It’s no secret that maintaining an active web presence is a major part of running a modern business. You need to be visible on search for customers to see you and your products, and that means ranking at the top of Google SERPs.
However, enterprise search engine optimization (SEO) tools can run into the thousands of dollars, putting many of these premium tools out of reach for smaller businesses. That doesn’t make it impossible to implement and see through an excellent SEO strategy, though.
We’ve put together a list of the top fifteen best SEO tools that identify keywords, monitor page rankings, evaluate backlinks, and more, all for free.
1. Answer the Public
In essence, search engines are a way to answer questions, and Answer the Public rolls with this idea to great effect. It breaks down the questions people search for, converting these into sets of keywords you can use to help you create content and write web copy.
Answer the Public gives you these suggestions visually, neatly organizing the suggested keywords for you. This makes it an ideal way to identify specific, solution-oriented long-tail keyword strings with high conversion rates. However, this makes it less effective at finding short-tail keywords—that’s a job typically better handled by Google Keyword Planner.
2. Google Keyword Planner
If you want a tried and tested no-frills keyword planner, Google Keyword Planner is perhaps the most reliable option.
Google Keyword Planner is a component of the Adwords platforms, not a standalone solution. Nevertheless, it leverages Google’s own data to find insights into keyword relevance, competition, monthly searches, and PPC bid rates. Google Keyword Planner gives you keyword suggestions but does very little extra. If you want analytics or other integrated functionality, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
3. Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster is a great all-in-one SEO tool that provides easy access to key informational metrics on search traffic, security, and more.
The toolkit’s “Fetch as Google bot” feature allows you to view sites how Google web crawlers see them. You can check your website’s page loading speed on mobile and desktop with the PageSpeed Insights feature or with the Google Mobile-Friendly test. Even a 100-millisecond delay in page loading can incur a 1 percent increase in your bounce rate, making it crucial that your page loads fast. PageSpeed Insights allows you to identify and resolve bottlenecks affecting load times.
GWT’s Structured Data Testing Tool also helps you verify and validate structured data on your website. You can identify if data is in the right format and identify invalid data inputs.
Reddit describes itself as the “front page of the internet,” and features quality discussions on just about any topic. This makes Reddit a goldmine for long-tail keywords: many threads feature specific discussion on niche topics. Keyworddit helps you identify what Reddit is talking about by pulling out a list of keywords, the threads where they were used, and search volumes.
Because Reddit is ultimately a sub-section of the internet, it’s best to use Keyworddit to complement your primary keyword planner. As mentioned, it can help identify very specific long-tail keywords you might not otherwise find.
WooRank is a powerful SEO auditing tool. It gives you a detailed current state assessment of your SEO, social media presence, website usability, and more in a single place.
Your website gets an overall score out of 100 based on three factors: accessibility, readability, and quality. “Accessibility” considers page load time and site access, “readability” assesses how easily search engine crawlers can ingest data from your site, and “quality” evaluates the actual human user experience.
WooRank’s social media integration is a unique advantage and the social shareability function is particularly useful. It gives you valuable insights into social media likes, shares, and comments for your web content.
WooRank also evaluates your website’s mobile readiness. The touchscreen readiness score indicates how easily buttons and links can be accessed, while mobile compatibility evaluates how optimized your web content is for mobile platforms.
6. Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Backlinks are a key measure of how well your content is performing. A high number of quality backlinks boosts your site authoritativeness, bringing your results to the top of the Google search page.
The Ahrefs Backlink Checker gives you an all-in-one dashboard for backlinks to your website. You get a breakdown of backlinks by domain type and can view the top 100 backlinks for each domain type. You also get a number of insights about backlink quality, including whether the backlinks are dofollow or nofollow links, the domain rating of the backlinking site, lost and new backlinks, and more.
Ahref’s Best by Links feature is particularly useful because it lists the pages on your site that have the most backlinks. This allows you to identify what already works for your site.
The actual quality of content on your website is a key factor in your overall rankings as well. While quality might be subjective to humans, search engine algorithms use a number of approaches to objectively measure the quality of your web content. These range from something as simple as word count to how solution-oriented the content is. If you’re able to optimize your content for these measures of quality, it’ll rank higher. This is where Textmetrics comes into the picture.
Textmetrics is a WordPress plugin powered by machine learning algorithms that helps optimize your content in real-time. Textmetric’s content optimization algorithm gives you in-line keyword suggestions, tips to enhance readability, and suggestions based on search engine rules. This means that you’ll be covered in case of a sudden change to a search engine algorithm.
Textmetric’s Page Rank tracker also monitors the Google page rank for your web page, helping you assess the extent to which Textmetric solutions and other SEO tools you implemented have been helping.
8. Local SEO Checklist
Google claims that nearly half of all searches have “local intent.” Many of these searches also have what’s described as “immediate transaction intent.” Putting these two together, it’s evident that a massive number of searches are by individuals looking to make a transaction at a business nearby. This makes local SEO extremely important to businesses.
Local SEO Checklist is an extremely simple web resource to help you optimize for local searches. It lists 30 steps you need to take to optimize your website for local SEO, detailing each step with use cases. These include, among others, optimizing title tags, optimizing images for quick loading, claiming your Google and Bing business listings, adding customer testimonials, and more.
The resource lets you check off each item on the checklist to track your progress. It also offers a “scan your business” tool to assess your current local SEO readiness. Local SEO Checklist’s simplicity is also its greatest drawback. As a web resource, it doesn’t actually give you insight into your website’s Local SEO readiness and it provides no real way to assess how effective your optimization efforts were.
9. Animalz Revive
Quality content has a long lifespan and typically continues to generate traffic for months, or even years. However, over time, a lot of your older material might start to drop in rankings because newer, more relevant material has been published on the topic. Animalz Revive helps you address this and revive dying web pages by updating them with relevant new material.
Animalz Revive’s “Traffic Loss Since Peak” feature gives you an infographic that displays how much traffic you’ve lost over time compared to the peak value. Content with a high traffic loss figure is ripe for updating. Unfortunately, Animalz Revive doesn’t tell you how to update your content. It just gives you a strong indication that you should do so.
10. Wordtracker Scout
One effective way of identifying keywords is to look for the keywords used on successful competitor web pages. Wordtracker Scout helps you do just that.
It’s a Google Chrome extension that evaluates the websites you visit for keywords, presenting the top keywords to you in a word cloud. If your competitor is succeeding in an area you’d like to rank in, input their site in Wordtracker Scout. You’ll find the keywords that play a role in helping their material rank. Plug these into your keyword planning solution and identify keyword permutations with relatively low competition, then use them in your site content.
11. Google Mobile-Friendly Test
Over half of all web traffic today is generated by mobile devices. If your site focuses on particular niches like technology, your own ratio of mobile traffic will likely be higher. This makes a great mobile experience essential. Because search engines factor in mobile friendliness, it has a direct impact on your page ranking.
Google’s Mobile Friendly Test gives you a simple, one-click method to see whether or not Google thinks your website is mobile friendly. When you input your website’s URL, this tool will tell you if your site design is mobile-friendly. Because Google has increased the SEO weight given to mobile friendliness in recent years, websites that pass the test will consistently rank higher.
While the Mobile-Friendly Test makes it easy to audit mobile friendliness at a high level, it gives you limited advice about what you can do to improve. If you score well on the test, you get no insight into what you could do better. If your website fails the test, you’re presented with vague suggestions (“a mobile viewport is not configured,” for example).
Much like WooRank, Seobility’s aim is to audit your site’s current SEO friendliness. While WooRank looks at your social media connectivity and the subject user experience, Seobility focuses strictly on technical SEO.
Seobility’s SEO Check feature gives you insights into spelling and grammar issues, broken outbound links, page loading time, and other technical SEO issues that you can readily address. Apart from auditing your SEO performance, it also features a number of tools that help you improve SEO.
The Keyword Checker feature analyzes how effectively keywords are deployed on a given webpage. It helps address a number of questions: Does your keyword show up in the first 120 characters of the meta-description? Does it show up in image attributes? Is your keyword part of an H1 heading? You get a Keyword Score percentage based on the answers to these questions and tells you how much you can improve.
13. Keyword Tool
Keyword research is essential when it comes to creating content that ranks. Your content should feature relevant, low-competition keywords in the right places. While Google Keyword Planner is a great starting point, it offers a very limited feature set. Moreover, it only considers keywords ranking on Google.
When you input a seed keyword on Keyword Tool, however, you’ll get keyword suggestions, not just for Google, but a whole host of platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Twitter, Bing, and Instagram. While it is a freemium solution, Keyword Tool’s free version gives you a generous 750+ related keywords, including long-tail keyword phrases. You can also filter Keyword Tool results by country. This ensures that you’ll see keywords that are relevant to your target market.
14. XML Sitemaps Generator
Having an XML sitemap is an important checklist item for technical SEO. A sitemap is an index of the pages on your website and their relation to each other. It gives search engine crawlers valuable input about what you think is most relevant and valuable on your website.
XML Sitemaps Generator is a very simple, one-click solution. You input your URL and it generates a downloadable XML sitemap. The free version is limited to a generous 500 pages, which should be more than enough for most businesses, unless you run an e-commerce outlet.
15. Robots.txt Generator
This online tool does a very important job: it generates a robots.txt file for your website, based on your user preferences.
Robots.txt allows you to whitelist and/or blacklist web pages or your entire website from being crawled by search engines. While Robots.txt is typically used for security purposes—blacklisting confidential sections of your website that shouldn’t be indexed—the file can be used to enhance your SEO ranking as well.
If you have a particularly large website, use Robots.txt Generator to create a Robots.txt file that hides outdated and less important material from the crawlers. The more pages that have to be crawled, the worse a website’s page responsiveness ranking becomes. You can use the Robots.txt Generator to point site crawlers to only the most important and relevant pieces on your website, minimizing resource utilization and ensuring that the crawl doesn’t slow down.
Successful SEO Is a Process
At the end of the day, there’s no magic bullet for SEO. Quality content, continuous engagement, and good backlinks are the only real ways to long-term success. However, these free SEO tools can go a long way towards ensuring that you have your bases covered, addressing everything from keyword research to local SEO to mobile optimization. They enable quality content to shine through and reach a wider audience, no matter what industry you’re in.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Holland Webb.