Ever wondered which SEO tool is best? Today we’re gonna share some of the best SEO tools in 2022 that we use here at DigitalHacker. We’re also gonna do a bit of a shootout to see which of these SEO tools has the best data!
So SEO tools are really useful. Whilst no SEO tool is ever going to do your work for you. There are some really important tools to have in your toolbox as a digital marketer, which can help you get more data that you might not otherwise see, and also do a lot of competitor snooping things like identifying which pages on your website are broken but also having a look at what your competitors are doing, how they’re building links, what sorts of content is performing best for them.
So whether you’re unloading your own website to see what sorts of errors might be holding your ranking back or whether you’re doing a little bit of competitive snooping and identifying what that link strategy is, or how they’re using content to generate traffic, some of the tools that we’re gonna be looking at today can give you immense input, and show you a whole bunch of stuff that would take years to dig out otherwise.
So first up, let’s look at some of the free SEO tools that pretty much every SEO or digital marketer needs in their toolbox.
#1. Screaming Frog
First up, Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog is great for analysing your website and finding technical SEO tweaks to make to improve your ranking. It’s a great tool for performing site audits to tell us the sort of pages that might have issues with meta or pages being indexed that shouldn’t be.
The next free SEO tool is Moz Domain Analysis. Now this is a great way to get a free, fast overview of any particular websites or authority. Moz DA is pretty much industry standard recognition of a site or authority, now that Google has removed its page rank number from the toolbar. And whilst it’s imperfect, Moz DA is a very useful shortcut to understand how authoritative a site is in relation to other sites. Although, the data that they give is much more limited than some of the other tools that we’ll be looking at. If you just need a quick overview of how authoritative your site is or a competitor site, or you want to analyse how authoritative a publication might be, Moz DA is a pretty good place to start.
#3. Google Search Console
The next tool which is an absolute must have for every digital marketer and business owner is a Google Search Console. Now GSC has become way more useful for SEO over the last few years. And it has one massive advantage over the other tools that we talk about today. And that’s the data Google Search Console gives you. Their data that comes directly from Google, i.e. first party data. That’s great because it’s accurate. Whereas some of the other tools that we’re looking at today, they are guesstimate data. Projections based on a small sample size or crawling or scraping or taking data from looking at how people are using websites.When you go into GSC, that data is gonna be as close as Google can provide. So you can pretty much rely on things like impressions and the number of clicks your site’s getting, as being accurate.
Or you can use GSC to see all sorts of useful things. Like how many times your site is showing up in search? How many clicks it’s getting, and also the keywords that are driving clicks too. And you’ve got the really useful kind of basic stuff such as, how is Google able to crawl your site? How’s Google processing any schema on your site? And also are there any mobile issues? And to help you sleep extra well at night GSC also allows you to find out if Google thinks your website has been hacked.
#4. SEO super tools
So the tools we’ve shared about are great as the basics. They’re really useful if you wanna analyse your own site in depth or analyse your competitors, but at a very surface level. What if you wanna take things up a notch? If you wanna find new opportunities, analyse different types of keywords? Or most importantly, research on your competitors, so you can adapt their best ideas?
It’s time to take a look at SEO super tools. The SEO super tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, SpyFu, Serpstat, claim to do all sorts of things. From showing you how much traffic each page is getting and from which keyword, tracking that and your ranking from different devices and different locations over time.
Do you absolutely need SEO super tools?
A lot of people understandably get really obsessed about finding out how much traffic their competitor sites are getting, which leads us into this topic of data. Generally speaking, we actually have two types of data: measured data and what we call, guesstimate data. So measured data is the stuff that is reported by the organisation or the tool that it is measured from. As we’ve seen, GSC is a great SEO tool if you want to use measured data. But the trouble is if you’re basing all of your SEO work on only GSC, your competitors aren’t gonna give you access to their GSC. So you can’t see which pages are performing the best or build a content strategy to get ahead of them.
So if you really wanna do some snooping around, you’re gonna have to use one of these SEO super tools. These tools obviously lead to the question, how accurate is the data? What you don’t wanna do is build an entire SEO strategy around the data only to find that it’s completely inaccurate. And worse, the strategies that you thought were working really well for your competitors, are actually doing absolutely nothing for them! So to find out which of these super tools has the most accurate data, we did a little test to find out. We decided to have each tool tell us how much traffic they thought five different websites were getting from organic search.
We chose these five sites based on a couple of different factors. Firstly, we wanted to choose a mixture sites from US, Asia and UK. And then secondly we wanted to choose sites with different amounts of traffic. Some of the sites that we’re gonna be looking at are much newer, so they have lower traffic volume. Some of them are more established and have larger traffic volume. Now all of these fit into the smaller, medium-sized business category. We’re not looking at sites like Facebook because most folks here considering these tools are in the smaller, medium-sized business category. So whilst it’s much easier to have accurate estimate data for huge massive sites, we wanted to focus this test on smaller sites.
Before we get into the test we want to talk about how these SEO tools are getting to their data. Answering a question like “How much organic traffic X website gets” might seem really straightforward, but actually it’s really not. In order to make an estimate of how much organic traffic a website is going to get, the first thing these tools need to do is measure the search results for a huge number of different keywords. Then the tools need to estimate how many times each of these keywords is being searched per month in each of the locations. And then they need to estimate what percentage of those searches are clicking on that website, based on its ranking for those keywords.
So in order to give accurate data, these tools need to measure a huge number of keywords. They need to track the positions accurately for the ranking of each of these keywords. They need to know approximately how many people are searching for each of these terms every month. And then they need to be able to work out how much of that search traffic each of these sites is getting based on its position.
So we’ve really got these four metrics which are then multiplied together and give us an output which is how much organic traffic a site is getting. So whilst on the surface, it might seem like a really basic simple question this test is great because it actually multiplies so many of these different estimates together. And any inaccuracy obviously is gonna be multiplied out and can give wildly different results (which, by the way, is exactly what we got!)
The first slope we measured actually got 3,422 monthly organic visits. SEMrush estimated 5,100, Ahrefs estimated 2,700, Serpstat measured 31,600. While SpyFu estimated 124,000, which is out by a factor of about 40.
The next site, the real organic traffic was about 223,000 a month. SEMrush estimated 259,000 Ahrefs estimated 136,000, Serpstat estimated 1.4 million and SpyFu 140,000. Again, we can see how the difference between the closest and the furthest off is just insane. We’ve literally got these tools for the same site estimating differently by a factor of ten!
Third site in our test got around 7,000 monthly visits from organic search, so much estimated about 12,000, Ahrefs estimated about 5,000 Serpstat again, way off with 136,000 and SpyFu was 67,000.
The fourth site in the test was around 13,700. SEMrush estimated 27,000, Ahrefs estimated 27,700. Serpstat estimated at 218,000, and SpyFu estimated 1.15 million.
The final site on our list had around 5,000 monthlies. SEMrush estimated 2,908, Ahrefs estimated 1,500, Serpstat 33,000 and SpyFu 38,500.
So in order to score these results, and announce our overall winner to our little tests that we decided to award three points, to the tool that was closest, two points to the tool that was second closest, one point to the tool that was a third closest and zero points to the tool that was furthest away from the real data.
In last place came SpyFu with only two points out of a possible 15. I mean, if you had some ridiculously inaccurate data and it wasn’t consistently over or under, we’d be pretty cautious about even using it to compare different sites. Because it doesn’t seem to be consistently wrong. It just seems to be very wrong in many ways!
And third place, Serpstat with three points out of a possible 15. Again, a bit like SpyFu, there was some really inaccurate stuff here. You know, any tool that gets things wrong by an order of magnitude would be quite difficult to trust.
In second place, Ahrefs with seven points out of a possible 15. Pretty impressed with Ahrefs – the data seemed to be broadly pretty good.
And first place, with 11 points out of a possible 15, SEMrush. And this is kind of why we use SEMrush as our primary SEO tool here inside Digital Hacker. Not only has it performed best in our little test here, we also find the functionality awesome. It also tends to blow everything outside of the water with search volumes and trending keywords for example. So things that see a large spike in keyword search volume, this can be useful for seasonality, for promotional stuff, or if you’re trying to piggyback on a trend. SEMrush tends to give the best data for those sorts of keywords. So we award SEMrush the overall best data, and definitely one of the best SEO tools in 2022!
To end off, remember to always take guesstimate data with a pinch of salt. We use and love them so much because it gives us loads of different tools. From helping us find blog posts and content that’s ranking best for competitors, to finding related keywords and researching competitors’ paid ad traffic. Even though we love it, and the data’s pretty good, we would never trust the data as gospel. It’s not measured data that comes directly from the source. It’s all susceptible to things like seasonal changes, growth, or drops over time. And basically extrapolating from lots of low volume searches, what traffic might be. It’s really difficult to estimate the organic traffic to a site that’s only getting 3000 visits a month.
Now of course, most of these tools performed better for high traffic, high volume keywords. But many of the businesses using them are not huge corporations, they are smaller medium sized businesses that wanna make strategic decisions based on the data inside them. So out of the hundreds, if not thousands of SEO tools, this is what we think are the best SEO tools in 2022!