Managing your site for search engines doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, there are many free SEO tools. They are great if you just want to test the waters first. Or, you might just want some basic functionality to support your needs until your site expands. Google Search Console deserves an honorary mention and is a good start for beginners. Learning how to use search console for SEO to the best of your abilities helps to draw conclusions for your next steps of your website strategy.
In this article, we’ll cover the eight best and most useful SEO tools, so you don’t need to invest in premium applications right away.
8 Best Free SEO Tools You Can Use
For each tool, we’ll discuss their uses and features, as well as how to use them:
If you want a tool that can tell you how users interact with your website, Google Analytics is the complete package.
With Google Analytics, you’ll know what to improve and what to maintain on your website. This way, you can craft your SEO strategy based on real data.
To use the tool, set up an Analytics account and add your website as a property. Then you’ll be shown the Global Site Tag tracking code which you have to add to the <head> section of your web pages. Once you’re done, the tool can track your site.
When integrated with the Google Search Console, you can find out the keywords through which users find your content. The tool also identifies the click-through rates of your landing pages.
All in all, if you need a product to assist you with digital marketing strategies, Google Analytics is the perfect platform to start.
Keyword research is imperative when figuring out your SEO tactics. Though there are many premium keyword research applications, the free Ubersuggest app is quite powerful on its own.
With its user-friendly interface, any beginner can use this platform. After entering a keyword, the tool will show you its search volume and the difficulty of getting to the top rank. If the keyword has higher competition, opt for one of the suggested easier keywords.
Furthermore, you can look at competitor links that target your keywords. The tool tells you the average number of backlinks and the domain authority from the top ten web pages. Additionally, it can find out the total social shares those links have.
If you go to the Content Ideas tab, you’ll also find the keywords that generate organic traffic for the most popular pages. Try using Ubersuggest’s domain overview tool as well. It will show you your competitor’s top SEO keywords and pages.
Ubersuggest also has a site audit feature. Although it might not be as thorough as the ones premium tools offer, you’ll have a quick glance at your website’s speed and SEO health.
Since page speed is an important factor for SEO, your website has to be as fast as possible. If you want to learn valuable insights about your page speed, consider Google’s Page Speed Insights.
Insert your domain and the tool will show your overall speed score for mobile and desktop devices. The score is calculated based on the Chrome User Experience Report for the past 30 days.
There are three-speed categories: slow, average, and fast. Scores below 50 mean your site is slow. Numbers between 50-90 stand for average speed. If your website is graded above 90, that indicates your website is loading quickly.
The tool breaks down the scores into different lab data. This will show you the categories of the page load time, such as the time it takes for your first text to appear. As you scroll down, you’ll see suggestions for improving website performance. There are also additional diagnostics for improving site speed.
To optimize your site for search engines, you also have to make sure your site doesn’t have any technical problems that can hinder the user experience.
For this, use Screaming Frog. The free version allows you to crawl 500 pages, which is suitable if you’re managing newer websites.
This desktop application is available for Windows, macOS, and Ubuntu. After installing the software, insert your domain and press start. The application will crawl your site and pull up your data.
Screaming Frog can look for broken links, redirect errors, bloated HTML, duplicate content, missing alt-text, and more. You can generate an XML sitemap as well so search engines can crawl your website more efficiently.
Overall, Screaming Frog is perfect if you have a site that hasn’t accumulated lots of content. Once your site gets bigger, you can upgrade to the paid version for more features.
If you need a quick overview of your competitor’s performance, SimilarWeb is an efficient web application to do just that. You can get details of any website’s stats – from a traffic overview, audience interests, to their list of competitors. Enter any URL or mobile application of your choice and SimilarWeb will fetch the relevant statistics.
The application breaks down the traffic overview into user engagement, demographics, and sources. The sources are further classified based on direct traffic, search engine traffic, referrals, social shares, emails, and display ads. It also provides a chart to see the website’s traffic trends.
For audience interests, SimilarWeb can present data on the topics the site visitors are interested in. Additionally, it provides a list of other websites most of these users like to go to.
You can also perform a side-by-side comparison between your site’s data and the competitor’s. This way, you’ll know what strengths you have against your competitors and what you can do better to outrank them.
6. Yoast SEO
Do you have a WordPress website? If so, you’ve probably heard of this powerful plugin.
Yoast SEO is the most widely-used WordPress SEO tool. It has impressive features to help create the most optimized content for search engines. When you create a new post or page, the plugin will analyze it and show areas for improvement, such as lack of internal links, insufficient use of keywords, highlight irrelevant alt-text, and more.
In addition, you can customize the title tag and meta description of your content easily, and get a preview of how it would look on the search engine result pages.
Yoast SEO also helps technical configuration by generating an XML sitemap and building structured data. Your sitemaps will also be updated automatically every time you add, modify, or remove content.
All in all, this free plugin has robust features that can accommodate your website and SEO needs. If you don’t have WordPress but want to use their readability analysis tool, they have a free online editor on their website.
With Google’s mobile-first indexing, it’s essential that your website can be viewed from any device, especially smartphones and tablets. To check your website’s responsiveness, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
The tool will fetch your website and indicate whether your site passes the test or not. If there are page loading issues, you can find out which resources are not loading properly to fix them.
Unfortunately, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test will only give you a screenshot preview of how your site will look on an average mobile device.
To complement the test, consider the Responsive Design Checker. Enter your domain into the web application and it will preview your website in various smartphone and tablet templates. This way, you can make more informed choices for adjusting to responsive web design.
Free SEO tools vs Premium Ones
Though free tools can provide you with basic features, there will come a time when you need premium tools. But how do you tell when you should start using them?
For one, some free tools might not be able to support your demands once your site gets bigger. Many tools like Screaming Frog will give you their resources – as long as you comply with their limits. Otherwise, you have to upgrade to their premium versions once your site has outgrown their free options.
Paid SEO tools also have more advanced functionality. For instance, premium Yoast SEO can suggest internal links to use in your content and manage redirects for deleted or modified URLs. They also provide addons for local SEO, WooCommerce sites, news articles, and more.
On top of that, most premium SEO tools come with customer support. If you ever encounter some problems, you can rely on the available help to solve them as quickly as possible.
Optimizing your website for search engines has become common practice for any digital marketer or business.
With that, these free tools can be great for those who are new to the world of SEO. Each of them can help with traffic examination, competitor analysis, on-page optimization, responsiveness, page speed, and every other essential aspect. Once you decide you need more functionality and support, you can always upgrade to premium tools.