In the world of SEO, there are dozens if not hundreds of tools available to us. The problem is that each tool offers a set of rudimentary features available across the board. The tools that are truly worth your time (and money) are the ones with truly stand-out features. The following are some of the best features of our favorite SEO tools that put them ahead of the pack.
Insightful PPC Research – Spyfu
Spyfu collects an impressive amount of data on websites running PPC campaigns. Some cool features include:
- Keyword data organized by potential ad groups
- Historical data on competitor ad copy, images, and more
- Insights into competitor PPC keyword targeting, bidding predictions, and more
- Keyword Kombat - a unique way to gain insights such as which keywords the competition is targeting that you are not
- Competitors list - uncover competitors that you never knew were in your vertical
Spyfu presents certain data using unique interactive visuals. The diagram above is interactive, allowing you to easily view filtered ppc keyword data, such as keywords that your competitors are targeting that you are not.
Advanced Keyword research through filters – SEMRush
SEMRush is yet another great SEO tool that gathers an absurd amount of data on websites ranking on search engines. Keyword research is all about focus. If you focus on too many broad keywords, you will never obtain any meaningful results. This is where SEMRush comes in. You can apply a variety of filters on your keyword lists to really focus in on what matters to your site. Here are a few cool filters:
- See which keywords your website has just fallen off the first page for. You can apply a filter for all ranking keywords where your position is between 11 and 20.
- Include or exclude brand keywords from your list
- Filter by keywords within a specific keyword difficulty range – find keywords with a large search volume and that are easier to rank for
- Find which keywords a specific URL (yours or competitor’s) ranks for
- Find long-tail keywords that are greater than a specific number of words
The image above showcases the power of SEMRush filters. In this instance, we select non-branded keywords with a volume greater than 200 searches per month where the website is on the second page. We then filter so that our ranking URL contains the keyword “breakfast”. Such a keyword list would better inform any strategy around ranking for more keywords relating to breakfast searches. Similar filtering can then be applied to competitors who are ranking well for such keywords to gain insights into their success.
SERP Features – Moz
SERP features have risen in prevalence in recent years. These features, ranging from image results to Adwords ads to featured snippets, can drastically improve your visibility (and click-through rate) on search engine results pages (SERPs). Moz does an excellent job of providing an overview of the most popular SERP features, how to show up in these features, and has a tool for tracking your and your competitor’s visibility within these features.
The image above shows SERP features that you appear in, as well as how many SERP features of that type appear across all of your tracked keywords. As you can see in this result, the vast majority of tracked keywords have some sort of video result. This could be a possible feature to pursue in the future.
In addition to this useful graph, the SERP Features section of Moz also contains a list breaking down keywords by SERP features, highlighting whenever you or your competitor appear.
In the image above, the website listed appears as a featured snippet for the keyword phrase “who awards the medal of honor.”
Competitor Research – Ahrefs
Ahrefs is one of the most comprehensive SEO tools out there. I want to focus on a few of my favorite areas of the site for gathering competitive data.
Top Pages Report
This handy report will generate a list of the top pages of any website and list each page’s ranking keywords.
This simple report is extremely powerful, and can help you quickly discover keywords the competition is targeting and ranking highly for.
The “Content Gap” report will list keywords that the competitor is ranking for that you are not. The real power of this tool is that you can easily enter and update lists by any number of competitor websites.
In the image above, we can see some of the keywords the competition is ranking for.
Backlink Data – Majestic
Majestic is well known for its comprehensive collection of website backlink data. Many of their tools present backlink information in insightful ways. The backlink profile graph packs a lot of useful data in a visual format.
Majestic uses the terms trust flow and citation flow to describe the quality of backlinks your website receives. A website with a high citation flow has a large amount of websites linking to it. A website with a high trust flow has many links from websites that are considered trustworthy. What makes a website trustworthy? Majestic defines a number of trusted “seed” sites. So, if your website receives a backlink from a trusted seed, its trust flow will be more than a website that receives a link from a site that is not a seed.
The link profile graph is easy to interpret. If your backlink profile tends to congregate around the bottom-right of the graph, then that is a good indicator of link manipulation. A website with a large citation flow with a low trust flow is probably engaging in black-hat SEO.
Majestic also gives detailed graphical reports on anchor text distribution, backlink breakdowns and more. You can use the tool to analyze your and your competitor’s backlink profiles to uncover many insights such as:
- Backlink acquisition techniques
- Possible causes of manual SEO penalties
- Most popular competitor anchor texts (a great sign of the keywords your competition is targeting)
- New and lost backlinks
If you are serious about link building, this definitely one tool to have under your belt.