KEEP UP TO DATE ON THE LATEST IN DIGITAL MARKETING
Have you ever bought something that you didn’t need but still really wanted? Upgraded your phone because it has a better camera? Bought an air fryer? You know it’s not a necessity, but you’ve reasoned that life would be better with it.
Not to add spoilers, but search engine optimization (SEO) tools are often like that. You could make an epic new website today, but that doesn’t mean anyone will see it. Blindly waiting for people to come to your business is wishful thinking. One of the most tried-and-true ways to drive traffic to your website is SEO, but SEO is pretty tough (if not impossible) to do without a solid SEO toolbox at your disposal.
Each tool has its unique features but may not check off every box for you, which is why we’re giving you plenty of options. Below, we list 32 of the best free SEO tools and their paid versions that you should be using.
To make things easier, we’ve divided them into five categories. Skip ahead if you already know what SEO goal you’re going after:
- Keyword Research Tools
- Competitor Research
- Technical SEO Tools
- Traffic Conversions and Sales
- Link Building
Why You Need to Utilize SEO Tools
Online SEO tools save you from manually researching keywords related to your website’s content and help you measure up against your competitors. These tools also allow you to filter SEO metrics to access the specific information you need, from site health to traffic and conversions.
And best of all, a lot of them are FREE! Did we get your attention? Depending on your goals, free tools for SEO provide valuable data, while premium SEO tools will give you a complete in-depth look at how your website is doing and its potential. If you’re new to SEO, try out some free versions before choosing when and how you’d like to invest further.
Keyword Research Tools
Let’s start with the basics: keyword research tools. When you begin your content planning, you want to be targeting the right keywords to give your web pages a better chance of ranking high on your desired SERPs. For best practice, we recommend you use 2-3 tools to ensure you aren’t relying on the data from a single source.
Semrush Keyword Magic Tool
Arguably one of the most popular SEO tools, Semrush has it all. We all want our website to be the first thing that pops up in the Google search results. But how do we get there? Semrush has a number of tools designed to help you choose the correct keywords and monitor how you rank for those keywords as you move through your SEO strategy.
For example, let’s say you own a pet supplies store. Perhaps you’re planning a new landing page or writing a blog article for your website. Use the Keyword Magic Tool in Semrush for keyword ideas. This SEO tool will compare related keywords, search volume, keyword difficulty, and more. Based on this information, the keyword research process just became a lot easier. You now know whether that keyword is worth targeting or if a different keyword would give you the potential to rank higher or drive more relevant traffic.
Google Keyword Planner
Google has a few variations of SEO tools that will help you increase organic search traffic. To use Google Keyword Planner, you’ll first need to set up a Google Ads account. From there, you can begin your keyword planning. This tool will help you discover new keywords based on your search term.
Imagine you’re now in the planning stage of creating a products page for the dog toys you sell. In the search bar, you might type in ‘dog toys.’ Google Keyword Planner will then show keyword ideas based on average monthly searches, 3-month and Y/Y volume change, and competition. Using the keyword planner tool, you may discover that a term like ‘squeaky dog toys’ or ‘best puppy toys’, is more relevant to what you are offering and has a higher search volume. You can now target this keyword with your content.
While Google Keyword Planner shows you search volume data, 3-month change, and Y/Y data; Google Trends shows how popular that keyword is. Creating high-quality content takes time, and you don’t want to be wasting your time using irrelevant keywords.
Google Trends will also show the trending data for keywords over time. If a keyword continues to fall in popularity, it’s best to avoid it.
If only we could predict the future… With Exploding Topics, you can. Well… sorta! This SEO tool maps out topics that have the potential to trend in the future. When researching keywords, check out which terms are currently doing well, ones that could trend in the future, and topics declining in popularity.
This tool allows you to extract keywords from a specific subreddit. You enter the subreddit and then hit keywords. This tool then provides a list of popular keywords used in that subreddit, the search volume and a context link that shows you Google results for that keyword. This tool is really good for identifying popular keywords within a specific niche. If a subreddit topic aligns with your business, exploring the keywords within that subreddit can provide insight that may be hard to find anywhere else.
Search Response offers SEO tools to streamline your process when researching keywords. This tool can help you analyze over 100 million People Also Ask (PAA) questions that are collected from Google. It then ranks your relevant questions based on popularity.
Here’s why you should use this tool:
- Gain a better understanding of your target audience.
- Discover additional topics that you may have missed during keyword research.
- Enhance your current content by understanding user intent.
SpyFu Keyword Research
We’ve already established the importance of finding effective keywords. However, jumping between different keyword tools won’t help you streamline your work. Instead, you want all your information in one place, and that’s exactly what SpyFu will do for you.
Find your complete keyword overview, related keywords, ranking history, advertising history, and backlinks, bulk upload keyword ideas, and conduct a comprehensive SERP analysis. It might sound like a lot, but don’t worry. The user-friendly interface is simple and easy to use for SEO beginners.
MOZ Keyword Explorer
Similar to Semrush, MOZ offers a variety of SEO tools to streamline your work. The MOZ Keyword Explorer helps you find the perfect keyword from 500 million traffic-driving keywords. MOZ will send you an email with a detailed keyword analysis, including suggestions.
If you’re new to keyword research, suggested keywords are essential to keep in mind.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
Want another way to keep up with your competitors? Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is an excellent tool that helps determine how hard it is to rank in your keyword’s top 10 search results. You can use this user-friendly tool to discover keyword difficulty scores, average monthly clicks, and additional keywords.
Are you optimizing content for platforms like Amazon or YouTube? Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool will help you find keywords for specific platforms as well.
For basic demographic information, Demographics.io provides just that. Type in a particular keyword and see the gender and age of the people behind that search. Just keep in mind this tool only filters for search query data in the US and Denmark.
Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right? With these competitor analysis SEO tools, you can check out your competition and see what’s working for them to make it work even better for you.
Semrush Domain Overview
Enter your competitor’s domain and see their strengths and weaknesses with Semrush’s Domain Overview tool. The analysis will show you the domain’s visibility, growth trends, and keywords bringing in the most organic and paid traffic channels.
Want more? This tool allows up to five competitor domain searches that can be filtered by country.
SpyFu Competitors Tool
As the name suggests, you can spy on your competitors and their keyword plan based on their SEO strategy. Not sure who your competitors are? SpfyFu will let you know. Beyond just learning who they are, you can also unlock data on domains that are gaining traffic for your keywords and see the clicks your competitors are getting.
Enter a domain and see its most valuable keywords. SpyFu will then provide data on keyword difficulty, search volume, and more.
Using the SpyFu Kombat tool, you can include two domains to compare competition on keywords. Here you’ll see where your website is lacking in terms of keywords you’re not ranking for, but your competitors are. Keep this tool in mind when you’re searching for keywords.
Technical SEO Tools
Let’s get into the technical aspect of SEO. If you’re new, this might sound a bit daunting. Not to worry, these tools are user-friendly, and you don’t need to be an expert to use them. The following list of tools will help you understand how your site is running and where you can improve.
Semrush Site Audit Tool
Using this site audit tool within Semrush, you can see if you have any errors, notices or warnings that are affecting your website’s overall health. You can then use this information to conduct your monthly technical SEO maintenance checks to fix any 4xx errors with redirects, add image alt tags, fix internal and external links, and more.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Want to be nit-picky with your website and dig for the real problems? Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a website crawler that helps you improve onsite SEO by extracting data & auditing for common SEO issues. Choose from the paid version, at $243/year, with an unlimited crawl limit, or the free version that allows you to crawl up to 500 URLs.
Here are some of the issues Screaming Frog SEO Spider will find for you:
- Bad redirects
- Broken links
- Duplicate pages
- Missing metadata
- Meta refreshes
- Server and link error
- URL issues
Hint: This is a great SEO tool when you’re doing a site audit.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free service Google offers designed to help you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results. Search Console allows you to track and sometimes resolve server errors, site load issues, and security issues like hacking and malware. You can also use it to ensure any site maintenance or adjustments you make happen smoothly with respect to search performance.
Search Console offers tools and reports for the following actions:
- Confirm that Google can find and crawl your site.
- Fix indexing problems and request re-indexing of new or updated content.
- View Google Search traffic data for your site: how often your site appears in Google Search, which search queries show your site, how often searchers click through for those queries, and more.
- Receive alerts when Google encounters indexing, spam, or other issues on your site.
- Show you which sites link to your website.
- Troubleshoot issues for mobile usability and other Search features.
Bing Webmaster Tools
We know Google isn’t the only search engine to exist. Bing remains one of the most used search engines, and you want to maximize your website’s visibility online. Bing’s free SEO tools have several features, including allowing the Crawl Control tool to index your site.
To put it simply, Bing Webmaster Tools are the equivalent of Google Search Console. Check how Bing crawls and indexes your website, see your site’s performance, and discover which keywords you’re ranking for. If you notice pages that have yet to be crawled, you can submit those as well.
Fix 404 errors with GetRedirects. This tool uses AI to suggest redirects for a website updating or changing its URLs. It is a useful tool for websites undergoing major URL or URL structure changes and needs a place to redirect their viewers.
Have you ever clicked on a website, but it wasn’t loading? How long did you wait before giving up? Probably only a few seconds, right?
PageSpeed Insights analyzes your website vitals, including input delay. Did you know that 40% of consumers will leave a website that doesn’t load within three seconds? If your website takes longer than this to load, you’re losing out on huge customer opportunities. Use this tool to enhance the user experience of your site.
Ahrefs Site Audit Tool
The site audit tool will crawl all pages on your website to provide an SEO health score. Ahrefs will uncover 100+ pre-defined SEO issues by grouping them into categories like HTML tags, content tags, performance issues and more. Another perk to the site audit tool? You can also crawl the mobile version of your website.
If you consider yourself a wizard of SEO, use the Data Explorer to create custom filters and see the data you want.
Google Data Studio
Gathering data about your website, audience, and potential growth is…a lot. But before you get frustrated, Google is back to make your life easier. Google Data Studio simplifies this process by gathering this information and presenting your SEO data on a dashboard. It also allows you to use third-party connections so you can see all of the most important data from your Semrush keyword rankings to your Twitter and Facebook insights.
Google Rich Results Test
Schema is a code that Google reads and presents as a featured snippet. For Google to provide the most accurate information users are seeking, rich results are used to highlight the important information. So what does this mean for your website? Featured snippets are short excerpts that are displayed at the top of Google’s search results. They typically take the form of a list, definitions, steps, or tables.
For example, someone might ask a question about the best cat treat brands. Your website might already have a comprehensive list of the best brands cat owners should buy. Google’s automated system decides which site to use as a featured snippet. Test your schema on Google Rich Results Test to ensure it’s working and give you a better chance of appearing as a featured snippet.
We mentioned schema briefly above, but let’s back up a bit. Schema.org is a tool that shows you the types of schema that exist and how to create schema for your site. Creating schema compatible with all major search engines dramatically reduces the work and improves the chances of being a featured snippet.
Traffic Conversions and Sales
How will you know how your sales and traffic are performing without the data to back it up? These SEO tools give insights into your website’s audience and more.
Google My Business
If you’re a business owner (especially one with a physical location), this one’s for you. GMB is an essential tool for local SEO to help drive traffic to your site.
Any business that exists should have a Google My Business account. When people Google your business, you’ll see your information on the right-hand side of the screen. It’s crucial to optimize your account to help potential customers stay up to date with all the information about your business. This includes your location, hours of operation, reviews, etc. Your customers will thank you for having readily available and accurate information.
Google Tag Manager
As a business owner, you also want to keep track of how people are interacting with your site. For example, your goal might be to increase your email list. With Google Tag Manager, you can create custom triggers and tags related to specific website goals. Using this in conjunction with Google Analytics allows you to have in-depth insights into how users are interacting with what is most important to you.
Campaign URL Builder
You’re about to launch a digital campaign for your website but want to keep track of the success. Google’s Campaign URL Builder allows you to add parameters to campaign URLs to track campaign progress.
This tool attaches a UTM tracking parameter at the end of a URL. Using this data for your campaign, you are able to access the campaign data in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a must-have free tool, whether you’re setting up a new site or working with an existing one. With Google Analytics, you have access to in-depth, real-time information about your traffic, including:
- Who is currently looking at your website
- User behaviour data
- Audience demographics
- Session duration
- Which content is most popular
- Device type visitors are using
Within Google Analytics, the Acquisition Tool shows how many people are coming to a landing page, and how they got there. This can include:
- An ad
- Social media
- Another website
This data is beneficial because it shows what is or isn’t working. For example, suppose you recently optimized a landing page. In that case, the data from Google Analytics’ Acquisition Tool can provide you insight into its success based on where your audience is coming from.
Business Listing Score
Business owners, listen up! MOZ’s Local Listing Score is a nifty tool for you. Based on local search engines and directories like Google, Google Maps, Facebook, Bing, and more, you can do a site audit to improve your site’s visibility. This free tool will highlight any inaccurate or missing data and highlight new listing opportunities.
Are you doing backlink audits? If you said no, then this section is for you. Backlink audits provide you with an in-depth look at which domains are linking to your website and the ‘toxicity’ of those links.
Why does it matter who links to your website? Google looks at which websites are linking to yours, and if those websites have a reputation for being shady, it can negatively impact your website’s overall health.
Link building is a great way to gain more organic traffic to your site. If a blogger links to your site, their audience will discover yours through their backlink. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the more Google will determine your site to be credible and rank-worthy. But as we said, not all backlinks are good! Google will flag spammy backlinks, making it harder for your website to rank.
Ahrefs Site Explorer
Type in your website URL into Ahrefs and choose the “*.domain/*” mode to view your entire website’s audit. From there, you’ll see the total number of backlinks for your site. Not sure if this is a good number or not? Open another window and do the same thing with one of your competitors to see their total backlinks.
To determine whether spammy sites are linking you, check the anchors. Ahrefs will show you the anchor text sites are using to reference yours. Good backlinks would include anchor texts relevant to you. If we go back to the example of your pet supplies business, it will make sense for someone to use anchor texts like “high-quality pet supplies” or “best cat food.” However, if you scroll through and see an irrelevant anchor text like “make money fast,” it’s probably spam.
Don’t worry; there are ways you can get rid of backlink spam. You’ll need to send Google a disavow links request. This helpful guide will show you how to do this.
Semrush Backlink Audit
Semrush’s Backlink Audit tool looks at the domain, sees how many websites are pointing at the website while also providing a breakdown of the health of those backlinks.
Having lots of backlinks isn’t necessarily a good thing. Some could be coming from spam and won’t help you gain trust in Google’s eyes. The Backlink Audit tool compiles an overall score based on toxic and non-toxic backlinks. From there, you can begin disavowing or removing the harmful backlinks.
Moz Link Explorer
For ten free queries a month, you can analyze the health of your website with MOZ’s Link Explorer. This SEO tool provides instant SEO metrics on broken links, the spam score of backlinks, domain authority, and more.
Building A Keyword Research and SEO Strategy
And that’s a wrap! Now that you have your list of the top SEO tools on the market, we hope this article will help you increase your organic traffic, expand your audience, and help strategize how to remain competitive.
If you’re still new to using keyword research tools, free tools are helpful and can be a great starting point in determining whether you want to invest further. As you evolve your SEO skills and goals, the paid versions could be more helpful in providing the data you’re looking to access.