This is the Part II of our analysis of the leading SEO tools. For Part I, click here.
Why should you care about SEO? Hint; it has to do with money; the more you improve your SEO, the more organic leads you’ll receive. Organic leads are one of the most cost-effective because they don’t require expensive marketing campaigns; they just require a little SEO.
If you’re ready to really care about SEO, you should start with a site audit. A site audit reveals your site’s health. It’s like a doctor checkup. When you schedule your annual health check, your doctor might tell you that you have high blood pressure and you need to do X, Y and Z to fix it. In the same way, site audits reveal your website’s underlying SEO issues and tell you how to correct them.
Below, we’ll talk about how to use site audits and which tools can help you understand your site’s SEO health. Using at least one of these tools will help you earn more organic leads, it’s just a question of which tool you use to make it happen. Let's dive in.
Site Audits give you a task list; a step-by-step plan to optimize your site and get more organic leads. Once you’ve made the changes, you should see more leads. You can use a lead tracking tool to capture any new leads, show the sales value of those leads, and prove that your SEO efforts are working.
Site audits let you see under the hood of your website’s on-page SEO. On-page SEO refers to the things you or a web designer can control. Possible factors include:
A site audit crawls your site and tells you where the errors are, providing an exhaustive website analysis so you can stop guessing and start seeing exactly which on-page SEO factors are affecting your ranking. Fixing one of the site audit issues might give you just 1% better SEO ranking, but doing that every week is a great way to quickly rise in the rankings.
If you’re starting a new content marketing initiative, or if you’ve just hired a content marketer, you need to track SEO improvements to prove your initiatives are delivering leads and revenue.
Using lead tracking tools, you can find out if your SEO investments have attracted more organic leads, thereby lowering your cost-per-lead. If you show that the total value of your organic leads went up, it proves your SEO investment was worthwhile.
Now, let’s take a look at the tools.
The SEMrush site audit — fittingly called Site Health — categorizes your SEO issues themes like crawlability, HTTPS, site performance, internal linking, etc. Within each section are warnings about various SEO issues. You might see that some pages have a low text-to-HTML ratio. Others might have broken internal links, or too much text within the title page.
This site audit can check up to 20,000 pages per audit, or 100,000 pages per audit with their business plan.
SEMrush provides up-to-date notifications with simple, specific tips you can use to improve internal linking and redirecting. It also sends emails about broken or incorrect links, keeping you abreast of internal SEO issues that hurt your search ranking.
Once you’ve fixed the issues, SEMrush gives you a score. Fix an issue and the score goes up; let an issue go unresolved and the score goes down. This real-time tracking reveals how each issue impacts your ranking, creating a kind of game so you want to continually improve your score.
We love how SEMrush allows you to schedule routine site audits, keeping your site up-to-date and keeping you abreast of any issues. You can also choose which pages to crawl if you have certain pages that you'd like to exclude from the site audit.
One issue with SEMrush is that some of the errors are a bit subjective. For instance, it might lower your score for adding a tracking code to your site; a common marketing practice. Another issue is that SEMrush sometimes includes social media and UX issues within your SEO dashboard. Overall, it’s is a good tool for SEO professionals who also need info on social media and content marketing, but the actual SEO dashboard gets a little muddled because it’s not solely focused on your biggest SEO issues.
Most SEO site audits have the same general SEO dashboard, but Ahrefs allows you to dig deeper than you can on any other platform.
Ahrefs can display over 100 different SEO issues with your site, showing you where errors are, which ones are most important, and how your data changes over time.
The size of Ahrefs database is unparalleled. According to their site, Ahrefs indexes 40 million new pages every 24 hours, and it has a total content index of 3 billion pages. As the most in-depth SEO option, Ahrefs has the most trustworthy data. Ahrefs also keeps things streamlined despite having so much data. With Ahrefs, there are no frivolous metrics beyond the on-page SEO issues you can control.
Flat out, this is the best SEO tool for SEO professionals that need in-depth data. The speed and thoroughness set Ahrefs apart from the competition.
If you’re a web designer, SE Ranking can help you ensure your site’s SEO structure is up to the standard best practices. While SE Ranking tool doesn’t dig too deep into data to squeeze out every ounce of SEO insight, that can actually be a good thing for anyone trying to stay out of the weeds on technical SEO issues.
The navigation is easy. SEO issues are color coded based on importance. Plus, once you run the SEO audit, SE Ranking sends an email showing total issues, an overview of the issues and issues broken down by categories.
Once it’s crawled your pages, SE Ranking even generates an XML sitemap for you. You can then upload this file to Google as your site map if you don’t like yours or don’t have one.
Another thing to love about SE Ranking is its SEO Marketing Plan for websites. It’s almost like you’re going through an activity-based learning course on SEO. Every marketer and web designer should be using this plan to turn SEO efforts into real growth marketing.
Thoroughness and speed are the two essential attributes in a site audit, and SE Ranking meets both criteria. While we prefer other tools for SEO deep dives, the added bonus of a marketing plan makes SE Ranking one to consider if you’re trying to promote a new business.
Lastly, we have Moz, a tool that identifies important issues but not as comprehensively as SEMrush or Ahrefs. Moz tends to overemphasize the importance of minor details such as the number of characters in titles and descriptions. However, the biggest issue with Moz is the lack of reporting compared to Ahrefs and SEMrush.
SEMrush and Ahrefs are the top two options, but Ahrefs comes out ahead based on the depth of it’s website indexing, the comprehensiveness of it’s list of issues, and the blazing speed at which it produces data.
SEMrush is a close second. It can also identify a comprehensive list of SEO issues, but sometimes puts too much weight on minor issues. SEMrush does have a beautiful, thematic layout though, and the tool groups issues together so you can see border trends regarding your site’s SEO issues. Still, the lag on updating data dashboards puts SEMrush firmly in second.
Once your SEO tools have helped your site gain traction in the search results page, organic leads will pour in. Of course, the only way to prove that your SEO efforts worked is to capture all those organic leads using call tracking software or other lead tracking systems.
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