Why I Hate the Term ‘SEO Tools’

Why I Hate the Term ‘SEO Tools’

“SEO Tools” - An outdated phrase at best, and a destructive excuse to not use the right tech at worst.

I admit it; I can’t stand it when people refer to the advanced SEO technology platforms that enterprise marketers now use as an ‘SEO Tool’. It makes my hair stand on end. But to be fair, there’s a good reason marketers use outdated language when describing modern technology platforms.

In the old days, when SEO was still developing as a serious part of a Marketing plan, ‘the SEO person’ used homegrown tools cobbled together from disparate pieces to serve their technology needs.  Rank tracking was a manual ‘type-it-into-Google-and-hit-enter’ endeavor and reporting was a ‘I-hope-my-spreadsheet-with-nine-macros-and-twelve-auto-update-charts-doesn’t-break.’

Why I hate the Term SEO Tools - Google Search Bar

But SEO is no longer a compliance function, an IT function, or even something a smart techie in the back does anymore – it’s a foundational way that companies ensure they’re there to pick up the other side of the conversation when their customers start a dialogue. It’s no longer a person’s job – it’s a marketing channel.

As the way marketers practice SEO has matured (6 out of 10 marketers are growing headcount this year and 71% say they are now more enabled to make changes to improve natural search visibility when compared with the last 12 months), the technology and tools moved in lockstep and matured with it.  A new class of technology emerged—one housed in the cloud, offering enterprise class reporting, company-wide collaboration, task automation—and quickly became as indispensable to the enterprise m­­arketer as the advanced tools that Paid Search or Email Marketing practitioners utilize.  Now, 70% of enterprise marketers say they already utilize or plan to utilize an enterprise SEO technology package:

Why I Hate the Term SEO Tools - SEO Technology Adoption

‘Tools’ Imply Single-Purpose Simplicity

Getting back to SEO tools, the word ‘tool’ has a simplistic and basic connotation.  A hammer is a tool.  It has one basic function—to smash things.  A vacuum is a single purpose tool – to clean things up.  Early ‘SEO tools’ primarily had one basic function: to track search engine rankings for a handful of keywords.

The modern Enterprise SEO Platform is an advanced multi-system platform that extracts data from various sources and intelligently displays the data in a customizable manner best suited for each role in an organization, in a way that is neither blunt nor singular. To call it a tool is like saying the highly complex interactions of an automobile assembly plant, including the automation, computers, and skilled workers is a ‘tool for making cars.’ It just doesn’t do it justice.

Enterprise SEO Platform

So feel free to use outdated technology, but whatever you do please don’t call an Enterprise SEO Platform an ‘SEO tool’, or at least be prepared to watch me cringe.


To find out more about how an Enterprise SEO Platform can impact your SEO success, check out The Emergence of the SEO Platform.


About Seth Dotterer

Seth Dotterer leads the marketing team at Conductor, responsible for branding and communications, marketing strategy, demand generation and strategic product positioning of Conductor’s SaaS SEO platform, Searchlight.

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