If you are looking for ways to make your SEO budget go as far as possible, you’re not yet ready to outsource your SEO or you would prefer to optimise your website in-house, there are some fantastic free tools that any business owner can use on any website to fine tune their SEO efforts.
We’ve put together an overview of our ten favourite free SEO tools and why we love them to give you a great starting point:
Back in October 2014, we wrote a two-part blog talking you through Google Analytics’ basic features – you can find Part One of The no-nonsense guide to using Google Analytics to boost your SEO here.
If you only choose one SEO tool to use regularly, Google Analytics gets our vote as virtually all the actionable and important data about your site’s visitors, traffic and referral sources comes from this tool.
In our opinion, Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) comes a close second for actionable data, tools and diagnostics for a healthy, Google-friendly website. The Search Traffic data is particularly helpful for assessing your website’s most popular keywords and whether your rankings are improving or on the downturn. If you notice a sudden significant drop in your rankings this can be a sign of a penalty or an algorithm change.
The Other Resources option in Google Search Console lets you check your website’s load speed under the PageSpeed Insights and also provides a shortcut to setting up your Google for Business page.
You can read our Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools here.
The Google Keyword Planner is a fantastic tool for looking at potential traffic for different keywords and long-tail phrases. Although the data comes from Google AdWords rather than organic search data, it’s still one of the most helpful keyword research tools available.
You can use the Keyword Planner to generate keyword ideas or find volume and trend data for your potential keywords. There are various filters which let you search the data by location, eliminate negative keywords, and much more.
The MozBar is a free SEO toolbar plugin for Chrome or Firefox, and one of our favourite tools. Once you have installed the MozBar, you can view instant reports about the website you’re visiting, which is fantastic for carrying out competitors’ research.
The MozBar shows page and domain authority at a glance. Click on the ‘Page Analysis’ icon to the left of the toolbar and the MozBar shows the meta data for each page, the heading tags, bold and italic text, and alt tags behind the images. This gives you a good insight into how the search engines see each page and what keywords your competitors are targeting. You can identify what they’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement, before translating these lessons into your own business.
Another feature of the MozBar is that, when you run a search in Google, you are able to compare the page and domain authority for each page listed in the search results, as well as click through to Open Site Explorer to view the page’s link profile (you can only run a limited number of searches per day without a paid Moz account).
This is helpful for side-by-side comparisons and tends to demonstrate the Google favours higher authority domains in search results, as the screenshot below highlights.
Woorank enables you to analyse any website and generate an in-depth report in a matter of seconds. This report looks at ways you can improve your website rankings and online visibility through SEO, social media, usability and much more.
Although Woorank is a paid-for tool, you can sign up for a seven-day free trial of the full version and generate as many reports as you want during that time. With the full version, you get a prioritised list of SEO tasks within the categories: Optimise, Convert, and Promote. NB: You need to enter your credit card details to access the full free trial.
This is another excellent plugin for those of you using Chrome. Once you have the SEO Site Tools plugin installed, all you need to do is click on the magnifying glass to the right of your search bar for some amazing data about any website you visit.
The External Page Data panel takes you through to various sources of data about the page’s link metrics and link profile.
The Page Elements tag will show you all the meta data, heading tags, bold/strong text, italics, and alt tags on the page you’re viewing, so you can gain some insight into the keywords for that page and how the search engines might be viewing it.
There are also panels within this plugin that review the social media activity for each page or post you visit, and links through to SEO tools such as the Copyscape Plagiarism Checker and Keyword Eye (see number 7 below).
A particularly helpful feature of this plugin is the Suggestions panel (pictured below). This uses a traffic light system to highlight what you’re doing well on your website, as well as what you should fix immediately and what you could improve.
Keyword Eye is a fantastic tool if you’re a visual thinker as it gives you an at a glance word cloud of keyword suggestions with traffic light colour coding to show how competitive each word or phrase is.
Although Keyword Eye has a paid-for option, you can sign up to the free service and run 10 keyword searches per day as well as accessing other tools.
Once you have signed up to Keyword Eye (no payment details are needed), simply click on ‘New’ in the top left hand corner and enter your primary keyword in the panel that pops up. You can narrow down your search by location and number of results.
Once you run your search, Keyword Eye will present you with a colour coded word cloud that shows low competition keywords at a glance. You can then hover your mouse over each word for details about search volumes or right click for additional information.
If you want to see the data in different formats, you can click on the Visualizations or Grid View tabs.
It’s the clean dashboard and visually appealing presentation that sets Keyword Eye apart, making it an essential tool for many SEO professionals, and even the paid-for plan is more affordable than many comparable services.
The Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a free small desktop program that you can install locally on your PC, Mac or Linux Machine. The spider crawls websites’ links, images, CSS, scripts and apps from an SEO perspective. It also fetches key onsite elements and lists them under a series of tabs. This is a great tool for medium to large websites as it pulls all the data into one place, letting you quickly and easily audit a website’s SEO. The data can be exported to Excel.
The QuickSprout website analyser is another beautifully designed and easy-to-use tool to analyse your website content, search engine optimisation, page speeds and social media performance (or that of your competitors).
Simply type in your web address and Quicksprout will generate an actionable report with recommendations about how you can improve your website’s performance. You can also view a report about your social media activity, which lets you see your most popular blog posts at a glance, or compare your website with up to three competitors’ sites at a time.
NB: After entering your web address, you’ll see a pop-up which asks you whether you want to generate more web traffic. Clicking on ‘Yes’ will take you to a landing page to arrange a call to discuss your SEO, so click on ‘No’ to go through to your free report.
To keep all the data for your records, click on the ‘PDF & Excel’ tab to the right hand side of the screen and enter your email address.
Structured data is a way for search engines to make sense of your website’s HTML. Google and the other search engines have created a structured data standard called schema.org and it is recommended that every website has a Schema Markup to help search engines crawl them.
Schema.org can be difficult to wrap your head around, which is why the Schema Creator was created. It features some of the most popular schemas – for example, if you want Google to highlight a product, a product review, your contact information, etc., in search results – as well as some fantastic videos to help you understand what schema.org is, why it’s important and how to insert the code into your website.
If you have a WordPress site, you can simplify the process even further by installing the Schema Creator for WordPress plugin.
To check whether your website already has Schema Markup, you can go to your Google Webmaster Tools and use the Structured Data Testing Tool under Other resources.
Other free SEO tools we love
You might also want to check out these free SEO tools if you have a moment as we think they deserve a shout out:
- Browseo – View every web page as the search engines see it
- SEMrush – Access a free domain report, keyword analysis and list of competitors
- Buzzsumo – Check out what’s trending globally or locally, search the top content for your keywords, or sign up to the free trial to analyse the content on your website
- SpyFu – Enter your website domain for a free report about your most profitable keywords (data is limited for the free service)
- DeepCrawl – Sign up for the free report and within 24 hours you will be sent a comprehensive crawl analysis of your website with action points for any issues that need fixing, such as broken links, overly long meta descriptions, and duplicate tags
- Peek – Enter your web address and an anonymous user somewhere in the world will record a five-minute video of them using your website and recording their immediate impressions. It can be a bit hit and miss but also give some incredible feedback about design, content and functionality that you may be too close to your website to spot
- Google Page Speed Insights – Check how fast your website loads across various devices and what you need to do to fix any load time issues
Are there any tools that we’ve missed? Have you found a free SEO tool that you love? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments below or over on the SEO+ Facebook page.
If you want to grow your business with high-quality, organic traffic that converts these free tools can help you.
For further help in growing your business find out more about our UK SEO Services or Email us for more information on how we can help your website work for you.
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Hazel Jarrett, director of SEO at SEO+, is well-known in the SEO space, has won many awards during her 20-year career and has been published on various well-known sites. Through her services and training programs, her SEO strategies have generated 10s of millions of sales for her clients, earning her a big reputation for delivering the results that matter.
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