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3 SEO tools you cannot afford to skip

Leighton Interactive’s Travis McGinnis narrows an expansive list of SEO tools down to the three powerhouses most effective for organic search strategy.

4 min read

Digital Technology


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An organic search strategy is a crucial part of a holistic marketing strategy. Making better decisions on behalf of your content means your hard work should net you leads, establish your website as an authority of subject matter, and give users an optimal experience as they search for answers to their problem.

So — just how exactly can you ensure that happens?

By utilizing search engine tools to help build a bulletproof organic search strategy, that’s how. The world of SEO is full of tools. Here are my top three most used, trusted, and effective.


Ahrefs combines site, content, and keyword exploration tools to offer one of the most advanced SEO profiles of any tool I’ve seen. It’s a well-known resource for checking backlinks, but it’s capable of so much more.

I use this every single day for keyword research. The level of detail it can provide on individual keywords is phenomenal. You can access the SERP (search engine results page) for every keyword in its database and see where they rank as well as what pages also rank for those terms along with their corresponding positions

Beyond that, I can see if there are featured snippets on Google like knowledge cards, information graphs, or answer cards. Ahrefs can also be explored for any domain and it will tell you the health of the domain from an organic search standpoint. The number of backlinks, unique domains, the number of keywords it ranks for organically, and you can view every single keyword associated and filter them by search volume, difficulty, or by words included in the phrase. This allows for filtering of branded keywords and non-branded terms alike.  Ahrefs can produce a parent topic of any keyword I run, helping establish a content pillar to build content around.

Ahrefs is a paid plan.

Google Search Console

Of course, Google makes my list of top tools because of its monster search status and the number of daily inquiries it crawls. It’s a suite of tools that ensures what you’re doing with your website makes for a Google-friendly experience for users. It offers data, tools, and diagnostics for free and is the only tool to garner SEO information about your site directly from Google. Websites are incredibly complex; you might not even be aware of what or where your site is experiencing issues. The Search Console will find it.

I like Google’s Search Console because it can tell me exactly how many clicks any given keyword brought users back to a website and the page it was on. It also shows where a site shows up for a search term on average on Google so we can use that information to identify what topics of terms would be ideal for optimizing or strengthening the position around.

From a website health perspective, Search Console will send alerts about pages with errors or indexing issues.


Buzzsumo is a research and monitoring tool. If Ahrefs and Google Console tools are the hows, then Buzzsumo is the what. As in, what should you be optimizing your content for? What are the topics? Who are the influencers and what type of information are they looking for?

I use Buzzsumo in conjunction with Ahrefs as I create content calendars. When I craft a blog title, for example, I can search for it in Buzzsumo and it will tell me what type of post it should be (how-to article, list post, what is the topic, video, etc.)  and how long it should be on average to increase the likelihood of shares. I put those suggestions within content calendars to give the writers a sense of what the content should include and be formatted.

Buzzsumo is a paid plan.


Travis McGinnis is the Technical Marketing & Support Lead at Leighton Interactive. He is the author of “The Tale of a Fist-Sized Hole.”


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