Practising SEO means dealing with many different aspects of a website. You have to look at the technical foundations, the on-page content, and off-page digital marketing. While many tools claim to be an ‘all-in-one’ solution for SEO, this is almost never the case. Good SEOs (search engine optimisers) will use a wide variety of tools for different aspects of their craft. Fortunately, many of the required tools are available online for free!
There are hundreds of free SEO tools out there, but this list will focus on those that I use personally (and can vouch for). For your convenience, I’ve separated the tools into four categories:
1. Keyword research
Google trends does exactly what the name tells you. It tracks and measures keywords used in Google searches over time. It also breaks down the information by location and displays related topics/queries.
Perfect for: Comparing trends of similar keywords.
Read more: Guide to Google Trends
Ubersuggest is slowly adding more and more features to help with different aspects of SEO. The keyword research tool, however, remains its strongest feature. It will tell you the volume of searches, current rankings, and difficulty of competition. It also displays related keywords with the same information.
Perfect for: Finding which keywords to target.
Read more: Guide to Ubersuggest
Answer the public is a great way to find out what questions people are typing into their search engines. The tool searches for your target keywords in phrases that start with ‘why’, ‘when’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘how’, etc. It also provides related keyword information and comparison searches eg. ‘SEO vs PPC’.
Perfect for: Longtail keyword research.
Read more: Guide to Answer the Public
SEO isn’t just about finding one keyword to target and putting it on a page 100 times. Semantic keywords help to define the user’s intent behind a search. Using these keywords in addition to your main target keyword will help you to generate quality content that Google loves, while avoiding keyword stuffing.
Perfect for: Semantic keyword research.
Read more: Guide to LSI keywords
2. Website auditing
Lighthouse is Google’s own website audit tool. You can install it as an extension for Google Chrome and with the click of a button, audit any website. It provides useful information on both desktop and mobile versions of a website, specifically:
- Best practice SEO
Perfect for: Doing an initial ‘once-over’ SEO audit.
Read more: Guide to Lighthouse metrics
Another tool from Google, Pagespeed Insights is actually included in the Lighthouse report. It’s worth having its own spot in this list, however, as it provides an easy way to check the speed of a webpage on both desktop and mobile
Perfect for: Checking page speed.
Read more: Guide to Pagespeed Insights
Screaming Frog is the most popular website crawler in the SEO community. The free version allows you to crawl 500 URLs and provides valuable information on:
- Broken links, errors and redirects
- Page titles and meta data
- Meta robots & directives
- Hreflang attributes
- Duplicate pages
- XML sitemaps
- Site visualisations
Perfect for: In-depth SEO auditing and customisable crawling.
Read more: Guide to Screaming Frog
This tool is used to check the status of specific URLs. You can check the details of unusual status codes, response headers, and redirect chains.
Perfect for: Checking URLs that aren’t working as they should be.
Read more: Guide to HTTP status codes
3. Content creation
Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress. Every WordPress site should use Yoast to stay optimised easily. The free version allows you to assign keywords to pages, add schema, add metadata, check readability, determine taxonomy, configure technical aspects of SEO, and much more.
Perfect for: Keeping your WordPress content optimised.
Read more: Guide to Yoast
It can often become a struggle to think of new content topics. Title generator can help inspire you by suggesting hundreds of blog topics based on a single keyword or phrase. It’s not always super accurate with its suggestions, but is meant to be a starting point more than anything.
Perfect for: Content topic inspiration.
Read more: Guide to writing for websites
Every piece of content needs to be accompanied by some nice imagery. Pexels provides great high quality images that are free for commercial use. They also don’t look like your generic stock imagery. You don’t need a login and can easily download multiple different sizes.
Perfect for: Finding stock images.
Read more: Guide to blog post images
Another tool from Google, the structured data testing tool is a ‘must-use’ before adding any sort of structured data on your website. You can test by inputting a URL, or just pasting your code straight into the tool.
Perfect for: Testing your structured data.
Read more: Guide to structured data
4. Ongoing maintenance and reporting
Google Search Console is a must for every website. It’s your direct point of contact with Google when it comes to your website. It tracks and reports on organic website activity from Google and will also flag any issues that are detected.
Perfect for: Understanding how Google views your website.
Read more: Guide to using Google Search Console
Bing Webmaster Tools is Microsoft’s version of Google Search Console, but obviously for Bing instead. If your audience uses Bing, you must use Bing Webmaster Tools.
Perfect for: Understanding how Bing views your website.
Read more: Getting started with Bing Webmaster Tools
Google Analytics is like Google Search Console on steroids. It tracks and reports on everything you could want to know about your website, and more.
Perfect for: Tracking and viewing all your website data.
Read more: Google Analytics for beginners
Yet another useful tool from Google, Data Studio can pull together data from multiple sources and present it in a range of beautiful graphs.
Perfect for: Simple reporting on SEO metrics.
Read more: Guide to Google Data Studio
The tools listed above are a great addition to any SEO toolkit. The fact that they’re free makes any time you spend learning how to use them a worthwhile investment. If you don’t have the time, or just need a bit of guidance on where to start, feel free to contact SEOwriter.