This is a guest post by Heather R. Huhman
Search engine optimization isn’t just a buzzword anymore. Businesses are increasingly turning to SEO strategies to ensure they rank well in search engines.
Nearly 80 percent of users ignore paid online ads, instead choosing to focus on organic search results. And 75 percent of Internet users don’t scroll past the first page of search results, meaning if your page isn’t at the top, it isn’t getting found.
But many companies aren’t making SEO efforts alone. In recent years, plenty of media and software companies have popped up (and I’ve tested out a lot of them), aiming to help businesses get to the top of search results without having to hire a SEO consultant. I’m constantly checking out new tools — I tested at least 10 before settling on my current platform of choice — that can improve SEO for my clients at an affordable rate.
Here are my top picks for services that are helping small but growing companies like yours get discovered on search engines:
Launched in 2004 with $19.3 million in venture funding, SEOMoz is one of the leading providers of SEO software. It provides campaign software and tools for companies to manage their SEO strategies. I’m a current customer of SEOMoz, but otherwise have no relationship with any of vendors in this article.
Pros: SEOMoz boasts the largest SEO community on the Web. The company’s SEO platform provides weekly crawls and rank tracking, so companies know what issues their website may be facing that could impact its performance. It also provides a competitive analysis so businesses can learn how their competitors are performing. Metrics, keyword analysis, and a browser toolbar complete the experience, so companies never have to sweat their SEO management again.
Cons: The plans start at $99 per month, so companies and individuals should assess whether or not they can afford the monthly subscription.
Ideal User: Any user with basic SEO knowledge who wants more advanced tools with analytics. If you do SEO for multiple websites or clients, SEOMoz will be beneficial to you.
Founded in 2010, LocalVox is a local, social, and mobile marketing platform that helps local businesses to get noticed online. It recently raised a whopping $7.4 million in Series A funding, making it a key contender in the world of web marketing.
Pros: The company provides a platform that helps businesses update their online presence in just one click. Announcements, blog posts, social media updates, and emails get pushed out to local publishers as well as search engines, social media, websites, directories and e-newsletters. With many businesses struggling to find the time to manage and update their online presence, LocalVox makes it simple.
Cons: The platform isn’t free (though it is quite affordable compared to competitors)—there’s a $199 setup fee, and plans start at $349 per month. For businesses that can afford it, LocalVox makes for an easy online marketing solution.
Ideal User: Businesses with local-only customers and clientele will benefit the most from LocalVox, regardless of their industry or geographic location.
Founded at MIT in 2006, HubSpot’s impressive $101 million in venture funding has helped the software to become widely used across the globe, being used by over 8,000 companies in 56 countries.
Pros: HubSpot’s inbound marketing software helps businesses handle all of their online marketing efforts, including SEO, analytics, blogging, email, automation, and more. The software helps businesses to track leads and ROI, publish blogs and landing pages, and manage content with built-in SEO tools.
Cons: HubSpot has limited blog features—there’s no “more” button, so your entire blog post will be shown on the front page regardless of length. (Others have noted this, too.) There’s also limited customizability when it comes to changing the colors of your site and adding custom style. Finally, what I find to be most restrictive, is the $2,000 required “Inbound Success Training.”
Ideal User: Businesses that can afford HubSpot’s $200 per month (or more) price tag will find the platform beneficial. Those who need a platform that includes step-by-step walkthroughs will also find HubSpot agreeable.
Raven Tools boasts over 30 online marketing tools for SEO, social media, and content marketing purposes.
Pros: The platform includes a slew of tools for effective SEO strategies, including a Facebook page manager, Twitter tool, and Mailchimp integration. The software is updated on almost a weekly basis with new features, and it’s been touted as having a slick and user-friendly interface to pull your data together.
Cons: Some tools have kinks—for instance, Raven’s contact finder often has slow loading times with less-than-useful results. Businesses also need to determine if they can afford Raven Tools’ price, which ranges from $99-$249 per month.
Ideal User: Small- to medium-sized agencies will find Raven Tools’ solutions to be most manageable.
It goes without saying there are plenty of other software tools businesses can use for improving SEO other than the ones mentioned on this list; these four are simply my personal picks that I highly recommend checking out if you’re a small but growing company focused on in-house SEO. Some other contenders that make my list of ‘runners up':
BuzzStream: An effective tool for SEO purposes, but it focuses mostly on advanced link-building campaigns. First-time SEO strategists will want something simpler.
Advanced Web Ranking: This service, while a great tool for SEO purposes, is not available as a Software-as-a-Service solution—only a desktop tool. This essentially means your information is confined to one device rather than being available in the cloud.
WebCEO: As others have noted too, WebCEO’s link-building tools are difficult to find within the platform and offer limited link analysis, opting instead for a raw link count and just a few submission tools.
Heather R. Huhman is the founder and president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy.
Follow her on Twitter @heatherhuhman
SEO image via Shutterstock