Nowadays, there are so many tools for search engine optimization that it can seem overwhelming to pick which SEO tool you want to go with.
Another major factor is price; some of the best SEO software for small business is prohibitively expensive. Even if the features of the SEO tool make up for its price, that can still be a lot more than small businesses might need to get their SEO strategy up and running.
However, if you don’t even have an SEO tool for your SEO strategy, you’ll be far behind your competition.
Luckily, there are affordable (if not free) SEO tools available for anyone regardless of their budget.
First things first…
What is SEO software?
Search engine optimization software (or SEO software) is software that is designed to improve website rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) without paying the search engines for placement, like through Google Ads campaigns. Here are a few examples of the services that come as a part of SEO software:
- Keyword research: Arguably the most important function of any SEO software, keyword research allows users to sift through millions of organic search keywords at the click of a button. It can display metrics like search intent, keyword difficulty, organic search volume, CPC, and much more.
- Keyword rankings: The sister function of keyword research, keyword rankings help you see how your own website is performing for whatever keywords it ranks for, and determine which keywords to focus on and which keywords to disregard for your SEO strategies.
- Content SEO: This feature is what governs on-page SEO, analyzing your website’s content and optimizing it for major search engines. Whether it be heading structure, word count, or keyword placement,
- Website audit: Many SEO tools offer a website audit, which crawls your website for SEO issues and suggests ways to resolve them. These site audits could flag missing keywords, incorrect meta descriptions, broken links, duplicates, and more.
- AMP testing: AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, and is used by sites like Google and Twitter to load mobile pages as fast as possible by reducing HTML. Many SEO tools have the function of testing your AMP pages and flagging potential issues, similarly to a website audit.
This isn’t a comprehensive list, and there are many more search engine optimization tools that can come with your SEO software. However, these are some of the most standard SEO tools that are included with any SEO software, for small businesses or otherwise.
What is the best SEO software for small business?
Here is my shortlist of the best SEO software for small businesses:
- Google Tools
Google offers a number of free SEO tools for small businesses and large businesses alike to get websites ranked in search engines, track keyword rankings in Google search results, and analyze SEO strategy.
Instead of just going over one of these free tools, I’ll cover as many of them as I can in short below:
Google Search Console
Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console helps users do several things at once. From indexing your content in search engines to monitoring your website’s search engine rankings, Google Search Console is a vital keyword research tool in any small business’ toolbelt.
Google Search Console is a free all-rounder tool hosted by Google that helps publishers and marketing professionals monitor their overall site health and performance, along with flagging any security issues or manual penalties administered by Google. More specifically, this is the place you can submit pages to for faster indexing so you and your website can show up in search results as fast as possible.
A very general tool, Google Analytics is another of Google’s free tools that displays, well… analytics. Things like page views and view duration, plus you can see your website activity in real-time.
Google Analytics doesn’t really stack up to the best SEO tools out there because its data is so general, but it is helpful in tandem with other SEO software to get a read on what keywords are spiking your website’s traffic. Also, as with all Google tools, Google Analytics is free, so if you’re not ready to commit to a paid SEO tool, then you can use Google Analytics to your heart’s content.
As keyword research tools go, Google Trends is fairly underrated. All you need to do is choose your country and your search query, and you can get a comprehensive view of interest over time, interest by subregion, related topics, and much more.
Google Trends gives users the opportunity to track keyword searches very generally, meaning that it doesn’t give access to search engine result pages, but shows a general graph with search traffic over a period of time for a targeted keyword. It’s also a very good tool for tracking not just where interest in a keyword is at the moment, but whether it’s trending up or down in the future as well.
Google Keyword Planner
As a part of a Google Ads account, users have access to a planning section within the Google Ads platform which includes the Google Keyword Planner.
The Google Keyword Planner is a helpful tool that helps users discover new keywords, get search volume and forecasts, and organize keywords into ad groups in your Google Ads account. It can take example keywords or a website URL you give it to find related keywords with potential for ranking and get search volume and historical metrics on how those keywords could perform if you targeted them.
Google Business Profile
If you have or represent a business (particularly a business with a physical location), then having a Google Business Profile is one of the best things you can do to get your website ranked in search engines.
Google Business Profile is the perfect local SEO tool to help you stand out in local search rankings, as it’s essentially an online storefront for your business. After creating your free Google Business Profile, you can display details like your location on Google Maps, hours, contact information, photos, posts, and more for all in your area to see.
It’s the perfect way to show what you offer while also cornering a location-based niche in your market, making a Google Business Profile one of the best local SEO tools available to any business, particularly the brick-and-mortar kind.
Google Pagespeed Insights
Possibly the most loosely-defined SEO tool that Google offers is the free Google Pagespeed Insights tool, which allows users to get a feel for how their websites perform on mobile and desktop. It grades your website on performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO, plus looks at how fast your website loads its first contentful paint and largest contentful paint as well.
While targeting only one of many of Google’s ranking factors, Google Pagespeed Insights can be invaluable for figuring out how to speed your page up as much as possible.
Semrush is one of the best SEO software for small businesses or, more accurately, mini-businesses.
In fact, Semrush offers some of the best free SEO tools on the market, which are essentially their paid resources with some limits placed on them, e.g. limiting how many keyword searches you can do per day to 10.
In all honesty, in terms of the best keyword research tool, you could switch Ahrefs and Semrush around with little to no consequence, but Semrush is used much more widely so I’ll put it first.
Semrush is one of the best SEO software for small businesses or, more accurately, mini-businesses. In fact, Semrush offers some of the best free SEO tools on the market, which are essentially their paid resources with some limits placed on them, e.g. limiting how many keyword searches you can do per day to 10.
Semrush also has a bunch of small business SEO features like a section dedicated entirely to advertising, local SEO, and social media, which is particularly great for brick-and-mortar business or businesses with services localized to a certain area.
Semrush’s SEO tab is one of many sections they give users access to, the others being local SEO, advertising, social media, content marketing, trends, and agency solutions. For the sake of this review of Semrush’s features, however, I’m going to focus primarily on their top SEO tools for small businesses to maintain relevance.
Now, once you’ve hooked your website up to Semrush and proven ownership, you now have access to a whole bunch of information regarding your website’s keyword rankings, traffic from those rankings, and other various performance metrics. I’ll break these down widget by widget, but I will leave a few out for the sake of brevity.
First, and most importantly, you have your domain analytics. This includes your authority score (an indicator out of 100 based on backlinks, referring domains, organic search traffic, and more), organic traffic, organic keywords, paid keywords, and referring domains.
Next, the site audit tool. This is fairly simple, showing users their site health as a percentage out of 100, displaying warnings and errors, and how many pages have been crawled on your website. Having a display of warnings and errors can be incredibly useful when something goes wrong and you may not have known unless you had the tool, and it is specific about what went wrong so you can fix it with haste.
There is also a bite-sized backlink analysis tool that identifies link-building opportunities, A.K.A. websites that might be willing to link to you (for free or for a price), or trade links. Not much to be explained here, it’s just a number of domain prospects.
Semrush’s organic keywords widget gives a timeline view of your keyword history, whether you’ve gained new keywords, improved rankings on existing keywords, declined on said keywords, or lost keywords entirely.
Overall, Semrush’s SEO dashboard is absolutely packed with information laid out in a fairly intuitive manner, but I could see how some people might be overwhelmed by the amount of information presented. You can always choose to hide widgets, but in that case, some users might prefer Ahrefs for its less detailed, simpler UI as it pertains to displaying information.
Keyword Research Tool
Semrush’s keyword research tool, also called their Keyword Magic Tool, is the best SEO tool you could ask for when it comes to research. All it requires from you is a seed keyword, and you can generate keywords within that niche (including long-tail keywords across specific subgroups) to help you effectively target wider paid and organic audiences.
If you want to look into a keyword more specifically within the Keyword Magic Tool, you can click on it and go into the Keyword Overview tool for that keyword, including keyword difficulty, search volume, search intent, CPC, keyword variations, and much more. Plus, you get a SERP analysis on whatever keyword you want to target, including stats on how difficult it’ll be to outrank those websites and reach page 1.
Pricing: Semrush’s free trial they advertise on their website is 7 days, but if you look around on the internet I can guarantee you’ll find at least one valid offer for a 30-day free trial; I know this because it’s exactly what I did when trying out the tool. Their paid plans start at $119.95/mo, with SEO, social, and PPC tools like competitor analysis, keyword research, site audits, and more. Their starting plan only allows 5 projects total, so it’s perfect for a small business website that doesn’t need any more than that.
Out of all the SEO tools in this article, this is the one I’ve had the most experience with.
SurferSEO is an on-page SEO tool that helps users create SEO-optimized content and provides users with dozens of keyword ideas, along with how many times to put those keyword ideas into your content.
Out of all the SEO tools in this article, this is the one I’ve had the most experience with. SurferSEO is an on-page SEO tool that helps users create SEO-optimized content and provides users with dozens of keyword ideas, along with how many times to put those keyword ideas into your content.
It doesn’t even require you to research keywords; all you need to do is input the keyword(s) you want to target, then Surfer does the rest for you. From there, all you need to do is follow its gamified content-writing system and you’ve got an SEO-optimized piece of content that should rank higher in search results than if you hadn’t used Surfer.
Additionally, if you run a WordPress website, there is a free Surfer WordPress SEO plugin that gives you all that’s good about Surfer in WordPress, making sure you only have to write your content once instead of bouncing it between Surfer and WordPress.
SurferSEO’s content editor is possibly the simplest on-page SEO walkthrough you can get without the tedium of cross-referencing SEO keyword research and your ranking competition’s articles.
To make your SEO efforts as simple as possible, all you need to do in order to set up a content editor is put a keyword or multiple keywords you are looking to rank for into the content editor, press create, and it will cross-reference all of your competition’s ranking articles on the first and second pages of Google to figure out which keywords should go where and how many times each keyword should appear in your article.
Once your content editor has finished loading and you hop into it, you’ll see scoring bar out of 100 on the top right, along with the average and top score of your competition’s articles. Out of 100, your content is given points based on structure (30 points), headings, (20 points), terms (30 points), and NLP A.K.A natural language processing (20 points).
Beneath all of that you’ll see all of the keywords (typically between 70 and 80) which you should have in your content to rank, and the ranges for the amount of times those keywords should be in the content. There is such thing as “too much”, so be careful to avoid keyword stuffing.
In my own experience, SurferSEO’s content editor makes writing content that ranks much simpler while also gamifying the experience, which might give the right kind of person the boost they need to write better content while watching that scoring bar tick up point by point. I know it’s satisfying for me, but I can’t speak for everyone.
If you’re concerned about a particular page or just want to check , you can input the URL and the keywords you’re targeting, then let the auditor take over. Once that’s done, you now essentially have a much more complex version of the Content Editor; not just including on-page SEO, but other metrics like load times and common backlinks.
In total, this includes an in-depth analysis of the following categories:
- Content score (from the Content Editor)
- Internal links
- Terms to use
- Word count
- Exact keywords
- Partial keywords
- Page structure
- Title & meta description length
- Time to first byte (TTFB)
- Load time (ms)
- Missing common backlinks
SurferSEO goes in-depth on each of these categories, getting as granular as individual characters between a partial and an exact keyword.
I’ve used the auditor a handful of times, but my experience has been enlightening. It illuminates a lot of ranking factors that you might not have thought of if you’re a small business owner just getting into SEO, and gives you exact and actionable data on what your page looks like now and what it should look like for optimal SEO performance.
SurferSEO’s Grow Flow is, as they describe, an “AI Growth Management Platform”. In practice, this means that you can link your website and target a certain keyword, then the Grow Flow will create bite-sized weekly tasks for you to grow your website with. This could be writing a whole article, adding keywords to an existing article, or establish topical authority in your niche.
In my experience the AI is helpful, but as far as I know you can’t change the keyword you’re targeting after you put it in when setting the Grow Flow up. I put a very general keyword into my Grow Flow, which was B2B SaaS, and now most of my recommendations would lead to me covering every B2B SaaS topic incredibly thinly, and without establishing topical authority.
In other words, if you know what keyword you want to target for your entire website, then go with the Grow Flow and knock out some weekly tasks.
Pricing: Far more affordably than many other SEO tools, SurferSEO’s starting plan will run you $59/mo, which allows users up to 10 articles and 20 page audits per month, optimizing and tracking 2 websites, advanced keyword research, and deep-dives into SERP analysis. Surprisingly there is more than one free version of SurferSEO; one as a Chrome extension for keyword research, and one which allows access to SurferSEO’s Grow Flow for new domains with less than 100 impressions per day.