When I first started my career in on-line marketing, I was essentially managing a large number of web properties and mainly dealt with site structure, usability and content. Fast forward several years and I am now a full time SEO marketer. Content is still a very important part of my life, but in a completely different way. As I (slowly) worked my way up the search marketing ladder, there were some essential tools that I used on a daily basis (sometimes hourly basis). These were my tools in much the same way a plumber uses a wrench. I could not live without them. The vendors of the tools have changed over the years, but the functionality has remained the same. Here is a list of the top 5 tools every in-house SEO marketer needs to have at their disposal.
Ranking Tool: Until the industry shifts in a major way, rankings will still be a primary metric used to determine the success of an SEO program. Whether it's for external clients or to show progress to upper management, a ranking tool is essential. There are 100's available in the market. Some are free, while others are not. Personally, I have 4 requirements when selecting a ranking tool.
i. Month to Month Billing: Tools come and go every day, so stay away from long-term contracts.
ii. Local Rankings: Depending on the company you work at, local rankings may be essential. This allows you to track your rankings in a specific geo-targeted city (Austin, Texas for example).
iii. Daily Updates: This is important, so that you can monitor any sudden spikes (think Penguin 2.0). A lot of the corporate tools only update rankings once a week. Personally, I think this is not enough. Daily ranking updates are essential in the rapidly changing world of search engines. That way you can catch any updates that suddenly come up.
iv. Flexibility: This is especially important if you need to scale your campaign on short notice. Your ranking tool should provide enough flexibility that you can scale (up or down) at a very short notice.
Over the last few months, I have used Rank Ranger because it meets all the above requirements. And it's relatively cheap and they can customize the package for your specific company's requirements.
Analytics: Reporting traffic is at the cornerstone for any internet marketing campaign. By default, Google Analytics is a widely used tool because it's free and easy to set-up. On the downside, the tool does not provide 100% transparency of the data (think about "not provided"). As an in-house SEO marketer, I would opt for another analytics tool like Omniture, which discloses all the traffic data. This will provide a much clearer picture of all the traffic coming to your site.
Backlink Tool: Internet marketing cannot be done without the use of an extensive backlink analysis tool. There are quite a few available in the market, but the top 3 in my opinion are Ahrefs, Majestic and MOZ. Backlink tools help analyze all the types of links pointing to a website. This is crucial (especially after the latest Google updates) to determine the quality of links pointing to a site. In addition, you can also do competitive analysis on other sites and determine what type of links your competitors are acquiring. Personally, I use two backlink tools because of the varying accuracy of these types of software.
Scrapebox: No internet marketer can live without scrapebox. This tool is like a Swiss army knife by performing all types of functions from mass PageRank and domain rank checks to finding sites for guest posting or blog commenting. You can also check backlinks of a website or even keyword rankings. There's no end to the features this little tool can perform. Always make sure to use proxies with this software otherwise you can find your computer's IP getting banned for sending out too many automated queries.
Google Alerts: Stay current with your industry by receiving regular alerts about articles, news, blogs or just general information. This is a great way to make sure you are on top of your game by staying abreast with all the latest industry trends. Personally, I setup alerts to track mentions of a brand name. This makes sure that any website that does mention my brand is also linking to my homepage. This is a great way to receive valuable in-bound links from companies that are already mentioning your brand.
There are many tools available for internet marketers, but the above 5 are almost essential for regular day to day activities. I have over 40+ tools at my disposal. I use 2-3 tools for each activity because every tool spits out a slightly different result or data set. This is especially true for backlink and ranking tools. Due to the sheer nature of the internet, no tool is 100% accurate. So please keep that in mind when utilizing any tool for your internet marketing.