Even though Google’s guideline for search engine optimization haven’t changed much over the years, in the post PANDA, PENGUIN & HUMMINGBIRD world, SEO is very different from what it used to be a couple of years ago. Some even proclaimed that SEO is dead, a thing of past but contrary to all this, SEO is something that could still work magic especially for small and medium businesses.
The search engines, especially Google is getting better and better at detecting unnatural or blackhat SEO activities. Search engine algorithms are rolled out frequently and violators are punished through penalties and manual action by Google.
In order to dominate search result and maintain top position, webmasters today need to be ahead of the SERP game. User experience is increasingly becoming a key to better performance and ranking in search results. On page SEO factors have become key to rankings. With separate guidelines for mobile and desktop, it’s imperative that to become and remain top in your class. Luckily for us, there are numerous free SEO tools that could help webmaster in upping the ante when it comes to SEO both off page and on page factors.
Google & Bing
When we talk about productivity and SEO analysis, it is so easy to overlook two of the most powerful free tools. Yes, search engine Google and Bing (for global English sites) themselves are very useful SEO tools. There are several things you could do including keyword research, ranking, competition etc. A pro understanding of the search engine functionality is key to SEO.
Google Page Speed Insights
Tools, data, and insights to improve your page speed. Google’s Page Speed Insights lay bares the performance of your webpages on mobile and desktop. Page speed is increasingly becoming a factor in search engine rankings and user engagement. This free SEO tools lets you analyze your page’s load speed and how to improve its performance.
Yet another tool that lets you analyze your page performance. Together with Google’s Page Speed Insights, GTmetrix gives you a better picture of user experience when they visit your webpage. GTmetrix gives you the full picture on how your webpages load and help you detect the bottlenecks.
Varvy (Earlier Feedthebot.com)
A free SEO resource with tools and information of a quality normally only found on paid sites. With this free SEO tool you could analyze on page SEO elements, page speed as well as mobile performance.
Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
Google’s own explanation is clear enough on why this will be increasingly a key factor in SEO:
“Structured data markup” is a standard way to annotate your content so machines can understand it. When your web pages include structured data markup, Google (and other search engines) can use that data to index your content better, present it more prominently in search results, and surface it in new experiences like voice answers, maps, and Google Now.
This is arguably the best free SEO tool out there. From basic information like who is visiting your site, most visited pages, what are they looking for and how are they interacting with your site. Link Google’s Search Console and Google’s Adwords and you get raw awesomeness. Remarketing, SEO, Custom Reports, data automation, dashboards, A/B testing and what not. You name it and you have it to take your business to next level.
Google Analytics API
The Google Analytics API is great for building custom reports and tools, and also for pulling data straight into Excel or Google Docs. It is one of the must have api for Analytics data automation and putting it to use in Excel or Google’s Spreadsheet. More on how it works here:
Google Webmaster Tools
Google Search Console – formerly “Google Webmaster Tools” – provides data and configuration control for your site in Google. From configuring your site to rich snippets to indexing and crawl errors as well as HTML improvement, this is one of the top free SEO tools for any webmaster.
Bing Webmaster Tools (aka BWT) remains extremely overlooked. It’s great for keeping an eye on how Bing is treating your site. From my personal experience, I have found the SEO Reports in Bing very handy in finding missing HTML tags something which I have rarely seen in Google’s Search Console. Besides, it also offers benefits beyond Bing by providing insights into crawling, indexation, on-page keyword optimization, and other elements that can impact your performance in Google.
In the age of PANDA, having duplicate content on site could turn into a nightmare. Besides, off the domain duplicate content, Internal content duplicacy on domain is one of the major on page factor that could affect your website’s performance. Here’s where siteliner comes handy. This freemium SEO tool lets you check duplicate content, broken links, XML sitemap, internal page rank and more.
Keywordtool.io is great for generating a ton of keyword ideas containing your seed term that won’t show up in the AdWords keyword tool due to having very low volumes. Although, the free tool won’t show you much, but still you plenty of keyword ideas especially long tail.
Screaming Frog is a powerful website crawling tool with which you have to download and install on your system. Its free feature also comes with tons of features and customizations. A must-have for most serious SEOs at it allows you to export key onsite SEO elements (URL, page title, meta descriptions, headings) to Excel so it can easily be used as a base to make SEO recommendations.
Majestic SEO is one of the best tool for backlink analysis although the free version has some limitations. Even the free tool allows you to get a far better picture of your link profile, anchor texts and link networks. All you need to do is verify your site like you do your Google’s Webmaster by uploading a file on the root folder of your domain.
Want to know where your website ranks in the search results? SEOBook’s Firefox Rank Checker extension allows you to easily check your website rankings in Google (US and international), Microsoft’s Bing, & Yahoo Search. You could track a single keyword or even multiple keyword for a domain to know the position. With export to Excel feature available in free version, this tool could be effectively used for competition analysis.
Nowadays, social media is becoming increasingly vital to SEO success. Hootsuite is one of many platforms for managing social media. You could connect your Twitter, Gplus, Facebook etc. in a single account and also schedule your post.
Yet another powerful social sharing tool, Buffer allows you to share with your audience at the optimal times for greater visibility.
Want to see the history of your website or your competitor’s site? The Wayback Machine allows you to step back in time and track important changes.
There are numerous other part free part paid tools that could also help you in SEO. Tools like SEO Quake, SEMrush, Copyscape, Ahrefs and Open Site Explorer are powerful indeed. Which tools do you prefer? Which is your favorite and why? Feel free to drop a line or two.
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