You’re going to want to bookmark this page! That’s a fact.
In this incredible guide, we’re going to cover 41 tools every SEO ought to know.
Let’s not waste any time. Enjoy our great finds!
The Basic free tools you should be familiar with
Before we get into some of the great free gems the SEO world has to offer, let’s quickly cover the 2-5 core tools you should be familiar with.
Google My Business (for local businesses)
Bing Places (for local businesses)
Yahoo business listings via YEXT (for local businesses)
If those tools are nothing new to you, feel free to move onto the next section. Otherwise, stick around for a quick run down.
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools give you an inside look to how search engines are seeing your site. It most importantly lets you receive notifications whenever there are problems affecting your visibility in search. Think server errors, blocking of critical pages, link penalties, and more.
For most webmasters, Google Search Console is something they check religiously to see search traffic trends, issues, and the rate their site is crawled. Bing Webmasters is more of a set it and forget it tool once it is all set up.
The other three items I mentioned are Google My Business, Bing Places, and Yahoo business listings. These are only important for local businesses. Signing up through these three tools will help you rank for terms like “plumbers near me”. Example below:
While we’re talking about free ways to show up for local search terms like the above, I should also mention Yelp. Although I don’t want to dive too far deep here as this isn’t a “best free local citations” article! Niche search engines like Duck Duck Go (as well as many business-finder tools) make use of Yelp’s API, so it’s totally worth it to sign up.
To close off this section, I should mention a brief note about Yahoo’s business listings tool. They’re a little cheeky!
As you go through the sign-up process, they’ll try to sell you on a variety of monthly plans. You do not need this! Just search around for the “Claim your Basic Listing only on Yahoo here” link and you won’t have to pay a dime.
Now that the basics are out of the way let’s get to the good stuff!
Auditing a Website
The first SEO task you do on a website is a good site audit. Here are some great free tools to pick out your most crucial website problems.
Checking Page Speed and Performance
What else to start with than Google PageSpeed Insights! It’s a great tool that can be super brutal at times…
Who would’ve guessed a multi-billion dollar brand putting boatloads of cash into their website would have such a low score?
Anyway, as you can see, you have the opportunity to view your performance score on both mobile and desktop devices. You’ll always get a worse score on mobile, so try to work on that first!
Most of the changes it will suggest are quite technical. A few could be fixed by reducing images or a quick phone call with your web host. Others will require you to enable cache, modify how your static assets are delivered and more.
If you’re a WordPress user and aren’t very tech-savvy, always audit a potential WordPress theme using PageSpeed Insights before buying. This will help you avoid the extra cost of having to hire a developer to improve your score down the road.
In a similar vein as PageSpeed Insights, Google’s Mobile-Friendly test will give you a simple yes/no answer to whether or not your website is mobile-friendly.
In addition to that, it lets you dive deeper on mobile usability problems.
But don’t write off this tool simply because it’s only for mobile. Your mobile site matters more than ever now since mobile-first indexing was implemented!
Sure, Google offers some great web performance tools. However, they focus most on best practices and efficiency rather than plain-and-simple load time. Pingdom, as well as GTMetrix, lets dial in more on the actual load time of your site.
You’re able to see the load time of your site, its file size, the assets that are holding your speed back the most, and you even get a nice Gantt chart to get a clear breakdown of how your page loads. Additionally, you can control over what country the test is performed from which is very nice
GTMetrix is similar to Pingdom. I recommending using both tools and comparing results. What’s great about this one is it runs multiple tests – PageSpeed and YSlow.
Pro Tip: Create a free account. It gives you control over what server you test from. It also lets you see the waterfall breakdown of your load time.
Quickly checking On-Page SEO
Have no fret! There are plenty of free tools that make checking on-page SEO easier than sifting through HTML. Here are some of the best!
Google Chrome’s Lighthouse SEO Audit
Most people have never heard of this one! Well, it’s pretty hidden to be fair.
Here’s how to use it:
The SEO portion of the test is quite basic. It makes sure the site is mobile-friendly, checks that you have a canonical meta tag, and parts of HTML structure.
The other available audits are useful as well and actually still relate to the big picture of SEO. A major area that sites miss out on is accessibility (optimizing for screen readers and legibility). Their accessibility audit will break down exactly what you should implement.
Site Checker Pro is an incredible free site auditing tool. Just punch in your domain name and you’ll be able to go through the many problems it picked out.
It starts off by crawling 20 of your pages. You could have it crawl more if you invest into a premium account, but this is a “free SEO tools” article after all!
It gives you all of the basic information you would need when beginning an audit. Information such as titles that are too short or long, descriptions that are too short or long, whether or not a page has an h1 tag, and more.
Another useful free tool to try is WooRank. Right off the bat, you can tell that their SEO score is not as strict as Site Checker Pro. So, it did miss out on certain criteria that Site Checker Pro found. This is why it is important to use multiple site auditing tools.
On a positive note, I do find the information a little easier to consume with the way WooRank is laid out.
I did appreciate the technology report that WooRank provides. If your job is not only managing SEO but also being a webmaster, you could see the entire tech stack and see if any components could be swapped out for better performance.
The final tool I wanted to mention is SEO Site Checkup.
It presents information to you in a very clean layout. It’s neatly organized into six categories: Overview, General SEO, Speed, Server & Security, Mobile Usability, and Advanced SEO.
An area that really sets it apart is its security information.
- It will tell you if all versions of your URL (https, non-https, www, non-www) redirect to the same page
- It will let you know if your mail server SSL is properly configured
- It will ensure email addresses are not written on the pages in plain text (to prevent spammers from finding them!)
- It even checks your SPF records, not that that matters at all for SEO!
The cherry on top of this SEO tool is that it lets you email off this report (or download it as a PDF) for free. The report contains great information that documents why the changes should be made. It’s very developer-friendly as well.
Technical SEO / Crawling
Let’s start out with an official tool from Google! The structured data testing tool picks out all of the schema.org data from a webpage or code snippet. It will display warnings and errors if there is anything wrong with it.
To complement this tool, don’t forget to check your Search Console for current warnings and errors with your existing schema.
Screaming Frog has been the most highly recommended crawling tool for many years.
A free version is available that allows you to crawl up to 500 pages of a website. That’s a perfect amount for most small sites.
With the free features, you could detect broken links, redirect chains, take a look at titles and meta descriptions, find duplicate pages, and even find thin pages. There’s the added feature of being able to visualize your entire site in a tree visualization. Super handy for getting a birds-eye view of URL structure!
Creating Reports for Clients
Perhaps you want to have your reports generated automatically every single month. Maybe you want to spend a lot of time customizing them and making them truly valuable.
Whichever style you prefer, I have two tools for you!
The first choice you should be aware of is Google Data Studio. The big selling feature is that it not only allows you to create really custom, visually impressive reports, but it also allows you to pull in data from many Google products – from Analytics, to Search Console, to YouTube analytics.
But what’s real great is that you could pull info from Google Sheets. This makes it possible to visualize any kind of data you want. Want Ahrefs or SEMRush data in Google Data Studio? Create a Google Sheet and input the data. Still requires a little bit of manual action unless you use the Ahrefs/SEMRush API to automate all of this.
I’ve been a big fan of Canva for a while! Everything from social media graphics, to eBooks, to flyers are a few clicks away.
Better yet, they have a great variety of Report templates available. As long as you don’t mind manually entering your analytical data, this is not a problem.
The stack of tools I use every day for keyword research consists of both free and paid tools. I’d say 80% of my keyword idea generations happens in the free tools. I mostly use the paid tools for validating the ideas and comparing the various data around those terms.
There are so many good, free keyword research tools. It seems like a developer is creating a new one every day. Below are some of my top choices.
Let’s start with what Google offers! First, the search engine itself.
There are a few ways to input a seed keyword and get back some new ideas. You’ve got…
Try to be real specific and play around with the terms. Plenty of great keywords to be found using this alone. Some of the other free keyword research tools we’ll mention actually make use of auto-suggestions to generate keywords.
After searching for something, scroll down the page and you’ll be presented to the related searches section. There are usually some great terms to investigate here.
People Also Ask:
Another area to investigate is the “People also ask” section. Do note that if you click one of the results, two new questions will display.
Google Keyword Planner is admittingly less useful than it used to be. A while ago they restricted their data so only people with active Adwords campaigns could view accurate monthly search volumes (free users would see a not-so-useful range of estimated traffic).
At first, this was easy to get around. You could just create a campaign with a small budget (like $1 a day) and just pause it when you’re done doing your keyword research. Now, they have more restrictions on that.
Still a worthwhile tool for idea generation. You can find some tremendous long-tail terms by browsing the “10-100” monthly searches keywords.
Moz offers a very generous free keyword research tool. After inputting a seed term, you’ll be presented with 1,000 different keyword ideas. They even let you export them as a CSV for free!
An added benefit is the “Explore by site” feature. This is something that you’d typically need a paid tool like Ahrefs to accomplish. Just enter the URL of your competitor’s website and it will spit out all of their top keywords.
A very neat tool I recently have come across is Answer the Public. It works off of Google’s auto-suggested questions. When you feed it a keyword, it will give you groups of different questions, neatly organized into a graphic.
If you’re more of a just-give-me-the-data kind of person, all of these questions can be exported to a CSV file for further analysis.
UberSuggest is a very easy-to-use keyword research tool. Unlike the free Google Keyword Planner tool, it gives you more concrete search volume data – as opposed to a broad range.
It gives you both a paid and organic search difficulty metric. It’s a number on a scale from 1-100. In addition to that difficulty score it also estimates the number of backlinks one would require to rank for a particular term.
Another great feature is it actually lets you view the SERPs for each keyword.
It will display the first 99 search results as well as various metrics about them. It’s completely free to download this data as a CSV spreadsheet!
Keyword Sheeter, formerly “Keyword Shitter”, can be explained in five words:
Google. Auto-suggest. On. Steroid.
That’s right. It saves you the legwork of having to manually experiment with auto-suggest to find new keywords.
Just input a seed term. We’ll go for “magnet fishing”…and voila!
It will keep sending you new keywords until the cows come home.
Stay tuned: I left off a major free keyword research tool from this section: Keywords Everywhere. We’ll be covering it very soon in the Browser Extensions section!
FATRANK – Check the rankings of any page for any keyword!
Ever visit a page and need to know its rankings for a particular keyword?
Well, in less time than it takes you to Google the term yourself and try to spot out your listing, this tool lets you plug in a keyword and instantly see where you stand!
Let me tell you, it’s a real life saver when it comes to your page 2+ keywords. Without any hassle, you want to see if there’s been any movement for a particular term. It makes the whole process a lot quicker.
If your website is based in a country other than the US, not a problem! Just select your country from the dropdown before performing a search.
All keywords you search for are kept track of in the “Session Report”. After searching up a batch of terms, you’ll have no problem at all exporting them (and their rankings!) to a CSV spreadsheet.
FATREL – The ultimate link highlighter extension
Curious what links on a page are nofollow? Which are marked as sponsored? Or even which are marked as user-generated content?
FATREL turns this tedious code-sifting task into something you don’t even have to think about. It puts a nice, colour-coded outline around the links you desire to see. It’s subtle enough to not annoy you when you’re doing your regular browsing (unlike some extensions!)
If you know about one SEO extension, it has to be MozBar. It requires you to have a free Moz account to view certain metrics, so I recommend quickly creating one.
So many different tasks you could use it for…
First, it lets you know the domain authority and page authority of a site. These are unique metrics, created by Moz, that estimate a website’s (or page’s) authority based on backlinks.
Ahrefs has its own metrics that are similar (Domain Rating and URL Rating). So does SEMRush and other big data SEO companies. I’ve personally found Moz’s to be the most telling.
Using these metrics make it quite easy to understand the competition of a search term. Take a look at the below search result screenshot:
As you can see, Amazon, being a massive web giant, has a very high Domain Authority (DA). Even the authority of that particular page (PA) is high (although they only have a single link pointing to it).
Brute Magnetics below has a much lower domain authority, being a small niche business.
In addition to gauging your competition, it’s a great tool to have around for on-page SEO. You could quickly pick out the title and meta description, the headings, whether it has canonicals set up, whether any structured data is implemented, and more.
An alternative to Mozbar is SEOQuake. Try both and see which you like better.
This extension is made by SEMRush and features more SEMRush-related data points. In general, it gives you more information about a page out of the box, such as an Alexa score for example.
Keywords Everywhere lets you gain new keyword ideas through Google search results. It also has the added feature of analyzing webpages to come up with new keywords.
In October 2019, they no longer have completely free, unlimited access. Before, it would actually fetch monthly search volume. Unfortunately, many people have abused their free service with bots, so they do sell credits. They’re still very affordable if you need to look up search volume.
It’s easy to miss out on redirect issues. Redirect Path shows this little icon in Chrome whenever a URL you visit redirects.
Give it a click and you’ll find all the information you need to know about the redirect.
Just be careful about redirects that are cached in your browser. I’d recommend allowing this extension to display in incognito windows and using it from there to double-check your redirects.
This is a massively helpful little tool that will save you some major headaches.
Wappalyzer turns minutes of investigation as well as back and forth emails, asking the client “what’s your site hosted on” into a single click.
Wappalzyer tells you about front-end toolkits used to build the site (like jQuery), what CMS/platform is in use, and what programming languages are used.
If part of your link outreach strategy consists of finding leads through Google, this extension will be of great use to you.
It’s effortless to use. Go to a page you’d like to extract links from and press “Extract all links”. It will then export them to a CSV.
Need to only select a handful of links? You may be better suited for LinkClump.
Thought I’d feature one more SEO bar extension in case you weren’t satisfied with Mozbar or SEO Quake.
Mangools is a paid service, but their browser extension is free. It has limited functionality, but may be just enough for you.
For free, it will show you…
- The Alexa rank of a page,
- Its social media stats,
- Referring IPs (Similar to “referring domains” but limiting one domain per IP),
- Page speed score,
- And all sorts of on-page info (title, meta description, schema, and more)
The next category of tools will cover are for link building. We’ve got a tool for analyzing competitors, tracking data, and sending cold email.
The first free tool to cover is Moz’s Open Site Explorer. Just input a website to view all kinds of metrics.
You have your typical Moz Domain Authority and Page Authority metrics. You could also browse a domain or page’s backlinks. They make it easy enough to filter by “dofollow” or whatever criteria is important to you.
The amount of backlinks it discovers is not as impressive as a paid tool like Ahrefs’, but it is still quite impressive for a 100% free utility.
Yeah, yeah, we all know about Google Sheets. However, if you don’t take it seriously for a tool that you can track all of your campaigns with, you may want to reconsider. It could save you a lot of money in paid tools and offers unparallelled flexibility.
I swear that your life will change if you take the time to…
- Learn the basics of spreadsheets and formulas. (formulas like SUM and AVERAGE. How to create charts from a data table. How to create a filter or remove duplicate data.)
- Take it a bit further. (Learn pivot tables. Learn how to create time-saving integrations by using free tools like Zapier and IFTTT.)
- Learn more advanced, Google-specific formulas. (Fetch data from other sheets with IMPORTRANGE and get website data using IMPORTXML)
Seriously. Learning the above, I am able to manage the most important parts of my campaigns from a single sheet. Its easy to keep track of team member training material, team member efficiency, the status of a campaign and how well its performing, task lists, and much much more.
If you’re on a budget and just needs a simple program that can send out mass emails, why not give GMass a try?
The free version limits you to sending 50 emails per day. It hooks into Gmail and is very easy to use.
There are two content creation tools in particular I use for SEO. Both are completely free (although Grammarly offers paid plans as well with additional perks).
If you’re hiring writers, you always run the risk of plagiarism. There aren’t a whole lot of good, free plagiarism checkers, but Small SEO Tool’s plagiarism checker is a favourite.
Just add up to 1,000 words of your content and it will check sentence-by-sentence for plagiarism.
Grammarly does an excellent job at helping you check for spelling and grammar. It’s not as good as a human proofreader, but is a great aid.
They also offer a free plagiarism checker here, but from my experience, it is pretty terrible. I copy and pasted an entire Wikipedia article about grapes but it did not find any plagiarism. If you’re cheating on a school essay, you better hope your teacher uses this tool to check for plagiarism!
Local SEO tools
Spoofing your Location (My favourite local tip!)
Working with local SEO clients in your backyard is a piece of cake! But work with a client from the other side of the country (or world!) and it becomes more difficult to see their local rankings.
Thanks to this quick Google Chrome trick, it is not that hard.
Well…maybe a little bit tedious, but once you try it a few times it’s no big deal, you can also use VPNs like NordVPN to spoof your location.
- Ideally, you’d want to open a new tab in incognito. Not required, but recommended.
- Open the developer console (Ctrl+Shift+c, or follow the above GIF to do it the graphical way)
- Go to the “Sensors” section
- Change the geolocation to what you prefer.
- Search something in Google
- Allow location access
- Refresh the page (You may have to refresh twice)
This tool makes it wayyyyyyyyy too easy to generate a link to your Google My Business review page.
It’s worth noting that this generates an official Google link (your reviews will not pass through some third-party).
It takes two seconds to generate a link. Hand it off to your client. If they share it proactively, it could make a huge difference in the number of reviews they receive.
This tool by Moz is a real blessing! Without any signup required, just enter the basic details of your local business.
It will tell you if you are on all of the major local citation sites, if your information is consistant and accurate, if you have your hours listed, and if you have uploaded photos.
The best part is that it lets you export a PDF report that has zero Moz branding whatsoever.
We’ve covered so many great, free tools!
I hope a few of them are new to you. Remember, if you are new to SEO, you do not have to go on a buying spree getting all of the top tools. There is so much you can do without touching your wallet.
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