Being an SEO is not easy or cheap. Tools can get expensive and they also do a great job at telling you that can’t do anything without them.
You can, but for sure a paid tool can make the difference in your workflow. Only the automated updates and reports where you can easily see a drop in rankings or traffic or a jump to the first position, so that you can report it straight away to your client, and that’s worth all the money.
Talking about paid tools is a topic for another article. Because here, we’re going to discuss what free SEO tools options we have. Yup, you can get away with free and do a decent job. From keyword research to technical analysis, there are a plethora of solutions that can help you be on top of your game.
These are the tools – browser extensions, apps on your computer, or cloud services – that I’ve used myself. More will be added because this is an ongoing thing.
And feel free to leave a note about your favourite free SEO tool and we’ll get it cover here.
Without any more details, let’s look at what are the best free SEO tools that I’ve used.
Free Keyword Research Tools
True. Every (keyword) research should start with the search result pages (SERPS). What are they telling us? What websites rank in the first 3 positions organically? Are they under the local pack, videos, and other informational content?
What (key)words and (key)phrases do they use in their titles? How about their meta description? Once you click those results, you can check if the meta from the SERP is the meta they have provided (you can do that with other plugins mentioned in this article).
What subheadings are they using? Is the content interactive? Does it have images? Videos? Questions answered? Comments? Does it have a unique tool/widget (think of a mortgage calculator for example)?
Back to the SERP, what featured snippets are featured? And what other queries people did (scroll towards the bottom)?
Spend some time on the first page and analyze the results. If you do it right, you’ll discover close to 80% of what you need to know about the intent behind those types of searches.
It should be browser extension. See the power of branding?
Ok so what if you typed in a word or a phrase in Google and were somehow able to see the search volume and other keyword-related phrases and variations, with the associated search volume as well. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Guess what this free browser plugin does… Simply amazing.
Now, I wouldn’t build my entire keywords strategy based on this plugin. And all the cool features and what you can do with these results are for the paid version. Nevertheless, it’s a (great) start. It also has MOZ domain authority as one of the metrics 🙂 in the SERP for domains and pages. And has also YouTube keywords on a YouTube video page that tells you keyword tags!!!
Basically does the same thing as Keywords Everywhere. I’ve been using both and I can’t say I’ve been seeing different results or volumes. I’m based in Canada so often I switch to the U.S. to get a better understanding of the volume and the intent.
Also, the search behaviour differs, so in Europe, you might find a tool handier than the other. Nevertheless, Surfer SEO is the star for the past two years and this tool is popular enough to be mentioned here.
This is probably the first professional keyword research tool anyone starts with. And it’s great. It’s a part of Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords – as many still refer to it even today) in order to help you determine which are the right keywords for you to bid (spend money) on.
It gives you volume and an approximate cost per click in a certain area (because dentist Toronto costs different than dentist Markham) and it’s pretty generous.
Some industries are restricted (you won’t find search volume for guns).
Bing has a similar free keyword research tool.
A very powerful tool made available by Google. And it’s for free. Gives you data on special terms on regions, language, etc. Great to check for seasonality and if a massive drop in traffic happened, after investigating the technical stuff, I go to see if there’s a lower demand/interest for the service/product from the trends.
Pro tip: Don’t neglect YouTube searches. YouTube is the no2 search engine in the world (owned by Google, the no1 search engine).
Rand Fishkin is the face you’ll get familiar with whenever you start learning about SEO. His Moz Whiteboard Fridays are legendary. He wrote a successful book called Lost and Founder where he talks about the entrepreneurial journey, how he started MOZ, what would he had done differently and what are his plans with this new tool.
The latest project is mindblowing – audience research – you know, the stuff that people paid millions for. The tool is not free, but you do have 5 limited (it used to be 10) searches per month.
Nope, as Rand said, this is not an influencer marketing tool. It’s audience research – who talks about your product/service? What podcast do they listen to? Who do they follow? You know… GOLD.
WOW – these were the first sounds I made when I discovered this tool a couple of years back. Still WOW even today. What does it do? It tells you the questions (not the answers lol – that’s for you to supply) people are asking about a certain keyword.
How is this helpful? Long-tail keywords and questions to answer – simple as that. Address the queries people are typing in and if it’s good and relevant, Google will reward you by showing your website in the search result (I’ve cracked the code!!!).
It used to have a bearded gentleman with a turtleneck. Not sure what happened there but that was a branding element.
In the same registry, Also Asked was/is a tool that I liked, for no particular reason. For some time it seems that it’s under maintenance (to similar to Answer the Public?) but I hope it will come back.
Sometimes you need to have all of the search engines (G, Bing, YouTube, Amazon) in one place. and I can’t say I didn’t find myself using this tool every now and then, mostly to see if there’s something I might have missed (like an intent). For volume and other insights, you need to pay. Nevertheless, still worth checking it out.
Ubbersuggest has been around for a while but a couple of years back it was purchased by Neil Patel (you know, that guy that clients keep sending you links from to show you how to do your job) and enhanced with features. It has a paid version and by no means this is the no1 tool and it won’t be.
That being said, I have discovered backlinks that other tools didn’t pick up. And for some regions, some low-hanging-fruits keywords that I’ve successfully implemented. So don’t neglect it, as it’s a free lite version similar to more versatile tools such as Ahrefs, Moz and Semrush.
And by the looks of it, more and more features are added, for the free version as well. I’ve included it in the keywords research tool section, but it’s more than just that.
Free Analytics SEO Tools
The benchmark of any digital marketer. Did you know that this is a paid tool? Only after you reach a certain amount of hits (think Walmarts or the Amazons comparisons) – so a paid version is not feasible for probably 98% of its users.
This is, most likely, the first traffic analysis tool someone will use – and most likely will use it for the rest of their digital marketing career. The amount and type of information they provide are outstanding – you can build your (successful) business based on that. How your users discover you, what do they do on your site, what do they click, how much time they spend, etc.
You know what they say: What gets measured gets managed! so Google Analytics is a must on any website. And now, they are releasing the new Google Analytics, GA4, the first major update since… forever! And it’s a totally different tool, built to address the future. Start implementing it right away because it works like the classic (old, regular) Google Analytics – it gathers data from the moment you enable it so if you want some history, do it as soon as you can.
How cool could it be if Google Analytics actually records the screen of your visitors, to see how they behave (lol) on your site? Wait, there’s a tool that already does that. It’s called Hot Jar and it’s not expensive considering what type of data they provide.
Rank Math, CloudFlare, JetPack, and other plugins and addons have some sort of analytics. Some are more generous than others. They will be covered in this article.
Because you want your reports to look pretty and not to spend so much time in exporting data and creating PowerPoints (arguably, the most time consuming task from all of campaign manager’s tasks). It play really well with other Google tools such as Analytics and Search Console so you can easy manipulate live data. Aleyda Solis has some amazing Google Data Studio report templates that I often use.
Free Technical SEO Tools
Your relationship with Google can be managed through this. And it’s the only way (regarding search). So no campaign starts without ensuring GSC access is provided. Preferably, in advance, since the auditing stage. Because Google Search Console gives you (some of) the information Google is willing to share.
They don’t necessarily do this for your website’s sake. Remember, Google is trying to serve their clients (the people who perform the queries) with the best possible answers so they don’t want to leave out the possibility of great results just because you have the no-index tagged (by mistake) on your page.
From manual actions to page indexations requests (or removal), adding the sitemap to help the crawler better… crawl. Or what queries and pages do people click for your website. How many impressions and clicks for those.
Google Search Console is a must. Period.
Talking about a unique and great brand name!
This is the go-to for crawlers. It’s a freemium tool, but with the free version, you can get away with what you need for most websites. With the free version, your crawl is limited to only 500 pages (which most SMB sites don’t even get close to) and obviously, some more important perks come with the paid version. You will have a (small) budget of around 200USD/year to pay for it once you get a contract.
Page titles and meta descriptions, internal 404pages (and where they are coming from), images names and alt tags, index (or no-index), duplicate titles or content, orphan pages – just a few of what this tool does.
You need to download and run it on your computer.
Sometimes, if I sense something is wrong, I start a crawl before I even open the website. So, Screaming Frog is a must in any SEO toolkit.
Also, a shoutout to their social media team, which doesn’t leave any comment not replied to. And doing an exemplary PR job. So I guess you have the tool + the pr team as an example.
Powered by Screaming Frog. Because you need, at one point in your SEO career, to analyze some log files. You don’t need to be a developer or know much about backed and servers/hosting to be able to pick up on something that might go wrong, just by looking at the log files. The free version is obviously limited but in all honesty, most sites don’t even have 100 pages.
This is where you see a search engine crawler coming to your site. And if it comes often, and keeps crawling the same page, that might be where you need to look.
Made with ❤️ from Canada by Kristina Azarenko, a fellow SEO professional (and immigrant) who’s killing it and making a name for herself. Good job!
I find myself installing and uninstalling a lot of extensions (you can only use so many). But this one is always with me. Core Web Vitals, Title and Meta, indexed, how many headings, schema, links (internal and external) – everything with just a click, without needing to go anywhere else.
I hope the next update will include a word count on the page. That’s it!
Moz is an industry leader and also has the only domain acceptable metric for Domain and Page Authority – which can mean something. Or not. I personally use it as a reference since there’s nothing else or better as an alternative.
Backlinks, headings, descriptions and title tags, and everything you would expect from a tool like this.
This tool is somehow part of the SEMRush family but not fully supported or promoted, or so it seems. In order to have all the functionalities, you will need to connect it with SEMRush.
It does what all the other SEO browser extensions do; maybe a little bit different, and offering more information that (like SEMRush) can seem overwhelming and maybe a little bit annoying when turned on.
Very good for a quick on-page audit, and a quick WHOIS so definitely try it before adding it to your free SEO tools toolkit.
Ensure you’re doing it in incognito (yes, you can enable extensions in incognito). Other plugins/extensions can affect the performance. It’s easy to confuse it with Google Page Speed insights reports but Lighthouse is offering more reports than the other.
You will see screenshots with these metrics everywhere, especially in those free website SEO audit emails you are getting frequently. It shows you the score for Core web Vitals and how it responds to certain triggers.
Remember, it measures page (not website) speed. And you will get different results every time you run a test, as it depends on so many factors. Nevertheless, it’s important to have a high score. Be careful not to break your site or get rid of other functions just to get that perfect score.
I’ve written about why and how to use Ahrefs webmaster tools for your website here. So I won’t be using this space here but I highly encourage you to check that article out. Ahrefs is a powerful tool in the SEO space so when you’ll have the chance to work with the paid version, you will understand why.
In 2020 they released this lite free version of their tool, a version that covers pretty much all the basics. Good to have and all my websites are monitored in this webmaster tool.
For the past two years or so this tool has decreased in popularity. Probably because the metrics they offer are now offered by other tools that didn’t a while back. But it’s still under my free SEO tools lists and adds a URL every time I do an audit. I like their waterfall chart – it’s not like other tools don’t offer but the layout is different and this one’s tabs are somehow intuitive and you can easily spot scripts that consume your page.
For the lazy, they give you a compressed version of your images that you can download and then re-upload. The grading is also useful and you can see why a screenshot with a D mark can help your pitch and might give you the contract. The top issues sections are also extremely useful.
This tool was one of the first to measure the website speed test. I still find myself adding a URL every now and then.
Do you use schema on your site? Structured data is a code to help Google better understand what the site/element/structure/entity is all about – so that again, it serves their users best. Using schema can be that small differentiation from positions 1 and 2 – and we know how much this means.
I delay you would use as much as you can, but a minimum of article for blogs, about and contact schema can easily be implemented using plugins.
Google provides us with a free tool to test our page and see if everything is in place, or if there’s something missing.
Is your site mobile-friendly? You have only one site, and not your desktop and mobile version, right?
It’s important to see how Google thinks your website is so don’t neglect to add the URL in thereafter any major update.
It’s not just the mobile friendly test tool but all the Experte tools seems to be free and intuitive. Page speed and security, they have it all under a single site.
Chrome DevTools (right click – inspect) on any page
Not a day goes by without inspecting an element on a website. Most recently I’ve been doing a lot of local SEO so I inspect competitions map listings (more on that with another occasion) to see what categories they are using. But from competitors websites to reverse engineer some functionality I like, or the sites I’m working on (most often instead of login in on the back to take a picture from for social media, I inspect and find the URL via frontend for example) – Developers tools is one of the most powerful functionalities in the web browser.
Noticed how I haven’t even mentioned the console and all the technical aspects you can easily see/debug just from the front-end.
Learn how to use it. Even if you’re not a developer, it still helps you. A LOT!
Comes in very handy to see how many clicks a button on a website has. You need to link it
Because so many things can will go wrong, it’s an easy way of identifying some related to your tag manager. It can get messy, so this helps.
Because sometimes you need to quickly check how your website looks somewhere else on Earth. Easy previews, no much to say here.
There’s no secret in the fact that communications between the campaign manager and the web development team (the SEO manager doesn’t need to do everything by itself, especially the technical aspects).
In other words, most of the time, we are not speaking the same langue. And Yellow Labs can help in that sense. Because their audits speak more of a developer language than GTMetrix or Page Speed Test.
When you check your site with Google Page Speed Test, as well as most of the other tools out there, you check the page/homepage. As you know, your site has more than the home page and a convenient way to check all the pages on your site for performance is to use Batch Speed.
Extremely versatile Chrome extension; I’ve seen many using it for a quick check of the page SEO title, meta, canonicals, etc. But has many other functions, that makes it one of the most popular tools out there.
Made with love from Canada, this is the extension that I use. Same functionalities as most, but I support its creator (Kristina Azarenko). I used it daily, and at a glimpse I can see everything I need, including the headings in a chronological order, links, and Core Web Vitals in addition to the SEO titles, metas, canonicals, robots, etc.
Free Link Building, Link Checker & Link Monitoring Tools
Such a long name – they all more or less, do the same thing. The difference is made by their own data bases – which can differ from country to country and tool to tool. Ex: if most of your websites are in Europe you will probably discover more links from a tool than the other. Let’s see.
You can set up alerts for your brand name and set up the alert frequency. Google will send you regular emails with what it discovered, pages that mentioned your brand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve identified a brand name on a page. I simply asked and won a good backlink only by asking. Sometimes you don’t get any response and there’s little you can do but hey… why not?
BuzzSumo has a similar function as well, but that tool is more versatile.
This is one of my favorite broken link checker favourite SEO Tools. And it’s free! Why is it my favourite? Because often (most of the time) it finds broken outbound links within my websites that other (paid, and not cheap) tools don’t. And what an exact match domain for the service they offer.
Easy to use, pretty straight forward tool. 3 check per day to find yours or your competitors backlinks.
Guess what this free tool from SEMRush does?
Can you guess what this one do?
Because sometimes (more often than not), some URLs are way to long and you need them to be shorter. This is a good tool. Some nice perks come with the premium version.
Free Local SEO Tools
I was doing competitor listing research and was looking through the code on the maps to see what categories they were using, in case I was missing out on something. Until someone said – I got a plugin that does this!
And not just categories, but it shows you other info about the listing, on the map. Useful.
This browser plugin, in conjunction with PlePer, makes the difference and saves you a lot of time because it provide you with information about the listings on the map right there – on the map. You can easily audit the reviews, posts – and overall your competitors listing in order to make a solid judgment on why a listing in ranking in the position it ranks (and most likely, yours is not).
Free Video SEO Tools
I’ve been using VidIQ for a couple of years and once I’ve logged out and back in and this plugin was not enabled and I thought – YouTube change its layout?
From creating keyword tag groups to vide thumbnails or spying on competitors, as well as analytics and stats to help you in the decision making, this is a tool for scaling your YouTube video marketing campaigns. It’s a freemium plugin and like all the freemium plugins, the cool features comes with the paid version.
Nevertheless, you can do many things with the free version and even if you have 1 video on YouTube, you should be using this tool.
Free WordPress SEO Tools
It’s unlikely you will not encounter a Yoast interaction within the first 30 minutes of your SEO learning journey. Yoast is a WordPress plugin for SEO – it’s the most popular one, and it’s been in business for… I don’t know exactly how long but I can tell you I’ve been using it for 10 years, if not even more.
Fun fact – it’s named after it’s founder, who’s name is Joost – but pronounced Yoast.
That said, this plugin literally revolutionized the SEO industry, giving a hammer to many website managers, not necessary professional SEOs. Hence, many people thought that good SEO means having a green light from the Yoast backend dashboard for each article. Completely wrong, and dangerous in some cases.
That said, it is a good practice to have outbound links on a page (this blog post for example is full of those). Or to have an image, or to have the main keyword in the SEO title and meta, headings and subheadings, etc. Or to have it in the alt description of the image, and in the first paragraph.
And is also a good practice to keep your SEO title and meta description under a certain character limit.
That said (I use this expression often), all the pages I have optimized and rank no.1 (some for extremely competitive keywords) don’t have a full green light from the Yoast plugin.
You’ll find plenty of resources on the blog as well, and they were among the first ones to offer SEO training courses (paid).
That said, I still use it a lot; the free versions covers up pretty much everything you need: on page optimization, page schema, slug (page URLs), etc. There’s also a wizard I recommend going for, where you set up your site’s entity so they add the proper code, to help the search engine better understand what your website is all about as an entity, link all your social accounts, etc.
They also have some cool modules for eCommerce and news (never used them) and overall, it’s a great tool.
What happens when you installed and activated the Yoast SEO plugin but don’t see the option for optimizing your page?
You need to enable it from the top right Screen Option button that all WordPress website have.
I spent like 30 minutes finding it on a site I had to optimize. You’re welcome.
Rank Math is the new bad boy in town. I’m using it on this site and on several and it’s everything Yoast + some small added features. Page redirections come with the free version (compared to Yoast) and that is the most important feature I consider. Again, you can go trough the wizard and setup your website, and go through all the settings.
The paid version lets you track keywords and apparently make reports, etc. It’s a little bit un-intuitive when it comes to adding the relevant information, the basics of the OnPage SEO – they are several clicks away, and that can be frustrating.
It plays well with all the major builders (Divi, Elementor, etc) and also handles AMP (still relevant today?) in conjunction with other plugins.
As said, there’ s a reason why I use this plugin now as my default one. I won’t migrate Yoast (at least for the near-term future).
All in One SEO
AMP for WP
Manage WP Worker
Markup (JSON-LD) structured in schema.org
Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP
Enable Media Replace
Misc Free SEO Tools
Logical Content Flow
I felt into the trap of thinking that a larger font sub heading is also tagged accordingly. Not the case, and once you’ll start using this tool, you will discover this yourself. Many pages start with an H2 (maybe the category), or have a un-logical (I believe the correct term is illogic) headings flow.
This tool helps you determine that for each page, individually. I use it in my audits and it’s extremely useful for heavy content website audits.
It’s not just one time I heard the story of someone having a website only to lose all the information due to hacks/not continuing with the hosting etc. And I can’t tell how surprised they were to be able to access that information again.
It also helps to get a glimpse of the website’s (domains) history: what was it 10 years ago? Hint: search those sites you used to do in high school 🙂
Reddico created this great online tool to quickly check a page’s speed and rankings compared to a given keyword and location. I love using this because you get a birds eye view at a glance in a matter that makes more actionable sense than any other Google tool for example. See who else is ranking, what positions, and the page speed + actionable items.
I have all the tabs in the world opened in the same time. But I have others I need and this simple extension is helping me tremendously. Do you have multiple clients, each with it’s own access (think Google Analytics for example), its own ongoing documents that you need to have opened, and you’re frustrated by logging out and in so many times? OneTab comes to the rescue.
I know now browsers somehow incorporated some of its features but I still use it, import and export tabs (make sure you do that because if your machine crashes you won’t be able to access those saved tabs).
Not an SEO tool specifically but one I found myself using more and more everyday. It resizes images for different social media purposes – Instagram post, Story, Facebook feed, etc. I can’t tell you how much this helps as I like to post natively most of the time and the image does make a difference. And as much as you would want, you can’t have a 1size fit all image. This Pixel Hunter tool helps.
What does the Google knows about you? Your brand or your client’s brand to be more specifically…
You can do a simple search. But you can also use this free tool that helps with the Knowledge Graph. I check all the projects I work for every now and then as it gives me a perspective.
In SEO, changes happen every second. Sometimes, the most experienced SEOs sense them right away. But we should not trust what others are sensing and most of the time, the search engines (Google) don’t announce or they announce it days later after an update to their algorithm has been made.
Fortunately, there are tools that can help us monitor, and Semrush Sensor is one of those tools.
It gets broken down by location, category and the type and results and volatility. Highly efficient when you suspect something is going on.
The Winners and Losers comparison helps sometimes identify right away if the website you manage has been hit.
I use Jetpack, Cloudflare, and usually have access to the webhosting. If for whatever reason the website goes down, most tools will send you a notification ASAP. That said, when doing SEO (as I do), you sometimes don’t have access to the client’s website or server or anything. And in case it goes down, you won’t get any notification and you won’t see it until you go to the website URL (or do a scan).
UptimeRobot monitors your website and send you an alert if anything happens. The free version is very generous and trust me, it saved my a**.
Similar to SEMRush sensor, MozCast gives you the search fluctuation (weather) forecasts. Based on categories, combined with the massive amount of data they have, this is one place you should stop within the first 10 minutes when you noticed your website had a sudden drop in rankings. Maybe something outside of your work happened. We use to call it “nature” when we were kids, and our team will score by the intervention of a foreign object.
The tool I use to compress my website images. Regardless if I export them from Photoshop or Pixlr E or any other tool that says they are compressed, I do the work one more time. And it pays, because they are compressed in a nice way, without loosing quality. I don’t believe in WordPress image compression plugins. Do the work before it’s up on your site.
A online tool with a desktop downloadable application for image optimizations. It has a privacy touch as it’s build by some ex Google employees (or this is how the legend goes, I did not had the time to verify that information). Upload your image, and optimize it with an editor (TinyPNG does not have one). Not much to say here anymore 🙂
This is one tool I discovered close to 10 years ago. I don’t always have access to Photoshop and I was looking for an online alternative. Now, it has grown into so much more, but that said, the E version is the one I use daily. Period. It’s the closest thing you can have to Photoshop, and it’s free. There’s a paid version, that I assume saves you from the ads that are kind of aggressive. It also has some great templates to use for social media (an alternative to Canva). And the images are compressed when saved. There’s a reason why I use this dialy.
Because a website’s language can be tricky. And really there’s no one better than Aleyda to talk about this subject. Seriously, for any information regarding the proper implementation of the languages tags, check Aleyda’s work. Among many other useful information, she also made this generator that will help you add the proper tags to your site.
What gets measured gets managed. I believe Peter Drucker said that (I could have done a Google search during the time I took to write this, but I like to trust my memory on this one). UTM tagging is something you can see in your analytics reports. And not just you; I’ve created many campaigns where I did not have control of the linked website (and subsequently to their analytics). It’s a nice feeling when they call you up to ask you about that extra traffic from that weird tag they saw in their analytics.
What one SEO campaign manager has to do with design? I don’t know, but most I know use this tool every now and then. Extremely versatile with lots of great free templates can make your presentation/ poster/social post look like it was designed (more) professionally. Seriously, it’s better than a word document exported to a pdf or a simple Power point presentation. It gives it a little flavor.