A website’s search engine ranking can quite literally make or break the success of that site, and by extension, the business it represents. Being on the first page of search engines like Google, Bing, Microsoft Edge, and DuckDuckGo is more than a vanity metric – it affects everything from how many people visit your site to how much revenue your business generates.
Because search engine optimization (SEO) is an incredibly complex and ever-changing field, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends and best practices. It’s even harder to manually optimize your website to rank higher in search results.
An SEO positioning tool is designed to streamline the process of SEO by automating many of the tasks that are necessary to rank highly in search engines. These tools can be incredibly powerful, but only when they actually help you achieve your business goals.
In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about positioning tools: how they work, the best options on the market, and how to choose the right one.
- Positioning tools are a powerful way to boost your site’s search performance.
- Think of positioning tools as an investment in your business reputation, visibility, lead generation efforts, and more.
- Consider your business’ digital marketing goals, budget, and technical abilities when choosing an SEO tool.
How Do Search Engines Rank Websites?
Before we dive into the world of positioning tools, it’s important to understand how search engines index and rank websites. Let’s use Google, the world’s largest search engine, as an example.
Google’s algorithm is constantly changing, but its basic principles for search engine placement remain the same. Google uses a variety of factors to determine the order in which websites should appear in search rankings. Google keyword ranking factors can be broadly divided into two categories: on-page factors and off-page factors.
These are elements that are directly within your control as the website owner. They include things like:
- The quality and quantity of your content
- The structure of your website
- Internal linking and using keyword rich anchor text
- The titles and descriptions of your webpages
- Meta tags and meta description
- How easy it is to navigate your website
- Whether your website is mobile-friendly
In short, on-page factors are anything that you can change about your website to make it more user-friendly, relevant to your target audience, and rank higher on search engines.
Related Read: On-page SEO for Financial Advisors – Part 1: Why Good Content Counts
Off-page factors are slightly more complex, as they involve interactions between your website and the rest of the internet. They include things like:
- The number of other websites linking to your website (backlinks)
- The quality of the websites that are linking to yours (are they reputable, high-quality sites?)
- How often your website is shared on social media
- Whether you have any negative reviews or mentions online
Off-page factors are more difficult to control than on-page factors, but they’re just as important – if not more so – if you want to beat your competitors on search engines.
A website’s ranking is the summary of all of these on-page and off-page factors. The better your website performs in each of these areas, the higher it will rank in search engines.
Related Read: On-page SEO for Financial Advisors – Part 3: 7 Technical SEO Elements to Get Right
What Is Search Engine Positioning?
Search engine positioning (SEP) is the process of continuously improving your site’s web pages to boost your position on Google and other search engines for particular keywords. For instance, if you want to rank for a keyword like “financial marketing advisor,” you need to start optimizing your existing content and web pages for that specific keyword and variations of it.
So, is search engine positioning important? Does search engine positioning matter? The answer to both of those questions is yes, and it’s a long-term process that requires ongoing effort and monitoring. The goal is to move your website up the search engine rankings until it appears on the first page of results – ideally, in one of the top three – and stays there.
Search Engine Optimization vs Search Engine Positioning
SEO and SEP are closely related, but there are slight differences between the two. SEO is a broader term that encompasses all of the activities necessary to improve your website’s ranking in search results. This includes all the on-page and off-page factors we mentioned above, as well as things like webpage loading speed, content marketing, and link building.
Search engine positioning is a subset of SEO. Instead of covering all the different factors that influence your website’s ranking, it has a narrower focus. Specifically, it’s all about optimizing individual web pages, such as the site’s service page or homepage, based on specific keywords.
The Benefits of Having a Search Engine Positioning Strategy
Integrating search engine positioning into your greater digital marketing strategy comes with a number of benefits, including:
Increased qualified website traffic
Website traffic is useless if it’s not coming from your target audience. For instance, if you’re a financial advisor, you want website visitors who are actually interested in your services, not just anyone who stumbles across your site. This is called qualified traffic: people who are more likely to turn into paying customers or clients.
Search engine positioning can help increase the amount of qualified traffic coming to your website because it allows you to target specific keywords that are relevant to your business. This ensures that the people who find your website through a search engine are more likely to be interested in what you have to say.
Improved brand awareness and visibility
Part of a strong keyword strategy is including what is called brand keywords – variations of your company’s name – in your website’s content. For instance, if you’re a financial advisor named Jane Smith, you would want to include brand keywords like “Jane Smith financial advisor” and “Jane Smith advisor.”
You also want to relate your brand to keywords that inspire trust, such as “experienced financial advisor” or “top-rated financial advisor.” Search engine positioning gives you a better chance of ranking for various types of keywords, therefore “positioning” you as an authority in your industry. This increased brand awareness can lead to more website visitors and, eventually, more customers or clients.
Greater control over your website’s traffic
Organic traffic – the kind you get from search engine results – is the most valuable because it’s free. You don’t have to pay for every single website visitor, as you would with paid advertising.
Having a strong search engine positioning strategy gives you more control over the traffic coming to your website because you’re not relying on paid ads or social media platforms to get in front of your target audience. Over time, this can save your business a lot of money.
Since you’re targeting specific keywords with your search engine positioning strategy, it’s easier to track your progress and measure your ROI. You can see how well individual web pages are performing, which ones need to be improved, and what keywords you should be targeting next.
For example, let’s say you’re a financial advisor who wants to rank for the keyword “financial planning.” You can track how often this keyword appears on your website, how many people are clicking through to your site from the search results, and how long they’re staying on your website.
You can also track how your ranking for this keyword changes over time. This offers valuable insights into what’s working and what isn’t, so you can adjust your strategy, budget, and resources accordingly.
What Are Positioning Tools for Search Engines?
SEO positioning tools are software programs that help you optimize the pages on your site for your target keyword. They’re designed to streamline and automate the process of keyword research, monitoring your website’s rankings, analyzing your competitors’ keywords, and optimizing your own keyword strategy.
There are many different types of positioning tools available for optimizing web pages, each with its own set of features and benefits. Some common features include:
- Keyword research and analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Search engine ranking monitoring
- On-page optimization
- Analysis of external and internal links
- Backlink analysis
- Link building
- Reporting and analytics
The more robust positioning tools also support other aspects of SEO, such as social media, content marketing, and conversion rate optimization.
The Best SEO Positioning Tools Today
Because search engine positioning is such an important part of any digital marketing strategy, there’s no shortage of tools vying for your attention (and budget). To help you narrow down your options, we’ve compiled a list of what we believe to be the best positioning tools available today:
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free platform offered by Google. Search Console provides detailed insights into how your website is performing in the search results, including which keywords you’re ranking for, your click-through rate, and the average position of your website in the SERPs. It also offers information on any manual actions that have been taken against your sites, such as penalties for spam content or links.
One of the most valuable features of Google Search Console is its ability to track your website’s organic traffic over time. This can give you insights into how well your SEO strategy is working and whether or not you need to make any adjustments. Because it’s a Google-owned platform, the data is reliable and up-to-date.
Moz Pro is one of the best search engine positioning tools in the market that offers a suite of features to help you improve your website’s SEO. These features include keyword research and analysis, rank tracking, on-page optimization, external and internal links, and competitor analysis. It also offers a MozBar, a Chrome extension that allows you to see key SEO metrics for any website you visit, such as link counts, Domain Authority, and Page Authority.
One of the best features of Moz Pro is its MozCast: Google Algorithm Weather Report, which gives you a daily snapshot of how the SERPs are changing. This can be valuable for keeping tabs on your competitors and for quickly spotting any algorithm changes that may have a negative impact on your website.
Ahrefs is one of the first, oldest, and most trusted positioning tools available. Like other entries on this list, it offers all the basics like researching keywords and analysis, rank tracking, on-page optimization, link building, and competitor analysis. It also has a unique feature called Content Explorer, which allows you to find the most popular content on any topic.
Ahrefs is known for its accuracy and depth of data. Its keyword database is the largest in the world, and it’s able to track over 2 billion keywords across 170 million domains. This gives you access to a wealth of insights into your competitors’ SEO strategies that you won’t find anywhere else.
For instance, you can see which keywords they’re ranking for, what kind of links they’re building, and what kind of content is performing well for them. It’s like having a team of dedicated researchers working around the clock to keep you ahead of the competition, except it’s all automated.
SEMrush is another all-in-one search engine positioning tool that offers a suite of features to help you improve your website’s SEO. All the basics are here: keyword analysis and research, rank tracking, on-page optimization, link building, and competitor analysis.
SEMrush also has a few unique features, such as its Site Audit tool, which scans your website for over 150 different technical SEO issues such as duplicate content, broken links, and missing titles. It also has a Position Tracking tool that allows you to track your website’s position in the SERPs for any keyword, anywhere in the world.
Additionally, SEMrush has a comprehensive database of over 130 million domains, which gives you insights into your competitor’s strategies that other tools simply can’t match.
SpyFu is a search engine positioning tool that offers all the basics, plus a few unique features. One of SpyFu’s most unique features is its Kombat tool, which allows you to compare your website’s SEO with that of your competitors.
This is valuable for quickly identifying areas where you’re falling behind and for seeing what’s working well for your competitors, which you can replicate. SpyFu also has a Rank Tracker, which allows you to track your website’s position in the SERPs for any keyword, anywhere in the world.
A newcomer to the search engine positioning tool scene, SurferSEO has quickly made a name for itself. Unlike comprehensive SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush, SurferSEO is laser-focused on one thing: on-page optimization, especially related to content. This makes SurferSEO an excellent complement to other tools on this list that focus on other aspects of SEO.
SurferSEO’s unique selling proposition is its Content Brief tool, which analyzes a given keyword and provides you with a step-by-step guide for creating content that ranks. This guide covers everything from targeting the same keyword as your competitor to content optimization to link building, and it’s all based on data from the top 10 results in the SERPs.
Additionally, SurferSEO has a Keyword Surfer tool, which is similar to other rank tracking tools on this list, but it also provides valuable data insights such as the average monthly search volume and CPC for a given keyword.
5 Tips for Choosing the Right Search Engine Positioning Tools
With the exception of Google Search Console, all of the positioning tools on this list are paid. While there are free alternatives available, they don’t offer the same depth of data and insights, which means they don’t offer a strong competitive edge.
Think of positioning tools as investments: the more you’re willing to spend, the more you’ll get in return. However, that doesn’t mean you should blindly pick the most expensive option. Use these tips to choose the right search engine positioning tool for your business:
1. Define your needs.
The first step is to evaluate your website’s needs and identify which areas you need help with. For example, if you’re just starting out with keyword research, a tool like Google Search Console will suffice. However, if you’re looking for more in-depth data including competitor analysis, you’ll need a more comprehensive tool like Ahrefs. A tool like SurferSEO, on the other hand, is a fantastic choice if you want to focus on content optimization.
2. Consider your budget.
Of course, your budget is a major factor to consider when choosing a tool for your page’s search engine positioning. Luckily, most tools offer free trials so you can test them out before committing to a paid plan. Most of them also offer tiered pricing, so you can choose the plan that fits your budget and scale up as your needs change.
3. Look for integrations.
Another important factor to consider is whether a search engine positioning tool integrates with the other tools you’re using. For example, if you’re using Google Analytics for your website’s data, you’ll want a search engine positioning tool that integrates with it. This way, you can see your SEO data in the same place as your website’s other data, which makes it easier to spot trends and identify areas for improvement.
4. Compare data sources.
When you’re looking at different search engine positioning tools, it’s important to compare where they get their data. The bigger and more diverse the data set, the more accurate the results will be. This is especially important for tools like rank trackers, which rely heavily on data to provide accurate results.
5. Check for features.
Of course, you’ll also want to consider the features each tool offers. Make sure the tool you choose has all the features you need, as well as any extras that would be nice to have. For example, if you’re looking for a rank tracker, you might want one that also provides keyword research data, such as the average monthly search volume and CPC for a given keyword.
Regardless of which search engine positioning tool you choose, remember that you can always switch to another tool if you’re not happy with the results. The most important thing is to find a tool that meets your needs and helps you achieve your SEO and search engine positioning goals.
Related Read: 10 Best Apps for Financial Advisors in 2022
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing the right search engine positioning tools. However, they’re undoubtedly a valuable asset for any business that wants to rise to the top of the search engine rankings.
If you need help crafting your SEO strategy, including your SEO toolkit and strategy, contact Peregrine Consulting Group. We can help you design a custom digital marketing strategy that grows as you do, ensuring you’re always one step ahead of the competition.