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Believe it or not, there’s a good chance your SEO traffic has been shifting over time. Luckily, you can take an active role in helping to shape that destiny — you just have to know the tools of the trade. 

For SEO, that means getting a rank monitoring & optimization tool. And there’s no shortage of SEO industry tools out there, both free and paid. For an industry built on Google persistently preaching, “Just build good content and users will find you,” there are many ways to analyze, segment, and slice & dice your SEO experience into something actionable. 

So which tool do you choose?  Let size be your guide. Your company’s capacity, the number of marketers on staff, and business objectives will help you find the best fit. 

The potential payout here is tapping into a platform that generates ~80K organic searches per second (!), many with a strong intent to consume your content, become your next business lead, or convert into an eCommerce sale. That’s been the attraction of SEO since its inception, and the reason why software is available to monitor and improve your search engine ranking.

Opt for SEO people who know their stuff

Buying access to a platform is the easy part. Ensuring that tool is getting used often, efficiently, and with informed action is the trick. 

If you’re staffing your SEO people in-house, do you truly have the full-time employees available? They will need to spend time digging into each week’s crawl data and rank shifts, then propose a solution that must meet cross-team approval before the (sometimes arduous) task of requesting IT support for major changes. It’s enough to give an in-house marketing professional paralysis.  

Separately, if you’re using an agency, are they staffed to spend ample amounts of time on the platform? Do they have the training necessary to understand the tool? Let’s not forget you must have a consensus on your key performance indicators before you set an agency loose to optimize towards far-fetched goals about rank shifts that may never turn into traffic.  

Your SEO system should provide efficiency and insight (at least theoretically). Making sure the support structure is in place is almost as important as choosing the right vendor. 

Write out your highest-priority SEO features 

You’re going to need to DTR (Define The Relationship) with your SEO tools. Every SEO company is going to promise the world. And many do have the resources to provide it on a grand scale. But will you actually use those features? Do they matter to your business? And — often the big question — are they worth the price tag that such robust offerings often bring? 

Below, we listed an easy way to compare tool capability. By actually quantifying these features, you can figure out what’s the most important to your biz. 

Platform costs & terms

  • Setup cost
  • Annual price discounts
  • Length of opt-out clause
  • Training provided

Keyword rank tracking & research

  • Frequent rank updates
  • Adequate keyword capacity
  • Mobile tracking
  • Google + Bing
  • Tags & Grouping

Technical monitoring & data integration

  • Site crawl reporting
  • Internet rank data crawl
  • Link tracking
  • Integration with Google products
  • Availability of Application Programming Interface (API) 

Learn the types of platforms

Gauging which type of platform you need will go a long way towards narrowing down a solution. Here are 4 types, categorized by their capabilities. 

Enterprise SEO tools

The cadillac of capabilities, these platforms are robust enough to tackle the most complex of websites (deep technical crawls). They can track ranking on a granular geo and time-based level, provide clean user-interfaces, and lend support services. The price tag and breadth of features is best suited for big organizations with the budget and headcount (or agency) to use the tool. 

With costs that rival an entry-level SEO full-time employee’s salary ($45K+), the payout in actionable insights means you’ve got to have a marketing budget that can support it. 

Generalist SEO tools

The mid-tier, or reliable sedan of SEO tools, are those that provide a full suite of features at a depth that works for most companies. This includes basic rank tracking (often weekly), link and keyword research and some integrations, but it often lacks hands-on account support. 

Pricing is done either monthly or annually with reasonable rates (under $500/month for larger plans) and flexible cancellation policies (e.g., Moz only requires 1-day advance notice, compared to Enterprise tools that require 60-90 days out clauses). 

Rank tracking SEO tools

The ones that provide rank tracking only, we’ll call the Tesla of SEO tools. They provide targeted insights at a granular level. What these tools lack in breadth more than compensate with their depth. Daily rank tracking and granular tagging are benefits of these specialty platforms.  

Technical SEO tools

Hyper-focused on technicalities, the Zamboni of SEO tools are quite good at a singular task, fully aware that they can’t leave the rink. They sure do a number on that ice, though. These are good add-on platforms that supplement other tools but keep the team aware of important technical considerations. 


Add ‘em up

Yes, there are many other tools to compare. But for the sake of this initial quantifying exercise, we wanted a representative sample from each of the types mentioned above. For a more exhaustive list of SEO tools, the team at MarTech Today put together a comprehensive 41-page document that we don’t feel the need to replicate.  

The below scoring can be debated ad nauseum. There’s a separate sheet with details behind each score, though that gets into subjective reasoning that’s probably beyond the scope of this discussion. Let’s just assume there was a judgment call made based on research and first-hand experience. 

Ample's Comparing SEO Platform Tools Chart

The good, the bad and the ugly: considerations

Enterprise (Brightedge & Conductor)

Pros: 

  • Deep internet crawl data
  • Intuitive user-interface
  • Technical monitoring

Cons:

  • Expensive with annual contracts
  • Fees for Data Studio and API integrations
  • Minimal keyword capacity (even for basic tier)
  • Bing and mobile count multiple times towards keyword count

Generalists (SEMRush & Ahrefs & Moz)

Pros:

  • Affordable & flexible pricing plans without setup fees
  • Robust keyword ranking & research (with limitations)
  • Technical monitoring capabilities

Cons: 

  • User interface requires some familiarization
  • Some limitations for Bing rank tracking
  • Lacking Google integrations and fees for API

Technical (Ryte & Screaming Frog)

Pros:

  • Deeper monitoring capabilities
  • Excel export of rich metadata
  • Standard API integration is free

Cons:

  • Provides similar data as other vendors
  • Relatively expensive for limited service
  • Limited capabilities outside of technical 

Rank Tracking (Stat)

Pros:

  • Daily rank tracking updates
  • Bing rank included by default 
  • Free 30-day trial + free 1-month
  • Free integration with Google Data Studio coming in Q4
  • On-demand support and team training

Cons:

  • Mobile rank is incremental
  • Lacks extra features, such as link tracking
  • No keyword research functionality
  • User-interface not as polished as Enterprise-level tools

Time to put it into practice

Allowing enough time to implement, integrate, and create reporting could take weeks to months, so any transition away from another platform should be in parallel at first. In a perfect world, SEO data would have consistent standards and be portable between platforms. But with the dust still settling on the BrightEdge vs The World legal suits, that level of comraderie might not be here yet. This leaves the task to SEO teams manually exporting from one system and uploading into another, often trying to match strict template requirements. It’s not seamless. But even having the ability to import data and view historical ranking in a new platform is a benefit we should at least appreciate.

Preparing your team for the new technology will go a long way towards successful adoption. A tool is only as good as its users, after all. Involving them in the decision process and sharing demo trial access will make a world of difference.

Such a major business decision requires due diligence — let the team at Ample assist. We’ve spent quite some time around SEO tools and love to get knee deep in data. Understanding not only SEO today but also where SEO is going in the future is key. We put our years of following Google’s lead to good use — and we understand which platform is preparing for the search algorithm of tomorrow. Let’s talk SEO.