Backlinks to automatically email us about our links. Makes life easier.
- Ninja Outreach – You just can’t have enough outreach tools. Ninja Outreach is like Buzzstream and Inkybee in one. If you’re running on a budget and you want a simpler dashboard, this is for you.
Mike Ramsey from Nifty Marketing
Tools I use often:
- ScreamingFrog – I can quickly crawl sites to pull valuable error information, title tags, anchor texts, missing h1, h2 tags, redirects, and about anything else you could imagine. This is a great quick glance tool that is mostly free to use on small websites and is so valuable.
- Google Webmaster Tools – The free data that Google provides you about how they see your website may not be exact, but it is closer to the truth than most other tools I see. We constantly use webmaster tools to learn about rise/drop in overall site impressions, average keyword rankings, crawl errors and stats, link history, and link disavowal tools constantly.
- BrightLocal – If you do any local SEO for small businesses then this tool can help you determine where you sites are, where your competitors are, and what it will take to beat them. They have a decent ranking tracker, competitive intelligence, onsite audit, and citation reporting system that currently isn’t offered a package from other tool sets. They are one of the original pioneers into local search tools and continue to get better and better.
- Cognitive SEO – This is the best link tool I know of to give you link information. I am not crazy about the layout of data, but overall you can get about whatever type of information on backlinks you need. Anchor text, spam scores, link to page spread across a website, history over time, lost links, and about anything else you could ever imagine.
Now that you’ve seen some of the top research and SEO tools being used be experts around the world, it’s time to create accounts with these recommended solutions and do the same!