Our Top Free SEO Tools for 2018

You wouldn’t embark on a home DIY project without first checking that you have the necessary tools to get the job done. We believe the same thinking should be applied to your online marketing efforts.

At MarketTap we always ask ourselves: “How can we work smarter and faster for our clients to help them become the best marketers for their business?” It starts with having an essential toolkit to ensure we can do the best job possible.

With this in mind, we have put together some of the free SEO tools that have improved our toolkit tremendously. These tools will not only help your website rank higher for key search terms by providing crucial insights and actionable next steps, they are also all free, which means that you can put them to use straight away! These tools cover a wide range of ranking factors and allow you to better understand where your website currently stands.

Read on for our top SEO tools, covering five critical areas of SEO success factors.

On-The-Page Factors

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual pages on your website in order to make them more search engine friendly.

While there are many factors that fall under this broad umbrella, they can be grouped into three areas:

  • Content
  • Site architecture and performance
  • HTML

Each of these areas can be easily controlled once you have a good understanding of what you’re working with, so this is a great way to get your site on the path to improved search traffic.

CONTENT TOOLS

You may have heard the phrase “Content is King” a handful times if you work in the digital industry or alongside it. So, it’s no surprise that Google has stated repeatedly that content is one of its top three ranking factors.

High-quality SEO content is based on a thorough knowledge of your audience, as well as keyword and user intent research. These two free tools will help you optimize your content.

1. Google Trends

One important element of SEO is whether the content is fresh and about “hot and trending topics”. An excellent and completely free tool is Google Trends, which allows you to track the interest over time for certain search topics. We can see below in the graph how the interest in the search term “Trump” has exploded in recent years. You can also use the tool to see the relative popularity of search terms, compare interests by region and find related queries. This insight allows you to focus new content on keywords that are trending in the right direction – skywards!

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2. Copyscape

Copyscape allows you to enter a URL from your blog or website and find out whether this content exists somewhere else online. You may be wondering: “Why does it matter if this content exists somewhere else?” While not technically a Google penalty, duplicate content can still impact your search engine rankings negatively because it makes it more difficult for search engines to decide which version of this content is most relevant. Avoid copying and pasting content and instead, link to similar articles that relate to what you’re writing.

ARCHITECTURE TOOLS

The right architecture on your website can help your SEO efforts flourish, while the wrong architecture can actually undo a lot of your efforts. Site architecture refers to a broad set of ranking factors that are built into your websites, such as descriptive URLs, site speed, mobile-friendliness and site crawl-ability.

3. Google Page Speed Insights

Google Page Speed Insights allows you to check the speed and usability of your site on both desktop and mobile. The best part? This tool also identifies opportunities to improve your website, from optimizing images to minimizing HTML or JavaScript.

With 60% of searches from mobile, Google is increasingly rewarding websites that are mobile friendly. Google Page Speed Insights provides you with a user experience score, ensuring key elements of your website like font size are optimized for mobile.

This might sound a little overwhelming (we hear you!), so we have put together a list of our top website plugins that can help you optimize your site here.

HTML Tools

HTML is the underlying code used to create web pages. Search engines pick up ranking signals from specific HTML elements. While HTML may sound like it requires you to have serious technical expertise, this is not necessarily the case. The following two free tools make it easy to improve and understand this area of SEO.

4. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a collection of tools and resources that help marketers monitor their website performance in Google’s search index (Google’s search index refers to all of the pages collected and stored by Google).

One useful report within search console, is the HTML improvements report. As mentioned above, HTML is the underlying code used to create web pages and a crucial element of SEO. The HTML improvement section is where Google highlights HTML issues with your website, such as duplicate content (discussed above), missing meta tags (snippets of text that describe a page’s content), and more! This report helps ensure that your search results look as good as possible.

5. Yoast

We recently wrote about Yoast in our 5 Free WordPress plugins, so it’s no secret that we are big fans of this awesome SEO plugin. Yoast allows you to ensure that the HTML title tags, meta description tags, headlines and subheading tags, are optimized with keywords you want to target. Its free version is very robust and very easy-to-use, even for those with little SEO or WordPress experience.

Off-The-Page Factors

“Off-site” SEO is a little trickier to predict and improve, as it relates largely to factors outside your immediate control. Optimizing “off-site” means improving a search engine’s perception of how popular and relevant your website is, which ultimately comes down to whether your content is trustworthy.

While “off-site SEO” can really make a difference to your overall SEO efforts, it requires a lot of strategy and hard-work (i.e. online PR). The free off-site SEO tools below will help you get started on the path to success!

TRUST & LINKS

6. Moz Open Site Explorer

Moz allows you to explore factors such as the number of links, shares and other factors on your website that make a site a trusted authority. This tool also allows you to research backlinks in detail, find link-building opportunities and discover potentially damaging links with its Open Site Explorer Tool.

SOCIAL MEDIA SIGNALS

While there is a debate in the world of SEO about the importance of social media signals, it can be agreed upon that marketers should not dismiss the impact social has on SEO. For starters, increased traffic from social media can significantly impact search rankings, as more traffic to a webpage sends a signal to Google that this content is important!

Want to improve your social media performance? A good place to start is with a social media audit.

Conclusion

It can be difficult to get all of the factors that impact your SEO performance right. If you’re looking for a deeper understanding but aren’t sure where to begin, MarketTap offers SEO services for small businesses that aim to provide achievable and tangible results. Book a marketer today to find out how we can help.