A 4 minute read by Doug Cooper, Sr. SEO Manager
At Swarm, we’re always testing different marketing technology tools. We believe that being aware and utilizing some of these tools allow us to be a better partner to our clients. It’s one of the best ways to grow as an agency. Being the lead on the SEO team, I recently evaluated some SEO specific martech tools to see if any would join our current toolset.
For local search specifically, BrightLocal is one of the best around. Their rank tracker tracks local organic, maps, and local pack. You can even track your client’s 3rd party listings (Yelp, Angie’s List) if they appear on the 1st page. That’s an excellent value add since clients want those phones to ring, no matter where it’s coming from.
Brightlocal has competitor analysis tools but I think that part of the platform is lackluster. It doesn’t show average rankings and exporting to CSV only exports your client’s data. I’m a very firm believer of “If I can see it in the platform, I should be able to export it”. You’re able to see your client’s citation score and average review rating but not your competitors. I think they really dropped the ball on the competitive feature set.
This tool also has review monitoring/acquisition. Not as full fledged as review specific platforms, but it’s there. You can respond to Google and Facebook reviews if you connect your account to their platform. BrightLocal can also fix and/or add citations manually through their Citation Builder but I have not yet tested that feature.
SMS campaigns were due in November. As of this writing it still has not launched. BrightLocal also has a Free local business scan that can be added to a website to help acquire leads.
It’s a good platform (especially for keyword tracking) but could still use some work.
For agencies, this tool is REALLY, REALLY good. What makes SEO Monitor stand apart from other tools I have used is that they focus heavily on acquiring and retaining clients.
For acquiring clients, they have a business case builder that extremely useful when you’re preparing a pitch. It has forecasting, removes a lot of the SEO technical lingo, and allows C-Suite execs to see exactly why they need SEO. It basically helps show the ROI if a potential client were to sign on for an SEO engagement. That’s just scratching the surface. A big challenge for those of us in the SEO industry is proving our worth. SEO monitor knew that was a need and did their best to help solve that issue.
To help maintain clients, they also have some great features. One of those features is called "signals" and it will show the impact SEO is having on an account. It is able to find quick wins, goals achieved, etc. You can set it up to send to your clients automatically to show the value SEO is having on their account.
A couple of extra goodies are Google Data Studio integration, a formula for not provided, separating brand and non-brand keywords/traffic, and more.
This seemed like a good tool on the surface but it's actually pretty barebones. It's really only reporting and nothing else. I think this tool is best for SEO freelancers or smaller agencies that don’t have reporting standards.
The local tracking provides maps rankings but not local pack AND local organic (they will only show one of them). Most of the other reporting is just piped in through APIs. A lot of the functionality can just be done through Google Data Studio.
For a review management platform, I think Grade.Us is great. It has email campaigns as well as SMS. I honestly think SMS is a must these days. They’re able to embed a businesses’ reviews and testimonials on their local pages.
They have an api that can connect to a client's CMS so that customer data is automatically generated in the platform. They provide pitching collateral to help close sales. Similar to BrightLocal, they a free local business scan page that could be added to a website. When a prospect uses the tool, it sends an email to alert you of the lead.
We’ll continue to be on the lookout for tools to add to our current arsenal. Ahrefs is a current staple of ours and we’ve written about it in a previous blog post. For the 4 tools I’ve briefly reviewed here, I’m most excited about SEO Monitor. I truly believe communication is the key to good partner relationships. This tool helps to foster the SEO communication. Brightlocal and Grade.us are more siloed toward local clients. As far as Agency Analytics is concerned, it isn’t something that would meet our needs.