SEO Tools… They’re everywhere! From web based interfaces to downloadable apps, if you’re involved with SEO work, you’ve probably tripped over a dozen already.
While tools are en excellent asset for any practicing SEO, they’re not the only thing required for success. There also seems to be this weird notion that SEO tools are a one-size-fit all type of resource, which I struggle to understand.
Let’s take a dive in… #SEOLunch is only an hour long!
SEO Tools and Exclusivity
Are you stuck in a monogamous relationship with your SEO tools? I’d ask why – but I have to be honest… I don’t want to know… Really.
I frequently speak with clients who are familiar with some of the more commonly used SEO tools. These tools normally include SEOmoz, Raven, SEOBook, etc. When I ask them why they enjoy a particular tool, I tend to hear one of these standard responses:
I really liked [tool name] but I’ve found that [tool name] works better for our needs here, so we went ahead and bought that.
When I was with [former company] we used [tool name], so when I got here, I pushed to cancel [tool name] and we now have a subscription to [tool name].
It is normally around this time I ask them why they’re exclusive to a particular tool – and the response I get is one of bewilderment matched with eyes glazing over like I’m crazy and they just don’t have the heart to tell me.
So then I add in a kicker like, “Unless your budget is so incredibly restricted… Why would you only choose one tool set over another?”
And from there, we have a fun little discussion.
It’s not that I’m trying to be offensive – I simply don’t believe the current landscape of SEO tools are a one size fits all solution. Some tools excel in some areas, and others apply in different circumstances. You need to find the right blend of tools to fit your needs without making sacrifices.
Tool Belt, Tool Box or Tool Chest?
This is where experience comes in to play. Think about a carpenter’s tool belt, a standard tool box rattling around in the back of a pickup – and one of those beautiful (to me, anyway) Craftsman tool chests on rollers that you can live in…
…And now wonder: Which is the best visual reference to the tools I need for SEO?
SEO is a very involved technical effort. You could be doing maintenance work like title tag revisions (changing the oil) – or – you could be rebuilding a hosting platform with redirects, a new CMS and dynamic insertion models in place (similar to rebuilding the bottom end of a Ford 302).
My point here is that the tools are a representation of your capabilities. I’d never want to rebuild an engine, but when it comes to SEO – simple keyword research tools and superficial technical alerts just aren’t enough for me. I need more, because the work I want to be doing is much bigger than that.
Throughout my career I’ve found that there are a few areas that require different SEO tools… There’s on site SEO, link building, server / webmaster issues, and programming.
I think you’ll be hard pressed to choose one standalone tool that addresses all of the above for you.
The Experience Factor
Lets keep the comparisons flowing and assume that an SEO project is like some home remodeling. You call up a couple of contractors and they come walking up your driveway ready to check things out for you.
There is this one hardened, salty vet with beat up and calloused hands wielding a worn hammer and decade old stains on his Carhartts. And then there’s this other guy with his freshly laundered polo tucked into his jeans with a fancy new powertool in hand spewing out laser beams and rechargeable batteries.
The hardened vet starts climbing around, inspecting things and asking questions. The polo-wearing guy takes some pictures and starts asking you about money, time, and his “crew.”
Now, I’ll come clean here… I’d immediately judge them on the spot.
I’m already partial to the hardened vet with experience who’s put in his time. Why? Well, for starters, I don’t care what you look like so long as the job gets done, done right, and done on time. The tools don’t make the man in this instance, the capabilities do. And I’d trust the ugly tools and experience over relayed information any day.
Tying it back in a bit, I see this happen a lot with SEO tools. There are a ton of fancy tools that give you beautiful reports… But those reports aren’t really filled with actionable information. They’re limited. They’re sacrificing some substance for portability and readability.
My point here is that all the fancy tools in the world won’t get work done. They just create effeciencies for the people who know how to use them correctly. If you can’t get those tools in hand and become more effecient — what’s the point?
The search and online marketing space is becoming deeper and deeper every day. As that happens, there are bound to be new tools, new things to research, new ways to dissect information.
When the dust settles a bit though, look back and what your end goals are. It is very easy to get wrapped up in a particular tool’s reporting style or metrics – leaving you succeptable to other problems you’re no longer monitoring or making yourself aware of.
That’s a reflection on you. If you intend to master your craft, you need to apply the work. That doesn’t come from the SEO tools you use to tee up information — it comes from getting dirty in the code.
- Tools are intended to assist, not automate
- There’s no substitute for experience and learning on the job
- Shortcuts hurt your end results, and your skillset
- There are many tools for many jobs; Don’t be restrictive
- Old tools can still be incredibly effective tools
- Get creative; Use a combination of tools to hone your approach