Whether you are part of a huge digital agency, or just starting up your own SEO agency or freelance business – having the right SEO tools and software can make all the difference.
As the digital landscape constantly evolves, so too do the tools designed to help navigate it. But with such an abundance of SEO tools out there, how do you know which one your agency needs?
I’ve put together this detailed guide to help you find the right tool for your agency’s needs – split into free SEO tools, all-in-one tools that do a bit of everything, specialist technical SEO tools, keyword research tools and link building tools.
So, whether you're on the lookout for a robust all-in-one platform or niche software to refine a specific part of your strategy, I’ve got you covered.
Why SEO agencies need tools and specialist software
In the competitive world of digital marketing, standing out often depends on having an edge. For many SEO agencies, that edge is derived from the use of specialised tools and software.
Tools provide access to specialist data
At the heart of every effective SEO strategy lies data-driven decision-making. Agencies require accurate and up-to-date information to tailor their approaches for individual clients.
Specialist SEO tools offer access to granular data about keywords, backlinks, search trends and much more. This ensures that agencies aren't just working based on gut feelings but are making informed decisions backed by concrete data, leading to more effective and tailored strategies for their clients.
Tools can help with automation and streamlining processes
Specialist SEO software can automate a lot of the time-consuming and repetitive tasks that SEO agency workers have to do every day.
From tracking keyword rankings to generating reports, automation ensures that processes are streamlined. This not only bolsters productivity but also significantly reduces operating costs. When agencies can accomplish more in less time and with fewer resources, it directly contributes to enhanced profitability.
What agencies need to consider when choosing a tool
Before you commit to a new tool for your digital agency, there are a couple of things you need to consider first to make sure you get the right tool for your needs:
The initial cost of the tool – and the different pricing levels
Every agency operates within a budget, making cost a significant factor when choosing the right tools. While many tools seem affordable initially, it's essential to be wary of hidden costs. Some tools operate on a scaling pricing model, meaning the more you use them, the steeper the price becomes.
This can be particularly challenging for growing agencies that might see their tool expenses skyrocketing unexpectedly. Therefore it's crucial to read the fine print, understand the pricing structure and forecast potential future costs before committing.
Specialist or ‘all-in-one’ tools?
While all-in-one SEO tools can offer a range of features, there might be occasions when their functionalities in certain areas are not as in-depth or advanced as those of the more specialist tools.
For instance, an all-in-one tool might offer a basic site crawling feature, but it might not be as detailed or versatile as a dedicated crawler like Screaming Frog.
Agencies need to evaluate their unique needs. If you frequently require in-depth analysis in a specific area, investing in a specialist tool might be more cost-effective in the long run. On the other hand, if a general overview suffices for most tasks, an all-in-one tool might be the better choice.
Free SEO tools for agencies
Free tools are always the best place to start! Whether you’re an established SEO agency or just starting out as a freelancer, you’ll find there’s plenty of free tools to use that can help you develop SEO strategies, audit websites, carry out keyword research and lots more.
Here’s our rundown of the best free SEO tools for digital agencies:
Google Search Console
All digital agencies should have a Google Search Console account and be added to their clients’ accounts.
This free tool allows you to view a wide range of SEO metrics like clicks, impressions and average ranking position. It also has features to monitor site health, find and fix crawl errors, submit URLs to Google’s index, submit XML Sitemaps to Google, test mobile usability and much more.
Find out more: https://search.google.com/search-console/about
As well as Google Search Console, Google Analytics it’s a must for agencies that have multiple client websites to keep track of.
This free tool has long been the standard for web analytics, so it is likely your agency is already using it.
However, if you’re struggling to get on with the new ‘GA4’ update, you can see my list of The 18 Best Alternatives To Google Analytics (GA4).
If you want a quick snapshot of how popular a particular topic or keyword is in Google, then Google Trends is a great free tool.
Use it as a keyword research aid to check how often different keywords are searched for, see whether a certain topic is trending up or down and review the seasonality of keywords.
It’s also a great tool to keep an eye on the top trending topics to help you plan your content around popular subject.
Find out more: https://trends.google.com/trends/
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
This popular crawling tool enables you to crawl any website and identify issues like 404 pages and duplicate content.
You can also use it to check on-page elements like title tags, meta description tags, H1 tags and more – so is great for seeing all of this all in one place.
Carrying out detailed audits of websites can be time-consuming, especially if your agency has a lot of clients with websites that need regular maintenance, so Screaming Frog is a great timesaver.
The free version allows you to crawl up to 500 pages, so if you work on websites with more pages you will need the paid version.
Read our independent Screaming Frog SEO Spider review.
Another free Google tool, PageSpeed Insights provides detailed and actionable advice on how to speed up the download speed of your web pages.
It offers a good visualisation of the current PageSpeed score along with tips on how to improve it – so it is great for adding to your reports and audits.
The tool only works with one URL at a time, so it can be time-consuming to check a lot of pages, but as a ‘quick hit’ tool to give you an idea of what to improve, the PageSpeed Insights tool is hard to beat.
Find out more: https://pagespeed.web.dev/
Answer The Public
One of the most popular free keyword research tools, Answer The Public provides you with all the questions people ask search engines based on your ‘seed’ keyword.
After entering your keyword – which the tool suggests should be a “topic, brand or product” – it will generate the most common questions that include that keyword.
This can be a great source of ideas for your content plan to ensure your website is covering all of the topics related to your niche.
The free version of the tool allows you to run 3 searches per day, so if you need more than that you will have to take up a paid plan.
Find out more: https://answerthepublic.com/
All-in-one SEO tools for agencies
‘All-in-one’, or ‘multi-purpose’ SEO tools do a bit of everything – so they are perfect for digital agencies who have a lot of clients that may need different levels of data and reporting on different aspects of SEO.
Having a robust tool that can track ranking positions, audit websites, do keyword research, analyse link profiles and more can be invaluable to a busy agency.
We’ve listed the top 5 below, but for more see our full list of The Best All In One SEO Tools.
Ahrefs is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market, and is great for agencies who need a tool to do a little bit of everything.
You can use Ahrefs for keyword research, rank tracking, link analysis, site audits and a lot more, which can all be done direct from the browser. It also has a great browser extension so you can carry out quick SEO reviews and check keyword volumes as your browse.
It’s not the cheapest tool, especially if you want to use it to its full potential across a lot of client accounts, but it is one of the most feature-rich and easiest to use of the ‘big’ all-in-one SEO tools.
Read our full Ahrefs review.
Not far behind Ahrefs in the ‘feature-rich’ and ‘easy-to-use’ stakes is Semrush, which is another great option for digital agencies looking for a trusted SEO tool that can handle a lot of the day-to-day research and reporting on SEO clients.
It has all the features you’d expect from a multi-purpose SEO tool – keyword research, backlink analysis, competitor analysis, rank tracking etc. You can also use it to help create optimised content, improve Local SEO rankings and even post on social media.
Read our full Semrush review.
Another SEO tool with lots of useful features for an agency is SEO Monitor, which can be used to carry out rank tracking for all of your SEO clients, keyword research and detailed keyword gap analysis, detailed content audits and high level reporting.
You can also use it to forecast SEO results and get actionable recommendations to improve the potential results of your SEO campaigns.
Read our full SEO Monitor review.
It may have fallen behind its rivals Ahrefs and Semrush in recent years, but Moz still offers a comprehensive suite of tools and features for agencies to better manage and work on their SEO clients.
The full Moz Pro toolset is great in terms of doing the basics of keyword research, rank tracking, website crawling, link building and so on. What really sets Moz apart though is the free tools it offers – including the free Domain Analysis, Keyword Explorer and Link Explorer tools that can be great way to get started.
It also has the fantastic MozBar browser extension, which provides the top SEO metrics for free while you browse.
Read our full Moz review.
SEO Tools For Excel
You probably use Microsoft Excel a lot while you work on your SEO clients – from reviewing lists of keywords or links to organising a full website architecture.
SEO Tools For Excel is an add-on to Excel which provides various functions that can help you carry out in-depth SEO analysis using data from other sources, without ever leaving Excel.
If you integrate it with other services and use the right connectors, you can basically create your own website crawler and analyser directly in Excel.
Read our full SEO Tools For Excel review.
Technical SEO tools for agencies
If you have SEO clients then you almost certainly need a tool that can crawl websites and provide recommendations on improving technical SEO aspects.
For many agencies, the crawling, auditing and monitoring features offered by all-in-one SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush might be enough. However, if you want to go deeper into the world of technical SEO for your clients then you will need a specialist tool like the ones listed below.
For a more complete list, see our Best Technical SEO Tools.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider tool has become synonymous with Technical SEO and is probably the most popular website crawling tool.
It is very easy to use and agencies can get started with it for free, as long as the websites they are crawling are less than 500 pages.
The tool provides actionable insights for both small and large websites, with everything from title tags to 404 pages and duplicate content issues covered in the crawl data.
Read our full Screaming Frog SEO Spider review.
GTmetrix is a free website performance testing and monitoring platform you can use to see how your client’s websites perform.
It is used primarily as a tool to test the page download speed and to identify any issues that may be causing pages to load slowly.
The free plan is usually OK for any sporadic testing you need to do. However, if you want to regularly monitor your client’s websites then the paid plans provide access to more tests and features.
Find out more about GTmetrix here.
Formerly known as DeepCrawl, Lumar is a feature-rich ‘website intelligence’ platform with a comprehensive suite of technical SEO & website health analytics tools.
It is designed to track, monitor and analyse large websites – so is ideal if your SEO agency has some big clients who need a Technical SEO solution capable of processing all of their pages.
Lumar also boasts the “fastest website crawler on the market”, with crawl speeds of up to 450 URLs per second – which can make all the difference if your client’s have websites with 100,000 pages or more!
Read our full Lumar review.
OnCrawl is another popular crawling tool that provides actionable tips and insights on websites to help you increase their ranking potential.
Oncrawl’s easy to use SEO crawler monitors the indexability of your content on a daily basis.
You can use the insights provided by the crawler to improve the quality of your content – analysing for uniqueness and richness as well as highlighting duplicate content.
The crawler also provides information on page load speed across your site, helping you deliver the best user experience.
Read our full OnCrawl review.
Little Warden is a life saver for digital agencies that have a lot of websites to monitor for errors and downtime.
It can be used to monitor all of your websites and send notifications if anything changes – so you can be proactive with fixing issues before they become a big issue.
Little Warden looks out for over 30 changes e.g. from SSL certificates dropping to title tag changes, 404 pages and other server response codes.
Read our full Little Warden review.
Keyword research tools for agencies
For many agencies, the keyword research features in all-in-one SEO tools like Semrush and Ahrefs are more than enough to cover the needs of their clients. These tools can provide keyword ideas, search volumes, keyword difficulty scores and much more, so there’s no need to go looking for more keyword tools.
However, as keyword research is such an integral part of SEO, it can sometimes pay to go the extra mile and use a more specialist keyword tool to get better results for your clients.
We’ve listed our pick of the best specialist keyword tools for agencies below. For more, see our full list of The Best Keyword Research Tools.
This tool helps you find profitable keywords in any niche – so is great for identifying the ‘low hanging fruits’ that can make all the difference for your clients.
It’s a very quick and easy tool to use, but is also very powerful when it comes to finding long-tail keywords using a range of different API’s so all bases are covered.
You also get a 7-day free trial to try it out and see if it’s a good fit for your agency.
Read our full SECockpit review.
Soovle works by auto-generating keyword ideas from a range of different search engines, giving you a wide range of keywords and topics to help you build your optimisation campaigns.
All you need to do is input a ‘seed’ keyword and it will generate search suggestions from Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, Amazon and Wikipedia.
You can also add your own logo to the reports so you can ‘white label’ it for your clients.
There may be better looking and more feature-rich tools on this list, but as free keyword research tools go this one is a great place for agencies to start.
Give Soovle a try here.
This is another great free tool to help you get started with keyword research.
It uses the autocomplete function from a range of different search engines to give you some great suggestions for keywords to optimise your content for. You can get keyword ideas from Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, Ebay and Etsy as well as from social networks such as Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest.
You get up to 750+ long-tail keyword suggestions for every search term you input with the free version, and can get even more keyword ideas with the paid ‘Pro’ version.
Find out more about KeywordTool.io.
Long Tail Pro
Long Tail Pro is one of the most popular specialist keyword tool and sells itself as “the best keyword research tool for long-tail keywords”.
You can use it to quickly find the most profitable keywords for your clients and analyse the SERPs to get a good idea on the level of competition for a given keyword. It also has a rank tracking feature to keep track of how your client’s websites are performing.
Read our full Long Tail Pro review.
Keywords Everywhere is a very popular browser extension that can overlay keyword data onto the website you are currently viewing.
The best way to use it is to search on Google so it can provide detailed data on search volumes, competition levels, cost-per-click estimates, trend data and more directly in your browser.
This can speed up your work when auditing client websites and developing SEO campaigns, as well as help with competitor research and market analysis.
Find out more about Keywords Everywhere.
Link building tools for agencies
Link building is one of the most difficult aspects of SEO, so it’s something that many of your clients will need your help with.
Reviewing competitor backlinks, identifying scalable link strategies and implementing long-term link building campaigns all require tools to help you crunch the data, analyse the numbers and plan your activity.
See our pick of the best tools for agencies below, for more see our full list of The Best Link Building Tools.
Buzzstream is still the go-to tool to organise all of your outreach activity for link building and online PR, and is ideal for agencies that have multiple different clients and different contact details and email addresses to manage for them all.
As well as managing your outreach campaigns, you can also use Buzzstream to research new outreach targets and create detailed reports to analyse your results.
Read our full Buzzstream review.
If your digital agency is serious about link building, then Majestic should be a consideration for your link analysis tool of choice.
It boasts the largest link index database available and can be used to do deep link profile analysis on your client’s domains and their competitors to identify all the links that are making a difference to their SEO performance.
Read our full Majestic review.
This tool helps you to quickly and easily find email addresses of your outreach targets. It also automatically verifies the email addresses so you can send your outreach emails with confidence that they are going to actual inboxes.
A large amount of time can be spent looking for the contact details of journalists, reporters and bloggers, so a tool like Hunter can be invaluable in saving you time and money when collating your outreach lists.
Find out more about Hunter.
Buzzsumo is a very useful toolbox for agencies running online PR and link building campaigns for their clients.
As well as managing your outreach efforts, you can also use Buzzsumo to identify the top-performing content in any niche to use as inspiration in your campaigns – as well as find the writers, influencers and journalists who might cover it.
Find out more about Buzzsumo.
One Hour Indexing
This is a very simple link building tool that can perform a very useful task for agencies. If you are working on big link building campaigns and want to make sure all of the links you have built to a client’s website are indexed immediately by Google, then simply upload the list of URLs to One Hour Indexing and the tool will get them indexed within the hour.
Read our full One Hour Indexing review.
About the Author
Luke Glassford is an SEO expert with over 15 years’ experience.
During his time working in SEO, Luke has set-up an SEO agency, worked as an in-house SEO for a major national company and managed his own successful SEO consultancy - using a lot of different SEO tools along the way!
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