THE BLOG
11/03/2016 09:27 am ET Updated Nov 04, 2017

How Do You Choose the Right SEO Tools For Your Small Business?

In just a few years, the rules for successful SEO for small businesses have changed pretty radically. There's a lot of focus on investing in content, but a significant portion of that investment should be based on doing SEO the right way.

The old SEO strategy was pretty simple: stick as many keywords into your content and headlines as possible. However, Google quickly caught on and realized that wasn't going to create the best experience for the person who ultimately matters most: the reader.

The SEO strategies of just a few years ago are now heavily penalized by Google and other search engines, as the focus moves toward the creation of content that's well-written, compelling and meets the needs of the reader.

Other elements key to successful SEO strategies in 2016 and beyond include the mobile-friendliness of blogs and web pages, the perceived value, usage data, and overall design and readability. So with that in mind, small businesses are looking for innovative SEO tools that will help them meet their goals, drive readership to their posts and blogs, but also do so in a way that's both time and cost-effective.

Luckily, there are excellent tools, many of which are free, that have become available to help small businesses successfully navigate and manage their SEO.

Below are some tips to help small businesses identify the right SEO tools for their needs.

Consider Your Requirements
When you're looking for SEO tools, the options are numerous, as are the features many offer. You can find SEO tools aimed at businesses with loads of features, but at the same time, you can often go with something that's much simpler but has the basics and is free.

The choice for the tools you work with is going to come down to your particular needs.
For example, if you just need a tool that simplifies your keyword discovery and research, you can likely go with something that's basic and free. If you need to go more in-depth with these tasks, there are also paid options. There are so many different options when it comes to the features of SEO tools, and you need to think carefully about the needs of your business.

For example, is your focus long-tail keyword research? Maybe you're more interested in link building or guest posting. Perhaps you want to look more closely at the competition and see how their websites are performing.

Whatever it is that is relevant to your SEO strategy, make sure you have it outlined, specifically, before choosing any SEO tools. SEO tools vary significantly in their features. Before you start deciding on specific tools, sit down and outline exactly what you need and what your SEO expectations will be.

What Is the Size of Your Business and Website?
If you're a relatively large business and you're going to have a team of people logging in and managing SEO, you may need a tool that's more complex and offers these options, while perhaps also letting you manage administrative privileges at different levels.

Along with the size of your team, you might want to think about the overall size and scope of your website as well. If you have thousands or tens of thousands of pages (for example, if you're an e-Commerce company), you're going to need SEO tools that will address your unique needs. On the other hand, if you're a genuinely small business and you only want to manage the SEO for your blog, you can go much simpler with the scalability and offerings of your SEO tools.

Integration with Other Tools
When you're selecting SEO tools, you need to make sure you're choosing something that's going to work well with the other marketing tools and platforms you're already utilizing in your business or plan to use. This becomes increasingly important as more and more of even the smallest businesses are incredibly reliant on a myriad of apps, software solutions, and tools on a daily basis. If they're not working well together, they're not bringing you maximum value from a business perspective.

That's one of the reasons so many bloggers and marketing professionals recommend SEO tools offered through Wordpress such as the Yoast SEO Plugin and the Google Search Console. These are already provided right within Wordpress, which makes everything incredibly simple if that's the blogging platform your business uses.

Is It User-Friendly?
What's great about many SEO tools, particularly the free ones, is their simplicity. Some of them are as easy as going through a database of keywords and selecting the ones you want to use.

Simplicity and a user-friendly design are something you should think about when choosing SEO tools for your business. Otherwise, you may find that you're spending more time and money training employees on the use of these tools than you'd like to, or you may have to outsource the SEO work altogether, and small businesses often just don't have the budget for that.

Also, if you choose a tool that's too complicated for your realistic needs, you're not going to use it as often as you should, and you're not only wasting money, but you're doing yourself a disservice if it leads you to put less attention on your SEO.

The choices when it comes to SEO tools are numerous, and small businesses have incredible opportunities to boost their marketing, blogs and websites as a result.

When you're a business owner selecting your SEO tools some of the most important things to consider include your budget, the needs of your team, the size of your website, how user-friendly it is and whether or not it will integrate with your existing tools. It's also important to think about the must-have features that will deliver the most value to your business.