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Best SEO Tools for Your Digital Agency

Lindsay Halsey

Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.

If you're getting ready to go for a hike, you start by packing a backpack with water, food, sunscreen, an extra layer, and a rain jacket. Your goal is to pack your backpack with the essentials and leave behind items that will weigh you down.

At Pathfinder, we've worked with hundreds of digital agencies that offer SEO as a service. And, we've seen all manner of toolsets. Including those that are too sparse to get the job done and others that are so complex and unnecessary that you could never use all the tools if you tried.

Backlinko features a review of 188 SEO products! As you can see, there are a ton of SEO tools out there to choose from. Because of this abundance of SEO tools for digital agencies like yours, choosing an SEO toolset requires thoughtful and intentional preparation.

Carefully curate your agency's SEO toolset to ensure you have what you need without data overload and unnecessary expense. This guide is designed to help you do exactly that.

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    Best Free SEO Tools

    Good news — the best SEO tools for your digital agency are free and you likely already use them! These are the three must-use tools every SEO professional relies on, all of which are from Google:

    1. Google Analytics — Measure website performance using this free, enterprise-level web analytics software. Simply set up an account and add the tracking code to any client's website. There's also a good chance new clients will already have an Analytics account and can just add your agency as an admin.Then, you’ll be able to collect and analyze data about that website’s performance. One of the best uses of Google Analytics (a.k.a. GA) is using it to understand which traffic sources are driving visitors to client sites — search engines, social media, referral websites, and more. You can also glean insights into which pages perform well, which are in need of some love, and a whole lot more.
    2. Google Tag Manager — You know how we just talked about putting a tracking code on client sites? Well, you can put those codes directly into the client sites, or, you can use Google Tag Manager to organize and store the various tracking codes that go on a client's site.While technically optional, Google Tag Manager will make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to managing various tracking codes for your clients. And, it can help you set up and monitor critical conversion tracking for your clients. That's why we consider it an essential SEO tool for digital agencies. Check out this great article that explains the difference between Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager.
    3. Google Search Console — Set up a communication channel directly with Google via Google Search Console. No, you won’t get to talk to an actual Google team member, but you will gain insights into which keywords and pages are bringing organic traffic to client sites. You’ll also get feedback about how the search engine crawlers are navigating and indexing webpages on those sites. It will also help you monitor and address a wide range of technical SEO issues like mobile usability and user experience.

    With these three essential SEO tools at your disposal, you now need a general-purpose SEO tool to help you accomplish common SEO tasks like keyword research, rank tracking, and reporting.

    SEO Software for Digital Agencies

    Every digital agency needs a general-purpose SEO tool to accomplish multiple tasks like keyword research, rank tracking, and reporting. There are dozens of these types of SEO software to choose from.

    When selecting the right SEO software for your agency, it's important to consider your customer. Are you doing SEO for small to medium-sized businesses? Or are you operating in the enterprise space?

    For small to medium-sized businesses, simplicity is best. We don't need a complex tool with hundreds of reports and features to do SEO effectively for a 10-100 page website. In fact, the complexity can be detrimental as it leads to overwhelm.

    Alternatively, if you are doing SEO in the enterprise space for large websites, you likely will want more advanced SEO software to monitor your campaigns.

    SEO Software for Agencies who Serve Small to Medium-Sized Businesses

    Pathfinder SEO was born out of the need to support freelancers and digital agencies who offer SEO services to small and medium-sized businesses. Our approach is called “guided SEO." Our unique software combines basic SEO tools such as keyword research, rank tracking, and monthly reporting, alongside a proven and easy-to-follow SEO process.

    This process includes an SEO Checklist and Ongoing SEO lessons — both of which break SEO into easy-to-follow steps you can use to improve SEO on client sites.

    Once you know how to do SEO for your clients, guided SEO also provides useful resources to help you scale your SEO offering from a business standpoint. For example, it teaches you how to package, price, and sell the SEO services you are offering.

    And, if you ever have questions about doing SEO for a client or growing the SEO element of your business, all Pathfinder SEO plans include one-on-one 45-minute coaching calls with professional SEO coaches every month.

     

    SEO Tools + Process +  Business Resources + One on One Coaching

    =

    High-Value & High-Profit SEO Offering

     

    SEO Software for Agencies who Serve Enterprise Level Businesses

    Here are our three favorite enterprise-level SEO software:

    • SEMRush — SEMRush is an online visibility tool set. It includes basic SEO tools with more advanced features designed to integrate with paid advertising, social media, content marketing, and more. Get this Guide to SEMRush to learn more.
    • aHrefs —This all-in-one SEO software was born out of backlink research and competitive analysis. It features keyword research, content research, rank tracking, and search performance monitoring tools. If you are interested in learning more, check out this detailed review of aHrefs.
    • MozPro — MozPro is an all-in-one, SEO-specific software. It includes keyword research, rank tracking, reporting, off-site SEO analysis, and on-page graders. Check out this complete guide to MozPro to learn more.

    These tools are feature-rich. They lack a roadmap for how to deliver impactful SEO services to your clients.

     

    NEXT: TAKE THIS FREE 1-HOUR COURSE

    Grow your customer’s business while growing your recurring revenue. Learn how in “Getting Started with SEO Services”.

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    Best Local SEO Tools for Digital Agencies

    If you work on local business websites you need to get to know another Google tool: Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business). This tool is critical for helping local businesses show up well in Google and Google Maps. And, although it may not seem like it at times, the internet is way bigger than Google.

    To manage a local business's online presence outside of Google, you'll also want to work with a local SEO tool. By using both the free Google Business Profile and your choice of a local SEO tool, you'll be able to help almost any local business thrive from an SEO standpoint. Here's a bit more info on that one-two punch of local SEO tools. 

    1. Google Business Profile — If your clients are local businesses with brick-and-mortar locations or specific service areas (e.g. restaurants or plumbers), then knowing how to use Google Business Profile is essential. You’ll be able to help clients create and manage their business listings that will show up on Google, Google Mobile, Google Maps, and more. Google Business Profile helps level the playing field for local businesses competing for real estate on www.google.com.
    2. Bright Local / Moz Local / Yext — Once you get a client's Google Business Profile dialed in, you need to make sure the rest of the business directories and listing sites out there on the internet are echoing the same information that's in that profile. How do you do this? By building business citations and business listings for clients.

      These three services help you build those citations, manage business listings and reviews, and a whole lot more. All this allows you to ensure that your clients' business information is consistently distributed across the internet. You'll only need one of these tools and we recommend Bright Local or Moz Pro.

    Best SEO Plugins for WordPress Sites

    WordPress is our favorite content management system for SEO. And many of your clients are likely to have WordPress sites. That's because 43%+ of all websites are built on WordPress.

    To execute your SEO strategy on a WordPress space, you need a multi-function SEO plugin. Here are our three favorites:

    1. Yoast SEO — Yoast SEO is a multifunction SEO plugin. Built by SEOs professionals, this plugin is on the cutting edge of SEO. The free version includes everything you need to give a client a solid SEO foundation. The premium version layers in even more tools like the ability to redirect pages and do a more in-depth analysis of a site's content against your preferred set of keywords. With over 5,000,000 active installs, this plugin is by far the most popular in the WordPress space, and for good reason.
    2. RankMath — This plugin is an up-and-comer in the WordPress space. It has many of the same features that Yoast SEO does, but provides a better user interface and some free functionality that you would have to pay Yoast for. RankMath has over 1,000,000 active installations and is updated frequently to ensure it keeps up with the ever-evolving nature of SEO. The pro version of this plugin extends the functionality even further but isn't necessary for most small- to medium-sized businesses.
    3. All in One SEO — This plugin is feature-rich and easy to use. Build an XML sitemap, add page titles and meta descriptions to your posts, and much more. All in One SEO has over 2,000,000 installs and is updated frequently like both Yoast and RankMath. It recently received a complete overhaul from a user experience standpoint and is rapidly receiving new features.

    Regardless of which WordPress SEO plugin you select, installing the plugin is just a first step when it comes to doing SEO on a client site. The plugin then needs to be configured to help you grow your traffic. Pathfinder SEO subscribers can follow our step-by-step process to do so.

    And don't worry about needing to know all the features and functionalities of multiple plugins. All WordPress SEO plugins are relatively similar. Learn one, and you'll be able to easily decipher how to achieve similar results using different SEO plugins installed on various client sites, should you encounter them.

    Learn more about the best WordPress SEO plugins.

    Don't worry, if your prospect or client isn't on WordPress, you can still execute a solid SEO strategy and drive growth. Content management systems like Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify have solid SEO infrastructure. Often, the SEO functionality you need will be built into the platform.

    Best Project Management Software for Digtal Agencies

    To scale your SEO services offering, you'll also need project management software. If your agency is already using project management software, then you can integrate the tasks related to your SEO offering into it.

    If not, here are a few of our favorites:

    1. ClickUp - This project management tool is the best one we've used to deliver SEO services to clients. The amount of functionality is huge and chances are you won't need all of it. With that being said, we love it because it makes collaboration and client management easy. It also makes designing and delivering SEO strategies simple and straightforward.
    2. Asana - With most of the core functionality that Click Up has, Asana is another incredibly useful project management tool. With that being said, Asana might be a little bit easier to learn than ClickUp. This could be a major advantage if you are trying to get buy-in from your team when it comes to using it. Or, if you've never used a project management tool before.

    Ditch the handwritten to-do lists and start designing systems and processes — a.k.a. standard operating procedures (SOPs) — in one of these project management tools.

    While it takes more time on the front-end to build systems, this time will assuredly pay off in the long run as you scale your SEO offering.

    Choosing SEO Software for Your Digital Agency

    Take your time when choosing your SEO software. Start with Google's free tools for your digital agencyGoogle Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Search Console, and Google Business Profile. You will need all of them.

    Then, add one general-purpose SEO tool based on your digital agency's current experience level:

    • If you’re either new to SEO or a digital agency doing SEO for small- to medium-sized businesses, then Pathfinder’s guided approach is a great fit. It is already the linchpin tool for dozens of digital agencies that are new to offering SEO services.
    • If you’re either an advanced SEO professional or working on larger websites, consider SEMRush, aHrefs, or MozPro.

    After that, know that at some point you may need to purchase a subscription for a local SEO tool like Bright Local, Moz Local, or Yext.  And if your digital agency isn't already using a project management tool like ClickUp or Asana, it's never too early to get started.

    While these are the basic SEO tools you'll need to offer SEO services, there may be special use cases where you'll need to pull in one of the hundreds of other specialty SEO tools that exist. With that said, if you have mastery of your own curated toolset that aligns with the recommendations in this guide, offering SEO services can be a  highly-profitable business center for your digital agency.

    Take a Guided Approach to
    Offering SEO Services

    Follow our step-by-step process. Collaborate with an SEO coach. Grow your business.

    Lindsay Halsey

    Lindsay Halsey is a co-founder of Pathfinder SEO. She has over 10 years of experience working in SEO with small to large businesses. Lindsay focuses on teaching site owners, freelancers, and agencies how to get found on Google via a guided approach to SEO. Stay in touch on Twitter - @linds_halsey.
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