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 it 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.
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 his 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.
Rank Math, CloudFlare, JetPack, and other plugins and addons have some sort of analytics. Some are more generous than others.
Google Data Studio
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.
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.
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 and will go wrong, it’s an easy way of identifying some related to your tag manager. It can get messy, so this helps.
Free Link Building and Link Monitoring Tools
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 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.
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.
In conjunction with PlePer, this plugin creates magic. It’s pretty solid just by itself, as I used it almost daily and at one point I thought it comes with the browser by default. What does it do? It analyzes every Google Business Profile and Map profile for every business. You can do a basic audit which includes the name, address, latitude and longitude, the place ID with a link, categories, and a series of other features. You’re limited to 5 free audits each month with a basic account but once you upgrade you get more possibilities. The review audit and post audit features are pretty self explanatory and it helps when studying the local competition.
What’s unique is the teleport feature. What does it do? You input a keyword for the listing and select a radius and it shows you where that listing ranks (what position) on the map. Pretty sweet. As said, I’m using this app daily.
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 I thought – did YouTube changes its layout? From creating keyword tag groups to video 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 come 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
WordPress the CMS. The only website builder that matters. Despite that it can create serious troubles (and I’m pretty sure much of my white hair is due to it), it’s still, by far, the best platform to build your website and with some very moderate exceptions, it’s the only one I recommend. And it’s free. If you want it to work properly you need to invest in some premium themes and plugins but WordPress is an open-source platform – and its creator said at one point that open source is not about being free but about being transparent – that populates almost half of the popular internet – most websites that we visit since most websites on the entire net are junk and we don’t see them.
Forget about the Wix’es and the Squarpaces and all the other popular platforms. WordPress is the internet default and it’s free an it made sense to start this list with it.
Yoast was one of the first and still is one of the most popular WordPress plugins for SEO. It’s so popular that many think that SEO means just having the green light from this plugin. I won’t even mention the number of resources they made available through on their website via paid and free courses, videos, blogs and social. It’s been a gamechanger and although I consider it dangerous again, so many SEO experts think they know the business by using this plugin, I still use it on most sites. Their Wizard at the beginning of the campaign when you set up everything, adding automatically on the background basic schema, is amazing. It’s worth having it as the first plugin on this list.
This plugin became my preferred SEO for WordPress plugin. And it’s not just me who’s sharing this opinion. Many options included in the free version and it’s 80% similar to YOAST. A tie breaker? Many, among having the 301 redirect module included – on YOAST, it’s available in premium. And inevitably you will need to do some redirects at one point on your site; instead of installing a plugin that does just this, use one you already have. It also has a keyword module and more recently I’ve seen a Content AI section in the sidebar, something along the lines of Surfer SEO optimization score and indication.
In depth optimization for the sitemap, has an AMP feature (for whoever needs AMP – accelerated mobile pages, a technology that no one really cares about anymore); link counter, 404 monitoring and basically all the good stuff you would expect from a great plugin. It covers schema pretty well, has some great features from its dashboard but also from the post/page backend.
If I were to make a comment, I would say this – it’s close to 3 years since I’m using Rank Math but I haven’t got used to the editing module not having a save/update button – you make your title, meta and slug edits and the you have to close the pop-up window. Prettly much all my complains.
All in One SEO
AMP for WP
Manage WP Worker
Markup (JSON-LD) structured in schema.org
Enable Media Replace
Misc Free SEO Tools
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.
You know those awkward weather conversations? Imagine if someone who’s not operating in the SEO space hears two professionals talking about these kinds of weather reports. Moz has a significant database and access to a lot of data and this site presents the status of site categories and how are they reflected in the SERPs. One of the first things to check after a Google algo update, it’s a pretty good reflection at a glimpse – sometimes you can figure stuff out just by looking at the bigger picture, and this is a big picture.
Another tool I use daily, it’s my go-to image compression. I have it bookmarked and I found that even if I export compressed images from other tools, TinyPNG still saves me a couple of kiilo – and these could add up. It compresses it in a way that doesen’t lose quality.