Just like any industry trade, marketing departments and agencies need tools. Luckily there is a wide variety to choose from online. Some SEO professionals have paid tools and often aren’t even sure why.

Over the years we try them and collect them and once in a while review the company credit card and try to remember why we are paying $200 per month for this one or that one.

When starting out, it can be quite daunting because you know you need them but are not sure which ones are most important or useful. Here is where I will break down some of what I have found to be the most useful and have-to-have digital marketing tools out there.

I happen to like free, so let’s start out with the first one one on our list.

If you are doing search engine optimization, you probably know this is a standard in the industry. This is an application that downloads to your computer and is used to crawl websites and provide a plethora of information about it’s structure. Everything from the outbound links, length of title tags and status codes of pages.

This tool can be overwhelming at first glance with the voluminous amount of information available. Over time though you will often find that it is usually the first thing you will run when looking at a site.

screaming frog example

The free version of Screaming Frog has a limitation of 500 pages that it will crawl. This works perfectly fine for small sites, but if you find that you are working with bigger projects, you can purchase a yearly license at a very affordable price.

This platform is well known as a source for marketers to acquire high authority backlinks. This free service allows you to be on an email distribution list that on average, sends out about 300 opportunities every weekday. It takes experience and speed to make this service work for you, but the rewards are enormous for SEO and brand recognition.

Managing multiple sites can be overwhelming. Between your teams and the customers it can be next to impossible for a marketing director to keep track of changes that occur on one or many websites. No one expects a single person to monitor everything, but in the end if something goes wrong then you could end up being responsible.

Content King is an online SAAS product that crawls and then monitors websites and so that when changes occur, you get notified. Since so many changes can happen to a multitude of websites in a day, this tool provides notification settings based upon what is most important to you. You may not want to know when a page’s meta description is updated but it would be nice to know if 400 ecommerce products were just deleted.

One of the biggest features that most people are unaware of is the website audit feature within the platform. I am usually not a big fan of automated seo analysis tools, but this one really hits a lot of the basics and I find it to be very accurate. Again, if you are not a seasoned SEO professional, this can be a welcome addition to your organization.

Probably the best part of this product is the pricing structure. They charge by the number of pages being tracked, not the number of domains. So if you have a bunch of small clients, most other tools would usually charge by the domain. This to me is a fantastic way of managing all of your clients.

content king example

They provide a 2 week free trial and lots of learning tutorials. The service is very affordable and I have not seen anything on the market to match its capabilities.

Where do I begin? Anyone who has been doing search marketing is likely already familiar with this Ahrefs.com. Their database of websites, backlinks, keyword research and tools is unmatched by anyone in the industry.

Content creators and backlink builders would likely utilize this tool every day. Keeping track of your competitors, insights about your own domains and discovering new opportunities.

ahrefs example

While worth every penny, the base price is $100 per month with additional features and reporting available for higher pricing levels.

It does not matter if you are on a shoestring budget or operating an enterprise level department, this is a great free tool.

Keyword phrase recommendations organized in such a way so as to understand how people are asking about certain topics and helping you to generate great content ideas. It is easy to use and quite frankly it gets a little addictive when you first start out with it.

answer the public content map

This online tool is free and does not even require a login to use.

For those that are not as creative or don’t always have the time to be, this very affordable online tool has a lot to offer.

Canva provides templates and current sizing requirements for social media platforms, printed material and numerous other online imagery and video uses. They also provide a library of imagery that can be used, much of it royalty free.

The user interface is very easy to work with and intuitive. You do not need to have a degree in graphic design to work with this product.

canva screenshot

I have used it to make short marketing videos, infographics, blog featured images and so much more. The pricing is quite reasonable as well. You can utilize the free version and still get a lot of use out of it. The next level up in price provides for more flexibility in adjusting sizes, more free stock images and file formats. For the $13 per month that I spend, it is one of the most affordable and useful purchases I’ve made.

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