When you are working on search engine optimization for your own business or for a client’s website, you will need some great SEO tools. If you have the budget, you can certainly pay for the best SEO tools the Internet has to offer, but if you don’t, then free and freemium tools are the alternative.
Free tools are just that – free to use as much as you want for any of your projects. Freemium tools, on the other hand, have both free and premium rate plans based on your needs. The following are my six favorite free and freemium tools that are indispensable for SEO’s everywhere.
1. AdWords Keyword Tool for Keyword Research
All SEO campaigns should begin with keyword research. Google AdWords Keyword Tool is your best bet for a free keyword research tool. It is not necessarily exact with its numbers, so don’t believe that there is exactly 74,000 people searching for “website analytics” each month. What you can believe in is that “website analytics” is searched more often than “free website analytics”. You can also get a lot of great keyword ideas too!
2. SEO Book for a Keyword Research & On-Site Analysis
SEO Book actually has several free SEO tools on their website. You need to create a free account with their website first, and then you have unlimited access to the tools you see above, plus a few others including a keyword density analyzer, a page comparison tool to find keywords, an ad group generator for AdWords, PPC keyword wrapper, and a typo generator that shows the most common typos for keywords that you enter.
3. SEO Site Tools for On-Site Analysis & Suggestions
Want to quickly check stats about a website you are viewing including PageRank, SEO Title, Meta Description, Alexa Traffic Ranking, Incoming Links, SEOmoz Domain & Page Authority, and a wealth of other on-site optimization information? If you are using Google Chrome, then the SEO Site Tools is a must have extension for your browser. You can see the PageRank of any page you are browsing immediately in your extensions’ toolbar and you can get the rest of the information by clicking on the magnifying glass.
The best part? Use this tool on your own website to get some on-site optimization tips under the Suggestions tab.
If you don’t use Google Chrome, some other free SEO toolbars that will give you great information are the SEOmoz Toolbar (for Chrome & Firefox) and SEOquake (for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Opera).
4. Open Site Explorer for Competitor Backlink Research
A great way to find link opportunities for your website’s link building campaign is to research the backlinks of competitor websites. This research will help you see what type of links your competitor is getting and possible links that you can get as well.
SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer allows you to enter a domain and view that domain’s backlinks. As a free user, you can only see detailed information (link anchor text, page authority, and domain authority) for the first five backlinks of a domain. Altogether, you can view up to 200 backlink URL’s for that domain and whether they are dofollow or nofollow links. Free users are also limited to three reports per day.
Need more? You can run unlimited reports, view up to 10,000 backlinks, export backlinks to a CSV, and use the other suite of SEOmoz tools for $99 USD per month. Or, if you just need one month’s worth of unlimited use of Open Site Explorer and other tools, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial which is a pretty good deal!
5. SEMrush for Paid Search & Keyword Ranking Analysis
If you are working on paid search, then you might be curious about keywords competitors are ranking for organically and the CPC for those keywords. SEMRush will answer those questions. Free users can run a report showing 10 keywords by entering a domain and clicking on Full Report link under Organic keywords. There, you will also see the domain’s approximate organic ranking, search volume, CPC, URL, % of traffic generated, ad competition, number of total search results, and how trend for the last 12 months for each keyword.
Below the organic keywords list, you can see a keyword cloud of the top keywords a site is ranking for. If the site has a blog (like KISSmetrics) it might be a great way to grab blog topic keyword ideas.
SEMRush is not just for competitor keyword research. If you are planning to do some article marketing in your SEO campaign, you might want to know how well each article directory is doing in search. SEMRush shows a graph of how many keywords a domain is ranking for over the last several years. If your curious about whether a domain was hit by the Google Panda update last year and if they have recovered, this is the graph to check out. Search the domain you are interested in, then click on the domain.com More link above the graph in the left sidebar. For example, the following graph shows how EzineArticles went from ranking for 6.3 million keywords to 824,000 in February 2011.
Hubpages also took a hit, going from 7.8 million keywords to 1.4 million. But as you can see in this graph, they have since recovered many of their rankings, unlike EzineArticles.
Guest users are allowed to view information for five domains per day (based on IP address). You can get more domain searches by signing up for a free account. If you want full reports, you can sign up for a PRO recurring plan for $69.95 per month (up to 10,000 results per report, 3,000 reports per day), a single month’s PRO subscription for $79.95, or a recurring Guru subscription for $149.95 per month (up to 30,000 results per report, 5,000 reports per day).
6. Authority Labs for Monitoring SEO Campaign Results
What is the point of a good SEO campaign if you are not monitoring the results? Authority Labs is a great tool for keeping tabs on your keyword rankings by simply entering your domain and the keywords you want to track.
When you sign up, you get a free 30 day subscription (no credit card needed) to their Pro membership which allows you to monitor up to 50 domains and 1,000 keywords. After the 30 days, you have the option to choose from the Personal plan ($9.99/month, 3 domains, 25 keywords), the Basic plan ($24/month, 10 domains, 100 keywords), the Plus plan ($49/month, 25 domains, 250 keywords), the Pro plan ($99/month, 50 domains, 1,000 keywords), or the Enterprise plan ($450/month, unlimited domains & keywords). Alternatively, if you choose to not pay for a plan after your trail period is up, you can keep using a free account that allows you to monitor one domain with 10 keywords.
These are just my six favorite free and freemium SEO tools. What are your favorites? Please share them in the comments!
About the Author: Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, professional blogger, and social media enthusiast. Her blog Kikolani focuses on blog marketing for personal, professional, and business bloggers. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.