Anyone who’s heard about the miraculous, site saving service known as SEO has eventually researched it online. Anyone who’s researched it and has had problems with their site has probably looked at SEO providers at least once. Anyone who’s had problems with their site, researched SEO providers and decided optimization didn’t fit into their budget has probably looked – at least once – at potential SEO and/or marketing software.
If this is you, did you look past the first results in the search engines?
You know, even most professional SEO specialists have some form of marketing or SEO software. – And, sometimes, we end up testing software that flops or doesn’t perform like we think it should (or as it’s marketed to perform). Overall, however, most of us do a good job of finding software that does what we need it to. Usually, we don’t find it in the #1 place for an “SEO software” query.
First-page ranking doesn’t always mean the best
This is true whether you’re looking for software, hardware, vacuum cleaners or laundromats. In fact, if a site shows up in the #1 spot for a high competition search result, this is more likely to be due to an excellent SEO instead of an excellent product. As you research for SEO and/or marketing software, keep this important point in mind.
Finding and Evaluating Marketing or SEO Software
Yes, look at the top results. However, before signing on the dotted line, you always want to look further than the SERPs. Here are a few tips to help you find the best software for your project.
Define what you need your software to do
As of yet, there isn’t a single piece of software that will perform all the tasks you’ll need for an SEO project, although some come close. Most SEOs have four or more tools in their toolbox. Before you actually start researching, you’ll need to lay out some basic guidelines. For example, “I need this piece of software to help me…”
- Track my key term rankings
- Research my competition
- Research key terms for competition and search volume
- Perform a site audit for errors
- Perform a page speed check
- Find other, related key terms
Now, you may end up with a long list. If so, pare it back to those you absolutely have to have a piece of software do. Remember, there is no complete SEO tool out there… yet (although many SEOs are working feverously to create one).
SEO software, or marketing software, doesn’t always go by these two terms. To get a complete picture of what’s available, you have to use other search terms as well, such as:
- SEO tools
- Marketing tools
- SEO platform
- SEO management tools (or software)
- market research tools
Use any search term you can come up with to find what you’re looking for. For search ideas, you can also look on the left side of your search engine. For Bing, “Related Searches” are shown right at the top. For Google, click “Related searches” under “All results”. Bookmark software offerings that look promising.
Research your potential SEO or marketing software
Once you have a list of potential software options, start clicking through them. Do searches on each product name. Read reviews and testimonials. You can also gain great information on these products by searching under the “Blog” or “Discussion” tabs available in Google.
Most software review sites are, unfortunately,<ahem> useless. If you use a software review site to gain information, read their review process and, always – always – look for backup reviews, no matter the review site.
Choosing between paid and free versions
Just as a #1 placement doesn’t mean it’s a good product, a price doesn’t mean it’s worth it. If you’re looking at a paid version and it offers a free trial, take it. You may end up trying several products before you find one that fits the bill, but the time will be worth it. For example, Raven Tools and SEOMoz (either of these tools is a great addition to your toolbox) both have free trials of their pro version. You’ll get full access to the tools available before you pay a dime.
Now, not all the good tools are paid. Some really good tools are free, just limited in what they can do. Professional SEOs often look for a tool that does as much as possible, and then use other tools to supplement where the big one is lacking. Conceivably, you can choose several free tools to take the place of one large one. Therefore, don’t choose based on price unless you have no budget. Choose based on what the software can do, versus what you need it to do.
SEO and Marketing Software – A Short List
Below are listed a few of the products (free, paid and trials) we’ve either used or heard great things about through the SEO grapevine. Listed in no particular order, with a variety of functions, the list includes:
- Raven Tools
- SEO Moz
- Web CEO
- Traffic Travis
- SEOBook Toolbar
- SEM Rush
- Page Speed
- SEO Power Suite
- Authority Labs
- Index Checker
- Majestic SEO
Amazing amounts of people pay for products, services and software simply because they rank on the front page of the search results. – And sometimes, it works out okay. However, when you’re talking about SEO and marketing tools, you’re basically talking about the backbone of your site.
Don’t buy marketing and SEO software just because it ranks well. Do the research; take the time and test those product offerings with free trials. Find out what product will do the most for you!
Okay, it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite piece of software in your SEO or marketing toolbox? Give us the product, and don’t forget to include the link so we can check it out!