When creating content online, it’s important to have a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy alongside your content strategy. Doing so will ensure your posts are as optimized as possible. SEO tools can help you identify ways to improve the discoverability of your site.
SEO can seem daunting to novices, but there are several free SEO tools are are just as powerful as their paid counterparts.
Here’s a breakdown of 10 of the best free SEO tools and software.
Best free on-page optimization tools
Rank Math is a WordPress plugin that helps you optimize your website content. It lets you add meta titles, descriptions and structure your data more easily. Simply download and install this plugin to your WordPress website to begin using it.
Rank Math gives your content an SEO score for each page. When you indicate what keyword you’re targeting, this plugin suggests ways to increase your ranking for that keyword. You can also identify and fix dead links on your site and redirect URLs to new pages.
The Yoast SEO plugin makes it easy to optimize your WordPress site and identify gaps in your content. If your site runs on WordPress, install and activate the Yoast plugin to begin.
The Yoast plugin allows you to improve and modify your content in three ways: SEO, readability and social. With Yoast, you can set meta descriptions, titles, canonical URL, and label index/no-index pages and other backend settings on your site. This plugin will assign every post a readability score by measuring sentence and paragraph length and other criteria. And Yoast also has excellent features to help you improve the shareability of your posts on social media.
Best free keyword research tools
As the name suggests, Google Trends helps you track the popularity of topics and trends in your industry over time. Use this tool to identify current trends and use that information to craft a timely and relevant content marketing strategy.
Google Trends gives you a clear picture of how specific trends change over time and how people’s searching patterns around it change. To use Google Trends, start by typing in a keyword. You’ll see the interest in that topic over time, which regions show the most interest, and other keywords people are searching for related to that query. This tool works best when combined with other keywords to show comparisons of trends over time.
Want to spot-check if two keywords need 2 different pages or can be targeted on the same page as each other? The SERP similarity tool by Keyword Insights will quickly tell you how similar two keywords are to one another:
It’s free to use once you register with the tool and will allow you to quickly compare the SERPs for two different keywords (although we’ve heard from the owners they will soon allow you to check more than 2).
The paid version of Keyword Insights also allows you to cluster up to 2.5 million keywords at once meaning you could technically check millions of keywords at once.
It can be hard to know if you’re writing a blog or scoping out which product/category pages to have on your website if 2 keywords can be targeted on the same page, or whether you need to make different pages to target them quickly. Take, for example, “vape parts” and “vape accessories”. If we want to rank for both of these, do we create one category page targeting “Vape parts and accessories” or do we need 2 pages? Surely they mean the same thing right?
As you can see by the screenshot below, they actually only have 1 URL in common so if we wanted to rank for both of these, we should create 2 different pages:
Keyword Insights also allows you to check millions of keywords at once by clustering them:
But this is a paid feature of the tool.
Ahrefs’ Keyword Generator is a lite version of Ahrefs full tool and will show you the top 100 related keyword ideas when searching a keyword or phrase. To use this free tool, enter up to 100 keywords or phrases in the search bar. You’ll see a list of the top 100 keywords related to your search as well as their search volume from when the data for that keyword was last updated, and keyword difficulties for the first 10 keywords on the list.
This tool gives users a taste of what Ahrefs’ full tool can do and is perfect for people who want to explore some industry keywords. In addition to the keywords, you can also see the top 50 questions related to that keyword.
Best free SEO tools for analytics
Google Search Console (GSC), previously known as Google Webmasters, helps you understand how Google crawls and indexes your site. To use the Google Search Console, create an account and add your website as a property within the account. Once you’ve added your domain, verify you’re the site owner before you can access all of its features.
There are several features to highlight about Google Search Console, one of which is that it can help you diagnose technical errors on your website. It can also help you understand what keywords or content are ranking for your site.
An often overlooked tool, Bing Webmaster also has a full suite of analytics to help you analyze your website and search analytics. Create your free Bing Webmaster Tools account, add your website and verify your ownership of the site. Then create or upload your sitemaps. Once complete, you’re able to start optimizing your site and its content using Bing Webmaster Tools’ features and suggestions.
Bing Webmaster Tools can provide useful keyword research, reporting, and can crawl your website to identify issues. It’s a good way to get a virtual second opinion on your site or find any new information that Google Search Console didn’t reveal.
To know if your SEO efforts are working, you need to analyze your site’s findability to see where your traffic is coming from. You may notice a spike in traffic after making post optimizations, but that traffic could be coming from another source like social media. Google Analytics provides you with in-depth details about your website visitors, as well as real-time activity.
With an existing Google account, sign into Google Analytics and connect with your website. To get the most helpful SEO information, pair it with your Google Console account. When you link the two tools, you’ll be able to see the keywords people are using to find your site, identify your click-through-rates on those keywords and more.
Google Analytics lets you see how people interact with your website. Using Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see how many people are visiting your site, where your traffic is coming from, how long people are spending on the page and so much more.
Best free tools for link building
Like their Keyword Research tool, Ahrefs Backlink Checker is a free version of their full tool that shows you the top 100 backlinks to any website you search. To use this tool, enter a URL into their search bar and you’ll see the site’s domain rating, the number of backlinks, and the number of referring domains.
This free tool is great for some light backlink checking as well as analyzing your competitors. Even though you’re limited to viewing 100 links, it’s still a great place to start. You’ll see the total number of backlinks, links from referring domains, the site’s Domain Rating, and its URL rating.
Similar to the other tools mentioned above, SEM Rush has a free version of their robust tool. Not just for link building, SEM Rush can provide help with keyword research, on-page SEO audits, content optimizations, rank tracking and much more. Create a free account and access these features.
The SEM Rush’s Backlink Analysis and Link Building Tool provides you an in-depth look at your backlink profile. The free version limits you to 100 domains in the Link Building Tool but you’ll be able to identify your referring domains and backlinks overtime, including gains and losses, and your backlink authority score. The tool helps you identify areas to improve your link building efforts or where you can gain more visibility online.
Final thoughts on free SEO tools
While SEO is a crucial part of the content process, it works best when combined with other marketing strategies like content and social media marketing. You’ll get the most out of your optimizations when using both SEO and social monitoring software together. And these free SEO tools help you build a foundation to these strategies.
Throw in some social media keyword search tools and you’ll be able to cast an even broader net to learn more about what your audience wants. For more on how to marry your social media and SEO strategies, check our post on how SEO can inform social media marketing and vice versa.
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