Here’s the TL;DR: Surfer is the best SEO software.
Unlike most AI writing tools, it helps you write better content faster — for humans and the internet.
What are the best SEO tools for small businesses?
Without a five- or six-figure-per-month marketing budget, search engines (at first glance) seem like a formidable opponent, not a revenue growth strategy.
To invest in SEO is to play the long game, and plenty of small businesses gloss over SEO in favor of more immediate marketing strategies (e.g., paid ads).
But small businesses have an edge: Their SEO efforts don’t need to compete with large, well-funded competitors. They just have to carve out their niche and show up for potential customers looking for them.
It isn’t an expensive endeavor — you can build a small business SEO tech stack for well under $500 per month.
Surfer: Our favorite all-in-one SEO tool
AI content platforms are a dime a dozen, but Surfer is more than that.
It can audit, plan, outline, and write your content, research and cluster keywords, find correlations between search engine rankings and on-page factors, and receive personalized recommendations for improving your SEO — all in an intuitive UI.
Keyword Research: Enter any one keyword and instantly see how difficult it is to rank for, who already does, and what elements are associated with high rankings. Surfer will also help you discover dozens of keyword and topic clusters, helping you develop a well-informed content marketing strategy in a matter of minutes.
Content Editor: Surfer’s claim to fame is its easy-to-use writing tool, which features a document-style interface and a whole list of keywords, phrases, and variations throughout your content to keep it varied, engaging, and of course, SEO-friendly. It finds these keywords using search engine data and natural language processing (NLP), then compiles them into an interactive keyword set.
Content Grade: While you write, Surfer will “grade” your content out of 100 based on its quality parameters — word, paragraph, and heading count, images, structure, and keyword variation. Surfer is the only tool that also uses NLP, which grades your writing for originality and engagement (not just how many keywords you stuffed in there).
Audits: If you want to improve a current page, you can audit it for specific keywords. Surfer will return a comprehensive report with detailed information to improve your content and its rankings.
Domain Planning: The Domain Planner tool streamlines the content optimization process by integrating Surfer and Google Search Console. With GSC data, it identifies exact pages that need content optimization and gives Content Scores for multiple pages within your domain.
SERP Analysis: Surfer will scan websites associated with your chosen keyword, find commonalities between top-ranking pages, and figure out exactly what you need to do to rank in their position.
Grow Flow: Personalized recommendations are a cornerstone of Surfer’s success. The Grow Flow tool automates this process, providing personalized recommendations for your site you can use to make incremental updates.
Lite ($29 per month): For small businesses that are new to content.
Essential ($89 per month): For small teams that are posting more content and also need to conduct keyword research.
Advanced: ($179 per month): For growing small businesses using SEO and content as their primary growth channels.
Max ($299 per month): For agencies and large companies that need extensive and feature-rich SEO tools.
Enterprise (Custom): Develop a customized SEO strategy with Surfer’s team.
When we think “SEO software for small businesses,” we think Semrush.
It’s like a Swiss Army knife for SEO — you can use it to improve your organic rankings, track competitors’ performance, manage campaigns, and more.
SEO Dashboard: Set up a complete dashboard to track your small business SEO performance over time. Customize it with whatever metrics and data points are most important to you.
Traffic Analytics: Analyze your competitors’ website traffic, identify areas for growth, and enhance your marketing strategy. You can create targeted lists of competitors, or create lists of up to 100 for bulk analysis.
Keyword Overview: The most comprehensive SEO tool in the game — research keywords, find millions of suggestions, and learn everything you need to know about which ones are most relevant to your audience (e.g., search intent, difficulty, cost per click, search trends, search volume).
Backlink Analysis and Audit: Semrush monitors your backlinks and discover potential link opportunities. It also provides detailed backlink audits to help you understand where you stand and how to differentiate from other sites in your niche.
Link Building Tool: For non-SEOs, the actual practice of link building is shrouded in mystery. Use Semrush’s tool to find viable link building opportunities, then use its prebuilt templates to contact the site owners.
Add-Ons: Centralize your data and online marketing efforts with content marketing, social media management, ads, local SEO (perfect for small businesses), and trends analyses tools.
Pro ($119.95 per month): For newbies, individuals, freelancers, and small businesses with fewer content needs.
Guru ($229.95 per month): For agencies and growing small businesses with multiple marketing channels.
Business ($445.95 per month): For companies that need extenisve reporting, API access, and custom software integration.
All plans come with a free trial.
Ahrefs: The best SEO software for keyword research
Ahrefs doesn’t offer online marketing integrations, but it is the superior SEO software for small businesses when it comes to keyword research.
Ahrefs’s main advantage over Semrush is its data accuracy — AhrefsBot is the most active web crawler in the world, besides GoogleBot and BingBot.
Keyword Research and Tracking: Similar to Semrush’s keyword research suite, but with better (and more abundant) data. It’s because of Ahrefs’s multi-source data that you won’t find some of its features elsewhere — for instance, its Traffic Potential feature, which estimates the traffic you can expect from a #1 ranking or its DR (Domain Rating) score, which is the industry standard for judging website authority.
Content and Backlink Analysis: Ahrefs helps you conduct in-depth content research and backlink analysis to help you identify the most successful pieces of content and the best link opportunities — all within one tool.
SERP Analysis: Evaluate search engine results pages (SERPs), including its top 10 ranking competitors, to determine what it takes to achieve solid rankings for your small business.
Keyword and Content Gaps: This SEO software compares your content and keyword profile against up to 10 competitors, then find areas where you can dominate a niche.
Outgoing Links: Ahrefs is one of the only SEO tools that audits all your internal and external links, finds similarities, and gives you insights into anchor text, Domain Rating, and error codes.
Lite ($99 per month): For hobby projects and small businesses with simple data needs.
Standard ($199 per month): For projects that need better keyword research and content analysis, plus historical data from their competitors.
Advanced ($399 per month): For small businesses that want to run lean in-house marketing operations.
Enterprise ($999 per month): For agencies managing multiple clients and growing companies with specialized SEO needs.
SE Ranking: Get full website visibility on a budget
SE Ranking is an all-in-one SEO software for small businesses, providing a comprehensive set of features to reach and exceed your organic ranking goals.
In addition to the usual keyword research, backlink analysis, and SERP analysis tools, SE Ranking also provides plenty of other useful features.
Rank Tracking Tool: SE Ranking tracks your website rankings in real-time and sends alerts when they change based on certain criteria.
Competitor Analysis: Comparing your small business SEO performance with competitors can help you identify opportunities for improvement.
Site Audits:SE Ranking’s audit tool thoroughly diagnoses all the technical issues that could be affecting your ranking. Plus, it generates reports with actionable items to help you fix them.
On-Page SEO Checker: Right in the SEO tool, you can immediately see a list of things that could be improved on your website pages — from missing titles and wrong headings, to page speed and UX issues, it scans for hundreds of criteria and returns a comprehensive score out of 100 (and corresponding advice).
Backlink Checker: Look at a complete list of your referring domains and see all their metrics using SE Ranking’s robust link profile analysis tool.
Local SEO: Perfect for small businesses with localized products and services, SE Ranking’s local SEO tool helps you manage local rankings and search, manage your reputation, and create local business listings that include NAP (name, address, phone) information.
Essential ($31 per month): For small businesses looking for a budget-friendly SEO tool.
Pro ($71 per month): For companies that need a fuller range of features and can spend more on search engine optimization tools.
Business ($151 per month): For growing small businesses and mid-size companies that need an edge over their competitors.
SimilarWeb: Website traffic details at your fingertips
Similarweb is one of the coolest small business SEO tools out there — its unique features give you otherwise impossible-to-find website traffic and competitor insights.
To get granular with your small business SEO strategy, you need SimilarWeb in your tech stack.
Market Overview: Check out the competition with Similarweb’s market overview tool. You can quickly compare similar sites and see who’s winning when it comes to SEO performance.
Organic and Paid Keywords Analysis: SimilarWeb lets you identify what keywords your competitors target in their organic and paid campaigns, then see the estimated traffic and cost for each keyword.
SERP Feature Analysis: In 2021, SimilarWeb included data for SERP features — the extra elements shown on Google search results such as rich snippets, images, reviews, FAQs, etc. — for any keyword.
Ranking Distribution: This SEO tool helps you understand how a website ranks on Google over time. It shows you the keywords for which a site has top-three rankings (or top 10, 20, etc.). You can also use it to compare the ranking distribution of different websites and identify trends.
Zero-Click Search: SimilarWeb’s keyword research tool includes the zero-click % metric, which measures the percentage of times that users find the answer to their Google query on the search results page, without clicking on any of the search results. This includes SERP features such as Quick Answers, Knowledge Boxes, and Top Stories (news).
Amazon Keyword Research: Ideal for any small business using Amazon as part of their ecommerce strategy, Keyword Generator update provides Amazon keywords with monthly search volumes and traffic metrics, giving high visibility.
Starter – Competitive Intelligence ($167 per month, free trial included): Perfect for small businesses with a little left over in their marketing budget that want access to some of the best data on the web.
All other plans (custom pricing): Solid add-ons for digital marketing, research, stocks, sales, and ecommerce on an as-needed basis.
Google Analytics: The best free analytics tool
If you have a website, you can (and should) set up a Google Analytics account for free.
With GA4, this free tool has a few critical improvements — including cross-device and cross-platform tracking — which makes it even easier to track your customers on any device or browser.
Real-Time Insights: Use your GA4 dashboard to track website visits, traffic sources, and user engagement to get an idea of how visitors interact with your content in real-time.
Audience Reports: Understand who is visiting your site — use the demographics section to segment visitors by gender, age, geography, and interests.
Content Reports: See which content is most popular on your website by looking at page views per session and time spent on page.
Conversion Tracking: Follow how well your website converts for different goals (e.g., newsletter signups or purchases). You can also measure the success of your campaigns by setting up custom events (GA4 transitioned from session-based data to events-based data).
Web and App Data: GA4 collects and compiles web and app data to help you better understand the customer journey.
Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics: You’re no longer restrained to historical data. Google Analytics 4 algorithms can predict future user behavior (which, in turn, informs your SEO strategy and helps you plan upcoming content).
GA4 is free to use — you only need to set up an account with a Google account. If you want additional reporting features such as attribution, advanced segmentation, and lifetime value (LTV) reports, you can sign up for Google Analytics 360 for $150,000/year.
Google Search Console: Understand how web visitors find you
Google Search Console (also called Google Webmaster Tools) is another valuable asset in Google’s suite of free SEO tools for small businesses.
Tools and reports available in Google Search Console help you measure your website’s search traffic and performance, identify and fix any issues, and improve your site’s visibility in Google Search results.
Search Performance Report: The Search Performance report tracks the number of clicks, impressions, and average click-through rate (CTR) for each query you’re tracking.
Index Coverage Report: Google will tell you if it is able to crawl and index your pages properly. If it finds any issues (e.g., broken links), you can use this report to address them quickly.
Issue Diagnosis and Resolution: Google Search Console diagnoses (and sometimes solves) server errors, page/site loading problems, and security threats.
Sitemap Submission: You’ll have to submit your XML sitemap to Search Console in order for Google to index all your pages correctly.
System Integration: Integrate GSC with your other SEO software to give it the most up-to-date and granular data.
Google Search Console is a free SEO tool.
Google Keyword Planner: Plan keywords before your competitors
For new keyword ideas, the product/service-related suggestions, CPC data, and monthly search volume estimates make Google Keyword Planner one of the best free SEO tools for small businesses. Use it to directly attribute estimated value to keyword rankings.
Keyword Ideas: Use Google Keyword Planner to generate keyword ideas (or use the “Grouped Ideas” feature to view similar queries together).
Bid Estimations: Whether you run ads or not, understanding your estimated conversion rate, value, and bidding competition can help you determine whether you want to invest in keywords for your SEO efforts.
Local Search Rankings: You can filter the search location to see if a keyword is popular and relevant in your local area, even if it has a high search volume nationally or in other wide regions.
Keyword Filters: Google Keyword Planner offers more filters than other keyword research tools, including average monthly searches, suggested bid, and ad/organic impression share.
Google Keyword Planner is free to use with a Google Ads account.
Google Trends: Write about things before they become popular
Google Trends isn’t small business SEO software per se, but it can help you understand what topics are trending (and which ones are about to).
We use Google Trends to plan future content based on what our target audience might be searching for.
Explore Popular Topics: You can use Google Trends to explore topics related to anything you’re interested in. It displays a list of topics and keywords that are currently trending, as well as the general interest over time.
View Trending Data: Use the “Trends” feature to view data about geographic regions, keyword search volume, and related topics.
Analyze Data by Region and Language: You can filter the data by region (e.g., US or UK), language, time frame, and category (e.g. news, sports).
Group Comparisons: Compare up to five different keywords or topics in a single chart to identify patterns and long-term trends.
Google Trends is free to use (even without a Google Business profile).
Answer the Public: Write about what people are searching about
Answer the Public is free tool for SEO keyword research. It helps you uncover questions, relevant phrases, and related topics to target in your content marketing strategy.
Questions People Ask: The “Questions” feature aggregates all the questions people are asking about a certain topic, so you can quickly find ideas for blog posts or content pieces to answer them.
Visualization Web: Once you input a seed keyword, Answer the Public will produce a visual representation of associated questions, prepositions, comparisons, and other related items.
Content Ideas: You can use the data from Answer the Public to find long-tail keywords (i.e., pain points, questions, and concerns) related to your target audience, which you can address in your content.
Answer the Public is free to use.
Exploding Topics: Write about topics before they explode with interest
Trending Topics & Stories: Exploding Topics tracks trending topics across social media, news sources, and other websites to surface new stories that are gaining traction.
Data Correlation: Exploding Topics’s predictive analytics algorithm can detect industries, products, and categories poised to expand and anticipate their growth months (or years) in advance.
Keyword Insights & Reports: The platform provides keyword insights from the data it collects, as well as reports for tracking the performance of various keywords and topics.
Localized Data Points: Knowing where trends are taking off can help you determine which regions to target with your SEO campaigns. Exploding Topics allows you to filter its data points by location, so you can focus on the relevant keywords and topics for each region.
Free: The free version of Exploding Topics has a limited range of data and features.
Entrepreneur ($39 per month): For solopreneurs and small business owners who want basic reporting capabilities.
Investor ($99 per month): For small teams with more comprehensive SEO strategies.
Business ($249 per month): For growing companies with a need for more advanced insights and API access.
All paid plans begin with a 14-day trial for $1
Rank Math: Making SEO easy for WordPress sites
Rank Math is a WordPress SEO plugin that combines all the features of SEO tools for small businesses into one.
It helps you write better content, optimize your posts, and track your rankings on search engine result pages — all within the WordPress backend.
Content Creation and Optimization: Rank Math helps you write your content and grades it for optimization. It also helps you customize your title tags, meta descriptions, and images for better performance on search engines.
Google Search Console Integration: With Rank Math, you can access all your Google Search Console data within your WordPress admin dashboard. This includes details such as your sitemap status, the keywords you’re ranking for, and any indexing issues you have.
XML Sitemap Generator: Using Rank Math, you can generate custom sitemaps to ensure indexability and visibility of your site in search engines.
Local SEO Tools: Rank Math’s Local SEO module helps you optimize for local searches by creating optimized city pages, as well as generating local structured data for better rankings.
Rank Tracker: For all your web pages, Rank Math will track ranking positions across multiple search engines.
Free: Limited features available.
Pro ($59 per year): For solopreneurs and small businesses that focus heavily on blog content.
Business ($199 per year): For freelancers and business owners with multiple sites.
Agency ($499 per year): For agencies that manage clients’ SEO campaigns and growing small businesses with scaling content needs.
The Bottom Line
Out of all the SEO tools for small businesses,Surfer is by far the best. Within its platform, you can conduct keyword research, plan and write your content, and track its success against others.
With Google Webmaster Tools integration, you’ll have even better data to back up your SEO strategy.
Surfer is the only platform that helps you manage your content from start to finish, and its NLP algorithm grades your content better than any other AI content tool out there.
What is the purpose of SEO software?
There are many kinds of SEO software, but the main purposes they serve include:
On-Page Optimization: Auditing web pages for errors and optimizing content for better rankings.
Keyword Research: Gathering data about what people are searching for and finding the best keywords to target in content creation.
Group Comparisons: Comparing different keywords or topics in a single chart to identify patterns and long-term trends.
Link Building: Identifying and reaching out to bloggers and website owners who may be willing to link back to your content.
How much does SEO software cost?
For most companies, a complete SEO tech stack should cost $500 or less per month. The cost of individual tools varies widely depending on the features and usage plans that they offer.
Enterprises frequently spend thousands (or tens of thousands) on SEO software per month, but they often require custom integrations, API access, and data science capabilities most organizations don’t need.
Some small businesses and solopreneurs can get away with only using free SEO tools, but the best ones — Surfer, Ahrefs, and Semrush — will cost money.
What is the best SEO tool to use?
Surfer is the best SEO tool to use. It combines a comprehensive suite of content optimization tools with analytics that help you make data-driven decisions about your SEO campaigns.
Surfer’s AI-based scoring algorithm helps you grade the quality of your content and optimize it for better rankings, while its NLP feature makes sure that you’re writing content your readers actually care about.
After you write, optimize, and publish your content, Surfer will give you ongoing feedback and help you continually improve your site.
What is the best keyword research software?
Surfer is the best software for keyword research. Not only can it help you identify the best keywords to target in your content, but its analysis also reveals related topics and long-term trends.
Since it combines keyword research with content optimization tools, it is the only software that won’t require you to switch between tools to apply the insights you gain from your keyword research.