Top 16 SEO Tools for Keyword Research, Content & Backlinks

5 min read
SEO tools for keyword research, rank tracking, writing content, and building backlinks

As an SEO agency owner and entrepreneur, I rely on a proven toolkit of software and apps to deliver fast results for clients and my own sites.

After testing countless options over the years, I've narrowed my stack down to these essential tools across keyword research, content creation, analytics, and more.

In this post, I'll share my exact list of must-have tools for SEO, along with specific ways I use each one to boost rankings and traffic:

I'll also explain the key strengths of each tool and why they make my list of go-to's for successful SEO in 2024.

Whether you run a SEO agency, work in-house, or handle SEO for your own sites, you will discover new solutions to step up your game this year.

SEO Research

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that provides search volume and CPC data for keywords. It's a great starting point for keyword research and search volume data.

The best way to use it is to enter a seed keyword and let Google suggest related keywords.

Then, you can export the list to a Google Sheet and sort it by search volume to find the best opportunities.

Copy and paste the keywords into Ahrefs or SEMrush to get more data and start rank tracking.

Why I love it: It's free and shows data other tools can't access, like search volume across cities, desktop/mobile/tablet usage, and more.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool that provides search performance data for your website. It shows you clicks, impressions, CTR, and average position for your pages.

It's absolutely essential, as it's the only tool that shows you real first-party search data for your site.

Pro-tip: Read my guide on how to index your website to get the most out of Google Search Console.

Alternatives: For bulk indexing, check my list of website indexing tools.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere: Keyword research tool is an essential Chrome Extension that provides search volume and CPC data right in Google.

It's a cheap alternative to SEMRush and Ahrefs, and is very beginner friendly, as it shows all the data right in the Google search results page.

It also shows you data in YouTube, Pinterest, Amazon, and more. So it's great for all-in-one keyword research.


Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO suite that powers most of the SEO work I do. I highly recommend it to anyone serious about SEO.

You can simply get started with a lot of their free SEO tools just by linking your Google Search Console account and doing some basic SEO analysis for your own sites.

Pro-tip: The Ahrefs SEO Toolbar is a free Chrome and Firefox extension that shows you SEO metrics right in the search results page.


SEMRush is another all-in-one SEO platform for keyword research, competitive analysis, rank tracking, and site audits.

Compared to Ahrefs, it does not use credits when you use the tools, so it can be more affordable for some people, especially if you do a lot of keyword research or check a lot of sites.

Some features are particularly useful, like the Search Intent information and more in-depth backlink analysis paired with a link building outreach tool and disavow tool.

Content Creation

ChatGPT / Claude

To help you with content writing, planning and more, it's essential to have a good AI writing tool. I use ChatGPT and Claude for everything from generating ideas, drafting outlines, adding keywords, to writing full blog posts.

  • ChatGPT: I use ChatGPT for everything from generating ideas, drafting outlines, adding keywords, to writing full blog posts. Anything that has to do with text, ChatGPT can help. With the latest versions, it can also create images with DALL-E and browse the internet and visit links you send it.

  • Claude 3: A better writer than ChatGPT, it can write longer articles and the output is a lot better than ChatGPT by miles. It's really worth it to use both. The latest version is great.

  • Perplexity: Combining the best of ChatGPT and Claude, Perplexity is a search-engine and AI combined into one. I use it to find content ideas and write articles that are well-researched.


RankIQ: Helps me write better SEO content by providing keyword suggestions and content briefs based on the top 10 ranking pages on Google.


Swiftbrief: A content brief generator that helps me write better SEO content by providing keyword suggestions and content briefs based on other top-ranking pages on Google.


StoryChief: A content marketing platform that helps me plan, write, optimize, and distribute content to multiple sources. It has built-in SEO recommendations and replaces some SEO software as an all-in-one solution. I use it for blogging.

Analytics & Monitoring

  • Plausible Analytics: Lightweight web analytics to track traffic sources, page views, bounce rate and more. Privacy-friendly and open source.

  • PostHog: Open source product analytics to track user behavior and improve conversion. You can set up A/B testing, funnels, and more. Goes 10x deeper than Google Analytics or Plausible. It does a lot for me.

Social Media


Typefully: A Twitter tool that helps me write high-quality threads and tweets. Good for Twitter marketing. Has a great AI rewriter for creating threads, hooks and more.

Video Production


Typeframes: Creating video content for Twitter is easy with Typeframes. It's a video AI tool that helps me create engaging video content for Twitter and other social media platforms.

Screen Studio

  • Screen Studio: Quickly record professional, engaging explainer videos. It's like Loom but 100x better and cheaper.


These are the best SEO tools I use every day to run my SEO agency and create content for my portfolio of websites. I hope you find them useful too!

Ilias is a SEO entrepreneur and marketing agency owner at MagicSpace SEO, helping small businesses grow with SEO. With a decade of experience as a CTO and marketer, he offers SEO consulting and SEO services to clients worldwide.

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