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In today’s digital world, the sky’s the limit when it comes to optimizing your website. You’re always one click away from finding an endless amount of free search engine optimization (SEO) tools right at your fingertips.
That said, just because they’re easy to access doesn’t mean they’re all the right fit for your business. We’ll walk you through some of the best SEO tools available to help monitor and build your digital presence in a variety of areas.
Having fast access to free SEO tools can be a great thing, but choosing the right ones is a lot easier said than done. The instant you decide to explore new tools is the same moment you’ve decided to improve your website in some way.
But how? Are you looking to get a better handle on your performance data to see how users are engaging with your landing pages? Perhaps you’re hoping to increase your rankings and build more quality links to your blog content? Or maybe you’ve done all of the above but haven’t been keeping a steady pulse on your competition?
We’ll discuss 6 categories of SEO tools:
As Carly Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett Packard once said, “The goal is to transform data into information and information into insight.” This statement is certainly true and can apply to SEO analytics as well.
In a nutshell, SEO analytics tools help improve your search rankings on Google by providing data insights on your website’s performance. Here at Kantaloupe, we use analytics to better understand how users navigate our pages, the duration they remain on our website and if a conversion is made. Data reports are also useful for conducting and monitoring test results over a given period of time.
Below are some of the tools we recommend:
Tracks, reports and displays website traffic
Google Analytics is a free SEO tool that stores and records all of your website’s traffic information in one place. On the platform, you can monitor notable fluctuations of visitors to your website in a set period of time. You can use the data to identify high performing areas of your website, in addition to areas of improvement.
The key features of Google Analytics are:
Google Analytics has an entirely free option that’s often ideal for small to midsize businesses. If you operate an enterprise business, however, you eventually may want to consider upgrading to Google Analytics 360. The cost is by no means cheap: It starts at $150,000 a year.
Measures search traffic and website performance
Google Search Console is often considered another one of the best SEO tools for monitoring traffic and identifying what is and isn’t working. With insights from Google Search Console, you can easily see how often your website appears on Google search results and which of your search queries appear. The data at hand is largely helpful for identifying how many users click into the queries.
The key features of Google Search Console are:
Google Search Console is completely free of charge and doesn’t require any payment information. There’s no paid version of this tool.
Transforms data into customizable dashboards and reports
Let’s face it: Not everyone jumps for joy at the idea of sorting through endless data. For those of you who are visual learners, Google Data Studio may be the tool you’ve waited for. Gone are the days of cluttered datasheets which can now be replaced with easy-to-read charts and reports.
The key features of Google Data Studio are:
Google Data Studio is a free platform.
There are plenty more website analysis tools where that came from:
Adam Audette, a senior vice president who heads global SEO at Merkle, once said, “It’s not about ‘get the traffic’ — it’s about ‘get the targeted and relevant traffic.’”
We couldn’t agree more.
Getting targeted, relevant traffic starts with 2 steps:
However, answering their questions simply isn’t enough. You must answer them better than your competitors.
So how does that happen? Well, here’s the thing: It doesn’t just happen. It takes lots of time, dedication and research, all of which call for the right tools. Content insight and competitor analysis tools are just what you need for finding out what types of questions users are asking, who’s giving them the answers and then creating the best content possible.
Here are some of the top content insights and competitor analysis tools:
Visualizes user’s search questions around topics, keywords and autocomplete search terms
AnswerThePublic gives you the inside scoop on what types of questions users ask and which search terms they utilize. One of our favorite aspects of this tool is that it's visual, straightforward and easy to digest. By using an image called a search cloud, AnswerThePublic can instantly generate search questions and recommended autocomplete search terms pertaining to the keywords entered. Not only is this data extremely useful for keyword research and targeting user search intent but it’ a great way to generate brand new content ideas.
The key features of AnswerThePublic are:
A free trial will allow you to conduct a few searches to see if AnswerThePublic is right for you. Should you decide to continue onward, you’ll be required to upgrade to a Pro plan. Pro plans have a monthly option of $99, which can be canceled at any time. If you prefer to pay annually, you can also select their yearly plan for $948.
Breaks down the popularity of top search queries throughout Google Search
Google Trends is a tool that combines data with storytelling for better content insights. Although it initially was intended for journalists, SEO strategies can benefit from the insights as well to conduct keyword research, brainstorm new content ideas and expand business products and services. You also can use this tool to find out how often a search term is entered into Google’s search engines in addition to finding keyword volumes and site volumes. Similar to AnswerThePublic, Google Trends dissects data in a visual way through the use of graphs.
The key features of Google Trends are:
Google Trends is completely free of charge.
Content insights generation platform to support high-performing content
At this point, you may be curious about what sets BuzzSumo apart from the other free SEO tools we already have mentioned — and it starts with getting social. When you enter keywords on Buzzsumo, you’ll receive instant insight on which articles are performing well on social media, based on the topic. This includes data such as Facebook engagement, Twitter engagement and the number of backlinks that a piece of content has. In addition to that, you can then take your research a step further by prospecting for influencers to collaborate within your niche.
The key features of BuzzSumo are:
To start using BuzzSumo, you must register for a 7-day free trial. Should you decide to continue onwards after the free trial, you’ll then need to upgrade to one of their paid plans. Their cheapest Pro plan starts at $99 a month.
That’s only just the beginning of some of the best SEO tools at your fingertips. You also can check out our honorable mentions here:
If you’ve been in the SEO game for long you know that technical SEO is a world of its own. These days, having exceptional content isn’t the only factor that will make or break your online presence. You also must be on top of your website’s technical elements as well.
For instance, you should always be asking yourself the following questions:
However, If you’re new to SEO these questions may seem overwhelming. Sure, they’re all important questions to answer but where should you start? Not to fear, this is when on-page and technical SEO audit tools come to the rescue. Here are a few of our favorites now:
Website crawler and SEO auditing for on-page improvements
Screaming Frog is a complex website crawler made simple. It’s basically exactly how it’s summarized: a desktop website crawler that sorts through a website’s links, images and structure that you can use to improve your on-page SEO. We listed Screaming Frog first in this section because of all of the potential issues it can identify — issues that if go unresolved can have a detrimental impact on search results.
Commonly undetected errors such as broken links, duplicate content and audit redirects are all issues that Screaming Frog can bring to your attention. Another perk of this tool is that it can be used for both small and large websites.
The key features of Screaming Frog are:
Screaming Frog has a free downloadable version with a crawl limit of 500 URLs. If you require a higher crawl limit, you can purchase a license with unlimited crawls for about $187 a year.
Accesses the usability of websites on mobile devices
The Mobile-Friendly Test is part of Google Search Console and it’s another SEO tool that’s as simple as it sounds. All you have to do is enter the full URL of your webpage and view your generated page score.
As part of your results, you’ll see a screenshot of how your mobile website looks to Google as well as existing mobile usability problems. This can include detected errors such as font sizes that are too tiny to easily read, the use of flash and an overall small screen display.
The key features of the Mobile-Friendly Test are:
The Mobile Friendly Test by Google Search Console is a free platform.
SEO browser add-on that analyzes and identifies on-page issues
The clever name alone isn’t the only trait that sets this tool apart (though yes, we really do love the name). Another trait we love is its free downloadable web browser extension which is suitable for both Chrome and Firefox users. The extension analyzes 6 different technical aspects.
The key features of the SEO Minion are:
What makes us love SEO Minion even more, is that it’s completely free of charge.
Assessing SEO errors is often complex, which is why there are a ton of other on-page and technical SEO audit tools we recommend you check out. You can see our additional suggestions here:
You probably have heard the quote by Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and chief technology officer of HubSpot: “The best place to hide a dead body is page two of Google.” He certainly has a point.
A recent Moz survey demonstrates the importance of ranking on the first page of results. About 75% of the respondents expressed that they either click on the first 1 or 2 results. That’s a pretty high percentage if we don’t say so ourselves.
SEO-ranking tools and SERP-checker tools can help with eliminating some of the pain points when it comes to rankings and SERP analysis. Let’s review some of the best SEO tools we recommend for rising to the top of Google search results.
A WordPress plug-in that helps optimize content for search engines and improve rankings
Rank Math is an SEO plug-in for WordPress that helps optimize your written content while simultaneously increasing your SERP rankings. What’s especially neat is how it combines the features of several SEO tools into one concise tool. If you’re looking for a WordPress plug-in that can support you in multiple facets, Rank Math may be the way to go.
The key features of the Rank Math are:
Rank Math is a free plug-in that can be downloaded straight to your computer. The developer also offers the option of trying a free demo.
A Chrome extension that provides advanced SERP metrics
The MozBar is a downloadable SEO toolbar that provides advanced insights and metrics. Here at Kantaloupe, we love using MozBar to receive a variety of instant data the second we land on SERPs. Some of our favorite data to view are link metrics and authority scores.
The key features of the MozBar are:
MozBar is a free SEO tool with no strings attached. If you decide to sign up for a Moz Pro plan at any point in time, you’ll also have access to MozBar Premium. Standard prices start at $99 a month (or $79 a month if you pay yearly).
Provides ranking difficulty scores and insightful SEO statistics
Ahrefs SERP Checker is simple to use and generates heaps of new data to analyze. All you have to do is enter the keyword of your choice into their search bar which will then provide you with a list of numbered search results. This includes an AR (Ahrefs rank number), which is based on how your backlink profile aligns with your competitors. The additional metrics showcased are DR (domain ratings), UR (URL ratings), backlinks, domains, traffic and keywords. Sounds pretty neat, right?
The key features of the Ahrefs SERP Checker are:
Alright, so technically Ahrefs isn’t totally free, but you can start a 7-day trial for $7. This is a great, inexpensive way to determine if the tool is the right fit for you.
The top SEO tools for evaluating rankings and SERPs don’t stop here! You can take a peek at our other honorable mentions below:
It all boils down to search intent when it comes to keyword research. Take the keyword phrase, “tools for local SEO,” for example. Then ask yourself the following questions:
As you can see, there are tons of questions to consider when conducting keyword research for any search term. However, we have a whole separate guide to walk you further through those steps. Our goal here’s to show you some of the top tools for SEO you can use to streamline the process.
A keyword research tool that generates an unlimited amount of suggestions
Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool by Neil Patel that’ll help you find the right keywords and bring more traffic to your website. All you have to do is enter a keyword into the search box and let the magic happen. Within a second, you’ll have access to a plethora of data for the keyword you entered, as well as additional related keywords. The simple, straightforward format of Ubersuggest makes it an even more desirable keyword research tool.
The key features of Ubersuggest are:
You can start off using Ubersuggest with a 7-day free trial. After the trial is up, you’ll have the option of signing up for one of the paid plans. The cheapest, individual plan starts as low as $29 a month.
Uncover keyword insights with one of the largest keyword databases
The SEMrush Keyword Magic tool is one of the largest keyword databases on the market that can take your keyword research to the next level. Similar to Ubersuggest, you can easily enter your seed keyword into the search bar. You then will have the option of selecting specific match modifiers to determine if you’d like to view data for broad match, exact match and phrase match keywords.
The key features of the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool are:
You can begin using SEMrush by signing up for a 7-day free trial. Afterward, you can advance to a paid subscription. The Pro plan starts at $99.95 a month (or $83.28 a month if paid annually).
Tracks keywords and provides keyword suggestions
SE Ranking’s Keyword Rank Tracker is a keyword-tracking tool meant for businesses of all walks of life. With this efficient tool, it couldn’t be easier to input the keywords of your choice and monitor their rankings fluctuations throughout select periods of time.
The key features of SE Ranking’s Keyword Rank Tracker are:
A 14-day free trial of SE Ranking is available. Even better, you’re not required to enter any credit card information until you’re ready to commit to a paid plan. Their most affordable plan is called Optimum and starts at $39 a month.
There are a ton of other keyword research and keyword tracking tools that we didn’t get around to discussing, including:
“For people to discover your website, you need to build pathways and big, flashing signs that lead them there. In digital marketing, this means you need links, links and more links,” said Luisito Batongbakal, formerly a content writer at Monitor Backlinks.
And he’s right.
Until you prioritize your off-page SEO strategy and backlink profile, you always will be missing a large piece to the SEO puzzle.
Why is that?
It’s simple. Think of each backlink to your website as a vote of confidence. An indicator to Google that users are being helped by your content and that other authoritative websites recognize you as a credible resource. The more quality votes you receive, the more you’ll establish to Google that you’re an expert on your topic and therefore, should rank higher on SERPs.
Creating a link building plan may seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some free link building tools you can try:
A backlink checker tool for link building research, link prospecting and content ideation
The Moz Link Explorer is a link analysis tool that can be accessed in just 4 simple steps:
The key features of the Moz Link Explorer are:
Moz Pro will allow you to register for a 30-day free trial, where you can use the Moz Link Explorer along with Moz’s other SEO tools. Once the free trial is up, you’ll have the option to register for a paid plan. The first plan, known as the Standard plan, starts at $99 a month (or $79 a month when paid yearly).
A backlink database and website crawler
The Ahrefs Backlink Checker is currently one of the largest backlink checkers in the SEO industry. Similar to the Moz Link Explorer, you can launch the Ahrefs Backlink Checker by plugging a domain or URL into the search bar. You’ll then have the ability to see both domain and page-level metrics for any website. Website backlink metrics can also be broken down by specific pages and subsections.
The key features of the Ahrefs Backlink Checker are:
Similar to the Ahrefs SERP Checker, the trial option is the same for the Ahrefs Backlink Checker. The trail costs $7 for 7 days, in which you can upgrade to a paid plan afterward.
Create and upload a list of toxic links to disavow
As important as it is to obtain a steady flow of backlinks to your website, monitoring your link profile on a regular basis is equally essential. If your website has too many backlinks from spammy websites, low-quality websites and websites that follow obvious black hat techniques, you’ll run the risk of having an unnatural link profile. If Google finds that your link profile is unnatural or suspicious, they may set a manual action against your website.
Therefore, disavowing your links effectively and appropriately must be a top priority. However, your first step must be to determine which links are necessary to disavow. This includes suspicious links, spammy links and links that have caused or will cause a manual action.
The key features of the Disavow tool are:
The Disavow tool is free of charge and can be used repeatedly at no cost.
By now you probably know the spiel: Although we didn’t get to discuss every off-page SEO and backlink tool, there’s a lot more at your fingertips. We’ve included our final honorable mentions below:
The world of SEO is complex and so are your business needs. Therefore, finding the best SEO tools isn’t always cut and dry. You’ll first need to access what your digital marketing goals are, how you wish to achieve them and which types of online tools and platforms will get you to your destination. You may not find the right fit at first and that’s OK — as we discussed in this list, there’s an endless array of free SEO tools to choose from.
We hope these recommendations will help skyrocket your SEO strategies in 2020.