SEO Tools 5 Years Ago: Where Are They Now?

While the search industry is always changing there’s one thing that hasn’t changed.

The reliance on tools to help get the job done. While there are a plethora of options out there, there are a few that almost any digital marketer will use a few times a week. The most commonly used here at Vizion Interactive are:

  1. Ahrefs
  2. SEM rush
  3. Moz (SEOmoz)
  4. Screaming Frog

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what these tools offered 5 years ago compared to what they offer today. After all, if the industry has changed shouldn’t the tools we use as well?

Ahrefs:

When Ahrefs first rolled out it was hailed as the end all be all link research tool. It had (and still has) a more update link index. While they did offer a few other tools their main go to was link analysis.

The lab section held a few other tools for link and keyword research but not a great deal more than that.

Since then Ahrefs has really expanded their offering and have polished up their tool and reporting. The content analysis, link comparison, and even the alerts have ball been welcome additions to Ahrefs overall kit.

Overall the change has been great. Ahrefs still has one of the largest indexes of SEO tools on the market. They have utilized their access and data to build a pretty comprehensive research and comparison tool.

5 years ago there wasn’t as much a focus on content and social outreach as there is now. Ahrefs kit allows users to better research this information and review overall social reach of specific content pieces. More information on a regular basis means you’ll be using this tool for a lot more than just link analysis.

SEMRush:

SEMRush, like several on this list, have come to be a “household name” for agencies. It offered (and still offers) a tool set to do organic and paid analysis and comparison research at the same time. The keyword research and charting on SEMRush 5 years ago was almost incomparable…“ almost”.

Being able to pull data from not only Google US but other foreign databases made (and still do) this a must have for work with clients in various countries.

Today SEMRush still dominates in terms of organic and paid comparison/research. But that original offering set has expanded to include a variety of new services.

The biggest additions have been the site audit, social media tool, and content tools. Along with Ahrefs, and the others we’re reviewing, these metrics and information help users obtain a more comprehensive analysis of sites they are looking at.

As search engines are stating that content and social presence is important, these tools are working to ensure users can obtain this information and make accurate decisions.

While the backlink tool offered at SEMRush doesn’t compare to those at Ahrefs, Majestic or Moz it does provide good basic information.

With all the additions SEMRush has made it looks like they are making an attempt to be a one stop shop for all your search marketing analytics/comparison needs.

Is all this change great? Some of it is good, others just aren’t as good as their original products. The issue with attempting to become that “one stop shop” is that specialty sites will always have better products SEMRush is attempting to be good at.

Their core products I would still strongly recommend, anything additional offered is nice but I would also run the site through another tool (backlinks for example) just as a safety measure.

Moz (SEOmoz):

Moz (formerly SEOmoz) is the only tool here that changed their name over the past 5 years. SEOmoz offered some of the most comprehensive research and site tracking information (and some feel they still do today) you could find 5 years ago.

The Moz tools today offer more detail and information than they did back then. In addition, the Moz toolbar isn’t as buggy anymore! They also offer a program called “Moz Local” which helps update and syndicate business information at a relatively better cost than others in the industry.

More information is always better, especially when it’s coming from a reputable company like Moz. The name may have changed, the layout and design, but the information you get from the campaigns and overall toolset is still top notch.

While they did add a few products and “apps” (Followerwonk) they didn’t move far from their original offerings. Moz is a company that knows what they’re good at and focusing on enhancing those already outstanding products.

Even with the rise of social and content Moz has simply enhanced what they are currently doing to include these metrics rather than build new products to meet these needs.

Screaming Frog:

5 years ago you might have run into some digital marketers that hadn’t heard of Screaming Frog, but today you’d have a more difficult time finding someone that hasn’t.

This tool is my go to for any site I’m about to start reviewing. At a quick glance, you’re able to identify any big issues with the H1s and Title tags. The amount of information you got from it and the way it was displayed and could be exported was one of a kind then.

It really allowed SEOs to configure the crawler to pull almost any information they wanted (and still do) from the site. One just had to know how to configure it and know what information they wanted to pull.

The only thing that has changed since then is the amount of information one can pull from a site. All of the original information you were able to pull you can still pull, and in many ways, it’s easier to get now. In addition, there are settings for API integration with:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Majestic
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz

This allows to pull in URL specific data in terms of analytics, links and more. These API additions have been invaluable.

Anytime a tool can make information retrieval easier for the user it’s a good thing. Screaming Frog constantly monitors their social channels, responds to feedback and routinely updates their crawler. While they don’t always add in the suggestions, they do offer an exhaustive FAQ and user guide to answer those “how do I pull this” or “it would be great if your tool could pull this” comments.

Like Moz, Screaming Frog knows what they do best and have worked hard over the past several years to enhance their already amazing product.

 

It’s obvious these tools have changed significantly over the past 5 years and have made great strides to provide digital marketers with what they need to be successful with. But a tool can only provide data and information, it’s up to the marketer to utilize and take action on the data provided.

What tools do you use that have made changes over the past few years? Anything specific to add to the list? Leave’em in the comments below!

  • Joe Clarke

    Thanks indeed. This is the second article I’m reading here and again got highly impressed. Will definitely come back to you next time