There was a time when there were plenty of good quality free tools that would help in SEO research. This is slowly getting replaced by paid tools.
What does this mean for you and me?
It means that we will need to refocus and re-think about tools that we need for our every day SEO requirement. If the need arises we may have to purchase tools that will provide a good return on investment. Or, we can zero in on some of the still readily available free tools that are very useful.
The demand for SEO tools has grown manifold over the last two decades. With most business owners having an online presence these days, the need for SEO has grown tremendously and therefore the SEO tools are also much sought after.
This is how I define the evolution of SEO tools :
The Age of innocence:
In the 1990s, when search engines such as Google came into being, everything was at a nascent stage, ranking was easier, there weren’t that many tools available either. Things were easy but then there wasn’t that much competition and not many people were searching the internet.
The Age of Acceleration:
From 2000s, started the real appreciation and use of the internet. Almost all businesses felt the need for web presence. More and more websites started getting designed and hosted. Tools such as keyword density analyzer, back link checker, Web site hit reports, keyword research tools, content duplication checker, were readily available and almost all of them were free to use. Keyword research tools such as, Wordtracker, offered both, a free trial version, and a paid version. Google AdWords research tool was another valuable tool for keyword research. The majority of people started using the internet, there was a huge jump in the number of visitors and the number of websites.Ranking in search engines started becoming challenging. This is the time when the demand for SEO tools started accelerating. Things started to get really hot at this stage…
The Age of competition & Survival of the fittest:
We are in this stage now. Almost everyone I know accesses the internet, browses at least for an hour every day. This has not only boiled down to more potential visitors but also more number of websites competing for the same visitors!
Ranking on any of the major search engines is now hugely competitive especially for keywords that are very popular. And with the Social media entering this space in a big way, there is a major competition for survival of the fittest. To be visible from among this already crowded space is indeed a challenge that most marketers and webmasters face today. SEO tools have increased in number; you can get a tool for almost any SEO work that you want to do. But not all of them are great and many of them are not free!
One of my favorite keyword research tool Google AdWords, may not be as easily accessible as it is now. Within a few months it will get replaced by the Google planner. The tool will be available and for free but you will need to have an AdWords account in order to access it. Wordtracker still provides a trial version for the first seven days of subscription only and you will need to register.
All is not lost yet, the good news is that there are some excellent SEO tools that are still free to use, and you can access many of them and get basic information without having to register. I will take those up in my subsequent posts.