Accuracy: one little secret about SEO tools is that you can’t get accuracy unless you do it yourself – so I built one myself – SearchStation Local Search Rank Tracking and Reporting. Its great if you need accuracy. Believe it or not, I hear someone saying “I use Google Search Console for that”. Read about your accurate search rank reporting from GSC here.
Search Rank Analysis and Backlink Analysis: Those are the 2 types of tools I need to make my Internet Marketing life easier. The rest of SEO research and analysis can be done with 5×2 fingers, 2 eyeballs, 1 brain.
Keyword Research, like many things in SEO is just hard work. There are no short-cuts here. One has to think about keywords, not get them thrown at you in huge quantities by a computer. I got news! Complexity is not efficient, even if you think its sexy. There are lots of SEO tools that generate huge list of 10,000 keywords, 99% of which are useless. Beginners like these tools because it seems sophisticated and makes them look BIG. These absolutely useless keywords are usually generated by “an algorithm”. Come’on, if you are gonna go there, give me a reason to trust that your keyword tool is going to save me time and make my life easier. Explain your algo please!
More Sizzle than Steak a.k.a. more Pretty Reports than functionality. Unfortunately most SEO tools put too much emphasis on re-reporting. Hey your tool might do “something”, but most of it is just repackaged Google Analytics and Google Search Console data. So it takes numbers supplied by Google’s API and draws a graph! Whoopie! Pretty reports signal something may be something missing. I use “pretty” as an indication that perhaps there not much “substance” to these offerings.
Usability and Learning Curve: so if a tool does something useful, now its a matter of how nicely it integrates tasks and how easy it is to use. Learning curve is a significant issue with SEO tools.
There should be ONLY ONE, but there is no single SEO tool that does everything. Some of the SEO tools that do one thing extraordinarily well, make other tasks difficult enough to kind-of-stop-using-them-after-a-while. Take finding competition. Most are piss-poor at finding and adding competition to the reporting. Why am I doing all this work again? Ahhh…because competition is just not that important! No! It should be the most important function of any SEO tool.
Finally, I would fail not to mention on-site analysis (on-page SEO analysis). They are like belly-buttons, everyone has one. Everybody has a stupid SEO tool that scrapes your homepage and tells you how many Alt tags are empty, blah, blah , blah, (if you provide your email address).
There! I’m done ranting.