Recommended Software for SEO To Do Keyword Research, Audit, Reporting, Tracking

Hey guys! The company that I'm working for is starting a new digital marketing division to better serve our customers.
I am tasked to look for recommended SEO software for our company's use.
Do you have any recommended software for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? I'm looking for software that can do keyword research, audit, reporting, tracking, etc.
Basically an agency software.
I've looked at Ahref and SEMrush and I seem to find SEMrush a better choice for my company.
I have SurferSEO for personal use but the software doesn't really serve the above purpose.
So what do you recommend? Is there another SEO software that you would recommend?
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Truslow 🎩
Are the people who are going to be managing each project and executing the work already in place?
I ask because your team is going to do things a particular way. I work for a handful of different agencies and each one uses a slightly different configuration of tools, ways that they report things, and have slightly different Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)s from each other. The tools they use, the procedures they've defined and teach everyone to follow, and the way they put together reports (or each other, and for the client) are all a little different. Most started with a core team that had their own thing and as they grew, they'd teach that thing to the new people to follow. Occasionally they'll get someone new in who has new ideas and techniques that work and that they like, so they get added to the process.
The tools are really the "last" ingredient, though. In any job, you have to know what the job is before you know what tools you're going to need. If, on the other hand, you start with a whole big box of tools, the things you can do and provide for folks are going to be driven by the tools rather than the skills and knowledge of the folks doing the jobs.

Josep ✍️ » Truslow
We are starting small and we are starting with 3 staff, manager, SEO specialist and writer. We already have the process and manpower in place. That's why we are looking at software to further assist us in streamlining
Truslow 🎩
Honestly – take that team and work together. Most of the tools have free trials. Plan the trials so you have stuff to "work" with the tools and see what you like – which ones make YOUR process easier.
There isn't a single job in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that can't be performed without the use of a single too beyond your brain and a computer with a web browser. Tools just make it faster, more efficient, and more organized and easier to share the information and act upon it. But, each one does things differently.
You'll get some good advice here on things to look at (SEMrush seems to be dominating right now – and for good reason) and that can give you some ideas on what to test out. But if what the three of you are doing in specific don't play to SEMrush's strengths, then it's not going to be a good tool for you. If it does fit, then great. Put it on the list and buy it.
My point isn't to say "don't take the advice here" – but it's to say, "Be careful not to take the advice here as the answer that is actually going to work for you (and your team)." Don't just go out an buy it and then be forced to adapt your strategies and tactics to play to SEMrush's strengths – try it and see if SEMrush's strengths can make your strategies easier and more efficient to execute.
It's just a cautionary tale I thought I would mention – not to derail this quest you're on, but to make sure you're looking at it from the right perspective and making the right choices in the end of the quest.
I'd also be out there trying everything available to me.
On a related note… one of my favorite toys right now is InLinks. It won't do the whole job (no tool will) but it's got some pretty next level stuff that most tools don't even touch.
Josep ✍️ » Truslow
Thanks, that's exactly what we are going to do. But we need a starting point, and a good starting point is to look at what the industry is using as a whole, start from there, and monitor to see if it works for us.
Of course, things might change along the way, we might end up using data studio for reporting and use Ahrefs for research, Surfer for writing, etc. and may not even use SEMrush. But there is a need for a starting point.
And… I have a boss to report to.πŸ˜‚So it's good to know what the community is using generally.
I agree with you that tools are just there to work things faster and should not dictate the process. In the end, we control the tools, not the other way round. πŸ™‚
And thanks for mentioning InLinks, good for my research.
Truslow 🎩
I have a feeling DataStudio is going to need to be on your (and every SEO users) list by July of <year>. At least temporarily. lol
When the old historical data from Universal Analytics stops being collected and we've got to somehow consolidate GA4 or whatever other tracking we've implemented – that's really the only good way (besides a custom python script or something) to be able to do that. Granted, by then – I'm sure some clever folks will have come up with some utilities to just get that data merged, but… as of now DataStudio seems the best and most flexible way to handle all those things. And because its versatile, you're not just using it for that one single purpose anyway.
Here are a few more… these will be ones that you likely won't see on most lists…
InLinks (I mentioned earlier): It's primarily for internal liking – but it works on a semantic level, not just a "related keywords" level. It has lots of features that help with going beyond the "These words might be related" and takes you to the "Here's specifically HOW these words might be related."
Kalicube Pro: If you're working with brands or branding people – there's a lot of great stuff in there. It's not so much a tool to establish your brand or identity in the knowledge graph, but rather something that is very cool at tracking your progress and the growth of it. For affiliate sites and things like that – it's not really all that useful… but if you're working with a company or personality and need to get them established and hooked into the KG, it's awesome.
Josep ✍️ » Truslow
Thanks for the recommendations. And I agree with you about data studio, sometimes I feel that Google is out to sabotage. πŸ˜‚
Truslow 🎩
My prediction is that they are trying to get out of the site tracking business altogether. At the beginning, not everyone was so intricately connected to Google – so the way to get marketing data was to get all the web site owners to put some code on their site for you. Give them some cool tools and they'll do it happily – and we did.
Now, though, they have much more useful and complete information being generated by tracking the users themselves compared to tracking the users as they hit the web sites that happen to be set up to track for them.
Our web site tracking code (as far as its usefulness to Google) is redundant and paints an incomplete picture. It's generally useless to Google now. They don't need me to install code on my site to know that one of their advertising targets has visited it – they already agreed to being tracked when they installed Chrome or logged into Google. Why would they want to keep maintaining that heavy infrastructure that is useless.
My prediction is that in 5-8 years, Analytics from the site side of things will be a memory like Orkut, Google+, and Froogle.


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