SEO work is a never-ending rabbit hole for agencies. There are so many stats and numbers that — let’s face it — result in you making an educated guess on what might work.
Plus, you spend so much on tools and invest so much time that it’s hard to imagine being able to charge your client for all the effort. You need to be able to work quickly, invest sparingly in tools, and still manage to get results.
That’s why I created this short list of the absolute essential tools that I use in my agency. You don’t need dozens of tools to do good work — you just need a handful of tools for specific purposes that you can learn to use quickly.
These tools will give you the information you need to make decisions while spending the fewest mental calories possible.
4 SEO Tools for Agencies
Note: This is NOT a generic roundup of SEO tools. These are tools that I consider critical for SEO work like identifying technical problems, researching keywords for new content, and avoiding being “Google-slapped” in an algorithm update.
Tool #1. Sitebulb
https://sitebulb.com — a technical tool for auditing a site.
As a company, Sitebulb understands that you have a lot of work to do to get results for your clients. They focus on deliberately making their tools fast and easy to understand.
If you’re still learning the basics of SEO, it’s important to be able to prioritize your efforts and focus on the tasks that will have the biggest impact. Sitebulb’s prioritized SEO recommendations help you do just that.
They’ve also provided drill-down contextual information on the issues so you can learn more about each point if it’s something you’re not familiar with.
I run this tool at a few critical points in a client’s lifecycle:
- Before I take a new client on to see how much work we’re going to need to do.
- After launching a new website to see if any issues need to be addressed.
- Every 3 to 12 months depending on how frequently new content is being added to the website and how many people are making changes to the site. For example, if only 1 or 2 new blog articles are being added to a site each month and nothing else is changing, I might only scan it again once a year. If there are five or more blogs and a handful of other people adding content on the site every month, then I might scan it every three months.
Hillary G. left a great video review on G2 that covers all the key points for her as the CEO of a marketing company. Here’s a quick summary of what she said in the video:
“I give them a 9 out of 10.”
What business problems are you solving with the product?
- I was looking for an alternative to Screaming Frog.
- I wanted something that would give me a high-level overview and would let me take screenshots for clients.
- I wanted to be able to dig into data — or not — and still get meaningful results.
What do you like best?
- It’s easy to understand. You don’t have to be a high-level SEO to know what you’re looking at how the site is performing.
- They look at every area that you could think of for a search audit.
What do you dislike?
- It doesn’t actually crawl every URL of the website. It will look at some and have a blockage or get tired, I’m not sure, but I’ve found that it’s not entirely accurate at detecting all the URLs.
What recommendations do you have for others considering?
- Definitely read the documentation and play around with the tool a little bit more.
- Understand that it’s comparable to Screaming Frog and other auditing and scraping software, but it’s different. It has some tools that the others don’t have, and it has some better capabilities vs. Screaming Frog, but it’s not a one-to-one comparison.
Tool #2. Panguin Tool by Barracuda Digital
https://barracuda.digital/panguin-seo-tool — a tool to avoid being “Google smacked”
We all know how easily a Google update can turn your entire strategy on its head. We try to be good little agency owners and only practice white hat SEO strategies that should be future proof against the dreaded algorithm updates — but you just never know.
That’s where this free tool from Barracuda Digital helps. It connects directly to the Google Analytics account of the website you want to test.
Panguin Tool will assess the impact of a Google update on the website. It will overlay the historical data to highlight any traffic drops after a new update. This lets you proactively identify issues and begin resolving them quickly.
Tool #3. Ubersuggest
https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/ — a tool for doing keyword research, competitor research, tracking domain score, viewing backlinks, analyzing referring domains, and a LOT more
Ok, so if you’ve been doing keyword research at all, you’ve probably heard of Ubersuggest and know and love it as a freebie keyword tool.
Neil Patel’s strategy for the future of Ubersuggest makes it one of my favorite tools to keep coming back to. He realized that this tool has more potential for traffic and new customers for his consulting services than content marketing.
So instead of writing a ton of content, he’s investing in making as many features free as possible. He’s just trying to break even on the technology because it generates leads for his coaching and consulting services.
Translation — you can expect to see free and cheap tools available to leverage for your agency.
Note: I currently do use Ahrefs as well, but as Ubersuggest keeps adding more and more to compete with Ahrefs and SEMRush, I find myself only really using Ahrefs for my larger clients and longer-term projects and using Ubersuggest more.
As of July 2020, Ubersuggest has an impressive list of features. Most of their tools can be used by domain name — meaning that you can scan your client’s site or a competitor’s site to view top ranking keywords and pages.
- Create Projects on your dashboard to monitor sites over time
- Get content ideas
- Get keyword ideas
- View top performing pages by keyword or website
- Review ranking keywords
- Domain Scoring
- Backlink Checker
- Referring Domain Checker
- Estimated Organic Monthly Traffic
- Site Auditing tool
- Knowledge Base
- Coaching Program
Tool #4. Silo Planning Workbook
Doing research is crucial to SEO success, but it’s easy to get buried in stats and numbers and forget about the bigger structure and conversion aspects of SEO.
Most agencies are familiar with HubSpot’s Topic Cluster methodology and using Pillar Pages to link a lot of content together. However, in my experience, while that can work, it’s often tough to do for clients as an agency.
Pillar content is more expensive and time-consuming to write. Plus, it honestly doesn’t usually perform very well in search engines.
These pillar pages are typically written for generic keywords that you don’t stand much chance of ranking for. They have to be general topics to be able to include enough links to content in that cluster.
Pillar pages also don’t usually provide a great user experience since most people won’t read that massive pillar post from beginning to end.
You can try to put time into making it easier to skim, but ultimately, you just put a lot of time and budget into creating an unreadable post just for SEO.
I’ve found that Silo Pages:
- Offer the same SEO benefits as Pillars and Clusters.
- Are easier and cheaper to construct.
- Are significantly more user-friendly — here’s a great example.
- Replace your existing topic or category pages that are not SEO friendly and give your whole site a lift.
That’s why I took that Silo Strategy and created a tool to help me quickly create a full strategy for writing new content.
But I didn’t stop there — my Silo Planning Workbook helps me:
- Incorporated traffic and lead generation into the content plan.
- Identify the buyer persona/avatar that this content is best suited for.
- Plan the persona's journey so that we know how we’re going to take them from reading a blog post to scheduling a sales call.
- Collaborate with my team and the client because I created it as a Google Slides presentation.
In just a few hours, I’m able to plan out 58 pieces of content for a client that are persona optimized, conversion-optimized, and SEO optimized.Download your copy and start saving time and getting better results.