The 18 Best SEO Software & Tools in 2021

The world of SEO software is crazy.

As the founder of a content marketing agency, I’m spending a massive amount of time using SEO software. For the size of the industry, it has always impressed me just how many SEO tools there are out there.

Perhaps it’s because there are so many tinkerers, builders, hackers, and technical marketers in this space. Hell, I’ve even custom built my own SEO tools. I know many agency founders who have done the same.

This is awesome, but it’s also overwhelming, especially if you’re new. It’s like shopping for toothpaste, except there actually are critical differences in SEO tools (though there are just as many seemingly similar options).

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So I’m going to help you out. I’m going to list the best SEO tools, which also just so happen to be my personal favorite SEO tools. I’m not only biased; I’m totally right.

Note: I’m going to add some affiliate links where possible. This isn’t going to influence what I put on the list. I just want to make some money from my content, okay? You can also hire me to do your SEO and content. Or just use my affiliate links. Either way. But this content takes time!

The 18 Best SEO Software Tools in 2021

  1. Ahrefs
  2. GrowthBar
  3. SE Ranking
  4. SEMRush
  5. Frase
  6. Clearscope
  7. MarketMuse
  8. Screaming Frog
  9. Keywords Everywhere
  10. AnswerThePublic
  11. Visably
  12. Google Search Console
  13. Google Analytics
  14. Google Trends
  15. Exploding Topics
  16. Yoast SEO
  17. Rank Science
  18. Botify

1. Ahrefs

I’m not even upset that they don’t have an affiliate program, I’m still putting Ahrefs at the top of my list. It’s the only SEO tool that I use every day (it’s compulsive at this point).

Ahrefs is a full suite SEO software. It has a stunning array of features, ranging from keyword research and SERP snapshots to website and backlink explorers to rank tracking and site audit capabilities. If I could pick just one SEO tool to use, it would be this one.

I use Ahrefs for pretty much everything. When I build a content marketing strategy for clients, it starts in Ahrefs. I use it for quick SEO audits for new websites. I track the search rankings of my site and those of all my clients in the tool (actually, it’s one of my favorite rank tracker tools as well).

I find backlink opportunities, identify lucrative keywords to write about, and do competitive research in the tool. I even use it for my sales outreach and pitch decks for my agency.

Essentially, it’s the starting point for my SEO strategy work.

It’s hard to find a more comprehensive and trustworthy SEO tool that does all of these things. I think it’s because the company, unlike many others, is truly product-led. This is embodied even in their marketing – they’re the absolute best when it comes to product-led content. You can learn more about this method in my interview with their CMO, Tim Soulo:

Beyond the great SEO insights Ahrefs offers, they also have a tool called “content explorer” that helps me discover what is popular on social media. This helps me plan out “Buzzworthy content” that is designed for social media sharing, thought leadership, or link building. This tool resembles something like Buzzsumo.

I look at this product as a critical content marketing and digital marketing platform.

One of my only complaints is I’ve not really enjoyed working with their API in the past. It’s been a year or two, so maybe this has changed, but I didn’t find their API as easy to use or as affordable as SEMRush’s.

G2 Score: 4.6

Price: Starts at $99/month

2. GrowthBar

GrowthBar is an easy-to-use SEO platform built by my friends over at GrowthMarketingPro.

It helps users increase conversions, improve search engine rankings and drive business growth. This tool also provides you with insights and data to help you run effective organic, paid search and social media marketing campaigns.

They’ve also got a new Content Generation feature. It’s a combination of AI and the team’s SEO expertise and it creates SEO-optimized content outlines in seconds. Pretty cool for content marketers and agencies like myself.

GrowthBar allows you to conduct keyword research and find the right keywords to target to ensure higher search engine rankings, traffic and conversions. It suggests keywords and measures essential metrics like search volume, search engine ranking, CPC value, etc. for each suggested keyword.

Of course, you can also monitor your ranking in Google SERPs for the keywords you’re targeting.

You’ll also be able to get insights into the search engine and social media marketing campaigns of your competitors. You can check their domain authorities, examine their backlinks, view their digital ads and track the volume of site traffic they get from organic searches.

Ideal for: Freelancers, marketing teams and entrepreneurs

G2 score: 4.9/5

Pricing: GrowthBar offers a 5-day free trial. Premium plans start at $29/month, billed annually

3. SE Ranking

SE Ranking is a new tool I’ve found, but I’ve been loving it.

It’s a full suite of SEO tools, but I particularly like the keyword tracking functionality.

SE Ranking offers the most accurate and comprehensive keyword position tracker on the market. It tracks rankings on Google, Google Mobile, Bing, Yahoo!, YouTube, Yandex, and Yandex Mobile…everywhere. Along with position monitoring, you can find keyword search volume and relative traffic forecast.

SE Ranking also provides data on Google Ads, Maps search results, SERP features (featured snippets, People also ask, sitelinks, videos, etc.), as well as organic rankings. Not to mention — users can access a large database of historical ranking data on selected keywords. You can use the calendar to go back in time and see how the performance of different keywords has change

G2 Score: 4.8/5

Price: starts $39 per month and they offer a free trial

4. SEMRush

I know I just gushed about Ahrefs above, but SEMRush is another incredibly impressive tool. It does almost everything that Ahrefs does, but it also includes paid advertising and PPC data, making it the comprehensive suite for an SEM marketer (something that can rival some of the features of a tool like Spyfu as well as giving you the full SEO tool suite).

It also has a variety of helpful micro-tools, my favorite being the SEO writing assistant for Google Docs (which helps you optimize on-page content, much like Clearscope, Frase, or SurferSEO).

I’d say between SEMRush and Ahrefs, both tools are so powerful and feature rich that you’re basically going to be fine going with either of them. It’s your preference, really.

One thing I think SEMRush does particularly well is local SEO analytics and research. While this isn’t something I use (we don’t really deal with local businesses at my company), if you do local SEO, it could be super important.

If you do local SEO or work with local small businesses, or if you do a lot of Google Ads and want competitor research features (like Spyfu would have), then SEMRush is best in class.

G2 Score: 4.6

Price: Starts at $99/month

5. Frase

Frase is a new player, but that hasn’t stopped it from being quickly adopted and raved about in SEO and content communities.

It’s somewhat difficult for me to describe Frase, because they really have an abundance of features. But if I had to, I’d just call it a “content optimization tool.”

First, it helps you optimize on-page SEO content with its content editor. You can see which keywords to add to your content, which internal links to add, and how to craft and format your article:

Next, they have a question and answer feature that uses machine learning to help map out common questions readers will have and helps engage them and push them to other key pages (thus, helping you convert more readers from your content).

So you see, it helps you both optimize for ranking and conversions! As someone who has spent his career working across conversion rate optimization and content marketing, this product is speaking my language

G2 Score: 4.6

Price: Starts at $99/month

6. Clearscope

Clearscope is another SEO tool that I couldn’t live without. In fact, I’m using it to optimize this very blog post:

Clearscope is also a content optimization tool, but it fully focuses on optimizing your on-page copy. It’s so easy to use that it’s genuinely fun. As you can see in the image above, it gives you super clear metrics and a grade based on the criteria they’ve found important to rank for a given keyword.

This visualization of your SEO reports makes it super easy (and fun) to use, even if you’re not super technical or knowledgeable about SEO.

Essentially, if you have a keyword in mind, let’s say “best SEO software,” you enter that and it reverse engineers what is currently ranking on SERPs. Through machine learning, they determine the most impactful keywords and ranking factors, like readability and word count. On the right hand side bar, you get a list of keyword suggestions – relevant keywords to sprinkle into your content for better SEO performance.

This helps you best position your content to rank for that keyword and sometimes punch above your weight class and outrank bigger competitors.

After having used it not only on my own site as well as my agencies, but also on all of our clients’ websites, I can say that it works like magic.

Content marketers and writers shouldn’t be operating without Clearscope nowadays, especially if you’re writing for SEO.

G2 Score: 4.6

Price: Starts at $99/month

7. MarketMuse

MarketMuse is yet another content optimization tool, this one catering a bit more to the enterprise.

They do, however, position themselves as more than just a content optimization tool. In fact, they have planning tools for content research and keyword strategy, topic clusters and internal linking, as well as the on-page content optimization technology that you would expect from a product in this category.

To be frank, I’ve used MarketMuse much less than I have Frase or Clearscope, so I can’t speak too much to their advanced features. I can say that they do an incredible job at informing (and mostly automating) content briefs.

Great piece of technology at a bit higher of a price point for the full suite.

G2 Score: 4.8

Price: Starts at $79/month for content optimization features

8. Screaming Frog

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a website crawler that helps you improve onsite SEO, by extracting data & auditing for common SEO issues.

That’s directly pulled from their website.

What’s it mean?

First, it means all the SEO experts I’ve ever met have used Screaming Frog or use it frequently.

Tangibly, it means you can audit your entire website and all web pages, linking structure, broken links and other errors, sitemaps, and other technical SEO issues.

It gives you the raw data from the crawler, so you can do a lot with this stuff, especially if your site has tons of pages, and especially if you know R or Python.

At the basic level, if you’re in SEO, you should know how to run a quick crawl to find issues like missing title tags, meta descriptions, redirects, and internal link opportunities. Lots of low hanging fruit to be found doing this!

G2 Score: 4.7

Price: Starts free

9. Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is probably my favorite SEO Chrome extension. It just enriches your web browsing experience with interesting SEO and keyword data.

For instance, if I search for “best SEO tools,” I get search volume and CPC for that keyword, but I also get a ton of additional keyword ideas on the right hand side bar:

It also works for YouTube SEO:

They also have incredibly affordable pricing. Only $10 for 100,000 credits.

Honestly, if you’re an SEO and you’re doing keyword research, there’s no reason not to install Keywords Everywhere.

G2 Score: 4.6

Price: Starts at $99/month

10. AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is another one of my favorite keyword research and ideation tools.

The premise is simple. Enter a keyword, and you get a massive amount of different long tail variants of that topic:

Every time I’m building a content roadmap report for a client, I use this tool to find low competition, long tail, bottom funnel topics.

G2 Score: 4.6

Price: Free

11. Visably

Visably is a newer tool, and I’m really impressed with it so far.

I’ve written about the “surround sound strategy” in the past. The gist of it is that consumers shop around before they buy. They do so in search using keywords like “best marketing automation software.” If you don’t rank or show up at all in that search, you’re not even in the conversation. On the other end, if you show up on every page that ranks, you’re almost certainly going to be in consideration.

This is the organic acquisition strategy I developed when I worked at HubSpot. But we ran into a problem: how do you track your mentions on a given keyword, or what I refer to as “SERP Real Estate?”

There wasn’t a way, so I built my own tool in R and hosted it in Shiny. This was okay, but the code was scrappy.

Better to use a real tool. Enter: Visably.

If you work in digital PR or do any link building, you’ll find this SEO tool incredibly beneficial. It’ll open up a whole new world of direct response SEO (as well as brand awareness if we’re being honest). Who doesn’t want to unlock a new acquisition channel?

G2 Score: N/A

Price: Not listed. Request demo.

12. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is probably the most commonly used and ubiquitous SEO software. Why? It’s free, and well, it’s made by Google. Thus, you get some pretty good data from this one.

Here’s how they describe the tools:

Search Console tools and reports help you measure your site’s Search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google Search results.

Basically, you can track your rankings and impressions for given pages and queries, and you can diagnose SEO issues with your site. Basic, but foundational. I don’t think you can be an SEO and not use Search Console at least sometimes.

G2 Score: 4.6

Price: Free

13. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is also from Google, obviously, and it’s the most ubiquitous web measurement software and set of analysis tools.

It also starts out free.

You can get great data on anything, but in the context of SEO, you can essentially report on (and automate) all your organic traffic efforts. This allows you to track which pages are converting the highest and the lowest, which pages are losing traffic over time (content decay), which pages are gaining traffic, and the engagement metrics associated with different pages.

Of course, all of this is critical if you’re doing SEO work, whether for a client or for your own company. Someone someday is going to ask you, “what’s the ROI of SEO?” And if you use Google Analytics, you’ll be able to proudly give them an approximate answer.

You can also get (sort of) real-time user analytics that can help you debug website problems.

G2 Score: 4.5

Price: Free

14. Google Trends

Another Google tool! It’s almost like they are the king of the SEO landscape.

Anyway, Google Trends gives you search volume, but specifically with regard to overall search trends. For example, you can see how a topic, say “paleo” has trended over time. You can even compare multiple terms, like “paleo” and “keto” in the same chart.

This helps you determine whether it’s worthwhile to write content *before* it has a ton of search volume, on the hopes that you’ll ride the wave of increasing overall demand. Everything is easier when you ride trends.

G2 Score: 4.6

Price: Starts at $99/month

15. Exploding Topics

Exploding Topics is a tool built by the prince of SEO and content marketing, Brian Dean (one of my favorite content creators and just an awesome person).

He takes the idea of Google Trends and runs with it, curating data and creating reports on the fastest growing topics in the search landscape.

If you expand your thinking beyond SEO, this can actually really help entrepreneurs decide where to launch a business. Again, everything is easier when you’re riding a wave of demand and a trend that is already going to take place without you. I have tons of friends who have become massively successful doing this.

This tool helps you figure out those trends (as does, by the way, Trends.co).

G2 Score: N/A

Price: $47/Mo

16. Yoast SEO

Yoast may have been the first SEO tool I ever used. I started a WordPress blog in college (that eventually changed and warped into the blog you’re reading today), and I installed the Yoast plugin at the behest of every “how to start a blog” article I read.

Essentially, Yoast is a WordPress plugin that offers a full suite of search engine optimization functionality. Like Clearscope or Frase, it helps you optimize on-page content for a given keyword. But it also helps with more technical stuff, like redirecting pages and choosing URL slugs and meta descriptions.

The best part about the tool is it’s embedded in your WordPress editor. You don’t need to leave your CMS to get these insights, so it’s incredible for productivity.

I always install Yoast on new WordPress sites, even if I’m already using other content optimization tools (since Yoast has so many other nice features, even on the free version).

G2 Score: 4.6

Price: Starts free (premium begins at $89).

17. Rank Science

Alright, this listing is a bit of a departure from our previous tools, which featured tools like competitor analysis software, backlink analysis software, keyword research tools, and other foundational SEO stuff.

Rank Science helps you run SEO a/b tests.

Like website A/B tests, your goal is to run a controlled (or semi-controlled) experiment to determine the optimal experience for users. Unlike website A/B tests, with SEO A/B tests, you’re randomizing pages instead of users.

Rank Science helps you do the randomization as well as the analysis.

Note: this level of data-driven SEO is really only applicable to large sites with lots of traffic and pages (typically the pages need to be relatively templatized, too, like Zillow or Pinterest – and not just blog posts or editorial).

G2 Score: 5.0

Price: N/A (talk to sales)

18. Botify

Botify is an enterprise SEO platform that specializes in SEO analysis, data, and intelligence.

They help you map out all of your SEO opportunities and keywords and track rankings, gaps, and opportunities. You also get full historical data and SERP images to track changes progressively. This lets you analyze changes in the organic search landscape over time allowing you to track algorithm changes and how they affect your rankings.

It’s hard to fully describe Botify, since their data is so rich and expansive. But for the technical SEO or SEO Lead who is managing a large website (or set of large websites), this product is phenomenal.

G2 Score: 4.3

Price: Performance based pricing (talk to sales)

Conclusion

And that’s that, my 18 favorite SEO tools.

Clearly, there are many absent on this list. I like Majestic SEO and Moz Pro (which I used to use for their domain authority checker, but now I just use Ahrefs), but I like SEMRush and Ahrefs better as a full featured SEO platform, so I picked those for the list. Again, this is subjective and not a list of every SEO tool in the world (which would be quite an unhelpful and long list).

Also, different tools will suit different companies better than others. My favorite stack: Ahrefs, Clearscope, Frase, Screaming Frog, and Google Analytics. I can get almost everything I need from these tools. Other companies will discover they have different purposes and actually need something like Botify + Majestic + Rank Science (for the product led SEO and enterprise folks out there).

You’ll also notice this list heavily features tools centered around Google and less so on other search engines like Bing or DuckDuckGo. That’s because the majority of my SEO strategy has centered around Google. I’ve also used Bing Webmaster Tools (as well as their great API – a free tool), but typically, I’ve found I can get good Bing insights from something like Ahrefs).

So do some of your own due diligence before diving in and buying a bunch of tools. But hopefully this list can get you started!

Alex Birkett
Alex Birkett is a product growth and experimentation expert as well as co-founder of Omniscient Digital, a premium content marketing agency. He enjoys skiing, making and experiencing music, reading and writing, and language learning. He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog, Biscuit.

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