Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

This device is too small

If you're on a Galaxy Fold, consider unfolding your phone or viewing it in full screen to best optimize your experience.

Skip to main content

The 7 Best SEO Tools

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Successful SEOs are wizards, and their magic wand is in their toolbox. When a site has a lack of content, they will use keyword research and content creation tools; when it has low authority, they will apply backlinks analysis tools; and when response time is slow, they launch audit tools on the site architecture. You will surely find the tool you need in one of the toolboxes below.

SEO is magic, and the most respected SEO practitioners are clearly wizards. But they are also data mongers, detectives, archeologists, and researchers. Successful SEOs observe the invisible, understand the unsaid, and interpret the magic formula of search engine rankings. And for all of that, they use search tools.

Illustration of the three pillars of SEO: Architecture, Content, and Authority, and the tools that support them

SEO tools have different scopes and are sometimes based on different data acquisition methods and different techniques: keyword research, site crawl, backlinks analysis, content analysis, rank tracking, competitive analysis, and market trend observation.

Some tools will create an SEO report that covers the full scope of analysis features, while others are centered on one or a few of those techniques. Thus, when looking at SEO tools, we are not always comparing apples to apples. In the list below, you will find the highest-rated SEO tools from the reviews we have published at The Ascent.

Product Description Next Steps
Rating image, 4.00 out of 5 stars.
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
4.00/5
Ahrefs is an SEO tools suite with one of the best backlinks databases, a site crawler, a rank tracking engine, and a keyword tool that goes beyond anything in the market.
Rating image, 3.90 out of 5 stars.
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
3.90/5
SEMrush is a popular SEO tool -- and for good reason. It has everything you need to increase your website visibility.
Rating image, 3.50 out of 5 stars.
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
3.50/5
SpyFu is a competitive analysis tool for search marketing. It boasts a range of capabilities and comes in at a tempting $39/month for the entry-level plan.
Rating image, 3.40 out of 5 stars.
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
3.40/5
Searchmetrics Suite is search marketing software containing sophisticated SEO features that make it attractive for enterprise clients with more limited applicability to smaller companies.
Rating image, 3.30 out of 5 stars.
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
3.30/5
Moz wrote the book on SEO. Can its SEO tool suite, Moz Pro, still match up to a growing list of advanced competitors?
Rating image, 3.20 out of 5 stars.
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
3.20/5
KWFinder is a keyword research tool which aggregates key metrics from various sources to help you efficiently create keyword lists for your search marketing campaigns.
Rating image, 3.10 out of 5 stars.
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
3.10/5
Majestic is an SEO tool that crawls the web for links to build a view of a website’s backlinks profile, which allows its owner to improve its authority and ultimately rank better in search engines.
Rating image, 4.00 out of 5 stars.
4.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line: Ahrefs is an SEO tools suite with one of the best backlinks databases, a site crawler, a rank tracking engine, and a keyword tool that goes beyond anything in the market.

Ahrefs is not just a great backlinks tool. It fully qualifies as an SEO tools suite, covering all an SEO’s needs: site crawl, rank tracking, a keyword tool which goes beyond the market standard, and a content exploration tool for finding new topics. Top it all off with a great user experience and video tutorials to help you get the most out of your SEO, and you end up with an absolutely stellar SEO tool. Its only weakness seems to be its impossible-to-pronounce name.

Ahrefs’ Site Explorer is a lookup tool that provides backlinks analysis of any page or site you wish to check. It also estimates the number of keywords a site ranks for, the traffic it generates, and the value of that traffic. It even provides a peek into the paid search dimension of the site.

For a more in-depth analysis of a specific site, use the Site Audit tool which will crawl your site and give it a Health Score and a list of places to improve your technical SEO. To monitor your site’s performance in search over time for specific keywords, configure the Rank Tracker, and when you want to find keywords to rank for, use the Keyword Explorer.

Ahrefs has added a content exploration facility for discovering topics, identifying influencers, and finding backlink opportunities.

Ahrefs is the only SEO tool that consistently estimates traffic from webpages and includes that metric in all its views. It claims to have the best proprietary backlinks database and provides solid rank tracking, great site crawl, and keyword research which goes well beyond the classic Google lookups and includes both Amazon and YouTube as well as the major international search engines.

Rating image, 3.90 out of 5 stars.
3.90 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line: SEMrush is a popular SEO tool -- and for good reason. It has everything you need to increase your website visibility.
Rating image, 3.50 out of 5 stars.
3.50 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line: SpyFu is a competitive analysis tool for search marketing. It boasts a range of capabilities and comes in at a tempting $39/month for the entry-level plan.

SpyFu built its reputation as a competitive intelligence tool for search marketing. It offers plenty of data and insights to help your business steal a march on your rivals, but does it have enough features to handle all your SEO requirements?

The domain overview interface plays host to SpyFu’s standout features. From here, you can identify new keyword opportunities, spy on your competitors’ backlinks, and see which keywords your rivals are targeting with Google Ads. This is all strengthened by SpyFu’s catalog of historical data (so you can track the ranking of keywords over time), which is available through all payment plans.

SpyFu’s data visualizations are another highlight. You can pinpoint the areas where your competitors have higher visibility, then dig deeper to understand why your site is underperforming. The ability to view SEO and PPC keywords on the same screen is beneficial too and aligns with how the customer views a brand in the search results.

These features are excellent and they offer something different from the other SEO tools on the market. Yet, we should note that SpyFu does not go into any detail on content marketing or technical SEO. Marketers will need to pair SpyFu with other SEO tools to gain a full understanding of their performance.

SpyFu’s pricing reflects this fact. At a very reasonable price of $39/month for the Basic plan, it's a viable option for businesses of all sizes.

Overall, SpyFu is a highly effective analytical tool that rewards curious marketers. It may not handle every aspect of SEO, but it covers a number of areas well.

Searchmetrics
Rating image, 3.40 out of 5 stars.
3.40 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line: Searchmetrics Suite is search marketing software containing sophisticated SEO features that make it attractive for enterprise clients with more limited applicability to smaller companies.

The Searchmetrics Suite is an enterprise SEO solution. The interface is appealing but not intuitive. It was originally focused on SEO requirements but is also one of the few tools to cover both organic and paid search: SEO and PPC. By combining data from Google's keyword planner for paid search with rank monitoring in search engines, Searchmetrics built a visibility index allowing you to see your site's evolution and relative performance at a glance.

Searchmetrics is a one-stop shop covering the full range of SEO tools: keyword research, competitive analysis, rank monitoring, site crawl, backlinks, and content analysis.

The Research Cloud is available as a stand-alone product in Europe at a more accessible price, along with free limited access to its search visibility view, which is a great way to discover the tool.

U.S. customers can only purchase the Searchmetrics Suite (not individual components), which comprises unlimited access to the Research Cloud, often referred to as Searchmetrics Essentials. The Searchmetrics Suite also includes the Search Experience, Site Experience, and Content Experience tools, as well as dedicated support and SEO consulting.

Searchmetrics belongs to a select group of outstanding tools for search marketing. It provides all the basic features any SEO provider would need. It has expanded its capabilities into the content marketing discipline with topic exploration, content analytics, and assisted writing.

Searchmetrics' standout strengths lie in the at-a-glance search visibility overview for a site’s visibility in organic and paid search, its comprehensive international rank tracking, advanced site crawls, and SEO-guided content creation.

Rating image, 3.30 out of 5 stars.
3.30 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line: Moz wrote the book on SEO. Can its SEO tool suite, Moz Pro, still match up to a growing list of advanced competitors?

Moz Pro holds an interesting position in the SEO tools landscape. The Moz blog brought SEO into the marketing mainstream, but the industry has changed dramatically in the past decade. SEO overlaps with paid search, content marketing, social media, and brand advertising today. Moz has opted to focus on the core features of SEO strategy in its Moz Pro tool suite.

This approach has succeeded on the whole. The two flagship features in Moz Pro, Keyword Explorer, and Link Explorer, are superb. They are easy to use and insightful, without dumbing down the complexity of SEO research.

Elsewhere, results are mixed. Moz Pro’s technical SEO crawler will be sufficient for small businesses, and it contains several useful capabilities. It features tips and guides to help businesses implement the suggested changes. The focus is on usefulness for small business owners here, rather than deep detail for advanced SEO specialists.

The Standard plan comes in at a competitive price of $99/month, but with restricted data use. Most small businesses will still opt for the $149/month Medium plan to conduct their research and reporting with Moz Pro. At that price point, Moz Pro is more expensive than similar plans from SEMrush and Ahrefs.

Prospective customers will need to decide if Moz Pro’s accessibility and standout performance in keyword research will trump the broader range of features other SEO tools can offer.

KWFinder
Rating image, 3.20 out of 5 stars.
3.20 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line: KWFinder is a keyword research tool which aggregates key metrics from various sources to help you efficiently create keyword lists for your search marketing campaigns.

KWFinder is a keyword research tool for search marketing. It works well for looking up the key metrics for existing keywords and for expanding your scope of keywords to position a site on.

The KWFinder allows you to manually compose lists of keywords on the basis of their search volume, current and historical, their estimated cost per click in paid search, and their paid search and SEO difficulty. It provides a proprietary index value for the SEO difficulty and insight into the competitive landscape in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

KWFinder gives you fast access to essential information. It makes keyword research quicker, easier, and more informed, so you can make the right decisions for your positioning. It also allows you to do competitive research by uncovering your competitors’ keyword usage. A subscription to KWFinder also gives access to the other tools provided in the Mangools suite which allow the user to check the search results pages, monitor keyword ranking, review and research the backlinks profile, and benchmark sites on a number of metrics.

KWFinder improves the efficiency of the process of keyword research for search marketing in your organization. It does that by aggregating the principal keyword metrics from other data sources and presenting them in an efficient and appealing way.

Majestic
Rating image, 3.10 out of 5 stars.
3.10 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Bottom Line: Majestic is an SEO tool that crawls the web for links to build a view of a website’s backlinks profile, which allows its owner to improve its authority and ultimately rank better in search engines.

Majestic, formerly MajesticSEO, is an SEO tool whose primary focus is on backlinks analysis for SEO. Backlinks are one of the key dimensions of SEO performance, but not the only one. It has a massive index of link data as it crawls the web in the same manner a search engine would. The difference is that Majestic will only look at the links, the distribution of the links on a page, the anchor text in the links, and the surrounding content in the form of...you guessed it: links.

Majestic has a wide array of features for accessing and interpreting its backlinks database, and it continually adds more. The tool can crawl a site but will still concentrate on the link dimension of it rather than the wider technical SEO parameters. It also has a keyword analysis tool, but it's restricted to the anchor text data it has stored for its backlinks.

Majestic does not do rank tracking, but in an effort to provide the overview to its users, it integrates with Google Search Console to provide keyword ranking overviews.

We love the uniqueness of Majestic's approach and its funky visuals. It is difficult to use, but there is help and guidance to find from the support team. If you're a link builder, Majestic is one of the best tools in the market, but if you are looking at the broader spectrum of SEO, you probably need additional tools in your toolbox to go hand in hand with Majestic.

What The Ascent looks for in a great SEO tool

The best SEO tools are the ones that make the SEO specialist look like a wizard. They are the ones that are capable of acquiring the right data to uncover the hidden truths and visually presenting their findings in ways that tell a compelling and credible story. They are also the ones that save the SEO hours of time by automating tasks that would otherwise be impossible or very time-consuming.

Precious data

Search engines will not tell you what you did wrong or what you did right. When you search by keyword in a search engine, your site might appear or it might not; the search engines won’t tell you why. The tools that are able to move through thousands of data points to highlight the ones that may provide an explanation are the ones we like -- those that uncover precious data that we couldn’t otherwise see.

Added value

The Google Keyword Planner is freely available to use for anyone who wants to do keyword research. The Google Search Console provides you with a view of the keywords you rank for. Clearly, any tool in the market that you will pay to use should add significant value on top of what you can easily get for free. We look for proprietary data and smart data aggregators in a great SEO tool.

Productivity

An SEO audit can take 2 to 3 days to perform. During that time, every aspect of a site’s characteristics will be checked and evaluated. Tools that can add productivity to making that SEO audit, producing optimized content, identifying the most important places to improve a site’s response time, or generate insightful reports are highly appreciated.

How your business can benefit from using SEO tools

In many people’s eyes, SEO is about “getting free traffic,” and they are disappointed to not get more than they do. In reality, the value lies in the O for Optimization: Getting the most out of what you have.

Targeting the right people

You may dream of more traffic to your website, but for certain types of websites, more traffic can be detrimental to the user experience or even to profitability. Thousands of robot lookups of your homepage cost you more in hosting expenses, and users who come to your site to buy a product you don’t sell are not good for business.

What is important is who is behind that traffic. Are you attracting the right people and reaching your target group? Finding the right keywords and optimizing content with the right wording to generate the right traffic is one of the benefits of SEO tools.

Finding obstacles you couldn’t see

A website is a structure of data and commands, and it travels on the internet in little packets of information that are reassembled in another place. As we know with computers, things can go wrong. Right, Hal? A missing character somewhere in the code may create a problem or a difficulty in relation to load speed, page parsing, or error codes.

A website can appear to work perfectly fine even when something impedes search engines from crawling it correctly. SEO tools can simulate crawls and identify obstacles and imperfections you can correct to improve how your site is indexed.

Getting inspiration for your communication

Competitive research is always useful for improving your business. With SEO tools, you can get inspiration for content, for keywords to address, for page designs that work, and for ways to generate backlinks. SEO tools compute enormous amounts of data to give you access to what is important for your business.

About the Author