So you have decided to do your own Search Engine Optimization. Then you have most likely come to the realization that it’s nowhere near as easy as you initially anticipated. You have also found that it is extremely hard, if not impossible, to cover the gamut of SEO without the help of some sort of tool or software. So today I’m going to go over some of the free SEO tools available online, that I have found to be extremely helpful over the early years of my SEO education. Some of these tools I still use even today, so take notice… and good luck on your endeavor.
Google Webmaster Tools is a great FREE SEO tool. Use it to research how Google crawls and indexes your web pages, and identify any problems that Googlebot encountered trying to access your site. Submit Sitemaps, specify your canonical settings for your URL, set your Geographical targeting preference, check top search queries, review links to your website and much more!
The Google Keyword Tool is a must if you are serious about SEO. Use this tool to research keywords that are important to you and then find out which keywords and keyword phrases have the highest “Search Volume”. Find “Gems in the Rough”, or keywords that you didn’t even think of, or your competition, then tap into untargeted territory and reap the traffic that your competitors overlooked.
Google Analytics is a free online analytics tool. What I like most about this tool is that it gives me 2 things:
A. Something to compare my statistics from other stats programs to…
B. … and a firsthand look at how Google sees my website.
The best quality that Google Analytics offers you is it’s easy to understand interface. Google implements bar, pie, and line graphs so everyday people who don’t interpret statistics every day can better understand what is happening with their websites.
SEOQuake offers a wealth of information at the touch of a button… or “link” I should say. This tool helps me track the progress of sites that I am monitoring. It tracks information such as Alexa Ranking, Google PR, Internal Links, External Links, DMOZ directory listings, Google, Yahoo, and Bing index listings, domain name age, Whois record, canonical listings and much more.
SenSEO is a great tool to use when optimizing each individual page of you website. What most people don’t realize is that you should not try and target more than one main keyword or keyword phrase per page. This tool makes it easy for you to go page by page through your website and grades you on how you optimized each page for a single keyword or phrase. Use this info to make changes and increase your grade. Track your SERPs afterwards and make changes accordingly.
SpyFu has a free trial, but if you want to get the full experience then you’ll have to pay for a subscription. The good news is that they do have monthly subscriptions, so if you’re just looking to try it out… shell out a couple dollars and test drive it for a month. As for me, I find this tool extremely helpful for getting a head start when I am starting to assemble a PPC campaign for a client and I need to know what is working for their competition. I also use it during my initial keyword research for a new website client. This tool can help save hours of time researching your competitors’ websites, and helps you “hit the ground running” when you are ready to have your website visited by the public.
SEMRush is another great tool for competitor research, or even to review your own website. My only real qualm with it is that it’s more expensive. They do offer some lower priced plans, but they don’t offer much more than the free trial does. Because of this I say use the free trial for what it’s worth, and when your web venture starts to make a substantial profit… then spend a few dollars and invest in the “Pro (+ Adwords)” plan (this will cost you $249.95 every 6 months… this price is correct as of the date of this article 10/30/2009).
If you sign up for a free SEOmoz account, “Rank Checker” will allow you to check your rankings for 5 keywords a day. It will also keep an archive of them for you. The reason that I mention this tool here is because it will show you the power of comparing your targeted terms on a daily basis without you having to log them by hand. The problem is that you are only allowed 5 terms so if you want more you’ll have to pay for it, but at the very least you’ll be able to get a good idea of the power it gives you. Great tool if you can afford it.
Same thing as Rank Checker, but it isn’t nearly as expensive. The main difference between the free and paid versions here is that you won’t be able to save your projects with the free version, and you can’t export the results. This means that every time you run a project it will be like the first time all over again, and you won’t have any previous ranking numbers to compare the new one to unless you record them by hand in Excel. I find this tool very helpful and reasonably priced if you’re ready to upgrade from the free version.
Most free sitemap creators out there either limit you to the number of pages that you can include or have a confusing interface that makes it hard to execute. XML-Sitemaps.com is simple and offers up to 500 pages indexed for free. Use this tool to generate a sitemap and then submit it with Google Webmaster Tools. This ensures that Google knows about all of your pages and offers the best opportunity to have them all indexed (or at least a good number of them).