9 of the Best Free SEO Tools To Get You Started

Rosie Allabarton, contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

Are you considering a career in SEO? If so, a great place to start is by learning the tools of the trade. Luckily, there are numerous free SEO tools available for you to experiment with, which assist SEO teams in areas such as keyword research, site optimization, trend prediction, and troubleshooting issues. 

We’ve put together a list of our favorite free SEO tools here, and included some paid and not-paid alternatives you might want to check out, too.  

Let’s dive in! 

1. Free SEO tools: Google Keyword Planner 

Although Google’s Keyword Planner was built primarily to assist those running Google Ad campaigns, over the years it’s become an invaluable tool in every SEO associate’s toolkit. 

This is because the Keyword Planner helps you research and find keywords for your search campaigns. It does this by uncovering new keywords related to your area of interest, industry, or company, identifying the keywords you need to be targeting, and providing you with a rundown of estimates related to the number of searches these keywords currently get, and how much it will cost to target them.  

Benefits: 

  • Find new keywords
  • View keyword forecasts
  • Discover search volume trends
  • Analyze search results
  • Narrow your results based on location, language, and timeframe
  • Filter results by average monthly searches, competition level, organic impressions, and more. 

Limitations: 

  • You will need to set up a Google Adwords account to use it
  • Limited indication of search trends (use Google Trends for that) 
  • Search volume can’t be filtered by device 

Alternatives:

2. Free SEO tools: Keyword Surfer 

Another Google creation, Keyword Surfer provides SEO associates with the opportunity to view search volumes directly in Google search results. The tool reveals search data, enables keyword research, and provides data-driven content guidelines.

In addition, this quick and easy-to-use tool helps SEO teams with keyword suggestions, related terms, visibility metrics, and on-page data, as well as offering detailed information on word count and the number of backlinks that search results have for a particular search query. 

To get the best results out of Keyword Surfer, simply enter search terms for content that you plan to publish yourself. The tool will then tell you how many times people search that specific term and recommend related search terms that could improve your content’s findability in future. 

Benefits: 

  • Research is made easy
  • A great tool for those new to SEO and SEO tools 
  • Shows the estimated number of visitors for domains 
  • Shows the number of qualitative backlinks–useful data to have for understanding how well the competition is doing

Limitations: 

  • Users are limited to researching individual keywords (not batches)
  • Limited results can frustrate the process of creating competitive content 
  • Users must enter every keyword before they can see results

Alternatives: 

3. Free SEO tools: Answer The Public 

Answer The Public is a pretty unique tool. It ‘listens in’ to the autocomplete data from search engines like Google, and uses this information to generate useful phrases and questions that people are asking around a specific keyword.

Not just fascinating from a psychological perspective, Answer The Public is a tool that enables companies and brands to target their keyword research, get a glimpse into the minds of audiences, optimize for long-tail key phrases, and answer questions with content that helps them to get featured in Google’s all-important snippets.

For writers and researchers starting out in SEO, this free tool is a great starting point; it generates social media content and blog article ideas that answer commonly searched-for questions and queries, as well as collecting and categorizing phrases people use in online search. 

Benefits: 

  • Great for deep insights into audience motivation, goals, behavior, and needs 
  • Easy to use 
  • Generates multiple relevant topic ideas per keyword
  • Visually appealing 
  • Great starting point for finding questions and queries that can be turned into content that generates organic traffic, as well as paid ads

Limitations: 

  • It doesn’t include search engines other than Bing and Google
  • Unlimited searches are only available with a monthly subscription 
  • Relatively superficial results and less technical compared to other keyword/SEO tools 

Alternatives: 

4. Free SEO tools: Exploding Topics 

Exploding Topics is the ultimate trend tool. It provides users with content ideas based on topics that are already popular, topics which are soon to become more popular, and topics which will become popular in months or years to come.

The tool picks up on trends by scanning numerous sources such as searches, conversations, and mentions across the internet. Users can then use the results of these searches to create SEO and social media content based around these trends. Exploding Topics enables content marketers and SEO writers to tap directly into what users are interested in knowing, talking about, or owning, enabling brands to stay one step ahead of their competitors. 

Benefits: 

  • Get a jump start on the competition 
  • Saves time when choosing topics to write SEO content about  
  • If you’re one of the first to write about a subject it’s a huge boost to your SEO 

Limitations: 

  • The tool is limited to trendspotting–further knowledge or research into a subject is needed before you can use it in your content
  • Data cannot be geolocalized–there are currently no filters for country or region 

Alternatives: 

5. Free SEO tools: Seobility

The goal of Seobility is to help a user optimize their website. The tool continuously crawls all linked pages looking for any errors, issues, or problems with on-page optimization or on-page content, such as broken links, duplicate content, or slow loading times. It then alerts the user to these issues who can then fix them to improve the site’s SEO. 

In addition to finding errors, the tool identifies areas or pages of a website which can be improved or optimized in order to boost the site’s overall SEO. Producing a comprehensive on-page SEO audit, the tool provides SEO associates with a complete backlink analysis as well as tools for better link building. The tool also tracks a site’s ranking. 

Benefits: 

  • Great for monitoring your website’s ranking and SEO performance
  • Provides details of errors which can be fixed and overall audit of how your site is performing 
  • Makes suggestions to improve keyword performance 

Limitations: 

  • Prior SEO knowledge is needed to make the most of the tool 
  • Limited guidance on how to use 
  • Some features are difficult to find 

Alternatives: 

  • Morningscore (Paid options start at $65/month)
  • Xovi (Paid options start at $99/month)
  • SpyFu (Basic plan starts at $9/month)

6. Free SEO tools: Google Search Console 

One of the most powerful, free SEO tools available to SEO marketers, Google Search Console helps you understand and improve how Google sees and ranks your site. It does this by helping users to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot a website’s position and presence in Google search results. 

Search Console provides users with detailed information on how Google indexes, crawls, and serves websites. SEO associates can then use this information to tweak features and improve content which then optimizes their website’s performance and improves the site’s ranking in search results. 

Benefits: 

  • Great overview and information related to a website’s ranking and position on SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) 
  • Get valuable reports that shed light on how users are reaching your website via organic search results.

Limitations: 

  • You cannot submit an HTML sitemap in the Google Search Console (an HTML sitemap helps your website pages stay interconnected with each other by improving the internal links of your website)
  • Data can be slow to update 

Alternatives:

7. Free SEO tools: Beam Us Up

Beam Us Up is a website-crawling, site audit tool which finds and displays the most common SEO errors on site pages. The crawler can identify numerous errors such as duplicate pages, broken links, error pages, and numerous other site issues which might affect SEO. Users can also export custom variable data from Google Analytics and upload it into the tool which then reveals the percentage change compared to the ‘control’ version of each metric and goal. 

Benefits: 

  • You can configure the crawl to meet your specific needs
  • Lightweight and downloadable tool

Limitations: 

Alternatives:

8. Free SEO tools: Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin

Yoast SEO is a hugely popular and powerful plugin specifically designed for WordPress sites that improves a website’s rankings on search engines by automatically optimizing a site’s keywords and content. As well as helping your site to rank well on search engines, it provides tools to help users publish content to the highest standards of SEO and readability by acting as an SEO proofreader.

Yoast is popular because it doesn’t just serve the search engines: it helps content creators improve the quality of their output which brings about more genuine user interaction and engagement. 

Yoast also boasts a ton of hidden features. For those who are less technically minded, Yoast can solve technical issues without the need for user intervention. 

Benefits: 

  • Very user-friendly SEO analysis for blog content 
  • Great learning tool for SEO beginners 

Limitations: 

  • The free version of Yoast includes ads
  • It may not be enough to fulfill all your SEO needs and you’ll likely need to supplement with other SEO tools 

Alternatives:

9. Free SEO tools: Siteliner 

Want to improve your on-page SEO? Siteliner is a very simple but effective tool which crawls a website looking for duplicate content: a major SEO problem. Every SEO expert’s goal is to have unique content on every page of their website. This is because if Google’s algorithms crawl the site and find two pages which have the same content, they get don’t know which page best answers the user’s search query.

Siteliner helps SEO associates find duplicate content on its web pages and make those pages unique so that Google can correctly identify and rank those pages in its search results. 

Benefits: 

  • Gets results fast
  • Combines multiple features in one tool. Eg, find broken links and scan for duplicate content. 

Limitations: 

  • Siteliner will only find duplicate content within your site’s pages, but will not flag up copies of your content on other sites
  • Comparisons are only drawn between your site and the entire internet (Eg, loading times) not against direct competitors 

Alternatives:

Conclusion

With so many exciting, free SEO tools out there, it’s never been easier to dip your toe into SEO and see if this could be the career for you. We hope our list of tools has inspired you to start experimenting with the technology available and see what can be achieved in this field. This list of free SEO tools should also have given you a feel for the impact SEO can make on a company’s marketing goals, whether through optimization, keywords, trends, or on-page troubleshooting. 

If you’d like to find out more about careers in SEO, try our free, 5-day digital marketing course. You may also want to check out some of our other articles for SEO beginners:

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