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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Seven Free SEO Tools You Should Be Using

Free is awesome. Especially when that “free” whatever is giving you extra traffic, money, rank, reputation, riches, etc. Thankfully, there are a ton of free tools in the SEO world. The downside is that some of these free tools are junk.
I want to give you a go-to collection of the top free SEO tools. These are intuitive, slick, effective, powerful, and — best of all — they’re absolutely free.

1. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is to the online marketer like air is to the human being. You can’t live without it.
If you’re not yet using Google Analytics, I recommend that you begin doing so as soon as possible. There is no other data source that provides high quality and detailed information like Google Analytics. In a Google-dominated era, it’s what we have to work with. Most of the other data tools simply piggyback on Google’s datausing the API.

Assessment

You can’t ignore Google Analytics. Virtually all the actionable and important data about site visitors, traffic, etc., comes from this critical source.

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2. Google Webmaster Tools

If Google Analytics is the air that an online marketer breathes, then GWT is the food that the online marketer eats.
The “webmaster” in “Google Webmaster Tools” is a bit of a misnomer. The tool is for more than webmasters. It’s for SEOs. The very focus of the tool has to do with “search” and “optimization.”
welcome to webmaster tools
Some of GWT’s best insights come from just glancing at the dashboard. SEOs and marketers need to keep up with the GWT dash on a regular basis.
webmaster tools
GWT provides some of the same data as Analytics, but in a simpler and more straightforward way. There’s less tweaking you can do with the numbers, but easier access to them.
search queries
One of the most important datasets from GWT is the link data. (Search Traffic → Links to Your Site → More) Staying up to date with toxic backlinks is one of the most important defensive actions you can take.
download latest links
If you ever have to deal with the dreaded manual penalty, or are routinely disavowing stubborn spam links, you will become very familiar with GWT.
webmaster tools site messages

Assessment

Clearly, GWT is indispensable. You need the data, you need the tools, and you need the power. I wish that more SEOs saw the value of GWT, and used it more.

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3. Keyword Planner

Since the Keyword Tool has been replaced, Keyword Planner is the premier way of researching keywords.
keyword planner has replaced
You can find Keyword Planner by logging in to AdWords → Tools → Keyword Planner.
select tools
Keyword Planner is the place to start when you’re doing any keyword research. Here are a few of the things you can do:
google adwords keyword planner
The Keyword Planner provides much of the functionality of the erstwhile Keyword Tool. The focus, however, is on AdWords generation rather than simple organic keyword research.
keyword planner

Assessment

As the premier keyword research tool, you can’t expect to do much real keyword research without using Keyword Planner. You should use it, and become familiar with it.

More information:

You can check out an in depth discussion of the tool in my Keyword Planner tutorial.

4. MozBar

Knowledge is the name of the game with the MozBar. When you think about it, SEO has a lot to do with knowing the right stuff. The MozBar helps you discover the right stuff at a glance.
The MozBar button sits right up in your browser toolbar — the place where all the action is going on. Click on the MozBar, and you generate an instant report on the website you’re visiting.
page analysis
You can position the MozBar at the top, side, or bottom of your browsing window at all times.
mozbar
The toolbar has three main categories of data — Page Elements, Page Attributes, and Link Data.
Page Elements displays the nuts-and-bolts of onpage SEO. There’s a lot of information accessible at a glance. You can see the various tags — title, description, H1s, etc.
Page attributes shows some below-the-surface onsite optimization features, such as robots, rel=”canonical” and load time. Additionally, you can find out on-page link data.
The Link Data tab has ranking factors and more information on a site’s links. Complete information is available only with a paid subscription.
The MozBar’s true power is available to those who subscribe, and it’s a service worth the money. If you’re still in startup-cash-strapped phase, though, the folks at Moz are kind enough to provide this robust version of their tool at no cost.
More info:

5. SEOWorkers Analysis Tool

The Analysis Tool allows you to plug in a website URL — any website, even if it’s not yours — and generate a report.
online seo tools
SEOWorkers doesn’t provide anything new, but it does help to save a lot of time in analysis. Also, it provides background information on the data.
The report is quick and detailed.
analyzed page
Some of the data, like the HTTP Headers Check is under-the-hood stuff that you wouldn’t normally think to check for.
http headers check
Other analyzed features provide helpful icons to show you if you’re doing well, or if you need to pay attention to something:
head elements
Here is SEOWorker’s unique feature. They teach you about SEO in addition to showing you the SEO data that matters. Within each analyzed category, the report provides a detailed discussion, and often a video (ft. Matt Cutts).
google webmaster help video
The keyword analysis is comprehensive. It displays head terms (single keywords), and two-, three-, and four word keyphrases (longtail keywords).
single keywords two words

Assessment

SEOWorkers provides a lot of information, and some of it is different from other SEO and reporting tools. However, it can be information overload. For the experienced SEO, the discussion in each section is superfluous. For new SEOs who are still learning the tricks of the trade, it could be useful.
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6. Woorank

At first glance, Woorank appears to be just another freemium website analyzer. Upon closer, inspection, however, it gives handy insights into some not-so-obvious stuff.
You can analyze any website, and generate a report in seconds.
20 score qs
Woorank first displays a “Top priorities section. Unfortunately, here’s one of the downsides of the tool. Somehow, it thinks that I have a 404 error, lack a favicon, and don’t have a robots.txt file. All of these are inaccurate.
top priorities for Quicksprout
For example, when I click on “Blog,” in the SEO report section, I receive this message.
We have not found a blog on this site
I’m nonplussed, since content marketing is kind of my middle name, and my website definitely has an active blog.
On to more positive things…
The geodata is insightful, although Analytics provides similar information.
visitors for QuickSprout
Social shareability is another helpful section. Few free analysis tools are able to aggregate this much social network data in a single place.
Social characteristics of QuickSprout
The most outstanding feature of Woorank that I want to point out is the mobile section. Few free SEO analysis tools provide this level of data and perspective.
Mobile QuickSprout

Assessment

For its ease, interface, and amount of data, Woorank gets high marks. Unfortunately, not all the data seems to be accurate.
Wooranks redeems itself with the mobile optimization overview, which I think is a critical feature for today’s marketers.

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7. QuickSprout.com

I’m assuming you’re already aware of my free website analyzer. I think it’s worth mentioning, however, as a final free tool at your disposal:
The visual layout is clean and intuitive, providing plenty of crucial information:
nike vs. reebok
One feature that I’ve worked hard at is the competitive analysis. Part of the success of online marketing is knowing how your competitors are doing. Information about their websites is free for the looking:
competitive analysis table

Assessment

Personal bias aside, I think that my website analyzer provides a very helpful perspective both on your own site, and especially on a side-by-side comparison of your competitors.

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Conclusion

If you’re serious about SEO, you’ll need to pony up the cash to get the right tools. You won’t be able to do thorough SEO work without a paid subscription to something.
Here are the things that are typically not available for free:
  • Heat maps. If you’re interested in usability, conversions, and SEO, a heat mapping tool like Crazy Egg is crucial.
  • Rank Reports. Knowing where your site ranks in the SERPs for certain keywords is an important part of good SEO. Rank trackers allow you to see what page and position you’re on, and track your rank over time.
  • Backlink analysis. Crunching all the data behind backlinks — anchor text, DA level, site quality, webmaster contact info, velocity — is necessary when you’re doing any sort of backlink audit. The tools that provide such analysis are sophisticated, but usually not free.
What are some other SEO tools that you’ve found useful?
About the Author:  is the Chief Evangelist of KISSmetrics and blogs atQuick Sprout.

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