Who doesn’t love getting something for free? I know I do! When it comes to SEO it’s hard to get it done for free; it’s either time or money invested. With that said though, there are a ton of free tools you can use right now to help improve your SEO efforts.
Google Keyword Planner
Keyword research tools are getting their own dedicated section because it’s a huge part of SEO and there are a lot of tools you can use. If you don’t know what your potential customers are searching for it’s nearly impossible to find out what they need.
The first free tool is Google Keyword Planner. In the keyword planner you can plug in a term and then get suggestions from Google on what people search. Don’t put too much into their competition levels though because those are for Pay-Per-Click advertising and not SEO.
Select the first option and plug in a term you think your customers may search for in the “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas”. From there Google spits out all relative terms. It can give you a sense of what people are typing in and what’s searched more often. It can be quite eye-opening.
It can also help to use the 2nd option down where it says “Landing Page”. You can either enter in your own URL or one of your competitors to see what keywords they are targeting (or should be targeting).
Another great tool to use that works in a similar fashion is UberSuggest. Simply type in a keyword and they’ll come up with suggestions literally from A-Z. As you make your way down the list you can find dozens of keywords to target.
I traditionally use Soovle as a keyword research tool for blog post titles. As you begin to type Soovle will auto-fill based on what your typing. If I see the same the same question or statement being auto-filled in Google, Bing, YouTube, etc, I know that it’s a problem that Internet users are looking to solve, and therefore a great topic to write a blog post about.
Sites, Stats & Webmasters
Whether you’re a small business owner, webmaster or SEO consultant there are a few tools you need to use in order to find out how your website is performing. Luckily Google offers 2 free tools that any website can use; Webmaster Tools & Analytics.
Webmaster tools can help your sites performance from an SEO perspective by submitting a sitemap, crawling it, analyzing links (both internally & externally) and a host of other tools. Here’s a great blog post on how to get started with Webmaster tools.
Analytics is going to give you more information on how users interact with your website. You can discover which pages on your website are your most popular, which ones cause users to leave, how people get to your website and a ton of other useful info. I don’t want to dive in too deep because Analytics can have it’s own blog post, but here’s a great post from Moz to help you get started. The article was written in 2012 and Google is constantly changing, so it might not be entirely accurate, but it’ll be close and extremely helpful.
Analyze Your Competition
If you are going to succeed in SEO you have to know who your competitors are and what they are doing. I’m actually amazed that this tool is free because in 60 seconds you can see how your website stacks up to 3 competitors. Actually, it’s not even fair to say your website, because it gives so much helpful info; it’s more like analyzing your entire online presence up against your competitors. Here’s a blog post explaining how the free QuickSprout tools works and where to get started. After you get your report start implementing what it tells you because the information is invaluable.
Open Site Explorer
Another great tool to analyze your competition and to see where you stack up from a links perspective is Open Site Explorer. Simply plug in your URL and one of your competitors and see the difference. It’s not as thorough as QuickSprout’s tool, but it’s certainly worth the time. Once you see where your links are coming from, and your competitors, you can start adjusting your strategy based on where you rank and where they rank.
Wondering why your competition is constantly out-ranking you? It could be an often overlooked issue like anchor text. Ever since the Google update years ago, anchor text has been a hot topic but it’s often overlooked. The right anchor text, and the right mixture of anchor text can help you beat out the competition.
If you’re a small business who sells locally it’s more important than ever to locally optimize. You must get found in Google Maps & on the first page of the organic listings. If you are looking for a tool to see how you stack up against the competition from a local perspective request a free local SEO audit from yours truly.
Not only does our audit give you info on where and how to improve, it will even give you some local, niche specific directories that you can immediately go claim. While we’re on the topic of directories or citations there’s a ton of free places you can go and get your business listed. Yelp, G+, BrownBook & YP are a great place to start. There’s literally thousands more and a must have for any local business.
Links are always a hot topic in SEO, and it’s important these days to NOT over-optimize your links. Remove’em can tell you which anchor text is used too often on your site.
If you are running your website on the WordPress platform (and I hope you are) you need to have an SEO plugin. You can’t go wrong with the Yoast plugin. Simply install it, activate it and the plug in will tell you where you can improve your on-page SEO. All for free!!
Free SEO Tools
This list could go on for a quite a bit, but if you are a small business just getting starting with SEO this is a great place to start. Don’t get overwhelmed.
Start off by finding out which keywords you should be targeting, getting them into the right places on-page, start blogging for SEO and customer engagement and improve your website along the way.
Don’t get discouraged or obsessed with rankings. Do the small things right, have a great blog, constantly improve & update, and you’re website will start generating leads & business.
P.S. I got the image up top for this blog post from the awesome photo website UnSplash.com, where there’s 10 free photos added everyday.