Best Free SEO Tools We Use

Mastering Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is vital for any website looking to increase visibility and ranking. This article explores the best free SEO tools available, focusing on keyword research, SEO metrics and site auditing. Some of these tools, though free, are so good that we use them instead of paid SEO tools when doing everything from local SEO to keyword research. Whether you’re new to SEO or have some experience, these tools will be able to offer you valuable insights at no cost.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO tool that offers a great user interface and a generous feature set, even on its free plan. The free keyword research tools are particularly useful, including a free keyword generator with up to 150 free suggestions, complete with metrics such as search volume and keyword difficulty. While most free SEO tools offer these features to some extent, what sets Ahrefs apart are its tools for keyword research across niche search engines like Bing, YouTube, and Amazon. However, if you’re just getting started with your SEO efforts, I wouldn’t worry about these other search engines for a while. It’s best just to start with Google; otherwise, you’re at risk of spearing yourself too thin. and falling short on all fronts.

Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is also great for conducting a detailed SEO audit and detecting common SEO issues like broken links, missing titles, and poor mobile usability. This tool also analyses backlinks and ranks keywords, providing website owners with a clear view of their site’s performance and areas for improvement. Additionally, we use Ahrefs to track ongoing SEO campaigns with their free SERP and rank tracking tools that give in-depth third-party insight into a website’s traffic volume and overall ranking on SERPs.

Overall, Ahrefs is an excellent free SEO tool for beginners, thanks to its user-friendly interface and simple approach to data. However, experienced SEO experts may find the free version of Ahrefs a bit limiting in terms of data depth. If you do find yourself wanting to upgrade to the paid version, it will cost $99 per month.

SemRush

If you’re looking for something with a bit more depth, SEMrush offers a wide range of free SEO tools that support both initial research and ongoing optimisation efforts. These tools enable users to perform detailed keyword research and monitor their site’s SEO health. With the free version, users can access limited but valuable data on keyword performance, including monthly search volume and keyword difficulty.

 SEMrush’s free tools also provide insights into competitors’ strategies, allowing users to identify gaps in their own SEO approach and find opportunities for growth. SEMrush’s free competitor analysis includes invaluable metrics like:

  • How many and which keywords a domain rank for (in both paid and organic search)
  • Positions distribution for these keywords
  • Main competitors (in both Organic and Paid Search)
  • Top keywords driving traffic
  • Free backlink checker

One of SEMrush’s best SEO tools, however, is its site audit feature. You can check for common technical SEO issues, like slow page load times and missing meta descriptions, that could be hurting your performance in search engines. These functionalities make SEMrush’s free offerings a practical starting point for improving website visibility and performance. If you want to upgrade from a free account to the paid version of SEMrush, it’s one of the pricier options at $129 a month on their lower tier ‘pro’ plan.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is an essential tool for any website owner and will continue to be so as long as Google has such search dominance. Integrating Google Search Console is always the first step to improving your website’s SEO. The best part is that, like the rest of Google’s suite of tools, it’s free and always will be.

GSC allows you to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results with data straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. It provides valuable data on how Google views your site, including information on search traffic, mobile usability, and issues that might affect your site’s on-page SEO and performance in search results. Google also offers performance tracking metrics, such as the amount of traffic to your website, impressions, click-through rate, and your average position on search.

You can also use Google Search Console to submit sitemaps directly to Google. Sitemaps tell search engines about the hierarchy of your site, serving as a roadmap for crawlers to rank your pages accordingly.

Google Trends

Google Trends is a free tool that analyses the popularity of search queries across various regions and languages. It provides insights into search trends over time, which can be invaluable for performing keyword research, understanding search intent and generating topic ideas. You can type in a keyword to explore the relative search volume, compare it to other keywords, and identify seasonal trends or emerging topics in your industry. This information helps tailor content to current interests and forecast the demand for topics. Google Trends also offers related queries, which can inspire new keyword ideas or suggest additional long-tail keywords to target. For anyone looking to align their content with user interest and search behaviour, Google Trends is a useful resource.

I find Google Trends particularly useful for local SEO – its tool for finding local search trends allows me to post just the right content at just the right time. You can learn more about how to leverage Google Trends as part of your keyword toolkit with our introduction to Google Trends.

Bing Webmaster Tools

This is Bing’s answer to Google Search Console. It’s a free suite of services from Microsoft that provides insights and reports on your website’s performance in the Bing search engine. Much like Google Search Console, it enables site owners to submit their websites and sitemaps to Bing for indexing, helping to improve visibility. The tool offers data on search traffic, showing how users find your site, and provides diagnostic reports on website health, identifying issues like broken links or unindexed pages. It also features keyword research tools and SEO reports, which give recommendations on how to optimise your site for better rankings.

Due to Bing’s relatively low market share, this isn’t a tool I’d spend a lot of time on. According to a 2023 study from ROI, Google is by far the most used search engine in Australia, holding a market share of 94.56% as of May 2023, followed by Bing with 3.65%.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a free keyword tool offered within Google Ads that helps users research keywords for their search campaigns. It provides data on search volume, competition, and suggested bid prices for various target keywords. This tool is particularly useful for identifying relevant keywords for SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, allowing you to understand how often certain terms are searched and how those searches change over time. Keyword Planner can also help generate new keyword ideas based on seed keywords, helping to expand your keyword strategy. 

While Google Keyword Planner is aimed at people running Google Ads, you don’t have to run paid ads to use it. Its insights are still invaluable for anyone looking to enhance their website’s SEO by targeting the right keywords organically.

Moz

Moz is an SEO software that has a great selection of tools you can use for free and is perfect for beginners looking to delve a bit deeper into SEO. It allows you to track metrics all the classic metrics like keyword suggestions, search volume data, and keyword difficulty scores. Moz also provides a free domain analysis tool, giving users a quick overview of your site’s SEO health, including top pages by links, discovered and lost links, and keyword rankings.

What makes Moz different is its simple layout and clear display of data, making it a less overwhelming experience than more complex SEO tools like SEMrush without compromising too much on versatility. Another unique feature of Moz is its SEO toolbar, a free Chrome extension that allows you to SEO research as you browse the web age and see important SEO metrics like Page Authority, Domain Authority, and Spam Score of any site or page. You can also access and compare link metrics across pages while browsing any SERP.

To gain access to both the free and paid SEO tools from Moz, you’ll have to pay $99 a month for the basic plan. The most expensive, comprehensive plan is $600 a month, but you don’t need this unless you’re a large and established SEO agency.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a website crawler that helps you improve on-page SEO by performing an SEO analysis to reveal issues. We love this tool so much we pay for the full version, but the free version still has much of what makes the paid version so good. You can analyse over 500 URLs to find broken links, analyse page titles and metadata, generate sitemaps to submit to Google and other search engines, as well uncover any duplicate pages.

The paid version has over two dozen more features and integrations, but the free version is a great place to start if you want to better understand your site’s performance and positioning. If your SEO efforts scale up and you want to upgrade, it costs $391 annually.

Honourable Mentions

While the tools listed below aren’t solely for SEO, they can also be valuable assets for your overall digital marketing and website management strategy. These tools provide additional insights and capabilities that complement your main SEO tools, improving your website’s functionality and user experience.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that every website owner should use. It’s free and provides detailed information about who visits your website. You can see how many people visit, where they come from, and what they do on your site. It helps you understand your audience better and measure the impact of your SEO efforts. It’s essential for tracking your progress and making data-driven decisions to improve your site. Read our list of best free tools for checking website traffic if you want to learn more.

Pingdom 

Pingdom is a website speed and performance checker. A fast-loading site is important for good SEO and keeping your visitors happy. Pingdom lets you test how quickly your website loads and identifies what might be slowing it down. While there is a paid version that allows you to monitor an unlimited number of sites and access uptime monitoring, the free version is more than adequate for most needs.

WordPress Plugins 

If you use WordPress, there are plenty of free plugins that can help with SEO. Plugins like Yoast SEO and Rank Math simplify the process of optimising your content and improving your rankings. They help you add meta tags, generate sitemaps, and provide useful tips for making your posts more search engine-friendly. These tools are user-friendly, easy to install and perfect for beginners looking to improve their website’s SEO without technical expertise.

You Don’t Need Paid SEO Tools To Succeed

No matter the size of your business, SEO is a must if you want to keep attracting organic traffic. This article goes to show that you don’t need to have a million-dollar budget to improve your SEO performance. There are so many free SEO courses, tools, and software out there to help you get started. SEO will never provide instant results, but putting in the effort is well worth it in the long run – and essential to stay competitive. If you want to learn more about how we do it, read our article on How We Measure SEO Campaigns.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
  • Juliette Owen-Jones
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