Top 5 best SEO software for small businesses
In our opinion, the SEO space is full of tools that are unnecessary and, quite frankly, useless.
We've built and executed SEO strategies in 15+ industries and never really used more than five SEO tools, two of which are free.
So, in an effort to clear things up, we decided to write a guide talking about the only five SEO tools you'll need as a small business owner.
We hope this will be a nice contrast to the other articles on the internet that simply picked 30+ SEO tools at random, wrote a surface-level summary of each tool's product page, and spammed a bunch of affiliate links.
Instead, we actually use the tools we listed in this roundup, and below, we wanted to discuss how these tools help us drive conversions for our clients so you can do the same for your small business.
Who we are: We are a SaaS content marketing/SEO agency that reports on conversions and not vanity metrics like traffic and comments. We’ve run content marketing and SEO for companies like Mergify and VeryCreatives and generated new blog sign-ups after just a month and a half.
If you’re interested in learning more about our process, consider hopping on a call with us.
How we came up with this review
In the beginning of our careers, we used almost every SEO tool you can think of.
But we soon realized most of these tools aren't necessary. Many offered overlapping features, and we could easily continue doing what we were doing without them.
So we filtered these SEO tools down to a list of five. Our list of the five best SEO software for small businesses will allow you to cover all your SEO needs, which includes researching your target audience and competition, building SEO strategies, keeping track of your SEO performance, and optimizing your content for search engines:
- Ahrefs: For pulling SEO reports
- Google Analytics: For pulling user data
- Google Search Console: For pulling website data
- Clearscope: For optimizing articles for SEO
- Crazy Egg: For understanding user behaviors
We also feel it’s important to say that we aren't sponsored by any of these SEO tools. We won't add affiliate links to this article; we simply use them every day and they get the job done.
1. Ahrefs: For pulling SEO reports
If we could only use one of the paid tools on this list, we'd choose Ahrefs. Ahrefs is the foundation of our SEO process and we recommend using it as a small business owner because it gives you an in-depth overview of what your competitors are doing and what your audience is searching for.
You can type your website URL into Ahrefs and the tool will provide you with a range of statistics, such as:
- Monthly organic traffic
- Number of do-follow backlinks
- Average search position
- Organic keywords ranked for
- Top organic competitors
Keyword gap analysis
From here, you can do some keyword gap analysis by pulling the keywords that your top three competitors are ranking for into a spreadsheet and filtering out the keywords that you already rank for.
Next, sort these keywords from highest to lowest-buying intent. We suggest doing this for one simple reason: High-buying intent keywords convert better.
Using accounting software as an example, people searching for high-buying intent keywords like “best accounting software” are ready to buy. They don’t need nurturing. So by prioritizing these high-buying intent keywords, you can convert prospects quicker than if you went after low-buying intent keywords like “why is accounting software important?”
This results in a spreadsheet of high-buying intent keywords that you have the potential to rank for, which is the foundation of your conversion-based SEO strategy.
Competitor backlink analysis
In addition to creating SEO strategies, Ahrefs helps conduct backlink analysis of your competitors' websites and identify backlink-building opportunities.
To do this, head over to Site Explorer and enter your competitor’s website URL:
Navigate to their backlink profile and you’ll find all the websites linking to them.
Filter this report by volume so the websites linking to your competitors the most show up first.
With this list of websites, you can get the email addresses of the people in charge and reach out to them, asking if they are willing to partner and link back to your website.
So, as a small business owner, the first tool we recommend getting is Ahrefs. It's a well-rounded SEO tool that’s good at everything: keyword research, competitor research, backlink analysis, etc.
2. Google Analytics: For pulling user data
Google Analytics is another staple in our SEO process, and we like to get access to our client's Google Analytics account during our kickoff call.
If you haven't set up your Google Analytics yet, then do so immediately because it'll give you access to website statistics like how many page views you're getting, your bounce rate, the average time readers are spending on each page of your website, and more!
Set up conversion tracking inside Google Analytics
At SaaSpirin, we focus on driving conversions for our clients; we don't emphasize traffic and other vanity metrics. This is why we set up conversion tracking to understand how many readers signed up from blog posts.
If you want to do the same for your small business, we highly suggest tracking Google Analytics conversions.
Step 1: Log into your Google Analytics account and select admin in the bottom left-hand corner.
Step 2: Click on events.
Step 3: Click on create a new event.
Google Analytics will take you to a dashboard that looks something like this:
Step 4.1: Custom event name: This is the name you'll designate for your conversion event in step 7. We like to name this event "new_lead," but it doesn't really matter as long as it is the same name in step 7.
Step 4.2: Parameter: We use the parameter "page_location" because we want to track when someone lands on our thank you page after they've submitted our form.
Step 4.3: Operator: Select “Equals To” because you only want a conversion to count when someone lands on a specific URL.
Step 4.4: Value: This will be the URL that people will land on which will count as a conversion. For us, this is our thank you page.
Step 5: Once you've filled out this configuration form, save your new event, and mark the conversion toggle so it's on.
Step 6: Head to the property column on the left-hand side of your dashboard, select conversions, and create a new conversion event.
Step 7: Enter the exact name of the custom event name you used in step 3.1 and click “Save.”
Step 8: On the right-hand side of your new conversion event, ensure the toggle is on.
That’s it! You’ll now be able to see how many readers signed up for your product or service.
3. Google Search Console: For pulling website data
We also like to get access to a client’s Google Search Console account because combined with Google Analytics, it gives us a holistic view of what visitors are doing and how the site is performing.
So, as a small business owner, it's very important that you set up and link both your Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts.
Google Analytics vs. Google Search Console: What’s the difference?
People often get confused about the difference between Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
This is an excellent way to think about these tools: Google Analytics gives you information about your visitors (bounce rates, page views, average time on page, etc.), while Google Search Console provides insight into how your website is performing (average ranking position, keywords ranked for, backlinks, etc.)
Google Search Console reports you’ll use as a small business owner
Since Google Search Console has endless reports that we use daily, we can't talk about every single one of them. Instead, we listed the ones that you're most likely to use:
Performance report: Google Search Console's performance reports tell you everything you need to know about how your website is performing in search engines. This includes how your search traffic changed over time and what queries people are typing in before landing on your website.
Position: As the name suggests, this report shows what position you rank in Google for certain keywords.
Clicks: The click report shows how often someone has clicked on your website from Google and which pages they are clicking on the most.
Impressions: This figure refers to the number of searches who saw a link to your site on Google’s results page.
Click-Through Rate: Click-through rate measures the percentage of people who click on your page after seeing it on Google's results page.
Index Coverage Report: This report shows which webpages or URLs Google is indexing. This makes it important for small business owners because if Google isn't indexing your links, it won't appear in search engines.
Links Report: The last report we want to cover is the links report. This shows all the external links pointing to your website, as well as how your webpages are interlinked.
Combined with Google Analytics reports, Google Search Console allows you to see how your website is performing in search engines and how your visitors are interacting with your content.
4. Clearscope: For optimizing articles for SEO
Before we publish articles on our clients' websites, we'll paste them into Clearscope to optimize them for SEO.
In our experience, Clearscope is the best content optimization tool, so if you want to increase the likelihood of your content ranking on the first page of Google, we suggest pasting it into Clearscope before publishing.
Clearscope’s keyword discovery reports
The feature we use most frequently inside Clearscope is the keyword discovery reports. These reports give your content a grade from A++ to F, and the better your score is, the more likely your content is to rank.
For example, let's say you’re writing an article targeting the keyword "best letter writing app." You can type “best letter writing app” into Clearscope and it’ll scan all the articles on the internet targeting this keyword. It'll then come up with a bunch of related keywords you need to add to outrank the articles on Google’s first page.
It'll also provide the frequency at which these keywords need to appear and how long your article needs to be. The more Clearscope keywords you add to your content, the higher your content score will be.
Optimizing your articles for search is really important as a small business owner because your website probably doesn’t have a high authority rating in the eyes of Google. So by optimizing your articles inside Clearscope, you give yourself the best shot at outranking higher authority websites.
5. Crazy Egg: For understanding user behaviors
Although Crazy Egg isn't an SEO tool per se, the snapshot reports allow us to see how visitors interact with our articles so we can tailor them around these behaviors.
This helps us lower bounce rates, increase time spent on page, and ultimately, improve the user experience. And since user experience is a major ranking factor, this helps our content rank higher.
So, if you're publishing content as a small business owner and you want to gain insight into how users are interacting with your content, we'd highly recommend Crazy Egg.
The two Crazy Egg reports that we use the most here at SaaSpirin include:
- Scroll maps
Crazy Egg’s heat map shows you where users are clicking on your page, giving you an idea of which areas of your website/content are receiving the most attention. The brighter the heatmap, the more visitors that clicked on it.
So, for example, if your heatmap shows that visitors are clicking on a phrase in your introduction like “more conversions,” but there isn’t a link there, it might be a good idea to attach a link to this phrase that points to another article on your website talking about how to boost conversions.
Scrollmaps show you how far visitors scrolled down your page before bouncing. This can help you put important information like CTAs in areas that get the most attention.
Here's an example of how these scrollmaps helped us boost conversions: When we first started content marketing, we weren't achieving our conversion goals. When we signed up for CrazyEgg, the scrollmap showed that nobody was reaching the bottom of our articles, which is where our CTAs were.
And this is the reality of blog writing. Most people don't really reach the bottom of articles. So we put another CTA at the end of our introductions and this allowed us to convert readers more easily; they didn’t have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the article to sign up.
Our list of the best SEO software for small businesses will cover all your SEO bases.
Ahrefs pulls a wide variety of SEO reports; Google Analytics gives you insight into user data; Google Search Console helps understand how your website is performing in search engines; Clearscope optimizes your articles for SEO; Crazy Egg allows you to see what your users are clicking on and how far they are scrolling.
If you’re interested in outsourcing this entire SEO process to an agency that can reliably bring in conversions, consider booking a quick call with us.