SEO Tools: The best free options for your site

Everyone loves free things and every digital marketer loves SEO tools — especially when they’re free. Whether you’re a nonprofit, small startup, or large corporate business, you can use Whole Whale’s favorite search engine optimization tools.

What are SEO tools and why do I need them?

Competition in the SEO industry is increasing day by day, which means that without the most up-to-date SEO tools it’s easy to fall behind. (If you want to learn more about the steps to build a successful SEO strategy, check out SEO Success: Six Steps for Small Nonprofits.) Using any of the 7 recommended SEO tools below, you’ll be able to pinpoint your website’s Google search result rankings, discover new focus keywords to build content around, brainstorm backlink ideas, act on some technical SEO update recommendations, and learn more about your website’s organic search traffic. Read on for our picks and what to do with them.

1. Search Console

Used for: Monitoring and maintaining your website’s search presence for Google search results
Pricing: Free with a side of free
Google Search Console is Google’s gift to all SEOs. This tool provides you with the number of people that visit your website using Google search queries (a fancy way of saying what people type into Google), shows you the number of different site URLs Google has indexed, and the keywords that matter the most to your website. Don’t worry, GSC is not mandatory for Google to index your pages — just think of it as a brilliant and free way to get great information that can direct you on how to be on the top of Google search results.

2. Moz

Used for: SEO Keyword exploring, who is linking to your website
Pricing: Free with a paid option
Moz offers three amazing free SEO tools to get you started on creating a content marketing strategy. The first tool is the keyword explorer, which will help you with your keyword research and identify new keywords to work into your website.
Next up is the open site explorer, this helps you see what websites are backlinking to your website. Think of this tool as an SEO checkup, showing you the domain authority and page authority for your website.
Finally, one of the coolest free tools from Moz is the MozBar. This extension gives you access to Moz’s research tools — and if you’re new to SEO, then this is perfect for you. Install MozBar on your browser to get on page SEO analytics (and in turn better understand your website and competitor sites).

3. Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress

Used for: Technical SEO made easy on your WordPress website
Pricing: Free with a paid option
Have you ever asked yourself, how do I create hundreds of meta titles and meta descriptions for my WordPress website? Yoast makes it easy with creating templates for all sections of your website, so that you can go from Meta-deficient to Meta-rich in less than an hour. Yoast can also help to easily create a sitemap to implement on Google Search Console. If you don’t know what any of that means, check out how to enable XML sitemaps in the Yoast SEO Plugin. You can also learn more about the basics of Yoast with our how-to guide.

4. Google Trends

Used for: Finding the most popular Google searches (and so much more)
Pricing: Free with some extra free on top
Do you want to know the weekly search rate of Justin Bieber in California in 2013? Probably not, but you can find that out and so much more with Google Trends. Google Trends doesn’t give you actual search numbers, so it is best to use with Google AdWords Keyword Planner (we will get into that later). Google Trends will show you relative level of interest of any keyword phrase over time. If you’re trying to find out what you should write for your next blog, type different phrases in Google Search trends to see if people are searching for your topic. The best way to learn more about Google Trends is to play around, so what are you waiting for?

5. Google AdWords Keyword Planner

Used for: Keyword research
Pricing: Free with a sprinkle of free
Do you need to know the monthly average of Google searches for “Brooklyn hipsters”? Google Adwords Keyword planner is not just for your Google AdWords account, it can also be used to find highly searched keywords to build into your content strategy. Here are the steps:

  1. Create an account, it’s free and you don’t have to add a credit card to use this tool.
  2. Login and click on tools in the top right corner, then keyword planner.
    SEO tools guide to Google AdWord Planner
  3. You’ll be presented with three different tools within the Google Keyword Planner (under “Where would you like to start?”):
  4. Select search for New keywords using a phrase, website or category
    SEO Tools: How to use Google AdWords Keyword Planner
  5. Enter your landing page, click “get ideas” and find cool keywords to add to your website.

6. Google Analytics

Used for: Tracking your SEO progress, and much, much more
Pricing: Free, free, free
How much organic traffic is coming to your website? This is just one of many questions Google Analytics can help you answer. Follow the below steps:

  1. Sign into your Google Analytics account
  2. Click on your account
  3. Go to Acquisition on the side menu
  4. Click on Channels
    Google Analytics organic traffic step 3
  5. Click on Organic Search
    Google Analytics Organic Traffic Step 4

From here you’ll see the total organic traffic your website receives as well as the keywords that users search and click to find your website. Google Analytics can be used as the stand-in for a number of SEO tools, but for now try viewing the number of organic sessions your website receives.

7. Screaming Frog

Used for: Crawling website links, images, CSS, script, and apps from an SEO perspective
Pricing: Free with a paid option
A great tool for crawling your site and better understanding technical problems that happen on every website. Screaming frog crawls your website and can give you information on pages missing meta titles or descriptions, 404 errors, missing alt tags, and much more.
The important thing to note is that the free version of Screaming Frog only crawls 500 URLs for free but if you have a website with less than 500 URLs, then the free version is perfect for your website.

Want to dive deeper into the world of SEO tools (and beyond)? Enroll in our three-hour Whole Whale University course on content marketing. Or you can check out our recorded webinar: The Beginner’s Guide to Technical SEO with Distilled.