Choosing the right SEO tools for your business might seem like a daunting task. As an individual entrepreneur, small business owner, or a growing startup, your budget is limited, but the ambitions to rank your website on Google are high.
So, where do you draw the line of costs vs features?
We did the research to find the best paid SEO tools available in 2021 for under $99 per month that will help you reach your search engine optimization goals.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the best softwares for different usage scenarios that will help you:
- Find popular and trending keywords
- Plan and create content to rank in search engines
- Discover technical SEO optimization opportunities
- Spy on your competitors rankings
- Improve your site speed (Google’s latest SEO suggestion)
We tested these tools and found the best deals (including some lifetime deals) so you‘re getting first-hand experience and the best prices.
The best part?
At the end of this article, we listed Google’s official arsenal of completely free tools you can use to boost your rankings immediately.
So let’s get started.
Yoast SEO – The most popular SEO plugin for WordPress
Yoast SEO is the number one WordPress SEO plugin that helps webmasters optimize their pages according to SEO standards. It tracks keywords, watches for readability, text length, paragraphs, usage of headings and such.
It’s famous for its green, yellow and red ranking bullets that tell if your text is good, okay or in a need for improvements.
The plugin tells if you’ve been using a correct keyword in your title, meta description, and headings. While it’s focusing on the content itself, Yoast will rank internal and outbound links and images.
The best part about Yoast is the content assessment part that watches for:
- Readability index
- Number of total words
- Amount of words per paragraph
- Sentence length
- Transition words
- Passive voice
Yoast SEO is our go-to tool for everyday content optimization because it’s more fitting compared to any other standalone SEO tools. It’s super user friendly and easy to use. Even newbies will be able to get the best out of this simplistic plugin in a matter of minutes.
So, if you’re running a WordPress site that’s emphasizing textual content – Yoast SEO is a no-brainer.
- Not all-in-one solution
- Ranking algorithm seem dated
- Only for WordPress users
- SEO Press – low cost option with plenty of similar features
- Surfer SEO – less convenient but more complex alternative
- Frase – optimizes content by finding questions and phrases your audience is searching for
All of those tools have a similar level of content optimization, yet none of these beats the simplicity of Yoast.
- Premium – $89 per year
Most of the above-mentioned features come with a free version of this tool. Yet, if you’re willing to invest in more suggestions, expanded features, one-on-one support, and an SEO academy – go for the premium offer.
Surfer SEO – On-page SEO guidelines for content creators
Surfer SEO is an ultimate content writer’s assistant that tells where to put a keyword, which synonyms to use, how to structure a post and more.
Are you overwhelmed with confusion and analytical tools that are hard to understand? Do you have a team of content writers struggling with the proper implementation of SEO standards?
Then Surfer is the right SEO tool for you.
Surfer SEO helps with advanced on-page optimization by giving you straightforward guidelines about:
- Keywords usage
- Partial match keywords
- LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords you should use
- Keyword synonyms
Most of these overlap with Yoast’s features, yet the main difference is in the level of complexity. Although Surfer is simple enough, it’s still way more complex and provides a more detailed analysis.
Besides its fantastic Surfer’s Content Editor, you’ll be able to perform keyword research, SERP analysis, and find the general ranking data.
If you’re looking for a great content editor that doesn’t need in-depth SEO knowledge, then Surfer is the solution.
- Some data is overwhelming and poorly presented
- Limited ranking factors data
- UberSuggest – more user friendly version
- SEMRush – advanced solution for all-in-one SEO
- Frase – optimizes content by finding questions and phrases your audience is searching for
- 7-day trial – $1
- Basic – $59 per month
- Pro – $99 per month
- Business – $199 per month
The main difference is in the SERP analyzer, content editor, and backlinks/visibility queries you can make. Small businesses will do fine with the Basic option, while bigger companies or SEO agencies will need Pro or Business plans.
UberSuggest – Low cost keyword research tool
UberSuggest is a basic on-page and off-page SEO tool made for webmasters and content creators of all skill levels.
If you’ve heard about Neil Patel, then you know what kind of people and knowledge standing behind UberSuggest.
What you can expect from UberSuggest is:
- Simple to use SEO audit
- Detailed and robust keyword research capabilities
- SEO difficulty and SERP analysis
- Competitor analysis
While other tools are data-heavy, UberSuggest offers a great design and decent data visualization. Additionally, you can see the estimated cost-per-click on Google for specific terms giving you a good perspective on the value of the keywords.
Yet, don’t let the user friendly interface and a decent design fool you – this SEO tool is not for beginners only. UberSuggest is great for small and medium-sized enterprises as well as big companies. It provides enough information and has the capability to develop the most demanding clients.
- Content analyzer
- Website data extraction
- Brand monitoring
- Sub-user accounts
- Ahrefs – a complex and powerful tool, yet way overpriced
- SEMRush – the comprehensive tool preferred by experts
- 7-day free trial
- Individual – $12 per month or $120 lifetime
- Business – $20 per month or $200 lifetime
- Enterprise / Agency – $40 per month or $400 lifetime
The difference lies in the number of reports per day and projects you can track. Individual works perfect for up to 3 sites, Business recommends 3-7 and Enterprise / Agency over 8 sites.
SEMRush – The all-around SEO tool
SEMRush is a data-heavy tool, which is excellent for those who know what to look for. It’s used by experts across the globe for more or less everything about website optimization for SERP ranking.
On the downside, this SEO powerhouse might seem overwhelming if you’re not into the business.
Tools such as UberSuggest are offering 80% of what you get from SEMRush. Yet, the key lies in that missing 20%. This is exactly what makes the SEMRush the most complex tool on our list.
But the real question is, do you need all that? Or, better said, are you willing to stretch your budget that much for the extra features?
If you’re a prospering company with rapid growth, a decent budget, and a workforce to handle this tool, SEMRush is the best option. Yet, if you’re up to a simpler alternative that’s not going to break the bank, skip this one.
Main features and usage scenarios of SEMRush are:
- Domain analysis
- Site audit
- Keyword research
- Content analyzer
- Rank tracking
- Backlink audit and analysis
- Link building
As you might see by yourself – pretty much everything you need to optimize for SEO is covered with SEMrush.
- A proper presentation of available features
- Trends for keywords
- Traffic accuracy (compared with Google Analytics)
- Ahrefs – a similar alternative with a few compromises
- UberSuggest – less complex tool with a satisfactory user interface
The main competitor to SEMRush is Ahrefs. Although it offers a plan under $99 per month, we still didn’t recommend it due to major limitations with the plan. With the Ahrefs’ Lite plan you can only run five projects. Also, you won’t be able to find broken pages or recently lost backlinks.
SEMrush provides you with enough features even with the cheapest plan.
- 7-day free trial
- Pro – $119.95 per month (monthly billing) or $99.95 per month (annual billing)
- Guru – $229.95 per month (monthly billing) or $191.62 per month (annual billing)
- Business – $449.95 per month (monthly billing) or $374.95 per month (annual billing)
The cheapest, Pro plan is for individuals or smaller firms. Guru is an upgraded version with more queries that’s the best for small and medium sized enterprises or low-scale marketing agencies. Business is for serious clients behind big companies or large digital marketing firms.
Market Muse – Research, plan, and craft your content with AI intelligence
Market Muse is an AI intelligence SEO tool that helps with content research and writing.
At first glance, this one seems like Surfer’s Content Editor or Frase.
Yet as soon as you get below the surface, you will find the software goes beyond today’s technical standards. What’s more, it predicts the future of SEO content by assisting you in making the contextual content, made for humans and not search engines.
Other SEO tools will give you technical guidelines on how to write, when to put a new heading, or where to split the sentence to make it shorter. Market Muse tells you what to write to make the most comprehensive blog post or a page on the internet.
And as the best part, thanks to the software’s AI, you’ll have a technical report of each article’s optimization as well.
So if your focus is creating competitive new content, make sure to give Market Muse a try.
The main four features of Market Muse are:
- Content planning
- Creation of briefs and drafts
- Performance analysis
- SEO evaluation
The idea behind the tool is easy to understand. Once you input a focus keyword or a question, you’ll get back a detailed SEO brief. The brief combines content from the best ranking search results for the given keyword. It also includes a heat map with topics, links, and content gaps you should include in your page.
- Off-page analysis
- Advanced data and analytics
- Answer The Public – generates question ideas around your keyword
- Frase – optimizes your existing content by discovering the questions and phrases your audience is searching for
- Surfer SEO – gives more analytics and data, yet Market Muse beats it in topic coverage
- Optimize $79 per month – $69 lifetime plan
- Plus $179 per month – $138 lifetime plan
- Pro $499 per month – $207 lifetime plan
A lifetime deal is currently available exclusively at AppSumo 🔥
Optimize limits to content guidance only. Plus adds the research and planning dimension. Pro gives all-around functionality for up to three users.
Screaming Frog – The industry standard tool for technical SEO
Screaming Frog is a spider (crawl bot) capable of bone-deep website scanning and detailed analysis. This SEO tool is among the most used in the field of technical SEO.
Screaming Frog is one of the first tools of this kind and an industry standard for SEO professionals and consultants. Troubleshooting with the frog is easy, yet with an array of options and categories, you should know what you’re looking for.
As Screaming Frog is the tool for troubleshooting, some of the issues you might look for are:
- Broken links
- Page titles, meta descriptions, and headings
- Robots and directives
- Duplicate content
- Plus many more
So if you’re lacking basic or even intermediate SEO knowledge, you should skip this one and head to some other, more intuitive, and user friendly tool.
- User friendly interface
- Not a cloud software
- SEMRush – complex and all-around tool that compromises detailed insights
- Moz Pro – an alternative with better data visualization
- Paid – £149.00 per year (~$200 US Dollars)
Screaming Frog offers a completely free version that’s good enough to see if this software is for you. If you’re getting along with the interface and find the tool useful, the sequential step is a paid version without any limitations.
Labrika – Simple technical SEO tool for content creators
Labrika is a machine learning algorithm SEO tool focusing on the creation of new pages on your website and blog posts. Besides content creation, there’s a basic troubleshooter for technical SEO problems. These include keyword stuffing, plagiarism, adult content, short/long or missing titles and more.
Also, the brain behind the app uses AI technology to detect and present relevant ranking factors.
As Labrika is an all-in-one tool, you will find most of the features from your expectations list. Those are:
- Complete SEO content audit
- Technical audit
- Keyword rank tracking
- Content manager
- On-page guidance
- Keyword research tool
- On and off-page link management
- Competitor analysis
- Surfer SEO – although the content editor is similar to Surfer SEO, Labrika has a bit more complex report manager
- SEMRush – comes at a much higher price, yet it covers more features and closes the gap with keyword research
Labrika has confusing pricing plans based on the number of “keyword ranking queries” and “page crawling credits”.
- Lite – $19 per month
- Or $69 for a lifetime subscription to the Lite plan
Hexowatch – Spy on your competitors SEO strategy
Hexowatch is an innovative SEO tool to track yours and competitors’ sites. It watches for changes and updates, and more or less any visible modifications.
This one isn’t a textual content tool, and you can watch for 9 monitoring types such as focus key-phrases, text, and images.
It will also be excellent for monitoring the performance of your own websites.
You can set the sites and fields of interest, define the refresh rate, and the software will do everything else for you.
So, if you’re:
- Ecommerce business or working for an eCommerce company
- Digital marketer with the focus on rapid changes, fresh content, and frequent updates
- UI designer
Then, Hexowatch is a tool to consider.
- Tracking your and competitors’ sites
- Visual, keyword and HTML elements monitoring
- Trends lookout
- Not an all-in-one tool
- Visualping – Similar usage however, the accuracy and reliability seem to be less compared to Hexowatch
- Standard (2000 checks/mo) – $14.99 per month
- Pro (4500 checks/mo) $24.99 per month
- Business (10,000 checks/mo) $49.99 per month
Screpy – Fix technical SEO errors that impact SEO
Screpy is an analysis tool that creates step-by-step guidelines to improve your website’s performance using a visually pleasing format. The development of data visualization gives you the metrics everybody can understand. Screapy is the perfect SEO tool to help you optimize security, site speed and much more.
The tool targets small to medium-sized businesses struggling to find and fix technical errors that impact your rankings. Here you can view everything as one useful and minimalistic dashboard and make sure nothing on your website is broken.
- Website audit
- Page speed
- W3C markup validation
- Uptime tracker
- SERP checker for Google
The data is crawled and imported from the original sources.
- Not an all in one SEO tool
- Unable to create branded reports
- Buggy in some occasions
- Hexometer – more comprehensive tool that’s great for eCommerce businesses
- Pro – $24 per month $49 lifetime deal available
(Gives you everything you need to monitor your sites performance)
BuzzSumo – Find content trends that gets shared on social media
BuzzSumo is a tool that creates the symbiosis between social media and basic SEO principles and standards.
You’ll get an insight into popular and trending content, pages, topics, and posts with high performance. Using those features, you’ll be able to discover the content that’s getting the most shares within any niche.
The tool allows you to find and connect with influencers that share the content.
If you’re a digital marketer looking to create hot and trending content that’s about to go viral – give BuzzSumo a try.
This all-in-one solution helps marketers find, analyze, and compare:
- Social signals
- New content opportunities
- Link research
- Influencer hunt
- Social Animal – a similar tool which seems to have slightly less data
This one differs from other featured tools on this page, as it comes with a different approach to SEO. The biggest real competitor is Social Animal, a cheaper alternative that lacks fine polishing and advanced features from the higher end of the spectrum.
- Competitor analysis
- Wider integrations
- Pro – $99 per month (monthly billing) or $79 per month (annual billing)
- Plus – $179 per month (monthly billing) or $139 per month (annual billing)
- Large – $299 per month (monthly billing) or $239 per month (annual billing)
- Enterprise – $499+ per month (monthly billing) or $499+ per month (annual billing)
Even with the pro version, you can have unlimited number of searches. You’ll have limited users, projects, exports and such. As you go up with the plan, the limit will loosen up.
ShortPixel – Increase site speed with image compression
ShortPixel is a tiny, yet essential tool that helps you boost your websites speed by compressing images.
Site speed is one of the essential SEO ranking factors Google is asking webmasters to optimize. Slow site speed equals poor user experience. And poor user interface equals bad ranking.
Thus, the use of an image optimization tool is a must. For this purpose, we picked ShortPixel as one of the best and the most popular tools on the market right now.
The tool is a WordPress plugin, but you’re not limited to this platform only. It provides API support for all your non-WordPress sites.
Besides one or two general SEO tools, we recommend getting ShortPixel as a standalone image optimization tool. It can boost your chances of hitting the #1 spot on Google.
There aren’t any fancy options, yet everything that you might need is right here:
- Automatic and bulk image optimization
- Many compression settings
- Integration with several different platforms
- Integration with Elementor
All three of these serve the main purpose – image compression, but in a different way.
Yet, due to the convenience and general usability, ShortPixel takes the throne this time.
- Free – 100 images per month
- Short (5,000 images) – $4.99 per month
- Large (12,000 images) – $9.99 per month
- XXL (55,000 images) – $29.99 per month
List of Google’s free SEO tools
Google offers a suite of free tools to help you optimize your website for Google Search. You might need to take the steeper learning curve or spend a bit more time, yet the results are worth it.
Paid SEO tools get their data from Google and adjust the user-interface so that it’s user friendly or a bit fancier.
So, if you’re on a tight budget, there’s still hope for your business – but only if you’re willing to invest time to learn how to use Google’s tools.
Here is guide to getting started.
Google Search Central
Google Search Central is a “learning” platform where you can gather info about your site, keywords, errors, sessions, etc.
You’ll see the traffic volume and see basic divisions such as mobile/desktop users, geo locations, and more. Besides these, you’ll find an array of info from the technical SEO perspective. Those are page performances, indexing, linking, security, and URL inspection.
The dashboard might seem limited, yet make sure to research in-depth, and you’ll find everything that you need for improved ranking.
If you’re starting with SEO optimization, hitting Google Search Console might help you understand metrics in general. In other words, if you’re not familiar with it, you better go back to basics – and Console is where it all started.
Google Analytics is an essential webmaster tool that gives you statistics of your average buyer persona.
It seems like the Search Console at first glance, yet those two differ. Search Console focuses on SEO stuff such as keywords, queries, and indexing. While Google Analytics looks for real human intentions.
There are over 10,000 metrics you can check inside Google Analytics. Some of the most popular and relevant include:
- Bounce rate
- Extensive audience demographics
- Acquisitions and traffic origins
- Time spent on each page
- Entire behaviour and customer journey before, during, and after visiting the site
As you can see, those are all the necessary stuff that can teach you a lot about your product and business by walking in your buyer persona’s shoes.
Regardless of your business size or industry, Google Analytics is a tool everybody should investigate and get the most out of it.
Google PageSpeed Insights
PageSpeed Insights is a technical webmaster tool that helps you to lower the page load speed.
It’s described as the combination of Google Search Console and Analytics in the narrow field of page performance.
The best part of Insights is the self-learning mechanism that gathers information from your site’s visitors. According to their actions, the tool is making a report and alerting common mistakes that webmasters should fix.
Luckily, you won’t need to fix those all alone. Insights are suggesting possible solutions and opportunities for improvement.
Google Trends is a search analysis tool that is Google’s native keyword research tool. The approach isn’t as detailed as some of our recommended keyword research tools, yet it’s pretty relevant.
Additionally, the marketing industry is about trends and hot happenings, but this tool isn’t made only for news portals and blogs. More or less, any industry can benefit by packing their product or service inside a trending topic that can go viral.
Another remarkable and practical feature of Google Trends is the Related queries section. Here you can get topics for new pages, ideas for updating existing ones, and so on.
The recommendation for Trends remains the same as for previous Google’s tools. Make sure to try it so that you can have a deeper understanding of the brain behind this search engine.
Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio is a free data visualization tool that lets you import and connect data from over 300 standalone apps and tools.
Google Analytics, Ads, and Sheets are on top of the list, and as you scroll, you can find more or less anything that you need.
Data visualization is the key to SEO standards implementation. Not only for external presentation or performance reviews – but also for yourself.
The better the data is organized, the more you can see and get from it.
This one comes in especially handy if your tool of choice lacks a proper visualization or lacks data visualization at all.
You can test this tool with only a few clicks – head to the Data Studio page, click on Blank Report, and start assembling your first document. And before you start, make sure to check the tutorial that’s found next to the blank template.
If you’re about to start utilizing the SEO standards, all this might seem overwhelming. But you’ve come to the right place.
Our goal was to write a detailed guide about some of the most popular SEO tools that most businesses could offer. Depending on your personal needs, you can check which ones are for you and which ones you can skip.
- Yoast SEO is best for content optimization on WordPress
- Surfer SEO is best for guiding content writers
- UberSuggest is best for keyword research on a budget
- SEMRush is best for becoming and staying #1 on Google
- Market Muse is best for content planning
- Screaming Frog is best for technical SEO
- Labrika is best for simple and cheap in-house SEO
- Hexowatch is best for watching competitors
- Screpy is best for SEO metrics and data visualisation
- BuzzSumo is best for combining social media trends and SEO
- ShortPixel is best for image and page speed optimization
And now it’s your turn:
Found the app matching your business’ needs? Don’t hesitate to let us know what you’re using in the comments below.
Still not sure which one to use? Look out for demo versions coming on our YouTube Channel – we’re preparing reviews for some of our favourite marketing and SEO tools.
For more information, check out the following guides: