Are SEO Tools Worth It?
In this post I show some SEO Tools that are worth paying for because they pay for themselves in improved rankings.
Some Are, Some Aren't
If you’re researching whether it’s worth paying for an SEO Tool you’ve probably read a few articles by now and managed to come across this one. The fact that you’ve found this one is in itself a testament to the power of some SEO Tools. You’ll also likely be confused because some pages tell you SEO Tools are absolutely worth it, while others say that SEO Tools just are not worth it at all.
The question perhaps should be “Are ALL SEO Tools worth it?”. Well, then the answer is almost certainly no. Not all SEO Tools are worth paying for. But some SEO Tools definitely are. In this post I’m going to look at a couple of tools that I use that I pay for – and they have shown on a number of occasions that they’re worth it.
It May Depend On Your Targets
So, to clarify the reasons for the caveat. I’m just a hobbyist – SEO Tools like SEMRush and AHRefs have a fantastic reputation and many many people use them. Clearly for these people these tools are worth it, or they wouldn’t keep paying. But for someone who’s just starting out, or hasn’t got the budget, or is mostly a hobbyist (like me) who might one day hope it’ll pay the bills – then these big expensive platforms are simply not worth it.
If you’re looking to rank a competitive set of keywords for ecommerce, or making sure your business is ranked as close to the top of Google for the keywords and phrases that your customers are going to look for then these bigger players again, probably are worth it.
But for these, you’re also going to need to employ someone to drive them, and interpret the results they give you.
For Hobbyists and Startups On A Budget – Most SEO Tools Are NOT Worth It
SemRush and AHRefs are expensive. At time of writing SemRush is $119.95 per month ‘for newbies and small teams’. AHRefs is $99 per month. Additional taxes may apply (so in the UK that makes it $118.80).
This isn’t in most hobbyists ballpark budget at all. I could think of a lot of things I could better spend $120 a month on. Having articles written would be a good use of that money instead – and there’s free ways you can find out the best keywords to target to get your articles ranked (see the video from Shaun Marrs below).
Of course, finding things to rank for isn’t the only thing that SEO Tools can do. And one of the biggest things that’s important to keep track of is how those pages are ranking for your target keywords and how this compares to your competitors.
SERanking IS Worth It
On its pricing page, SERanking.com positions itself as a keyword ranking tracker as opposed to a full blown SEO Tool. But it might need to brush up that position a little bit because it’s so much more than just a rank tracker. I use this tool myself for various sites.
Pricing for SERanking.com starts, at the time of writing, at $29.40 per month. This is a substantial saving over SEMRush or AHRefs.
I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail about what SERanking offers and how I use it – I’ve already done that in this post about how I use SERanking.
SERanking for Tracking Keyword Ranking
But it’s worth pointing out that one of the things that SERanking does best is giving you an overview of how your content is ranking over time. It’ll give you a report once a day, every three days, or once a week depending on how much you pay. I choose once a week because I don’t need to know on a daily basis for my sites. Not only that, but once a week is significantly cheaper 🙂
It’s important to note that even on the most basic plan, you can track (and find keywords, backlinks, social media etc) up to five websites, with 250 keywords.
This keyword tracking capability comes with a couple of important features and reasons why it’s a good idea to do. Primarily, this tool gives you a week by week overview of how your website is trending. You can see if you’re dropping in the rankings and do something about it.
Data is key with SEO. If you don’t have the data you’re floundering in the dark. SERanking gives you the data you need to be able to see how you’re trending. But importantly it also shows you which pages are ranking for that page.
Reduce Keyword Cannibalization with SERanking
This can significantly help you reduce keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is where you’ve written multiple articles, probably about similar topics (but perhaps from a different angle) and you’re trying to rank one particular article for certain phrases. But, you find, that Google sees various other posts you’ve made with those phrases in them too – and it sometimes ranks the wrong one.
SERanking allows you to see this happening, because it’ll show you all the pages that rank for that phrase over the course of time. A key phrase that has multiple pages ranking (and often switching around) is a victim of keyword cannibalization, as shown in the picture below;
You can see that Google has had trouble deciding which page should rank. All of them are present on the website and Google flips between each one on occasion. In fact, the keyphrase that is being monitored here should show the bottom post which Google eventually decided to rank on the 18th Feb (even though it was written a year previously!)
This results in ALL of these pages ranking poorly for that phrase. Given that the search volume estimate for this is over 12000 per month, this is something you don’t want happening.
With SERanking you can find things like this and adjust your content appropriately so that the correct page ranks for the correct keyphrases.
A more plain example is shown below. The initial page that Google found and ranked for was completely irrelevant. Somehow Google thought it was relevant and ranked it, but it never actually answered the question. The question was relating to bathing – not misting. (I’m not going to give the actual keyword because otherwise I might end up cannibalizing it from here!)
And that’s the important thing when considering ranking on Google. Answer the question.
Tracking Website Changes By Adding Notes
Another thing I’ve found over the course of the past few years that is supremely frustrating is that it can often be difficult to know which changes have affected your rankings – whether good or bad.
It’s generally a pretty good rule of thumb to try to change only one thing at a time when dealing with anything related to computers. That way, if it breaks shortly afterwards you can be fairly certain it was the last change that caused it. Although computers have a habit of making that statement false on occasion, it does help, a bit.
This can be even more frustrating with SEO because a change you made might take 6 or more weeks to actually filter through into a change in the rankings. And even then, it might be something completely out of your control – such as a competitor updated their page, or a Google algorithm update.
With SERanking you can add notes to your keywords though. So if you’re tracking some key phrase and the page you’re hoping to rank isn’t doing well you can make some changes to it to help. Then, drop a note onto the keyword on SERanking and you’ll be able to see if it helps.
And as I write this article I spot a problem on one of the pages on my other site – which I’ve now just fixed and added a note. I’ll update this post if it makes a difference to the ranking 🙂
Keyword Research Tools – Are They Worth It?
So, SERanking does allow you to do comprehensive keyword research but I don’t use it much myself. For me, I’m targeting very low competition, low volume keywords to produce content that I can rank quickly. This is because my sites are primarily blogging sites in nature – they’re not promoting a particular company but instead are trying to provide information (most useful information hopefully).
If you’re running SEO for a business whose keyword requirements are fairly well set in stone purely by the nature of the business, then SERanking can help you with the keyword research too.
But the tool I use for finding low volume (usually) low competition key phrases is LowFruits.io. Run by a chap called Paul, LowFruits performs the hard work I used to do manually using Google – which I learned from Shaun Marrs on YouTube. The video below shows you how he does it manually.
Now – the method above is still valid, particularly if you have literally zero budget. But if you don’t want to spend this much time, the LowFruits.io does all this heavy lifting for you, by finding low competition keywords for you.
Once you’ve found the low volume keywords you can decide whether you want to write posts for those.
LowFruits Charging Method
LowFruits have 2 methods for paying for your research. They have a subscription plan at $29.90 per month which gives you 3000 credits per month and some other features. I don’t subscribe though. I just buy credits when I need them.
The beauty of LowFruits is that it will find all the various possibilities of keywords that people are searching for free. But you won’t get any volume or competition statistics on the free analysis. This might be all you need – if you don’t mind analysing the search volume and competition manually. But if you want to know how many searches and the likelihood of being able to outrank then each keyword you want to analyse will cost you 1 credit.
So, you can analyse which key phrases you think you can write for by ticking the box next to the keyphrase and then telling LowFruits to do the analysis. This means you’re not wasting credits on phrases you know you won’t be able to actually write about.
Summary of Are SEO Tools Worth It
If you’re a big business and each potential visit to your pages could convert into a paying customer with 100’s or 1000’s of dollars of profit, then of course $100 per month isn’t a big deal. And the bigger SEO tools players, such as Semrush or AHRefs are absolutely worth it.
But in my experience over the past few years, SERanking is absolutely worth it for the part time blogger or someone just starting. It’s low entry price, with ability to grow as you grow, allows you to choose the budget to match your requirements. The ability to track how your pages are doing, and see if any are keyword cannibalizing each other, along with the other features it provides are absolutely worth it.
In this post I haven’t mentioned the SEO Website Audit feature of SERanking, or some of the other reasons why I believe that SERanking is the best Semrush alternative at a much lower price point.
There’s so much to SERanking for such a small monthly price that it’s absolutely worth paying for if you’re in any way serious about your website career. Coupled up with LowFruits.io you can start to rank your website highly on the search engines with reduced effort. Some SEO Tools are definitely worth it. These two are. By the way – use our link to LowFruits.io to get 10% extra credits on your first purchase.
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Thanks for reading and good luck with your own SEO efforts!