Implementing search engine optimization tactics into your business is hard enough. Tracking the results of your efforts can be even harder. Because of how sophisticated SEO can be, the tools and software you use to measure results can often be expensive. However, as technology has improved, there are plenty of free SEO tools you can use.
We’ve put together a list of the best free SEO tools for small business owners and managers to use. These tools are all free, but do a really great job giving your transparency into how your SEO work is going.
- Best Free SEO Tools for Small Business
- 1. Site Speed – Google Page Speed Insights
- 2. Content Creation – Answer the Public
- 3. Keyword Density – SEO Book
- 4. On Page – SEO Minion
- 5. Mapping HTTPS Redirects – Varvy Redirect Mapper
- 6. Outreach – Hunter.io
- 7. Domain Authority – Moz Link Explorer
- 8. Backlinks – Ahrefs Backlink Checker
- 9. Mobile Indexation – Zeo Mobile Indexation
- 10. Article Updating – Animalz Revive
- 11. Site Audit – SEObility
- Wrap Up
Best Free SEO Tools for Small Business
Here are our 11 favorite free SEO tools, covering specific topics ranging from site speed to content creation to backlink analysis to keyword density (and more).
1. Site Speed – Google Page Speed Insights
Good for checking page speed
As more and more people use their mobile devices for internet browsing, site speed has become increasingly important. So important that Google now says it’s a ranking factor in their search algorithms. Source
Google just announced that their new Core Web Vitals tool (which deals with site speed and usability) will be a future ranking factor. Source
In order words, a slow site will not rank as well as a faster site (all things being equal).
Beyond that, though, a slow site is a bad experience for your users. Studies have shown that over 50% of users will abandon the page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Source
Other studies have shown that conversion rates for e-commerce and lead generation drop 7% for every second a page takes to load. Source
Ok, so we’ve determined that Site Speed is a big deal, whether you’re talking about SEO or Conversions or User Experience.
A great place to turn to check out how your site is performing is with Google’s free tool Page Speed Insights.
Speed scores are done for your Mobile version as a default, which is good since that’s how Google crawls your site. Generally speaking, here is a breakdown of the scoring:
- 0-20: Yikes! You’ve definitely got some problems
- 21-50: Below average but a few tweaks and you might have things in a pretty good place.
- 51-75: Honestly not that bad. Sometimes one adjustment and you could have your site speed doing really well.
- 76+: Congrats! Your site is doing great!
If you need help with some of the techy details, we help clients with dialing in their Site Speed. The biggest culprits tend to be:
- Image sizes too big
- Not lazy loading images
Bonus: If you’re thoroughly confused by what to do with the data Google Page Speed Insights is providing, try out Dareboost. This free software tool does a really good job of prioritizing where to start, and gives a few more instructions than Google’s tool.
2. Content Creation – Answer the Public
Good for content creation ideas
Content truly is the cornerstone of good SEO. Producing high quality content gives you a number of advantages in ranking:
- More content equals more keywords to rank for, which brings in more traffic down the road
- Well researched and written content helps to establish you and your business as a trusted expert in Google’s eyes
- Tackling a wide breadth of content in your niche helps establish you as an authority in your vertical
However, one of the first challenges that comes up when you sit down to create content is the question “what do I write about?”
Sure, there are a few big and important topics that you can crank out, but that only takes you so far.
All you have to do is type in a topic, and Answer the Public will split out dozens and dozens of long tail questions that people are asking online.
These are great topics to write about!
3. Keyword Density – SEO Book
Good for keyword density and word count
Nowadays, ranking for a query isn’t as simple as picking a keyword and cramming it a bunch of times into an article.
You’ve got to have control over your keyword density, which is the ratio of times the keyword is used in relation to the total article length.
If you over-optimize for a keyword, you look spammy in Google’s eyes.
If you under-optimize for a keyword, Google has a hard time knowing what your article is about.
While the right density varies for every search query, knowing your keyword density is half the battle. And SEO Book is a fantastic free tool for examining this.
Again – there is no standard keyword density – but it is almost always better to be under-optimized than over-optimized.
We can help you tailor an article for the exact keyword density with our Article Briefs, but using SEO Book will help a lot.
4. On Page – SEO Minion
Good for on page metrics
Google is a robotic crawler (not a person), which means that what they see on your website is a lot different than what you see.
When Google crawls a page on the internet, it looks at things like Page Title, Description, and Header text to get an idea what the article is about.
It uses Schema markup to better understand what entities the page is using.
If you want to get a peek into these types of on page data points, SEO Minion is a fantastic tool.
This Chrome Extension gives you a variety of amazing stats, including:
- Word Count
- Title and Description
- Headers and Header Structure
- Schema markup
Perhaps our favorite part about using this tool is that you can quickly spy on your competitors and see what they are doing differently than you.
5. Mapping HTTPS Redirects – Varvy Redirect Mapper
Good for website technical setup
From at least 2014 on, Google has placed added emphasis on helping build a secure internet. One of the ways they do this is by promoting HTTPS as a ranking signal for websites.
It is important that all references to your website list the same address, or URL. Links pointing to the site using the following structures may be viewed as pointing to separate locations.:
To help ensure that Google understands which address to list in its search results, server redirects (301) should be put into place that point to the correct canonical destination.
A common mistake is when the final website address is not reached until multiple redirects have occurred, called a “redirect chain.”
The Varvy Redirect Mapper shows if there are any redirects in place, where redirects from each of these URL structures lead, and will display any redirect “loops” that can be caused by incorrect server settings.
6. Outreach – Hunter.io
Good for sourcing email addresses
Once you create content for your website, you need to work to actively promote it. There’s an old adage in content marketing that says that 80% of the work comes after you press publish.
Outreach can be cumbersome and time consuming. Who do you work with to promote that newly published piece of content?
One great tool for outreach is Hunter.io, which allows you to source the email contact information of the website you’re on.
Sure, you could probably use the contact form, but that usually goes to a generic inbox somewhere. And EVERYONE uses that same contact form.
Instead, if you can find a relevant email address for the person at the company you’re trying to reach, your odds of success go up dramatically.
We use the paid version of Hunter at 201 Creative when we build links for clients, and their free version is a great lightweight option!
7. Domain Authority – Moz Link Explorer
Good for evaluating domain strength
How do you know how well your domain is doing, relative to your competitors?
Or, how do you evaluate the power and strength of a company’s website that you’re looking to work with?
There are a LOT of different ways to evaluate this, and by no means are we downplaying the importance of detailed evaluation for things like this.
But a great tool to use to get a general idea is Moz’s Link Explorer. Moz has put together something they call Domain Authority score, which is a 1-100 number that quantifies your domains strength.
The higher the number, the better. And, keep in mind that it works on a logarithmic scale, so a DA 50 compared to a DA 40 is a LOT better than a DA 40 compared to a DA 30.
This metric is best to be used in a relative fashion. Meaning, use it as a comparison tool, rather than as a hard and fast piece of data.
Good for evaluating backlink profile
This might very well have to do with how darn hard it is to earn a link to your website!
Either way, having a good way to check in on the links you have to a particular page of your site is essential. Ahrefs, a favorite tool of ours around 201 Creative, provides a free option for you with their Backlink Checker.
Not only will you learn how many links you have for a page, but they give you some key metrics, such as:
- Anchor text on incoming links
- Domain Rating (DR) on incoming links
- Follow vs Do Follow
9. Mobile Indexation – Zeo Mobile Indexation
Good for evaluating mobile indexing
Google announced in December 2018 that they would start crawling the mobile version of your website, rather than the desktop. Source
This follows suite, as 58% of website visits in 2018 were from a mobile device. Source
This means that you need to pay a lot of attention to how your site looks and performs on mobile.
Zeo does a great job giving you a checklist of items for your website as it relates to mobile, making it about as simple as possible to understand any issues that are surfaced.
10. Article Updating – Animalz Revive
Good for Analyzing Outdated Content
It can be easy to miss content that you published a long time ago that is slowly slipping in ranking. As content ages, it gets more and more out of date. Newer content is published on other websites, and slowly your article slips in the rankings.
You can run reports every month in Google Analytics to diagnose this problem, but the process usually slips through the cracks at most small businesses.
Animalz Revive solves that problem. Simply give it access to your Analytics, and it will provide a lists of posts that need updating.
This tool is put together by a team of content marketers, and is really well done. Run your site through the software, and then you can get to work updating!
11. Site Audit – SEObility
Good for discovering technical problems
Nothing beats a thorough and comprehensive Site Audit. This valuable process carefully analyzes every component of your website’s technical makeup, identifying problems that might be holding it back from ranking well and also providing the reader with a bad experience.
If you can’t afford a Site Audit, though, SEObility is a decent alternative option. The tool crawls your site for technical problems, like broken links, sitemap issues, and on-page problems.
The most important thing to do is make sure you clean up any problems that you discover. Sometimes these seemingly small, minor issues can be holding you back from ranking well.
Often times, a tool like SEObility can be combined with site speed analysis and tackled together. This is where your website can really experience a big lift.
Honestly, we could have made this guide a lot longer, as there are so many high value website and SEO tools out there that are entirely free.
But, when you’re making a list of favorites, you have to be a bit choosy. Let us know any favorites that we missed!