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The Top 5 SEO Software Suites For Agencies

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The Top 5 SEO Software Suites For Agencies

Reliable SEO software suites help agencies plan campaigns, prove results, and demonstrate value to clients.

These technologies can provide technical insights, performance reports, and even assistance with content creation.

SaaS subscription costs can stack up and become difficult to manage, so it’s vital to ensure you’re using the best SEO software for your needs.

The following five options are some of the best on the market, each with its own strengths. This overview will help you evaluate the key features of each suite.

What Is An SEO Software Suite?

The phrase “SEO software suite” covers a lot of bases.

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There are so many potential components to an SEO strategy that covering them all – and covering them well – in one platform is a sizable task.

So, first of all, let’s draw some boundaries for our guide.

When we say “SEO software suite,” we mean technologies that perform at least a majority, if not all, of the following:

  • Keyword opportunity research.
  • Keyword rank tracking.
  • Universal search analysis.
  • Page reporting and recommendations.
  • Content optimization recommendations.
  • Competitor tracking and analysis.
  • Backlink analysis.
  • Site crawl functionality.
  • Technical SEO crawling and recommendations.
  • Core Web Vitals analysis.
  • Social media metric tracking.
  • Analytics integrations.

That is a broad spectrum of capabilities, but it is what modern marketers require of an SEO software suite.

As identified in the Search Engine Journal State Of SEO survey for 2022, SEO professionals split most of their time across technical, strategic, and content tasks.

It is also worth stating that no SEO platform is the standout performer in every single one of these areas.

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As a result, it is important to weigh up the factors that matter most to your marketing strategy before deciding on the right solution.

Where a platform perhaps falls short of being the industry leader, search marketers may also want to complement their SEO software suite with a specialized tool to compensate for this.

Ultimately, this guide will highlight the areas in which each platform excels to help you navigate this highly competitive landscape.

Botify

Botify‘s DNA is in technical SEO, which has won the platform a significant number of fans in the advanced SEO community.

Along with its proprietary crawling tools that use log file data to analyze search engine behavior, Botify also provides user-friendly dashboards that tie technical SEO fixes to business performance.

Historically, that has been the SEO equivalent of squaring the circle.

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However, technical SEO remains fundamental to improved website performance.

A tool like Botify helps get those essential messages across.

The platform has developed into a full-service SEO software suite that goes beyond technical SEO to provide content recommendations and track social media metrics.

The core Botify Analytics product that uses the company’s proprietary crawler to report on site performance is now tied to Botify Keywords, a product that reveals the rankings impact of SEO and content issues.

Botify Intelligence uses machine learning to assess a company’s raw data and automate the prioritization of website fixes based on their potential performance impact.

Botify's DNA is in technical SEO.Screenshot from Botify, December 2022

As an SEO software suite, Botify has entered the market differently than the other platforms in this guide.

Where others have started as rank trackers that branched out into intent signals and content idea generation, Botify is a technical SEO software that is building organically on that platform over time.

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All of these areas combine to create an advanced SEO strategy, but it is worth noting where Botify’s core strengths lie in comparison with the competition.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Exceptional technical SEO analysis, including a crawl budget report and log file analyzer.
  • Botify Keywords helps to tie technical SEO to performance improvements.
  • Botify Intelligence automatically surfaces opportunities to increase website traffic.
  • The frequency of crawls and availability of data are both at a very high level.
  • The ability to segment website content and isolate issues is invaluable.
  • Intuitive dashboards that communicate technical issues to non-technical audiences.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a popular, all-in-one set of SEO tools built on top of the Ahrefs Bot – a web crawler that maintains the platform’s index of 12 trillion links. That makes it the second most active web crawler (after GoogleBot), and the most active in the commercial SEO field.

This platform has grown rapidly over the last few years to include access to over 170 countries and 10 search engines.

The Keyword Explorer tool is the highlight when searching for new content ideas and keywords to target.

Ahrefs SEO DashboardScreenshot from Ahrefs, December 2022

The Content Explorer allows Ahrefs to diversify beyond its initial strengths in link tracking and keyword analysis.

This tool surfaces trending content from across the web, which can then be segmented to identify new topics that fit with your marketing objectives.

Overall, Ahrefs is an increasingly complete set of SEO tools. It is user-friendly for novices, yet it provides endless opportunities for SEO veterans to dig deeper into the data and create new tactics.

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Unique Selling Points:

  • An impressive web crawler and a vast link database.
  • The Content Explorer brings social media and content marketing into the Ahrefs suite.
  • Simple enough for novices, complex enough to satisfy advanced SEOs.
  • Great coverage for international markets.
  • Site Explorer is one of the best competitive analysis tools out there.

BrightEdge

BrightEdge has gone through many evolutions over the past decade. Most recently, it moved into AI-assisted content generation.

The core BrightEdge product is its rank tracking software, which updates weekly and produces automated reports that can be customized to each brand’s needs.

This is complemented by the StoryBuilder, which helps marketers to make sense of the masses of data available in such a platform.

Perhaps the real game-changer for BrightEdge in the last few years, though, has been the creation of Data Cube:

BrightEdge Data CubeImage credit: BrightEdge.com, December 2022

Data Cube makes use of BrightEdge’s own index. It suggests new keyword ideas and also creates an overview of SEO visibility over time.

The latest AI-driven innovations in the platform include an Insights product, which automatically surfaces new site developments for marketers – and there is a new content platform that can optimize content as you create it.

BrightEdge is undoubtedly a leading contender for enterprise sites with integrations available for various analytics software packages.

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It covers a significant number of the bases in our initial list of criteria – and plenty of new innovations are on the horizon.

BrightEdge Search Opportunity ForecastingImage credit: BrightEdge.com, December 2022

One point to consider for the largest sites out there will be cost, as many BrightEdge packages are based on the number of keywords tracked.

As we move into a mobile-first, highly localized, personalized version of organic search, monthly fees for a BrightEdge license can grow quite quickly for marketers needing accurate tracking across devices and territories.

Tracking a query on desktop and on mobile will count as two keywords from your total allocation, for example.

Furthermore, it is worth corroborating some of the findings in BrightEdge with other tools.

The technical SEO recommendations are somewhat limited, and rankings pull weekly based on normalized values from a number of crawls over that period. In the case of the latter, you can end up with a ranking position that does not tell the full story.

Rankings can be pulled daily and at a local level, but again, this typically comes at an extra cost.

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Those are not hesitations about the platform’s technological capabilities. However, they are worth considering for marketers looking for an all-in-one SEO platform.

BrightEdge does a lot of things – and does them well. But it is still a good idea to use specialist tools for technical SEO and backlink analysis.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Intuitive, customizable dashboards with many API integrations available.
  • Can track rankings in more than 76,000 locations.
  • Data Cube is great for keyword and competitor research.
  • Universal search rank tracking is very useful.
  • Latest AI-driven developments could prove invaluable for time-poor digital marketers.

Conductor

Conductor is another enterprise-level software that has developed significantly beyond its initial offering as a rank-tracking platform.

In terms of its positioning in a crowded market, Conductor’s focus has shifted slightly more toward understanding audience intent and the importance of strategic insight for SEO performance.

Many of the dashboards within this platform are devised with the aim of helping you prioritize your workloads and emphasize the areas that will drive performance.

Conductor dashboardScreenshot from Conductor, January 2023

I have always found that Conductor excels in its usefulness as an SEO platform. That may seem a trite observation, but it is the most fitting phrase.

When you are working on an SEO campaign, you can use Conductor to get things done.

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Of course, it may just be that it tallies well with my particular way of working, but it has the feel of a technology built by SEO pros to help others overcome daily challenges.

For example, Conductor has tools that map content to a particular phase in the purchase journey, highlighting where a site performs well and where it performs poorly. This leads to actionable insights through a simple but effective visualization.

Conductor does not excel when it comes to technical SEO analysis. That said, it is possible to integrate the tool with DeepCrawl.

Furthermore, it is arguable that Conductor’s performance dashboards are not quite as visceral and effective as those of Searchmetrics and BrightEdge when it comes to driving home the top-line numbers.

Overall, Conductor offers a sophisticated package. It nurtures a healthy approach to organic search, beginning with a more nuanced understanding of consumer intent.

Unique Selling Points:

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  • Insightful audience and content planning tools.
  • Dashboards help to visualize and simplify the SEO and content marketing workflow.
  • The Business Case tool is handy when trying to demonstrate SEO potential to senior management.
  • Lots of integrations with external analytics and SEO technologies.
  • Support for over 100 international markets.

Moz Pro

Moz Pro is one of the most popular all-in-one SEO software suite contenders for small businesses.

Signing up for a license provides access to:

  • A backlink checker (Open Site Explorer).
  • A rank tracking tool (Rank Tracker).
  • An on-page analyzer (On-Page Grader)
  • And quite a few other helpful tools.

Moz Keyword Explorer is perhaps the highlight and is the newest addition to this particular software suite.

I particularly like this tool for keyword research as it fits in with the new landscape of obscured search volumes and topic-driven content generation.

While still sticking to the SEO fundamental of pinpointing search queries to target, Keyword Explorer goes further to suggest new topics and highlight their level of priority for the business in question.

These keywords can then move to the Moz Rank Tracker, allowing marketers to keep track of their progress.

Moz ProScreenshot from Moz Pro, January 2023

Where is Moz a little weaker than the competition?

Given the significance of backlink analysis for SEO performance, it would be advisable to pair Moz with a tool like Ahrefs or Majestic.

None of these tools lay claim to a “full” index of URLs, and there is significant overlap between them, but the differences are significant enough to merit the use of more than one backlink checker.

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Moreover, some of the tools (such as Moz Local) are best for sites with a smaller footprint, as a license will only provide access to a limited number of locations or keywords.

Nonetheless, a Moz Pro subscription starts at just $99 per month, making it a worthy addition to your SEO toolbox.

Unique Selling Points:

  • Access to a range of SEO tools at a low cost.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer is a fantastic tool for keyword research and SERP analysis.
  • Open Site Explorer remains a useful competitor analysis tool.
  • Moz’s proprietary metrics, such as Domain Authority, are illuminating for SEO strategies.

Summary

The SEO software suites in our guide have all invested heavily to keep pace with the demands of the industry.

Marketers require access to machine learning tools to help them surface new content and keyword opportunities in real time. The likes of Botify and BrightEdge have made this a priority for their recent and upcoming technology upgrades.

Marketers also require assurance that the basics are covered, and all these platforms do this very well. The SEO fundamentals of keyword tracking, technical audits, and content ideation are as important as ever.

SEO agencies will derive maximum value from these powerful tools by first identifying their own needs.

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Although every strategy must cover the same areas, each accentuates some areas over others.

For instance, it may be that a huge retail website requires robust technical and keyword support over content recommendations. Those criteria will dictate which of these SEO software suites is, in fact, the best choice for you.


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



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Google Limits News Links In California Over Proposed ‘Link Tax’ Law

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A brown cardboard price tag with a twine string and a black dollar sign symbol, influenced by the Link Tax Law, set against a dark gray background.

Google announced that it plans to reduce access to California news websites for a portion of users in the state.

The decision comes as Google prepares for the potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill requiring online platforms like Google to pay news publishers for linking to their content.

What Is The California Journalism Preservation Act?

The CJPA, introduced in the California State Legislature, aims to support local journalism by creating what Google refers to as a “link tax.”

If passed, the Act would force companies like Google to pay media outlets when sending readers to news articles.

However, Google believes this approach needs to be revised and could harm rather than help the news industry.

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Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s VP of Global News Partnerships, stated in a blog post:

“It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content.”

Google’s Response

To assess the potential impact of the CJPA on its services, Google is running a test with a percentage of California users.

During this test, Google will remove links to California news websites that the proposed legislation could cover.

Zaidi states:

“To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users. The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

Google Claims Only 2% of Search Queries Are News-Related

Zaidi highlighted peoples’ changing news consumption habits and its effect on Google search queries (emphasis mine):

“It’s well known that people are getting news from sources like short-form videos, topical newsletters, social media, and curated podcasts, and many are avoiding the news entirely. In line with those trends, just 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related.”

Despite the low percentage of news queries, Google wants to continue helping news publishers gain visibility on its platforms.

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However, the “CJPA as currently constructed would end these investments,” Zaidi says.

A Call For A Different Approach

In its current form, Google maintains that the CJPA undermines news in California and could leave all parties worse off.

The company urges lawmakers to consider alternative approaches supporting the news industry without harming smaller local outlets.

Google argues that, over the past two decades, it’s done plenty to help news publishers innovate:

“We’ve rolled out Google News Showcase, which operates in 26 countries, including the U.S., and has more than 2,500 participating publications. Through the Google News Initiative we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers around the world, including 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in California alone.”

Zaidi suggested that a healthy news industry in California requires support from the state government and a broad base of private companies.

As the legislative process continues, Google is willing to cooperate with California publishers and lawmakers to explore alternative paths that would allow it to continue linking to news.

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Featured Image:Ismael Juan/Shutterstock

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

Every week, we share hot SEO news, interesting reads, and new posts in our newsletter, Ahrefs’ Digest.

If you’re not one of our 280,000 subscribers, you’ve missed out on some great reads!

Here’s a quick summary of my personal favorites from the last month:

Best of March 2024

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

tl;dr

Glen’s research reveals that just 16 companies representing 588 brands get 3.5 billion (yes, billion!) monthly clicks from Google.

My takeaway

Glen pointed out some really actionable ideas in this report, such as the fact that many of the brands dominating search are adding mini-author bios.

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Example of mini-author bios on The VergeExample of mini-author bios on The Verge

This idea makes so much sense in terms of both UX and E-E-A-T. I’ve already pitched it to the team and we’re going to implement it on our blog.

How Google is Killing Independent Sites Like Ours

Authors: Gisele Navarro, Danny Ashton

tl;dr

Big publications have gotten into the affiliate game, publishing “best of” lists about everything under the sun. And despite often not testing products thoroughly, they’re dominating Google rankings. The result, Gisele and Danny argue, is that genuine review sites suffer and Google is fast losing content diversity.

My takeaway

I have a lot of sympathy for independent sites. Some of them are trying their best, but unfortunately, they’re lumped in with thousands of others who are more than happy to spam.

Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updatesEstimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updates
Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele’s site fell off a cliff after Google’s March updates 🙁 

I know it’s hard to hear, but the truth is Google benefits more from having big sites in the SERPs than from having diversity. That’s because results from big brands are likely what users actually want. By and large, people would rather shop at Walmart or ALDI than at a local store or farmer’s market.

That said, I agree with most people that Forbes (with its dubious contributor model contributing to scams and poor journalism) should not be rewarded so handsomely.

The Discussion Forums Dominating 10,000 Product Review Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

Tl;dr

Glen analyzed 10,000 “product review” keywords and found that:

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My takeaway

After Google’s heavy promotion of Reddit from last year’s Core Update, to no one’s surprise, unscrupulous SEOs and marketers have already started spamming Reddit. And as you may know, Reddit’s moderation is done by volunteers, and obviously, they can’t keep up.

I’m not sure how this second-order effect completely escaped the smart minds at Google, but from the outside, it feels like Google has capitulated to some extent.

John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...

I’m not one to make predictions and I have no idea what will happen next, but I agree with Glen: Google’s results are the worst I’ve seen them. We can only hope Google sorts itself out.

Who Sends Traffic on the Web and How Much? New Research from Datos & SparkToro

Author: Rand Fishkin

tl;dr

63.41% of all U.S. web traffic referrals from the top 170 sites are initiated on Google.com.

Data from SparktoroData from Sparktoro

My takeaway

Despite all of our complaints, Google is still the main platform to acquire traffic from. That’s why we all want Google to sort itself out and do well.

But it would also be a mistake to look at this post and think Google is the only channel you should drive traffic from. As Rand’s later blog post clarifies, “be careful not to ascribe attribution or credit to Google when other investments drove the real value.”

I think many affiliate marketers learned this lesson well from the past few Core Updates: Relying on one single channel to drive all of your traffic is not a good idea. You should be using other platforms to build brand awareness, interest, and demand.

Want more?

Each week, our team handpicks the best SEO and marketing content from around the web for our newsletter. Sign up to get them directly in your inbox.

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Google Unplugs “Notes on Search” Experiment

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Google unplugs Notes On Search Experiment

Google is shutting down it’s Google Notes Search Labs experiment that allowed users to see and leave notes on Google’s search results and many in the search community aren’t too surprised.

Google Search Notes

Availability of the feature was limited to Android and Apple devices and there was never a clearly defined practical purpose or usefulness of the Notes experiment. Search marketers reaction throughout has consistently been that would become a spam-magnet.

The Search Labs page for the experiment touts it as mode of self-expression, to help other users and as a way for users to collect their own notes within their Google profiles.

The official Notes page in Search Labs has a simple notice:

Notes on Search Ends May 2024

That’s it.

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Screenshot Of Notice

Reaction From Search Community

Kevin Indig tweeted his thoughts that anything Google makes with a user generated content aspect was doomed to attract spam.

He tweeted:

“I’m gonna assume Google retires notes because of spam.

It’s crazy how spammy the web has become. Google can’t launch anything UGC without being bombarded.”

Cindy Krum (@Suzzicks) tweeted that it was author Purna Virji (LinkedIn profile) who predicted that it would be shut down once Google received enough data.

She shared:

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“It was actually @purnavirji who predicted it when we were at @BarbadosSeo – while I was talking. Everyone agreed that it would be spammed, but she said it would just be a test to collect a certain type of information until they got what they needed, and then it would be retired.”

Purna herself responded with a tweet:

“My personal (non-employer) opinion is that everyone wants all the UGC to train the AI models. Eg Reddit deal also could potentially help with that.”

Google’s Notes for Search seemed destined to never take off, it was met with skepticism and a shrug when it came out and nobody’s really mourning that it’s on the way out, either.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Jamesbin



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