So you’ve recently heard about SEO. Maybe it was from someone on LinkedIn, maybe it was an ad on Facebook. Or maybe you found it mentioned in a blog post. With that, you’re wondering whether SEO actually works, if it’s something for you – and if yes, how you can get started.
After all, everyone online is praising it – and it seems like a real opportunity to start getting customers “on autopilot”. But is it that easy, or are there any caveats?
All the guides you find point towards using an SEO tool – but before you buy, it’s probably a good idea to consider a few things. Let me explain what those are, and how you can make the right business decision.
What Such Tools Can Really Do For Your Business
Like everything we work with, SEO tools have both advantages and disadvantages. The potential advantages are clear – your website can appear higher and Google – and therefore pull in many more potential customers. On the other hand, SEO tools come with some challenges that are especially hard for beginners.
Advantages To Using SEO Tools
SEO tools come with many advantages. I mean, for once, it’s really hard (actually nearly impossible) to work with SEO properly without having an SEO tool. The amount of data they provide is invaluable and can save you not only money – but also precious time. How exactly? Take for example the concept of keywords. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing use keywords (and in general words) they found on websites to figure out what those websites are about – and to therefore decide how to rank them through their algorithms.
Now, this step is actually very very important – because for Google to understand your keywords, to understand what your page is about and accordingly place you in the search results, it can effectively take anywhere from 3-6 months. Therefore, it’s critical you start off with the right keywords. When updating your website content, you need to know exactly what keywords you’re going to optimize it around. And once you make those changes to your site, once you’ve already spent hours and resources on making them great and understandable, it’s really hard to invest even more in fixing something.
Imagine figuring out you’re targeting the wrong words and appear for irrelevant searches three months down the line. Not only did you take a short term hit in terms of having to invest into building up the channel, but you’re also missing out long term on what you could have been ranking on already – since now you have to re-do the pages and wait for a few more months. So yes, in essence, getting the right tools are very much critical to your success with SEO.
Disadvantages Of Using SEO Tools
Surely, there must be some disadvantages as well, right? Yes, definitely, so let’s look into them.
The main disadvantage with SEO tools is usually their usability (UI / UX). That is, experts and professionals who work with SEO tools daily are used to working with them, they have a process, and can therefore find their way around the tool. Meanwhile, beginners and people who don’t work with SEO every day have a hard time finding what to do with all the data they have. These tools don’t come with guides, they have no simple explanations for the features and data you see, and the interface looks very much like an Excel spreadsheet. And like with any spreadsheet, if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it turns out that the digits make no sense.
And then there’s the pricing. Sure, if you’re working with SEO on a daily basis with clients that bring you income, you can justify paying a bit of a premium price for a tool that is in the core of your business. But as a business owner who doesn’t necessarily have a team of people working with marketing and doesn’t necessarily understand him- or herself, this can definitely be costly. After all, as business people we’re always trying to see the return-of-investment in everything we do. And when SEO tools can’t deliver because there’s no one using them, ther pricing turns solely into an expense.
How To Decide Whether An SEO Tool Is For You – And Which One To Chose
Besides all of that information, there’s also a few more factors that you want to consider when picking a SEO tool. These factors are not defining and if you’re determined on improving your SEO they won’t stop you from getting there – but rather they are good-to-know factors so you can make the best decision possible and have an easier time when working with SEO.
1. Do They Require An Expertise in SEO?
Technically, you don’t have to be an expert in SEO to make use of the tools. However, you usually have to have some preexisting skills so that you can make the most of the platforms. Most SEO platforms are quite advanced and provide you with tons of data that you have to dissect. The problem with that is that you have to know what to do with that data – and derive meaningful conclusions from it on your own.
But that’s not necessarily something to worry about – since there are many new solutions that actually make it easier even for beginners (whether in house or at an agency) to start working with SEO.
Usually, from all the reviews online, the years of experience and your gut feeling, you’d refer to the most known (and therefore expensive) tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs or Moz. But that’s not necessarily the case everywhere as there are often smaller and niche platforms that are tailored to specific needs. Take, for example, this company that offers an SEO tool as an alternative to some of the biggest names in the industry like Moz. This software called Morningscore offers similar functionality to the giant – but for a much lower and reasonable price.
So in essence, both many business owners but also beginners in SEO are wondering whether they need to have expertise in SEO to actually use a tool like that. The simple answer is “not if you chose a simpler platform that can guide you”
2. Installations? Not in Today’s World!
While there are still some enterprise SEO tools that require installations and run locally on your computer, the majority of SEO tools are hosted in the cloud. This means you can access them from anywhere, at any time – and get access to their full database. Long gone are the days of installing software – and many tools even outside of SEO have transitioned to being a cloud-hosted solution. This transition is what gave birth to the term Software-As-A-Service (abbreviated as SAAS) which is ultimately more convenient for the user. This business model also brought a big change in the way you pay for software. Up until the SAAS business model, you had to either purchase a software with a one time payment – or subscribe to a licence that you had to renew yearly. To help with that, the new-school software model allows you to stop paying for any tool on a monthly basis – and essentially cut expenses immediately if needed. This ultimately provides business with better terms as it makes them more flexible. So to answer the question, most SEO tools nowadays don’t require installations and can simply be accessed through a browser.
3. Can it replace your marketing & advertising agency?
The short answer is no. If you don’t have a dedicated person working with SEO, nothing can replace the inputs that your agency creates. Where some tools stand out, however, is the fact that you can use them on the side to monitor your agency’s work. Now, this is not to say you shouldn’t trust your agency – but it’s always best to have an idea of what’s going on. Sometimes human errors happen, so if the agency doesn’t catch the mistake quick enough, you can also notify them and get it fixed without any damage to the business’ online reputation.
The reality actually is that whether you have an internal tema working with SEO or an agency that takes care of that for you, both will require an SEO tool to do their job effectively. Of course, the difference here is that the expenses for the agency toolset is included in the hourly rate you pay – and is therefore technically covered by many clients. On the other hand, when purchasing an SEO tool for in-house use, you will be paying 100% of the cost yourself. This is another good reason as to why it’s a good idea to thoroughly consider your options and make a smart business decision instead of just buying whichever tool is most popular.
To End It Right
I hope this article shed some light on how these tools work and what’s important to know about them. When deciding what SEO tool is best for you, consider some of the points above and how they apply to your business – because doing the research upfront is always better.