Whether you are preparing to redesign your website, or wondering how to improve the quality and quantity of its traffic and leads, an SEO audit is, hands down, the best mechanism for understanding its true effectiveness. You’ll be able to tell what pages are your shining stars—bringing in the most engaged visitors—and pinpoint problem areas that you can address to boost performance even more.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links. Rest assured, these are all tools we use regularly and recommend accordingly.
No one SEO tool does it all
An SEO audit, though, can mean different things to different people, including your web developers, digital marketers, and SEOs. At Pure Visibility, we found there was no one audit product on the market that gave us the complete picture we were looking for, so we developed a method we call a Visibility Audit. Think of it as a super-charged SEO audit service that analyzes a company’s digital visibility across the internet, with the website at its core.
Through our process of developing our Visibility Audit, we worked with dozens of online SEO tools to find the right combination of data points we needed to perform our analysis. Some of the tools we had already used for years, while others we discovered while looking for more efficient ways to get the job done. Either way, it was hard to choose from such a robust field of SEO applications, both paid and free.
Fortunately, these tools are readily available to anyone, and almost all are web-based applications, many with freemium pricing models. Each one can help you understand a piece of the inner workings of your website, but to really figure out what’s going on, you need to find the right combination for your needs. When analyzing any website’s performance, we recommend the following seven areas as the minimum to be evaluated:
- Keyword rankings
- Traffic (volume and behavior)
- On-page SEO
- Page load speed
- Technical SEO (crawlability, indexability, and code issues)
Depending on your market, business model, and goals, you may hone in on different aspects to weigh more heavily than others. But, we have found that leaving any one area out entirely can lead to a fairly significant gap in your understanding of your website’s performance.
The best of the best: Our top 4 SEO audit tools
If we had to pick the SEO audit tools that we could not live without, we’d choose the following because of the sheer quality of data they provide. None is a one-size-fits all tool, but each is invaluable to gaining the level of understanding we need to perform our SEO audits.
- Ahrefs –
Our favorite for reviewing broken backlinks and overall domain profile. Also great for performing keyword research, with alert options for keywords and brand mentions. This tool offers valuable insights on a page-by-page level so you can improve your own performance while also scrutinizing the competition.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider –
- Google Search Console –
- SEMrush –
Our picks for the best SEO audit tools
Below is a list of our favorite SEO tools, including the ones we use for extracting some of the most fundamental data for our Visibility Audit. We’ve listed them alphabetically, noting the current costs (as of December 2020) and the areas of SEO listed above that each tool will help address. In some cases, such as page load speed, we found that different tools can give you a different view of the problem, so using more than one is vital to really understanding your website’s performance. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list; but we’ll keep it up to date as we discover new SEO audit tools that we use and love. We hope the tools on this list helps you gain a better understanding of your website’s performance. Happy Auditing!
Provides a wide range of information, including keyword rankings, search volume, competitiveness and backlinks tracking over time. Also can be used to gain competitive insights and includes a keyword research tool. In 2020, Ahrefs released a number of free SEO tools, including a backlink checker, keyword generator, and Webmaster Tools.
Cost: plans start at $99/month, paid trial
Use for: keyword rankings, backlinks, technical SEO
Bing Webmaster Tools
Monitor a website’s performance and indexation in Bing search and update its sitemap.xml file. In 2020, the new Bing Webmaster Tools was released, which included enhanced and new tools.
Use for: traffic, keyword rankings, technical SEO
Reviews several aspects of a website, including indexability, technical SEO, and on-page elements. As a web-based alternative to desktop crawler software, DeepCrawl can handle millions of URLs at a time, making it great for larger websites.
Cost: plans start at $89/month, free trial
Use for: on-page SEO, technical SEO, indexability
Detailed insight into a website’s traffic patterns, sources, and user behavior. Track a wide range of session and page performance metrics. Especially useful in conjunction with Google Ads. The Analytics tracking scripts need to be set up on a website for use. In 2020, Google Analytics made a Google Analytics 4 property the default when creating a new property.
Use for: traffic volume, traffic behavior
Google Mobile Friendly Test
Simple tool for determining the mobile friendliness of a webpage. Identifies any mobile usability issues and provides resources on how they can be fixed.
Use for: mobile friendliness, page load speed
Google PageSpeed Insights
Reports on the speed of a website for both mobile and desktop devices. Provides a score for each device and opportunities to optimize.
Use for: page load speed, technical SEO
Google Search Console
Monitor a website’s performance and indexation in Google search, and update its sitemap.xml file. Includes insights into keyword traffic and mobile usability, and flags any indexation issues. Search Console’s API was updated in December 2020 and introduced a number of changes to the platform.
Use for: traffic volume, traffic behavior, crawlability, indexability
Analyzes a website’s page load speed and provides grades on its performance and custom recommendations. In November 2020, GTmetrix announced it would now be powered by Lighthouse and had redesigned the GTmetrix Report. GTmetrix PRO plans were also revamped.
Cost: limited free plan, paid plans start at $10/mo for individuals
Use for: page load speed, technical SEO
Checks that a website’s 301 redirects and canonical links are set up properly.
Cost: limited free version, lifetime licenses start at $49
Use for: technical SEO
Provides an in-depth history of backlinks for a specific website. Includes a keyword research tool. Majestic uses unique metrics like Trust Flow and Citation Flow to represent the quality and quantity of links.
Cost: limited free plan, paid plans start at $49.99/month
Use for: backlinks
Suite of SEO tools that tracks keyword rankings, traffic volumes, and backlinks for a website. Includes a limited audit tool and provides on-page SEO analysis. Moz also offers free SEO tools for keyword research, link building opportunities, and more.
Cost: plans start at $99/month, free trial
Use for: keyword rankings, backlinks, on-page SEO, technical SEO
In-depth analysis and monitoring of the crawlability of a website. Understand how architecture affects indexation and identify bottlenecks.
Cost: plans start at $49/month, free trial
Use for: crawlability, indexability, on-page SEO, page load speed, technical SEO
Pingdom Website Speed Test
Checks a website’s page load speed and notes issues and opportunities for optimization.
Cost: plans start at $10/month, free trial
Use for: page load speed, technical SEO
Comprehensive digital marketing tool that includes website audit, on-page SEO checker, backlinks audit, and other useful features for tracking and optimizing a website’s performance. Also provides competitor insights. In May 2020, SEMRush added two significant updates to its Traffic Analytics tool, a new keyword cannibalization report, and expanded functionality of the Domain Overview tool. Start your free, 14-day PRO trial here.
Cost: paid plans start at $99.95/month
Use for: keyword rankings, backlinks, technical SEO, on-page SEO
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Reveals detailed information on a website on a page-by-page basis, including on-page optimization, page links, and more.
Cost: limited free plan, paid plans start at £149
Use for: on-page SEO, technical SEO, crawlability, indexability
Varvy SEO tool
Provides a quick and easy scan of a website to pinpoint its performance on a range of technical issues.
Use for: indexability, mobile-friendliness, page load speed, technical SEO