Best SEO Ranking Tools to Track & Improve Your SERP Position

Semrush Team

Oct 09, 202318 min read
Best SEO Ranking Tools to Track & Improve Your SERP Position

TABLE OF CONTENTS

SEO ranking tools provide you with the insights and information you need to improve your website’s search engine presence and attract more organic traffic. 

Tackling SEO issues and opportunities can be complex and time consuming.

Having the right tools makes it simpler. 

Best All-In-One SEO Ranking Tools

An effective SEO strategy incorporates multiple distinct components. 

A comprehensive platform that offers multiple tools can help you with things like:

  • Selecting the best keywords to target
  • Analyzing your website’s performance
  • Monitoring your competitors
  • Building backlinks
  • Tracking specific keywords

Adopting an all-in-one SEO platform is like buying a complete toolbox instead of cobbling together a random assortment of tools. You know you won't be missing a socket wrench when you really need it.

Let’s look at some of the most popular all-in-one SEO tools now.

1. Semrush

Semrush is consistently rated as the best SEO tool suite for mastering organic search. It helps you attract more site traffic and conversions from search engines. 

Our all-in-one digital marketing, online visibility, and SEO platform offers 55+ tools and reports you can use to improve your website and grow your business.

Some of the best-loved SEO tools included with Semrush are:

  • On Page SEO Checker: Improve page ranking with an exhaustive list of ideas including tips for link building, content writing, SERP feature targeting, and more
  • Position Tracking: Effortlessly track your site’s ranking and monitor progress toward your SEO goals
  • Keyword Magic Tool: Discover the best search terms and ranking opportunities for your organic search campaigns
  • Traffic Analytics: See what’s working for other websites in your industry and learn how you can improve your website to match 
  • Backlink Analytics: Analyze the quality and quantity of backlinks coming to your site, discover ways to increase your site’s domain authority, and improve your organic rankings
  • Listings Management: Boost local SEO by managing and distributing your business information, monitoring reviews, and following your ranking in the community

2. Ahrefs

Ahrefs offers a suite of tools for keyword research, backlink analysis, and SEO reports. 

3. Majestic

Majestic is primarily a backlinks database. It can help you find referring domains pointing to your website and also pointing to competitors. 

4. Moz Pro

Moz is another popular SEO software suite that provides a range of tools to help you understand and improve your site’s search performance. 

5. SEOquake

This is a free SEO Chrome Extension that adds a toolbar to your browser. Their “SEObar” shows you real-time data on a variety of SEO metrics based on the sites or search engine results pages you’re browsing. 

6. SpyFu

This is a marketing suite that provides insights on pay-per-click (PPC) and cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns as well as SEO. It also provides competitive intelligence on what other sites in your industry are doing.

7. WooRank

A set of marketing tools centered around a website review feature (site crawler). It’s helpful for discovering and fixing issues that may be affecting your SEO. 

Best SEO Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools are fundamental for developing a solid SEO strategy. 

These tools help with keyword research. It’s the process of selecting the keywords you want to target on your website for optimization, boosting your site’s ranking for those terms. 

The tools help you identify the terms and phrases your potential audience is using in their searches. They provide insights into search volume, keyword difficulty, and competition.

For example: Should you target “guitar shop Nashville” or “Nashville music store”?

Maybe both.

Ranking in the SERPs starts by understanding the keyword(s) or topic(s) for which you want to rank. These tools will help you figure out what to target. 

1. Semrush Keyword Magic Tool

The Keyword Magic Tool is an automated tool that helps you discover keyword ideas—like magic.

Starting with a single keyword, you can generate hundreds or thousands of potential keyword ideas, along with valuable insights on each like estimated search volume, keyword difficulty, and search intent. 

To get started, open Semrush and click on “Keyword Magic Tool” under “Keyword Research.”

“Keyword Magic Tool” widget highlighted

To start, type in a keyword relevant to your business. For example: scented candles. 

Select your location using the drop-down menu. Then click “Search.”

"scented candles" entered into Keyword Magic Tool search bar

The Keyword Magic Tool will return a huge list of keyword suggestions. (In the case of “scented candles,” over 26,000.)

Keyword Magic Tool results for "scented candles"

You can quickly sort and filter the keyword list to identify the ones that are the best fit for your needs. 

By clicking the “Phrase Match,” “Exact Match,” or “Related” tabs across the top of the report, you’ll see keyword suggestions that fit into each of these categories.

Keyword Magic Tool filters

Pro tip: “Phrase Match” returns keyword suggestions that contain the exact terms in your keyword phrase, but in any order. “Exact Match” only returns suggestions that have the exact terms in the same order as your original keyword. “Related” keywords may not contain the original keyword verbatim but are still considered relevant to the topic. 

You can also filter the list of keywords by other terms or phrases they contain. To do so, click a keyword from the left-hand list under “All keywords.” 

For example, if you click “wax” on the left-hand side, it will filter the list of keywords on the right to only include keyword recommendations that also include the word “wax.”

Results filtered to also include “wax”

If you find keywords that you want to target or track for your website, click the checkbox next to the keyword(s) and click “Add to keyword list.”

Adding "scented candles wax bulk" keyword to the list

The Keyword Magic Tool will help you uncover lots of relevant and related keywords for your business and build a targeted list in just a few clicks. 

2. Semrush Keyword Manager

Keyword Manager takes keyword research one step further. 

Not only can it automatically generate keyword suggestions, but it can also group keywords into relevant topic clusters. These are groups of related topics and keywords you can use to help establish your site as an authority on important topics in your niche. 

To use it, open Semrush and click “Keyword Manager” under “Keyword Research.”

“Keyword Manager” widget highlighted

Here you have two options:

You can either start with a single keyword like with the Keyword Magic Tool by clicking “Create list.” Or, if you already have a list of keywords that you want Keyword Manager to group into clusters, click “create a regular list.”

Keyword Manager landing page

For the former, click “Create list.” 

On the “Keyword Manager: Create a clustered list” page, add your seed keywords to the list. 

Click the “Database” drop-down menu to choose the country you’re targeting. Enter your domain if you wish. Then click “Create list.

"Keyword Manager: Creating clustered list" window

Pro tip: Adding your site’s domain in the “Enter domain” box will help customize the keyword groups based on your website.

On the “Clusters” tab, Keyword Manager will show you a list of keyword groups (“clusters”) and then individual keywords under each cluster. 

“Clusters” tab in Keyword Manager

If you already have a list of keywords you’d like to have clustered, you can use the option to “create a regular list” in this tool.

“create a regular list” button highlighted in Keyword Manager

On the “New keyword list” screen, give this list a recognizable name. Then click “Create list.”

“New keyword list” screen

In the upper-right corner, click the “Add keywords” button.

“Add keywords” button highlighted

On the “Add keywords manually” page, select your location using the “Select database” drop-down menu. Enter an optional keyword tag in the provided field. Add keywords to your list. Then click the “Add keywords” button.

“Add keywords manually” page

On the “Clusters” tab, Keyword Manager will show you a list of keyword groups (“clusters”) and then individual keywords under each cluster. 

Now, rather than writing different content to target each individual keyword, you can likely create a single page to target all of the related keywords grouped into the provided clusters. 

3. Google Keyword Planner

You can use Keyword Planner to discover new keywords based on the topics that are valuable to your business.

Google Keyword Planner results for "local seo"

Google’s Keyword Planner is designed for researching keywords for PPC Google Ads campaigns. 

But many marketers and SEO experts still use it to conduct keyword research for SEO, too.

4. Google Trends

Google Trends is another tool from Google that helps you discover emerging topics and keyword opportunities. 

Google Trends "Interest over time" graph for "football"

This can be extremely useful for creating a content marketing or keyword strategy that capitalizes on news or popular topics before other tools have collected data about them.

You can also use it to analyze the relative popularity of a topic over time. This can help you predict new trends for future content. 

5. KWFinder

KWFinder is a specialized keyword research tool that helps you identify long-tail keywords that have low SEO difficulty. 

Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific than common one-word terms—these are called “seed keywords.” You can find long-tail keywords by starting broadly with a seed keyword. If your seed keyword is “coffee,” an example of a long-tail keyword you may discover would be “best organic coffee beans for cold brew.” 

Further Reading: Long-Tail Keywords: What They Are & How to Use Them in 2024

KWFinder results for "seo"

With KWFinder, you can search for keywords using a seed keyword. Or you can input a domain to research potential keyword ideas based on its content. 

Best SEO Rank Tracking Tools

SEO rank tracking tools help you see where you currently rank for certain keywords. And follow progress toward your ranking goals. 

This is especially important because Google’s ranking algorithm is constantly changing. Rankings tend to fluctuate. 

1. Semrush Position Tracking

Use Position Tracking to track specific keywords and your rankings for each.

For example, if you know you want to rank for the keyword “scented candles,” you can add that keyword to your Position Tracking report and monitor where your site appears in the SERPs.

Begin by opening Semrush and clicking “Position Tracking” under “Keyword Research.”

“Position Tracking” widget highlighted

Next, type the domain of your website into the text box. Click “Set up tracking.”

"yankeecandle.com" entered into Position Tracking search bar

You’ll see the “Targeting” dialogue box.

Select the “Device” and “Search Engine” that you want Semrush to use when tracking keywords (Google and Desktop are good default options).

Then click the text box under “Location” and select the country or location you want to track.

Finally, click “Continue To Keywords.”

“Targeting” dialogue box

You’ll see the “Keywords” dialogue box. 

Add the keywords that you want to track your website’s ranking for by typing or pasting your keywords into the text box. (You can also import keywords from Semrush suggestions and other sources by clicking “Import from…”)

Click “Start Tracking.”

“Keywords” dialogue box

Semrush will generate a new Position Tracking report. 

The report shows the keywords you selected to track for your domain. You’ll see a summary of your domain’s visibility, estimated traffic, and average position for all of the provided keywords. 

Position Tracking "Landscape" report

Scrolling down, you’ll see insights about where your site ranks, which SERP features appear, and any issues of potential cannibalization. (Cannibalization happens when two pages on your site compete for the same keywords.)

You can also track how your site is performing relative to others in your industry. 

Click “Add competitors” under “Market Traffic vs Selected Domains Trends” to create a competitive analysis report. It’s about halfway down the page.

“Market Traffic vs Selected Domains Trends” section

Within 24-48 hours of initial setup, the Semrush Position Tracking report will begin to update on a daily basis. 

2. Semrush Organic Research

Use the Organic Research tool to see the keywords for which your website already ranks.

This is helpful if you don’t already have a list of target keywords but want to see where your site already appears. It’s a good way to begin monitoring your progress.

Open Semrush. Click “Organic Research” under “Competitive Research.”

“Organic Research” widget highlighted

Type the URL of your website into the text box. Select your location from the drop-down menu. Then click “Search.”

"yankeecandle.com" entered into Organic Research search bar

The Organic Research report provides a detailed view of all the keywords for which your website shows up in the SERPs. 

Organic Research overview report

Scroll down to the “Top Keywords” section and click “View all # keywords.”

“Top Keywords” section of Organic Research report

This will open up the “Organic Search Positions” report. 

Here you’ll see the full list of keywords along with data about what appears in the SERP for each query and where your domain currently ranks.

Organic Search Positions report

If you find keywords that you want to track, you can select them by clicking the check box next to the keyword. 

Click the “Add to keyword list” button at the top of the report and choose an existing list of keywords you’ve built or click “Create new empty list.”

“Add to keyword list” drop-down menu

Once you’ve compiled a list of keywords you want to track in the future, you can use the Position Tracking tool to see changes in the ranking position(s) of the keywords on your newly created list over time.

As you create new web pages or publish new content, you can return to the “Organic Search Positions” report periodically. If new keywords are ranking, you can add them to your existing list. Or add them to a separate list if you prefer. Then use the Position Tracking tool to follow their impact. 

3. Google Search Console

Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console (GSC) is a free SEO tool that provides an in-depth look at your site’s SEO performance. 

Google Search Console "Performance on search results" graph

It provides SEO metrics like impressions (the number of times your page appeared in the SERP), clicks, click-through rate (CTR), and average ranking.

You can look at how your website performs for specific queries or keywords, how specific pages perform in aggregate across all queries, or you can blend the two. You can also integrate the data into Google Analytics.

With GSC you can dig into issues related to your sitemap, crawlability, indexing, and more.

The only downside to using GSC? Pulling data for reports can be tedious without some kind of integration or export process in place. 

4. SerpWatch 

SerpWatch is a specialized tool for tracking keyword rankings. While it's effective for its designed purpose, it doesn’t offer the same suite of features that other tools on this list do. 

SerpWatch dashboard

With SerpWatch, you can add multiple projects and track multiple keywords for each. SerpWatch also offers a range of reporting and automation tools to help you keep an eye on fluctuations in your rankings. 

Best SEO Rank Improvement Tools

Rank improvement tools help you find and fix issues on your site that could be hurting your SEO rankings.

Let’s say you currently rank position four for an important keyword like “guitar shop Nashville” and you want to move up. 

These analysis tools provide functionality to help you find ways to improve your current ranking and generate more organic traffic from search engines. 

Most strategies begin by conducting an SEO audit or SEO analysis to uncover opportunities to improve your website’s search performance. 

1. Semrush On Page SEO Checker

The On Page SEO Checker lets you zoom in on specific pages of your website and identify opportunities to better optimize them for search.

You simply provide URLs and keywords to receive a curated list of suggestions.

On Page SEO Checker overview report

On Page SEO Checker provides seven types of suggestions and ideas:

  1. Strategy Ideas: Suggestions for improving keyword targeting or your overall SEO strategy, and avoiding duplicate content issues
  2. Backlinks Ideas: Sites that could link to your website to help improve your site’s rankings (also known as “link building”)
  3. User Experience Ideas: Opportunities to improve the user experience based on data like bounce rate and time on page
  4. Technical SEO Ideas: Issues that may impact a bot’s ability to crawl your page and understand your content
  5. SERP Features Ideas: Places where you may benefit from targeting SERP features like featured snippets
  6. Semantic Ideas: Related topic and keyword suggestions to improve the depth and comprehensiveness of your page
  7. Content Ideas: Content-specific suggestions for improving the words and content on the page

To use this tool, open Semrush and click “On Page SEO Checker” under “On Page & Tech SEO.”

"On Page SEO Checker" widget highlighted

Enter the URL in the text box. Click “Get ideas.”

Note: If you already have a project set up in Semrush, you’ll need to click “Create project” to add a new project and run a new report.

On Page SEO Checker search

In the “Select target location” dialog box, choose how you want Semrush to “see” your website during the crawl. Select your desired location, language, and device from the drop-down menus. Then click “Continue.”

Pro tip: If you’re not sure, leave the drop-down set to the default settings and click “Continue.”

“Select target location” dialog box

Next comes the “Add pages to optimize” screen. 

Select the pages you want to audit and provide target keywords. 

Review the options under “Auto import.” Remove any of the undesirable automatically suggested options by clicking the remove button that looks like a trash can. 

“Add pages to optimize” screen with "Auto import" option chosen

Add your own pages to the analysis using the tab labeled “Manually.” 

Type or paste in the URL of the page you want to analyze and the target keyword for that page. Click “Add Page.”

Pro tip: There are three other tabs at the top to help you find pages you want to analyze. You can upload a list of URLs (“File”), import pages directly from Google Search Console (“GSC”), or filter through all of the pages on your site using “Organic Research.”

“Add pages to optimize” screen with "Manually" option chosen

After selecting all the pages you want to analyze, click “Collect ideas.”

“Add pages to optimize” screen with "Collect ideas" button highlighted

On Page SEO Checker will crawl the pages. 

Then you’ll see the On Page SEO Checker report page.

On Page SEO Checker overview report page

Click the number next to one of the categories listed under “Total Ideas” to drill down into suggestions within that category. 

Or click the button with the number of ideas for a specific page under “TOP pages to optimize.”

“TOP pages to optimize” section of the report

Clicking into the report, you’ll find a list of ideas for each page, separated into the seven “ideas” categories. 

Each idea contains an action item and information on what to do to implement the idea.

On Page SEO Checker's list of ideas

2. Semrush Site Audit

Site Audit automatically crawls your site, looking for 140+ SEO issues.

Site Audit main dashboard

After using the Site Audit tool, you’ll receive a report that breaks the results down into seven categories:

  1. Crawlability: Page indexability, crawl budget optimization, crawl depth, XML sitemap health, HTML structure, and more
  2. HTTPS: Secure vs. non-secure pages, security certificates
  3. International SEO: Hreflang implementation
  4. Core Web Vitals (CWV): Largest Contentful Paint, Total Blocking Time, Cumulative Layout Shift, and other CWV metrics
  5. Site Performance: Page speed, load time, file size, redirects, JavaScript, and CSS reports
  6. Internal Linking: Internal link distribution, broken links, anchor text optimization
  7. Markup: Structured data, Schema.org markup, Open Graph data, Twitter cards, and microformats

To run a site audit, open Semrush and click “Site Audit” under “On Page & Tech SEO.”

“Site Audit” widget highlighted

Type in the URL of the website. Click “Start Audit.”

Note: If you already have a project set up in Semrush, you’ll need to click “Create project” to add a new project and run a new audit.

Site Audit search

You’ll see the “Site Audit Settings” dialogue box. 

Choose the “Limit of checked pages” you want to include in your audit. Click “Start Site Audit.”

“Site Audit Settings” dialogue box

Pro tip: Once you’re comfortable with running Site Audit, you can dive into the settings in this dialogue box to customize the crawl and output. 

Now the Site Audit crawlbot will traverse the pages, content, images, and links on your website.

When it’s finished, you’ll receive a report that includes a list of “Top Issues.”

“Top Issues” section of the report

Click the number in the “Number of issues” column to open a list of the SEO errors or issues discovered in that category.

An example of an "Why and how to fix it" widget in the "Issues" report

Repeat this for all rows in the “Top Issues” menu to dig deeper into each of the SEO issues found during the audit. For each you will see detailed information on how to address or fix the problem. 

3. Screaming Frog 

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is excellent for in-depth website crawls. It offers valuable insights into your site's technical SEO.

Screaming Frog dashboard

While it excels in its specialized area, SEO Spider is not a comprehensive SEO tool. It lacks the keyword research, backlink analysis, and competitive analysis capabilities of other platforms.

Even so, it’s considered one of the premiere tools for technical SEO analysis.

Price: $259/year for more than 500 pages

4. Yoast SEO

Yoast is a popular WordPress and Shopify plugin that provides a foundation for your site’s SEO. 

Yoast SEO page

Source: WordPress

Yoast integrates directly with your CMS and offers both site-wide SEO suggestions as well as page-level suggestions for things like meta descriptions or optimizing title tags. 

Yoast also offers tools that also help you configure redirects and optimize your social media sharing features. 

Plus, it integrates with Semrush. 

Price: $99/year for the premium subscription

Factors to Consider When Choosing SEO Ranking Tools

1. Your SEO Goals and Strategy

Choose tool(s) that best align with the needs of your SEO strategy.

As we’ve covered in the above lists, some tools excel in keyword research, others in backlink analysis or on-page SEO. Some tools are purpose-built for things like rank tracking. 

Do you require all of those features?

Or just a few?

Not sure where to start? Conduct an initial review of your website with the Site Audit tool.

This will help you uncover the problems and opportunities on your site. That way you can better assess the features and functionality you’ll need to succeed.

If you’re still not sure of the exact needs of your SEO efforts, it’s best to start with an all-in-one SEO platform that can do it all. That way you won’t have to keep trying (and paying for) new tools whenever your goals shift. 

2. Ease of Use and Customer Support

Find tools that are intuitive and provide helpful documentation as well as good customer support.

The complexity of SEO tools can vary greatly. While some are intuitive and user friendly, others can have steep learning curves. Ensuring the tool you choose is user friendly and comes with reliable customer support can save you time and stress down the line.

Make sure that you can quickly and easily find answers to your questions before you commit to paying for one of these tools.

3. Pricing and Budget

Choose tool(s) that provide you with the features you need at a price you can afford. 

This seems obvious, but it’s not always.

Here’s why: Many SEO tools offer tiered pricing and packages that have limits on the usage of certain features. For example, you may be able to crawl and audit up to 1,000 pages on your website. But if you have 1,001 pages you have to upgrade to a (sometimes much) more expensive package. 

In some cases this isn’t an issue. But some tools set awkward thresholds or add-on fees that can end up costing you way more than you planned. 

Carefully review the pricing details for any paid tool. Consult reviews for any indication that the pricing may not be obvious or transparent. 

SEO Ranking Tools Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Do SEO by Myself?

Absolutely.

While there’s a lot to learn about the world of SEO, having the right tools and resources makes it possible for almost anyone to have a meaningful impact on their site’s organic rankings and search visibility. 

Do I Need Technical Knowledge to Use SEO Ranking Tools?

No.

While some technical knowledge can be beneficial, many SEO tools are designed to be user friendly and provide easy-to-understand insights. Most tools offer tutorials and customer support to help users understand and effectively use their features.

But keep in mind that some tools are geared toward more advanced users and will require a stronger foundation of SEO knowledge. 

Do SEO Ranking Tools Guarantee Higher Search Rankings?

No.

SEO tools can provide insights to help optimize your website, but they can’t guarantee higher rankings. Success in SEO depends on many factors including the quality of your content, your site's user experience, and the competitiveness of your industry.

Beware of any tool that makes outlandish promises about your search rankings.

What Type of SEO Tools Do I Need to Rank in Google?

You don’t technically need any special tools to rank in Google. But most marketers and SEO professionals use a range of tools to help them analyze and improve their search performance. 

These tools can be categorized as keyword research tools, SEO rank tracking tools, and ranking improvement (or SEO audit and analysis) tools.

Platforms like Semrush provide a comprehensive suite that includes all of these tools and more.

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