5 Things You Should Know Before Buying SEO Software

If there’s one subject I know about it’s rank tracking and SEO tools.

As the former CMO of an SEO tool platform (Rank Ranger), I have an idea of ​​how the inner workings work.

One of the best parts of my previous job was being able to create new reports and tools to meet the needs of a changing industry.

The tools are great.

SEO data and reporting has come a long way in the past few years.

Still, there are a few things you should know about SEO tools before deciding to pay for one (because they can be expensive).

Below are five things to consider before opening your wallet and subscribing to an SEO tool.

1. Request a demo of the product

Even if you are a seasoned SEO professional who has used tons of tools, the demo is invaluable.

SEO platforms have a problem.

They have tons of reports and tools and so on (at least they should), and that makes it difficult to provide an intuitive user interface.


Read on below

Worse, it makes it difficult to discover all of the platform’s tools.

It’s a nightmare.

Take it from me, it’s not a “fun” problem to try to solve.

How do you organize everything you offer in an intuitive way that also helps make it easy to find?

To be honest, I think this is a problem that all tools of this type have.

Even if it seems “easy,” it’s really hard to balance.

That’s why I recommend taking the time to take part in a demo.

In addition, each tool within a platform can contain a number of options that you may not even be aware of.

So if you see a particular tool or report that you like or that is particularly relevant to you, reach out to the company representative.

I’m telling you there may be gemstones out there that you would never have noticed before that can really help you customize the tool for your needs.


Read on below

In doing so, you need to realize that you are in control of the demo, or at least you should be.

Most of the account managers who show you the tool have absolutely no idea what you want to know.

They have done tons of demos and have a general flow of presentations that most likely won’t be very helpful, it’s too general (through no fault of your own).

You need to take the lead by showing the company representative exactly what you want.

Signing up for a demo and asking to be shown around is often a waste of time.

We all use tools and can play around with a free trial ourselves.

The demo is only useful in:

  • Discover what you can’t see at first sight.
  • See how the platform can be tailored to your needs.

Ask the rep to show you some tools that most people don’t know about (I’m sure they will have a mental list of tools / reports that they would like more people to know).

Give them a real-life scenario and see how the tool can be customized to suit your needs.

2. Don’t always accept the offer of Metrics SEO Tools at face value

The amount of data that most SEO platforms offer is almost incredible.

Maybe too good to be true (and in many ways it is … I’ll come back to that).

Don’t let how much there is to get you caught.

Rather, dive into the essentials of what the most important metrics mean.

Take rank tracking.

The rank you see on a rank tracker is not your rank for any particular search at any particular time in a particular location.

It doesn’t work that way and no rank tracker (at least that I know) makes this claim.

Ask what the metrics mean (and in this case, per tip, ask per search engine whether Google isn’t the only SERP that matters to you).

Obviously, no tool vendor is going to release their secret sauce.


Read on below

However, they should give you a general overview of how they are concretizing their metrics.

Take “visibility”.

This ambiguous metric can mean many different things to many different tool vendors.

It’s not that there is an advisory board that defines the metrics used (and in what proportion).

Don’t make assumptions.


  • Are there any data or insights that a tool brings in that are very important to you?
  • Where do you get this data from?
  • If it’s the SERP itself (as is so often the case) how far down the rabbit hole do they go?
  • Does the data / insights you get speak only on page 1 of the SERP or are you getting information that applies to the top 100 results?

Sometimes you want that depth and sometimes you don’t.

If not, can you filter it?

(That kind of thing.)

Are SERP Features Important to You?

Does the tool display information about “images” on the SERP?

Well, there are a lot of image-centric features on the SERP – are they all included if the tool lists “images”?

Will this formula work for you and your needs?

Understand what you are seeing.


Read on below

Collecting this type of data is very complex. And again there are no standards to follow.

It can take a lot of thought (and coffee … or beer) to decide how to create a particular record, or what to or shouldn’t include in a particular “score” or metric.

It’s not magic and the end result may or may not work for you (and that’s fine, too).

Understand that the data you are getting back is not absolute.

The “numbers” you see in a tool are not really the exact “numbers”.

I think we’re starting to understand this point when it comes to things like search volume (thanks, jumpshot).

However, it applies to much more than that.

Take the data for what it is.

3. Don’t get caught up in all the shiny graphics

You should know that many tools (even the good ones) repeat themselves to some extent.


Read on below

This iteration often takes the form of a wonderfully designed diagram that you have probably seen elsewhere on the platform but just haven’t recognized.

And yes, a tool adds a relatively meaningless chart or widget to the top of the report to make it look more appealing.

Don’t be lured here.

For the record, I’m not saying that tools shamefully do this.

They are just trying to meet certain user needs for a visually appealing platform.

This sometimes results in a particular tool / report being given a relatively meaningless (but very well designed) graphical element.

These elements are often repeated in different forms.

A particular graphical element can appear as a pie chart in one report, and a bar chart in another, or an ever-fancy stacked column chart, and so on.

Similarly, you can have reports or tools that tell you pretty much the same thing from a slightly different perspective.


Read on below

Again not disgraceful.

It could just be the tool vendor that updated and improved a report but didn’t want to postpone the old one as a lot of customers are using it and wouldn’t be happy to be migrated to anything new.

It often is, and it is only a natural evolution for many of these platforms.

Be careful anyway.

Don’t get too caught up in the shiny bells and whistles.

They’re there for data and actionable insights, not works of art.

(This doesn’t mean visual elements aren’t an important part of the equation, that’s not my point here.)

4. Make sure you get the customization and development you want

Know what you need to create just for you.

No tool or platform fits like a glove.

If you are dealing with a significant number of keywords or websites, or so on, then most likely you will need custom development even if you don’t do it at the beginning.


Read on below

Of course, the best scenario is knowing what adjustments you will need in advance.

However, you often toss a bunch of websites and keywords into a tool, pull back the data, and think, “This won’t work.”

I’ve seen it countless times.

It’s nobody’s fault.

It is in the nature of things.

What you thought was a manageable amount of data may not be the end.

Knowing how malleable a software solution is is one point we don’t talk about enough when choosing an SEO tool.

You want to get a sense of what kinds of things need tweaking, how the process works (from here you might get an idea of ​​how long things are going to take), etc.

Personally, I would ask to see some current aspects of the platform that came from custom development requests.

Without an actual developer request, it will be difficult to know what can and cannot be done.


Read on below

The best thing you can do is get a feel for what customization means for the platform.

Is it research, reformatting data, or developing new tools / reports / options for you?

5. Make sure that you can move your data easily

Any tool will tell you you can export this and that (and the Brooklyn Bridge) – well, they should (and usually can).

The devil here is in the details and it matters.


Hopefully by the end of time you will be happy with any tool you choose from.

But sometimes you need to keep going (or you need multiple tools).

A tool can change, your situation can change, and it’s worth considering this option at the beginning.

This means examining how difficult certain platforms make the data transfer process difficult.

While any tool can export your data (if it’s not running), the process might not be nearly straightforward.


Read on below

(And if not, what does that really say about her?)

It’s possible for a tool to make the data file you’re exporting clumsy and difficult to manipulate (as some of my former colleagues often complained – just in case you thought I made this stuff up).

During the trial period, check that the CSV files you exported contain fields that look pretty normal and are structured in an easily digestible format.

In other words, if the CSV file looks complex and is presented to you awkwardly, it will look like this for every new platform you switch to.

It can lead to awkward conversations, but it’s worth bringing up the topic of not just exporting your data but the universality of the data to make it possible just uploaded to another provider.

The inner scoop

It’s really easy to see what an SEO tool has to offer and feel like you understand it.


Read on below

But SEO tools are like Transformers, there is more to it than you think (that was too easy).

The best thing you can do is try the product and know exactly what to expect from this platform.

You will never (and shouldn’t) have a complete understanding of the platform, but at least that way you will get information that will actually scratch the surface.

More resources: