Free SEO Tools to Get You Started
There’s no shortage of SEO tools available and while they all have their place, if you’re new to search engine optimisation it can be tough to know where to begin! We’ve compiled a short list of free tools that will point you in the right direction and at least give you the fundamentals you need to get started.
While some may only include a free trial period, in most cases this should be enough to grab the info you need for now.
Analytics is the first of the Google products in this list and probably should be the first thing you set up if. With the tracking code installed on your website, Analytics will start collecting all kinds of data on who is visiting your website and how they’re interacting with it.
It’s a great place to start because once set up, it’ll start collecting data from that moment onward so you have a solid benchmark to work from.
Check out the video below for more info on exactly what you’ll find with Google Analytics.
The Keyword Planner is actually there to help you identify the right phrases to focus your Google Adwords campaigns on but it’s also perfect for the start of an SEO campaign. If you don’t know what types of phrases or user intent you’ll be targeting, how can you start planning that successful campaign?!
Long term you should check out some of the many options out there to expand your research but this is a great place to begin.
In its simplest form, you can enter a handful of phrases you think users will be using to find you and the Keyword Planner will return average monthly search volumes for each of those terms along with a whole host of suggestions based on the terms you entered.
The clip below will walk you through it all in more detail. Remember, keyword relevance is just as important for SEO as it is for Adwords!
(formerly Google Webmaster Tools or GWMT)
The final Google product to make our list, Search Console connects to your Google Analytics account. Once connected and verified it provides you with even more data as well as a handful of helpful tools that you may need over time.
For example, you can check out your Page Speed Report to see how your site is performing, check out the crawl stats to check your site for errors and control an array of other settings you may need.
SEMrush provides you with a vast array of data that will give you some insight into what your competitors are doing, where their traffic is coming from and the types of things you should be doing. The SEO Site Auditor will give you a list of red flags to check out too!
Combined with the Google Keyword Planner, it can be a great way to narrow down your target search terms. SEMrush also provides you with content ideas, estimated traffic volumes and so much more for both your site and your competitors.
While the data is accurate enough to identify trends and opportunities and it really is a tool that every SEO should have in their arsenal, it is not 100% accurate as the exact data is not publicly available for privacy reasons.
The SEO Spider is designed to crawl your website much like a search engine. Most importantly, it does it in real time so you don’t have to wait days (or weeks!) for Google Search Console to update their crawl report.
This tool can be as complicated and capable or as simple as you’d like it to be. With various crawl formats and so many great options to choose from, it’s at the core of so many of our common tasks here.
The Beginner’s Guide to SEO (by Moz)
Moz are arguably the most dominant thought leaders in the world of SEO and are a great resource for so many things in our industry.
The title sums this one up quite well. It’s a very extensive guide covering practically everything you need to know about Search Engine Optimisation from how search engines work, all the way through to the technical long-term strategies.
It’s definitely worth a read but be warned, this will be a project for several weeks, not a 5 minute skim.
Whiteboard Fridays (also by Moz)
Once you’ve had a look through the beginner’s guide, the next stop on your journey for knowledge should be the Whiteboard Fridays from the same company.
Co-Founder Rand Fishkin features most weeks and does a great job of talking SEO strategy and how things have changed in recent times. It’s a great way to stay up to date with industry best practice and really make sure your knowledge is on point – this industry moves quickly!
The other fantastic Moz resource is their Q&A section. It’s essentially a digital marketing forum where users can jump on and ask questions of the community. These can be anything from a simple yes/no question to a frustrated plea for help. With the high calibre of experts regularly contributing to the discussion (including our very own Director Chris Ashton in our Sydney office!) and the Moz team closely moderating and contributing themselves, you’re sure to get an excellent and accurate answer.
Backlink Analysis Tools
With your backlink profile still being very important to long term rankings, you need to have some idea of exactly which websites are linking to you. The three tools below are the most prominent and worth investigating. While we currently use Ahrefs, each has their own set of pros and cons so trialling each is worth your while to see which is most suitable for you.
Supplying this data requires an unbelievable amount of computing resources and so no tool is going to give you 100% accurate backlink data unfortunately. This even includes Google themselves, who offer some of this in Search Console as well.
All three of these tools will show a snapshot of the sites that link to you along with a broad range of other relevant data. The best part is, that same data is also available for your competitors’ sites so you can get an idea of what they’ve been up to as well.
If you’ve had low-quality SEO in the past and you’re concerned that there may be some unsavoury links pointing on to your site, they all give a proprietary score that gives some indication of how valuable each link may be so you know where to begin looking.
Rankings aren’t everything in SEO but keeping an eye on how you rank for each of your important terms is a great way to understand the perceived quality of your website and whether or not your campaign is proving successful.
Advanced Web Ranking’s cloud offering (aka AWR Cloud) is a handy web-based portal that lets you throw your keywords in and get a daily update of where they rank for a given location.
You can also add your competitors in and see how your rankings look by comparison. This combined with the various reports, site audit and other related data make it a very valuable tool to have.
Your website is a reflection on your business so you want your content to be written well, right? Whether you struggle with the complex rules of grammar or you’d just like a second opinion, Grammarly is the perfect tool.
Like a more powerful version of the Office spelling and grammar checker, you can use it directly on their website or integrate it into a host of other applications like Microsoft Office and Google Chrome. It will highlight spelling and grammar mistakes as you go, making corrections and even offering suggestions on why something may be wrong and how to fix it.