Every small business owner thinks about SEO, many try it, and every one who tries to do it for themselves looks for Free SEO Tools.
That’s why I put this short list together. With this list of tools, you’ll be able to get started and make some progress on your SEO journey.
These are free tools, a couple of them are extensions that run on Google Chrome, and if you’re not using Chrome, you should be.
1. SEO Meta in 1 Click
The first tool is a Chrome extension called SEO Meta in 1 Click. There are more thorough and comprehensive SEO analysis extensions out there, but for the small business owner, I think this is the best.
The interface is simpler, the data is easier to access, and when you’re learning everything on the fly, you need something that keeps all the pertinent details right in front of you so you can access it quickly and easily.
I’m including a screenshot of what it looks like when you drop down the extension bar, with a couple of pointers of the first places to go. This extension will help you keep your title tags, meta description, header tag, and ALT tags on images straight.
We are entering the world of the semantic web in a complete way very soon, but these tags still matter. I believe they will always matter, but they are lessening in importance in the world of the semantic web and the BERT update.
That said, there’s no reason not to do proper structure on your on page assets.
2. Google Search Console
The second free SEO tool is Google Search Console.
Search Console is a free tool offered by Google that gives you a very direct and fairly simple analysis of the search traffic going to your website.
It’s a massive amount of data, but not as complex as Google Analytics, which is more of a traffic analysis tool, but still useful for SEO (we talk about it next). I have several tutorial videos on how to use Search Console in the most beneficial way for your business, but I will touch on a few high points here.
First, is the rankings. Seems obvious, right? You need to know where each page is ranked. The next part gets a little more complex, but it’s arguably more important. That’s Impressions.
Impressions tell you where opportunities lie within the pages that are getting clicked on or not getting clicked on on your website. When you see a fairly low ranking with higher-than-average Impressions, that’s an opportunity.
I go into that deeper in this tutorial video, but suffice it to say that if you see an out of balance relationship between Impressions and ranking, you have most likely an opportunity in front of you.
The next high point with Search Console is to analyze page position month-over-month, then over three and six-month periods. This will help you understand the up and down movement of particular pages on your website.
Once you have more than 20 or 30 pieces of content developed, this will become a normal part of your life, and might even drive you a little crazy! It’s normal, though. Don’t let it stress you out.
As people search for relevant topics to their keyword queries, the click rate on those queries cause the pages to rise in ranking. They will also get more clicks. Pages that rank for Christmas subjects are going to have very high-ranking and very high traffic during Christmas time, but later on after the holidays, they will not sustain that level of traffic, and their rankings will go down a little bit as a result.
The important thing is this: instead of focusing on your ranking going up and down, focus on WHY that’s happening. This is Search Behavior, Prospect behavior, and ultimately customer behavior if you do your job right.
That’s all I’ll say about Search Console right now.
3. Google Analytics
Third on the list is Google Analytics. We’ve already said that Google Analytics is not primarily a search engine optimization tool, but the data it gives you will help you improve your search marketing.
It is much more complex, and much more difficult to get usable data from, especially if you are a novice to the platform. If you have not used Google Analytics a lot, I would primarily focus on three main areas.
General Dashboard on Google Analytics
The first is the general dashboard, along with month-over-month analysis. A very easy thing you can do is to go to the top right where the calendar is specify a 30-day period, then click on the “compared to” box, and it will automatically populate the previous 30-day period.
For instance, if you specify 30-day, it will compare it to a 30-day previously, so from the end of April to the beginning of April will be compared to the end of March to the beginning of March.
That’s great, but what’s even better, if you specify three month, it will automatically compare the previous three-month period to the current.
You can really get some good overview analysis of the traffic on your website bye using this simple part of this very complex tool.
The next part to focus on is the platform filters that Google Analytics offers. After specifying a time, you can click on these filters for mobile, direct versus new visitor, and many more, and once these are click, they will separate the the data out into different subsets of visitors to your website.
Understanding the difference between the mobile visitor and the desktop visitor is critically important for the success of your business.
Different business verticals are going to operate differently with him these definitional set. For instance, and engineering firm will almost certainly have mainly desktop visitors, wow a hair salon or a barbershop would have primarily mobile visitors.
This is just one of many comparisons, and it has to do with what the surgery is doing when they are looking at the website. You must understand your customers. There is no greater challenge for today’s business owner, and Google Analytics helps you understand the mobile visitors to your website.
The last place I’ll focus on with his tool is Behavior Flow.
Behavior Flow shows you the page that a visitor came in on, and then we’ll show you the pictures they went to, to 12 steps deep. It’s not a comprehensive showing of the traffic on your website, and once you get over about a hundred and fifty pages, it’s less and less granular.
The reason is in the way Google Analytics truncates the data or the page count in the bottom set of the pages. All of that data is somewhat obfuscated and not as readily available.
That said, the new business owner with 20 to 50 pages will do just fine with it.
By the time you outgrow it, your search marketing will be producing enough revenue to justify a good paid tool that would give you more data.
Behavior Flow is very straightforward, it shows you visitors from one page to the next, and it will show you how people bounce around and your website so that you can better understand what assets you need on those pages to get them the information they need when they are on that page.
The the 4th tool is a simple little rank checker that I really liked called FatRank.
When you’re analyzing your site for SEO, many times all you need is just a quick, down and dirty understanding of where your page ranks. There’s not really a fast way to do this without a non-paid checker. There are paid tools that work really great and give you a lot more data, but usually I don’t need it.
What I’m looking for to understand where my page ranks, and that’s really all I need. I’m on a page, I need to know where it ranks. It’s that simple.
FatRank is a lightweight, straightforward rank checker.
It doesn’t matter what age you are on, if it’s indexed in Google, FatRank will tell you where it is ranked, and it is very accurate. I’ve been using the tool for about five years, I have yet to find it to render an inaccurate ranking.
In fact, I’ve been surprised many times to check a ranking on a client site that we’re optimizing, have it return as ranking on page one, and not known it.
I went to check it, thinking that FatRank must have been wrong this time, only to find out that yes indeed, we had put that customers site on page one! Those are great surprises to get.
This is another free Chrome extension, and the only trouble you will really run into is if you try to use it to check a lot of pages. You will get blocked by Google, and you’ll have to just wait a little while to be able to check more. But honestly, if you’re checking that many pages, you just need to turn back to Search Console.
Of course, if you’re doing ranking of competitor sites, or outlier sites, or research sites, then you need to use something like SEMRush or another one of the high-dollar paid tools. These platforms will give you a raft of data, for more than you ever thought possible, and honestly, if you were a small business owner, it’s probably more than you can digest.
I like FatRank because it’s easy, fast, accurate, and sitting right there in my extension tray anytime I want to use it.
5. Google Search
The last SEO Tool I’ll talk about might surprise you, but it’s Google Search itself.
Searching terms on Google will actually tell you far more than you probably thought that it would.
For instance, if I search Free SEO Tools, Google is going to return a certain set of information that it finds relevant.
That right there tells me a lot about how Google thinks about this term, but what we all must understand is that Google thinks this way because users have told it to think this way.
That’s important, because it’s those users you were trying to reach. When I broaden my search, and remove local geotags like Dallas or Austin, I get a much broader search return, and I’m more apt to get 2 pieces of information that are highly valuable.
First, the “People Also Asked” box. This is what Google uses to “throw stuff at the wall and see if it sticks” in a sense, to see if you wanted something different than your search, but what it is seeing others search on what they feel like might be related terms.
The second is the “Related Searches” section at the bottom of the page. This gives you up to 8 terms Google definitely sees as related. You can usually find some nuggets you didn’t expect in that group.
If you’re trying to SEO your website on your own, or doing keyword research or perform an SEO audit of your website on your own, you should be using these 5 tools. Seriously, try them.
Worst case, you find that you don’t like them and discard them. But I think you’ll find that their usefulness far outweighs anything you don’t like.