Without tools, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is working blind. That said, tools can also be a waste of money if your SEO efforts haven’t reached the stage of profitability.
These five SEO software tools help you gather SEO information without breaking the bank:
1. SheerSEO 
This all-purpose tool helps you manage, monitor, and conduct SEO campaigns. While it has broad capabilities, it is most useful for watching your rankings and how your link building efforts are impacting them. SheerSEO is available at several different levels priced between $7 and $40 per month. (They recommend the $15 option.)
Rank tracking  – This lets you know where your pages are ranking for your chosen keywords. The most useful part of this is the historical tracking, so you can follow trends in your rankings over time without needing to export to a spreadsheet.
Main referrers  – This lets you know how many links you have and lets you view the top 50, sorted by most referrals or by “PageRank Boost.” This is not merely the PageRank of the link. Instead, PageRank Boost is a specially created metric designed by SheerSEO which estimates how strongly the link impacts your rankings.
Social metrics – Track how your site is shared on Facebook, Twitter, etc. The tool is good at finding sharing activity you wouldn’t normally see from the social networks themselves.
Link building  – A “blog reviews” tool helps you partially automate the process of getting product reviews from blogs. A directory submission tool is also included, although this is a somewhat dated tactic.
Reporting – Use this to easily put together easy to understand reports for clients.
2. W3Optimizer 
This product is available for $9.95 a month or $99.95 a year, putting it well within the reach of small businesses. Use the tool to analyze competition for keywords in Google, and to discover keywords used by your top ten competitors in the search engine.
The tool also offers on page analysis, and more detailed analysis of your top ten competitors, as well as detailed off-page analysis of your links and the various factors revolving around them. A content optimizer offers advice, and extras include a members forum, and a search engine snippet simulator.
3. SearchEnabler 
At $15/month, this product is one of the most complete & best values for money small businesses can get. SearchEnabler is useful in complete site audit, analysis as well as optimization and tracking. It also has multi-user option so in case if you have more than one website to manage, you can go for $49 version which lets you manage 5 sites.
Domain Analysis  – Get advice on how to fix errors and optimize your domain for the search engines.
Website Crawl Analysis – Get information about how well your site is getting crawled and indexed by Google.
Content Analysis – Discover issues with your content such as duplicate titles and text, long or short titles, and more.
WebPage Analysis – Test how well optimized your pages are for specific keywords.
Keyword Rankings  – Track your keyword rankings and record how they change over time without needing to export to a spreadsheet.
Link Analysis  – Track the number of links you and your competitors have gathered. Detect broken links on or off your site to recover them for search engine benefit.
Tracking  – Integrate your Google Analytics as well as social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to track your traffic and social media performance.
4. SERPs.com 
This one’s a bit more pricey than some of the other options, but SERPs.com does offer a monthly $48 version which is within the reach of many small businesses. One of the best features is the fact that the tool offers link metrics from SEOmoz without needing to pay the SEOmoz price.
In addition, the $48 version offers daily rank tracking for 300 keywords, more than enough for most businesses. You can manage three clients, ten websites, and export stylish PDF reports. Smart ranking alerts let you know about sudden changes in the search results, and a Google weather report lets you know if changes in your rankings were caused by changes to the algorithm.
One of the more useful features is the ability to add events, such as changing a keyword position, and track how it influences rankings for that keyword.
5. DIYSEO 
At $33.25 a month this one’s fairly low on the price scale. The tool offers a simple step by step plan to boost search engine traffic. Keyword consultation comes with the package to help you choose which phrases to chase after, as well as tools to track your rankings and backlinks.
This is a good option for beginning SEOs or businesses that would like to handle most of the SEO themselves. For advanced SEOs, however, this tool will seem more like a refresher course in things they have already learned.
As they say:
“What gets measured gets managed.”
SEO software helps you stay in touch with your efforts and outcomes so it’s clearer what is helping and what’s a waste of time. It’s important to track your results so that you can continue making process.
At the same time, it’s important to avoid spending too much money early on in the SEO process. These tools are a good place to get started.
Do you recommend any other tools? What is the best way to leverage tools for success?