Moz Review: The original SEO king - now dethroned by challengers?

8th June 2020

TL;DR

Like a loyal war horse, Moz has been ridden into more SEO battles than any other toolkit. Once the industry innovator, it gave us Keyword Explorer and Domain Authority. Today, Moz faces stiff competition from a new breed of SEO tools and still holds its own.



Loved

  • SEO learning resources
  • 30 day trial
  • Advanced Keyword Explorer
  • Fresh Web Explorer

Loathed

  • Not as feature-rich as competitors
  • Data freshness
  • Hard to navigate

The Story

What is Moz?

SEO is an infinite game and Moz has been around longer than most. Its core toolkit covers you need to rank well (Moz Pro), nail local listings (Moz Local) and conquer regional SEO at scale (STAT).

I’ll be focussing most of this review on Moz Pro and lightly touch on the others.

Moz Pro’s feature set is familiar SEO tool terrain that (if followed) promises a repeatable content process that reliably delivers traffic over time. This includes:

  • Moz’s Keyword Explorer - Takes all the leg work out of SEO and competitor research
  • Site Crawl - takes a magnifying glass to your site’s technical potency
  • On-page Optimisation - unlock your true ranking potential with optimised content
  • Link Explorer - makes it rain high-quality links and buries the bad ones
  • Rank Tracking - measure your SEO ROI

Rand Fishkin

Meet the Maker:
Rand Fishkin

Everybody knows Moz for Rand Fishkin. The co-founder and former CEO is one of the SEO industry’s innovators, with greatest hits such as Keyword Difficulty, Spam Score, Page Authority and Domain Authority. Even if you haven’t used Moz, you’ve benefited from its education and advancement of SEO practices.

Rand has moved on to pastures new but I fully recommend his book Lost & Founder, in which he shares the 15-year rollercoaster ride of growing Moz in candid detail. You can also swot up on his entire back catalogue of Whiteboard Friday videos.

Moz is today run by Sarah Bird, who has overseen the growth of the company serve over 37,000 customers from all over the world.

The Product

How we tested Moz

I was a long-time listener, first-time caller to Moz. Rand and Moz led the way when it came to making SEO more accessible to all marketers and their tip-filled Tweets and Whiteboard Friday videos helped to sharpen my knowledge.

When it came to the review, I tested Moz concurrently with Ahrefs and hot on the heels of Serpstat and SEMrush to aid comparison. I ran the same searches, competitor research and rank tracking for all the major tools, leapt into their respective knowledge banks and saw early results just as any new customer would.

Access was courtesy of Moz’ 30-day free trial.


Getting started with Moz

Moz runs off a much smaller feature set than other SEO tools so getting off the mark takes zero time.

Unlike the others, Moz asks why you’re there. Are you looking to track keywords? Build links? Research? Or something else?

Moz Onboarding   Reason for joining

What you pick determines the make-up of your dashboard – an 11-step process to savvier SEO.

Moz Onboarding   things to do

Step 1 of maxing out your subscription is to create your first SEO ‘Campaign’ (i.e. a project). Enter your website, keywords to track, and competitors to keep an eye on, then it’s onto a very quick site audit. And you still have 29.9 days left on the free trial.

One big plus point to Moz’ onboarding is the free personalised walkthrough. None of the other top tools proactively offer this. Well done Moz!

Features you’ll love

Tools such as Moz & Co add much-needed structure to a SEO campaign to make sure it doesn’t take you down a dead end.

We’ll mix-up the usual end-to-end process of building a campaign to start with Moz’ strongest features first. First up: Keyword Explorer…

  • 🔍 Keyword Explorer

    Keyword research is the backbone of all successful SEO. Thankfully the Moz Keyword Explorer is more than up to the task.

    The jewel in Moz’ crown can turn loose ideas of what you want to rank for into a long list of rankable phrases with serious traffic potential. It soon becomes clear that Moz has a few edges over the competition:

    1. First, you get way more keyword results for your search query
    2. Second, the monthly search estimates are more accurate
    3. Third, Moz basically invented Domain Authority and Page Authority
    4. Finally, new filters such as ‘organic CTR’ keep adding new edges

    You start your search with either a keyword or competitor URL…

    Moz   Keyword Explorer   Surges review

    The info provided at this stage is relatively light but advanced filters, even those as rudimentary as “includes” and “excludes”, make the results more meaningful.

    Moz also boils the keyword’s potential to one handy metric: Priority.

    This is an aggregate of all the other metrics (Difficulty, Opportunity, Volume + Importance) into With so many keyword ideas it really helps to pick out the low hanging fruit.

    Moz SEO   Keyword Suggestions   Surges review

    Click on any keyword and Moz will mine for more suggestions related to it. From there it’s a single click to add the keyword to a list, cluster or campaign.

    You can also run a keyword search at a site level…

    Moz SEO   Ranking Keywords   Surges review

    For all Moz has going for it, it’s important to note some competitor keyword research features that are missing here. Ahrefs, for example, also shows you other terms a page also ranks for and newly discovered pages that contain your keyword.

  • 🌱 Fresh Web Explorer

    This is killer tool and, as such, is far too hidden away.

    The Moz Fresh Web Explorer hunts down recent mentions of a keyword or phrase, so you can strike while it’s hot and piggyback on them.

    You choose the timeframe and create an alert for any new instance. Moz was flagging 200+ new pages a day for me - mainly articles, roundups or resources – which was an open goal for getting Surges added or offering a quote. Such a powerful tool! Moz should be making a song and dance about it.

  • 🔗 Link Explorer

    Moz goes big on link building data. Its live link index is 30x greater than its predecessor Open Site Explorer with even fresher data.

    I found this translates to up to 20% more links than Ahrefs on the same domain with no sign of duplicate counts.

    To get going, enter a domain into the search bar for its full link profile and to assess the potential link target. The centrepiece of this snapshot is its Domain Authority (DA) that summarises how well a site ranks overall on a scale from 1 to 100. This metric was developed by Moz and is now the industry standard for its rankability and link worth.

    Moz SEO review   Link Explorer   Surges.co

    Under ‘Discovered’ and ‘Lost’ links you can track when a change occurred over the last 60 days and take remedial action.

    Further down the page you’ll encounter Top Metrics. Here sits the overview of you or your competitor’s top pages, top links and top anchor text. A very helpful snapshot of what’s working and what to build on.

    Moz SEO review   Link Profile   Surges.co

    There’s a million other ways you can cut this data, looking at ‘follow’ vs ‘no follow’, link intersect with competitors, link spam scores, and much, much more. With all that in mind, Link Explorer is one of Moz’ better features.

  • 🥇 Rank Tracking

    I found the way Moz presents this data to be disorientating. It took me a while to get my head round.

    The exception here is the summary panel, which is straightforward enough. It presents an overview of Search Visibility, Keyword Rankings and Ranges, and Featured Snippets you rank for. Plus, any movement in either direction.

    Moz SEO review   Rank Tracker   Surges.co

    It’s important to note that Moz Pro only shows you data for the top 5 pages (or 50 positions) in the search results. Its reasoning is there’s too many fluctuations in the pages beyond this and that those results are inconsequential.

    One thing Moz does have going for it is Keyword Clusters – allowing you to track groups of keywords to better understand your search visibility in the context of your competitors.

    On the whole though, what’s here isn’t a patch on SEMrush or Ahrefs. They win hands down both on the depth of data and the level of insight, plus they present it in a way I actually want to look at it every day. All you really want is a clear picture of your keyword outlook and the progress you’re making.

    Moz also lags on the freshness of its ranking data and is extremely limited in terms of trackable search engines. Look elsewhere if you need pinpoint rank tracking.

  • 📇 On-page Grader

    This Page Optimization tool is a pick of the bunch. When your content is compelling and designed around keywords, you’re on your way to rankings.

    Optimise your rankings and on-page SEO with this simple checklist tool to score and improve your content’s visibility for specific keywords and topics. To start the process of optimising a page for higher rankings, enter a keyword and page URL. This spells out precisely the changes you need to make and you can use the ‘Track & Monitor’ tab to track progress over time.

    There’s not a lot more to say here, other than its beauty and effectiveness is in its simplicity.

    Moz SEO Review   On Page Grader   Surges.co
  • 🏥 Site audit

    Your site audit happens automatically when you start your new project.

    Unlike SEMrush, Serpstat and Ahrefs, there’s no health score and the results are far less complete.

    Moz did pick up on a redirect chain, meaning I was forcing visitors to jump through hoops which was slowing down the user experience.

    Moz SEO review   On page Grader   Surges.co

    However, two majorly impressive features here are a) the ability to ignore an issue or mark it as fixed and, b) the expert tips that demystify that element of technical SEO. Nice one Moz!

Things to consider

  • SEO education included

    Whether you’re brand-new to SEO or a seasoned pro, every day is a learning day with Moz.The SEO Learning Center is constantly updated with new tricks of the trade from industry insiders and there’s also the more structured in instructor-led, six-part course covering SEO essentials, culminating in Moz Certification.

    For agencies, there’s the Client Onboarding Course — perfect for when you’ve just signed a new SEO client and want to manage both their expectations and account.

  • Organise your local listings

    Moz Local promises to drive real world footfall to your business by keeping your listings up-to-date. Do so once from within Moz and it’ll automatically display the right info to customers searching locally on Google, Bing and the lesser known aggregators and directories. For an extra $170 Moz Local also pings you a notification when customers post a new review, allowing you to respond accordingly.

    Their hook into the paid add-on is a free online presence check. However, it’s only available in three countries at present: US, Canada and UK.

    I’m extremely sceptical how necessary this is for sites other than Google and Bing. I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Infobel, Navmii, Central Index and the like so there’s a good reason why I have no presence there. This is a $129+ add-on you can probably do without unless you really do want everything in one place.

  • Tap into big data with STAT

    Moz recently acquired STAT, a rising star in big SERP data and real-time, localised rankings in every market around the globe.

    The two joining forces is a great move by Moz and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops. For now it opens up millions of keywords in multiple geographies to Moz’ enterprise clients, so you can see the search data your potential customers around the world see, as they see it.

    STAT tracks up organic results across the entire Google universe, including keywords, maps, images, and news, plus search volumes, CPC, and more, meaning you can see the full competitive landscape at a very granular level. Perfect for those who operate with a global footprint and where the slightest algorithm tweak can make or break a sales period.

    Find out more
  • MozBar

    The Chrome extension gives you instant metrics while viewing any page or SERP when you’re browsing the web. The free version is pretty limited. The Premium version is included in your Moz Pro subscription and unlocks Keyword Difficulty, Page Optimization and more. If you’re always thinking about ranking opportunities, it’s great to be only a click away from any SEO-related data point.

Moz Pricing

from $99 per month

Standard plan

At 30 days, the Moz free trial is by far the most generous of the pack.


Moz Alternatives

Any search for the best all-in-one SEO tool is likely to lead to Moz, Ahrefs, SEMrush and Serpstat.

All has its own USP but there are also huge overlaps in the core functionality. Their data points are also remarkably similar.

For me, Moz is a halfway house between the powerful keyword research, backlink suggestion and optimisation tools of Ahrefs and Serpstat, mixed with the education and coaching of SEMrush. The added value of its tutorials really is Moz’ strong point and you’ll have to weigh up with its worth sacrificing additional features such as Alerts and Content Creation tools. It really does come down to personal preference and what other marketing tools you have at your disposal.

Moz Support   👍  or   👎

Moz’ support is faultless.

For starters, there’s personalised onboarding in the form of a 30-minute walkthrough (with a real human!), 24/7 online help team and a on-call industry experts in the the Q&A forum.

There’s also ‘how to use’ on all the key tools, even if they do take you away from the page. “Make a Suggestion” buttons are scattered around too for your ideas to improve Moz. It’s not quite the co-creation ethos of SEMrush, with community upvoting on new features, but there’s no doubt Moz listens and acts on the feedback.

The Verdict

Surges score

83%

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to full stack SEO tools and all carry similar price points. But their differences are profound.

It’s important to find the one that works best for you.

Personally, I found the way Moz presents its data to be disorientating. It took me a while to get my head round.

That said, Moz Pro is capable of putting the building blocks of your website’s visibility in place. Its core research and tracking features are strong, its data reliable (but not the freshest) and the suggestions for improving your rankings arrive fast and furious. Making it a worthy contender as a long-term SEO companion.

However, what actually stands Moz apart is its their SEO learning resources. This soft power is every bit as important as the potency of the tools. Moz (and Rand) basically wrote the rulebook on SEO and their blog is the best well for SEO knowledge out there. Their appetite for any ranking advantage bleeds into the tools and while Moz might not be as feature rich as Ahrefs of SEMrush, the ones they do put out are extremely proficient. Moz makes it its mission to help you master them to the long-term benefit of your website.

Put simply, if you know organic traffic should be working harder for you and you’ve promised to commit more time to the craft, its trusty tools are more than up to the job.

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