How I Saved Almost $900 on Top SEO/SEM Tools

Save Money

Since free trial is a common SaaS marketing strategy, almost all SEO/SEM/CRM tools out there can be taken for a test drive. Obviously, we all hate buying a pig in a poke.
When the success of your email campaigns, keywords research, content marketing, KPIs measurements, competitors analysis, and so much more depends on them, your toolset should be comprised of only top solutions for your business. And for a price, mind you.

Thing is, somewhere in between last 5 years that I dedicated to the world of SEO/SEM, I have completely lost my count of tools. Tools are now everywhere. There’s so many of them that even an experienced marketer might find it hard to chose the right ones.

I’ve compiled a list of the most prominent premium solutions for marketers and SEOs and… and at this point you start to think that this will end up being yet another dull list of tools, right? Well, it won’t.

As I personally find it hard to chose between topmost tools, I was more keen to see how well each treat a wandering prospect. For that I ventured to contact each with a rather simple but honest pitch message:

Hey guys, I’d like to try your service. I mostly do SEO for medium-sized websites and have tried many tools. I was wondering if there’s a chance I could get a free trial of your product for a month? Hoping you are well”.

Most tools offer a 14 days trial. If the tool had a month trial, I asked for two months. This article is mainly about what types of answers I received (and what should you expect from collaboration with each tool):

Moz Pro

Moz Pro

30 days of trial based on Medium plan will allow you to create up to 10 Tracked Campaigns, monitor 750 Keyword Rankings, and 500,000 Crawled Pages. The keyword tool will be limited to 5000 Reports and 30 Lists. And it’s not bad even for a mid-size project. Although your credit card info is still required.

I asked their support team to give me a 2 months trial and they kindly refused on the pretext that I can contact them at the end of my regular trial period, and they might revise the decision “if the circumstances call for it”.

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You cannot really blame them as a month trial from the tool like this is not bad.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs.com

One of the best tools on the market for backlinks. The prices, however, only make sense for big companies. The results are easily foreseeable: lots of angry comments like those and those.

There’s no freemium access and if you want to try it before buy it, there’s only a $7 for 7 days trial.

This was the answer that I received when I asked their support for a 14 days trial:

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Then I remembered that you can always ask for a refund:

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Apparently, you don’t:(

SERPstat

SERPstat

I stumbled upon this tool on Product Hunt and it instantly caught my attention. The tool offers different freemiums for registered and unregistered users. It covers Rank Tracking, Search Analytics, Backlinks, and Search Analytics. Registered users get 30 queries per day with 10 results per report including indepth URL analysis, 10 link exploring links per days with 20 results per report, up to 10 tracked keywords, 1 domain to track in projects, and up to 10 competitors to track + 100 pages to audit.

The support team was surprisingly quick to respond and extra sweet:

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Given that their plan B is adequately alloted and includes access to their API, I was more than happy.

Buzzstream

BuzzStream

This platform helps you with prospecting and identifying sites from which to request links. You can either assess this tool’s Starter, Group, or Professional plan for 14 days. The Pro will give you 100,000 links to monitor, 100,000 contacts, 1,000 prospecting searches, and API.

I left my message through their Contact form and send an email at their support. The next day I received an email with a reply that they would be willing to extend my trial from 14 to 30 days “so I have a little more time to test drive the tool”.

BuzzSumo

Buzzsumo

This content marketing tool has 14 days trial of either of their tariff plan. Whether you’re a lone SEO with small projects or a big brand, you can have the taste of whichever plan they have to offer, namely – Pro, Agency, and Enterprise. Which makes it pointless for me to describe the limitations of each plan. Just go there and find out.

I’m not sure whether it was my personal charm or the fact that the extension of a trial period for the Pro package wasn’t too much to ask, but I got luck. I asked their support team and got my answer straight away:

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That was too easy. Darn, I should’ve ask for Agency!

ScreamingFrog

Screaming Frog

This technical SEO audits uses a freemium instead of a trial marketing model. The free version comes with some configuration options locked and is limited to 500 URLs but the rest of webcrawler functions similarly to the full version. Which got me thinking to ask for a month of a full featured tool.

After due postal correspondence my cadging had been met with a counterproposal:

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I’ve managed to solicit just a week of this tool’s full version. Of course, this auditing a website should be performed on a regular basis. But who knows!

Netpeak Spider

netpeak_spider_dark

Feeling slightly discontent from my previous experience with an audit tool (and still having few websites to check for errors) I approached the Netpeak Spider.

This crawler for a complex technical audit has a 14 days trial period during which you can really explore the tool. There are no limitations whatsoever, no credit card required, no strings attached. It seems to me that these guys are pretty confident in the quality of their tool.

I reached them through the Contact form, and within an hour they reached back and grant me with an additional 14 days of trial. How cool is that!

SEMRush

SEMRush

14 days of trial based on Pro Plan only for this intelligence tools for online marketing. It limits you to 10,000 results per report, 3,000 reports per day, API access (200,000 units), Tracking (5 campaigns, 500 keywords).

I was particularly eager that these guys give me a satisfactory reply. Mainly because I’m afraid to be decried for saying something negative about an established tool with an army of proponents.

Shortly after I reached them, they have send a courteous reply that I could have 10 free days of their Guru plan:

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That’s not the same as 30 days of a Pro plan. That’s less time with a more of a tool. Go figure.

Hubspot

hubspot

Hubspot covers CRM software, Marketing Software, Sales Software and has a 30 days trial during which you will be testing everything with no limits.

To put their magnanimity to the test, I asked for two months’ trial:

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Sadly, I didn’t get it. Maybe next time?

MailChimp

MailChimp

This email marketing platform has freemium plan that gives an you access to most its features, but limits your total subscribers, as well as your daily and weekly sends. You can keep up to 2,000 subscribers across all lists in your account, and send up to 12,000 emails per month. In any 24-hour period, you can send up to 2,000 emails.

And although my request (979184) has been received and was being reviewed by MailChimp support staff for few days, I’m taking their silence as a “no”.

GetResponse

GetResponse

This email marketing service offers 30 days trial during which you may host up to 1000 Subscribers in your mailing list although their advertising badge will be added to every message you send from the FREE trial account and default GetResponse pages may have 3rd party ads.

When I reached their support team I received a reply in no time allowing me to have my 30 days limitless with the tool.

SimilarWeb

SimilarWeb

Tool to see other website’s traffic sources gives a freemium access limited to 5 top organic keywords, 5 top countries sources, 5 top social network sources, top 5 referring and 5 destination sites, top 5 ad networds, top 5 publishers, while calculating site’s monthly traffic for the last six months.

After I inquired if I could try the tool, I was drawn into a conversation in the course of which I was refused.

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OnCrawl

Oncrawl

This on-page SEO crawler and log analyzer has 30 days of trial. Which means you will have limited access to data visualization, no exports, no pages categorization and no features such as crawl comparison and traffic analysis with GA.

The support team was willing to help me. However, they only offered me to lift off the limits of a trial version with no extra time to be spend with the tool.

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Still, 30 days of a full featured tool is not bad for assessing its abilities.

Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics

This customer intelligence and website analytics platform can be taken for a test drive for 14 days. The limits are set according to the chosen package.

When I asked their support if I could have their tool tested for a month, I received this answer:

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Instead of saying something specific, they simply redirected me to their Request a Demo page.

Guys, if I wanted a demo from you I would have requested it myself.

SpyFu

SpyFu

This competitors research tool doesn’t have a trial version. It can only be checked via its freemium access. That leaves you with 5 SEO keywords for a queried domain; 4 top organic competitors; ranking history for 5 keywords, 5 referring domains, and the same amount for keyword research and PPC research.

I contacted their support team into no avail. I even tried to reach them via their live chat. No luck again.

Mention.com

mention.com

This monitoring tool to analyze yours or competitor’s online presence can be tested for 14 days based on their cheapest plan. That leaves you with 2 alerts and 3,000 mentions per day.

After I reached them, I received a bot reply assuring me that humans from Mention will contact me soon.

Human from Mention then contacted me and robotically answered:

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How would you rate that reply?

How Much Money I Saved

Now let’s sum up the total cost of what my free subscriptions are worth of:

Ahrefs $0
Moz Pro $0
Serpstat $55,2
BuzzStream $299
BuzzSumo $99
Screaming Frog I got a week of paid version, which is $181 per year. Given that there’s 52 work weeks, I’ve saved myself $3.2
Netpeak Spider $29
SEMRush $50 (10 days of Guru which is $149,94)
HubSpot $0
MailChimp $0
GetResponse $250
SimilarWeb $0
OnCrawl $107,8
Kissmetrics $0
SpyFu $0
Mention $0
TOTAL $893,2

The general impression from my mendicancy amongst the topmost tools for SEOs and marketers was good. I was politely rejected. Ignored even. But in most cases I received positive replies and now it’s really up to you to draw the balance and gauge my results.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of great tools to test.

Ivan Filimonov
Ivan Filimonov
IvanFilimonov10

5+ years in SEO/PPC for ecommerce. Editor at digital storytelling studio gutenbergz.com

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Moosa Hemani stands out for many reasons, but one is simply for his exceptional desire to contribute to the SEO community through his writing and participation in social media. You would be hard pressed to find a highly-visible SEO site that he has not contributed to in way. He is also a truly nice guy, which always impresses me. There’s no ego, but there is confidence. I’d be honoured to have the chance to work with Moosa.

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