Search engine optimization

The 15 best free SEO tools

Keeping up with search engine optimization (SEO) trends can be time-consuming — but it doesn’t have to be wallet-draining. Fortunately, tons of free cloud-based SEO tools and downloadable applications exist that can make the job easier.

We reached out to the SEO community for recommendations on free tools, including utilities for both keyword and backlink research. Some of the following 15 SEO tools are well-known, and you may not have heard of others, but all of them are worth a try, according to our sources. And all are free, at least to some extent — some give you limited tool access, after which you have to cough up a credit card number. However, even the free versions are useful enough to warrant a recommendation.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider for SEO audits

Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a popular free software download that lets you perform a variety of tasks, with a focus on technical website audits designed to uncover problems that might adversely impact search engine rankings. “It’s a really detailed tool and very simple to use,” says Philip Elliot, ecommerce and marketing manager at We Sell Electrical.

The tool does a complete crawl of your site. “The list of elements it looks at is exhaustive and insightful, from meta data, meta robot tags and canonical tags to response time, word count and status codes.” Elliot recommends using the software’s Google SERP snippets optimization feature (shown). The software is free, but it limits you to 500 URL crawls. Annual licenses cost roughly $150.

SEMrush for competitive analysis and keyword research

SEMrush‘s free tools provide insights into keyword performance, such as which sites rank in Google’s top 100 results for a given keyword. You can also plug in URLs to get information on sites’ traffic, keyword ads, organic versus ad traffic, organic keywords, and more.

SEMrush “presents you with detailed engagement metrics [and] backlink information, as well as keyword targeting information, on any given website,” says Elliot of We Sell Electrical. “We use it to make informed decisions on our on-site and off-site SEO. SEMrush has premium features, but the free version is still very useful.” Paid plans cost $70 a month.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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