SEO tools are not enough for success
When I started in SEO, there was pretty much only one major SEO tool on the market.
WebPosition Gold was the standard for SEO professionals at the time.
With WebPosition Gold, or WPG as it’s also been referred to, you can run ranking reports, analyze pages against a knowledge base (which has been updated and also costs an additional subscription), and create “pages door” to help classify sentences.
All in all, for its time, it was quite a sophisticated tool.
Many people at the time believed that this tool would suffice for the referencing of their site.
And in a less competitive pre-Google world, the tool worked pretty well.
Until it doesn’t.
Scarcity dictates that there are winners and losers
There are a finite number of ads on the first page of Google.
Not everyone who wants to rank for a specific keyword or phrase will be able to achieve their goal.
Even if there was a tool that could do all your SEO tasks, if there are more sites using that tool than there are, someone won’t rank on the first page.
Don’t get me wrong, there are literally billions of queries, and each has its own unique set of results.
You can be successful in SEO without ranking for the top “money” keyword.
But ranking for that top keyword is what everyone wants.
And not everyone can rank on the first page for the most popular and profitable keywords.
And if everyone is using the same set of tools to try to rank, there will be a lot of sites left behind.
Tools are just tools
The current purpose of SEO tools is to make our lives easier.
Tools allow us to save time by performing tasks that in the past took an inordinate amount of time.
A good example is crawler tools that provide an overview of every page on a site, with analysis of issues in the page’s code.
Previously, each page had to be analyzed individually.
For a small site, this has never been a problem.
But for a site with thousands or even millions of pages, the task of analyzing each page individually is difficult, if not impossible.
Tools make impossible tasks possible.
But the tools do not give us a miracle solution to rank our sites.
If you haven’t figured it out, there’s no silver bullet in SEO anyway.
SEO is not rocket science.
I think SEO is more like plumbing.
Of course, you can figure out how to fix your sink by watching YouTube videos.
But if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably end up flooding your whole house to fix a leaky faucet.
Sometimes it’s better to call the plumber.
A wrench in my hand is not the same as in the hands of a licensed plumber.
Just because you have a tool doesn’t mean you can rank for a keyword or dominate a topic.
What a tool can’t do
Tools can’t tell you the right steps for your business.
There is a tool that my team has used in the past.
This tool analyzes the SERPs on specific keywords and phrases as well as a page on your site.
The tool provides data on how your page differs from pages that are currently ranking for the desired keyword or keyphrase.
This data can be useful in the hands of someone who understands how rankings work.
But the data is definitely correlation, not causation.
I’ve seen this tool give recommendations that, if followed, would be downright detrimental to a site, not only for its rankings, but also for its user experience.
You see, just looking at the SERPs won’t tell you how to rank your pages.
We know that Google’s algorithm has thousands of components that go into page ranking logic.
It’s impossible to know what factors definitely cause a page to rank for a specific keyword or keyphrase.
This particular tool tends to put a lot of emphasis on the number of words that are in the content of the page.
So, for example, if the top-ranking page has 10,000 words, the tool might suggest that your page also needs 10,000 words.
That might be the case, but there’s more than one way to rank, and if your site doesn’t lend itself to 10,000 word pages, this tip could be hurting you rather than helping you.
A tool can help you do an analysis, but today’s tools can’t do the analysis for you.
Sure, there are tools out there that claim to tell you exactly what to do to rank for a specific keyword, but in my experience they all fail when faced with significant competition for keyword rankings.
What a tool can do
Don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t do our job as efficiently and effectively without tools.
As I said earlier, tools make our lives easier.
The tools can help us find issues on our sites that we might not be able to see easily.
The tools can help us understand how other sites link to our site, and how our competitors also link.
This data provides the basis for the quality analysis needed to rank for competitor keywords and keyword phrases.
The tools help us track our keyword rankings, although rankings aren’t as important in the long run as sales.
Tools help us work as a team – help us manage projects and assign tasks.
The tools allow us to focus our time on analysis rather than hunting for data.
Tools help us understand the big picture.
They also allow us to focus on specific issues by providing us with data to analyze what is happening.
Tools do not replace SEO professionals.
If you think you can buy a tool and be done with your SEO, you will be very disappointed.
Any tool is only as good as the hand that wields it.
If you take the time to understand SEO, the tools are indispensable to your ranking efforts.
If you don’t understand how SEO works, no tool will consistently deliver the results you need to be as successful as possible.
So use tools – you must if you want to be successful.
Don’t expect tools to be the only thing you need.
The most valuable SEO tool is your own mind.