Digital Marketing Tools pt. 1: SEO Tools

Digital Marketing Tools Review

Over the next few weeks, our 21 Handshake team will be giving you the scoop on what digital tools we have used. We will start with SEO tools then move on to review project management software, social media platforms, apps and a CRM review. We are not being paid by these brands, so our reviews will be honest and frank! We will tell you if:

a) we have used the actual tool in question
b) if we have used it, we will give you our honest review
c) if we haven’t used it, we will give you the scoop on what we have heard from marketing influencers we respect

So that’s it! Take it to heart or take it with a grain of salt BUT remember we always recommended reviewing a product for yourself. Your situation may be different than ours and whereas a tool didn’t work for us, it may work for you!

Why SEO Can Be a Mystery

This week we are talking SEO tools! Search Engine Optimization can be a huge mystery for many businesses that desire a stronger online presence.

How do I increase my SERP?
How to I decrease my bounce rate?
How do I get to page 1?
What is Local SEO?
What is PPC?

I think it is a huge frustration for most brands when they start investing in SEO but then they don’t see immediate results. At 21 Handshake, we like to describe SEO as a ‘long game’ because it can take awhile before you see any increase in a keyword you really desire to be included in the top 10 rank. And then, sometimes you can do all the right things but still not see any movement towards page one. So what gives (besides the old adage that patience is a virtue)?


The Hard and Easy Road

Well, while this post is not about the finer points of explaining SEO (although you can read our blog for more info), I like to break it down into two categories when explaining how it works to our clients:  

  1. The easy stuff
  2. The hard stuff

What do I mean? Easy stuff is comprised of page optimization, inputting keywords, meta descriptions, page titles, no 404 errors, image optimization….

Most people can be easily trained to apply this surface level SEO to the back end of their website.

The hard stuff, on the other hand, though is made up of  research, keyword research, content mapping (topic clusters) list building, backlinks, competition analysis and (PPC) Adwords and even website development. And when it comes down to it – we always feel it is best to consult and strategize with an expert on most of that hard stuff! (Shout out to our own 21 Handshake SEO expert, Octavian).

So what tools do we use as a team and why?


5 SEO Tools That Help Improve Google Ranking

SpyFu – 21 Handshake Uses and Approves!

  1. SpyFu developers put a lot of thought into user experience with this comprehensive SEO tool. Once you log into SpyFu, you can immediately type in any website and look at its domain overview, SEO stats and rankings.
  2. Gathering information on competitors from keyword rankings to what they are paying for PPC ads gives an advantage to knowing what is happening in a specific industry or location.
  3. Reporting is very detailed and again, very user friendly to both put together and review for actionable insights. 

Link Assistant – 21 Handshake Uses and Approves!

  1. Location specific targeting allows users to pull rankings for specific areas. This gives users an advantage to determining both what keywords customers in their area are searching and what competition is ranking for.
  2. An easy yet robust interface for link building management allows link monitoring outreach opportunities and then capitalizes on procuring backlinks.
  3. Great support system comprised of SEO tutorials that are updated constantly providing the latest knowledge on what is trending in SEO, social media management and customer service support that responds within 24 hours.

RavenTools – 21 Handshake Uses and Approves!

  1. Streamlined reports in one location make this an invaluable tool. Reporting pulls information from Google analytics, most social media platforms, PPC ads and Facebook ads.
  2. Research tools pull information from MOZ and Majestic so businesses don’t feel the need to invest in other platforms for search phrase/keyword research.
  3. The ability to manage multiple clients in one platform and toggle between each easily to build new reports saves valuable time. 


SEMrush – 21 Handshake Does not Use but Marketing Influencer Approved

  1. A value SEO site audit tool within the platform allows users to devise a page ranking strategy and fix internal errors.
  2. Competitor analysis gives a nice overview on what keywords others in an industry are using and how those keywords are being ranked.
  3. The on page SEO optimization tool is great to give an overview not only of what a search engine crawl bot is ‘reading’ but if the page is connecting with users to move them forward in your marketing funnel. 

AHREFS – 21 Handshake Does not Use but Marketing Influencer Approved

  1. A large backlink archive that is raved about industry wide allows users to locate where broken backlinks are as well as high quality and low quality links.
  2. Batch analysis allows users to quickly look at many competitors at once vs. one at time. This can be very handy for those pressed for time!
  3. Determine competitors content strategy by analyzing their backlinks and website traffic.


There are many, many other tools out there! Our best recommendation is to find a tool that works for your business and then stick with it. Devote time to learning how to use it! Every tool listed above is equipped with training resources on how to use their platform and we definitely agree that it is worth taking time to explore the how to use it – as with anything in life, if you don’t invest the time to learn it, it just becomes a useless tool.

Also, you may wonder why we have not included Google Analytics in our SEO tool review. While we are big fans of Google Analytics and we always recommend our clients set up an account and implement the Google Analytic tracking code on their website, there are some quirks in Google (i.e. keyword not found!) that don’t provide the best useful insights for strategy adjustment, competitor analysis or banklink opportunities. BUT all tools mentioned in this report do work in some way with Google Analytics so it is a MUST for any great SEO strategy.

We would love to hear what SEO strategies are working for your business, shake hands online with us on any of our social media channels!


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