We asked over 10,000 SEO professionals in our Facebook group—and our 53,000 Twitter followers—to vote for their favorites.
We then tried and tested each suggestion, picked the best ones, and grouped them by category.
If you’re on a tight budget, this list should serve you well.
Here are the categories:
- Keyword research tools
- On-page SEO tools
- Link building tools
- Technical SEO tools
- Rank tracking tools
- Analytics tools
- Local SEO tools
- Other tools
These tools help you discover the topics your audience is searching for.
Answer the Public pulls the questions people are asking (and a few other types of queries) from Google’s autocomplete results. It’s super useful for generating topic ideas.
Google Keyword Planner is Google’s keyword research tool. Use it to generate keyword ideas based on up to ten seed keywords, or from a website or URL.
While Keyword Planner does have limitations such as a lack of absolute search volumes, it’s useful for finding keyword ideas that you might struggle to find using traditional keyword research tools.
Recommended reading: How to Use Google Keyword Planner (Actionable Guide)
Keyword Generator is one of the free tools offered by Ahrefs. It pulls the top 100 keyword ideas for any seed keyword or phrase from our database of over ten billion keywords across 170+ countries. It shows the estimated monthly search volume for each suggestion, plus Keyword Difficulty (KD) scores for the first ten ideas.
You can also see the top 50 related questions.
Google Trends shows the popularity of a topic over time. Use it to catch and capitalize on trending topics, and avoid creating content about those with waning interest.
Recommended reading: How to Use Google Trends for Keyword Research: 7 Effective Ways
Keyworddit extracts keywords from Reddit. Just enter any subreddit (e.g., /r/bigSEO), and it’ll pull a list of keywords with estimated monthly search volumes.
It’s useful for finding topics that your audience are interested in, but that you may not have otherwise considered.
Here are some of the keywords it grabbed from the r/entrepreneur subreddit:
AlsoAsked.com scrapes the questions from Google’s People Also Ask (PAA) boxes. Use these to find subtopics and questions that might be worth answering in your article.
For example, if you were writing an article about “how to clean a coffee maker using vinegar,” you might want to answer questions like:
- How much vinegar should you use?
- How many times should you run vinegar through the coffee machine?
- Is cleaning vinegar better than regular vinegar?
Keyword Surfer is a free Chrome Extension that shows estimated global and monthly search volumes for any query typed into Google. You can also see similar keywords and related terms in the sidebar.
These tools help you optimize your pages to rank higher in the search engines.
8. Rank Math
Here are a few things it can help with:
- Adding titles, meta descriptions, OG tags, and other meta tags to posts and pages;
- Adding structured data markup for rich snippets;
- Redirecting URLs;
- Finding and fixing dead links on your site.
SERPSim shows what your web page will look like in Google’s search results. All you have to do is enter your proposed title, meta description, and URL.
SERPSim will also tell you if your title and description are too long. You should fix these issues to avoid truncation in the search results.
Similar alternatives: Portent’s SERP Preview Tool
Google’s Rich Results Testing tool checks the structured markup on your page to see whether it’s eligible for rich snippets in the search results.
Recommended reading: Rich Snippets: What Are They and How Do You Get Them?
Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator creates structured data markup in the JSON-LD format. Just select the type of Schema markup you want to generate (e.g., local business, FAQ, product, etc.), fill in the form, then copy and paste the generated markup onto your site.
You can then check the validity of any Schema markup using Google’s Structured Data Testing tool.
Recommended reading: What is Structured Data? And Why Should You Implement It?
Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar is a Chrome and Firefox extension that shows Ahrefs’ SEO metrics right in the browser.
Besides that, it:
- Checks for broken links;
- Traces redirect chains (full path);
- Highlights nofollow links;
- Displays Ahrefs’ SEO metrics in the Google SERPs;
And much more.
Recommended reading: Ahrefs SEO Toolbar — What’s New?
These tools help you acquire more links to your site.
Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker shows the top 100 backlinks to any website or web page.
It also shows the five most linked pages, most common anchor texts, the total number of backlinks and referring domains, and our proprietary Domain Rating (DR) and URL Rating (UR) scores.
It’s powered by the same industry-leading database as our premium tool. Some stats:
- 16 trillion known links;
- 170 million unique domains;
- 7 billion pages crawled each day.
Hunter.io finds email addresses associated with a website. It’s free up to 50 requests per month.
You can also use the tool to find the email address of a specific person. Just enter the domain and the person’s name.
Recommended reading: 8 Actionable Ways To Find Anyone’s Email Address
Ahrefs’ Broken Link Checker shows the top ten broken inbound and outbound links for any domain, subdomain or URL. You can use this tool to:
- Find broken link building opportunities;
- Find broken outbound links on your site, which you can fix to improve user experience;
- Find broken pages on your site to reclaim “link authority”.
Scraper is a Chrome Extension that allows you to scrape data from any web page. It can be used for a variety of purposes, e.g., scraping link prospects from Google search results.
Recommended reading: 6 Actionable Web Scraping Hacks for White Hat Marketers
HARO is a free service that connects news sources with journalists looking for their expertise.
How it works: Journalists have questions. They need experts to answer them. HARO sends emails with those questions to subscribers. Anyone can respond and potentially become a source for these publications.
No matter whether you’re starting out or have an established site, it’s a great way to build authoritative links.
A similar service is SourceBottle.
Learn more about how to use HARO effectively in this video:
Streak is a freemium Chrome Extension that turns your Gmail inbox into customer relationship management (CRM) software.
With Streak, you can schedule and send mass personalized emails, see if someone has opened them, and more. It’s a great tool for blogger outreach.
These tools help you improve the technical aspects of your website.
Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) is a free service from Google that helps you monitor and troubleshoot your website’s appearance in their search results.
Use it to find and fix technical errors, submit sitemaps, see structured data issues, and more.
Recommended reading: How to Use Google Search Console to Improve SEO (Beginner’s Guide)
Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is a free tool that’ll help you improve your website’s SEO performance. It allows you to:
- Monitor your website’s SEO health
- Check for 100+ SEO issues
- View all your backlinks
- See all the keywords you rank for
- Find out how much traffic your pages are receiving
- Find internal linking opportunities
It’s our answer to the limitations of Google Search Console.
21. Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is a desktop-based website crawler. It’s one of the most popular tools available for analyzing and auditing technical and on-page SEO issues.
With the free version, you can crawl up to 500 URLs.
Cloudflare is a free global CDN. Not only can it speed up your site, but it can also protect it from malicious attacks.
Recommended reading: What is a content delivery network (CDN)?
GTMetrix analyzes the loading speed of your web pages. Alongside the performance score, it also shows actionable recommendations to make things load faster.
Recommended reading: How to Improve Page Speed from Start to Finish (Advanced Guide)
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test checks how easily a visitor can use your page on a mobile device. It also identifies specific mobile-usability issues like text that’s too small to read, the use of incompatible plugins, and so on.
With Google’s move to mobile-first indexing, having a responsive website is more important than ever.
Smush is a free WordPress plugin for compressing, optimizing, and resizing images. Use it to ensure your web pages load lightning fast.
Note that free users can only optimize 50 images at a time. You have to keep clicking the “resume” button to optimize the next batch of 50.
Similar alternatives: Shortpixel (free up to 200 images/month)
26. 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 there is no longer any PageRank dilution via 3XX redirects, having too many redirects in a chain may waste crawl budget.
Recommended reading: 301 Redirects for SEO: Everything You Need to Know
Robots.txt Generator creates 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.
Recommended reading: Robots.txt and SEO: Everything You Need to Know
HeadmasterSEO is a simple tool for bulk checking the status codes for a list of URLs. The free version allows you to check up to 500.
If you prefer a web-based application—and only wish to check up to 100 URLs—try HTTPstatus.io.
Use this tool to check if persistent connections are enabled or disabled on your web pages.
30. Chrome DevTools
Chrome DevTools is 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.
Generate hreflang tags to specify the language and geographical targeting of a webpage. Just add your desired URLs, select your target country and language, then click generate.
Recommended reading: Hreflang: The Easy Guide for Beginners
These tools help you check rankings in a target location.
Ahrefs’ SERP checker shows the top 10 rankings for any keyword in over 170 countries.
BrightLocal’s Local Search Results Checker shows you search results from any location—down to the city, town, or even ZIP level.
Depending on the country, you can even specify the language:
Similar alternatives: Valentin.app.
35. Mobile SERP Test
MobileMoxie’s SERPerator tool allows you to check your mobile rankings in any location, right down to an address, city, state, or zip code.
You can even compare devices since some SEOs believe that Google shows different results for iOS and Android.
These tools help you measure and analyze data on your website.
36. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is quite likely the most popular analytics tool out there. It gives you a whole range of data, which you can use to improve every aspect of your marketing.
Recommended reading: How to Use Google Analytics to Improve SEO Performance
37. Keyword Hero
Keyword Hero attempts to replace the “(not provided)” data in Google Analytics with real search keywords.
The free tier allows you to analyze up to 10 URLs and 2,000 sessions per month.
Google Data Studio lets you create interactive dashboards and reports.
It integrates with Google’s suite of tools, which makes it easy to merge data from places like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, etc.
Ahrefs’ WordPress SEO Plugin helps you perform content audits and monitor your backlinks.
The plugin combines data from our backlink index and Google Analytics to give you recommendations on how to improve your content—completely free.
Recommended reading: How to Do a Content Audit and Boost Your Organic Traffic [Template Included]
These tools help you rank higher in local SERPs.
40. Google My Business
Google My Business lets you manage how your business appears in Google Search and Maps.
Claiming and optimizing your GMB profile is likely the most important thing you can do in local SEO. According to Moz’s 2018 study, GMB is one of the top local ranking factors for both “snack pack” and organic results.
Whitespark’s Google Business Review Link Generator creates a shareable link that lets customers review your business with one click.
Since getting reviews on your Google My Business profile is crucial for local SEO, you should consider sharing this link via email, social media, and elsewhere to make the reviewing process as easy as possible.
Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder helps find NAP citation opportunities for your business.
According to Moz’s 2018 study, citation signals are an important signal for local rankings.
These are the tools that didn’t fit into the categories above.
Algoroo is a Google algorithm tracking tool. It allows you to see if there are any fluctuations in the Google SERPs, which can be an indication of a Google algorithm update.
44. Wayback Machine
Archive.org’s Wayback Machine shows how pages looked in the past.
This is useful for a variety of tasks. For example, if you’re doing broken link building, it is helpful to see what was originally on the dead page so you can replicate it.
45. Google Alerts
Google Alerts lets you monitor mentions of your name or business online. You can also use it to monitor your competitors.
Recommended reading: How to Set up Google Alerts (and Use It to Grow Your Business)
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:
- Site Explorer: Analyze the organic search traffic and backlink profile of any website or URL.
- Keywords Explorer: Perform keyword research with our database of 10+ 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.
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, find semantically-related keywords, 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? Let me know on Twitter.