If you want to get real results from SEO you’re going to need to arm yourself with the best tools.
But, when you’re first starting out, it feels like everything is over your budget and you’re going to cripple yourself trying to pay for it all. Well, I’ve got news for you…
It doesn’t have to be that way.
In fact you can make your sway in SEO for absolutely free. And I’ve got 64 of the best free SEO tools for you in this list.
I’ll also be asking 30 experts how they get the most out of their favorite free SEO tools.
So sit back, take a load off and explore the free SEO tools that are going to explode your SEO potential without spending a penny.
This list is quite extensive, so if you are in a hurry then please use the table of contents below to navigate the post-
Google’s Own Tools
Google’s tools are often overlooked by new SEOs. And, I get it – you want the shiny new third party tool that promises the earth. But, some of the most established SEOs I know use these tools to form the backbone of their campaigns.
Google’s tools are free and you can extract valuable data in just a matter of seconds.
#01: Google Analytics
Google Analytics shows you everything you need to know about your sites data.
It shows you the real world results of every action you take on your site. How it impacts your traffic, how it increases your conversions, who it attracts to your site.
And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The main reason I’d suggest you use Google Analytics is so you can track your progress and consistently strive to improve on it.
You can track how much of your traffic comes from different sources:
And dig even deeper to see where is bringing you the most traffic month on month.
You’ll also be able to see some of the keywords and search terms bring the most traffic to your site, allowing you to optimize based on that data provided.
Now, it can be easy to get caught up in the Vanity Metrics (stuff that looks and sounds good but doesn’t really mean anything) that’s often provided by Google Analytics.
That’s why it’s important to use the tool to track results.
If you want to know how to track all of the important data for your site, you can read my comprehensive guide on how I personally use Google Analytics right here.
“My favourite one is Google Analytics. Nothing comes close to the data you get from Google. It gets even better if you connect it with your Google Search Console account. You get to see how your website is performing, see the click through rate and page impressions.
The fact that you can see what keywords have the most impressions is very valuable, considering Google has stopped showing this data in Adwords.”
-Felix Tarcomnicu, ProOptimization
#02: Google PageSpeed Tools
Your site speed is a huge ranking factor. The faster your page loads the more likely your site is to rank highly, and have a better customer experience to go with it.
Google PageSpeed Tools can help you track it.
I recently improved my site speed by 80% and the knock on effect of doing it – on my income and my search results – has been great.
Google PageSpeed Tools lets you see the speed of your site on Desktop and Mobile platforms.
And, it suggests improvements based on the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Meaning you can create a much faster, more streamlined site, without negatively changing your search results.
I’ll cover more free SEO tools that help you improve the speed of your site later in this article. But, right now, go and see how your site is performing!
And, if you want a completely actionable strategy for improving your site speed, you can follow my step-by-step process here.
Or if you want a really quick and easy fix, just setup a free CloudFlare account and enable it for your website.
#03: Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner still remains one the most popular Keyword tools of many people in the know.
And, for good reason – it’s still one of the most accurate free SEO tools available.
You can access search volumes and the difficulties in one easy to use dashboard. Letting you choose and discover easy to rank for (or highly searched) terms to place in your content.
You don’t just have to settle for results about one specific search, either.
You can find suggested keywords that relate to your terms and all of their metrics, too:
You can use the tool to research thousands of keywords straight from the horse’s mouth; as well as create plans that you can execute upon.
#04: Google Search Console
Google Search Console used to be known as Google Webmaster tools, and it’s a tool that every SEO should have as part of their strategy planning.
When I’ve interviewed SEOs in the past, this is always a tool that comes up in discussion. And, while it may not strictly be an SEO tool, it still helps you make informed decisions about the future of your marketing.
You can manage a lot of the back of house for your site and find problems that are holding back your Search Marketing progress.
For example, you can use the Crawl Errors tool to find broken URL’s and settings that will be showing up negatively for Google:
As well as being able to get access to a full breakdown of your backlink profile that is just as useful as some of the data you get on your more expensive tools:
It is also perfect for managing actions taken against your site, especially if you’ve been penalized for webspam at any point in the past.
The HTML improvements is also a key tool for any SEO, because it shows you how to make HTML improvements that will create a much more crawl-friendly mark up.
Luckily, I don’t have too much work to do right now:
And don’t forget the most powerful feature of all!
That will allow you to see how your site is performing in Google right now.
You can track the total number of impressions your pages have in the SERPS along with average ranking position and click through rate data.
You can also find a list of keywords and you can filter by page to find out exactly which page is ranking for which keywords.
This is one of the most powerful hidden features of Google Search Console which makes it one of the best free SEO tools by far.
Want a full SEO suite but don’t want to break the bank? Then look no further…
#05: SEO Powersuite
SEO Powersuite has been at the heart of my business for a long time.
And, although I use the paid version right now, the Free Version is still one of the most effective SEO tools (and suites) you can get your hands on.
With the free download, you’re able to access these great tools:
- Rank Tracker: Track how you (or the competition) are performing for different keyword searches. Then, find the data you need to improve your rankings and steal traffic from the competition.
- Website Auditor: Helps you perform audits in seconds, while showing you how to optimise at every step of the way.
- SEO SpyGlass: Explore over 100,000 competitor backlinks and use data to shape your link building campaigns.
- Link Assistant: Manage all of your links and build partnerships all under one roof. I even use this tool to find guest blogging opportunities.
If you can’t start an effective campaign with all of these at your fingertips, I don’t know what you will be able to use.
#06: Raven (30 Day Trial)
Raven (formley Raven Tools) provides a full suite of SEO tools under one roof.
Most notably you’re able to use their SEO Module to spider your site and provide highly detailed audit results.
But they also have extra features such as Social Tools, Content Tools, PPC tools and more to help you round out your SEO campaigns.
As time has gone on their tools have become more powerful and work together much more harmoniously.
And, with a 30 day free trial, you really don’t have anything to lose.
Link Building Tools
Link Building is one of the most highly-regarded ranking factors by SEOs around the world.
And, while this site is still part of the zero backlink challenge, I’m still well aware of their power when it comes to getting good rankings.
These tools will help you create link building campaigns for absolutely free, and save you countless wasted hours scouring the Internet for opportunities.
#07: Ahrefs (14-Day Free Trial)
Ahrefs is a powerhouse in Link Building Software.
They have the most thorough and complete backlinking database for you to track, monitor and launch campaigns based on accurate data.
Their freemium model has long since gone, but you can still access a Free 14-day trial and get complete access to their software.
If you have a short period of time and need to do a lot of link research, I’d highly suggest taking them up on that offer.
Also if you want a little more information on Ahrefs and what you can do with the tool, check out my case study here.
“While the paid version offers much more insight into the details like specific links identified to a website, Ahrefs is one of the best free tools available if you need information on the health of an overall link profile and are not a volume user.”Although there is also a paid version of the tool, I am a big fan of Ahrefs.com as a free tool.
Ahrefs provides great insights such as rate of acquisition or loss of links over the past year, anchor text ratios (to identify over optimized link profiles), mix of do follow/no follow and other relevant stats.”
– Tommy P. Landry, Return On Now
#08: Open Link Profiler
Open Link Profiler is a nifty little tool that gives you incredible data about your backlink profile.
It’s a browser tool, so there’s no need to download. All you have to do is head to their website and enter your domain name:
You’ll then get complete access to your Backlink profile, and an overview of the information you need to know:
As well as a breakdown of the links that the site has, the quality of them, and where they’re coming from exactly:
Now, this is where you’d expect a free tool to end. But, Open Link Profiler goes the whole nine yards when it comes to giving you data.
You’re able to view which pages get the most links. The anchor text being used. And, you can see from where excactly in the world you’re being linked to.
Don’t forget that you can also use this tool on your competitors. So you can dig deep into their backlink profiles and export the links that you can steal to get the upper hand.
You can export up to 1000 links from the tool for free. And, that will work really nicely with the next tool on this list…
“OpenLinkProfiler is my top-most favourite FREE SEO tool. This is a web based tool which gives you a complete x-ray of any website’s backlinks. I love this tool because of the advanced filters. Not only can you see all the backlinks of your competitors you can also filter the linking sites for better link building.
Features like Anchor Text, Link Influence Score, the filter to check backlinks from unique domains only amongst other settings make it a must have tool. I have been using this tool for the past year to get more quality backlinks for my niche websites.”
– Kulwant Nagi, BloggingCage
#09: Rank Cracker
Rank Cracker is my own personally created SEO software that I use to steal my competitors rankings and perform work that would take months manually, in just a matter of minutes.
Simply sign up to download the software and run it on your computer.
When it’s open, take a list of your competitors backlinks – like the ones you can export from Open Link Profiler – and copy them into the tool.
The tool will then analyse all of these links to find which links can be emulated from the link building software that you own. Once complete you’ll get an entire list of links that you can play with in the right hand column:
Then all you have to do is export them from to tool – which is done for you by the tool – and you can import them into your link building software.
Simple, easy, effective, and always 100% free.
This is a reverse image search that finds where your images have been used around the internet.
Basically, that means that instead of using words to search for an image, it uses images to search instead.
You just upload the file, hit Check Files and it’ll scour the internet to see where your image is being used.
You can then get in touch with them and request a link for your superb infographic or image.
And, it’s one they can’t really say no to!
#11: SEO Auto Linker
SEO Auto Linker is a WordPress plugin that takes care of all of your Internal Linking needs.
Just add your URL, and the keywords you want it to automatically insert links for, and you’re all set:
The tool is due an update pretty soon, but for now it does the job nicely and gives you a level of control over where the links go in your blog. All while spreading that sweet, sweet, link juice.
And, if you want to get clever with it, you can add affiliate links into this too.
WikiGrabber allows you to find those all important broken Wikipedia Links and Citations that you can capitalise on. And, all of the links around the world that are pointing at that link.
Let’s say you’re working on a blog about Organic Food. That’s what the kids are into now, right?
You can go to WikiGrabber and search for that keyword.
That will bring up all of the relevant pages that have dead (broken) links on them. You can then go in and find the links and see if they fit your content.
Let’s take a look at the search result about Raw Foodism from the list below. That feels like it would fit quite nicely:
Click on the result, which will take you to the Wikipedia page you need.
Once you’re on the page, go ahead and press Ctrl+F on your keyboard. That’ll bring up the search option.
Instead of searching through the page, you’re going to type ‘Dead Link’ into the search field.
That’ll highlight all of the dead links on the page (like below).
If you have content that matches that exact description – or you can create content to fit it – you could just have found yourself a really good link that you can replace, and absorb all the lovely link juice.
It’s not just the Wikipedia links you’ll want to get, either. You can find all of the other links pointing to it and tell them you’ve got new content for their dead link, too.
#13: Hunter.io (Formally Email Hunter)
Hunter.io can make your Link Building campaigns about 100 times easier.
It’s a simple search engine that allows you to find the email addresses for a large number of websites. And, it goes beyond just the [email protected] most of the time.
It gives you direct access to real people’s email addresses.
Enter the name of the site you’re looking for, and it’ll come up with a list of all the email addresses provided for that site:
Now, this might not work for every site. But you can perform 150 searches for email address per month for completely free.
waThat should be more than enough to kick start any link building campaign.
The tool also comes with a browser extension that lets you see the emails while you’re on the site, also.
Don’t forget to follow up all of the emails you send, either. That’s where your fortune lies!
Scraper has saved me hours of time when it comes to finding contact information, and creating partnerships (or friendships) with other sites.
It allows you to collect similar information from a page, all with just a few right clicks.
Simply install the extension to your browser, and it’s ready to rock. But, how do you use it? Well, let me show you…
Let’s say you’re looking for bloggers to outreach to for backlinks and content sharing. Where do lots of bloggers spend their time? Blog comments where they try to connect with their favourite authors.
Take a look at this post from Nomadic Matt. It’s an emotional post, and the kind of place where lots of people would go to offer comments.
If we head to the bottom, it’s got 39 comments from people. This is the most popular travel blog right now, so most of these comments have links in them back to personal or travel blogs.
All you have to do is highlight the link and right click. That’ll give you the option to Scrape Similar.
That will show you all of the hyperlinks in the blog comments of that page:
Export that into a Google Doc. And, now, you have a complete spreadsheet of bloggers and websites to outreach to:
Now, not everyone will be a good fit for you. But do this four of five times, across different blogs or posts, and you’ll find some gems to work with or build relationships with.
It’s safe to say that without keywords there would be no SEO. They’re the backbone of search and, for now, they’re here to stay.
But knowing which Keywords are the best for your copy and your site can be hard. There are millions of keywords, and you’re often stuck with no idea of which ones are going to work best for you.
Well, that could all end today. These free tools are going to show you exactly the keywords you need to find you rightful place in the SERPs.
Ubersuggest is a neat little tool that gives you suggestions based on the Keyword ideas you’ve had. What do I mean?
Let’s say that you’re working in the travel niche, and you want to rank for a piece of content about Berlin Walking Tours.
Now, that might be a pretty competitive keyword. So, what other options are there?
Well, head to Ubersuggest and pop the keyword into the tool:
Choose the country and database you want to rank in – Google, Bing or other – and hit suggest.
You’ll then be given a whole host of alternate keywords that people are searching for. And, instead of just giving you a whole mess of keywords to sift through, they present them in alphabetical order.
This is just a small tweak, but it makes a world of difference.
You can also export all of the keywords to an excel doc, and you can run them through the Keyword Planner to find the right keywords for you.
A combination of Keyword Planner and UberSuggest is a fantastic way to build up a large number of keywords for any project. I start with the Keyword Planner to identify terms that have decent search volume (>1000) and start plugging those into UberSuggest.
That gives me a huge number of suggested keywords which I can use not only for individual articles but to sprinkle throughout the article as well.One other tip for using the keyword planner is; Instead of typing in a keyword, find your top 2-3 biggest competitors and stick their URL into the landing page section.”
– Daniel Thompson, My Local SEO
#16: Long Tail Pro Premium (7 days for $1)
Long Tail Pro is incredible for finding profitable keywords in record time.
I’ve used it to help my (and my clients) find countless niches to make money from. And while you can’t quite get this for free, a $1 trial is as good as it gets for a tool like this.
You can get data breakdowns showing the competitiveness of each keyword and how profitable it can be.
Meaning you don’t end up playing keyword Russian Roulette.
And, once you’ve started your trial, don’t forget to check out my guide to choosing your niche here, so you can see this tool in all its glory.
#17: Keyword S****** Pro
You’ll have to forgive the name. And, what this tool loses in name-creativity, it makes up for in keyword research.
Keyword S****** Pro helps you find thousands of long tail keywords, for free, in just a few clicks of a button.
All you have to do is create your seed list – a list of short keywords that are highly competitive – and then the tool will ‘s***’ thousands of long tail alternatives for you to choose from.
You can choose from databases across the entire world, and from different services that use Keywords, like Amazon and even Twitter. I’d like to see a keyword tool for YouTube too. But, it’s no huge loss right now.
Fill out all of the details you need, and then hit the play button (exactly like you’d see on a DVD Player remote). It’ll then begin to ‘s***’ all of the Keywords you need.
From the four seed keywords I put in above, it gave me 216 pages of results to work with:
This is a quick and effective tool, giving you hundreds and thousands of results in the time it takes to make a coffee. All you have to do is find the keywords that fit your content the best.
“I’m big into keyword research. For this I need a quick and cheap way of gathering vast amounts of keyword ideas. So, I use Keyword S****** (pardon the name, it’s a bit rude).
I normally drop about 5 to 10 keyword ideas for a new amazon site that I’m looking to build out into Keyword S****** and it just spews out thousands of keyword ideas. I’ll then download the list after a few minutes and drop it into Keyword Planner to find out volumes and other metrics.”
#18: Market Samurai (14 Day Free Trial)
Market Samurai offers some of the best Keyword Research and SEO competition modules you can buy.
And, you can get your hands on them for 14 days completely free.
I only use the tool for these two things, and with the 14-day free trial you’re able to extract a lot of valuable data for no money whatsoever.
Keyword.io is another great keyword suggestion tool. You can search keywords for a tonne of different search engines – including Google, Bing, Wikipedia and Youtube – so you can find ranking keywords whatever your needs.
On their homepage just select the search engine, root keyword and country you’d like and hit search:
From there you’ll be given suggestions of hundreds of different keywords that people are currently searching for that fit what you’re looking for.
Admittedly, you don’t get a tonne of data to go with these keywords. But, you’ll find yourself with long and short tail keywords that you can sprinkle throughout your site or content.
You can even select the keywords from the list on the left and move them to the list on the right, and then download them to your computer, all inside your free account.
Great to use inside other paid for software, or freemium software, that allows you to analyse the quality of the keywords you’ve selected. Or, use the results to create query-targeted content that fits these searches perfectly.
CanIRank? allows you to see how likely your site will be to rank for a keyword. And, it gives you the steps you need to take to make it happen, too.
For free, you’re able to manage one site, and generate reports. These will show you how your site is performing generally so you can see where to improve.
And you’re also able to analyse keywords, your site’s current ability to rank for it and how you stack up against the competition.
Let’s say that I wanted to rank for the keyword, How To Blog. I could choose it from my suggested keywords list and analyse it:
It’ll then give me a breakdown of how valuable that keyword is:
As well as giving me a complete breakdown of who else ranks for this keyword. Why they rank for it. And, the areas I can focus on to get the upper hand.
I can tell by these results that, if I wanted to compete for this keyword, I’d need to increase my website relevancy a little:
I could do this by creating more content on the topic. Or, by gaining links from websites that a relevant to the topic. Either way, it’d make life much easier to rank.
I’d take the results here with a pinch of salt. As you can see in the image above, you don’t need to be 90’s across the board to get results.
But this tool lets you find your SEO weakness and have a focus on what to improve.
#21: Seed Keywords
Seed Keywords is a brilliant take on finding your keywords.
Instead of pouring countless hours into researching and finding the keywords that your audience may use, Seed Keywords allows you to ask them for exactly what they would search.
By creating a scenario your audience would find themselves in – buying a jacket, looking for a book, finding a new restaurant – you can find the specific search terms that they’ll be looking for.
Let’s say I wanted to find what people would search for to find new SEO tools, here’s the scenario I would create:
You can then share this scenario with your audience, through social media or your mailing list, to find out what search terms they’d actually be looking for.
While this may not provide you with all of the statistics and search volumes, you can start to get an idea for what keywords show up the most. And then you can cross reference it with any other software you might have.
Or, if you’re looking to spend $0.00 on other software, you can rest easy in the fact you have a search term people will use, right at your fingertips.
Today’s SEO isn’t just about having words on a page. It’s about making sure your content is both Google and People friendly.
That means the inclusion of images, videos is essential. Having a site that loads at hyper-speed is a crucial ranking factor. And, being free from spammy content is a must.
The tools in this section will help you do all of that; create user-friendly content that search engines and people can’t help but love.
#22: SumoMe (Free Version)
Noah Kagan’s SumoMe products are an absolute dream for Internet Marketers.
Just on the freemium model alone you’re able to collect so much data from your content.
You’re able to create Email Capture Pop Ups and Welcome Mat’s to make sure that all of your search traffic is optimised to land on your mailing list. And make your site look so much more professional.
As well as being able to add cool features like Heat Maps and Content Tracking.
This is more of a Growth Hacking tool than an SEO tool, I will admit. But if you’re trying to truly optimise your content for search, you can’t go wrong with the tools right here.
Having images in your blog posts can reduce bounce rates and increase on page time – two critical ranking factors. So, having a tool that can help you create stunning images is paramount.
Canva is the SEO’s dream when it comes to image creation. It gives you all the elements you need from Adobe Photoshop, without having to do three years at college, a night time graphic design course and hours screaming at your screen.
You can create designs of all kinds based on specific dimensions – featured images, social media posts, posters and even business cards – and use their templates as a guide.
Now, this may seem a little daunting to use; especially if you’re not used to designing. Don’t worry, though. They have a full Canva Design School blog to show you the ropes.
Once you’re in the tool you have the options to create whole images from scratch based on your branding. Or, you can follow their template guidelines. Whichever fits your skills better.
It may take a little time to get used to. But, trust me. The results are worth it in the end.
Stencil is perfect if you want to create quick, beautiful images for your blog posts and social media.
This tool started out just for social media images; but now you’re able to design images for every possible need: blog posts, Facebook ads, infographics – you name it, it’s there.
If you weren’t born with a keen eye for design, and want to make the process as simple as possible, without losing quality, this is the tool for you.
In just a few clicks – whether in their dashboard or their browser tool – you can create some truly beautiful images that will capture your readers on your posts, or convert them to your site from social. Both being really good for your SEO.
Also, one of my favourite parts of this tool is that you can turn text into an image with just one right click. Let me show you what I mean…
Take a look at some of these quotes from one of my favourite books, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.
If I take one of my favourites and highlight it, I’m able to open the quote with Stencil:
That’ll then open their browser extension and add the text directly into an image for you:
And, within 30-60 seconds, you’re able to create a social media image (or blog image) that you can use to boost on-page time and social signals:
With the free plan you have limited access to images and icons. But, it will definitely be more than enough to supercharge your content optimisation.
#25: Aweber (Free Trial)
With all of this superb content and search traffic you’re going to need a solid email client to capture everyone.
Aweber recently changed their trial price from $1 to completely free for 30 days, making this your perfect time to cash in. You’ll get complete access to everything for your free trial.
Don’t worry about being stuck with the software, either.
You can always export and move to a different platform should you feel the need to afterwards.
But Aweber has been running this blog for years with great success, so you will probably won’t want to leave. Especially if you integrate my email marketing strategy.
#26: WP Smush
With all of these images on your site, you’ll find that your site speed slows down a little. Don’t worry about it, though. For every problem, there is a free remedy right here.
WP Smush strips your images of needless data and coding reducing the time it takes for them to load. Meaning page load speed is one less thing to worry about.
All you have to do is upload the WordPress Plugin to your site and you’re ready to start smushing.
The plugin comes with its own dashboard that you can use to smush images, and other attachments, without impacting their quality. And it can all run in the background while you work in other tabs.
This tool is an absolute no-brainer for anyone looking to increase their site speed for free.
#27: Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is my go-to WordPress SEO optimiser. It gives you precise information, based on real ranking factors, of how to improve your content.
I personally use the Premium version now, but I spent years with the free version, and many big blogs you read right now still live and die by the free version.
If you’re not familiar, this is a WordPress plugin that gives you a check sheet of how to SEO your content. Once you’re written your post and found your keywords, you head to the bottom of your post.
Here you’ll find the little Yoast dashboard that has assessed your content. You can then move through the traffic lights to optimise your post:
You can edit everything about your post to make as many of the lights as green as possible. You don’t need all green – sometimes you’d have to jeopardise your overall content to do it – but 75%-80% is where you should be aiming.
As a nice little extra, you’re also able to edit how your result looks in the SERP too:
All of the changes you make here are reflected in the search result, making your site even more optimised than before:
If you only choose one of the content optimisation tools from this list, make it this one. You’ll up your SEO game and save lots of time in just a matter of minutes.
Image you could get just a glimpse of what your competitors were doing. How much different would your strategy be then?
These tools let you take a look at what they’re up to, so you know when to zig when they’re about to zag.
#28: SEMRush (Free Version)
SEMRush is one of my favourite tools ever. And, their free version is a great option if you don’t have the budget for their full tool.
You’re able to access important stats like: what keywords they’re ranking for, how much traffic they’re getting and who their search competitors are, too. That’s a lot of data for free.
Tale the name of one of your known competitors and place it into the search box, then hit search:
You’ll be directed straight to a dashboard that shows you all of the major stats about this site in the database you’ve chosen:
Everything you see on this page is already more value than most tools will give you for free. Because, as you scroll down, you’re able to find out more information.
For example, you can see the exact keywords they’re ranking for and the level of traffic each of them brings:
And you can take a look at who their direct competitors are so you can start assess them and beat them in the rankings, too.
Last, but not least, you can check out their entire backlink profile and see where they’re getting that good link juice from. That includes an overview of their profile:
As well as specifics of their backlinks, like the anchor text and the source:
Now, you only get a specific amount of ‘requests’ (like credits or uses) per day, so you’ll have to be precise in how you spend your time. But, if you know what you’re looking for before you go into the tool, you’ll survive on the free tool.
Highly recommended, and does much more than what I’ve shown you here, too. You’ve got nothing to lose for free, right?
“I find myself using SEMrush almost every day. Whenever I meet potential clients, I can give them a snapshot of how their site is performing in search within minutes.
If they rank for few phrases except for their brand, we know that there is a big opportunity to help them. If they rank for many phrases, we know that if we redesigned their site, we would have to be very careful to preserve those rankings.
And I can do all of this without any access to Analytics.”
– Andy Crestodina, OrbitMedia
#29: Theme Detector
Ever wanted to know what Plugins and Tools your competitors are using behind the scenes? Well, now you can.
Theme Detector doesn’t just tell you what theme your competitors are using; it also shows you every WordPress tool and plugin they’re running behind the scenes to rank where they do.
You can find out lots of interesting information:
- How they’re building their content
- How they’re selling products
- What they use to optimise their content
- What they’re currently testing and trialling
As well as being able to find tools of the trade that you can use to get ahead, too.
Just simply type the name of the site into the search bar, hit enter, and you’ll get access to the behind-the-scences of all of their tools.
If you find a plugin you want to use, you’re able to download it directly from your browser and install it in minutes.
This allows you to analyse their site and get insider information they oftentimes don’t want you to know. It may not be a direct SEO benefit (do this = get result), but it does allow you to get an upper hand in combatting what they are doing.
Letting you create a strategy based on the chinks in their armor.
Monitoring & On Site SEO
Need to keep track of your SEO efforts without spending lots of time and money in doing so?
Well don’t worry, because I have you covered with the best free monitoring & on site SEO tools right here.
#30: Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is the most commonly talked about SEO tool.
This crawl tools main objective is this: save time on your site audits. And, boy, they’ve succeeded in that.
Enter your (or your competitors) site’s URL and it’ll crawl. Once it’s finished you’ll get a complete look at the site, and in-depth information about each page.
You’re never more than a few minutes away from a report, and the data here is so, so, valuable.
Screaming Frog is free for up to 500 URLs and there is really nothing else as useful to laser in on the specifics of the HTML elements on your site.
From a review of title tags and meta descriptions to checking that your correct Analytics code is on every page there is little that you can’t do with Screaming Frog.
– Marcus Miller, Bowler Hat SEO
#31: Google Grump Detector
This is one of the coolest tools I use. It’s a little cheesey in the way it’s branded, but that doesn’t detract from how good the tool is.
Google Grump Detector is like a weather forecaster for Google. It senses changes in Google’s ‘mood’ (algorithm) and gives you warning about the fluctuation in rankings.
Select your country and the device you’re interested in (mobile or desktop) and get your rating:
It’ll then share with you the data for that specific database over the last month, so you can see the fluctiations.
Now, you can never quite predict what Google is going to do. But by looking here you can look at a bigger picture and make an educated guess – kind of like bidding on FOREX – based on what’s been happening.
You can also figure out why some of yout sites have lost, or changed, their rankings as of late based on the stage of Grump Google is (or was) in.
If you’re not sure what levels of Grump there are, it also comes with a handy key:
Worth checking on on once or twice a week, just to see what Google is up to right now. You might just be able to prepare yourself forthe next big algortihm change ahead of time!
GTmetrix is a Page Speed tool that is arguably better than Google Page Speed Insights. It’s more thorough and looks at a deeper level. So, if you’ve got a deeper understand of how your site runs – or know someone who does – I’d suggest you use this.
Another browser tool, just pop your site name in the box and it’ll do a complete analysis of your site:
You’ll then receive a breakdown of your site speed score, including what’s good and what’s bad:
Here you’ll be able to access solutions to your problems, and rank them in order of priority. Meaning you get to focus your time on the most important page speed factors and then work down.
Each point that you need to improve comes with it’s own information beneath it to help you understand why it needs fixing, and what it is if you need a little more clarity.
And, if you want to dig a little deeper, you can see the Waterfall that shows how your page loads and where your main sticking points are:
This is the site speed analyser I’ve used to get the recent 80% increase in site speed for this blog, and it will be my go-to tool for the forseeable future.
#33: Panguin Tool
Worried your site might have been affected by a Google algorthm change? Then, the Panguin Tool is here to help.
This free tool hooks up to your Google Analytics account and tracks your traffic. It then tells you exactly the point that an algorithm change happened, so you can see if it changed anything on your site.
For example, for this site (to remain unnamed for now) definitely saw changes in it’s traffic around January 2015 from a Local change in the algorithm. And it fluctuated around the time of structural changes a year later, too.
This tool is also great to present to clients to show why certain changes have happened to their site over the last 12-18 months. Or, what may be impacting your campaigns somewhat.
Siteliner is a crawler that works through your site to find:
- Broken links
- Duplicate content
- Page power
And show you areas that are troublesome or need improvement in the near future. All you have to do is type your site name into the tool and it’ll instantly begin to scan:
With the free plan you’re limited to 250 site pages. That should be more than enough for most small to medium sites. But, you’d need to go for the pro version if you run a large ecommerce site.
It’ll take a few minutes, but you’ll seen be able to see the points you need to improve, like duplicate content and site speed:
And a list of all of the broken links that you definitely need to repair throughout your site:
All of this from the click of a (free) button? Not bad at all.
Whether you need to create a quick report for a potential new client or audit your own site, there is a free SEO tool for you!
#35: DeepCrawl (14 Day Trial)
DeepCrawl is a tool I use with all of my clients and it’s the most comprehensive crawler on the market.
With it, you’re able to perform in-depth audits at just the click of a button and export them as beautiful PDF’s or view them in their dashboard area.
There are few tools – including the others on this list – that go to the same depths that DeepCrawl go to. (Probably how they got their name, right?).
It also handles big sites more easily, and with less issues, than any other tool I’ve used in the past. Great if you ave clients on a grand scale.
It also comes with a Crawl Comparison Tool that allows you to check each crawl against the last, and make sure you’ve not left any issues outstanding.
It doesn’t get much more comprehensive than that!
#36: SEO Tools for Excel
If you do any kind of reporting – whether for clients or yourself – SEO Tools for Excel can save you hours of time. For example, if you track data in Google Analytics, it can instantly be exported to an excel document using the tool.
That means you never need to worry about hand-entering your data ever again. And, that’s not the only useful extension that it comes with either. Just look at this list from the documentation (this is just over half of it):
This is a must have tool from this list. And, it’s probably the best reporting tool you’re going to get for free.
Sadly, you’re going to need to have a Windows Computer and access to Microsoft Office.
This doesn’t integrate with other Operating Systems, or the Google Docs equivalents.
Not every SEO tool needs its own space to run.
These Browser extensions can be used while you’re searching the internet; making you more effective with your time, and your results.
#37: SEO Quake by SEMRush
If you’re on the hunt for competitors, or find a site that you’d like to know more about, SEOQuake lets you check vital stats from your browser.
This is a tonne of data right at your fingertips, and it’s a nice tool to have around, so I’d recommend sticking it on to your extentions list!
MozBar is one of the original (and best) SEO toolbars. And although the competition is getting bigger and better every day(see above) there are still some reasons you should grab this tool.
Firstly, it has far better link analysis than SEO Quake, even on the free version. Which means the two tools can work in unison, too.
In Google Searches it gives you instant insights into the page, with a focus on Page and Domain Authority:
When you click on the link analysis tool, you can access every link that makes up their PA and DA for your own personal use:
There are also a tonne of other metrics you can pay attention to as well, like Spam Score.
A great addition that works best in conjunction with other toolbars for best results.
The WooRank browser extension allows you to perform instant website audits from your browser. And, it’s stupdily simple to use.
Download the extension from your chosen app store (Google Chrome in this case):
And then when you’re reasearching and come across a website that could use your help, you can run a quick audit on it by clicking the toolbar button. That’ll give you an sidebar like this:
You can then pass this information on to the owner of the site and start a real, honest, truthful discussion about how you can help them improve their SEO. If you’re a Freelance SEO looking to grow your client base, this extension is invaluable to you.
#40: Check My Links
Check My Links is a really cool tool that allows you to check all of the links in your content – new and existing – to make sure that they’re valid.
That means you can crawl your entire site to find broken links, and repair them, to get almost instant SEO benefits. That’s a powerful free tool if I ever saw one.
Once installed it will crawl through a particular page and it will find the valid links and highlight them in green:
You’ll see all of the warning links in yellow; and all of the links you need to fix or change, in bright red:
All of this is crawled in just a few seconds; and because it’s visual it makes a great aide to show potential new clients some of the issues with their site.
Either way, this is a handy tool to have on your extensions toolbar, to make sure you avoid easy to avoid SEO mistakes.
You can even use it to build relationships with webmasters by letting them know about broken links, and potentially suggesting replacements from your own web properties.
#41: No Follow
No Follow is a simple tool from IgorWare that highlights all of the No Follow links on a website.
This allows you to see if PR opportunities, or link building opportunities, are going to be worth your while. Even though the whole Do Follow vs No Follow argument is still up for debate, knowing what you’re getting yourself in to never hurts.
Simply download the extension and you’re ready to go. It’ll start to show you all of the no follow links on any page with a red box around them.
Just like this:
It’s not a tool that’s going to win any awards. But, it can be really helpful in making sure you get the links you want, and aren’t hit by any nasty surprises right in the middle of your campaign.
Which Free SEO Tools Do The Experts Use?
It’s a common misconception that you need the latest and greatest tools to succeed with SEO.
So I decided to reach out to 30 SEO experts to ask them which is their favorite free SEO tool and why.
Not only that, today they’ll be revealing exactly how they use the best free SEO tools in their own businesses for great results – so don’t forget to take notes!
Let’s get straight to it!
I don’t have a favourite SEO tool because different tools are used for different purposes, so to give a direct answer I must appeal to the famous idiom, “it’s comparing apples to oranges.”
I have seldom found instances where Moz detected more inbound links than Ahrefs when checking a URL. Here are two ways I use Majestic;
Quickly Assessing a Domain or URL
To quickly assess a website’s authority and link profile, I use Majestic Trust Flow (TF) and Citation Flow (CF) metrics, in conjunction with Moz Domain Authority (DA) and Spam Score.
For example, some people will not spend time attempting to earn a link from a website with a DA less than 20 or buy a domain if the TF:CF ratio is greater than 1:2.
In addition to assessing a domain or URL, I find Majestic Site Explorer extremely useful for building the same links pointing to website or page which ranks for a keyword phrase I am targeting.
To do so I place the domain in the search bar and choose the appropriate setting: root, sub, path or URL and lastly click the magnifying glass icon to begin the search.
After results are returned I click “backlinks” on one of the horizontal Navigation menus and ensure the default setting to show 1 backlink per domain is selected. Next, export Majestic’s findings into a spread sheet.
Once in a spread sheet, you’re ready to have tons of fun by visiting each URL in cells under the column titled “Source URL” and denote whether or not this is a link you may be able to acquire by colour coding the background of each row with yellow.
Lastly, pursue building links from each target and also use colour coding and notes to track your progress: orange=in progress, red=unsuccessful, green=live link!
There are so many SEO tools out there that I lose track. Most of them are carbon copies of something else or largely useless.
There are however a few tools that we use every day to help with our own SEO and that of our clients.
The first is Screaming Frog, it’s free for up to 500 URLs and there is really nothing else as useful to laser in on the specifics of the HTML elements on your site.
From a review of title tags and meta descriptions to checking that your correct Analytics code is on every page there is little that you can’t do with Screaming Frog.
In the most recent version you can now link Screaming Frog with Google Analytics so you can perform a simple content audit.
We can order pages by Google Analytics engagement stats and determine which pages are working or more importantly not working so well.
Screaming frog is a useful tool for evaluating your own site from crawling, internal links and content analysis but it does not stop there and it can be insanely useful for finding link opportunities on target sites.
If you can download Screaming Frog and set a few hours aside to go through every tab and make notes you will come away with a list of actionable optimisations that anyone can make.
The second is Google.
Want to know what Google thinks of your business? Google yourself.
Want to know what blogs are popular in your sector? Google your major keywords or topics.
Want to know what citations or business listings are important for your local business? Google your keywords.
There are elements of SEO where science and art must intersect but for gathering of competitive information – the things that tools can do, then there is really nothing more powerful than Google itself and it will always be free.
Google your business area and keywords, really dig into the results. See what works, learn some advanced query operators and you can easily prospect for link opportunities.
Another honourable mention would be Google Search Co***nsole as you can get information directly from the source.
Take Screaming Frog, Google and Search Console and you are well on your way without spending any financial outlay!
By far my favourite SEO tool is Screaming Frog. I used the free version for years and if you’re in the market for free, that has to be the winner hands down.
You need to download this software to your computer and it comes in either a Mac or Windows version.
It allows me to get a good feel for how good or bad the site is without much effort and enables me to do a quick once-over, revealing any obvious site integrity issues.
It also gives me the ability to drill down a bit deeper into technical elements if I need to and the blog is packed with tips and tricks for using the tool.
The Crawl Overview Report is a good starting point for things to investigate further. You need to know what you’re looking for in terms of what’s done well, problems or issues.
Matthew Barby has an introduction to Screaming Frog video on YouTube that’s very good.
I’ve also recently discovered SEObility. This is an online service and they do have a free option.
It’s good in that it does diagnostics which Screaming Frog doesn’t. It puts a different slant on the same data so it complements Screaming Frog well.
Of course any of these tools supplement the ones we’re born with – our eyes and our brain.
If a site looks horrid or amateur, if a visitor can’t figure out how to get from point A to point B, or if the pages are written badly and frighten people away – the tools won’t tell you that.
Whenever you use a tool, you need to back up its findings with real human research.
Tools are only as good as the person using them, and the person using them needs to double-check, confirm and interpret the findings.
Without that analysis, it’s just a data puke and offers clients little or no value.
There are a ton of free SEO tools out there but one free SEO tool that I like to use time and time again is Ubersuggest.
For sure it’s a simple SEO tool but it can be pretty useful for two important aspects of the SEO puzzle which I’ll touch on below now.
The first reason I like and use UberSuggest is because it gives you a good idea of what people are searching for.
As it says itself it’s like auto-complete on steroids and so by plugging in a few root keywords you can see what people are searching.
You can use this info to help you determine what keywords you could consider targeting – it’s quick and easy keyword research.
The second reason why I like UberSuggest is that it can throw up some interesting blog post ideas that you might not have considered or thought of before.
By plugging in your keyword and another word e.g. ‘SEO’ and ‘tips’, you can get a plethora of potential blog post ideas thrown up straight away.
This method is quick and easy and sometimes for SEO quick and easy wins aren’t the worst thing :)
Spending an hour or so putting a few keywords through UberSuggest can be a great way to help fill up the advertorial calendar for the weeks and months to come and it’s something I do with some clients to try to unearth blog post ideas for their site or find new keywords to target.
Also, whilst it’s true that UberSuggest was recently changed to use a different data source (Google started to restrict access to their autocomplete API) it is still a useful tool in the SEO arsenal due to how quick and easy it is to use and well, it’s free!
My favourite free SEO tool actually isn’t an SEO tool at all; it’s actually a piece of open source software called KNIME.
It was originally designed for bioinformatics and DNA sequencing but has evolved as a system for general big data analysis—equipped with many integrations that help for SEO data analysis and automation.
There’s a lot built in that helps with SEO such as Google Analytics, rank checking, html readers and much more.
There’s also a lot of really cool stuff in there that may help SEOs who are looking to do more than what is typical, such as easily working on Natural Language Processing and deploying machine learning algorithms.
At BrightonSEO in April, I spoke about a process using KNIME where I inputted data from both Twitter and the SERPs and then performed various semantic analyses in order to do some more advanced keyword research.
If you like to nerd out with data and go hard with SEO, I definitely recommend dipping your feet into KNIME. At this point, I can’t imagine doing SEO without it.
I pretty much use it for everything in my business, from hard-core analysis of analytics to keyword research to report generation.
It’s become integral to automating basic tasks; It can manipulate Excel documents and pipe that data to be analysed and spit out reports.
I don’t even bother with Excel most of the time now. Data comes into KNIME via API calls and spits out my reports AND it can be done without much serious programming knowledge.
My favourite Free SEO Tool is the Moz Local Listing Checker.
I use this on a daily basis when prospecting for clients. It gives me a quick ball park where a Local Business is sitting with Citations.
Citations are the life blood of ranking local businesses along with basic on-page SEO of course. So this helps me gauge how much work a potential client will need.
Knowing if a business has any citations can be great when having to quickly gauge the amount of work required to compete in a local market.
Also, seeing how a business fairs in its citations can also hint as to whether they have had SEO work in the past or someone within their company is SEO savvy. Both great things to know when preparing to approach them and getting any presentations ready.
Plus it is good to know if you might be able to “geek” out with SEO talk with them. I usually plug in a few of the folks who are on the first page or in the now Google 3 Pack aka “Snack Pack”.
This can let me know right away and allow me to manage expectations when talking with clients.
There is nothing worse than talking with a client and making it sound like it will be a very easy campaign only to find out later that it really isn’t.
It puts you in that position of either having to suck it up or admit you misgauged the SERPs. Either way it sucks.
Having an awesome chest of tools that you can choose from helps mitigate this from the get go. Free tools are just icing on the cake.
Free tools can be just as beneficial as some paid tools. I look forward to interacting with everyone in the comments.
If we are talking about FREE SEO tools, my favourite one is Google Analytics. Nothing comes close to the data you get from Google.
It offers almost everything you need to monitor your website’s progress. It gets even better if you connect it with your Google Search Console account.
You get to see how your website is performing, see the click through rate and page impressions.
The fact that you can see what keywords have the most impressions is very valuable, considering Google has stopped showing this data in Analytics.
I like to set up Google Analytics alerts to get an email or SMS when my websites are experiencing unusual traffic drops.
It’s a feature that Google has introduced recently and not many people are familiar with it yet, but they should be. I love it when tools help you keep track of your site, without having to login every day.
One of my favourite things to do with Google Analytics is to check which of my articles have performed best and find ideas to improve them.
I usually check the number of visits they are getting from search engines and referring traffic. I also look for the average time spent on a page, bounce rate and conversion rate.
It helps me discover what’s working and what isn’t. If you pay attention to these details, you can learn how to write more successful posts and ultimately drive more traffic.
Combining Google Analytics with my other favourite SEO tool MonitorBacklinks.com, you are the winner.
Monitor Backlinks is not free, but it gives you so much information about your site without you having to lift a finger. It automates the reporting process and keeps track of your website’s backlinks.
Google Analytics and Monitor Backlinks is everything I need for SEO. All the other tools are overrated and often too expensive.
Just looking at free SEO tools one that comes straight to mind has to be SEO Tools for Excel.
It’s an add-on for Excel that enables you to do a ton of stuff to help with both onsite optimisation and off site SEO work.
A couple of examples of what I use the plugin for are;
When I’m looking for websites to outreach to I like to start off with a large list and filter it down so only the best websites are left.
I can put all of my prospects into Excel and use the add-on to get key information about the websites such as the Trust Flow of the domain and how much traffic the website gets via the SEMrush API.
It can process thousands of domains in seconds for me, saving me a lot of time gathering this information manually.
If you do reports by taking data from Google Analytics every month then keep reading.
It can hook directly up to your Google Analytics account so you can set up a spread sheet and once a month update it to pull all the key data you want for your website, such as visitors and conversions.
No more manually entering data into your reports!
That’s just two examples of what’s possible. It can do so much more, check here for a full list of functions.
My favourite free SEO tool is our own server log files.
Log data is crucial to analyse and interpret because log files contain the only data that is 100% accurate in terms of how Google and other search engines are crawling your website.
Log files contain the following data (and more):
- Server Response Codes
- Crawl Budget
- Temporary Redirects
- Duplicate URL Crawling and Crawl Waste
- Crawl Frequencies by Subdomain and Subdirectory
- Bot Crawl Volume
- Last Crawl Dates
All of this data will reveal whatever technical SEO problems and errors exist on your website, in your XML sitemap and elsewhere, things that are all important to fix.
We at Logz.io have a log analysis software platform for DevOps engineers, system administrators and developers, but I also use it personally to find internal technical SEO issues on our own website.
I highly suggest that technical SEOs use whatever method they desire to analyse their log files. It’s an aspect of SEO that is unfortunately ignored all too often.
I don’t actually do much SEO.
I feel my time is better spent on generating traffic from other sources that I have more control over and are sustainable and I’m particularly focusing on paid traffic at the moment as it can be scaled.
However, when I’m looking to find some keywords to sprinkle into my posts (I never start with keywords I write posts for my readers first then look to see if there’s relevant keywords that can be slotted in) I just use the Google Keyword Planner Tool to find decent search volume keywords.
I don’t try and find out if they are supposedly easy to rank, I just slot them in and if the post does rank (which they often do as we pick up some decent shares and links on a lot of our posts) I consider it a bonus.
At some point when I have more time I will be looking to hire someone to do manual outreach to pick up links as we currently have no real process for this in place.
OpenLinkProfiler is my top-most favourite FREE SEO tool. This is a web based tool which gives you a complete x-ray of any website’s backlinks.
I love this tool because of the advanced filters. Not only can you see all the backlinks of your competitors you can also filter the linking sites for better link building.
Features like Anchor Text, Link Influence Score, the filter to check backlinks from unique domains only amongst other settings make it a must have tool.
I have been using this tool for the past year to get more quality backlinks for my niche websites.
Simply enter your competitor’s URL in the search box and see which sites are linking to them. Sort everything by clicking on the LIS column and grab some of their high authority backlinks.
SEO is all about beating the competitors by building quality backlinks, and I am happy to say that this tool fulfils the need. ***[Not sure whether to include this statement at the end, SEO isn’t all about backlinks??]***
I find myself using SEMrush almost every day. Whenever I meet potential clients, I can give them a snapshot of how their site is performing in search within minutes.
If they rank for few phrases except for their brand, we know that there is a big opportunity to help them.
If they rank for many phrases, we know that if we redesigned their site, we would have to be very careful to preserve those rankings.
And I can do all of this without any access to Analytics.
I know that for a lot of people, SEMrush is a competitive analysis tool but I find it to be a very useful sales tool and use it in almost every meeting with almost every prospective client. So useful!
Out of the many free SEO tools that I use I personally love WebPageTest.
This is because page speed is becoming a big concern especially if you are working in an ecommerce industry where a user always has multiple choices when it comes to purchasing a product.
I love how they breakdown the content and tell you exactly what is causing a delay in page load time.
This allows me to explain to developers exactly what they need to fix which results in a better page load time.
My favourite free SEO tool is Netpeak Checker.
Netpeak Checker helps us to analyse and compare our competitor’s data. You can add all your competitors’ URLs in this tool.
It will show all the main SEO parameters so you can compare them and improve your site accordingly.
Moreover, you can export all the data to an Excel spread sheet for further usage. In my book this makes it a must have SEO tool.
My favourite free tool is the free version of Screaming Frog SEO spider.
Although the free version is limited to a 500 URL crawl budget, this tool is invaluable for locating major and small problems in a flash.
I use it to quickly crawl client websites and with their new Google Analytics integration you can easily see which pages have errors, which ones aren’t getting any traffic and make decisions on the fly based on great data.
Our philosophy is to always be “The Least Imperfect” and with that in mind the ability to quickly audit a site is essential in our process.
I’m big into keyword research and uncovering new traffic sources for my vast library of affiliate sites.
For this I need a quick and cheap way of gathering vast amounts of keyword ideas. For this I use Keyword S****** (pardon the name, it’s a bit rude).
I normally drop about 5 to 10 keyword ideas for a new amazon site that I’m looking to build out into Keyword S****** and it just spews out thousands of keyword ideas.
I’ll then download the list after a few minutes and drop it into Keyword Planner to find out volumes and other metrics to help me when it comes to targeting content to the keywords.
It’s pretty much like Keyword Snatcher, but free!!!
Tools like SiteLiner, Screaming Frog, and SEMrush all offer free output to a degree, but the most valuable, totally free tool I use most often for SEO (outside of a keyword research or backlink data provider) is the Google Search Console.
It allows you to monitor and prioritize technical site issues with the crawl reports, manage parameters and improve targeting.
Since upgrading, the Search Analytics report has become incredibly valuable in seeing not only impressions, but clicks and CTR on organic keywords. It counts raw clicks (vs. sessions in Google Analytics).
The data it provides has become less interpolated in recent years, making it a more valuable tool for SEOs.
Checking the Search Console daily is an easy way to perform a quick health check for your website.
My favourite Free SEO tool has to be ImageRaider.
I am a big fan of using infographics as part of my marketing strategy so this tool is perfect for helping me to find out who has added my infographic to their website or blog.
Image Raider regularly performs reverse image searches of the images you upload to the site and will create an easy to export list of URLs which you can then check to see if they are using the image correctly and linking back to you.
To save you time trawling through new links you can add popular image sharing sites to your whitelist such as Pinterest or Imgur.
When you sign up to Image raider you will get a load of credits to get you started so unless you have dozens of infographics to monitor every day these should last you a while.
To earn more free credits you can share your love for Image Raider on social media although buying new credits is ridiculously cheap.
Tommy P. Landry
Although there is also a paid version of the tool, I am a big fan of Ahrefs.com as a free tool.
While the paid version offers much more insight into the details like specific links identified to a website, Ahrefs is one of the best free tools available if you need information on the health of an overall link profile and are not a volume user.
We have conducted a large number of link profiles and audits over the past several years, ever since Google started to penalize webmasters under Google Penguin.
Full link audits can get pretty cumbersome and expensive for the client if they have a large number of linking domains. But a quick link profile can help us decide if a full audit is needed in the first place.
Ahrefs provides great insights such as rate of acquisition or loss of links over the past year, anchor text ratios (to identify over optimized link profiles), mix of do follow/no follow and other relevant stats.
When you run a link profile, the site generates charts that you can easily screen grab to drop into a client presentation or recommendation document.
We have used it quite a bit over the past 2-3 years and it has become a must-have free service to keep in my toolbox.
I work almost exclusively with law firms in large US markets.
There is major competition in this field, so effective link building is absolutely critical in order to move the needle and get our clients the results they want (e.g. top 3 rankings for highly competitive local keywords).
Because I spend so much of my time executing link building campaigns, I rely on a variety of paid tools (e.g. Ahrefs, Majestic, BuzzStream etc.) but by far the most critical (and free) tool for link building is Google Chrome.
I know it sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how many link builders fail to realize the importance and the efficacy of using advanced search operators in Google’s search engine to identify high-value, relevant link prospects.
In addition to using Google for browsing the web for link prospects, there are also all kinds of free extensions for Google Chrome that are super helpful for link builders and SEOs.
Here are the free Chrome extensions that I could not do my job as effectively without;
- LinkMiner (or, Check My Links) – IDs broken links on any given web page. This is especially useful for link building.
- Redirect Path – Shows the redirect path for a specific URL. This is really useful for site audits.
- Canonical Inspector – Shows the canonical URL for a given web page. Again, this is very useful for site audits.
- Web Developer – Allows you to disable Cookies, Java Script etc. Great for site audits.
- NoFollow – Highlights nofollow links on a given page. Great for link building and site auditing.
- MozBar – Gives basic link authority and on-site optimization metrics.
I think I would probably say this SERP analyser from Moz, which I’ve only recently come across in the last few months.
The tool is basically an overlay so that when you run searches it shows you the website Domain Authority, Page Authority etc. It works in both Firefox and Chrome.
But what I really like is the ability to export the search results.
Often I’ll run a search in Google for podcasts, product reviews and guests posts using Google’s Advanced Search Operators, and then import them into our software to get contact information so I can do outreach from that.
It has saved me hours of time by being able to set my search results to show 100 per page, and then export hundreds of results in just a few minutes, only to import them and build an outreach list for a campaign.
By combining this free tool with our software you can literally build an outreach list of a thousand people with email addresses in under an hour.
If you’re using Google’s Search Operators it tends to be very targeted as well, since you’re guaranteeing that the result has the keywords in the title or URL.
I’ve written a lot of tutorials, including this post on How To Create An Awesome Curated List Post which include the use of the MozBar.
Check it out and you will see there are a ton of use cases.
A combination of Keyword Planner and UberSuggest is a fantastic way to build up a large number of keywords for any project.
I start with the Keyword Planner to identify terms that have decent search volume (>1000) and start plugging those into UberSuggest.
That gives me a huge number of suggested keywords which I can use not only for individual articles but to sprinkle throughout the article as well.
One other tip for using the keyword planner is; Instead of typing in a keyword, find your top 2-3 biggest competitors and stick their URL into the landing page section.
This will compile a list based on their website instead of based on the suggested keyword. Often you’ll find hidden gems by using this method.
Don’t forget to use the export function as well, it’s a lot easier than working on the website.
These days plenty of powerful SEO tools are available in the market but most of them do not offer any free version and even if they do, it’s only for a month.
Without a doubt, these tools are superb and quite capable of sky rocketing your campaigns but because they are not “FREE”, people search for an alternative.
The tool that I love the most and is actually “FREE” is Screaming Frog. Although it’s not totally free, the free version of this tool always helps in every new site I work on.
The business I’m currently with doesn’t deal in huge sites, but we do deal with multiple small sites on a daily basis.
Screaming Frog is always there for me to fix any technical issues with these sites. It gives all the essential information needed to check quality and standards on any site.
Whether it’s on page, meta tags, images, inbound/outbound links, broken links, status codes, robots.txt or HTTP servers directives, it has all the advanced custom reports to make any site really SEO friendly.
Even if you use a proxy server, this tool will not disappoint you. It’s a desktop application and works pretty fast on Windows, Mac and Ubuntu machines.
The other thing that I really like about this is the fast customer service response.
Whenever I’m stuck or I can’t find a solution, I just send a tweet to the man behind this tool and he instantly gives me the solution on Twitter and that usually works out.
This man is none other than Dan Sharp. (Follow him now)
Because of the above highlighted features, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to get the full version of this tool if any scenario arises.
The free SEO tool I’m leveraging the most often recently is the Fetch as Google feature in Google Webmaster Tools.
With Google’s fondness for fresh content and how much of an impact the freshness factor is having on organic SERP performance and visibility now, we’re freshening up “older” content pieces on a regular basis for both clients and for our affiliate sites and seeing a pretty dramatic impact on rankings.
To get this freshened-up content crawled as quickly as possible, I use the Fetch as Google tool to resubmit a URL to the index.
In most cases Google re-crawls the re-submitted URL within hours, sometimes within minutes of submission, which helps the content changes and updates to that page get counted almost immediately.
Some of the specific ways we freshen up pieces of existing content, ones we’re seeing have an impact are to:
- Update the published on date
- Rework the page headline/title (you can tweak it or retool it based on keyword targeting efforts)
- Rework the title tag
- Rework the subheadings
- Flesh out the intro a little more
- Embed images
- Add image ALT text
- Embed videos
- Link to related pieces of content
- Fix broken links
- Lengthen the piece (with value-add content)
- Approve comments
As for which pieces of content to update, I usually look to any pages that have seen organic traffic decay or decline over time where that decline appears to be age related.
You don’t necessarily have to perform all those tasks on the list. You can do one or two and resubmit the URL to the Fetch as Google tool.
Then, if you see any further decay in organic traffic down the road that’s due to the content aging or not being refreshed, perform another task on the list and resubmit the URL to the Fetch tool.
So wash, rinse and repeat.
I’d say at least 25% of all the emails I receive from new and potential clients are regarding backlink profiles – more often than not, because their website has been hit with a penalty.
Before going into a real deep-dive into their websites backlink profile, a great place to get an idea about their historic link building efforts is to have a look through the anchor text distribution to see how aggressive (or amateur) their strategy was.
It has one simple job and it does it well. It’s a really quick and simple process which you can complete in a matter of seconds.
It’s worth noting that this tool uses data from Linkscape which is essentially Open Site Explorer data but it does the majority of the work for you.
A seasoned SEO will be able to see instantly what kind of workload they might have on their plate (and more importantly, how much to charge!). With the results you then have a decision to make.
You could ask the webmasters of some of the sites to change the anchor text; you could ask them to remove the link completely; you could disavow the link or you could even start a new link building campaign to dilute the over optimised links.
Every niche is different so you might want to run an anchor text over optimization report for the top 5 or 10 pages ranking for your chosen keyword to see how their anchor text profile compares.
While most SEO’s are now starting to understand that over-optimized anchor text backlinks can do more harm than good, I still get sent guest post requests daily (which get declined!) which include exact match keyword anchor text links.
Xenu Link Sleuth is one of the most thorough SEO tools on the market. At the core it is a broken link checker but it does so much more.
It scrapes your entire website including all images and libraries and scans them for HTTP status codes, titles, metas etc.
From there it will measure how many “outlinks” it has as well as “inlinks” and give you a sortable view of both.
What I personally like to do is generate the report, save it to a CSV file and then play with it in Excel. I will make different worksheets.
Say one for HTML files, one for broken images, JS/CSS files, internal/external resources etc.
Then I can begin to categorize any issues that the site might be having, and save a copy of it for historical purposes.
Once it is done with the initial scan it will ask you for your FTP credentials and begin crawling through your websites hierarchy to locate even more issues with your website.
When Xenu is finished with everything, it’ll produce a local HTML file that gives you a full rundown of everything including all broken links, as well as a full report of the pages crawled inside of the program itself.
Another great feature of Xenu is if you have a non-CMS and you are in need of an XML sitemap, it can really take the grunt work out of doing this.
It’s great for checking not just basic things like broken backlinks within your website and outbound links to external sites, but more complex tasks such as finding issues with your websites overall architecture.
When I get a new client there is one thing that I always do and that is run Xenu Link Sleuth.
The only possible downside to this tool is that it only runs on Microsoft Windows. If you do need it to run on Linux or Mac, you can always run it in a virtual machine such as Virtual Box.
So my favourite free tool for any SEO campaign is the humble search operator. Its uses are endless.
Find indexed pages with a “site:yourwebsite.com” search. Find unwanted subdomains or staging sites with a “site:yourwebsite.com -www” search.
Perform an old-school backlink check with a “links:” query. The possibilities are endless. Find sponsorship-centred link opportunities by playing around with “intitle:” searches.
Dr Pete at Moz did an excellent post on what you can dig up just with “site:” queries.
One of my favourite search operator recipes for local SEO – yes, I’m going back to that – is one that I stumbled on last year.
It’s useful if you’re looking for Meetup.com groups that don’t currently have sponsors that you might be able to sponsor. Here’s what you’d type in:
“site:meetup.com “this group does not have sponsors right now” name of city”
“site:meetup.com “this group does not have sponsors right now” keyword”
This works because whenever a Meetup.com group has an empty “Sponsors” page, it says “this group does not have sponsors right now” on the page.
Play with the words you put after the quotation mark. You don’t have to search for local or industry relevant meetup groups.
You might even try just searching for “site:meetup.com keyword” or “site:meetup.com name of city”.
You’ll pull more Meetup.com groups into the net, some of which may already have sponsors.
Those groups may even be more likely to respond to your email, accept your donation, link to you and maybe partner in some other way, because they’re used to doing so.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Optimize Smart put together a list of 10000 Search Engine Queries for your Link Building Campaign which you can use to dig up link opportunities.
You probably won’t use 9,990 of them, but the other 10 might just save your SEO marriage :)
It may be seen as cheating a little, however to myself and the team here at James Brockbank Ltd, by far our favourite free SEO tool is Google Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools).
Whilst some would say it’s not strictly an SEO tool, you can guarantee that every single SEO and digital marketer across the globe will use it as part of both their own and their client’s campaigns.
Why? Because it perhaps, alongside Google Analytics, provides almost all of the data you need in order to make decisions and put in place strategies to see success from organic search.
Without using Google Search Console, how can you expect to understand and be able to identify opportunities across search terms which you possibly never even considered may be being used?
This, as most will know all too well, is one of the most attractive features of the ‘search terms’ reports.
Any smart SEO will monitor this on a regular basis, keeping an eye out for areas where impressions are significant yet clicks are low, thus delivering a low click through rate.
With this data you can make the decisions as to which areas need attention and you know it’s as accurate as you’re going to get, given that it’s coming directly from Google.
Of course, the search terms report isn’t the only useful feature of Search Console, not at all.
On a daily basis we find ourselves using the ‘HTML Improvements’ report, the ‘Data Highlighter’ tool, the ‘Crawl Errors’ report, the Sitemaps feature and of course the ‘links to your site’ data.
Deserving of a standalone mention however, is the fact that Google Search Console is THE ONLY place where you can see if your website has received a manual action.and that’s where you can request reconsideration if you’ve fallen foul and have put in the effort to clean things up.
Perhaps not what you’d initially think of as a ‘Free SEO Tool’ but it’s free, it’s a tool and it’s one which every SEO should be using on a daily basis to further their own and their client’s campaigns.
There are a lot of free SEO tools that can be used to aid our other go-to tools and processes.
Since SEO tools usually offer some really specific functions, you will definitely find some free alternatives to some of your favourite tools.
I like using SEOptimer, the Mozbar, the CheckMyLinks extension, Domain Hunter extension, Screaming Frog (free edition), SiteLiner, OpenLinkProfiler, BuiltWith and many more! They all have their own uses.
My favourite standalone web tool (by far) is this SEO Crawler by Rob Hammond. Nobody talks about it.
It is a pretty handy tool to have because I can use it when I am on the go, since I won’t have access to my Screaming Frog.
It gives me an idea about a website when I need to do a simple audit and it gives me enough information to make smart judgement calls.
So when I’m in a meeting, whether it’s by chance or not (usually by chance as I hate meetings) and the conversation moves to websites & SEO, I just whip this baby out and let it crawl their site while we talk.
I can easily see the issues on certain pages, from canonicals to unneeded redirects, to finding out that their page was accidentally set to no-index.
It also offers me a quick glance of how they optimize their meta details so that’s a quick way to gauge their knowledge so I don’t dumb down the conversation and make them feel bad or worse, make them feel insulted.
There are also advanced settings you can use on this tool which is useful for those sites with annoying site structures because there are plenty of them. Not every site out there is a blog after all.
To top it off, there are other SEO tools that you might find useful on that site as well.
The 10 Best Free SEO Tools As Voted By 30 Experts
Looking for the cream of the crop from this list? Here are the best of the bunch as voted for by 30 SEO experts from across the globe.
- Screaming Frog – 6 Votes
- Google Search Console (previously known as Webmaster Tools) – 6 Votes
- MozBar – 4 Votes
- Google Analytics – 3 Votes
- SEMrush – 3 Votes
- Google/Search Operator – 3 Votes
- Ahrefs – 2 Votes
- UberSuggest – 2 Votes
- SiteLiner – 2 Votes
- Google Keyword Planner Tool – 2 Votes
Keep an eye out for our experts comments throughout the post too, so you can see what other SEO Pro’s are doing with the tool!
This is the complete list of free SEO Tools-
- SEO Powersuite
- Market Samurai
- Long Tail Pro
- Raven Tools
- Open Link Profiler
- SEO Auto Linker
- Screaming Frog
- Google Analytics
- Seed Keywords
- WP Smush
- Yoast SEO
- WP Theme Detector
- Google Grump Detector
- Panguin Tool
- SEO Quake Toolbar
- Google Search Console
- Google Page Speed Tools
- Google Keyword Planner Tool
- Moz Local
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- SEO Tools for Excel
- Xenu Link Sleuth
- Netpeak Checker
- Keyword Shitter
- Keyword Shitter Pro
- Domain Hunter
- Moz Open Site Explorer
- Anchor Text Over Optimization Tool
- Redirect Path
- Canonical Inspector
- Web Developer
- Server Log Files
- Google/Search Operator
- Browser View Source
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it! Thanks to our experts for giving us an in depth look at how they use their favourite free SEO tools!
I hope you’ve discovered (or re-discovered) some great free tools to compliment your SEO strategy today.
Did I Miss Any Free SEO Tools?
If there are any free SEO tools or trials that I’ve missed then please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the post!