6 Questions to ask Yourself Before you Buy SEO Software and Tools

seo software and toolsIf you are a search engine optimizer, internet marketer, blogger, or small business owner you are probably always looking for ways to get an edge over your competition.  This makes you always on the lookout for new search engine optimization (SEO) software and tools to buy to add to your SEO toolkit.

Companies that build and sell SEO software and tools won't like me saying this but a lot of times I see people needlessly waste money on these SEO programs.  To be honest with all of my readers I've been one of those people.  If you have also wasted money on SEO software I can tell you that the issue, like buying anything, is that you don't ask yourself the right questions before opening your wallet.  To try to save my blog readers time, money, and hassle I've decided to make this list of “6 Questions to ask Yourself Before you Buy SEO Software and Tools.”

1. Do I need this SEO Software or Tool?

Sounds pretty simple and like common sense, right?  Not quite.  A lot of people will just buy any SEO program or tool because they saw on some forum or blog that it was supposedly really useful.

What you need to understand is that most SEO software and tools have fairly good affiliate programs.  Meaning the blog or site owner gets money if you click through their link to buy it.  (Just so everyone is aware I have nothing against affiliate links and use them on this blog.)  The reason I want you to realize when someone is using affiliate links is that most people don't.

Consider if the person is recommending the product on the merit of it's usefulness or if they just want to collect affiliate money.  Just because someone recommends something doesn't mean you have to buy it.

2. What will I use this SEO Tool for?

I guess this goes into question #1 but I'd recommend you ask yourself this anyway.  You need to have a clear idea of how that SEO tool or SEO software you are going to be paying for will be helping your online business.

If you can't think of an area where the tool will help you, then just don't buy it.  If the SEO tool seems legitimate, you know what you will use it for, and it's going to fill a specific SEO need you have, then go ahead and open your wallet.

3. Is there good Documentation and Tutorials?

Before I put any money on the table for SEO tools or SEO software I like to check the website and see if they have a reasonable amount of documentation.

For instance I want to know if the software has any bugs.  Issues with certain operating systems might be something you want to think about.  If you use Mac computer you will probably need to run most SEO programs in Parallels, which emulates Windows in a virtual environment.   Most SEO developer don't spend time making a version for Macs or Linux desktops.  Often times in the documentation they will state if there are issues of it's been tested in Parallels or WINE (like Parallels but for Linux).

I also like to understand how the SEO software works and what it does.  Is an SEO tool that can be used for whitehat or is just for blackhat link building techniques?  Consider who built and who the developers are behind it too.

The creators of any SEO software should have clear and easy-to-understand video and picture tutorials on how to use it and state specifically why you need it.  This will make your decision for question #2 easier.

4. Is this SEO program Easy to Use?

If you don't understand how to use the SEO program and software, you will have just wasted your money.  If you check the documentation and tutorials this should give you a clear idea of the difficulty for picking it up.

I've personally found that most SEO programs and tools have a learning curve higher than average.  So you will need to put time into learning but do consider how much time you want to put in. 1 hour or less?  A week?  Keep in mind a lot of SEO programs are built by programmers and NOT people that are great with intuitive design layouts.  Often they focused on making things easy-to-use, but failed miserably.

Most creators of various SEO tools will offer a short free trial period before you buy so you can see whether it's useful, easy-to-use, and will fit your needs.  They vary in length but usually are between 7-30 days for a free SEO software trial period.  Some don't but I'd take advantage of any free trials.

5. Is the Support Good?

If support is non-existent or isn't helpful, don't buy.  I've been surprised by how many times I've needed to contact support for an SEO tool due to an unexpected bug or issue.

I usually recommend you send an email after looking over the documentation, FAQs, and tutorials and see how long the response time is and what the response is like.  If they seem helpful and answer your questions clearly that's a good sign.  If not, you might want to move on and keep searching for another SEO software with the tools you need that has responsive and helpful support.

6. Can I afford these SEO Tools or SEO Software?

A lot of SEO tools comes with monthly subscription costs which can be quite costly.  The reason for this is that most SEO programmers know that marketing and SEO agencies often charge a king's ransom.

Most of us probably don't have a huge amount of money to drop on every single SEO tool that we feel we need.  So don't break the bank by overextending your finances.  Again, it's common sense but if you can't afford something don't buy it.  If you feel you need that SEO software with a monthly subscription cost for your toolkit ask some friends or family with websites that wan't better Google rankings if they want to split the monthly cost with you.  All of you could then save a ton of money learning and building links on your own sites.  You will have to all collectively ask questions 1-5.

I usually try to find SEO software that does not have a monthly or yearly renewal.  I like to pay once and forget about it.  That's just easier for me and my wallet.  Also I like to weigh whether the software will cover the cost of buying it.  Meaning can I make back what I spent on the SEO tool?  You should consider the same thing too.

Sometimes it might be worth it to check around first to see if there is something for free that can fill your SEO needs.  Honestly for something like basic keyword research you probably won't need much else besides the Google Keyword Planner.  If you want free keyword rank tracking all you need is Google Webmaster Tools.  Most of the time though you will find you need to spend money on buying an SEO tool, unfortunately.

Final Thoughts on Buying SEO Software and Tools

My final recommendation would be to just watch out for any shyters selling useless SEO tools or ones that will get you banned or deindexed by Google.  There are a lot of people selling useless products out there and I met plenty at Affiliate Summit.

I hope you've found my “6 Questions to ask Yourself Before you Buy SEO Software and Tools” useful and helpful.  If you want to refer to these next time you are considering purchasing any SEO Software and Tools feel free to bookmark this article.  If you have any questions or comments to add feel free to leave them below.

Ubuntu Forums Hacked

If you are a user of Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distribution in the world, than you might have heard that Ubuntu Forums got Hacked.  Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, sent out an email to all users of Ubuntu Forums.  Here is the entire email in case you are a member of Ubuntu Forums and have not received it yet;

Hello,

You are receiving this message because you have an account registered with this address on ubuntuforums.org.

The Ubuntu forums software was compromised by an external attacker. As a result, the attacker has gained access to read your username, email address and an encrypted copy of your password from the forum database.

If you have used this password and email address to authenticate at any other website, you are urged to reset the password on those accounts immediately as the attacker may be able to use the compromised personal information to access these other accounts. It is important to have a distinct password for different accounts.

The ubuntuforums.org website is currently offline and we are working to restore this service. Please take the time to change your ubuntuforums.org account password when service is restored.

We apologize for any inconvenience to the Ubuntu community, thank you for your understanding.

The Canonical Sysadmins.

If you have an account with Ubuntu Forums and use the same password for the email account associated with Ubuntu Forums, like they said, I would highly recommend changing those.  If this hacker team (this is my assumption) was good enough to hack Ubuntu Forums I am fairly certain they are knowledgeable enough to solve the salted hashes.  Who knows what they plan to do with all the data anyway.

Currently UbuntuForums.org is still down and Canonical is working on getting it back up.  If you visit the domain here you will see this simple HTML page with information of what Canonical knows and a progress report of of what they are doing to get the site back up and fix the security breach.

ubuntu forums

Ubuntu Forums is down for maintenance

There has been a security breach on the Ubuntu Forums. The Canonical IS team is working hard as we speak to restore normal operations. This page will be updated with progress reports.

What we know

  • Unfortunately the attackers have gotten every user's local username, password, and email address from the Ubuntu Forums database.
  • The passwords are not stored in plain text, they are stored as salted hashes. However, if you were using the same password as your Ubuntu Forums one on another service (such as email), you are stronglyencouraged to change the password on the other service ASAP.
  • Ubuntu One, Launchpad and other Ubuntu/Canonical services are NOT affected by the breach.

No word on when Ubuntu Forums will be back up and running but hopefully it will be up again soon.  I assume for any Ubuntu users looking for help to problems this is quite an inconvenience but there are a number of tech and Linux forums you can use in the meantime while Ubuntu Forums is down.  You can also use IRC channels for to get help with Ubuntu issues.

I would imagine whatever security measures Canonical has for Ubuntu Forums they must be pretty good.  If Ubuntu Forums can get hacked I thinks that means a lot of companies forums could get hacked.