The great thing about doing SEO, is that there is a wealth of great tools available to handle all sorts of jobs, so I thought I would run through a few that I find useful. I haven’t put these in any particular order, but it’s well worth having a skim through and seeing if there is anything in there you might find useful.
Google’s Free SEO & Marketing Tools
We might as well start with Google’s own tools as these will be the ones most people will have heard of and used. Although I have come across websites that haven’t used these, I’m sure most people will have heard about them and used them already.
This is probably the most popular way of tracking your traffic to your website. There are many other tools which you could be using, but since it’s free it has become the defacto Analytics tool for most people.
It is strange, but there are still quite a few website owners who haven’t implemented this. Google is very secretive and this is far from perfect, but it is the best we have to see what issues Google is willing to reveal to us about our websites. For instance they’ll let you know about issues with your website such as the most recent “Mobile Friendly” tag and of course the one most people have head about, the penalty notifications.
Most recently in the past few days (although this could well have been made up), somebody took screenshots of a red “Slow” image which they claim has been added to some of the search results to let people know on Mobile that a website isn’t loading quickly. True or not, it’s well worth registering your site so you get notifications of nay issues.
I’m pretty sure everyone is aware of what this is, but I thought since I’m adding some of the more useful Google tools, that I should include this too.
This is a new one that I came across recently and that’s the Google Mobile Friendly Test. Quickly test your own site or clients to find out whether Google classifies the website as Mobile Friendly or not. These labels will evidently appear in the search results and could affect click-through rates in Google Mobile Search. With so many people using Mobile and Tablet to access the Internet these days, it really is important to ensure that your website is giving those users on smaller screens the best possible viewing experience.
Now this is available as a plugin as well, but for convenience you can also check websites online using the Google Page Speed Test. Although though it is a factor in how Google ranks your website, I don’t see it being a huge issue in itself so for me, I prefer to think about how visitors react to the site loading slow. With so many ways of accessing a website these days, even if the Google Slow tag is true, it wont mean that this will be the only way visitors reach your website. So the first knowledge they’ll have about your site being slow is when they reach it and find it’s taking an age to load, and then just as slow when switching pages.
Now for many people, they’ll tell me that they’re not a “Local Business” and so Google My Business (Google Local/Places) isn’t something they want to be wasting time on. However for me, I like to consider the fact that somebody building a website purely for Affiliate and/or Spamming purposes will never want to divulge to Google where they live and who they are. But a real business should never have any problems with this.
Also, maybe it’s unfair to judge all affiliate websites in the same way, so from my own experience, I never ran a single affiliate website so even if I wanted to, I couldn’t have registered hundreds, let alone dozens of them from one address. So this severely limits the types of website who will go to the effort to get listed.
So for that reason, you should give consideration to getting listed as it makes your business appear more legitimate…
This is a great tool for seeing what keywords have been popular over time to gauge what people have been searching for over the years. An interesting one is “Google Penguin”, it clearly shows when people were talking about it the most.
And it also shows where most people were searching for this which is… Drum Rolls…
I find it quite fitting that the biggest labour force for building low quality links in the past 15 years was India and keen to capitalise on this, they were also the country that were searching the most to find out about Google Penguin. Probably as a consequence of all their link directories suddenly getting thousands of requests a day to remove links.
Other Free SEO & Marketing Tools
So beyond Google’s free tools, there are a number of other useful tools which you may not have come across before.
I have to admit I don’t think I’ve ever bothered to add my sites to this beyond one time when I tried it a few years ago. If you’re the type of person who likes to get all the information from every perspective, then by all means go ahead and get yourself sorted with this. But it isn’t something I’ve ever been in a rush to get sorted.
I have to admit, I haven’t used this in a few years now but I came across it a few years ago and had it installed on an old laptop. I came across it when I was doing a search for other tools I may have forgotten about or haven’t used in some time so I might get it installed again and have a play around with it to see what has changed…
If you tend to find yourself using Excel rather than for instance, Google Docs. Then this is a really useful addition as it adds a lot of additional features which you will find useful for SEO. Rather than list them all here, just click through and take a look for yourself.
As well as offering a paid tool, Buzzstream also offers some quite useful free tools that anyone can use. I wont go into them here, but you can take a look at their website for more information on what is currently available.
If you look in the footer of the website, they have some free tools you can use. The SERP Dominator is a useful one for quickly getting a list of the top X sites for a particular keyword. I’m sure there are other tools out there which enable you to do this just as easily. This has many uses, not so much for rank checking of course, but for other uses…
Looks like a strange domain name, but it actually stands for If This Then That, to put it simply, it plugs in to a whole host of different websites using what they call ‘Recipes’ and IF something happens then it does THAT. OK not the greatest explanation, so go take a look at their explanation here.
I’ve been using this for a few years now since I first came across it to test my websites and those of clients to get an idea of how well they were performing. Even before Google’s advice about slow websites, it was clear that a slow website would cause issues with visitors. People only have so much patience, so when the site is loading very slow, there is a far great risk of them giving up and trying elsewhere.
I came across this a few weeks ago and found it really useful. It offers a few useful tools, below are the ones I have found myself using;
> Pagespeed Test – This is how I came across the website as I was looking for other tools for testing page load speeds to ensure Pingdom Tools was giving me accurate data.
> Gzip Compression Test – This tests the website to see if gzip is enabled and gives advice on how to enable this.
This is another tool I came across recently along with Feed the Bot. It offers a lot more ways to test your website against than Pingdom Tools with lots more locations and even browser types if you want to get really nerdy.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider (*not free)
When putting together this list, I tried to find free software and tools which anyone can use rather than simply adding all of the paid tools that are available and more often linked to. However, I use this tool so much, so I decide I had to include it. It’s £99 a year for the licence, but it’s well worth it.
It’s great for crawling your own site or competitors / clients, etc to see if they have any broken links and get an overview of their site structure. Check for missing Page Titles, H1’s and so on.
Xenu Link Sleuth – (*this is free but hasn’t seen an update since 2010).
This is similar to the above SEO Crawler tool, it’s free so might be worth trying first to see how you get on with it.
If you’re unsure of how to add the data yourself using the information on the schema.org website, then this tool is sure to come in handy. It enables you to quickly create all of the most popular rich snippets for your website with relative ease.
This is useful for seeing what DA the website you’re on has without needing to resort to clicking through to another website to check. This is especially useful now Toolbar PageRank has pretty much been abandoned by Google. This is available both for Firefox and Chrome.
There is a wealth of information shown within this toolbar to be fair, but in all honesty the only reason I use this is to get a quick overview of the website’s heading tags and at tags usage. It also has a Toolbar PageRank checker, but this isn’t anywhere near as useful any more as it once was so it isn’t a feature I keep it installed for. This is only available for Firefox.
If you’re looking for a free and simple way of checking your rankings, then this is well worth installing. Do be aware that if you’re a heavy user of Google and you get the popups from time to time asking you to verify that you’re a human.
This will prevent it running accurately and you’ll be left wondering why keywords you know were ranking well, are suddenly nowhere to be seen. So if you’re running long keyword lists, my suggestion is to break them up or add in sites you know will rank well between longer lists as a benchmark to check that you’ve not been caught out by the verification check.
However there is so many uses for it, it really is the Swiss Army Knife of Browser Tools.Another feature I like is the responsive check as you can check the website in various browser size configurations to see how it would potentially look on smaller screens such as Mobile and Tablet. Definitely a useful feature with the way the Internet is being used and Google is heading with “Mobile Friendly” notifications. This is available both for Firefox and Chrome.
This is a great little browser utility for Firefox for getting colour hex codes. This is more useful for web development than anything else, but still useful none the less. This is available both for Firefox and Chrome.
This is another handy little browser utility for Firefox. I don’t really use it half as much as I used to, but it is handy for times when you may have set pages to noindex and you’re having a little flick through, just to see whether they’re set to index or noindex right from within the address bar. This is only available for Firefox.
This is another handy little browser utility for Firefox. (here is a Chrome version – Check My Links). As everybody knows, there’s nothing more annoying than visiting a website and finding a link is broken. Of course you can use Screaming Frog or Xenu on your own websites to check for broken links, but if you want to check external (and internal) links on a webpage, especially if there a lot of them will mean you’re left having to physically click each and every one of them.
This is a pretty useful tool for building lists of keywords. You simply enter your seed keyword and then the tool will build up longtail suggestions of your keywords. Since it’s using Google suggest, it will give you suggestions based on what real people have been looking for.
I used to use this a lot for getting a collection of anchor text keywords together and creating a word cloud to visualise the anchor text. However due to an update on Java (which the site uses), my laptop has stopped running it and so rather than try and fix it, I found something else to use. By all means give this a try and see how you get on else try the suggestion below.
This is a lot like Wordle, and has the same sort of functionality. I have to admit I prefer Wordle, but it doesn’t like my laptop so I use this instead. Give them both a try and see how you get on with both.
This is a great tool for those using Adwords, because it enables you to build huge lists of keywords quickly and easily. You simply add in a list of seed keywords into the options and it will create a list of every variation for you.
Other (almost) Free SEO & Marketing Tools
Although not technically ‘Free’, they do have an option for small websites and businesses to be able to crawl their own domains (or any other website) for $5 each, so definitely affordable for most on a budget. They give you similar feedback to Paid Online Audit Tools from the likes of SEMrush and Moz, but without the price tag to match.
There’s many more tools beyond these which I use, but as I stated in the beginning, I wanted to try and showcase those that were free to use. I’m always coming across new tools which I use so I may come back and update this list at some point when I chance across some new tools and potentially replace those that are no longer working or available which is often the case when something is free.
If you have any suggestions for other tools you use, then by all means add them below and I’ll get them added to the blog post.👇 Like what you read? Share what we said! 👇