Are SEO Tools Worth It? | The Best Free & Paid Tools For You

The world of SEO is an ever-growing market and more tools are coming out to help you improve your website’s rankings.

SEO tools are designed to help website owners understand their online market and pull in metrics on things like site authority, backlink status and top-performing pages.

I often get asked whether SEO tools are actually worth it in the long run and how useful they actually are.

In this article, we are going to learn what SEO tools actually are and whether they are worth the investment.

What Are SEO Tools?

  1. What are SEO tools?
  2. What are the pros of SEO tools?
    1. Discover useful competitor insights
    2. Save time on research and reporting
    3. Find opportunities to increase traffic
    4. Emulate successful competitor strategies
    5. Monitor progress and make informed changes
    6. Uncover problems with your website
  3. What are the cons of SEO tools?
    1. Certain SEO tools can be expensive
    2. There can be a lot of data to digest
    3. Some of the data can be misleading
  4. Why are some SEO tools so expensive?
  5. What are the best-paid SEO tools?
    1. Screaming Frog
    2. Ahrefs
    3. Semrush
    5. Surfer SEO
  6. What are the best free SEO tools?
    1. Google Search Console
    2. Google Analytics
    3. Google Adwords
    4. Google Data Studio
    5. SEO Meta in 1 Click
  7. Are SEO tools worth the investment?

SEO tools provide data about your site’s health, ranking potentials in search engines like Google or Bing as well as areas of opportunity for improvement.

They are there to give you the data and alerts that will help your business reach its full potential on search engines.

Different tools have different functionalities and each provides unique insights on different things relating to your website’s performance.

Some of the most popular SEO tools include:

  • Ahrefs
  • Semrush
  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics
  • Moz
  • Screaming Frog
  • Google Data Studio
  • Google Adwords
  • Google Trends

This is not to mention all of the other SEO tools available. There are thousands of tools and plugins out there that can help your online presence.

What are the pros of SEO tools?

SEO tools are a vital component of any websites online success. Whilst each has its own unique features, generally, there are a lot of positives when it comes to what they can do for you – Some of which include:

Discover useful competitor insights

There are a handful of free and paid tools out there that enable you to spy on your competitors and see what strategies are going well and not so well for them.

They allow you to look at things like backlinks, organic rankings and the pages that are performing best for them. This type of insight is invaluable as it enables you to make informed decisions and you can see what is truly working and what isn’t.

Google Search Console
Google Search Console

Save time on research and reporting

SEO tools are great for saving time when it comes to uncovering your market and finding the things that are going well and not so well.

They are also great for reporting and there are tools like Google Data Studio which can connect to your Google properties and visualise how well your website is performing.

ahrefs keyword research

Find opportunities to increase traffic

If you are looking for new traffic opportunities, SEO keyword research tools are a great way to uncover new ideas for pages.

Not only can you use competitor data for this but you can also use tools like Google Search Console and Adwords to find what potential visitors to your website are looking for. You can use tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to find out how difficult a particular keyword is to rank for.

Emulate successful competitor strategies

You can use SEO tools to find competitors within your niche that are performing well and doing their SEO right.

They uncover useful data like traffic increases and best-performing pages which then allow you to analyse and implement certain strategies on your own website.

Semrush competitor analysis

Monitor progress and make informed changes

SEO tools like Search Console are a great way to monitor changes to your website and the impact of any work you do to improve elements on your website. is a great tool that shows live ranking data and uncovers any micro improvements to certain keywords within your website.

Uncover problems with your website

You can run audits using tools like Screaming Frog to find potential issues with your website.

Whether that be page errors, duplicate content or loading time issues, certain SEO tools are great to find these kinds of issues.

They allow you to deal with them before they become an issue to your website.

Ahrefs site audit

What are the cons of SEO tools?

As much as there are a lot of positives with certain SEO tools out there, you also need to be aware of the downsides. Some of which include:

Certain SEO tools can be expensive

Some SEO tools can be expensive for smaller sized businesses and can often be more costly than they are worth.

There are free tools provided by Google that can provide insights without the need for paid tools but do not provide all of the useful competitor data that certain paid tools provide.

There can be a lot of data to digest

Whilst SEO tools are great for the data they produce, they can also be quite overwhelming in terms of interpreting and implementing on your own site.

You need to have a fairly good understanding of SEO and how to implement the data to really understand it.

Some of the data can be misleading

The data produced in certain SEO tools can also be misleading and sometimes you need to dig a bit deeper in order to truly understand and action the advice.

It is all well and good carrying out research but not having a good user experience on your website as well as a number of other ranking factors can make this data worthless.

Why are certain SEO tools so expensive?

Seo tools like Ahrefs and Semrush are expensive because they make their own algorithms that can identify links, content and scrape websites.

They are extremely useful and particularly for SEO professionals, they need these kinds of tools to carry out effective research on competitors and the general landscape for a particular niche. You should carry out research on what the tools provide.

It is important to weigh up your options before going in and making purchases on SEO tools but they can provide real insights and help drive your SEO strategy in the right direction.

What are the best-paid SEO tools?

There are a number of paid tools available that can enhance your SEO research efforts. Some of these tools include:

Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is an SEO tool for detecting common errors in website coding. It can find broken links, duplicate content and issues with your metadata.

Screaming Frog Dashboard

It’s a good idea to get your site audited regularly and one way of doing this is by using the Screaming Frog SEO Spider. This tool will give you an accurate report on what needs improving so we can make sure all pages are optimized for search engines.

There is a free version of the tool with limited features but it costs roughly $181 for an annual licence in order to use all its features.


Ahrefs is a paid SEO tool that collates years of data on websites into an easy to digest dashboard.

ahrefs dashboard

It includes a number of cool features that enable businesses to carry out comprehensive research on things like backlinks, organic rankings and content ideas.

The basic plan starts from $99 per month and goes up depending on the number of users and the data you can access.


Like Ahrefs, Semrush is a paid all in one SEO tool enabling users to take a comprehensive look at their particular market.

Semrush dashboard

Both Ahrefs and Semrush are very similar in what they offer, both offering useful data with Semrush boasting a cool social media management tool.

Again, priced very similarly to Ahrefs the tool costs around $99 per month with additional tiers depending on how many features you need to use. is another great SEO tool that enables users to track live keyword data.

keyword dashboard

It enables users to enter the keywords they wish to track and it updates on an almost hourly basis. This is another great paid tool that allows you to keep a close eye on your organic rankings.

Prices start from $29 for the basic offering and prices increase depending on how many keywords you wish to track.

Surfer SEO

Surfer SEO is a paid content writing tool that can help enhance your on-page SEO efforts. Surfer allows you to create content that is optimised based on what is ranking for that particular phrase.

Surfer SEO

What are the best free SEO tools?

If you are looking for free SEO tools, there are a lot out there that can still provide excellent value and insight to your SEO strategy.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a tool that will help you monitor your site’s performance.

You can use it to find errors and resolve any problems with load time, security issues as well as ensure smooth adjustments done for maintenance purposes.

It also identifies how many visitors are landing on your website for particular phrases as well as open up opportunities for new pages.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool offered by Google that gives you insight into your customers. The data collection includes information on how many visitors come to the website, where they’re coming from, what device they are using and much more.

Google Adwords

Google AdWords is a pay-per-click advertising platform that allows you to display your advertisements on the search engine results page.

Based on keywords, businesses can purchase time for their advertisement at the top of the search results page. This tool is free to set up but you are then required to pay in order to show for a particular query.

This is another great way to find live search data and cater for what exactly your customers are searching for.

Google Data Studio

Data Studio makes it easy for you to turn your data into a dashboard that is fully customizable and shareable with just the click of a button.

Google does not charge anything, so no matter what size company or business, you can use this tool to generate reports and it fully integrates with Google products like Analytics and Adwords.

SEO Meta in 1 Click

SEO meta in 1 click is a tool that displays all meta tags and data clearly. You can download this plugin for free and it will provide you with things like meta data, titles and word count on web pages.

Are SEO tools worth the investment?

Are paid SEO tools worth it? Depending on the scale of your SEO activity and what insights you are after, you should always consider paid tools but only if they are affordable and a necessity for your research.

There are many SEO tools out there that do similar jobs to one another so research and recommendations are vitally important when you are looking for an SEO tool to use for your business.

There are free tools and paid tools that will enhance your competitor and your own website research. SEO tools are definitely worth the investment if used in the right way and a combination of the tools mentioned in this article will certainly help you on your way.

If you have any questions regarding SEO tools, do not hesitate to get in touch.

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