They offer data but make it hard to extract the insights so you know what to do next.
So, in this article, I’ll show you the 5 best tools for your SEO starter kit. Let’s dive in!
Disclaimer: I’ll focus on tools that will make it easy for you to get essential insights and optimize your website, content, and keywords fast. There are tools that go in greater depth, but I’m optimizing for ease of use and the fastest track to seeing SEO ROI (without getting a headache).
Let me preface this by saying that most SEOs will wax poetic about all kinds of tools. But if you talk to people who have spent 10+ years in this game, their stacks will be minimalist. And, most importantly - they’ll head straight to the source.
In SEO, this means using Google Search Console to the fullest extent.
- Indexing – Is Google picking up your pages fast enough? Do you have any technical SEO errors?
- Understand your page performance – Which pages are getting more traction than others?
- Queries – Which keywords are you ranking for? (Note: You will not be able to do new keyword research.)
- Keyword position – How are your pages ranking for each query?
- Impressions – Is this keyword profitable, AKA: does it show up in enough searches?
- Click-through rates - Is your content interesting to leads, or should you optimize your page titles and meta descriptions to make more searchers click through?
What’s great about Google Search Console is that it’s very user-friendly. You can even compare your performance over time. It’s a must-have in your stack, and it’s always better to see the data in the source before you let other SEO tools interpret it for you.
The second tool you should get familiar with as a beginner to SEO is Google Analytics.
It won’t show you keywords and average rankings, but it will help you understand your page and website performance. And considering that performance is a huge ranking factor, start thinking about it sooner rather than later.
Google Analytics will show you the following:
- Traffic sources – Where is your traffic coming from? What portion of your traffic comes from SEO vs. other channels like social media and referrals?
- Demographics – Where does your audience come from, what devices do they use, etc.?
- User behavior – How do users interact with your website? Which pages do they dwell on the longest, and which do they bounce from?
- Conversions – See your conversion rates (especially if you sell through your website) or proxy conversions (e.g., lead gen form fill-outs if you run a service business). You can even set up goal tracking to see which SEO content converts the most!
Both Google Analytics and Google Search Console are free, so familiarize yourself with them! I will be honest; setting up Google Analytics will take a while (especially with conversion tracking), but it will be worth your while.
You’ll get granular insights into how conversions actually happen so that you can optimize your SEO funnel.
SEO has a lot of moving parts, so when you’re first starting, you don’t need a bunch of data – you need a roadmap. And that’s precisely what SiteGuru provides with weekly audits and integrations with Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
- SEO goals - Get tailored suggestions based on your ranking goals for each keyword and page.
- Weekly audits & to-do lists – SiteGuru scans your website every week to identify opportunities for improvement. Then, it prioritizes the items you should tackle by order of importance. You always know what to do next.
- Technical SEO – Indexing issues? Pages without internal links? Don’t worry about it; you’ll see it in your dashboard. There’s no need to take action unless SiteGuru flags it for you!
- Keyword tracking – SiteGuru integrates with GA and GSC, so you’ll see how your keywords are performing, which are declining, and which are rising to the top. From there, you can optimize the right content and save time.
- Content optimization – Are your page titles and meta descriptions the best they can be? Do you have pages without internal links (making it hard for Google to discover them)? You’ll stay in the loop!
And more – all delivered weekly to your inbox! It’s the ultimate tool for beginner SEOs that will ensure nothing slips through the cracks and you’re focusing on the things that will move the needle fastest. And since it integrates with GA and GSC, you don't have to manually get reports from those two tools - instead, you'll see them aggregated and interpreted in SiteGuru.
SiteGuru starts from $29/mo for up to 2 websites, unlimited users, and all the features.
Content optimization is crucial, and if you, like most website owners today, run your site on WordPress CMS (or your eCommerce store on Shopify), Yoast’s plugin is the easiest way to cover all the SEO content bases.
- SEO-friendly content – As soon as you upload your content, Yoast will check it for best practices, including meta descriptions, keyword density, and links.
- Internal linking - Find out which pages you should link to from the page you’re on and make sure Google can efficiently crawl your site!
- Manage redirects - If you have a big site, Yoast can ensure no pages generate 404 errors or others stemming from broken redirects.
Yoast is an asset to your WP and Shopify SEO skills and has a free version!
Yoast offers a free version, and the paid plans start from €99/year to access link suggestions and other advanced features.
Once you enter your main keyword, it’ll generate plenty of additional suggestions you can target, as well as analyze the SERPs to show you what word count you should target and which competitors do best with their content (so you can emulate it with yours).
- Exhaustive generation methods – LowFruits uses every available keyword generation method to show you keywords that may not yet be visible to your competitors.
- SERP analysis – Get more information, including keyword clusters, word counts, top competitors, weak spots (competitors with low Domain Authority that rank well), and more.
- Filtering – Sort keywords by intent, find the frequently asked questions and Related Searches, discover queries where forums like Reddit rank well, etc.
- CPC and search volume data.
It’s great if you’re a beginner who feels overwhelmed by more powerful tools and even for the advanced SEO who wants to ensure they’re targeting the right keywords they can rank for fast.
Overall, it’s a great tool, and I find something new whenever I log in!
LowFruits starts from $25 for 2000 credits for analyzed keywords. The subscriptions start from $249/year and include credits every month, as well as advanced features.
SEMrush is a great choice when you’ve grasped the basics and made SEO profitable for your website. You’ll be ready to join the big leagues! And, among all the advanced SEO tools, SEMrush is the most beginner-friendly (although it does have a learning curve).
- Profound keyword research – SEMrush can track and find the right keywords for you based on your current performance and relative to your competitors. You can even track them!
- Competitor research – Keep an eye on your competitors by analyzing their traffic, discovering their marketing strategies, discovering new keywords, and more!
- On-page SEO – Discover when to target featured snippets, make changes to your site, and more. It’s not very powerful with technical SEO audits, but that’s not its primary focus. (You’re better off using SiteGuru or ScreamingFrog.)
- Backlink analytics – Track your backlinks, discover gaps, and identify new websites you could reach out to.
- Local SEO support.
- SEO writing assistant.
Ultimately, I recommend SEMrush for backlinks and competitor research in particular. It’s a powerful engine for ensuring you’re keeping up with (and outdoing) the Joneses.
SEMrush starts from $119.95/month for up to 5 projects and 1500 tracked keywords.
In the last 10 years, I’ve seen many SEO tools rise and fall. But these five have been the most helpful when talking to business owners and marketers needing to get started with SEO and generate returns as soon as possible.
- Keep an eye on your results with Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
- Get weekly check-ups and prioritized SEO to-do lists with SiteGuru.
- Optimize your content before hitting “Publish” with Yoast.
- Identify untapped keywords and rank faster with LowFruits.
- Monitor your backlinks and discover your competition’s winning formula with SEMrush.
Ready to get started? Dive in, and get your first SiteGuru audit with a 14-day free trial!