Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.Selecting SEO software is not easy — it can be quite expensive, and you have to make sure a given tool will satisfy your business needs and provide you with complex, in-depth stats on how your and your competitor’s websites are performing.A good SEO software app should keep track of various metrics to cover all the complex Google algorithms.There are certain features you should pay more attention to than to the others.Specific metrics need to be included in an SEO report the app generates.
So, how do you pick a decent app? What features should it contain? Here’s a short guide on selecting your SEO software.
Related: 4 Steps to Harness the Full Power of SEO
Basic functionality Let’s go over the basic functionality of SEO tools.SEO software should streamline the process of gathering information on how customers and visitors reach your page.
So, a decent app will primarily need to focus on tracking various rankings and data assigned to your website, and then tell you what you need to do better to start gathering more traffic — this is called a website audit.
SEO tools will help you research better keywords, understand the SERPs better, and analyze the typical behavior of your website’s visitors.Good and modern SEO software should also be integrated with PPC analysis tools, allowing you to run better and more complex advertisement campaigns through a given search engine.
Price As mentioned before, proper SEO software can cost quite a lot .However, this is a necessity if you want to run a successful website.You can, however, lower the costs a bit by analyzing your needs.
If you decide that basic functionality is all that you need, you are pretty likely to find a decent tool that’s cheaper than $100-150 a month.If, however, you need something more, you should also be prepared to pay extra.
What are some key features an SEO tool should have? So now the most critical aspect: How do you tell a good SEO app from a bad app? You can do this, of course, by comparing the features both apps have.
But what features should a decent SEO tool absolutely have?
Rank trafficking This is an essential feature of any SEO app.
As its owner, you must understand how your website ranks in Google Search, what aspects need working on and how your site compares to its competition.What kind of data can rank trafficking give you? To name just a few, you can learn:
Is your rank increasing or decreasing?
What are the effects of your latest link-building campaign?
Are you using proper on-page optimization methods for your site to grow into something powerful?
Which pages of your website rank the best? Which pages rank the worst?
Are the keywords you choose successful in gaining new traffic?
A good SEO traffic rank can give you the answers to the most important questions you may have.
Remember, in most cases, you can analyze your entire website or just a selected page.
On-page auditing A good SEO tool will also give you the option to perform a full-scale site audit.You don’t just get the basic numbers and ranks for your website — the information you get is far more complex.
This is, of course, great, as it allows you to learn from your mistakes more effectively and introduce new solutions to combat any problems your site may have.You’ll get all the necessary details on what needs to be worked on.Is it the meta title? Description? Is the keyword density inappropriate? Perhaps you forgot to optimize the H1, H2, H3 headings? No matter the problem, a good auditor will help you identify the threat and make necessary changes.
On-page analysis tools crawl and analyze the entirety of your website, giving you an in-depth look at what is and what is not right.You should always try and use only the SEO apps that have in-built auditor tools.
Preferably, the number of pages and links that can be analyzed each month should be unlimited, but in many cases, you will have to settle for a more expensive monthly fee to achieve this.
Related: Everything You Need to Know About Collecting SEO Data
Keyword research It’s not a secret that the keywords you pick might make or break your website.
Luckily, most SEO apps — even in their basic packages — will help you with proper research before deciding which keywords to use.A high-quality keyword might do wonders for driving the traffic organically through search engines and a good SEO tool will analyze what worked in other cases, check the trends and help you choose the best ones for your webpage.
Not only will a tool like that deliver you the suggested keyword, but it will also offer a variety of data and stats, such as:
How many times has the term been searched on Google in the last few weeks
Cost per click on Google Adwords
SEO competition for the chosen keyword based on Google’s organic search engine rankings
You should treat any statistic and data the tool offers you as very important.They will help you assess the potential of each separate keyword and choose the right ones to use in meta titles, descriptions and headings.Remember: The better the keywords, the better chance you will achieve a decent position on the search results.
Competition analysis tools A decent SEO solution should always offer you, at the very least, three separate tools which you can use to analyze how well your opponent’s webpage is doing.
These are backlink analysis, social media analysis and authority metrics.As you can tell, these tools have quite different roles, but they do, however, complement each other very well.
The backlink analysis tool will help you analyze the quality of your competitor’s backlinks (Do they link to reputable sources? How much traffic do they generate? Would it be worthwhile to use similar backlink strategies?)
Social media analysis tools will, in turn, provide you with information on your competitor’s activity on social media platforms and the engagements they receive (number of likes, retweets, comments, etc.) That way, you learn which topics your competitors cover through social media and how successfully they are doing it.You can, of course, use them to learn more about your webpage, too.
Finally, the authority metrics.A good SEO tool should allow you to view the domain authority and page authority of a given webpage.They describe the authority of a given site, and you can analyze the results for each page separately.
Domain and page authority inform you about your chances of appearing high on Google Search.You can treat these stats as a summary of your webpage’s health.You can also use them to find out which pages on your website require new, high-quality backlinks and which are in good shape.
Before you go straight for the most popular SEO tool at this moment, think carefully about what your SEO needs are.If you’re looking to better your content, look for a tool that focuses on keyword research the most.Or, if your goal is to perform thorough SEO audits, check the tools that can assess your website and help you improve its technical health.Improving just one SEO aspect doesn’t mean that you don’t need to strengthen others.
But this also means that your business may benefit more from two or even three different SEO tools if just one isn’t cutting it.
Related: 7 Best SEO Tools to Help You Rank Higher in Google
Written By Nick Chernets Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor
Nick Chernets is the founder and CEO of DataForSEO, the leading provider of marketing data.While he’s passionate about data analysis and SEO, he also enjoys sharing the experience from the business side of the industry..