11 best SEO software for small businesses in 2024 (free & paid)

best seo software for small businesses home image

Did you know 99.9% of businesses in the United States are classified as small businesses?

That's right. 

According to Zippia, there are over 33 million small businesses.

And I suspect most of them will need some online visibility in 2023. 

So whether SEO is a part of your new growth strategy or you’re trying to prepare for an incoming recession, SEO tools will give you the direction you need. 

But not all tools are built equal, and not all of them are a good fit for small businesses.

When I first started growing my sites, I relied heavily on keyword research to guide my work. Over time, other features such as competitor analysis, backlink analysis, health scores, and SERP tracking become vital to running my business. 

So stay tuned because, in this article, I will break down the best SEO software for small businesses, why they make sense, their best features, and how much they cost. This includes the best free SEO tools as well, so if you're on a budget you'll still get value from this article.

Some of them might be familiar, and others you’ve probably never heard of. Either way, I want you to leave this page knowing which tool stack is right for your business. 

Best SEO tools for small businesses (summary)

Here's the TL;DR

  • SE Ranking is the most powerful SEO software overall.
  • Surfer SEO is the best tool for optimizing your content.
  • Semrush is a great all-rounder marketing tool with SEO features.
  • Mangools is an excellent entry-level SEO for small businesses.
  • Ahrefs is great for small businesses that want to scale.
  • Google Analytics is the best free analytics tool (even with GA4).
  • Google Search Console is the best free tool for tracking your progress.
  • Terkel is the best tool for link building and growing domain authority.
  • Gummy Search is a great research tool that helps identify topics to cover.
  • Google Keyword Planner is a great free tool for running Google Ads.
  • Yoast SEO is the best free and paid WordPress SEO plugin.

What makes an SEO tool suitable for a small business?

SEO tools come in all different shapes and sizes these days. Some are built for enterprises requiring deep API configuration, and others are so basic that they cluster a list of keywords

But as a small business, you want a versatile tool that offers a range of features without over-committing to an expensive solution. 

Here are the most important features small businesses are trying to achieve with an SEO tool: 

  • Track the overall SEO performance of their website.
  • Research new keyword ideas to rank for.
  • Research their competitors for ideas.
  • Create and improve the content.
  • Track the health of their site. 
  • Track their domain rating.
  • Track keyword rankings.

Small businesses need the basics, but they must be done reliably. They also don’t want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a month to complete this.

Eleven Best SEO Tools and Software for Small Businesses 

1. SE Ranking

SE Ranking
SE Ranking Homepage

SE Ranking is an all-in-one SEO tool that’s extremely simple to use. One of the main reasons they’re listed at the top of this article is they have a specific use case for SMBs (small to medium businesses). With over 700,000 users, you can expect a tool ready to service your SEO needs perfectly. 

I particularly like that SE Ranking is doing everything possible to meet its customers' needs. This is particularly evident in their tiered pricing structure, which allows maximum customization. The more I use this tool I can see it becoming the leading choice, ahead of Semrush, Moz, and Ahrefs. 

Best features for small businesses:

  • Content marketing platform to improve your chances of ranking.
  • The most accurate rank tracker in the market.
  • Highly intuitive UI/UX makes it easy for non-experts to read the data and reports.
  • Custom reporting that matches the business needs (i.e. local seo may be a priority).

💡Pro tip: If you have an established list of competitors, you can import them into the “My Competitors” tool. This will automatically track your performance against them, give you basic tips, and show you how volatile their rankings are compared to your site. 

Pros:

  • Full suite product so that it will cover all your needs.
  • Custom reporting if required.
  • Includes a content editor and content marketing tool.
  • Great competitor research tools (including historical data and volatility reports).

Cons:

  • Unlikely you’ll use every available feature.
  • There is a small learning curve since the product suite is so large.
  •  The basic plan only allows you to track 250 keywords.

Pricing

  • The cheapest monthly plan starts at $29.40/mo for weekly ranking updates (as opposed to daily or hourly). 
  • For an additional $29/mo, you can add 15 content editor articles.
  • There are discounts for quarterly, bi-yearly, and annual plans. 

Start a free SE Ranking trial.

2. Surfer SEO

surfer seo
Surfer SEO Homepage

Surfer SEO is a tool that helps you write and optimize content based on AI and Google’s NLP.  It is not your typical “SEO tool” as such, but it is necessary for small businesses that want their content to rank. I’ve been using it to help optimize my existing articles, especially ones with competitive keywords that aren’t performing as well as I want. 

SEO doesn’t work without high-quality content. In this case, I would suggest Surfer SEO as an addition to your content stack rather than the only SEO tool you use. It’s possible only to use this tool and get results, but you’ll be missing core pieces of the puzzle. 

Best features for small businesses:

  • Intuitive guidelines and recommendations.
  • Connects with many other tools such as Google Docs and WordPress.
  • You can conduct keyword research within the app, making it easy to plan your content.

💡Pro tip: If you follow the tasks suggested in Surfer SEO, you will see the impressions and clicks that Surfer helped you optimize for over time. This is quite motivating and will keep you coming back to write and improve more content

surferseo dashboard
My Surfer SEO Dashboard (Grow Flow plan)

Pros:

  • Highly actionable insights within the editor.
  • The Gow Flow plan gives you daily tasks to complete to improve your existing content.
  • Leverages Google NLP API making the recommendations extremely accurate.

Cons:

  • Over-optimization of your articles can cause harm. The articles are meant for humans, not to please Google.
  • To make the most out of Surfer SEO, you must be committed to publishing and improving content monthly.

Pricing:

  • The basic plan is most suitable for small businesses and costs $59/mo for 20 x page audits and 10 x new articles.
  • Annual plans are 17% cheaper.

Try Surfer SEO here.

3. Semrush

SEMRUSH

Semrush is one of the leading SEO tools on the market. Whilst it’s an all-rounder SEO tool, they also have a suite specifically for PPC (pay-per-click) and social media marketing. This is particularly useful for small businesses since they’re known to run Google or social media ads.

For small businesses that want to keep a lean tech stack, Semrush is a great option. You can make use of SEO tools, content marketing & editor tools, and social media tools under the same roof without having to pay for other subscriptions and learn how to use multiple tools. 

Best features for small businesses:

  • “Semrush Local” helps you maintain search visibility in a specific market.
  • Gives you accurate insights into reviews so you can manage brand perception.
  • Easy-to-understand insights to help improve the site structure.
  • Powerful keyword research tool.

💡Pro tip: If you’re a small business that relies on local SEO, sign up for Semrush Local. A free tier allows you to distribute your business listings to 70+ directories. The premium version even allows you to view heat mapping reports from Google Maps. You will need a Google Business Profile to leverage this feature, though.

Pros:

  • Tools specifically designed to improve SMB’s local SEO.
  • Reasonably priced for the level of coverage the product suite has.
  • One of the few tools you can use to manage everything (including SEO, local SEO, content management, and ads).

Cons:

  • It can become costly if you add pro features.
  • Some of the free tools included, such as Semrush Local, aren't that useful unless you pay for the premium version of it.
  • There’s a steeper learning curve if you want to learn how to use Semrush to its full capacity.

Pricing:

  • The entry-level plan starts at $119.95/mo for five projects, 500 tracked keywords, and 10,000 results per report. This includes access to SEO, Social, and PPC tools. 
  • You can save 17% by purchasing an annual membership.

✅ Something I appreciate about Semrush: During the height of the tech layoffs in 2023, Semrush offered 1,000 memberships for free for six months. This was one of the few companies helping their primary user base through the tough period. No other SEO tool on this list matched that. 

Try Semrush for free.

4. Mangools

mangools
Mangools Homepage

Mangools is the first SEO tool I used to grow this website from 0 to 1,000 monthly visitors. So naturally, it has a special spot in my heart. Mangools is a bootstrapped company run by a small European team. However, don’t let this fool you into thinking they’re less capable than the competitors. Their product suite is powerful, intuitive, and mostly reliable. 

They’re one the cheaper and “lightweight” solutions on the market, making them a perfect candidate for small businesses. Their core product suite includes a keyword research tool, SERP (search engine results pages) checker & watcher, link miner, and site profiler. 

Related: Mangools Review: Mangools Review: Six months of using this SEO tool

Best features for small businesses:

  • Extremely simple to navigate.
  • The UX/UI makes it easy to understand their metrics visually.
  • There isn’t a learning curve like some of the other SEO tools.
  • I find their keyword research platform to be the easiest and fastest (I don’t think it’s the best, but it is easier to use).

💡Pro tip: You can leverage the keyword research tool in two primary ways. Firstly, by inputting a broad keyword such as “used cars” and looking at the related keywords, auto-complete, and questions. The second way is by importing a competitor's URL to see all the keywords they rank for and saving them to a specific list. 

Mangools Keyword List - Manifesting Niche
Mangools Keyword Finder Tool Dashboard

Pros:

  • Ultra simple to use.
  • Good for businesses without technical SEO talent in-house.
  • One of the cheapest options in the market.

Cons:

  • Easy to run out of credits if you do a deep dive on a competitor or keyword research.
  • Some of the keyword metrics need to be manually refreshed otherwise you run the risk of seeing inaccurate data. This isn’t a big deal but it was annoying when I thought I found a keyword with a huge search volume and low difficulty, but when I refreshed it the difficulty updated to a higher number.

Pricing:

  • $29.90/mo for the basic plan which includes 100 keyword lookups every 24hrs and 200 keywords tracked daily.
  • $44.90/mo for the premium plan which includes 500 keyword lookups every 24hrs and 700 keywords tracked daily. You can also analyze 70 new domains every 24/hrs.
  • Cheaper plans are available if you pay annually. 

Start a 10-day free trial with Mangools.

5. Ahrefs

Ahrefs
Ahrefs Homepage

Ahrefs is one of the most popular SEO tools on the market. Almost every company I’ve worked for has an Ahrefs subscription. I’ve been using it more frequently in the last six months and it definitely lives up to the hype. Most days I’m checking my backlink profile to see which new links I’ve landed (or lost…*sigh*). 

It’s a great option for small businesses that plan to take SEO seriously. While it’s not the cheapest or the most user-friendly tool on the market it’s great for competitor analysis and keyword research. They’re also staying on top of the competition. Ahrefs recently launched a new feature called “SERP Comparison” which allows SEOs to compare the same keywords across different dates. 

Best features for small businesses:

  • The site explorer makes it easy to spy on your competitors.
  • The health score gives a very quick overview of any issues with your site and how to fix them.
  • Ahrefs Academy has a Blogging for Business course to help you make the most of the product suite.

💡Pro tip: When using the site explorer, you can import a competitor's URL, click on keywords, and then filter by low difficulty. This will allow you to capture some of the low-hanging fruit your competitors are ranking for. I also like to click on “Top Pages” to see where the majority of their traffic comes from. Remember, not all traffic is equal so it’s important to check this before blindly copying your competitors.  

Pros:

  • The product suite is extensive enough to get everything done using Ahrefs alone.
  • The free courses they offer go hand-in-hand with the product suite.

Cons:

  • Not the best value for the money.
  • Can be complicated to figure out how to use each feature.
  • Easy to run out of credits on the Lite plan if you’re doing competitor research.

Pricing:

  • The Lite plan starts at $99/mo which has up to 750 tracked keywords and 5 keyword lists. This is the most suitable plan for small businesses. 
  • You can subscribe to the Standard plan which is $199/mo for 2,000 tracked keywords and 50 keyword lists (plus more features and usage).
  • Annual plans include two months free.

Signup for Ahrefs here.

6. Google Analytics

google analytics example
Google Analytics Dashboard Example

Google Analytics should be a must-have for anyone who relies on their website to generate revenue. Although with GA4 being released, it can seem a bit daunting since the interface is not as intuitive. However, there are plenty of guides that can help learn how to navigate the new layout and set up custom reporting quickly. 

I don’t check Google Analytics as much as I check Search Console but I still use it to track core events. My main use case is to see which links get the most outbound clicks. This helps me learn more about what my audience responds best to, it also helps me prioritize certain affiliate partners over others. 

Best features for small businesses:

  • Demographic breakdown.
  • Shows when your business receives the most traffic and where from.
  • Shows you which pages are most viewed and which convert the most.

💡Pro tip: Work out which action you want your user to take when they visit your site (e.g. call, submit a form, or enter an email). From here you can set up event tracking for that specific metric and create baseline reports to see you’re performing month on month. 

Pros:

  • Free.
  • Relatively easy to use once it’s set up.
  • Provides actionable insights to help you improve conversion rates.

Cons:

  • The steep learning curve with GA4 can put some people off using it.
  • Requires you to paste tracking code on your website.

Pricing

  • Free.

If you’re not using Google Analytics, sign up here.

7. Google Search Console

search console home
Google Search Console Homepage

For businesses actively trying to grow their organic reach, Google Search Console results are a key indicator of performance. I check this at least 10 times a day (which is probably why I’m so stressed). It’s another one of Google’s free platforms but the difference is that Search Console only tracks how much traffic your website receives from Google search queries. 

On top of this, they have a suite of products that monitors the health, user experience, and visibility of your website. This is extremely helpful for businesses that might have underperforming sites. Search Console will give you the information you need to improve your user experience. Below is a perfect example of this.

search console web vitals
My Core Web Vitals Dashboard

Best features for small businesses:

  • Identifies which keywords result in traffic plus new keyword opportunities.
  • The Page Experience feature ensures your website is functioning properly.
  • It’s free to use.

💡Pro tip: Instead of relying on other SEO tools to identify keywords to target, try auditing the queries in Search Console. There have been many instances where I’ve spotted a keyword that gets a fair amount of searches, even though the SEO tools say there is zero search volume. 

Pros:

  • Easy way to identify new keywords that might not show up in typical SEO tools.
  • The product suite includes page experience metrics to ensure your site is running smoothly.
  • Free to use.
  • Intuitive.

Cons:

  • You will probably check your performance every day which will stress you out.

Pricing:

  • Free for life.

If you’re not using Google Search Console, sign up here.

8. Gummy Search

Gummy Search home
Gummy Search Home Page

You probably haven’t heard of this tool and you definitely won’t find it in any other SEO-related list. This is actually surprising since Gummy Search is a very powerful research tool. Gummy Search sits on top of Reddit and analyses the platform to give real-time insights into which communities are popular, why, and how you can capitalize on them. I’ve used this many times to help me validate ideas, niches, and problem spaces. 

Reddit has well over 50m daily active users engaging in niche communities. I can guarantee you’ll be able to find the same insights from traditional keyword research tools.  

gummy search community dashboard
Gummy Search communities by niche

Best features for small businesses:

  • Conversation peaking to identify which problems your customers experience.
  • Keyword tracking functionality.

💡Pro tip: Make a list of subreddits that are relevant to your niche and input them into Gummy Search for new insights. Gummy Search will eventually output key pain points for you to look into. If you have a pro plan you can leverage their AI pattern recognition tool. 

Pros:

  • The research can inspire new content ideas.
  • Easier to use than other Reddit tools such as the Anvaka GitHub tool.
  • Leverages AI to find patterns in your niche.

Cons:

  • The useful features are only available in a paid plan.
  • If your customers don’t use Reddit you won’t find this tool valuable.

Pricing:

  • Starter: $24/mo for advanced search, keyword tracking, and insights.
  • Pro: $49/mo for everything in started plus AI pattern recognition, Slack/Discord integration, and content performance reports.
  • You can save 17% on plans if you pay annually. 

Signup for Gummy Search here.

9. Terkel

terkelio
Terkel Homepage

We all know that sites with authority perform better. However, most small businesses are not paying enough attention to this. Perhaps it’s too much effort or misunderstood. Either way, I have a basic solution for you.

Terkel makes it easy to grow your domain authority. The platform makes it extremely easy for you to submit expert quotes to relevant publications in record time. I have landed countless backlinks to my personal site and to Finder.com. Unlike HARO, it’s easy to use and not as saturated so the chance of you winning a link is higher. Below is a screenshot of my account with the quotes that have been published.

terkel quotes I've won
Terkel quotes that I have won.

Best features for small businesses:

  • The platform allows you to curate your niches.
  • You can track your quotes to see which were submitted, selected, and published.

💡Pro tip: Make sure your account is set up with the correct links, images, and citations before you start submitting quotes. I had to request two quotes to be changed since the anchor text was pointing to the wrong domain. Good news – the team was extremely helpful and managed to resolve this within 48 hours.

Pros:

  • You can add “as featured in” to your homepage if you land a couple of high-profile links.
  • There’s a free plan you can use each month if you don’t want to over-invest.

Cons:

  • If you want to submit more than three quotes per month, you need a premium plan.
  • Sometimes a quote might be selected but it takes months to see the article go live (I waited for a link from Clickup for at least 3 months).

Pricing:

  • Free up to three quotes per month (limited functionality).
  • $99/mo for unlimited quotes per month and extended functionality.
  • $199/mo for full access + additional user seats and accounts for submission.

Get started with Terkel here.

10. Google Keyword Planner

google keyword planner
Google Keyword Planner Homepage

The Google Keyword Planner should be a staple for all small businesses that plan on running Google Ads or looking for content ideas. It's one of the best free SEO tools on the market that is often overlooked specifically because it's built for running Google Ads. The only downside to the keyword planner is that it takes time to learn how to run successful ads.

Best features for small businesses:

  • It allows you to work out home expensive it is to run ads on your most competitive terms.
  • It helps businesses identify new keywords or content ideas.
  • It can help small businesses generate a return on their investment.

💡Pro tip: Be sure to add your negative keywords (i.e., keywords you do not want your ads serving for). This will help you stretch your budget and ensure you're getting closer to a positive ROI.

Pros:

  • 100% free to explore (only need to pay per click).
  • Great for generating new content ideas.

Cons:

  • There is a steep learning curve for running successful paid ads.
  • Some small businesses will be in an ultra-competitive niche making this difficult to scale.

Pricing:

  • 100% free.

Get started with Google Keyword Planner here.

11. Yoast SEO (WordPress plugin)

Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin Homepage

If you've ever built a website on WordPress, you've heard of Yoast. It's one of the most popular SEO plugins, with over thirteen million users. The good news is they have a free version for users not ready to use the additional tools. This stacks up as one of the best SEO tools for small businesses because it makes optimizing your website (including blog post pages) incredibly easy without needing to write code.

Best features for small businesses:

  • Easy to update meta details for every page.
  • Automatically generates an XML sitemap for you.
  • The premium version allows you to generate custom schemas.

💡Pro tip: I suggest generating an XML sitemap using Yoast SEO for new sites. From here, I would add a footer link called “Sitemap” to make it slightly easier for Google to crawl your site. The good news is that you don't need any technical knowledge to execute this.

Pros:

  • The free version is powerful enough to improve your site.
  • You can generate an XML sitemap easily.
  • You can update the meta details for your site easily.

Cons:

  • You need to pay for the premium version.
  • If you don't understand how SEO works, you'll need to do research before you can use the tool to it's full capabilities.

Pricing:

  • Free version.
  • $99/year for the premium version, which comes with additional features to help you rank.

Get started with Yoast SEO here.

My testing methodology for small business SEO software

SMBs have a lot on the line, so it was important to ensure I only recommended the most helpful tools. I could have added more, but I didn’t think they stacked up to this curated list. 

I’ve personally used and recommended all the software in this. I carefully considered each tool against following in the criteria:

  • It can be used to its total capacity by non-technical marketers or business owners (i.e., ease of use)
  • Genuine value for money (i.e., you get more value than you pay).
  • The G2 reviews and Reddit comments were positive.
  • I asked “If I had to run a business without this tool would it be harder?” if the answer was yes then I included the tool.
  • I asked “when I used this tool did I have a positive experience?” if the answer was yes then I included the tool.
  • I made sure the features of each tool were aligned with the needs of small businesses.
  • There is support or documentation to help if you get stuck (and there's a good chance you will).

Related article: Best SEO Newsletter

Frequently asked questions

What should I avoid when looking for SEO software?

This is a common question. I tend to avoid tools that promise first-page rankings or are very expensive compared to the competitors. From here, it’s just a matter of ensuring the specific tool matches your needs and that the reviews are positive.

Either way, you should be able to try before you buy with a free trial. 

How much should small businesses pay for SEO tools?

Small businesses should consider their specific use case before paying for an SEO tool. You can expect to pay a premium if you have a website with thousands of keywords that bring in high-value traffic. However, you shouldn’t pay more than $150/mo for your SEO stack for most small businesses. 

This could mean you use one SEO tool and one content writing tool, such as Ahrefs and Surfer. Or, you purchase a tool like Semrush and add the most relevant additional tools to your subscription. Most of your budget will be used on keyword research tools and content improvement tools so try to find one that combines the two. Either way, you should be able to get everything for less than $150 per month. 

What are the best free SEO tools for small businesses?

You can't beat Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Keyword Planner, and even Google's Page Speed Insights when it comes to free SEO tools. This might not be the most advanced stack, but you'll get the best value since they're all free tools.

 

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