Is SEO Software Any Good?

I’m constantly hearing questions asking whether or not a particular seo software is any good. Questions about whether or not following it’s advice will improve the visibility of a site in search engines. There’s certainly a lot of software out there claiming the ability to dramatically improve your site. But are any of them any good and worth the price of admission?

The short answer is no. No piece of software can optimize your pages for you or tell you how. If you’ve been following along with this blog you know I think there’s as much art to seo as science. Software can help with the science, but not the art. Only your own experience, knowledge, and intuition will be able to handle that.

SEO software is often filled with out of date advice or even advice that is simply wrong. For example most will give advice on how to write your meta keywords tag and make you think if you don’t have any you’re hopelessly out of luck when it comes to being found. Truth though, is major search engines place little to no emphasis on your meta keywords and many SEOs don’t even use them. Search engine optimization is an ever changing industry. Tactics that work today won’t necessarily work tomorrow. They may even do harm tomorrow. Software generally can not keep up with those changes.

While there are things that remain fairly constant when it comes to building search traffic for your pages, they generally aren’t things that software can help you with. Building a site with good content will always help when it comes to search engines returning your pages. No software will create quality content for you or even be able to tell you what quality content is. People often seem clueless about what constitutes quality content. Software isn’t going to be better at it.

However, seo software isn’t necessarily useless either. As long as you understand that it’s simply a tool your fine using softare. A lot of data collection often goes into determining which keywords to use or in determining the competition for a given set of keywords. Software can certainly help there. I’ve used tools at both SEO Book and SEOmoz among others in the past and will continue to use them in the future. The difference though is these are tools and not pretending to be able to optimize your site for you. What they do is give you information about your site or the site of your competitors that can help you optimize your sites.

Another valuable tool or application that would be useful is something to track statistics on your site. I’ll go so far as to say without collecting data about your traffic you can’t really do seo. But web statistics programs don’t tell you how to optimize your site. They just collect the data and present it to you. It’s up to you to decide what that data means and how best to make use of the knowledge.

Are you seeing the picture here. Software that collects data, good. Software that wants you to follow it blindly, bad.

If you see software that guarantees you it can improve the rank of your web pages don’t believe it. SEO doesn’t work that way. That doesn’t mean you can’t use seo software and seo tools. You’ll most likely want to use some, but remember to treat them as tools. You should also know that just about everything you need to collect data to optimize your pages and site can be found for free online. It can be worth it to invest in sites giving you access to keywords data like WordTracker and Keyword Discovery. You may also want to invest in a good analytics package that will collect and present statistics about your traffic to you, though free ones do exist. It might also be worthwhile to hire out for various aspects of seo, but in general I wouldn’t spend money on any seo software.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

4 comments

  1. Depends what your after. For site optimisation nothing can beat the human brain, however for rank and link monitoring a human simply doesn’t have the time!

    I would recommend Web CEO for all automated tasks – it’s free for the introductory package. I’ve been using it for years and it really is very good indeed.

    Paul | http://www.theonemillionmasterpiece.com

  2. Spot on SEO software.

    Generally, I don’t use any tools becides free trial versions of WordTracker and KeywordDiscovery (and I use http://www.nichebot.com for both now).

    SEO isn’t tools or keyword density, it is about creating human-friendly content while taking the search engines into account. Smart SEO is invisible to an unknowledgeable visitor, as well as any smart marketing, optimization or usability.

  3. Paul – I’ve looked at Web CEO before and think I may still have it installed. It’s not bad, but my problem with software like it is that following it’s advice blindly isn’t a good approach to seo. You can get some useful advice with it, no question, but you get some bad advice too. I think there’s too much emphasis placed on things that were more relevant a couple of years ago than they are today like meta keywords and keyword density. Neither is particularly important to seo anymore. Software generally can’t keep up with the changing nature of search algorithms.

    However you can get some useful information from the software. I won’t deny that. But I think you need to look it more as a tool to collect data for you. I think too many people will look at something like Web CEO and think if you do everything it says you’re all set and that’s not really the case. Paul, I’m guessing you do have a good understanding of seo and use your understanding to realize how best to use the information you get from the software. I think doing that is fine and can work well. It’s more for the person that doesn’t have that understanding that I think software should be avoided. Without understanding what the softare is telling you, you can cause more harm than good.

    Yuri – Seems like we’re thinking along the same lines. My approach is to create what I hope is useful content that real people will enjoy and learn from. The idea is to in time set myself and this site up as an authority on the topics here. If I can achieve a level of authority I should be able to rank well for just about any page I add that’s on the topic of that authority. It’s a long term approach, but one that should end up providing a much greater return in time. I also have some short term strategies in place to help bring traffic while working for that authority status.

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