The Complete Small Business Marketer’s SEO Toolkit

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Business owners and marketers don’t necessarily need to become SEO experts, but they do need to equip themselves with enough knowledge, data and access to simple SEO tools to allow them to understand how and why one site ranks higher over another, what’s holding a site back and the most important ways to quickly analyze any page they land on.

SEO toolboxBelow is a list of the tools many SEO pros turn to when they want to initially size a site up. By familiarizing yourself with and using these tools you can turn yourself into a much more informed consumer of paid SEO services as well as enable yourself to quickly spot competitive opportunities for your business.

In addition, you may find these tools helpful when sizing up the online presence of a prospect, vendor or potential strategic partner. None of these tools are 100% accurate or foolproof, but the next time a company pitches you on their awesome SEO services you’ll have the skills to snap a picture of how good they are at their own SEO.

Google Search Shortcuts – Google has a list of operators that you can use to do customer searches that will turn up lots of information on sites you are analyzing. You simply adds these search shortcuts in Google and you can slice and dice a website up in hundreds of useful ways. I wrote an article that gives more detail on my top 10 Google shortcuts

Google Search Console – This suite of tools are mainly for spying on your own site in a way, but you need to get familiar with them. This is where you can get reports on the pages Google is crawling, where you might have broken links, the status of your site maps and any issues Google might be encountering with your site. (Check out our how-to for this tool)

SpyFu – As the name implies this tool aims at helping you understand what a site is doing related to PPC advertising and specifically AdWords. I shows the keywords they are bidding and shows a list of competitors for the same words. This tools helps you find competitors you didn’t even know you had in some cases because they are buying all their traffic and may not be showing up in organic search.

SEMRush – Tool that offers some overlap with SpyFu, but I really like the amount of keyword data that you can dig up for keywords and phrases and quickly find out who ranks well for those phrases.

Ahrefs – Audit your website, explore competitors, research keywords & backlinks – all in one place. Powered by seriously big data & trusted by top SEOs.

Wayback Machine – This tool, run as part of Alexa’s offerings is both fun and informative. The Wayback Machine allows you to look at what any site in their archive looked like going back as far as ten years in some cases. I don’t know how much practical intelligence you pick up here, but you might see a pattern in how a particular business has grown and evolved in design, offerings, and message.

7 Chrome Extensions Every Marketing Consultant Needs – The following seven plugins I keep at the ready for quick analysis. Some have overlapping features to be sure, but I like that as it gives me more depth and several looks at the same thing. More here

There you have it, put these tools to work and you’ll soon know more about every site your visit almost instantly.


Alexa, Compete, Google, SEMRush, SEO, SpyFu

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  1. I think SEO is one of those things you must leave to the professionals.  As an owner of a small business I do not have time or the knowledge optimize all my pages.   I am a web designer and a developer and I find the cost of hiring out a reputable company  beneficial compared to the time it takes.  You can find some business around $300 dollars a month to help your search rankings and I know that I would put all this time and effort into it and never see results.  Leave it to the pros and spend your time optimizing your business.  I have used these add-ons/programs before and they did teach me some stuff that I didn’t know.  Good post!

    Nathan Marcarelli Small Business Web Design

    1. Great point Nathan!  There are professionals out here who deal with this data and content everyday.  Having an expert eye can help you focus on other operations of your business.  These are great programs from the beginning of SEO campaign to the end, but do take a little time to “master”

      Also just visited your landing page.  Awesome job with the layout and visuals!

    2. Nathan – I tend to agree with the point you’re making, but it wasn’t exactly the point I was making – while I do think there are many things you can and should delegate to experts, you can never abdicate your SEO or any other strategy – that’s how you get ripped off or just led astray by folks that don’t get your business.

      This toolbox is just a bunch of basic tools that can help you educate yourself so you can actually buy SEO services right.

  2. Great list of tools that everyone ought to have in online marketing. What a wonderful list of recommendations.

  3. For Chrome, the Chrome SEO app/plugin is really fantastic. Gives you a rundown of quite a few stats and rankings in one easy place versus looking all over. 

    on SEMrush, it’s a pretty expensive tool for a small business owner to play around with — but perhaps the free version would suffice if you’re only checking out one site a month. 

    Going to go check out SpyFU now — sounds like an interesting tool!

    Great list

    1. For many folks just trying to learn, the free versions of all of these tools are great – look at and tools too.

  4. I use a Chrome plugin that shows the PR for each post in Google Reader. 

    Nice way to filter my list and also see what type of posts get the best PR.

  5. One of the main benefits of business owners learning about SEO is the quality of the information that they are able to post on the specific subject. The second best is industry specific SEOs who understand the subjects they are working with.

    The days of the  lazy SEO writing general trite comments on blogs must be behind us soon.

  6. Great SEO Toolkit guide – I use most on your list but would add just one more competative research tool, the free version is fine to get required info, and this is Traffic Travis… a superb link analysis tool and it does most other SEO tasks too! The interface is very smooth and quick and best of all it’s free!

  7. Wow, what a fantastic summary and concise description. As a small business we are new to SEO but this is a very handy run down of what we need to do. I didn’t realise there were FireFox plugins to give us rankings and the username check will definitely be handy. I am checking out these resources now, thanks for the heads up!

  8. This post is interesting, I wonder if that kit can help me with my business. Anyway I appreciate this post for giving me tips and information about SEO. Thanks for the chance to read this post. 🙂

  9.  Hi John,

    I love your post and I wanted to share a tool which I’ve been using in the past which I think deserves some critique from your expertise.

    It claims Google SEO:

  10. Hi John,

    I love your post and I wanted to share a tool which
    I’ve been using in the past which I think deserves some critique from
    your expertise.

    It claims Google SEO:

    Sorry for double post – please use this link.

  11. Interesting article with some tips I hadn’t seen before. But John, you would have even more credibility, in my opinion, if you would proof read your work for typos!

  12. Wow! A great articles.I like this so much.You know,I also have a few tips to make money online.You all can visit my website at

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