We’ve painstakingly researched, refined and distilled hundreds of them.
The result: this fully‐categorised list of what we believe to be 100 of the best tools out there.
But, before we get to the tools, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- It would be impossible to create a list of every tool, so this wasn’t our focus. We instead focussed on collating the most popular and widely‐used tools (and categorizing them).
- We’ve put a lot of focus on SEO tools. Why? Because we’re talking about online marketing here, and SEO is a HUGE part of it.
OK, let’s get to the tools!
Without analytics, there’s no way of knowing how your visitors are reaching or interacting with your website.
And, if you don’t know this, you’ll be in the dark about what’s working and what isn’t.
This is a dangerous place to be, as it can lead to all kinds of errors.
For example, you may continue spending money on that PPC campaign that isn’t generating a return on investment. Or keep creating content that nobody is actually reading.
Analytics tools allow you to gain insight into these areas, so you can base your marketing strategy on cold, hard data (rather than guessing).
They can tell you where your visitors came from, who they are, and the traffic sources that convert best.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
These days, there’s an analytics tool for virtually everything.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Google Analytics — comprehensive analytics platform from Google (we recommend all websites use this!)
KISSMetrics — digs deeper into your visitors/customers behavior.
MixPanel — helps you learn more about your users. Great for product development and/or increasing conversions.
HotJar — shows how visitors are using your website with heatmaps.
Sometimes, you’ll be working on a site and realize one thing: your competition is absolutely crushing it.
It can be depressing, but remember this:
If you can just reverse engineer what they’re doing (i.e. everything responsible for their success), you can then implement similar tactics on your site.
But, here’s the problem: it’s almost impossible to do manually.
This is where tools come in handy.
Competitive research tools can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about your competitors, including:
- Which content has the most backlinks?
- Which content has the most social shares?
- What terms are they bidding on in AdWords?
- What keywords are they ranking for?
It’s also possible to identify “content gaps” (i.e. content your competitor has, yet you don’t) for your own site.
Here are our favorites:
SimilarWeb — estimates traffic and engagement statistics for any website.
Ahrefs (Site Explorer) — lets you see who’s linking to your competitors, what keywords they rank for in search, their most popular content, and much‐much more.
SEMRush — a feature‐rich toolset that is quite similar to Ahrefs, but has many unique features and tools.
SpyFu — very similar to SEMrush & Ahrefs and also has quite a few unique features that you won’t find in aforementioned toolsets.
Building backlinks is never an easy task.
It takes time, effort and a meticulously personalized approach to outreach.
Even then, you’re still only going to convert a handful of your prospects.
Therefore, successful link building requires two things:
- A large list of prospects.
- A way to meticulously vet these prospects.
Here are a few of the best tools for any serious link prospector:
Google Results Extractor (by Chris Ainsworth) — scrapes Google search results into a neat, copyable list.
LinkClump — lets you open a bunch of links in one fell swoop (perfect for vetting large lists of prospects).
Check My Links (for Chrome) — checks for broken links on any web page from within your browser.
NoFollow (for Chrome) — check for nofollowed links on any web page (i.e. links that pass no SEO value).
SEERS SEO Toolbox — adds insanely useful SEO‐focussed formulas to Google Sheets.
URL Profiler — crawls and scrapes content from websites. It can also pull in data from Moz, Ahrefs, Majestic, and a ton of other data sources.
Links remain one of the most important ranking factors.
Many studies (including our own) have confirmed this.
But, building links (without buying them!) can be extremely difficult.
And, if you don’t have access to a backlink research tool, it will be even harder.
For example, you might want to reverse engineer the top 10 Google results (in order to figure out why they’re ranking) then copy their strategy.
But, with links (still) being a crucial ranking factor, you can bet that any site ranking in the top 10 has a ton of links.
So, you’ll probably need to reverse engineer (and copy) their backlinks to stand any chance of outranking them.
And the only way to find out who links to a particular piece of content is by using a backlink research tool.
Without relying on metrics (e.g. DR, UR, etc.) from such tools, it’s also pretty difficult to figure out the potential value of a link.
So, here are our 3 favorite backlink research tools:
Majestic — the closest competitor to Ahrefs when it comes to “backlink research”. It has a few useful metrics such as TrustFlow and CitationFlow.
Open Site Explorer (from Moz) — backlink checker created by Moz. It has the smallest index of the three.
Many people begin creating content without first conducting keyword research.
This is a big mistake.
Without comprehensive keyword research, your content typically won’t stand a chance of ranking for anything worthwhile.
And, if it doesn’t rank for the right terms (i.e. the keywords/phrases your target audience are searching for), you won’t get the traffic you deserve.
This means that the time, money, and effort you put into creating your content will be wasted.
Keyword research is actually a two‐step process, consisting of:
Discovery involves finding as many keywords (related to your niche) as possible.
Finding related keywords from a “seed” keyword is one way of doing this.
Research involves looking at things like search volume (i.e. how many people search for a keyword each month) and keyword difficulty (i.e. the effort required to rank for a keyword).
And using this information to decide which keywords to target.
Both of these processes are equally important, so here are our favorite keyword discovery/research tools:
Ahrefs (Keyword Explorer) — gives a very accurate search volume and keyword difficulty for any keyword. It also suggests tons of related keyword ideas and has great filtering options.
SEMRush — shows a ton of information for any keyword.
Long Tail Pro — grabs keyword volume, determines keyword competitiveness, and pulls in metrics from Majestic.
KeywordTool.io — amends your seed keyword with hundreds of variations, then scrapes Google’s related searches to find thousands of similar keywords.
AnswerThePublic.com — finds questions people are actually searching for (from your seed keyword).
Most “on‐page SEO” tasks fall into one of these two buckets:
- Finding errors (or optimization opportunities)
- Fixing them
When you’re working with a small website (<5 pages), manually searching for and fixing problems is pretty easily done.
You load up a page, inspect the HTML, and note down any areas for improvement.
But, with a large site (say 10k+ pages), doing this manually could easily take weeks or even months. It would also be pretty boring.
This is where web crawlers and various other on‐page tools are needed.
Web crawlers make finding errors en masse as simple as hitting a “crawl” button — the program does all the work for you.
But, there’s another problem: big sites typically have big (i.e. many) problems.
Diving into the HTML to fix hundreds of problems would be pretty time‐consuming. Fortunately there are a tons of other on‐page tools/plugins that make life a lot easier.
Here are a few must‐have tools:
Screaming Frog — powerful website crawling application that’s perfect for discovering on‐site issues (e.g. broken links, etc.)
DeepCrawl — powerful industry‐leading website crawler (also cloud‐based, unlike Screaming Frog)
Yoast SEO (WordPress Plugin) — gives you the ability to easily edit on‐page meta information (e.g. title, description, etc.) without sifting through the code.
OnPage.org — crawls your website, finds on‐site/technical errors, and kicks back a detailed report.
Beam Us Up — powerful crawling application (somewhat similar to Screaming Frog, but 100% free),
Xenu Link Sleuth — lightweight website crawler with a focus on finding broken links (only for Windows).
Knowing where you rank for your target keywords is super‐important.
Without tracking this information, you’ll never know where to prioritize your efforts.
For example, if you rank #1 for a particular keyword, you probably don’t need to launch a massive link building campaign for that page/keyword (as it can’t get any higher).
But, if you’re ranking at the bottom of page 2, that page may benefit from such a campaign.
What’s more, if you have clients, they’re going to expect a “ranking” report every month.
And, with most websites ranking for hundreds — sometimes even thousands — of keywords, it would be crazily time‐consuming to do this manually.
So, here are a few of the best rank tracking tools on the market:
Pro Rank Tracker — track up to 50,000 keywords with daily automatic updates. They also support both local and mobile rank tracking.
STAT — track an unlimited number of keywords, all with daily tracking. Mobile and local SERPs included.
SERPWoo — track up to 4,000 keywords (includes mobile + local). It also lets you track the top 100 positions for any query.
AWR Cloud — daily rankings for desktop, mobile and local searches. You can also generate white label ranking reports.
Accuranker — fast rank checker (updates in seconds). It also tracks social metrics and integrates with Google Analytics.
Millions of blog posts are published every single day.
And here’s the truth: most of them go completely unnoticed.
Why? Because most people never research the type of content that is likely to work well in their industry.
They simply start writing and hope for the best.
So unless you want to waste time creating content that your target audience won’t care about, you need to do your research.
This is where content research tools come in.
These tools allow you to gain insight into your industry before you write a single word.
Just type in a keyword or phrase and you’ll be able to see things like:
- Number of social shares
- Number of backlinks/referring domains
- The exact wording your target audience uses when searching for a topic
And from this, you can make informed, data‐driven decisions about the best way to attack your chosen keywords/topics.
Here are a few of our favorite tools:
Buzzsumo — easily find content with the most social shares (you can also filter by content type and time period).
Ahrefs (Content Explorer) — find niche‐specific content with the most social shares, backlinks, and search traffic. Also lets you get super‐granular with the filtering (e.g. filter by publish date, languages, etc.)
Reddit — popular community site where you can find tried and tested ideas for your content.
Many marketers still search for email addresses manually.
They spend countless hours sifting through hundreds of websites, social profiles, and other web properties, searching for that elusive email address.
This takes a ton of time.
Simply finding the contact information for, say, 100 people can easily set you back a full working day.
This is where “email discovery/verification tools” come in handy.
Using super‐smart algorithms, they visit, parse, and scrape sites to gather contact information.
Many of them will find a person’s email address in seconds — all you need is their name and website.
But, here’s the bad news:
None of these tools are 100% accurate (most claim 80–90% accuracy), so occasionally they won’t find anything.
This is where email guessing and validation tools come in handy.
Here are our 5 favorites:
Hunter.io (formerly EmailHunter.co) — tackles both email discovery and verification. It has a clean UI, API access (which works in Google Sheets), and a Chrome extension.
Voila Norbert — discovers and verifies email addresses (very similar to Hunter.io). It has an API, but no Chrome extension.
FindThat.Email — claims an 85% delivery rate on all email addresses it finds. No API access, but there’s a Chrome extension. It also works within Ahrefs Dashboard.
MailTester.com — will verify the existence of an email address by pinging the server. It’s ugly, but it works.
Guesser.email — does what it says on the tin: it’s guesses someone’s email address (from their name and website).
No longer are they restricted to bland broadcast emails (i.e. an “email blast” to your entire list).
You can now:
- Segment easily
- Get extremely granular with campaign monitoring
- Create smart action‐based autoresponder sequences
This is why email is reported to have a 3800% ROI.
So, if you’re serious about email marketing, you need to invest in email marketing tools.
Here are a few of our favorites:
MailChimp — email marketing made simple. Offers easy integration with a ton of third‐party apps/services (e.g. UnBounce, WordPress, etc.)
ConvertKit — conversion focussed email marketing for bloggers.
InfusionSoft — email marketing platform focussed on smart automation (also incorporates a CRM).
GetResponse — claims to be the “world’s easiest email marketing” platform. It also offers some automation features (although not as advanced as InfusionSoft).
Manual outreach is one of the most effective ways to promote new content.
It’s also a great way to build links.
But, if you take the fully manual approach, it can take hours to compose and send just a few outreach emails.
This is because generic email tools (e.g. Gmail) aren’t built for mass outreach. So, you’ll end up writing each and every email from scratch (this is crazily time‐consuming).
Outreach tools make everything much simpler and quicker.
Many have features such as auto follow‐ups, email open tracking, pre‐built templates, and even mail‐merge capabilities.
They can also drastically simplify the process of discovering relevant prospects.
Some even allow you to discover hundreds (or even thousands) of targeted prospects in seconds.
Here are our favorites:
Buzzstream — find prospects and send outreach emails with ease. Includes a basic CRM and lets you track all emails sent.
Pitchbox — outreach platform focussed on automation and scaling.
ContentMarketer.io — lets you send and track outreach emails using Gmail. Includes a ton of templates.
NinjaOutreach — all‐in‐one influencer discovery and outreach management tool.
If you’re involved in “local” SEO, things like citation building, reviews, and reputation management will be a big part of your life.
But, here’s the problem: these tasks can be extremely time‐consuming, boring, and repetitive.
For example, It can take hours to find local citation opportunities. And when you do find them, you’ll then have to spend even more time submitting to each of them. One. By. One.
It’s the same story with local blogger outreach, attracting reviews, and virtually any other “local SEO” task, too.
But, what if all this could be simplified, or perhaps even automated?
With “local SEO” tools, you can automate tasks such as, local rank tracking, and even finding local citations.
Here are a few useful “local SEO” tools:
BrightLocal — pulls your local SEO data into one dashboard. Offers a ton of tools including citation auditing and online review monitoring.
WhiteSpark — offers three main tools: local citation builder; reputation builder; and local rank tracker. There’s also a link prospector.
Moz Local — helps you ensure that your local business listings are accurate and correct.
FreeReviewMonitoring.com — monitors your businesses reviews on all the major review sites, daily.
Recommended reading: Local SEO: A Simple (But Complete) Guide
If you don’t know exactly how people are using your mobile app, something needs to change.
Sure, looking at the number of downloads gives you a basic insight.
But, if you’re looking to optimize your app for UX (as you should be) or analyze where mobile users are falling out of your funnel, you need to dig deeper.
This is exactly what mobile analytics tools allow you to do.
They’ll help you figure out who your users really are; what they’re clicking; and even the exact features they’re using.
You can then use this data to improve UX, guide your feature implementation strategy, and even increase your bottom‐line.
Here are a few great tools:
Apsalar — app analytics platform focussed on ROI. Assesses return on ad spend (ROAS) and helps with remarketing.
LeanPlum — comprehensive mobile analytics platform that helps to drive app engagement and ROI.
App Annie — app analytics and marketing data intelligence platform.
Most businesses are constantly being mentioned online.
Some people will be talking about their experience(s) with you, others will be asking questions about your product in forums, and so forth.
Now, it’s easy to see how monitoring these mentions could be beneficial; for example:
- You could follow‐up and answer questions from potential customers in forums
- You could reclaim links from those mentioning you, but not linking to your site (thus helping with SEO)
- You could promote future content to those who’ve mentioned you in the past
But monitoring these mentions manually is literally impossible.
The solution: mention tracking tools.
These tools constantly monitor the web for mentions of, well, whatever you ask them to monitor the web for.
You can enter brand keywords (e.g. “Ahrefs”), competitor keywords (e.g. “SEMRush”), or even topics (e.g. “marketing tools”).
Whenever they spot a new mention, they’ll let you know.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Google Alerts — lets you monitor the web for any keyword/phrase (completely free!).
Ahrefs (Alerts) — monitor alerts for any query and get updates in real‐time (or daily/weekly).
Mention — monitors mentions of your brand on the web. It also helps uncover influencers and allows you to react instantly.
TalkWalker — listens for brand mentions on social platforms. It also tells you whether those mentions are positive or negative.
Social Mention — real‐time keyword monitoring and analysis.
Facebook has 1.7+ billion monthly active users.
Twitter has 313 million.
Even Pinterest has 100+ million.
So it’s clear that social media marketing is a must for all businesses, regardless of size.
But, managing a Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest board, and LinkedIn group is a time‐consuming process.
And here’s the truth: most small business owners simply don’t have the time or budget to do this.
I mean, if you’re doing everything manually, it can easily take an hour just to post one link across all your social media channels.
Luckily, social media marketing tools can help streamline the process.
Not only can they help with management, but many use smart algorithms to determine the best time for posting.
They even automate the entire process.
Here are a few of the best:
Buffer — allows you to queue your social media posts and publish to multiple platforms in one place.
CoSchedule — lets you build a smart content marketing editorial calendar.
HootSuite — helps you to manage all your social platforms from one place.
FollowerWonk — helps you to analyze your twitter followers (e.g. who they are, and where they’re from). Also useful for discovering “influencers”.
Landing pages have one job: to convert visitors into leads.
In fact, a good landing page should convert at 20%-40%.
But, here’s the problem: each time you promote something new (e.g. ebook, webinar, “cheat sheet”, etc.), you’ll need a completely redesigned landing page.
But, most businesses can’t afford to shell out a couple of hundred bucks for a custom landing page design every few weeks.
Landing page tools solve this problem by offering sets of pre‐designed, easily editable landing page templates.
Most also keep track of conversion rates, allowing you to gain some insight into how well your pages are converting.
Some even allow you to create and optimize entire funnels, which ultimately leads to a nice increase in revenue (when used wisely).
Here are a few we love:
LeadPages — a landing page builder (with a ton of templates!). Integrates with most email marketing platforms.
ClickFunnels — map out your entire funnel and build all the landing pages (and more) you need.
UnBounce — a simple landing page builder with over 200 templates.
Instapage — build, publish and continually test (with A/B testing) landing pages.
Most people are quite “trigger happy” with their ideas.
For example, when they have an idea for increasing conversions on their sales page, they’ll waste no time implementing that idea.
This is a huge mistake.
Because that change could just as easily decrease conversions. And if that happens, it will have a negative effect on your bottom‐line.
A/B testing solves this problem by offering a data‐driven approach to any changes.
Here’s how it works:
Instead of simply implementing a change and hoping for the best, A/B testing tools will create two versions of a page.
The first version is the original page (no changes), and the second is identical to the first, but with one change.
These two pages are then tested against each other — you can then choose whichever performed best as the winner.
Here are a few great A/B testing tools:
VWO — easily run A/B tests (and multivariate tests) on your website. It also helps you target and personalize content to different types of visitor.
Optimizely — run A/B tests and personalize web content with ease.
Convert.com — enterprise‐level A/B testing with “seamless” Google Analytics integration.
Most businesses use a ton of different marketing tools.
But, there’s a problem: most of these tools aren’t very good at talking to each other.
For example, if a customer purchases something via PayPal, getting that information into your CRM can often be a manual, time‐consuming process.
Wouldn’t it be easier if these services could talk to each other?
Marketing automation tools make use of APIs and other smart technology to connect seemingly unrelated tools to one‐another.
So, automatically importing form‐fill data (e.g. from TypeForm) into a spreadsheet (e.g. Google Sheets), for example, is now possible.
And that’s just one example — you can create your own triggers and actions to do almost anything you can imagine.
Here are a few of the best tools:
IFTTT — connect hundreds of different services with a simple “If [THIS] then [THAT]” formula.
Zapier — automate tasks between seemingly unrelated apps with “zaps”.
Marketo — create, automate and measure marketing campaigns (across a number of different channels).
Center.io — automate tasks based on the actions your leads take (created by LeadPages).
Hubspot Marketing — all‐in‐one marketing automation platform (it literally does everything).
Webinars are powerful lead generation tools.
According to these stats, 20%-40% of webinar attendees turn into qualified leads.
So, if you can get 100 people to attend your webinar, that’s potentially 20–40 qualified leads for your business.
Convert those leads at, say, 50%, and that’ll be 10–20 new clients.
For an SEO company charging a monthly retainer of $500 (which is apparently the most common figure), that could be an additional $5k-$10k in MRR from hosting just one webinar.
But, here’s the issue: many businesses struggle with the technicalities of hosting a webinar.
Luckily, webinar software has come a long way over the years. There are now many webinar tools that are both feature‐packed and easy‐to‐use.
Some of them even help you to monetize your webinars with certain features.
Here are a few of the best:
WebinarJam — an enhanced version of Google Hangouts, heavily focussed on increasing webinar revenue.
GoToWebinar — lets you host and record webinars with live Q&A’s (and much more!).
ClickWebinar — lets you educate your prospects with branded webinars.
WebinarNinja — create a webinar in as little as 10 seconds.
Traffic is great, but it doesn’t always directly correlate with revenue.
Some sites get hundreds of thousands of visitors per month and only make a few hundred dollars. Others receive a fraction of that and make tens of thousands.
So what gives?
Well, the sites making real money are typically the ones that understand the importance of lead generation.
Remember, you can have all the traffic in the world but if it doesn’t convert, you’re fighting a losing battle.
Lead generation tools essentially help you to convert visitors into business leads.
They make implementing common lead acquisition strategies (e.g. content upgrades; overlays; pop‐ups, etc.) easier by handling the technicalities.
Most have a user‐friendly UI, which allows you to implement advanced lead generation tactics in seconds (without needing to know how to code).
Here are a few of the best:
SumoMe — a suite of lead generation tools (including various opt‐ins).
OptinMonster — build, test and analyze lead generation forms.
Thrive Leads — add “content upgrades” and other opt‐ins to your WordPress website with ease.
Facebook alone earned $1.51 billion in revenue (from advertising) in the first 3 months of 2016.
And Google’s ad revenue recently hit $19 billion.
With PPC networks like this (and yes, Facebook and Google are effectively PPC networks) making such astronomical amounts, it’s clear that PPC advertising can be hugely profitable for businesses.
If it wasn’t, businesses wouldn’t be willingly handing over such crazy sums to these companies.
But, here’s the problem: when you start to scale your PPC spend, things become increasingly difficult to manage.
It gets to a stage where your messy spreadsheet just won’t cut it.
This is where PPC management tools come in super‐useful, as they drastically simplify the management process.
But, that’s just one feature.
Many of these tools also have sophisticated algorithms built‐in. These constantly analyze campaign performance and give you recommendations for improvements (e.g. cutting that unprofitable ad before it costs you dearly).
Here are a couple of must‐have tools for those involved in PPC:
WordStream — helps you create, manage and optimize your PPC campaigns.
AdEspresso — optimization tools for Facebook ads (includes A/B testing and detailed analytics).
Optmyzr — manage and optimize PPC campaigns (including keyword, bid, and ad optimization).
Sales management can be a messy process.
It’s usually fine in the early days (when you’re dealing with very few customers).
But, when you start getting more leads, things can turn to chaos pretty quickly.
I mean, when you’ve got a few thousand people in your sales funnel (all at different stages), you need a robust management system.
Without one, customers are going to fall through the cracks, and you’ll be leaving money on the table.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools solve this problem by pulling all your data into one robust management application.
You can then keep track of every touchpoint, every interaction, and every sale in one place.
Many also automatically pull in data from other platforms (e.g. MailChimp).
Here are a few of the best:
Salesforce — possibly the most powerful CRM application on the planet.
Hubspot CRM — 100% free CRM for up to a million contacts.
Close.io — a CRM for salespeople (focussed on helping you make more sales).
Pipedrive — a sales management application for small businesses.
Many marketers spend the bulk of their time chasing new leads but remember: existing customers are the lifeblood of your business.
Here’s a quote from Market Metrics:
The probability of converting an existing customer is 60 percent to 70 percent. The probability of converting a new prospect, on the other hand, is only 5 percent to 20 percent
Clearly then, it’s important to keep in contact with your existing customers.
But how do you do this, at scale?
Customer communication tools solve this by automating the customer communication process.
So, we’re talking things like website live chats (that ping you on demand).
And even fully‐automated marketing solutions that send personalized messages to customers based on their activities.
Here are a few great tools to consider:
Intercom — communicate, engage with and solve the problems of your visitors (in real‐time).
LiveChat — clutter‐free live messaging application for your website.
Customer.io — automate your customer communication based on visitor engagement.
Here are the tools that didn’t fit neatly into the categories above, but are still super‐useful:
Google Tag Assistant — a Chrome extension for troubleshooting the installation of various tags in Google Tag Manager (e.g. Google Analytics).
DownNotifier.com — alerts you when your website is down. Simple.
BuiltWith — find out what any website is built with (e.g. WordPress, Magento, etc.).
Microdata Generator (by Schema.org) — a structured data generator for (almost) anything you could ever need!
JetPack (for WordPress) — speeds up image loading, adds extra security, and gives visitor stats for self‐hosted WordPress websites.
WebCodeTools.com — generate web code for just about anything you can imagine!
Did We Miss Anything?
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We’ll happily consider adding it to the list (if we deem it worthy).