12 Best Free SEO Tools – Enhancing SEO Skills and Productivity

Let’s begin with the obvious; most successful SEO strategies do require tedious tasks which primarily include content creation, link search, analysis, link acquisition and more research. The good news is that there are loads of free SEO tools out there that can help make our daily tasks much easier.

Our tasks as SEO practitioners grow and expand by the day, as Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz.org have mentioned – on his predictions for the coming year – that SEOs are being more referred to as talented generalists rather than pointed specialists. Well, that compliment actually just made me prouder of myself.

Anyway, let’s get back to business, so here’s the list of the free SEO tools I personally use and I strongly suggest you start using.

Traffic Travis

Traffic Travis is a powerful standalone software designed for both beginners and advanced internet marketers and SEO practitioners. It offers tons of features that allow users to obtain significant data and statistics related to your market, site as well as your competitors’. The free SEO software’ features include:

  • Keyword Research – which allows you to find lucrative search phrases you can add to your campaign. They use a different system in tracking data for approximate search counts, which can give you different perspectives in targeting and specifying keywords that will suit your campaign.
  • Search Engine Tools – provide users data such as search rankings and positions, top sites for keywords and backlinks directing to a certain site.
  • PPC Analysis – gives you relevant details about the keywords you are targeting, popular keywords in your niche and list of keywords that your competitors are aiming at.
  • Page Analysis – simply allows you to analyze a website
  • SEO Analysis – this my favorite feature of the tool for it imparts all the necessary details you’ll want to know about your targeted keywords, including vital information from your competitors as well as the difficulty and the number of competing pages for the keyword. This feature basically displays the following details:

o   Difficulty rating of the keyword

o   Number of competing pages from Google and Yahoo

o   Top 20 sites competing for the keyword

o   Pagerank of each site

o   Age of each competitors

o   Number of links pointing to the page

o   Number of backlinks directing to the entire site

o   Number of backlinks from .edu and .gov domains

o   If listed in Dmoz

o   If listed in Yahoo Directory

o   If the keyword is included in the Title page

o   If the keyword is mentioned on the meta description

o   If the keyword was used as H1 tag

o   Age in days of Google’s cached version of the page

o   Number of sites linking to domain from country (TLD) of initial search

You can download Traffic Travis for free here.

Generally, I use this tool to determine the toughness of the other competing sites and to supply secondary opinion for the keywords I’m targeting as well as in finding other relevant keywords that I can include in my campaign.

Open Site ExplorerOpen Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer is a web-based tool that was developed by SEOmoz.org. This tool lets you analyze the authority and link popularity of pages or links linking to your competitors’ or your site. If you also get the Pro version of this tool, you can get to see the anchor texts used on each pages linking to your competitors and if they are followed or not.

Though with the free version, you can get a lot, such as the anchor text distribution of the page and the full link metrics of the page, where it shows the approximate percentage of nofollow and dofollow links pointing to the page and the comparison of amount of external vs. internal links. The best thing about this feature is that you get to have an idea where the site is lacking or robust, which is a good signal in outranking your competitors or in improving your link profile.

I use this tool to observe how my competitors are shaping their link landscape and in determining the methods that I can or must use to replicate their links or in prevailing over their campaign. It’s actually best used in reverse engineering your competitors’ links.

SEOQuake for FirefoxSEOQuake

SEOQuake is a Firefox extension that reveals details from a site instantly by displaying a bar filled with information about the page, which is usually placed on the top part of the webpage or through search engine result pages (displayed below each page’s description). The information given by this tool includes:

  • Pagerank of the webpage
  • Number of indexed pages of the site on Google
  • Number of backlinks on the page based on Yahoo API
  • Number of backlinks of the whole site based on Yahoo API
  • Number of indexed pages of the site on Bing
  • Alexa traffic rank
  • Web archive age of the site
  • Delicious index
  • Whois information
  • Page source
  • If the site has Robots.txt
  • If the site has sitemap
  • SEMRush rank
  • SEMRush SE traffic price
  • Number of internal and external links on the page
  • Keyword density

This tool helps me distinguish quality sites through PR and number of backlinks when skimming through Google’s SERPs. It’s also a good way to track links from your site as well as from your competitors by simply utilizing its Yahoo Site Explorer feature. You can download SEOQuake here.

Affilorama SEO Toolbar for FirefoxAffilorama SEO Toolbar

I must say that Affilorama SEO Toolbar is my most favorite Firefox plugin, given that this tool has almost every feature I need in doing link search and actual link building, specifically with my link building standards (Pagerank, relevance and external link attributes) – and I’m not saying this because I work for them, the tool is simply amazing!

The toolbar is placed on the lower right part of the browser and it’s comprised of features that include:

  • Pagerank toolbar
  • Alexa traffic rank
  • Enables users to view backlinks indexed by Google and Yahoo
  • Allows users to see indexed pages by both Google and Yahoo
  • On-page analysis, which displays the Title page, meta description, meta keywords, H1 and H2
  • Clickable “link” symbol, which can display nofollow and dofollow links within a page through color scheme (color coding is also configurable through the tool’s options)

I use this tool when finding link building opportunities and in actual link acquisition, particularly its dofollow/nofollow feature. You can download Affilorama SEO Toolbar here.

SearchStatus for Firefox

SearchStatus is a Firefox plugin from Quirk.biz. It’s quite similar with Affilorama and SEOQuake’s toolbar, though this tool has a lot of other special features. This toolbar is also placed on the lower right part of the browser when installed. Its features include:

  • Pagerank toolbarQuirkbiz SearchStatus
  • Alexa traffic rank toolbar
  • Mozrank toolbar
  • Compete toolbar
  • Highlight nofollow links on a page
  • Link report – displays the total number of links within a page including details (internal, external, dofollow, nofollow and secured links)
  • Meta data – shows the title, robots, Google-site-verification, description and keywords of the site
  • Show other domains on IP
  • Show on Web.archive.org
  • Show Robots.txt
  • Show Sitemap.xml
  • Show keyword density
  • Highlight keyword
  • Show indexed pages on Google, Yahoo and MS Live
  • Tracking backlinks for specific pages or domain through Google, Yahoo and Yahoo Site Explorer

I primarily use this tool to check competitors’ or my pages’ keyword density, since it gives solid details about the on-page status of the targeted keywords. You can download Quirk’s SearchStatus plugin here.

LinkChecker plugin for Firefox

LinkChecker is an extension for Firefox that enables its users to check links’ status within a page through color coding. When the plugin is activated (by right-clicking on any part of the webpage and selecting “Check Page Links”), it will highlight all the links in the page and will allow you to determine if the links placed on the page are broken or dead (red), forwarded or forbidden (yellow), good (green) and/or skipped (grey).

This nifty tool is very useful in checking links placed on your site and also in searching possible link acquisition from external sites that have dead/broken links that leads to a similar page as yours, given that search crawlers hate dead links. You can download LinkChecker plugin here.

Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

These two web-based tools are extremely essential to any site, for it allows you to monitor and track results from your SEO efforts and to diagnose setbacks from your site’s end to further improve your site’s SEO campaign and overall performance.

Google Analytics is a tool that can track your site’s traffic sources, numbers of daily/monthly traffic and activity once visitors have landed on your site. It’s extremely helpful in monitoring site usage as well as in improving your site’s conversions. Google Analytics LogoAnalyzing your current traffic will get you more ideas on how to manipulate them in going to the direction where you want them to be, since the data presented through the various segments of the tool (bounce rates, average time on site, traffic sources, pages and keywords that bring you traffic, etc…) allows you to see where changes or improvements should take place.

Google Webmaster Tools is metrics dashboard that provides an in-depth view of your site’s backend. It mainly shGoogle Webmaster Tools Logoows activities and interactions of the site around the web as seen by Google’s search crawlers. Some of the main features of this tool are as follows:

  • Allows you to track search queries pertaining to your site’s pages, which includes each query’s average position on SERPs, number of impressions and click through Google’s result pages.
  • List of domains linking to your site, including the number of links from each site as well as a list of anchor texts used on external links pointing to your site – as fetched by Google’s crawlers.
  • Keywords significant to your site’s pages.
  • Number of internal links.
  • Detects crawl errors for easier diagnostics, crawl stats of the site and provides HTML suggestions in case search crawlers find it difficult to skim through your site.
  • Allows you to submit your sitemap, RSS feed and generate Robots.txt for better crawl activity.

SEOSiteCheckup.comSEO Site Checkup Logo

SEOSiteCheckup is a free web-based SEO analysis tool that provides statistics regarding your page/site and also offers suggestions at the end of the analysis on how you can fully optimize your page. The data provided by the tool include:

  • HTML page size
  • HTML compression/GZIP
  • Page cache
  • Site’s loading speed
  • Visitor breakdown
  • Number of backlinks from Yahoo API
  • Meta tags
  • Most common keywords
  • H1 and H2 tag
  • Robots.txt
  • Sitemap.xml file
  • URL Canonicalization
  • Nested tables
  • Image expires tag
  • Favicon and validator
  • Page objects count
  • Page objects listing
  • Directory browsing
  • Libwww-perl access
  • Server signature

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

Apparently, Google Adwords Keyword Tool is the most precise keyword research tool when it comes to trending search terms and in analyzing the competitiveness of the keyword, seeing as the basis of its results are driven from Google’s worldwide search engine activity. There’s nothing much to say about it, knowing that it’s still the undisputed father of all keyword research tool.

Google AlertsGoogle Alerts Logo

Google Alerts is an email service from Google that allows you to monitor fresh pages around the web related to search terms or keywords you want to keep track of. Essentially, you can use this tool to track new pages related to your targeted keywords, to observe methods used by your competitors, monitor mentions of your brand (to get more valuable links through email requests) and to gain more ideas for content creation.

Yahoo Site Explorer

Yahoo Site Explorer is definitely one of the best tools in tracking and observing your competitors’ link profile. This tool best works alongside with SEOQuake, to have an improved look of the list of linking pages that you will see, since the Pagerank of the linking pages are revealed immediately as you browse the list of pages linking to your competitors.

RankTracker

RankTracker is a web-based tool from SEOmoz.org. It has both free and Pro version, but what I really liked about this tool is that it keeps records of your previous results (positions/rankings), which allows you to track changes on your keywords’ positions weekly.

As what most successful people say – “the best things in life are free” – well, that catchphrase also applies to SEO. Because sometimes, skills aren’t enough to slaughter a dragon, perchance, an aid from a sword can.

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Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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31 replies
  1. Najee Khan
    Najee Khan says:

    Nice post. I agree the best SEO is done without many tools. It’s done by thinking like your customer. How will he conduct a search, where will he conduct a search and then positioning your material to show up favorably using sensible methods.

    If you think by using tools you will show up #1 on whatever you want, that is not going to happen. You may impact your site negatively.

    Go slow – learn – apply – correct – apply . Remain a student forever and you’ll do great.

    Reply
  2. JennyLynnSEM
    JennyLynnSEM says:

    Did I ever tell you about the time that my company downloaded SEO Quake and it crashed our server. It totally destroyed the system for the day and we had to all remove the tools from our computers. Not a good day. Smile!

    Reply
  3. Thomas Jackson
    Thomas Jackson says:

    Wow. Thanks for sharing. I never knew that there are a lot of free seo tools out there. I’ve been using seoquake and i really like it. It’s really useful especially if your digging for do follow blogs. I will try Traffic Travis like you suggested because from how you describe it, it’s pretty amazing. Thanks once again!

    Reply
  4. Steve
    Steve says:

    You really stated the best SEO tools. My favorite is SEOquake. It gives me the information about the site instantly. No need to go to a particular website to check one’s page rank or what not. You can easily see the information right below bookmarks toolbar in firefox.

    Reply
  5. Michael S.
    Michael S. says:

    Just installed Traffic Travis on your recommendation. Wow. This is a nice piece of software. I’m no SEO expert or anything but I think it will really help me to better learn SEO.

    Reply
  6. Matt
    Matt says:

    I’m a big fan of the SEO quake team – especially SEMRush. Has anyone used Keyword Eye before? It’s a visual keyword suggestion tool… returning a cloud of keyword suggestions where keyword size reflects monthly search volume and colour represents competition. It’s got search result numbers and CPC data in there too.

    Reply
  7. Tonya
    Tonya says:

    This is a fantastic list. I’m going to take a crack at Traffic Travis and a couple of the Firefox tools you recommended. As a “non-techie” I am looking for easy to use methods to build traffic to our World Footprints media page.

    Reply
  8. Alam
    Alam says:

    These are indeed very useful tools.

    But you miss a lot of free tools from Link Assistant. It’s limited, but i use their rank tracker almost everyday.

    Reply
  9. David
    David says:

    I’ve been using various tools and you know what? All of them have their strong and weak points. Having 3+ experience in SEO I’ve stopped my choice at SEO Powersuite of http://link-assistant.com. They react to Google’s updates very fast thus making the software bring the most to me. I’ve also heard that there is a new web-based solution called WebMeUp, now checking this service

    Reply
  10. Gordon White
    Gordon White says:

    Excellent read Jason. Some of your recommendations are really great. I use some of the tools in my business as well, especially Traffic Travis. Thanks to this tool I am able to see exactly where why website rank for my keywords. Thank you for the share and keep up the great work. I really enjoyed this article

    Reply

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