I recently promised my Facebook followers that if they posted their SEO questions, I would pick one to answer in my next blog. The question I chose comes from David White who asked, “Hi! I used to use Web CEO. What would you say is the best tool for DIY SEO today?”
Well, for David – and anyone else who’s interested in DIY SEO – I’ve put together an in-depth guide to the best DIY SEO tools currently available.
SEO can be very labour intensive, which is where a couple of good SEO Tools can be an absolute godsend. If you’re looking to improve the SEO for your business, here are the best DIY SEO tools currently available to optimise your website. This comprehensive guide includes the best all-in-one SEO tools, the best on-page and off-page SEO tools, and the best technical SEO, tracking and auditing tools.
The top five all-in-one SEO tools
1. Moz Pro
The Moz Pro All-in-One Website SEO option is – in Moz’s words – ‘The SEO toolset that’s got it all: keyword research, link building, site audits and page optimisation insights, in one’.
Using Moz Pro gives you access to invaluable data and insights such as:
- The best keywords for your website, including accurate volume estimates
- Your website’s Domain Authority and the Page Authority of your individual pages
- Information about external links to your website, including who’s linking and their Domain Authority
- Link opportunities
- Track weekly keyword data and rankings for your website and your competitors’ sites
- Understand your local SEO performance
- Mobile rankings
- Website errors
- Competitors’ behaviour and websites
- SEO auditing tools
- Search engine results pages (SERPs) driving traffic to your website
- Technical issues and how to resolve them
- Page speeds
- Page optimisation checklists, advice and reports/analysis
- Automated, in-depth customisable reports
I use Moz Pro extensively at SEO+ – the data is presented clearly and logically with plenty of actionable advice and insights that I can apply to my clients’ websites. Free tools such as the Moz Toolbar (see below) have helped to improve transparency within the SEO industry and support white hat practices, which is great for anyone trying to improve the SEO performance of their website.
Moz Pro is available with a 30-day free trial and then on a monthly subscription basis, priced from $99 per month upwards, depending on your individual needs.
Cool tip: Check out the on-page optimisation tool, which instantly analyses your on-page SEO and keyword use, then gives you actionable data to identify the best keywords, improve your content, boost your rankings and increase your organic traffic.
Ahrefs offers a wide range of fantastic tools to help you improve your search traffic, learn why your competitors are ranking where they are (and what you need to do to outrank them), and monitor your niche.
These tools include:
- Site explorer – An in-depth look into the organic traffic and backlink profile of any website or URL, including those belonging to your competitors. You can also use this tool to look at whether your competitors are using paid advertising and where they funnel their paid traffic.
- Content explorer – This is a relatively new feature but an absolute gem. The tool enables you to discover the most popular content for any topic by backlinks, organic traffic and social shares. You can search for content ideas by keywords or find out what content from your competitors is getting noticed.
- Keyword explorer – Access a database of more than three billion keywords and find out the best keywords for your site, their ranking difficulty and traffic potential.
- Alerts – You can set up alerts to be notified every time someone links to your site, mentions your brand or when your keyword rankings change. This service will also flag up lost backlinks.
- Rank tracker – Keep an eye on how your keywords are performing in mobile and desktop searches in relation to specific locations. This is helpful because, as you’re no doubt aware, your rankings for specific keywords can alter dramatically depending on the location of the searcher.
- Domain comparison – Compare and monitor the backlink profiles of up to five different domains. This can be a really useful way of monitoring your own website’s profile against those of your competitors.
- Content gap – This Ahrefs feature will help you to identify which keywords your competitors rank for but your website doesn’t.
- Backlink checker – Personally, I feel Ahrefs provides the best link analysis tool on the market in terms of the index size (12 trillion known links!), the freshness and reliability of the data, and the usability of the tool.
- Batch analysis – This tool enables you to collate the backlink metrics for up to 200 individual URLs. This is great for analysing the performance of your own web pages against those of your competitors.
- Link intersect – Find out who is linking to your competitors’ sites but not to yours. This is a helpful way of unearthing directory sites and other link opportunities, as well as identifying the sites that are fans of your competitors.
- SEO Toolbar – Much like the Moz toolbar, this is a handy plugin that lets you view Ahrefs’ SEO metrics while you surf the web.
- SERP checker – This tool lets you analyse search results, compare local search engine results pages (SERPs), estimate your traffic potential and improve your rankings by giving you access to real-time search results from any location.
Ahrefs is available with a 14-day free trial and then on a monthly subscription basis, priced from $99 per month upwards, depending on which package you choose.
Cool tip: Searches in Google don’t always result in clicks through to your website, especially if the searcher can see the answer to their question in the SERP. Ahrefs Keyword Explorer 2.0 feature shows you accurately which percentage of searches result in clicks, so you can identify the best keywords to bring people into your site from SERPs.
SEMrush provides what it calls a ‘complete workflow for any SEO professional’ and promotes itself as an ‘All-in-one marketing toolkit for digital marketing professionals’.
You can use this tool to:
- Carry out keyword research
- Track your competitors’ keyword strategies
- Run an SEO audit of your site or blog
- Identify new backlinking opportunities
- Monitor your rankings
This all-in-one tool also incorporates tools for Google AdWords strategy analysis, competition analysis and Pay Per Click (PPC) keyword grouping; instant insights into your social media strategy, data about your best performing posts, and social media competitor analysis; as well as tools to help you identify brand mentions, pinpoint your most effective promotional channels, discover trending topics, adjust your content according to engagement data, and seize new promotional opportunities.
There is plenty of robust data to sink your teeth into. On the Domain Overview tab alone, you can get an overview of your site’s organic and paid search traffic as well as:
- traffic brought in by backlinks
- traffic over different time periods
- the top five keywords bringing traffic into your website
- where your keywords rank
- main competitors for organic and PPC traffic
- third party websites referring the most traffic via backlinks
- most linked to pages
SEMrush gives you a taster of the wealth of information within its reports and data with free access to view 10 pages of the site initially. You can then request to view 10 more pages by signing up with your name and email address or subscribe to a monthly package, starting from $99.95 per month for tracking up to 500 keywords.
Cool tip: SEMrush’s keyword tool not only tells you about your keywords but will also show you how important those keywords are to your competitors. Find out what Google Ads they’re running, the keywords they’re targeting, where they rank, an estimate of what they’ve paid, and how much traffic they’ve received as a result.
BrightLocal is slightly different to the other all-in-one DIY SEO tools on this list because it focuses entirely on local SEO data, making it the ideal choice if yours is a bricks and mortar business dependent on local traffic or if you have clients who all run locally-focused businesses.
Using BrightLocal’s user-friendly dashboard, you can access information such as:
- Organic, Google Maps and mobile search ranking
- Mentions and citations
- When people leave reviews and what they say
- Google Local audit and competitor benchmark
- Social media mentions and data
- Audit of directory listings to ensure name, address and phone number (NAP) consistency
- On-site and off-site SEO reports
- Fully customisable reports that can be branded and exported into various formats
This is another great all-in-one toolkit for finding out were your local competitors are focusing their SEO efforts and identifying where you may be missing out on customers.
Full access to BrightLocal is available on a 14-day free trial – no card necessary – and then priced from $29/month upwards, depending on the best package for your needs.
Cool tip: The Google Local Wizard tool looks at your Google My Business page, giving you an overview of the details Google holds for your business, how they might be affecting your rankings and how they could be improved. Check out, for example, whether your NAP is listed consistently online, how many Google reviews you have compared to your competitors, and much more.
rankingCoach is another all-in-one DIY SEO tool that comes highly recommended. As well as including a comprehensive keyword research tool, you can use rankingCoach to:
- Audit your online presence
- Check you’re listed in the most important business directories
- Monitor your SEO metrics
- Track your keyword rankings for each location in which your business operates
- Monitor and track up to ten competitor’s rankings
- Link to Google Analytics
You can tell rankingCoach what your SEO and wider business goals are and the tool will give you a bespoke list of recommended tasks for SEO, local digital marketing, link building, and social media optimisation.
What I like about this tool is that the dashboard tells you which tasks to prioritise next and how much time you should expect to spend on each task, which is a great help if you’re time poor and want to know where to best focus your efforts. rankingCoach also has more than 1,000 step-by-step video tutorials in its archives to explain more about the tasks you need to complete, so this is a user-friendly tool for people with no SEO experience.
You can try rankingCoach on a 14-day free trial, after which you would pay £24.95 plus tax for the Standard package that covers a single project; agency-focused packages cost more.
Cool tip: The keyword research tool puts ease-of-use centre stage with a clear traffic light system showing keywords that would be easier to rank highly for in green.
Individual DIY SEO tools
As well as all-in-one DIY SEO tools, there are some fantastic individual tools out there, many of which are free of charge but provide invaluable data to help you boost your website’s visibility in SERPs. I’ve put together a list of my favourite individual DIY SEO tools below.
On-page SEO tools
When we refer to ‘on-page SEO’, we’re essentially talking about the content and HTML source code of web pages rather than ‘off-page’ elements such as backlinks. In the past, people used to think of ‘on-page’ SEO as being entirely about keywords but, these days, it’s broadened to encompass the quality and relevance of the page content, the distribution of anchor text, domain ranking and authority and much more.
That being said, keywords and their synonyms are still important to your on-page SEO efforts. Some of my favourite keyword tools include:
Although the Google Keyword Planner is a Google AdWords tool to help users target their ads using the best keywords, it is also helpful for identifying the ideal keywords for your organic traffic.
You can search for keyword ideas based on terms that are relevant to your product or services, your landing page or different product categories. The tool also provides historical statistics and traffic forecasts to give you invaluable insights into how keywords might perform, plus it identifies how competitive each search term is, based on Google AdWords data, so you can pinpoint relevant but low competition keywords.
Cool tip: Under the option to ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category’, you can narrow down the results to the most relevant keyword suggestions by editing the targeting options or setting above or below a specific number of searches. You can also opt to see ‘Medium’ and/or ‘Low’ competition keywords only.
If you are trying to optimise a product listing on your website, it may be important that the long-tail keywords you use include a specific description. For example, if you’re selling ‘red sandals’, you could add ‘red sandals’ to the ‘keywords to include’.
Keyword Finder is a research tool to help you find hundreds of long-tail keywords with high search volume and low SEO difficulty/competition. It’s easy to use, with a user-friendly interface, and most importantly, with metrics that provide instant help to your SEO efforts.
To use the tool, simply enter a keyword you want to target. Keyword Finder will then take you to a comprehensive report of alternative keywords and long-tail keywords, their trends, search volumes and cost per click, as well as information about the top websites currently ranking for your main search term.
Cool tip: The traffic light system employed on this site shows you the difficulty of ranking for each keyword. This is accompanied by a grade from 0-100 – ranging from ‘effortless’ to ‘don’t do it’ – which gives you an at a glance guide to where you would be best focusing your SEO energies.
Explore more keywords with this handy little tool, which promotes itself as an alternative to the Google Keyword Planner. You need to sign up to a free account but can then access a wide range of data about keyword search volumes.
Cool tip: Click on a keyword in the search results to generate a new list of keyword ideas related to the phrase you’ve clicked on. This can unearth some good low competition keywords.
This tool is designed to help you identify which keywords your competitors are targeting in ads and organic searches. You can sign up to a life-time free trial to access basic information – i.e. the top ten keyword results – that can still be very helpful when planning your own keyword strategy.
Cool tip: Even if you’re looking for data about a UK-based competitor, you may need to select the search country as the US in the search bar to access the keyword data. When you search for www.seo-plus.co.uk in the UK, for example, no data is returned but, if you change the search to the US, the correct information appears.
Simply enter your main topic or keyword into Uber Suggest and it will present you with a list of related keywords and phrases. If you click on a keyword that you would like to investigate further, it will let you view the search results in Google, track the keyword in Google Trends or expand this keyword into a new list of ideas.
Cool tip: If you’re a more visual person then you’ll love the Word Cloud tab on Uber Suggest. Once you’ve run a keyword search, switch to the Word Cloud view and you’ll see be able to see the most popular related search terms at a glance.
Story Base is a nifty tool that helps you identify the top questions your audience ask about a specific topic. It tells you what people talk about, which questions they ask and, more importantly, who’s asking. With these insights into your audience, it’s far easier to plan blog articles and other content.
Story Base is only free of charge for the duration of a 14-day free trial, after which the package for an individual user is $29 per month.
Cool tip: Put your main topic in the search bar and Story Base will give you a list of questions that people are asking about that topic. If you then go to Google and type ‘allintitle: <then type the question Story Base has suggested>’, you will only see the content that exactly answers that question. Are there any videos, blog articles or free downloads around the topic? Is there a format that you hasn’t been used for your chosen topic yet but that you can produce? The results of this search can help you to identify a gap in the market for your content.
Need help crafting clickable headlines that drive traffic, shares and search results? CoSchedule offers a free Headline Analyser tool that gives handy suggestions to make your headlines more compelling.
Cool tip: Try creating lists blogs, how to guides and answering your audience’s most frequently asked questions for headlines that convert SERPs impressions into website traffic.
Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are keywords that are either related to or mean the same as your main keyword. They have become increasingly important over recent years because search engines are more capable than ever of recognising words with the same meaning as well as the designated keyword. Google has confirmed that, by using more LSI keywords, websites will typically rank better. This tool will help you find LSI keywords that you could also include in your articles in addition to your focus keyword.
Cool tip: Once you have LSI Graph’s list of semantic keyword suggestions for your main keyword, narrow it down by thinking about the user intent and the context in which the keyword will appear. What words would your audience expect to read and what words would feel out of place?
This is a fantastic tool if you’re stuck for ideas for your next blog topic, especially if you want to bring in traffic that’s related to some of your primary keywords. To use this tool, you simply enter your main keyword or topic and AnswerThePublic will give you long-tail keyword suggestions based on the questions searchers are asking Google and Bing.
Cool tip: AnswerThePublic is a really good starting point for finding out what questions people are asking. You might then want to take the questions that you think reflect your audience and check their difficulty using tools like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush.
Off-page DIY SEO tools
Off-page SEO tells Google what others think about your website – this might be in terms of your reputation or domain authority, and include things such as brand mentions and citations or backlinks to your site.
Moz’s Open Site Explorer tool is designed to help you find linking opportunities, unearth who’s linking to your website and also discover potentially damaging links. The free version gives you access to basic information and a limited number of searches per day. Moz also offers a 30-day free trial of the full Moz Pro toolset, including Open Site Explorer (see above).
Cool tip: Click on the ‘Top pages’ option in the left hand menu to see which pages on your website have the highest page authority. Which pages have attracted the most backlinks and have the most linking root domains? This can be a good indicator that you should be creating more of this style of content or writing about related topics.
This is the industry’s leading SEO toolbar and one of my favourite free tools. Simply install the toolbar and you can see a wealth of SEO information about any web page you visit, including your own site.
The Mozbar has made SEO more transparent – use it to see what keywords, meta descriptions, title tags, heading tags and image alt tags your competitors are using, or check out page or domain authority.
In addition, if you log in to your free Moz account and switch the Mozbar on while you’re viewing a SERP, you can see at a glance the page and domain authority of the listed websites, as well as accessing some data to help you analyse their backlink profile.
Cool tip: You can quickly turn the MozBar on and off with a keyboard shortcut. On Mac, try Cmd + Option + Control + M, and on Windows use Shift + Ctrl + Alt + M.
Technical DIY SEO tools
Technical aspects of your website, such as page speeds or image sizes, can affect how your site runs and impact on the user experience (UX), particularly on mobile devices. In turn, technical issues can impact positively or negatively on your website’s rankings. To help you ensure your website is running as smoothly as possible, here are some of my favourite technical SEO tools:
Pingdom’s Website Speed Test helps you analyse the load speed of your web pages and learn how to make them faster. Using this tool, you can identify what about a web page is fast, slow, too big, what best practices you should follow, and so on.
All you need to do is enter the address of the URL you want to test and select one of four countries to test from. Pingdom will then give you a speed test grade with information about how your site compares to other websites and a list of technical performance insights and recommendations.
Cool tip: Pingdom’s insights and recommendations are graded and use a traffic light system of red, amber and green to help you pinpoint which improvements you need to action first.
This is another handy free tool for testing the load time for any URL on your website. Google’s PageSpeed Insights gives you separate reports for mobile and desktop performance, along with a list of recommendations about what you should change to speed up the load time and technical performance of the URL.
Cool tip: Look for links within the recommendations to the resources that could help you implement the changes Google PageSpeed Insights has suggested.
With so many people now accessing the internet via their smart phones and other mobile devices, it’s important to provide a mobile-friendly experience. To test that your website is achieving this, you can use Google’s free mobile-friendly test. Simply enter the URL you want to check and Google will give you a helpful report about any technical issues, as well as links to additional resources.
Cool tip: If you want to see more of the data behind Google’s mobile-friendly test and what you can do to make your site more mobile friendly, then install the Mobile-Friendly Checker Chrome extension.
This nifty little tool lets you resize, optimise and compress your images so that they’re most suitable for use on web pages and other online resources.
Cool tip: Optimising your images can help page speeds and load times, and significantly enhance the mobile UX.
If you have a WordPress site, this plugin meticulously scans every image you upload – or have already added to your site –, cuts all the unnecessary data and scales it for you before adding it to your media library.
Cool tip: I use Image Optimiser above to rescale and optimise my images and then WP Smush for a final tweak.
This excellent tool lets you optimise your PNG and JPEG images with a perfect balance between visual quality and file size. The changes to images are almost imperceptible to the viewer more often than not and yet can dramatically shrink the file size and subsequent load times of a web page.
Cool tip: There’s a TinyPNG WordPress plugin that lets you compress up to 500 images per month for free, including compressing images in bulk rather than one at a time.
Structured markup is a way of helping search engines to understand the content of your website. Although elements of a web page make sense to human visitors, search engines can find them harder to decipher – this might include elements like reviews, recipes, ratings, events, and product descriptions.
Structured data goes into the HTML code for a web page and tells the search engines what each element on the page is about.
The Structured Data Markup Helper gives you step-by-step instructions and generates the appropriate code to help you markup elements of your content.
If you have a WordPress website there are a number of plugins designed to help you add Structured Data to your site – I like All-in-one Schema.org Rich Snippets.
Cool tip: For an introduction to Structured Data Markup and Schema (a vocabulary of HTML tags used for Data Markup), check out the SEO+ Beginners’ Guide – Schema Made Easy.
Data and tracking tools
Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. You can use the data in Google Analytics to track your web traffic volumes, site bounce rate (i.e. the percentage of people who leave from the same page as they arrive on without viewing any other parts of your website), average dwell time, where your traffic has come from, audience behaviour and demographics, how visitors move through your site, conversion rates and much more.
Cool tip: Check out the no-nonsense guide to using Google Analytics to boost your SEO – Part one for more advice about setting up and using Google Analytics.
Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results.
This tool is packed full of useful information, such as:
- Where your website features Schema Markup and where it could be added
- Any HTML issues with your site
- How your Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are performing, if your website has them
- Search data, including what keyword searches are bringing your pages up in SERPs, traffic volumes, clickthrough rates, impressions and rankings.
- Which external websites have the most backlinks to your site and which pages are most linked to
- Mobile usability issues and errors
- URLs indexed by Google, as well as any indexing issues you might need to address
- Crawl errors and stats
- How Google sees your website
- Your sitemap
- Any security issues
- Various web tools, such as Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (see Technical SEO Tools above)
Cool tip: Not sure where to start with Google Search Console? Check out the SEO+ beginners’ guide.
This is a fantastic free tool that enables you to quickly and easily track your keyword ranking. Simply select whether you want to see your position globally or within a specific country, add your website’s URL and the top five keywords that you currently target for that address. Serplab will give you some general information about whether you currently rank in the top 10, top 100, etc. for that search term.
Cool tip: Click to see the top ten listings in SERPs for your chosen keyword to see how your competitors are performing.
Auditing SEO tools
For a quick and actionable overview of your SEO efforts, you can’t beat Woorank’s instant SEO audit tool. Simply enter the URL you want to audit and Woorank will return a report giving you an overall SEO percentage, followed by insights into your meta data, keyword consistency, mobile performance, page speeds, marketing, site technologies and much more.
I particularly like the traffic light system for indicating problems that need fixing immediately, as well as the information provided to help you action each recommendation.
Cool tip: You can run one free website SEO audit before you need to sign up to the 14-day free trial for further audits and to access the other Woorank tools.
Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider is a desktop program that you can install locally on PC, Mac or Linux to crawl websites’ links, images, CSS, script and apps to evaluate the on-site SEO. This tool can not only help you audit your own SEO efforts but also keep an eye on what your competitors are doing.
Using the free version, you can crawl up to 500 URLs to:
- Find broken links, errors and redirects
- Analyse page titles and meta data
- Review meta robots and directives
- Audit hreflang attributes
- Discover duplicate pages
- Generate XML sitemaps
Cool tip: As mentioned above, the lite (free) version of Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider only allows you to crawl up to 500 URLs, which can be an issue if you have a larger website. A workaround for this is to enter a subdirectory to crawl, rather than your entire site, so that you’re able to audit a larger site in sections that fall within the free limit.
The Panguin Tool from Barracuda Digital lets you see at a glance whether your website traffic has been affected by Google’s algorithm changes.
Simply enter your URL, log in using the Google account that links to your Google Analytics data and select the web property you want to audit. The Panguin Tool will then show your organic traffic within your selected date parameters as well as highlighting when an algorithm update is rumoured or confirmed to have happened.
This tool is invaluable for identifying whether a drop or increase in your rankings is directly attributable to Google’s algorithms. If you understand why your rankings have dropped, you will be better placed to correct any issues.
Cool tip: Click on a vertical line denoting an update for more information about it.
Grab your free DIY SEO Tools download before you go!
So there you have it, my favourite all-in-one DIY SEO tools and free SEO tools – I hope you enjoy exploring and using them as much as I do (I admit it, I’m a metrics geek!)
I’ve created a handy free SEO Tool PDF for you to download and refer back to whenever you’re working on your SEO.
And if there are any tools that you think I should have included and haven’t, why not leave me a message in the Comments below so I can check out your recommendations. I always love hearing about new tools.
If you have a SEO question you’d like answered let me know below or on our Facebook page where you’ll find a wealth of SEO information and advice.
Happy optimsing 🙂