Performance in organic search engine marketing requires an investment. Depending on the goals of an SEO campaign, that investment can be quite substantial. Part of the investment in any SEO campaign goes toward tools that help you analyze data, strategize and track results. Here are 10 free SEO tools that can be leveraged so more budget can be allocated to media:
1. Google Adwords Keyword Tool — The foundation of any successful SEO campaign is targeting the right keywords. Keyword-suggestion tools give insight into the keyword variations consumers are searching for products and services. They also show the level of demand (search volume). This helps identify the most popular search phrases to target and uncover additional opportunities that may have been otherwise overlooked. Comparable paid tool: Wordtracker
2. Screaming Frog — Since a search engine spider will crawl your site and become its main judge for organic search performance, running your own crawl of your brand’s site can provide valuable insight into what the search engines may come across. Screaming Frog is a free spider that crawls a site and provides a quick analysis, audit and review from an SEO perspective. This spider can help identify server errors, redirects, URI issues, duplicate meta data and much more. Run a Screaming Frog crawl of a site on a regular basis. A more robust paid version of Screaming Frog is also available.
3. Google Analytics — No site should be without a Web analytics platform. It is essential for effective strategizing of an SEO campaign and tracking results to show value and refine strategies. Google Analytics provides insight on the top-performing keywords from traffic, engagement and conversion perspectives, as well as user behavior to assist with post-click optimization. Comparable paid tool: Adobe SiteCatalyst
4. Open Site Explorer — Open Site Explorer allows users to dig deep into backlink profiles of sites in order to dissect them. Users can see the anchor text breakdown of a link profile, what the top linked pages of a site are and the authority of the pages and domains linking in. Comparable paid tool: MajesticSEO
5. SEMRush — Have you ever been curious as to what keywords a site is already ranking for? SEMRush has the answer. It’s a great tool for performance tracking and competitive analysis. SEMRush allows you to input a domain and gather information about keywords a site ranks organically and top organic competitors based on common keyword rankings and volume of ranked keywords. Taking a baseline of ranked keyword volume prior to SEO execution charts the progress as a campaign matures and the site begins to rank for keywords that may not have been specifically intended. A more robust paid version of SEMRush is also available.
6. Google Webmaster Tools — An invaluable resource for any site, Google Webmaster Tools display crawl errors, allow geo-targeting of content, accept XML Sitemap files and provide search query data. Google also notifies Webmasters if actions have been taken against the site.
7. Bulk HTTP Header Response Checker — Enables quick troubleshooting of server-side header responses of multiple URLs at a time. By inputting a list of URLs into this tool, the header responses of each page will be returned, along with the destination URLs of pages returning redirects. This is useful for quickly identifying header response errors, such as temporary redirects and 404 errors. It also allows users to select GoogleBot as a User Agent to help turn up any cloaking issues.
8. Rank Checker — Aaron Wall’s keyword rank checker tool allows users to input up to 100 keywords for a specific domain. It returns that domain’s rankings of each keyword in Google, Yahoo and Bing, as well as international versions of Google. Results can be run ad hoc or scheduled to run at predetermined days and times. For the most accurate reading, set the option to not use Google personalized results. Comparable paid tool: Web CEO
9. BrowSEO Spider Simulator — How a Webpage looks to search engine spiders determines how well it ranks in search results. By looking at pages through a spider simulator, users can see what is visible to search engines to be sure important information is seen and tagged properly. BrowSEO also provides a preview of how a search engine result for the page would look to webmasters to ensure the best ad copy is displayed.
10. Page Comparison— Quickly analyze on-page elements of a target page to that of a top-ranking competitor. This tool returns a side-by-side comparison of meta tags, headlines, body copy, internal links and more. It also compares different metrics, such as keyword density, PageRank and Alexa rank.