Want to drive more traffic to your online portfolio? No matter what industry you’re in, mastering the basics of search engine optimization (more commonly referred to as SEO) will ensure you get as many potential clients as possible visiting your website—and, hopefully, buying from you or hiring you. Good news: there’s tons of SEO tools out there that make this whole process easy. And we’re happy to share all our own favorite online SEO tools with you. Even better? There’s lots of free SEO tools on offer, too. Let’s get started!
So—What is SEO?
Before we get too far, let’s just get some definitions out of the way. In short, SEO means optimizing your website for search engines. Maximizing your website’s readability and including terms you want to be associated with means that you will get as much organic (unpaid), motivated traffic to your website as possible, along with a high search engine ranking. At the end of the day, it really comes down to rankability. Your website ranking has a direct influence on how likely you are to be seen, and, in turn, how likely your site—and you!—will be successful. (Some websites even come with SEO tools built in!) Want to learn more about how to kill it at SEO? Check out our SEO guide. The path to great SEO starts with finding the best SEO tools. Time to get into our list of the best free online SEO tools!
Website Analysis SEO Tools
Having a basic understanding of Google Analytics, or GA, is essential for anyone running a website. Luckily, GA has a simple interface that can do as much or as little as you’d like. This is where every SEO journey should begin, as you can use Google Analytics to observe how much traffic your online portfolio is getting, as well as when people are visiting and where they are coming from (both geographically and referring sites).
Best for: Everyone! We repeat: everyone who works on a website should be familiar with Google Analytics.
Though it also offers a paid tier, SEO SiteCheckup has a free tool that rates your site with an overall percentage. This rating comes with an impressive in-depth overview of your site, including a breakdown of what you’re doing well as well as areas that could use improvement, such as page loading speed, sitemap functionality, and (meta descriptions)[https://moz.com/learn/seo/meta-description]. There is also an Image Alt Test feature, which is especially handy in making sure that all of your images have proper alt attributes.
Best for: Those motivated by grades, and those who want to see the big picture.
Alexa (yes, that Alexa) has an SEO Audit Tool that shows you how your site stacks up in terms of traffic and engagement. Psst—it also lets you spy on the performance of your competition, too!
Best for: Scoping out the competition. (And for those who want to use a free trial to scope out whether it’s worth forking out cash for!)
Buzzsumo allows you to type in any URL and sort content by level of social media engagement. You can also explore how much attention content has received on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. It’s not only useful for keeping track of your progress—it’s also a very good place to find inspiration!
Best for: Social media and content marketing strategies.
Although Majestic has a paid version, there is a free option as well (though registration is required). It works as an all-in-one SEO analysis tool and is particularly well-known for its vast backlink library that spans several years.
Best for: Researching your competitor’s backlinks.
Varvy is a convenient tool that helps you stay on track. By simply typing in your URL, Varvy tests your website to ensure that it is following Google guidelines on things like page speed, alt tags, Googlebot access, mobile optimization, sitemap compliance, and more.
Best for: The worrywarts who want to make sure they have all their bases covered.
With one quick search, Serpstat shows you useful data about your website, such as number of keywords, average keyword position, and high-visibility pages. Serpstat will also give you a list of your top competitors. This can be quite insightful, as it’s not always the usual suspects!
Best for: Getting intel on the competition.
Keyword Research SEO Tools
Once you start delving into SEO, you’ll learn that there are keywords, and then there are (LSI keywords)[https://robpowellbizblog.com/what-are-lsi-keywords/]. LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing (can you see why a short form exists now?). This is basically a clunky way of saying “related keywords,” i.e. keywords that are similar to your target topic but not identical (they are also often longer). LSIGraph is a useful tool for planning out your H2 and H3 headers when writing SEO content.
Best for: Subtitle inspiration.
Answer the Public
Not only is Answer the Public aesthetically pleasing, this tool is also pretty darn useful. By typing your prospective keywords into the search bar, Answer the Public helps you build your strategy by showing you what else people are searching for in relation to that topic. You can even download the keywords as a .csv file, which is great if you’re spreadsheet-obsessed like us.
Best for: Doing keyword research in style.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is another star in the Google SEO tools lineup. Google Keyword Planner allows you to glimpse into the minds of Google searchers worldwide by offering insight into what readers are looking for, allowing you to stay on top of trends and find keywords you might not have even considered. This is an indispensable free tool for domain admins and a great place to start for content inspiration.
Best for: Almost being able to read people’s minds.
A favorite among keyword planners, Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is an easy-to-use keyword generator that allows you to discover potential traffic by typing in keywords. To make things even more interesting, Ubersuggest allows you to look keywords up by country and language—a handy tool for those trying to break into a particular market.
Best for: Idea generation on those hard three-coffee-per-hour days.
KWFinder is a simple keyword-planning tool that is extremely easy to use. Its convenience lies in its simplicity, as it allows you to see a website’s highest-volume keywords just by typing in a URL.
Best for: Getting lots of work done in a pinch.
Seed Keywords is a keyword-planning tool with a twist: it allows you to type in scenarios and casual conversation-type questions and spits out suggested keywords that people with a similar query may be looking for.
Best for: A more natural approach to keyword research.
Soovle shows you the keyword suggestions from various search engines and websites like Bing, Google, Amazon, and Wikipedia, all in one place.
Best for: Covering all your bases.
Rank Checker Tools
SEMRush has built up a reputation for being one of the top SEO tools available. Like its competitor Moz, SEMRush is a primarily a paid platform but has some free functionality. SEMRush has an easy-to-use interface that helps you explore your page rankings and keyword search volumes. In the free version, you are also able to see your number of backlinks and your ad revenue, as well as your overall number of organic keywords.
Best for: Having all your keyword tools in one place.
KeywordTracker is a free alternative to rank tracking for conscious webmasters. It offers daily tracking for keywords, along with a much higher ranking depth than most trackers on the market.
Best for: Those who want to see their deeper ranks past the 100 position.
The Hoth offers a slew of free SEO tools, include a blog topic generator, keyword gap analysis, a (highly attuned) keyword planner, a headline generator, and a tool for checking keyword density. This is seriously a one-stop shop for SEO analysis.
Best for: Everything! The Hoth will be your new favorite secret weapon.
With SEOCentro, you can compare your site directly to your competitors. This means that you can see what they’re doing that you’re not and develop new strategies. Other tools included on the site include a mobile compatibility checker, page-speed analysis, and a very handy meta tag generation tool.
Best for: Getting it all done in one place.
SEOptimer is a free website audit that gives you actionable ways to improve your search engine rankings.
Best for: Figuring out what works (and what doesn’t).
Hubspot’s Website Grader
Hubspot’s Website Grader gives you helpful feedback about the things that your website is doing well…and the things that it can improve on. This includes things like meta descriptions, page titles, headings, and more.
Best for: Setting goals for improvement.
Nibbler is a quick tool gives you up to three free reports scoring your site out of 10 for areas like accessibility, SEO, and social media.
Best for: An SEO reality check.
I Search From
I Search From simulates a Google search from anywhere in the world, no matter your location. This can be helpful when trying to determine how you may rank in international locations.
Best for: Expanding your audience in the era of globalization.
Link-Building SEO Tools
Ontolo helps you in your link-building quest by providing you with a list of sources that complement your content. By finding common ground, it you’re more likely to be successful when reaching out to other blogs offering to write guest posts.
Best for: Helping you find likeminded collaborators.
Through Linkminer, it is possible to see where all of your site’s backlinks are. This free SEO tool is indispensable in determining where to look to build more links. Although Linkminer does offer a paid service, there are a limited number of searches allowed on a daily basis for every registered free account.
Best for: Seeing how far you’ve come.
Technical SEO Tools
Google PageSpeed Insights
Page speed plays a pivotal role in how high Google will rank your page. Google PageSpeed Insights is another Google SEO tool that helps you track how quickly (or slowly) your webpage loads so you can optimize where you need to.
Best for: Protecting your precious bounce rate.
Another member of the Google SEO tool family, Webmaster Tools helps you ensure your site is viewable in the eyes of Google. Signing up for Webmaster Tools and monitoring your website is an essential part of everyone’s SEO game.
Best for: Protecting your website.
Marking up your site with (schema)[https://neilpatel.com/blog/get-started-using-schema/] is one of the more complicated parts of an SEO strategy, but Schema.org is here to help. The site is home to a schema creator that is relatively easy to use.
Best for: Tackling the tough schema stuff.
Like its name would suggest, BuiltWith helps you see what other websites are built with. It’s useful for gaining inspiration from other websites that you admire—or your biggest competitors.
Best for: Taking a glimpse behind the curtain, competitor-wise.
Chrome Developer Tools
Chrome Developer Tools offers an in-depth SEO audit that is particularly useful for finding technical problems.
Best for: Maintaining your peace of mind.
GTmetrix tests your site speed. This is especially important if you pay for a particularly high-speed internet connection, as this isn’t the case for everyone the world. What loads quickly for you may not load as quickly for everybody else!
Best for: Putting yourself in your reader’s shoes.
Pingdom tests your website speed and gives you ideas on how it can be improved upon. Pingdom also has a feature that allows you to keep track on your site’s speeds at all times.
Best for: Ensuring that your site meets speed guidelines.
Siteliner is a free SEO tool that scans your website to look for technical issues and duplicate content, which can impact your quality score.
Best for: Picking up on things that you may have missed.
Screaming Frog is a free auditing system that allows you to analyze the SEO performance of any given website. It is particularly useful for capturing duplicate content and creating effective sitemaps.
Best for: Checking for duplicate content.
Editorial SEO Tools
WebFX Readability Tool
WebFX has a straightforward readability tool that will provide you with an overall grade level of your website’s readability.
Best for: Ensuring content is accessible.
Spreadsheets are very useful when it comes to SEO project organization, and can be especially helpful for editors keeping track of a large number of assignments. Google Sheets gets major bonus points in our books for saving your work automatically as you go along (is there anything worse than losing three hours of beautiful spreadsheets?).
Best for: Those striving for optimal organization.
Ludwig is a writing tool that helps you see the context your keywords are being used in on other pages across the web. As most webpages should ideally be written at a Grade 6 reading level, this tool helps you discover proper tone and ensures that you’re keeping up with the same standards as your competitors.
Best for Ensuring optimal readability.
Google SERP Simulator
The Google SERP Simulator allows you to see how your website’s title and meta description will appear in Google.
Best for: Making the most of your meta descriptions.
Google Trends allows you to glimpse into the minds of search engine users by providing you with details as to what people are Googling and from where. It’s an excellent choice for topic brainstorming.
Best for: Staying in the loop.
Feedly is a great tool that allows you to create your own personalized newsfeed based on the topics and publications that you want to see. It’s a very handy tool for keeping up with what is going on in any industry.
Best for: Curating your own personal newspaper.
Along the same line as Feedly, TrackReddit allows you to keep up-to-date on what’s happening on the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet.” News does often break on Reddit first, so it’s a good place to keep tabs on what’s going on.
Best for: Getting all the Reddit news, without the actual Redditing.
Copyscape is a plagiarism checker that scans the web for duplicate content. It has a free version, and is especially useful for those in editorial positions who are not writing their own content.
Best for: Protecting your site’s integrity.
Educational SEO Tools
Although Matthew Barby may be best known for his public speaking and his consultation services, this digital marketing expert also runs a website that is jam-packed with great SEO advice. Check out the article on 19 Actionable SEO Tips to Increase Organic Traffic to get an idea of the kind of tips this website can offer .
Best for: Beginners who are looking to dive into the basics.
Perhaps one of the most famous names in the online SEO tool game, Moz Moz has a wealth of self-education resources— we recommend their video courses in particular!
Best for: Learning from the best.
Neil Patel is one of the biggest names in SEO strategy; his website offers a number of resources for those looking to learn.
Best for: Keeping up with the latest news in the SEO world.
On-Page SEO Tools
Grammarly is a popular spellchecker that is sophisticated enough to offer tonal suggestions. This is very useful for social media, where typos can easily make or break a post!
Best for: Double- and triple-checking your work.
Keywords Everywhere is a handy Chrome extension that saves you time by giving you keyword suggestions for every search that you make.
Best for: Keyword improvements without the effort.
Note Anywhere is another clever browser extension for Chrome that allows you to leave notes and reminders any place on a page. Similar to the floating sticky note feature on Mac OS, Note Anywhere can help you organize the goals of your SEO strategy as you perform your own personal audit on your webpage.
Best for: Those who want the flexibility of a notebook and the convenience of your computer screen.
Google URL Shortener
The Google URL Shortener is an extension available on a variety of browsers. It shortens your URLs to make way for easy social media sharing, so you can spend less time stressing over how to properly share your content and more time building your audience.
Best for: Saving time by eliminating tedious tasks.
Putting Your SEO Knowledge to Work
Phew. We know it’s a lot to take in, but trust us when we say that doing the right SEO research is worth it in the long run. At Format, we have gone to great lengths to make sure that our platform is (primed for your SEO tweaks)[https://www.format.com/features] so that you can get your content in front of the right people at the right time. Good SEO practices aren’t learned overnight, and that’s okay. Like most things on the internet, SEO changes too fast for a quick fix to be feasible. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. This is why it’s important have a solid understanding of SEO tools and what they can do for you. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back!
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