As a SaaS digital marketing agency, Accelerate uses many of the top search engine optimization (SEO) tools for in-depth auditing, analysis, and optimization of our clients’ online channels. We show them how to stand out from their competitors with improved search rankings and engaging content.
But running an agency requires other tools besides SEO. For example, we have team members from around the globe, so I need to maintain communication and keep track of what everyone’s working on. Time management, recruitment, and HR apps are therefore essential for an efficient agency.
In this post, I’ll introduce you to the 10 software solutions that help me run Accelerate successfully, including my favorite SEO tools.
What are SEO tools?
SEO tools tell you how a website is performing, so you can optimize your content and achieve higher search engine rankings. The higher the position on a search engine results page (SERP), the more organic traffic the site will attract. (The top result in Google gets approximately 28.5% of all clicks.)
Automated tools can carry out keyword research and data analysis for you, saving time and helping you compare multiple websites much more accurately than a spreadsheet. Once you’ve discovered which keywords to target, you can easily monitor search engine rankings to see how well your adjustments are working.
Top SEO tools allow you to measure search performance by country, region, or language. They also reveal valuable data about backlinks, provide comparisons with competitor brands, and highlight new opportunities for optimization.
The 10 tools I couldn’t run my agency without
At Accelerate, we’ve learned how important it is to use effective tools. SaaS marketing automation and SEO tools help us reduce time-consuming tasks, learn about our clients’ needs, and deliver optimized content that drives people to their websites. For me, it makes running the agency much easier.
Of all the tools we use, these are the 10 I couldn’t be without.
As a global agency, we also have a mixture of in-office and remote staff worldwide, so a communications tool that connects everyone is vital. We found that in Dialpad, an all-in-one platform that combines phone, video, and messaging.
The mix of synchronous and asynchronous communication is great as we’re often working across time zones. Video conferencing was ideal during the pandemic, but we still use it all the time—it’s the next best thing to meeting in-person.
Dialpad is more reliable than most of the Zoom phone alternatives out there. It also includes SMS and group messaging, and you can easily turn a chat into a call if necessary. Because everything’s in one system, it’s easy to find previous conversations.
The VoIP phone service saves us money, and the HD call quality helps us look professional. We like the call forwarding and visual voicemail features, plus the ability to add or remove users from the system whenever we need to.
One more useful thing is Dialpad Ai, which enables sentiment analysis (helping us see what our clients really think!) and automatic transcription of calls and meetings. That means no more note-taking!
Like any company with a large client base, we spend a lot of time drawing up proposals, quotes, and contracts. Our preferred software for this is PandaDoc, which helps us manage the creation, editing, and signing of digital documents.
PandaDoc speeds up the creation process by providing a library of templates. It’s easy to use the drag-and-drop editing tools, and we can customize a proposal or business contract template with our own branding and bring in data from our CRM. The tool comes with analytics to show us which design and content works best.
The ability to sign electronically and collaborate inside the document also saves time—we can pass it back and forth until everyone’s happy, without using an entire forest’s worth of paper or sitting around waiting for snail mail! We also receive instant notifications when a client opens, comments on, or signs a document.
PandaDoc’s eSignature software is legally binding as well as ESIGN and UETA compliant, which is reassuring for everyone. We use it for employee contracts as well as client agreements.
This tool is similar to Zapier, in that it links your favorite apps together and shares information between them to help you automate manual processes, which is really useful for a busy company like Accelerate!
Make provides a visual platform where you can design, build, and automate anything from tasks and workflows to apps and systems. The great news is you don’t need any coding knowledge to do it—there’s a simple drag-and-drop interface that lets you customize workflow templates or create new ones from scratch.
Apart from the general increase in productivity, we find it most useful for automating lead generation, scoring, and qualification. We can also program the tool to collect customer testimonials, arrange follow-up tasks, and bring in customer data from different platforms.
Alongside other SEO software, SerpWatch is one of my go-to tools—it’s an advanced SERP rank tracker with features including proactive keyword rank monitoring and data analysis. We use it for checking client results, making sure they are at the top of the search rankings.
The tool is simple to use and provides insights to inform our SEO strategies. We can verify a site’s search rankings with screenshots from the last 10 days, create and download reports, and manage clients from a dedicated white-label dashboard.
With all ranking data consolidated in one place, you can compare different SEO data points on a single line graph and visualize rankings across locations on a global map. I find it particularly useful to simultaneously monitor different performance metrics without switching tabs and to receive notifications about keyword movement.
BrainyHR enables us to handle most of our company processes in one system, with automation to reduce the time spent on routine HR tasks. We can easily track vacations and sick days, carry out performance reviews (or allow employees to self-assess), and set up rewards programs for employee engagement.
All essential information about employees is stored in one place, including their bio, qualifications, and emergency contact. We can upload documents such as résumés, and managers can add notes. For security, we’ve configured permissions so only relevant people have access to this data.
BrainyHR simplifies the onboarding and offboarding processes, as we can create templates for routine tasks, assign them, and view their status. The tool also integrates with Slack and sends out notifications when someone is on leave, celebrating a birthday, or achieving a new reward.
Asana is another essential tool for agency management. It lets us track tasks, workflows, and some types of projects. Asana is customizable, so we’ve been able to tailor it for Accelerate, with each team member managing tasks in a way that works for them.
We like the collaborative aspect, with everyone aware of who’s responsible for which tasks and the ability to attach comments and information. The system sends updates whenever a change occurs to any task, and the multiple project view is handy for a big-picture perspective on what’s happening.
Other useful features include video messaging, where you can record and share a video of yourself explaining something, and the ability to integrate your tasks with a calendar and block out time without leaving Asana.
Ahrefs is a popular SEO tool and one of our favorites at Accelerate. We like the handy central dashboard where you can see all your projects at a glance, the advanced filtering tools, and the wealth of insights from 295 billion indexed pages.
The automated tool makes it easy to perfome keyword research and ensure all the content we produce is fully optimized. We use it to research our clients’ sites, using the “site audit” feature to perform a real-time crawl to pick up errors and highlight opportunities. It will even target known problems and provide recommended solutions.
Ahrefs lets you target high-performing pages to analyze their similarities and reveal the most linked-to content within a particular niche. It provides clickstream data from the major search engines and helps us watch out for changes to Google algorithms.
Ahrefs also has the largest database of backlinks (more than 16 trillion), which helps us find competitors’ backlinks and spot opportunities. An Ahrefs study found that 43.7% of top-ranking pages in Google contain reciprocal links, so we can recommend these to our clients.
As a fast-growing business, we need an advanced hiring tool that lets us manage the process from one place. GoHire has an applicant tracking system built specifically for marketing companies, plus interview scheduling software. It’s easy to use for our candidates and us.
We can publish to more than 15 job sites with one click—and, crucially, stay on top of the listing locations and their status. It integrates with other tools like Glassdoor, Indeed, Slack, and LinkedIn, so people can apply from anywhere.
We want the best talent, and GoHire helps us make informed decisions based on stats and reports. It speeds up the selection process with screening questions, questionnaires, and evaluations and enables fast communication through real-time messaging and pre-filled email templates.
9. TimeDoctor / Toggl
We use two different time management tools, TimeDoctor and Toggl. They’re both apps that track time, displaying a running total of hours worked each day, week, and month. Workers can log their projects and breaks and even track time when they’re offline.
This is especially useful for remote and freelance workers, who may be working flexible hours. We can ensure they’re getting the right pay—and it also means we can bill our clients accurately. Admins can manually edit the time if necessary.
TimeDoctor takes screenshots and logs keystrokes and web visits to show how many hours were counted as “productive.” It sends automatic alerts if there’s been no activity for a while and if someone’s spending too much time on non-work websites.
Toggl has 100 useful integrations, including one that lets you create or start time entries based on calendar events such as SaaS conferences. The Toggl Track feature automatically triggers time entry suggestions based on the software you’re using.
With email notifications and summary reports, managers are kept informed of potential performance or work-life balance issues. Our goal isn’t to monitor our teammates, but these tools make it easy to investigate if we think there’s a problem.
When you use so many different apps, it’s a pain to remember the login details for all of them. That’s why we love heylogin, which dispenses with passwords completely and lets you use your smartphone to access all web-based applications.
It uses a special login mask that allows you to log in with one click. Create a secure password whenever you register (which is automatically saved in heylogin), and just swipe your phone to log in to any website on a Mac or PC. (Or on the phone itself, if you’re out and about).
We can share and sync logins with colleagues without writing passwords. Logins are end-to-end encrypted and synchronized across all devices, and we can enable or disable access at any time using the slider. Customers find it reassuring to learn about this security protocol.
Build your own toolbox
Alongside content marketing and referral marketing, SEO is vital for brand awareness. If you run a digital agency, you definitely need these top tools to help with creating content and promoting your clients.
Ahrefs and Serpwatch are my go-to SEO tools, alongside essential software for task management, hiring, and communication. Your choices will depend on your business and goals, but you can use my list to inspire your research. Most of the tools have free trials, so you can see if they work for you before committing.
Nick Brown – Accelerate Agency
Nick Brown is the founder & CEO of Accelerate, a SaaS digital marketing agency that exclusively partners with enterprise tech companies to scale their B2B SEO services and content marketing. Nick has launched several successful online businesses, written and published a book and grown Accelerate from a UK-based agency that now operates across US, APAC, and EMEA. He has written for sites like Startups Magazine and Freelance Writing Gigs.