These 12 tools will give you powerful insight into your SEO, help you fix problems and keep you ahead of your competition.
There seem to be nearly as many SEO tools out there as there are pages on the web. All of them promise to unlock the magic solution to SERP success, and most of them come with a hefty monthly fee.
But there are also plenty of free SEO tools out there that deliver some great insights and useful functionality for the bargain price of absolutely nothing. Yes, many of them are trying to whet your appetite for their paid versions, but you can get great mileage out of these tools without signing up for a premium plan. Here are 12 of our personal favorites.
Answer the Public
Navigate to Answer the Public and you'll be greeted by a frankly disquieting video background of a studious looking older gent who impatiently awaits your search query. Type in your query and you're given a goldmine of related searches focused on "what," "why," "when" and "how" questions.
The "versus" terms are particularly useful, as are search terms using prepositions like "with," "without" or "near." It's all presented in a beautiful mind map format, and there's also an alphabetical listing of all the related keyword terms. And it can all be exported to CSV.
Ubersuggest is a powerful free tool from SEO guru Neil Patel. You can type in any keyword and get a wealth of information, from related keywords to keyword difficulty scores, all the way to content suggestions.
Ubersuggest will also show you the ranking sites for each keyword, along with backlink data and traffic. And, of course, you can export all the data to CSV.
Seed Keywords actually lets you crowdsource your keyword research. You type a question or scenario into the site's search bar and it sends you a unique URL to send to your contact list. For example, you might say, "You want to learn more about SEO. What do you search for?" You send the URL to your contacts and they answer as though they were typing a query into a search engine.
Seed Keywords is best used in conjunction with other keyword research tools that can give you data on volume, competitiveness and CPC. But it's a great way to get insight into the actual search behavior of internet users.
SEO Hero stands apart from many other keyword research tools in that it doesn't just give you an endless list of permutations of the phrase you searched for. Instead, it delivers you a list of keywords of related topics. For instance, a search for "content marketing" delivers keyword terms like "lead generation" and "blog posts."
SEO Hero parses the first 100 URLs that rank for the query you type in and then extracts n-grams and then stores the statistics about them in its database. This allows it to deliver semantic terms and related concepts rather than just variations on your original search.
SEMRush has plenty of great paid features, but if you're not looking to shell out $99.95 USD per month or more, its free features are incredibly powerful.
Type in your URL and SEMRush will show you your main organic competitors. What's more, you can see the exact keywords they rank for, both organic and paid. You can also see organic and paid search volumes and backlinks. And you can download the entire report as a PDF.
Lipperhey is one of the most full-featured free SEO analysis tools out there. It will analyze your site and score it for technical SEO, content-based SEO and popularity. It will also show you your visitors, pageviews and referring traffic. It even gives you steps to take to optimize individual pages of your site, and will check to make sure you've done it correctly.
Screaming Frog offers a full-featured paid version, but even its free tool is incredibly useful. It allows you to find broken links on your site, analyzes your page titles and metadata, finds duplicate content and can even generate XML sitemaps for you.
The free version of Screaming Frog will crawl up to 500 URLs on your site. It will also give you handy site visualizations so you can evaluate your internal linking structure.
SEO Quake is a browser extension that will give you a wealth of information on any website. It will show you page info like meta descriptions, internal links and external links. It also performs an SEO page audit, and will show you keyword density for a page. You can even enter in competing URLs to see how the page you're visiting compares. There's also a backlink tool to give you a look at a site's inbound links.
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Another handy feature of SEO Quake is the SERP overlay. It provides a bar for every result in the SERPs that will show you at a glance metrics like Facebook likes, Pinterest and LinkedIn shares and the page's last Google cache date. And you can customize the parameters you want to see.
Browseo is a great tool for ensuring your site is friendly to web crawlers. It will display your URL the way Google sees it, stripping out everything but the HTML. It also gives you useful information like the page's internal and external links, its word count and meta description.
Browseo will also show you a preview of how your page will appear in SERPs. And it provides an at-a-glance look at all the headings on the page.
Robots.txt File Generator
Robots.txt File Generator takes the guesswork out of your Robots.txt files and helps ensure search engines are crawling your site the way you want. You can set parameters for individual URLs, allowing or disallowing crawlers and even picking specific crawlers to allow or disallow. You enter all your parameters and, true to its very straightforward name, Robots.txt File Generator generates a Robots.txt file for you. Handy.
Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Ahfrefs is one of our favorite paid SEO tools, but there's plenty of free goodies as well. The site's backlink checker is the best in the industry. And that's not just an empty claim. Ahrefs has the second most active web crawler in the world (you get one guess who's first), crawling 5 billion pages per day.
You simply enter your URL, and the Ahrefs Backlink Checker will show you each referring domain, the number of backlinks and a comparison of backlinks over time. You can see the traffic for each linking page and referring domain, and you can also use the tool to identify broken links.
This one comes courtesy of Google Search Console, and delivers exactly what it promises. You enter your URL and Google will fetch the page and run a test to ensure it's mobile friendly. It's a pretty straightforward SEO tool, but incredibly important in an era of mobile-first indexing.