The Best SEO Tool is Between Your Ears


Fathom on SEO Chat always has a perspective that's worth reading and thinking about. In a recent thread about "What SEO tools do you use daily?" he gave his opinion that SEO newbies shouldn't be using any tools at all. The practical example he gives is about expired domains. Using an in-house tool, he found "a great Russian non-government agency domain that had 39 Wikipedia links." Exlaining further that, according to many, "Wikipedia links while nofollow are a sign of great trust. As anyone doing research would trust Wikipedia references and commonly reference such sources with a dofollow citation." So, you'd think that domain was awesome and a good buy...

Fathom wrote:
Except... the live website has had a FOR SALE BY OWNER sign as the homepage for two years... Suggesting the Wikipedia editor controlling those 39 links is also likely the owner... and while the value of Wikipedia links is TRUST for research... no one actually did any research in the past two years, or if they did wouldn't link to a FOR SALE BY OWNER... a large chunk of linking domains are likely in the current owner's pocket. Making this domain a lemon even when the tool says it is GREAT using my own logic as its framework. The tool developer, and two trainees LOVED the domain That's why until you have mastered your craft you shouldn't use any tools.

I thought that was a great practical example of his point of view. What do you think? Other members in this thread recommended some basic tools - rank trackers, backlink checkers, etc. Screaming Frog and a few other Mozilla add-ons were put forth as good newbie tools. Can someone be overly-reliant on tools? Should newbies learn SEO without tools until they've developed their intuition enough to use tools responsibly?