Think of Google’s SEO tools as the training wheels. They do the job adequately enough when starting, but before long, you’ll find yourself needing something more powerful and more efficient.
Google’s tools do an excellent job of showing you the ins and outs of managing an SEO campaign and measuring performance. They give you a glimpse into what’s possible as far as mining data and tracking analytics. The problem is they’re limited.
Third-party tools go above and beyond the performance of Google tools, not to mention (in some cases) they are much easier to use.
Google’s tools require an advanced knowledge of SEO in order to get the most out of them. At the same time, many third-party tools are very beginner-friendly. That said, there are still some Google offerings you can’t live without.
In this post, I will compare and contrast the tools offered by Google with the features provided by many popular third-party SEO tools. With this information, you’ll be able to decide whether you’re satisfied with Google’s tools or if you’re ready to take off the training wheels and take your SEO to the next level.
Google’s Tools vs. Third Party Tools
To help make an educated decision about whether or not the tools Google provides are enough to suit your needs, here is a comparison of what you can do with most of the popular third-party tools out there, compared against the closest approximation offered by Google.
Third-Party Tools Can Track Multiple Search Engines
When using Google’s tools, you’re limited to monitoring your site’s performance within Google search. Understandably, Google wouldn’t want to draw any attention to other search engines, much less suggest you should be concerned with how your website performs on them, but it’s still a limitation.
When using third-party tools, you can monitor your site’s performance within Google, Bing, Yandex, or almost any search engine of your choice. While Google holds the lion’s share of the market, people do use other search engines, and it’s important to know how to rank in those as well.
Third-Party Tools Provide A Guided User Experience
When you start using any of Google’s tools, it’s not immediately clear what to do with them or where to start. There’s a learning curve involved with using Google’s tools that’s steeper than the majority of third-party tools out there. It takes time to learn how to use them and an extensive amount of time to learn how to master them.
Third-party tools are much more user-friendly. In most cases, you’re guided step by step on what to do. Third-party tools make it immediately clear what you’re supposed to do with them and how to use them, and allow you to get started as quickly and painlessly as possible. Since you’re paying to use these tools, they usually do their best to provide a good customer experience, within a short time of using a third-party tool, you can begin tracking your site’s performance and generating easy-to-read reports.
Compare Keyword Performance Against Competitors
Many third-party tools allow you to gain valuable insights about how well your site is performing against competitors. If you want to see how well you rank for certain keywords compared to how well your competitors rank for those keywords, you can do that with third-party tools.
There are similar features offered in Google’s Webmaster Tools, and you have the option to enable SEO data in Google Analytics. Still, the amount of data you get is extremely limited in comparison.
If you want to see how well you’re ranking in Google’s Webmaster Tools, the best you can do is visit the average position in search results for a particular keyword. Google doesn’t allow you the ability to compare your performance against competitors.
Third-Party Tools Offer Full Backlink Reports
Many third-party tools give you complete details about the inbound links pointing to your site. Not only do they show you who links to you and when, but whether the connection is no-follow or do-follow, and the overall quality of your backlink profile.
By comparison, Google Webmaster Tools shows what sites are linking to yours but doesn’t give you any further details. You can see the domains where the links are coming from, but unfortunately, not much else.
Google Webmaster Tools Is Still A Must
Google Webmaster Tools is one of Google’s offerings that no website owner should be without. Despite being limited in features, it’s a direct communication tool between you and Google.
Sometimes, things can go wrong with your site, and you need to know about them so you can get them fixed. Google is great at letting site owners know through Google Webmaster Tools when they run into errors while crawling your site. Frequently, they even provide steps on how to correct the mistake.
Google Webmaster Tools also gives you the opportunity to avoid penalties by letting you know in advance if you’re about to get with us for either knowingly or unknowingly violating one of their guidelines. This gives you a chance to fix what you’re doing wrong so you can avoid a penalty that would hurt your rankings.
There’s no substitute for Google Webmaster Tools as a communication platform between you and the big G. I recommend setting it up if you haven’t already, and checking for messages regularly.
What About Google Analytics?
This is another area where Google has one up on third-party tools. I would argue Google Analytics is essential to any website owner and one of those tools I mentioned that you can’t live without. The amount of information gathered by Google Analytics is invaluable to business owners.
Thankfully, Positionly realizes this as well, as it allows you to view your Google Analytics data within their platform and retrieve all your data in a single report. No need to choose one over the other and no need to go back and forth between them.
Third-party tools take what Google does and make it even better. If you want your website to become a real powerhouse that crushes the competition, it’s not enough to get by with just Google’s tools; you need a more robust platform.