Whether you are running an online business for yourself or managing digital marketing for someone else, there are essentially two options when it comes to SEO tools: free and paid. If you are willing to pay for the premium versions of many of these tools, you might want to also consider completely outsourcing this function altogether.
If you want to take the budget-friendly option, and particularly if you are just starting, you likely want to consider many of the great free options out there. With that in mind, below are some of the best free SEO tools available to anyone trying to get their site’s digital marketing off the ground.
Google Keyword Planner
If you want to increase your site’s organic traffic, then you absolutely must use a keyword planner. Google’s Keyword Planner has been the benchmark for a long time and it is free. The kicker, however, is that you need to already have a Google Ads account, which fortunately is something you can sign up for in a matter of minutes. Following your account creation, you log in. Then click the wrench icon at the top of the page and then select the keyword planner.
The keyword planner allows you to filter and sort your keyword results, analyze and select keywords from the keyword ideas section, and see the precise keyword search volume data so that you are making highly informed decisions about the keywords you choose to target. Randomly and haphazardly going after keywords without understanding the numbers behind them and their likelihood of success in the SERPs is going to be a waste of your time and money.
“Google’s Keyword Planner is the most popular keyword research tool — paid or free — on the market. While Keyword Planner provides a wealth of metrics, including average monthly search volume, suggested PPC bids, and competition levels, it isn’t helpful in determining what people are actually looking for when they enter a search term into Google’s search engine.”
Recommended for you: 16 Best Free Website Analysis / Analytics Tools to Supercharge your SEO.
Woorank’s Website Analysis Tool
Woorank is another simple to install free Chrome extension that provides you with an overall SEO score for a website and then a precise breakdown of what you need to do both on-page and off-page to improve it. One of the most useful features of this tool is that it gives you what it calls a “marketing checklist” which provides you with solutions to your problems. This is what makes Woorank stand out: you get solutions to your SEO dilemmas and shortcomings. Many tools will tell you your problems for free but make you pay to access the solutions.
Google’s Mobile Analysis Tool
Your site’s responsiveness (i.e., how well it displays across devices and browsers) is of paramount importance for SEO. If a visitor arrives at your site using a mobile browser, but you haven’t optimized things to display well on a phone screen, that visitor will sooner leave your site than endure the pain of trying to navigate something tedious, hard to read, and that displays poorly. More than half of web traffic is mobile now, and you fail to cater to that at your peril.
Google’s mobile-friendly test is invaluable because it ensures your site is tailored to what Google refers to as its “mobile-first indexing.” You don’t need to pay a full-time web developer to ensure your site is mobile-friendly. Most new themes on places like WordPress or Squarespace are already mobile-optimized, but even then, you should always run your site through mobile-friendly tests.
Remember, it is not only about your off-page SEO (your content and links). If you want to stand even the slightest chance of rising to the top of the SERPs you need to be meticulous about your on-page SEO as well. Not only that, but you need to be ruthless when it comes to weeding out and fixing your SEO shortcomings. This means holding a mirror up to your site and not looking away. SEObility is a free tool that helps you do precisely that.
It will crawl your site and let you know about all of your on-page SEO flaws, including your slow-loading pages, blocked pages, sitemap issues, a wide range of technical SEO problems, and much more. This is the kind of insight you tend to only get from paid SEO tools–of which there are certainly a lot of good ones to choose from. Pay special attention to the tool’s “content report” which tells you when it has found what it considers keyword stuffing, thin content, and duplicate content.
Keyworddit: Reddit Keyword Research Tool
This is a free keyword research app that was built to scour subreddits and extract relevant keywords as well as their search volume. The thing to keep in mind with this tool is that it needs user comments to find and pull keywords, so ensure that you are letting it loose on subs that get a lot of discussion and plenty of comments.
Reddit has become a powerful tool for SEO and an important part of SEO strategy for companies and individuals. It is both a place to do keyword research as well as market (tactfully) your website’s content and manage your brand mentions and image.
Yoast WP Plugin
Yoast is a must-have free WordPress plugin that helps you optimize your content for keywords, keyphrases, find related keywords and synonyms, manually research and improve your content, and gives you an overall readability score that lets you know how easy and pleasurable a page will be to read. If you have a blog on your site, whether it is part of your SEO strategy or not, you need Yoast to let you know that you are on the right track while writing new content.
Yoast is nice because it works in both the block and the classic page editors, so you can write however you are most comfortable. You also get access to a bunch of great free courses that Yoast offers so you can really up to your SEO game.
The MozBar tool is useful because it gives you quick insight into the main authority metrics of every wage page you see listed in the SERPs. It is a free Google Chrome extension that allows you to collect quick link metrics (for instance, if you are doing competitor analysis) and core SEO vitals on the go. With Moz, you also get access to great proprietary metrics such as page authority, keyword difficulty, a spam score, and domain authority.
Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Ahrefs is one of the most powerful and, depending on the plan you purchase, the most expensive SEO tools out there. But digital marketing and SEO agencies, as well as many individual site owners, swear by it. This is because of how useful the information it provides is. By far its most highly regarded features are its backlink tools, and the free backlink checker is a great way to get an understanding of your competitors’ SEO backlink profiles.
The free tool limits you to 100 links, but if you are just starting, then knowing where your high-ranking competitors are getting their top links from can help you build a similar profile and hopefully start moving up the SERPs. As your site progresses and your budget for SEO tools grows along with it. Then you might want to consider upgrading from a free to a paid version with more capabilities and power.
Google trends is another great free SEO tool from Google that allows you to see how the popularity of various trends and topics in your niche and industry rises and falls over time. Trends is a vital tool to ensure your content strategy is always focusing on the topics that people want to read.
Using Google Trends is quite straightforward. You begin by entering in a keyword for which you are then shown trend numbers over time. It includes in which regions the keyword has trended the highest. You also get to see keywords related to that query. You will get the most out of Google Trends if you use it to compare keyword trends over time rather than just one keyword at a time.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Not devoting time and effort to your Bing SEO is a mistake. There are many reasons to pay attention to Bing–including the fact that one in five people in the United States uses it. While Google certainly controls the lion’s share of the search engine market, Bing is no slouch and you stand to gain a lot by incorporating it into your SEO strategy.
Bing Webmaster Tools has, like Google, an entire suite of analytics there to help you create a better website. This free tool will help you do keyword research, reporting, and will crawl your site to help you identify problem areas. Even if you do decide to exclusively focus on Google, letting Bing take a look at your site may end up revealing issues that Google’s tool missed.
You may also like: How Much Do Large Corporations Spend on SEO?
While free tools have their limitations, the above are major assets to anyone trying their hand at SEO and even SEO experts that don’t need the full range of functionality offered by the paid versions. These tools can help you execute well on and off-page SEO that will be appreciated by both your customers and Google, moving your content up the SERPs and increasing your organic traffic. If you are looking to up your SEO game this year and are putting together a shortlist of the tools that will help, make that happen, you can’t go wrong with some or all of the above offerings.