We asked the /r/bigSEO community to name their favorites.
The response was INSANE.
We got more than 50 suggestions. And our thread is now 3rd most popular on that subreddit.
But we didn’t stop there. We tried and tested all the suggestions, and whittled them down to a manageable list of the 29 most useful free SEO tools.
If you’re on a tight budget, this list should serve you well.
Let’s get started.
1. Google Keyword Planner, Analytics, Search Console, etc.
Google makes some of the best free SEO tools. Period.
- Find and research keywords with Keyword Planner.
- Identify trends with, um, Trends.
- Uncover and fix technical and on-page issues with Search Console.
- Analyze how many people are visiting your website, who they are, and where they come from with Analytics.
- Gather, process, and analyze all kinds of SEO data with Sheets.
- Check how fast your site loads with Pagespeed Insights.
If you’re new to SEO, you should start with these tools before looking at any others.
Answer the Public fetches Google autocomplete queries in bulk and divides them into various lists. That’s very useful for uncovering the questions people are asking in Google.
And best of all, it’s free to use… with limitations.
If you’re doing some basic keyword research for a new site, Answer the Public will provide more than enough keywords.
But if you’re looking to take an existing website (that already ranks for a ton of queries) to the next level, you might need a more powerful tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.
How much more powerful is Keywords Explorer? Well, if you type “Xbox” as the seed keyword in ATP, it returns 953 results. Not bad. However, do the same thing in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, and the Phrase Match report returns over 3.8 MILLION keywords.
Our suggestion: Start with ATP, then upgrade to a paid tool like Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer when you’re ready.
Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker shows the top 100 backlinks to any website or web page for free.
It also unveils the five most linked-to pages, most common anchor texts, and the total number of backlinks and referring domains. You’ll also see our proprietary Domain Rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR) scores there too.
It’s powered by the same industry-leading database as our premium version. Some stats:
- 16 TRILLION known links;
- 176 MILLION unique domains;
- 6 BILLION pages crawled each day
Our backlink index is updated with fresh data every 15 minutes so that you can seize new link opportunities immediately.
Of course, it’s still quite limited compared to the full version of our backlink checker, but you can still get lots of value from it for free.
4. Beam Us Up
Beam Us Up is a free SEO crawler. It’s a great alternative to Screaming Frog. However, it’s only available for Windows.
If you’re a Mac user, don’t forget that Screaming Frog will crawl up to 500 web pages for free (with limited functionality).
5. Yoast SEO
Running WordPress? Yoast is perhaps the only SEO plugin you’ll ever need.
Use it to optimize meta tags and content, generate instant sitemaps, and much more.
In the screenshot above, it’s being used to set the title tag and meta description for one of our recent blog posts.
Want to learn more about using Yoast for WordPress SEO? Watch this:
All in One SEO Pack is a good alternative to Yoast.
Keyworddit extracts keywords from Reddit. Just enter any subreddit (e.g., /r/bigSEO) and it’ll pull out a list of a few hundred keywords plus monthly search volumes.
It’s super useful for understanding the topics that your audience are most interested in.
Here are some of the keywords it plucked from the /r/entrepreneur subreddit:
Hunter.io finds all email addresses related to a website in seconds.
(*It’s free up to 100 requests per month)
Each email address also has a confidence score. Some even have a “verified” icon, meaning that you can use the email address with total confidence.
You can also use the tool to find the email address of a specific person. Just enter the domain and the person’s name.
SEO Web Page Analyzer gives you a comprehensive analysis of your web page.
It pulls out any images with missing alt tags, heading structure, internal and external links, meta title and description, and more. You’ll also see an on-page SEO score between zero and a hundred.
LinkMiner is a Chrome extension that lets you check any web page for broken links on the fly. It’s useful for finding broken link building opportunities.
You can export the full list of scraped links to a CSV with just one click, which includes status code information, link type, and more.
If you find a lot of broken links on a page with LinkMiner, do this: Export them to CSV, paste the entire list into Ahrefs’ Batch Analysis tool, and sort by the referring domains column (high to low).
This will tell you which broken links have the most referring domains pointing to them (i.e., good broken link building opportunities).
Check My Links does much the same thing.
Responsive Design Checker does what it says on the tin: it checks the responsiveness of a website. Just enter any URL to see how it looks on desktop, tablet, and mobile.
You can even see how it looks on specific devices (e.g., iPhone X) and various popular desktop resolutions.
With Google’s recent move to mobile-first indexing, having a responsive website is more important than ever.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test is another useful tool.
SERProbot is a free Google rank checking tool, which allows you to check rankings for up to five keywords at a time.
No need to register. Just enter your domain (or URL) and list of keywords.
You can also check rankings in various regions (e.g., google.com, google.co.uk, google.de, etc.)
Keywords Everywhere is a Chrome extension that displays search volume, CPC, and competition data for Google in all the major search engines. (You can see it in action on Google above.)
It pulls its data from Google Keyword Planner.
To use it, you’ll need a free API key. You can get this by signing up on their site.
Remember that we have the Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar which also shows search volume, CPC and competition data in the SERPs. Unlike Keywords Everywhere, it pulls accurate, industry-leading data from Ahrefs (as opposed to Google Keyword Planner).
Furthermore, it lets you see data for any of the 170 countries in our database and gives one-click access to full reports in Ahrefs.
Similarweb estimates the total amount of monthly traffic to a website.
It also breaks traffic down by source (e.g., direct, organic, etc.) and location. You can even see which websites are likely to be sending the most referral traffic to your site.
Smush Image Compression and Optimisation is a free* WordPress plugin for compressing, optimizing, and resizing images on your site.
Use this plugin to ensure that your web pages load lightning fast.
*Free users can only bulk optimize 50 images at a time. You have to keep clicking the “resume” button to bulk optimize the next batch of 50. Shortpixel is another good image optimization tool, which also has a WordPress plugin. It’s free for up to 100 images per month.
GTMetrix analyzes the loading speed of your web pages.
Alongside the performance score, you also get actionable recommendations on how to make your web page load faster.
Wondersear.ch finds keywords that are semantically-related to any root keyword.
For example, if you enter “SEO tools” it kicks back the words that you see in the screenshot above. You can then download them as a CSV.
17. Where Goes?
Where Goes? is a simple tool for checking redirect paths for any URL.
Just paste in a URL and it’ll show both the type (e.g., 301, 302, etc.) and the number of redirects in the chain. You should minimize the number of unnecessary redirects because it slows down your website and contributes to poor user experience.
Furthermore, although Google confirmed that there is no longer any PageRank dilution via 3XX redirects, having too many redirects in a chain serves to confuse bots like Googlebot. That’s never a good thing.
Getting reviews on your Google My Business profile is crucial for local SEO.
This tool generates a shareable link that lets customers review your business with one click. Share it via email, on social media, and elsewhere to make the reviewing process as easy as possible for your customers.
It’s free to use and generating a “rate and review” link for your business takes seconds.
Have you ever wondered what your web page will look like in Google’s search results?
Portents SERP Preview Tool can show you.
Enter your proposed title, meta description, and URL, and it’ll show you a preview of how it will look in the SERPs. (You can see an example above for one of the posts on the Ahrefs blog).
It also tells you if your title and description are too long. You should fix these issues to avoid truncation in the search results.
SERPSim.com is another good alternative.
20. SEO Hero
SEO Hero unveils semantically-related keywords and co-occurrences for any topic.
It works by scraping the top 100 Google search results for your target keyword, then using the Google API to parse the text. From that, it extracts n‑grams, which effectively results in a list of the most important commonly occurring words and phrases.
That is useful for getting a sense of what topics and subtopics are important to mention in your content.
LSIgraph.com does something similar.
Robots.txt is a file that should be present on every web server; it gives robots (e.g., Googlebot) instructions as to which pages on your site they can and can’t crawl.
This tool allows you to generate a properly-formatted robots.txt file in seconds.
More advanced users can use the custom option to create individual rules for various bots, subdirectories, etc.
HeadmasterSEO is a simple tool for bulk checking the status codes for a list of URLs.
It can reliably check between two and six million URLs on most computers.
If you prefer a web-based application—and only wish to check up to 100 URLs—try HTTPstatus.io.
Extract Google search results with the click of a button.
Pro tip: Combine with gInfinity to scrape hundreds of Google search results in one fell swoop.
24. Merge Words
Merge Words lets you to merge up to three sets of keywords.
It’s useful for merging keywords with Google search operators. You can also use it to come up with different variations of keywords for pasting into keyword research tools.
Here’s another use case: generate a list of search queries based on location or product features.
Browseo lets you see how web pages look without CSS or unnecessary styling.
In other words, it shows you how Google views your website. That’s useful for understanding whether Googlebot sees your site as intended, or whether it struggles to see important content.
You can also use Fetch as Googlebot in Search Console for this.
Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder finds citation opportunities for your business. (Surprising, right?)
It also examines your competitors and monitors citation growth. A must-have tool for anyone involved in local SEO.
*This is a freemium tool.
Use Ahrefs’ Link Intersect tool to find citations. Just paste in a few competing local businesses and it will show common links between those sites.
Those will often be local directories (i.e., NAP citations).
Use this tool to check if persistent connections are enabled or disabled on your web pages.
What is a persistent connection, I hear you ask?
Persistent Connection enables the connection between a client and server to stay open, allowing the transfer of multiple files over a single connection.
Confused? Here’s an analogy:
You have ten people waiting to go through a door. You could open and close the door after each person, or you could open the door once and let all ten people through. Clearly, the latter would be a quicker way of getting all ten people through the door.
Persistent connections are the web equivalent of keeping the door open and, as a result, improve page load speed—something that Google has confirmed to be a ranking factor, at least on mobile.
Do you want an easy way to generate Schema markup for your website?
Look no further than this nifty tool created by J.D. Flynn.
This generator can be used to create, build, or generate (call it what you will) structured data markup in the form of JSON-LD that can be injected into the head or footer of your site to improve visibility to the search engines.
To use it, select the type of Schema markup you want to generate (e.g., local business, person, etc.) and fill in the form. Copy and paste the generated Schema markup onto your site.
You can check the validity of any Schema markup using Google’s Structured Data Testing tool.
29. Chrome DevTools
Chrome DevTools is Google Chrome’s built-in web page debugging tool. Use it to debug page speed issues, improve web page rendering performance, and more.
From a technical SEO standpoint, it has endless uses.
Do you have funds to invest in premium SEO tools?
Start with Ahrefs. You can try us for 7 days for $7.
Here’s a brief overview of the main tools you get with Ahrefs:
Keywords Explorer: Perform keyword research with our database of 7 BILLION keywords.
Content Explorer: Discover the most popular content on any topic.
Rank Tracker: Track rankings for up to 10,000 keywords on desktop and mobile.
Site Audit: Check your website for 100+ SEO issues.
Alerts: Get notified of new & lost backlinks, web mentions, and keyword rankings.
Site Explorer: Analyze the organic search traffic and backlink profile of any website or URL.
I hope this article demonstrates that you can do a lot with free SEO tools.
And don’t forget about Google—arguably the most powerful free SEO tool.
You can use Google to find guest post opportunities, semantically-related keywords (check the “related searches” section at the bottom of the SERPs), and much more. Learn about some powerful ways to use Google for SEO in our extensive guide to Google search operators.
Did we miss any awesome free SEO tools? Suggest them for inclusion here.