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Important SEO Tools That You Need to Use if You Want to Make it
List of tools that I use on my websites
Several of you have messaged me on Twitter asking for a post about the tools that I use on my websites. These are the tools that I consider to be the most important for any type of content site (affiliate, local business, etc.)
Consider this a brief overview of these tools. I’m planning on writing in-depth guides for the most important ones for paid subscribers in the near future. If you start using all of these to their full potential, then you have a much higher probability of seeing success with your site compared to just winging it without them.
Most important tools
AHREFS - This is the tool that I use to keep tabs on my competition. It lets you run reports that track backlinks, organic and paid keywords, traffic, search volume, top pages, and more.
One of the main things that I use it for is to check up on which backlinks other sites in my niche are acquiring. I do this by sorting the backlinks for a site based on when they were first seen, which shows me the sites that have most recently been linking to the competing site. Once I figure out their linkbuilding strategy, it’s easy to replicate it and get similar or even the exact same links.
Another cool feature is the ability to view the top pages for any website. If I see a lower-authority competitor that is getting tons of traffic to pages that I don’t have on my own site, I like to check the organic keywords that they are ranking for and create a similar article on my own site, which will then outrank them.
There are tons of different things that you can do with AHREFS. It really is a powerful tool and it’s a must-have if you’re serious about SEO.
Surfer SEO - This is by far the most important tool when it comes to on-page SEO. You can create content editors based around one or multiple keywords. The content editor uses contextual analysis based on the top pages in the search results to give you the exact phrases you should use when writing your article. It also gives you a word count, paragraph count, subheading count, and image count. It gives your content a numerical score in real-time as you write.
The content planner is another feature that I use on a regular basis. It helps generate content ideas for either your entire domain or for a particular keyword. If you’ve been reading my Substack for any length of time, then you know that I’m a huge believer in the concept of topical authority. Surfer’s content planner is a great way to come up with article ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of before that cover every type of content that you’ll need (informational, best-of lists, reviews, etc.).
Surfer SEO is a must-have too, especially when combined with AHREFS. If you’re not using it but your competition is, then you are severely limiting your ability to rank highly for your chosen keywords.
Link Whisper - It can be hard to find all of the correct internal linking opportunities, particularly if you have a large site. This is a solid Wordpress plugin that automatically gives you a list of potential internal links for each post. All you have to do is check the box for each link you want to generate, and the plugin will automatically add it for you.
If you’ve read my internal linking guide (LINK), then you know that I don’t recommend randomly adding links throughout your site. You’re not going to approve every link that Link Whisper suggests, but it saves you tons of time since you don’t have to manually go through every single post on your site when adding internal links to new posts you create.
You can also set it to automatically create an internal link to a particular page whenever you use a certain keyword, but I don’t recommend doing this since you might use the keyword in a post that isn’t relevant and end up messing up your internal linking strategy.
Jasper - AI-generated content is still in its infancy, but you can take advantage of it for certain basic things like meta descriptions, email subject lines, post titles, etc.
Jasper has a long-form content creator that will add additional content to your posts based on inputs that you provide, but it kind of sucks. I don’t recommend using that feature, but the basic items that I listed above are solid.
I also use Jasper as part of my AI linkbuilding strategy (LINK).
ThirstyAffiliates - It’s important to cloak your affiliate links. For whatever reason, many people won’t click on the link if they hover over it and can tell that it’s an affiliate link.
Another problem is that even if someone doesn’t know or care what an affiliate link is, if they can hover over it and see which website they can buy the product from they frequently won’t click on the link. They’ll keep doing research and eventually type in the website later on when they’re ready to buy.
If you’ve ever been on a review site and seen links that are “https://www.sitename.com/productname”, with the site being the one that you are currently on, then you already know what link cloaking is.
ThirstyAffiliates is probably the cheapest option for Wordpress sites. I like that it gives you the option to automatically nofollow all of the cloaked links.
Tablepress - This is a straightforward plugin that lets you create SEO-friendly tables for your product reviews and best-of roundup posts.
Google frequently uses tables for their featured snippets. They’re also a great tool for improving the user experience on your site, since they make your posts appear more dynamic and help break up the walls of text that nobody actually wants to read.
It’s essential to give your readers a brief glimpse of the main features of the products that you’re reviewing, and Tablepress makes it easy to do that. The tables are mobile-friendly, meaning that users on mobile can scroll side-to-side to see the whole thing if it’s too big to fit on the screen.
Directories Pro - This is an essential tool if you want to sell links on your site using the strategy that I gave to premium subscribers.
The exact method that I use for selling links without getting smacked down by Google is beyond the scope of this article, but if you’re a paying subscriber you can read the guide here (LINK).
Auto Optimize - This is a great tool for optimizing many of the technical aspects of your site with the click of a button.
It helps you deal with cache and CSS issues, optimizes images, and more.
Speed is an important Google ranking factor. Since this plugin optimizes and/or removes many of the technical issues that can impact your site speed, using it is a no-brainer.
WP Rocket - This is another great tool for speeding up your website. It automatically implements many of the best practices that Google recommends for improving your Pagespeed and Core Web Vitals.
It implements proper caching (preloads automatically for your visitors), compresses pages in the server, and decompressing them in the browser so content loads quicker.
Yoast SEO - I really only recommend using this because it makes it easy to create SEO titles and meta descriptions for posts and pages on your site.
The readability and SEO scores aren’t relevant if you’re creating your content in Surfer (which you should be if you want to make it).
Canva - This tool is completely essential. It makes editing images, creating infographics, and making basic videos extremely easy. I rarely use more complex image editing tools anymore because Canva does almost everything I need with less effort.
Asana - This is the exact tool I use to manage my writers. Asana takes a lot of the headache out of content planning and management. It’s easy to assign detailed tasks to each of your writers. It just works, which is all that I need from a tool like this.
Mailerlite - It just works. Most affiliates don’t need complex segmentation and automations. Simple email flows are generally enough. If you need something complex then you might want to look elsewhere, but for the vast majority of people Mailerlite will be perfect.
Out of all of these tools, I think that Surfer SEO will give you the biggest edge. There’s no reason to guess which phrases you should use when writing content for your target keywords when there is a tool that takes all of the guesswork out of the equation for you.
If you also use AHREFS to conduct your keyword and competitor research then you’ll be unstoppable.