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SEO Tools: Are They Overrated or Essential for Success?

December 4, 2023


min read


Wondering if SEO tools are worth the investment? In this guide we explore if SEO tools are overrated or essential for your success online.

There are dozens of search engine optimisation (SEO) tools available on the market and many can be rather costly! If you’re wondering whether it’s worth investing in professional tools, like those used by leading SEO agencies, we’ve got you covered.

In this post, we’ll explore whether SEO tools are essential or “nice-to-haves” along with sharing pros and cons as you decide whether to invest in any SEO tools.

Are SEO tools essential?

For any business that seeks to improve its online visibility, we recommend investing in SEO tools that can help you perform many functions. Our top choices include Ahrefs, Semrush, or SE Ranking which are as versatile and functional as a Swiss army knife.

Each of these tools allows you to complete many different types of SEO processes and also gives you access to lucrative data points to help inform your search engine strategy. Without these tools, it would be very difficult to create an effective search engine marketing strategy.

However, it’s worth noting that for businesses for which search marketing is not a strong opportunity, it may not be necessary to invest in such tools. 

All in all, it comes down to your business model and marketing goals.

How to know if it’s worth investing in SEO tools

The best way to know if it’s worth investing in SEO tools is to consider if your target customer would ever use Google or other search engines to find services or products like yours. 

As a super quick check, you can also type in your main service or product into a free tool like Ahrefs’ keyword generator tool to see if many people use Google, Bing, or other search engines in your industry.

For instance, if you are in a very specific niche or industry, you may find very few keyword ideas are returned. 

If, like in the above example, you notice very low monthly searches for your search topic, it could be an indicator that SEO is not going to present a great deal of marketing opportunities. In this case, you may decide it’s not worth investing in an SEO tool as a result.

However, if your results look more like the screenshot below, then it’s well worth investing in SEO tools to help find new opportunities to improve your visibility online.

Best SEO tools to consider

The best SEO tool to start with is Google Search Console (GSC), hands down. It is offered by Google for free and gives you actual data about your website’s search performance. 

Other SEO tools do not have access to Google’s data so they often estimate things like search volume and traffic potential. GSC gives you the exact data for your website and is very powerful!

If you are also interested in getting similar data for Bing, you can set up Bing Webmaster Tools (also free). 

In addition to these free tools, if you only had the budget to invest in one paid SEO tool, then Ahrefs, Semrush, or SE ranking should be at the top of the list. These tools all allow you to complete multiple SEO processes and functions including:

  • Keyword research — the process for finding search terms your target audience uses on Google.
  • Website auditing — checking the technical health of your website.
  • Backlink analysis — seeing how many other sites link back to yours.
  • Competitor analysis — gathering data on competitors so you can improve your share of voice.
  • Content planning — Finding new content opportunities worth exploring.
  • Rank tracking — seeing how your rankings are improving over time.

While you can go quite far with the tools suggested so far, they may not cover all your SEO needs. For instance, you may find that a handful of specialist tools focusing on other processes can also be beneficial within your business, including:

  • ChatGPT — for AI-generated content if you aren’t a writer and don’t have one in-house
  • SurferSEO — for a detailed on-page optimisation plan for each page you write
  • Screaming Frog — for free website audits on sites under 500 pages
  • SimilarWeb — for analysing the competitive landscape in your industry
  • RankMath — for WordPress website optimisation
  • SEOQuake — a free browser extension offering SEO metrics for any site you visit on the web 

Pros and cons of investing in SEO tools

Whether investing in SEO tools is the right decision for you will depend on your business needs. Here are some pros and cons either way to help you make the choice.


  • Access data you can’t get anywhere for free
  • Reverse engineer competitor’s SEO and content strategies
  • Streamline your SEO processes
  • Remove the guesswork from your marketing strategy
  • Align your team by using the same data sources


  • Can be costly, especially if using multiple tools
  • Data is often an estimate as it does not come directly from search engines
  • Cannot measure return on investment

Final thoughts: Are SEO tools worth it?

At EngineRoom, our success relies on a number of tools that allow us to access data and help us grow our clients’ businesses. So in our book, yes SEO tools for agencies are 100% worth it. We also assist our clients with setting up necessary tools for their in-house operations.

However, we also believe that SEO tools alone are not enough to access the data you need to make a meaningful impact on your business. This is why we’ve built a proprietary MarTech platform that helps you track every marketing dollar you spend and the return you receive.

If you’d like to take it for a spin, book a demo with one of our Senior Digital Advisors today!

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