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March 8, 2024
SEO Tips

SEO Essentials: Top SEO Tools & Services for Startups in 2024

SEO is incredibly important when it comes to the long-term success of startups. Discover how to use the various SEO tools, from Semrush to Ahrefs, to boost your chances of success.

James Laden
CEO
CMO at Effer Ventures. Digital Marketing and sales expert. Co-founder of ttagz and The Affiliate Monkey
Table of contents

Are you running a startup and looking for SEO strategies to help grow your business? Don’t fret, we’re here to help you find the right SEO tools to set you up for long-term success. 

SEO for startups is of paramount importance. When you’re trying to get your name out there, breaking the bank on digital ads and paid promotions can often feel like spending far too much money for insufficient gains. 

This is the beauty of SEO. You don’t have to spend a small fortune trying to boost your visibility constantly. With focused SEO strategies and the effective use of SEO tools, you can take the first steps towards sustainable and steady growth. 

Since there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of SEO tools for startups, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourites to help you out. So let’s run through some of the best search engine optimisation tools and services. And by the way, if you want an all-in-one marketing leader to join your team and help your startup reach the next growth milestone, come say hi to our friends at HireCMO! Their chief marketing officers have over 23+ years of experience.

The Top 5 SEO Tools for Startups 

Semrush 

If you’ve ever done any SEO research, you’ve probably heard of Semrush, the all-in-one SEO tool suite for increasing online visibility and discovering marketing insights. When it comes to our favourite SEO tools, Semrush may be number one. 

Semrush helps you improve your SEO with access to comprehensive and relevant data. You can use Semrush to find out what people on Google are searching for, create new web content to attract traffic, identify link-building opportunities and tweak technical aspects of your site.

For example, let’s say you’re a recruitment agency hoping to attract new candidates in the software development industry. If you enter the phrase “software development jobs” into Semrush, the platform suggests strong keywords that can be used as the basis for writing blog posts and job ads. 

Semrush also gives you details on how difficult it might be to rank for specific phrases or keywords. As a startup, you’ll need to find a balance between the strength of the keyword and the difficulty of ranking. 

You can also use Semrush to perform a site audit. This is a trusted way of identifying possible technical improvements you can make to improve search results. 

Let’s go over some of Semrush’s main features to give you a clearer understanding of how it all works. The sheer range of available features means we won’t get through everything, but we’ve chosen a few of the most important ones. 

Domain Analytics 

SEO projects generally start with an analysis of a domain. This gives you a basic overview of the quality of the domain from an SEO perspective. 

You can do this on your own site to identify potential improvements, or on a competitor's site to review how difficult it will be to outrank them. You can also use it to check the domain authority of a website you hope to exchange links with; backlinks from websites with a high domain authority to your site can boost your overall performance in search results. 

The most notable metrics you get from a domain overview include

  • An authority score 
  • Total number of website visitors per month 
  • The total number of backlinks pointing to the website
  • The total number of keywords the website ranks for as well as the ‘search intent’
  • Anchor texts used in links to the website
  • Best performing keywords
  • Display advertising stats
  • Notable competing websites

Site Audit 

The site audit tool performs a thorough examination of your site’s health to identify various issues that can affect its SEO and user experience. Critical factors such as broken links, crawlability, and indexing issues are analysed and actionable insights are provided to help improve site performance. 

The tool prioritises issues in order of severity so users can focus on resolving critical issues first. Additionally, you get detailed reports that highlight problematic areas and suggest practical solutions, making it a valuable resource for both beginners and SEO experts.

The audit tool is the perfect way to consistently monitor your website's health and stay informed about changes and updates. 

Keyword Research 

The keyword overview tool lets you determine how many people are searching for a specific keyword, how difficult it is to rank for that keyword, who is currently ranking for said keyword, and related keyword suggestions. 

All you have to do is enter a phrase into the research tool, and the data is instantly available. You can also get more specific with your filters and narrow them down to a specific period of time or location. 

The difficulty score is essentially letting you know how hard it’s going to be to rank for said keyword. The higher the percentage, the more difficult it is to rank. 

The keyword magic tool is where you find alternative keyword suggestions based on the phrase you entered. From here, you can find related keywords that may be easier to rank for. 

As a startup that’s just beginning its journey into SEO, you’ll need to be realistic when it comes to keywords. For now, it may be best to avoid keywords classified as hard or very hard to rank for. 

A standout feature of SEMrush is the data you get on search intent. The search intent is essentially the main goal a user has when typing a query into a search engine. Semrush divides search intent into four categories: 

  • Informational (I): the user wants to find a specific answer to a question.
  • Commercial (C): the user wants to investigate brands or services.
  • Navigational (N): the user wants to find a particular page or website.
  • Transactional (T): the user wants to complete an action (i.e., a purchase or other conversion).

Search intent gives you context behind a particular keyword which in turn helps you determine whether it’s worth targeting. 

Rank tracking 

Rank, or position, ranking is the process of tracking how well your website is performing in search engines for a specific keyword. 

All you have to do is go to the position tracker section, enter a domain name as well as your target keywords, and a report is generated showcasing how you’re currently ranking for those keywords. 

Monitoring the performance of your site when it comes to particular keywords is an important part of the process. As time goes on, you’ll see whether you’re moving in the right direction or if it’s time to change strategies. 

You can even enter a competitor's website into the position tracker to determine how well they’re ranking for specific keywords. There are some limits on the number of keywords you can track, depending on the plan you’ve signed up for. 

Projects

Semrush features can only be used on domains that have been added as projects. The amount of projects you can add depends on the pricing plan you’ve chosen. 

As a startup, you won’t necessarily need to opt for the most expensive plan. You can always upgrade as your business grows. 

Backlink analysis

The backlink analytics tool in Semrush lets you enter a domain name and review all backlinks leading to the site. 

You can see when a domain has gained or lost a link as well as the domain value of each of the links. You’ll also get to see the anchor text used for each link. 

With a database of over 43 trillion URLs, you can get comprehensive results that help you improve your SEO.  

You also have access to the backlink audit tool, which determines the toxicity of backlinks that point to your website and establishes its site health. The list of toxic links can be exported and uploaded to Google as a disavow file, which essentially tells Google to ignore these links. 

Pricing

Semrush pricing is divided into four tiers: Free, Pro, Guru and Business.

  • Free ($0 per month) - You can use Semrush with a free account, but features are limited. Only ten keywords can be tracked at a time and only 100 pages can be audited per month. You’re also limited to 10 reports per day and 10 results per report. 
  • Pro ($129.95 per month) - The pro tier is set up for freelancers, startups, and in-house marketers with a limited budget. The plan lets you run your SEO, PPC, SMM and content projects with 40+ advanced tools and know your competitors’ traffic sources, rankings, social media results and more.
  • Guru ($249.95 per month) - The guru plan is for SMBs and growing marketing agencies. You get all the Pro features plus the Content Marketing Toolkit, Branded reports, Historical Data, and Extended limits.
  • Business ($499.95 per month) - The business plan is for agencies, e-commerce projects and businesses with robust web presence. You get all the Guru features plus white-label reports, API access, extended limits, and sharing options. 

Ahrefs 

Ahrefs is a Singapore-based SEO software company founded in 2010. It stands out as one of the most comprehensive and effective SEO suites on the market. 

Ahrefs is designed to help businesses improve organic search engine rankings and online visibility with the help of robust SE tools. 

A few of Ahrefs’ key features include keyword explorer, site explorer, site audit, rank tracker and content explorer. Many SEO experts regard Ahrefs as the leading SEO tool for startups and small businesses. Its far-reaching database spans billions of web pages and enables users to gain valuable and actionable insights into their website's performance. 

The user-friendly interface and powerful analytics make Ahrefs an incredible tool for startups, playing a crucial role in helping business optimise their websites, improve rankings, and stay ahead in the always-competitive landscape. 

With Ahrefs, you can upload a list of keywords to track, receive a site audit to determine areas of improvement or use content analysis to get an accurate reading of how well SEO marketing efforts are working. 

Let’s dive into the core features to give you a clearer overview of everything. 

Site Explorer 

The Site Explorer tool is the perfect way to get insight into your competitor's performance. With only a site’s URL, you get data on the search traffic and backlinks of any website. 

Knowing the keywords your competitors are ranking for as well as where backlinks are coming from can help inform your SEO strategy going forward. You’ll know what keywords to go after and have all the data you need to gain a competitive edge over the rest. 

Keyword Explorer 

The Ahrefs database has billions of keywords, and the keyword explorer is perfect for discovering high-performing keywords that resonate with your brand and drive organic traffic. 

Not only can you easily find the most searched-for keywords related to your brand, but much like with Semrush, you get insight into the search intent. All in all, you can look up keywords, see traffic volumes, search difficulty estimates, view related keywords and get potential traffic insights.

You can, however, only create a limited number of keyword lists on Ahrefs, depending on the package you’ve signed up for. The keyword explorer serves as your guiding light when preparing your SEO strategy. 

Site Audit

The site audit tool performs an automatic scan of your website to determine SEO issues, such as technical errors and generates a detailed report on the health of your website. 

The audit will show you broken or toxic links, duplicate pages and meta tags, broken pages, and more. It’ll also give you some information on how to fix the errors uncovered. 

A downside is that it’s not available as a free tool, which differs from many of the other SEO platforms. 

Rank Tracker 

The rank tracker tool is similar to many of the others on the market. You throw in some keywords into the search bar, and you’ll see where they’re ranking in Google, and track changes over time. 

You’re essentially monitoring your rankings for specific keywords to help chart your performance. With the audit tool, you can easily see whether your rankings for keywords are improving, getting worse, or staying the same. 

The rank tracker, however, does not automatically update every day. The frequency at which you get ranking updates depends on the plan you end up choosing. 

Content Explorer 

The content explorer is there to help you find content ideas and link opportunities. It is essentially a way for you to find top-ranking content in your industry. 

You can also filter results based on different criteria to help determine trending topics, assess content performance and uncover opportunities for creating high-impact content. Unfortunately, the content explorer is not available with the entry-level plan.

Pricing 

Ahrefs’ pricing is divided into four tiers: Lite, Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise. 

  • Lite ($99 per month) - The lite tier is for freelancers, small businesses and startups. You still get key features like site audit, site explorer and keyword explorer, but do not get access to fresh SERP updates, broken link tracking and site portfolios. 
  • Standard ($199 per month) - The standard tier is for freelance SEO experts and marketing clients. You get all the lite features as well as content explorer, batch analysis and web mention alert. It does not include HTTP authentication crawling, Looker Studio integration and Web Explorer. 
  • Advanced ($399 per month) - The advanced plan is best for in-house marketing teams who need robust data to help boost the company’s SEO. You get all of the above features as well as Looker Studio integration, Web Explorer, and an AI content grader. You don’t get unlimited historical data, invoicing capabilities and audit logs. 
  • Enterprise ($999 per month) - The enterprise tier is best for big-time agencies with multiple large-scale clients. The enterprise plan is customised depending on your needs and all features are available. 

Google Search Console 

Google Search Console (GSC) is a free service provided by Google to help you track, maintain and troubleshoot your website’s presence in Google Search results. It is a powerful tool used to help SEO and marketing experts how to improve online visibility. 

With Google Search Console, you can confirm that Google can find and crawl your site, fix indexing issues and request re-indexing of updated content, view search traffic data, and receive alerts for spam, broken links or indexing issues. 

GSC gives you the insight to form educated decisions surrounding your SEO and digital marketing strategies; covering technical SEO, on-page optimisation, rank tracking, and a range of other search engine optimisation techniques. 

One of the best features of Google Search Console is how it seamlessly integrates with other Google services like Google Analytics and Google Ads. The integration makes it easy for marketers to access all the necessary information in one place. 

There are some limitations to the service, such as restricted historical data and the need for a semblance of technical knowledge to fully utilise features. The pros, however, far outweigh the cons and the service stands out as one of the most impressive SEO tools available. 

Okay, let’s review some of the features to give you some clarity on how it all works. 

Performance Report 

The performance report tool gives you insight into how often your site appears in Google Search results. The information covers all the important metrics such as how your search traffic changes over time, where it’s coming from, and what search queries are most likely to show on your site. 

You’ll even get details on which queries are made on mobile devices and which are made on desktop PCs. You can use this to improve your mobile targeting going forward. 

The reports also show exactly which pages have the highest and the lowest click-through rates from Google search results. The tool makes it easy to generate and compare data for two pages, queries or anything else. 

You can decide on the time period to review, the metrics to see and which dimension to show. Reports also include an export button for you to export the reported data. 

URL inspection tool 

The URL inspection tool lets you review the indexing status of a specific page and allows you to test whether a URL is indexable. You’ll get details on structured data, video, linked AMP, and indexing or indexability. 

The inspection tool tells you exactly why Google could or couldn’t index your page. Additionally, you can view a rendered version of the page, view loaded resources and JavaScript output, or troubleshoot a missing page. 

The URL inspection tool is a powerful way to find and fix any technical or SEO issues with your site. 

Sitemap Submission 

A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. The submission tool lets you submit XML site maps. 

The sitemap submission monitors the indexing status of submitted sitemaps. As a startup, submitting a sitemap is a key step to improving your search engine rankings. 

Pricing 


The beauty of Google Search Console is that it’s an entirely free service provided by Google. 

Google Lighthouse

Google Lighthouse is a powerful SEO tool that web developers and site owners use to examine and improve the performance, accessibility and user experience of their websites. The insights provided can be used for site and page optimisation to guarantee a fast, accessible and user-friendly website. 

The open-source tool is developed by Google and is designed to audit and assess the performance and quality of web pages. You can use the tool to run a series of tests against a web page and simulate real-life situations to determine its performance level and find suggestions for improvement. 

Google Lighthouse can be accessed within Google Chrome’s DevTools or as a standalone tool via the command line. With Google Lighthouse, you can generate a comprehensive report with actionable insights covering how to improve the performance and user experience of your website. 

There are, however, some limitations. The tool can’t test all aspects of website performance or analyse real-time user interactions, and only a single page is evaluated at a time. It also does not cover every SEO factor and may not always provide exact recommendations on how to resolve issues. your website's performance and user experience

Let’s briefly cover the main features to give you a clearer overview of everything.

Performance Measurement

Google Lighthouse examines the loading speed and responsiveness of your website. A range of performance metrics are reviewed such as first contentful paint, time to interactive, and total blocking time. 

Accessibility Assessment 

Lighthouse also performs a thorough examination of your website’s accessibility factors. The powerful tool ensures that the website is usable for individuals with disabilities and in line with accessibility guidelines. Common issues are highlighted, such as having descriptive alt text for images, using proper heading structure, and implementing enough colour contrast. The accessibility tool can significantly improve the inclusivity and usability of your website. 

Best Practices 

Google Lighthouse can also be used to compare your website against best practices and standards set within the development community. The tool checks for compliance with recommendations such as using HTTPS, utilising innovative web technologies, and optimising code for better performance. All in all, the best practices feature helps improve compatibility, security and maintainability. 

Reports 

Detailed reports can be generated that highlight performance strengths and weaknesses with each relevant metric broken down and examined. Scores and recommendations are offered to help improve the site based on the report. 

Google Lighthouse

Pricing 

Google Lighthouse is an entirely free tool provided by Google with no sign-up or monthly fees applicable. 

Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool 

Created by Screaming Frog, the SEO Spider Tool is a powerful and flexible website crawler tool. It can crawl both small and large websites effectively and provide detailed insights that you can analyse in real-time. The crawler can be used to uncover technical issues and ensure that Google has access to your site. 

Unlike many SEO tools, the SEO Spider is a desktop-based tool. This means you need to download the software to use it, and you can just operate from the web. 

The platform is feature-rich and constantly improving. Most startups who use the SEO Spider tool do so to check various 404 errors, duplicate URLs, broken links, and more. The focus is clearly on the technical side of SEO, rather than the content marketing aspect. 

SEO Spider is less comprehensive and wide-ranging than tools like Semrush and Ahrefs, but it still serves as a cost-effective and robust SEO tool that can help improve search engine rankings. So let’s briefly run over some of the main features.

Find broken links 

Crawl websites to effortlessly find broken links, duplicate pages, server errors and more. You can bulk-export the errors, and source URLs to fix them or send them to a developer to assist. 

Monitor the progress of SEO issues and opportunities to identify what's changed between crawls.

Analyse page titles and metadata 

Review page titles, meta titles and meta descriptions with the crawler and get suggestions on how to improve. You can easily determine which titles are too short, too long, missing, or duplicated. 

Generate XML Sitemaps & View Site Architecture 

Effortlessly create XML sitemaps and image XML sitemaps with advanced configuration over URLs. 

You can also analyse internal linking and URL structure using an interactive crawl, directory force-directed diagrams, and tree graph site visualisations.

Schedule Audits 

You can easily schedule crawls to run at chosen intervals with the scheduling tool. Auto export crawl data to any location, such as Google Sheets or MS Excel, or automate entirely via the command line. 

Audit Redirects 

Discover temporary and permanent redirects, find redirect chains and loops, or upload a list of URLs to audit in a site migration. 

Find Duplicate Content 

The md5 algorithmic check helps you find exact duplicate URLs, partially duplicated elements such as titles or descriptions, as well as headings and low content pages. 

Integrations 

The ability to easily integrate with Google Analytics, Search Console and PageSpeed Insights makes it much easier to consolidate all your data in one place. 

Pricing 

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool’s pricing is divided into two tiers: Free and Paid 

  • Free ($0 per month) - The free version includes the standard features, but you’re limited to 500 URLs and do not have access to advanced features. 
  • Paid ($259 per month) - The paid version includes all advanced features such as integrations, scheduling, and crawl configuration. You also have no limits on the number of URLs you can review. 

SiteGuru

SiteGuru is a popular SEO tool that performs weekly audits on your website to help you quickly identify technical issues and provide you with an SEO to-do list to optimise your site. 

It’s perfect for startups who need guidance on how to improve SEO and is extremely user-friendly. It differs from tools like Semrush and Ahrefs in that the learning curve is much less steep. 

The tool provides you with a prioritised SEO to-do list, easy-to-use reports, and weekly performance emails. No technical installation is required, all you have to do is enter the URL and watch the magic happen. 

You can also easily collaborate with colleagues and agencies through the tool so each member is up-to-date. Even if you’re an SEO agency, SiteGuru is an impressive tool for generating client reports, keeping track of changes, and viewing all clients in one overview. 

Let’s go over the main features.

SEO to-do list 

The to-do list is a perfect feature for startups with no clue where to start. The tool tells you exactly what needs to be done for you to optimise your site and start ranking in search engines. 

They list your issues in order of importance and help you fix them. For example, the tool may advise you to fix broken links, improve meta descriptions, and avoid internal misdirects. It will tell you exactly which pages are affected as well as how much of an impact it has on your SEO. 

Content Optimisation 

The site audit helps you make sure your content strategy succeeds. Its main feature is AI-generated content suggestions, which generate ideas for page titles and meta descriptions. The suggested content titles are optimised for your target keyword. 

All you need to do is pick a target keyword and SiteGuru will help you achieve your goals with a step-by-step guide. The tool tracks your progress over time and guides you through the next steps to improve your rankings.

You can easily find missing or duplicate page titles as well as get previews of what a page might look like on mobile and desktop. Tips are also given to improve page structure and find linking opportunities. 

In general, the content optimisation tool is there to help you find issues with your content and improve your content strategy. 

Keyword Insights 

The keyword insights tool is perfect for tracking keywords and seamlessly connects to Google Search Console and Google Analytics. With that, you can easily turn SiteGuru into your main SEO dashboard. 

The tool lets you monitor keyword rankings without any hassle. You get notifications whenever keywords are dropping in the rankings or when your site begins to rank for new keywords. You can also review keywords on the rise and keywords at risk. 

SiteGuru also gives you insight on how to optimise your content to reach the top of search engine rankings. It also helps you find pages on your site that rank for the same keyword.  

Any content that needs immediate attention is highlighted. For example, if your important pages are dropping in search rankings and getting fewer clicks, you’ll get a notification. You can then refresh and optimise the content to recover the lost traffic. 

CTR reports are provided to help you find other pages that rank well but get relatively few clicks. Pages like these often get loads of traffic through just a few tweaks. 

Lastly, SiteGuru sends you weekly performance emails covering your SEO content metrics. 

Technical SEO Audits 

Your organic growth can be seriously impacted by technical site issues. SiteGuru’s technical audits help you establish and fix every technical issue that pops up. 

Get all your pages indexed and make sure Google doesn’t miss anything. You get real-time insights into which pages are indexed, and where you’re having issues. 

The tool also helps to find slow pages through the Pagespeed API; showcasing results in one overview. An audit takes place every week so you never miss out on a speed issue. 

SiteGuru provides SiteMap reports to let you know if your sitemap is complete, up-to-date, and accurate. All broken, missing, and redirected pages are quickly identified. 

All internal links are reviewed and problems are immediately flagged. Pages with no internal links are also highlighted to help you improve your site architecture. 

Pricing 

The SiteGuru pricing is divided into three tiers: small, medium and large. 

  • Small ($49 per month) - All features are included. You are, however, limited to 5 websites. 
  • Medium ($99 per month) - All features are included. You are, however, limited to 15 websites. 
  • Large ($199 per month) - All features are included. You are, however, limited to 50 websites. 

Final Word

For startups carefully navigating through the competitive digital landscape, coming to grips with SEO is a key step. If you want improved online visibility and higher organic traffic, using the above SEO tools can take you seriously far.

Whether you need comprehensive keyword research or a thorough technical audit of your site, tools like Semrush and Ahrefs are here to assist. Don’t just wait around hoping for people to find you, take control of your SEO and boost your chances of success.

At SEO Rocket, we provide full-service SEO assistance for startups who need help. We’ll take charge of your on-page optimisation, content strategy, and more. If you’d like to learn more about our services, book a call with us today. 

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