The Best Free SEO Tools to Increase Your Rankings
Scott McGovern Founder of crypto site Blocklr & Growth Nuts, an organic growth co.
You don’t have to pay to boost your website’s Google rankings with these free SEO tools. Whether you want to see who’s backlinking to your site or dive deep into keyword research, these are the best free SEO tools for the thrifty, digital entrepreneur.
Yoast is a popular Wordpress plugin that gives you all the basic information you need when optimizing on-page SEO. The free version of Yoast has the following important capabilities.
Choose One Keyword per Piece of Content: Yoast will tell you your keyword density, distribution, and whether or not you’re conflicting with preexisting content. This is crucial for virtually anyone with a website.
Check Readability: Though most search engine optimization discussions involve ranking for Google, it’s important to remember that how your viewers engage with your content will ultimately decide where search engines rank it.
That’s why Yoast integrated the Flesch Reading Ease Score to determine how easy is it to read your content. This goes along with the top SEO marketing trends in 2019: Content quality, not just quantity, matters for Google and readers.
Avoid Duplicate Content: Creating duplicate content is a sure way to confuse Google’s algorithms. That’s why Yoast creates canonical URLs in its free plugin.
A Favorite Plugin Among Paid and Free SEO Tools: Though the free version of Yoast offers some incredible capabilities, Yoast Premium has several features for added optimization. These include:
A Redirect Manager to avoid 404s
Internal Linking suggestions to boost your internal optimization
Keyword optimization for multiple keywords
However, a recent update tells you less, not more, about your keyword optimization. For instance, instead of listing exactly what percentage of your text contains the keyword, it only lets you know whether that percentage is too high, or too low.
Applicable to Wordpress, Shopify, or even Tumblr blogs, Google Analytics is one of the best free SEO tools due to its versatility. Once you’ve hooked your free account up to your websites, you can do the following:
Set Goals: These can be how many people sign up for your newsletter, track your product or any metric you think would benefit your website.
View Live Site Traffic: How many people are on your site right now? Are they on a desktop or mobile? Where are they coming from? Google Analytics will tell you all this in real time.
Create Audience Overview Reports: Google Analytics will create free reports for you on data including:
Average session duration
Want to know the nitty-gritty, like which states your users are coming from, which browsers they use, their screen resolutions and their operating systems? This is one of the best free SEO tools for accessing everything you need to know about your traffic.
Paid Google Analytics for 10 Million+ Hits
If you get more than 10 million hits per month, you’re required to pay for Google Analytics 360, which costs $150,000 per year. On the upside, this comes with additional services like Google Drive Integration and 24/7 support.
Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Ahrefs, which focuses on paid software, also has a free backlink checker tool. In a matter of seconds, this software can tell you the following about any domain on the internet.
URL Rating and Domain Rating: Though Ahrefs Backlink Checker does not explain how it calculates a website’s URL Rating and Domain Rating, these figures still give you a good idea of website authority.
URL Rating: This number (out of 100) tells you how strong a website’s backlink profile is. It takes internal and external links into account. Generally, it correlates with a website’s Google rankings.
Domain Rating: This figure will tell you where a website stands in terms of link popularity.
Backlinks: Not only does it list how many sites are linking back to your domain, but it provides you with a list of the top 100 backlinks, the percentage of dofollow links and the top five anchor text used to link to the website.
The Paid Version of Ahrefs Is Comprehensive: Only in the paid version of Ahrefs can you audit your site, track keywords, generate reports, and fully understand the direction of your website’s search engine optimization. We included the paid version in our list of best SEO tools to help you rank higher in Google.
Also on our list of best free SEO tools is the MozBar: a free extension that can give you a good idea of the site structure of any website you visit. It provides information on five main categories: on-page elements, general attributes, link metrics, markup, and HTTP status.
On-Page Elements: In the first category, the MozBar can tell you:
The H1 and H2
It provides the character count for each, as well.
Link Metrics and Other Information: The other three categories in the MozBar provide more information about how the site you’re visiting is structured, including:
Page load time
Page and domain authorities
External followed links
Much of this information requires creating a Moz account, which is also free.
Use the MozBar to Understand Other Sites: If you’re just getting started with search engine optimization, the MozBar is a great way to glimpse the back end of any website.
It does not, however, provide actionable information for your own website.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is one of the best free SEO tools, though you need to have a Google AdWords account to use it. Once you have your account set up, you can log into Keyword Planner to access a few key functions:
Find New Keywords: This part of the tool helps you accomplish exactly that: find new keywords. Google lets you enter a URL, phrase, or keyword, for which it will generate a new list of possible keywords.
Compare Keywords: Here, you can enter a list of keywords to generate metrics about each. This part of Google’s free SEO tool generates predictions for specific keywords based on:
Monthly search volume
Cost per click
Google Keyword Planner Now Provides Less Information: The latest update to Google Keyword Planner restricted some of its capabilities. For one, you now need an AdWords account to use it. You can no longer distinguish between your desktop and mobile audience, either.
Additionally, keep in mind that though Google Keyword Planner is among the most useful free SEO tools, it was designed for use in AdWords campaigns.
Though it may not seem it at first glance, the Wayback Machine is among the most interesting free SEO tools to use. For starters, the Wayback Machine is an archive of the internet. This means that you can see what a website looked like five, 10, 15 years ago, or more and chart how it has evolved every month since then.
Using the Wayback Machine for SEO: There are a few ways to use the Wayback Machine for optimization, especially if you’re a professional.
Track how a website has changed, giving you insight into why traffic is fluctuating
Archive what your website used to look like if you ever want to return to an earlier version after altering your site
Understand whether links have disappeared
In simple terms, the Wayback Machine is an impartial way to keep track of how your (or a client’s) site has evolved over time.
Screaming Frog Spider
The Screaming Frog Spider is free software that mimics how a search engine would crawl your website. Keep in mind that this process takes longer than other software on our best free SEO tools list. For beginners, Screaming Frog seems to give you an overwhelming amount of information. Here are a few things you should note first.
Redirects: This software will find every broken link within your website. Of course, it’ll be up to you to go back in and fix them.
Page Titles: Screaming Frog will list every URL with its page title. You want to make sure there aren’t any duplicate page titles and that you’re correctly optimizing your keywords.
Content Report: This program will give you information on your meta descriptions, titles, and the amount of content on each page. It will also create a content report for you, which you can
One of the Best Free SEO Tools for an Entire Website Overview
Screaming Frog creates a massive spreadsheet that lays out your entire site. If you know where to look, this information is actionable, but it can be overwhelming for some who could benefit from a professional service. Additionally, Screaming Frog has to be downloaded to your computer, and it is on the large side.
Optimizing your website doesn’t have to be expensive. There are free SEO tools that you can use to understand other websites’ optimization, perform keyword research, and even chart a campaign.
Whether you want to keep track of your progress after choosing your next SEO firm or start optimizing your content yourself, there are more free options than ever to increase your rankings today.