10 best SEO tools & Content Strategy tools for 2020
What are the best SEO tools for 2020? When you work in content strategy, having a host of SEO and content strategy tools in your browser is one of the elements that will lead you to success. I have been working in content strategy and SEO for over a decade now, after busy career in the broadcast media industry. Having a background in journalism and public relations (PR) was a great way to get into SEO, as journalists are used to creating content to answer questions, and solve problems.
I have collected some of my favourite SEO tools and content strategy tools for you. Most of these are free, or can be downloaded with a free trial. I am increasingly frustrated by Microsoft, that is now leaning towards subscription models for products like Microsoft Word, when there are free products available that do the same, or a similar job. However, I still use Microsoft products and tools all the time as I find they’re often better than their competitors, so some made the list.
Using effective SEO and content strategy tools can help you to optimise your content, make it more readable and easy to consume, can help it rank in search engines and perform better over time. Here are some of my favourite SEO and content strategy tools.
Top SEO tools and top Content Strategy Tools
So, this is my current list for 2020. One of the most important things to remember about content is that it needs to be created to serve a purpose to the user, and to answer a user’s question. Plan your content out with sub headings, bullet points, and appropriate links, as these will help solve your reader’s question, and will make your content easier to read in a digital format.
#1: The MozBar
Sounds like a cool place to get a drink on Mykonos, but it’s actually one of the best free SEO tools out there. Download this free SEO research toolbar and instantly get information on any website, including it’s DA (Domain Authority), allows you to differentiate links by type (Followed, No-Followed, External, or Internal), allows you to check on page elements such as link metrics and http status, as well as a page optimisation score. Download the free MozBar toolbar, or pay for the subscription model if you want even more information.
Answer The Public is a free keyword research tool that can be great for generating content ideas. All you have to do is run a few reports with your chosen related keywords. They suggest to, “stick to one or two words at a time,” and then try the variations around it, rather than writing full sentences. You can buy the “pro” level of the tool and get the functionality of being able to compare data sets, which might also be useful. Download the free version of Answer The Public without needing to even create a profile.
#3: Google Analytics
As a content strategist, I have made it my business to learn as much as I can about Google Analytics, and it’s not always easy. The tool is not very intuitive, and can be difficult to navigate as a newbie. To implement Google Analytics you will need to have access to a website’s backend, where you will install a pixel that will gather data. Google Analytics can give you almost endless information around your website. I use it to find statistics on what keywords my content is ranking for, how much traffic my website gets, how many times people click on my links, my bounce rate, sessions and traffic sources (for example, Google, Twitter or Facebook). Read this article about how to get started with Google Analytics.
#4: Microsoft Word
Yep, I am old school, and that’s the only reason I am suggesting this content strategy tool. There was a time when writers would only use Word, and designers largely favoured Apple products, and therefore used Pages, the equivalent. Word (in my opinion) is far superior to Google Docs which is free, and now used widely across the globe. Word is not free, and I am finding it costly. A basic subscription could cost you as much as $US10 per month (or more) and I find this to be outrageous. Having said that, if you’re a proper writer who spends most of the day word processing, you won’t want to muck around with Pages or Google Docs, as their functionality is not as broad.
This is one of my favourite new content strategy tools, as it replaces the large and expensive Photoshop program. Photopea was invented by a young guy called Ivan Kutski from Prague, the Czech Republic, who studied computer science. This tool is free, easy to use, and does so much of what Photoshop does. As a content strategist I try not to concern myself with images too much within my day-to-day job, but as a blogger, I need to be able to find and alter images daily. A good image can help to tell the content story, and optimising images with Alt text should be part of your SEO strategy. Download the Photopea tool for free.
#6: SEM Rush
SEM Rush is the tool we use at work, and this has been the case for my last 3 content strategy roles; SEM Rush is also used by most agencies I have engaged with. It helps you with content research, competitor analysis, backlink analysis, link analysis, keyword profiles, keyword opportunities, lost rankings, gained keyword positions and much more. If you are in a professional sector, it allows you to set up dashboards to keep an eye on your competitors’ websites. It can be one of the more expensive SEO tools but it does come with a free trail so you can see whether it will benefit you. Download the SEM Rush tool and see if you like it.
Ahrefs does many of the things that SEM Rush does, and honestly, I prefer this tool, but both are worth having to compare results. This awesome tool allows you to see the exact keywords for which your competitors rank in organic search, as well as the amount of traffic driven by each of them. One downside of this tool is that it has no free trial, but you can download an Ahrefs 7 day trial for around $US7, which might be expensive for some. This is a terrific tool for content strategists that need to keep a close eye on what their competitors are doing. If that’s you, download the Ahrefs trial.
#8: Google Sheets
When I was first introduced to Google Sheets, I hated them, however, now I find them essential for content planning and for sharing your content calendar with others. Google Sheets are like Microsoft Excel, but they’re free, have some additional features, and can be stored in your Google Drive, making them accessible from anywhere. Click and share your content planning and content calendar with a single link, allow people to collaborate or send a locked sheet. The busier you are as a content strategist, the more planning and scheduling you’ll need to implement. Use Google Sheets to plan out your year.
This useful SEO tool allows you to get the insights needed to improve your digital presence. The tool helps you sift through massive amounts of data and improve your daily workflow, while highlighting errors and things that are broken on your current site. You’ll get a daily report that details flaws such as missing meta and alt text, misspellings, spelling mistakes, broken links, headings that are too short or too long and images with rendering or other issues. The tool is not free, and it does tend to spam you, in that I find I get far too many issues to actually deal with. Having said that, the tool can pinpoint where on a website your issue is happening, and acts as a Chrome plugin, which is useful. You’ll need to purchase the Monsido tool, as it is not free.
Yoast is by far one of my favourite SEO programs and it is terrific for people who are just starting out with SEO. Yoast is a plugin for WordPress and it will give your content a “traffic light score” of green (good), yellow (could improve), and red (bad SEO). It will give you information on your keyword density, whether your keyword appears in your headings, your alt text, it checks that you have images, links and meta description. If you want to optimise your website content, then Yoast will give you the direction you need. You can purchase Yoast Premium, or just try Yoast for free. Just remember that your content needs to be natural, and not sound “keyword stuffed” as this article on Yoast’s limitations points out.
SEO and content strategy tools can make your job easier
Creating, servicing and maintaining content on a website is a big job, and content strategy is essential to ensure that you are producing the right amount of content, and publishing it in such as way as to gain the most traction for your brand or product. Read my post How to Create a Content Strategy for more information on starting your content strategy from the ground up.