I'm going to share with you five of my favorite, absolutely free SEO tools. These are the tools that we use every single day here at our agency. I'm going to tell you a little bit about each tool and how we use it to get the best results we can for our clients.
So, we're going to be talking about five free SEO tools. These are the tools that we use every single day. I'm going to help you peek under the hood of each of these tools and how you could start using them to get the results you're looking for.
Some of these tools do have features that you can purchase as add ons, but their basic version is free. They can really help make your work go much faster, make sure that you're really structured correctly, targeting the right things, and getting the results you want to see.
[These SEO tools] can really help make your work go much faster, make sure that you're really structured correctly, targeting the right things, and getting the results you want to see.
Here are the five tools that we're going to look at. Some of them you may already be using, or maybe you don't even consider them a tool, but I definitely do, and they're things that I use on a daily basis.
The first is Search Console. It's more than just data. It's a great tool that has a lot of other things inside of it, and when used properly can really help you grow your visibility.
Google Sheets, I've done a couple videos on Google Sheets lately. It's a tool that we use all the time. It's super simple, but it's very, very powerful.
The Detailed browser extension. And this is one of the browser extensions I featured in another video. This tool is awesome. Use it all the time. It allows us to peek under the hood very quickly and see some really great insights.
Then we've got SEOquake, which is also a browser extension that we've talked about a little bit before. But this is a great tool to get data right from the SERPs themselves.
And finally, one of our favorite tools, probably the tool that I use more than any other tool, is Screaming Frog. It does have a paid version, but you can get started with the free one. And this is an all-around workhorse. It will really help change the game.
So, the first one is Google Search Console. And it's a web service by Google, and it lets webmasters check indexing status and optimize their sites that are pulled from their knowledge panel.
I use search console for:
When you log into Search Console, you typically see something like this. As you can see here, we can see performance metrics. We can see how many clicks that we're getting, the different search engines, born Google Discover. It gives you an overview of your coverage issues and page experience.
Right here we can see a few things that we need to fix. And you can actually log in or go a little bit deeper into some of these and figure out what's causing these issues, again, like unparsable structured data. This is probably because it's taking a quote from a blog article and it's messed up some of the article markups. That's typically the error we see here. Or the amp issues that we need to go, tweak, and fix. So, it's telling us these things that we can go in and make changes with.
Let's say, I wanted to fix this unparsable structured data. I could click on it, and it's going to show me that I've got 12 issues right now and saying that there's a parsing error. So, I can look at one of these sites here like oversimplification, and it's going to pull this up, and there you go. Inside the description, it's actually pulled in this description with quotes, and that's what's causing this to break.
So, I actually need to go back to this page and remove those quotes because I can't have another set of quotes here inside the description because that's going to screw up the JSON. So, that's something I can go and fix. And thanks to Search Console giving me that information here, and telling me exactly where it is in the line of code. This is not just a tool that you would use to look at clicks, impressions, and keywords.
Down a little bit lower, though, we've also got the session which is legacy tools and reports, and you've got links. This is a new section that I think is pretty good. It's relatively new, I guess, speaking in the world of Search Console. You can see the top pages from an external link standpoint, top linking sites to your site, top anchor text is with people linking to your site, and you can see the internal links.
I use this quite a bit for internal linking. If I want to figure out maybe there's a page that I want to improve the internal linking on, I can look at these target links, and then I can figure out, which pages are missing, or which pages should I improve the links on here.
This page has got a lot of internal links. Some of that's coming from navigation. Search Console doesn't break that out for you, but at least it is a pretty good tool to really understand the linking structure of your website as well.
So, Search Console's got a lot of things that you can do. Under the more features would be these legacy tools, things like URL parameters and the web tools, and if you've had any issues with links, maybe the disavow tool. All of these are under the umbrella of Search Console, and they can be very useful to people who want to know how their website is doing.
What are some of the things I need to do as far as page experience, core web vitals, mobile usability, or we can get into the enhancements with our structured data and how we're performing in the SERPs, as well as some information on how our site's being targeted and even going into links.
So, Search Console is a really good and free tool. You just have to sign up for a Google account and you've got access to this. And you could really start to understand how Google understands your site and your pages.
The next tool that I use on a daily basis is Google Sheets, and it's a spreadsheet program. It's part of their Google Docs suite, and it's something that I use all the time.
I use it for:
Years ago, I was not somebody that would use even Excel or anything like that. I was scared of those programs. I didn't feel like I was good enough with all the different functions and stuff that you had to do. But as I slowed it down and took time to learn these programs, they've become extremely useful. And Sheets is one of those programs that's extremely useful.
Let me show you a little bit of how I use Sheets. I do have two other videos that go very in-depth on how to perform a SERP audit; 6 Google Sheets Functions every SEO Should Know and How to Use Google Sheets for SERP Analysis. I highly recommend you to check those out and learn the functions that SEOs need to know because that will help you really take your Sheets game to a whole new level.
So, Google Sheets is a spreadsheet tool. It's simple to use, and you can use it any way you want. I like it a lot better than Excel nowadays just because of some of the other built-in functions, specifically one we use all the time when we're building trend graph. We get the trend data from SEMrush and we want to strip it out. You can use sparkline, which is pretty cool. It makes quick graphs for you.
But you can do it, everything from graph visualization to doing BI to actually doing analysis. So, quickly I could run a search result and pool some data from the search results just using Google Sheets. So, I could type in URL here, which is Google Sheets.
This is a little browser extension, instead of copying and pasting all the URLs. This is something I got from the guys over at Detailed. They're really, really smart. Go ahead and click this. We've got these two Wikipedia links. This isn't a very good SERP, so let's try something else. Right? Let's do SEO tools. And let's extract the URL. So, now I've got just a list of URLs.
Let's say I was trying to do a piece of content on this, and I wanted to see what would be a common title tag. So, I could go over here and type title, and then I could just use a Sheets function. In this case, I would use one that we talked about in that other video called IMPORTXML where I can actually say, "Look at this URL, and then give me back the title of that URL."
And so, Moz here is actually pulling some other things here like their logo and all that. So, it's going to break some things underneath this when I pull this down because of that one up here. But as you can see, the Moz one's broken, and these value ones actually don't work because there's nothing in those. But I can easily clean that up by using a filter.
That's another thing that's really awesome about Sheets. I can filter this stuff and get the information I need very quickly. So, I can go ahead, Moz the ones that are breaking stuff. So, I'm just going to ignore those ones, delete these selected rows, and now I pulled all those title tags from the search results.
And I can look at what are some of these titles that maybe I need to look at. Looks like when it comes to SEO tools like this video, listicles are really popular. So, I would probably need to write something within a listicle format or at least something that goes alongside that because that's what Google is expecting because they found that it's probably what the user is intending.
Now, this is just a quick way to use Google Sheets. You can use it to build programs even. There's a lot of tools out there that use Sheets or Excel-based tools, spreadsheet-based tools, to actually develop SEO tools. And I've done that before, like content generators where you build a bunch of different options and you create variables.
So, this is a really way to start building and creating some of your own tools. You don't have to be a programmer or wizard to use it. Just find other things that people are doing online and take it and make it your own. But Sheets is a really awesome tool and allows you to do a lot of cool things. There's also a lot of cool add-ons that you can get for Sheets as an SEO. You can get the Google Sheets Analytics add-on where you can actually pool your Google analytics in here. You can get search analytics pooled right into here.
You could use the Moz API, connect to Moz, and sign up for your Moz account. If you've got any API access, and I know Moz has different levels, too, where can do some free. So, if you want access to all the metrics, you got to upgrade here. Let's say I wanted to look at domain authority or something. I could easily do that by taking one of these URLs. Let's do Brian Dean's site over here, Backlinko, and pull it in here and say, "Get the data." And they let me do 10 URLs every 10 seconds.
So, I could put this in here, and Moz would tell me some information right into Google Sheets. So, last time it was crawled, they're really just going to give me access to page authority and domain authority. Let's say you want to know the domain authority and the page authority of a bunch of pages. You could use Moz to do that for you. It's absolutely free, it's going to import it right into Google Sheets, and it's going to allow you to work from inside here. A very cool tool, something that I highly recommend if you're not using spreadsheets. Check out those videos that I did. I think they'll help you quite a bit.
The next tool is a browser extension, and it's the detailed browser extension. It allows you to get really good SEO insights with a click. It's built by SEOs for SEOs, so that's a really cool thing as well. A lot of really good information over at detailed.com. If you haven't any of that stuff, or you don't know much about them, or if you don't know much about them or Glen and what they're doing there, I highly recommend you check out their website, but this extension's pretty stinking cool, too.
I use it to:
So, since we already pulled up this site from the SEO tools example, we can actually run the Detailed browser extension here. It works in Chrome. Here's the analysis. It's going to give me the title. It's within the right character limit, the description, and the URL. It's got canonical links. They're using robot index and follow tags. I've got word count. If they've got images, I'd be able to see that. I can see what kind of header structure they're using and images and links.
But I can go up here, see the headings and the breakdown of this piece of content. What are the different things that they're talking about and how is it broken down? I can look at the total links to this page, both internal links as well as external links from this page. I can take a look at the images. How many images are here, how many have alt tags, and how many have titles or not.
I can look at the structured data to see what kind of structured data they're using here. It looks mostly like website, organizational, structured data, and some lists of structured data. I can look at the social graph, so things like Open Graph or Twitter Cards, and then quick links to some other tools out here. This is a really cool tool. So, you can see, we can do a lot of pretty awesome things. I can even highlight no follow links if they've got any of those going on, and I can also do some cool search operators here.
Like, let's say I want to do a site domain search on Backlinko. I could do it right here. And I can look at just Google search from the visibility of Backlinko. Or let's say I wanted to perform any page, just check to see if any page isn't secure. I can do a search like this. And there's really just one page here that looks like a really old page and obviously not important.
But this is where you can find pages maybe that are lacking HTTPS. So, it really helps you optimize really quickly or just get some insights quickly. You can go to somebody and say, "Hey, did you know you had 20 pages that are not secure?" So, you can see all this comes from just one plugin that you can just click around. It's a very cool tool. I highly recommend it. Also works on Firefox.
So, as I spend a lot of time looking at SERPs themselves, having some extra data can be really helpful, and that's where SEOquake comes in. It's a free browser extension, but it helps you in a number of different ways.
I like to use it for:
Let's say you were trying to rank a page for this term, best time for a webinar. Once I turn on SEOquake, it starts to pull in some pretty cool data here. Now, if you've got a subscription to SEMrush, you can get a lot more information, but you don't have to have one. So, let's zoom in to see the type of information SEOquake will give us.
So, if you have a free SEMrush account, that's all you need is a free account, and you will actually get some more information. So, I highly recommend if you're not using SEMrush, we actually use it as a paid level. I think it's a really, really good tool. But even if you want to get more out of this tool, SEOquake, having a free SEMrush account is really, really worth it.
So, you would just click connect here, and I would connect my account. Now that I've actually connected it, I'm going to get a lot more data. What it's going to tell me is the domain score, the trust score, how many visits approximately this site is getting, what's their average page per visit, the average time and bounce rate. It can give me the amount of pages indexed in Google, the links, the linking domains, Bing data, Alexa data, how old the page is, and any Facebook information.
I can look up the whois, display ads, and SEM rank. I mean, there's a ton of information I can pull straight from here. It does it all the way down the search results because I can start to see, what might be some of the factors that are influencing this page; is it the amount of links they have? Is it the visibility they're getting another areas?
This is actually one thing that was really help me. This tool was really helpful early on to really debunk a lot of the noise I was hearing in SEO. When you start to look at these pages, page by page, you take this data and actually scrape it - I can go here and export this to a CSV and put it in Sheets - you can start to see that some of the things that people say, "This is what makes everybody rank," isn't always true.
You'll notice here in some cases, you'll have a page right here. It's got 61 links to this page. Goto.com right now has two to this page because GoToMeetings changed their URL. But this one's ranking higher. So, obviously there's a lot of other factors, considering the fact that this is linked to GoToMeeting and all that. But links themselves aren't the only things that affect ranking here. And looking at a tool like this, being able to look at the SERP reports and understand that it can really help to make sure that you're focusing your strategy in the right areas.
Another thing that SEOquake does, it allows you to can set your own parameters. So, you can look at Google cache data. You can set all of these, what you want to look at, what's important, what's not important. There's even more settings that you can get into. You can look at this SERP report and a total sheet like this, which, again, is really helpful. We can look, is there any Facebook data? It doesn't look like it is. We're not seeing much of this Google index data, and that could just be their tool.
I can look at the Bing index, the Alexa rank, the web archive if that's working, I can look at the SEMrush rank, which is how much traffic these pages are getting in the SEMrush tool. I can also look at backlinks, so the subdomain backlinks versus the root domain backlinks. So, what's some of the parameters here? What's working. So, that's pretty awesome.
And this is all straight from the search results. I can export it. I can set a location. So, let's say you're doing SEO in a different country. I can actually set the country or a language. I can sort this page by a certain parameter so I can organize it in a different way. Really helps me take more control.
And here's another thing that's really cool. So, let's say you're doing keyword research. SEOquake is going to give me difficulties from the Google database for this keyword right here at the top as well. And I can actually get a full keyword report. So, this goes right to SEMrush. You're going to get more information if you have the full tool and not just the free version, but it actually will help you do some keyword research as well, and right from the SERPs. That's what I really like about it is as I'm looking through the search results, I can get real time data about the links that I'm looking for.
Now, SEO tools are not perfect. Not all data points are 100% accurate, but at least it's a baseline. It's something that you can get started on and say, "Okay, here are some of the things that I'm seeing based on the search engine's results and the data around the sites that are ranking." So, it's a pretty cool little plugin as well. It's a great tool that we use pretty much every single day.
So, I saved the best tool for last, and this is Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a web crawler, and it helps you do a lot of things, mainly focusing on on-site factors, extracting data and doing audits for SEO issues. You get 500 URLs for free, so that's pretty awesome. So, you can do smaller sites, but you can also do some pretty massive sites with this. We've crawled some pretty large websites and did some very, very specific, deep dives with it.
We use it for:
There's so much this tool can do, and we've barely even scratched the surface. I literally use this tool every single day. So, I'm going to walk you through this tool, why it's so awesome, and how you can get started to leverage it to really help improve your SEO visibility as well.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a web crawler, and it helps you do a lot of things, mainly focusing on on-site factors, extracting data, and doing audits for SEO issues.
You can use Screaming Frog in a number of ways. Probably the most common way to use it is to run a site audit where you put your site domain up here. You would be in what's called the spider mode. And you would run your URL in here, hit start, and it would crawl all the pages on your site, and all different types of pages.
You can see here, we've got everything from text to CSS to images. Over here, there's always a summary of what's going on, so all the URLs it encountered, anything that was possibly blocked. Then you can look at your data. Right here, it'll visualize it underneath. So, let's say you wanted to look at security. It'll tell you, here's the HTTP URLs versus the HTTPS, if there's anything that you need to take a look at.
You can look at the URLs themselves. Are they structured correctly? Are you using the right format? We can look at page titles, see if anything's over the character limit or below. And as you notice over here on the big screen, everything's changing as well. We can go into meta descriptions, look at keywords, header tags, content of the page and word count.
If you set up spelling and grammar, which is actually under here in the configuration, you actually can set up spelling and grammar, and it'll check your spelling and your grammar errors. So, you can see that as well. It'll tell you whether one page is indexable or not. It'll look at your structured data if you set it up to do that. You can take a look at your site maps and page speed. There's so many cool things that you can do with this tool that barely scratch the surface. I probably should do a whole video just on Screaming Frog.
What's also pretty cool is you can set up APIs here. So, you can hook up Google Analytics in Search Console and page speed insights. It's also got some third-party tools like Majestic SEO, Ahrefs, or Moz. We use this quite a bit and we're doing a big crawl, and we're trying to understand like which pages are popular. And we can pool the data right from Google Analytics and attach it to those pages and start to do some of that analysis.
You can do some cool things with internal linking as well. I mean, you can pool the Google page speed insights as well. There's so many awesome things you can do. You can look at the response times of your website. You can look at the overall structure of your website and how it's built out. This tool is so packed full of awesome things. Like I said, you're barely scratching the surface.
And as you begin to click on certain URLs, you get more data and information about those specific ones right here. So, I can narrow the homepage out, and I can look at the status code and all the things that are specific to this URL. I can look at the internal links. I can look at the outlinks. I can look at the images on this and the details with those images. I can actually pool them in here and see what they look like.
I can look at all the resources that are associated with it. I can look at how it would look within the search results. So, here's the snippet. And I can start to play around with rewriting those and what they would look like. Like I said, there's just so much that you can do with this tool. It's pretty awesome.
What's also cool is the visualizations. Let's say you want to see how your site looks from a crawl tree graph, and you can really begin to understand your website and how it's made up, how it's built out. And so, we've got the simplified search page, and then we've got the different ways that these pages are being crawled and moved through here. If it's green, it means it's indexable. If it's red, it means it's not. And there are certain pages that we don't have indexable for certain reasons on this site, but at least we can see. And we know you might be able to pull this and go, wow, we're not even letting ourselves index this. What's going on? We probably should fix that. Right? And so, that's one cool graph.
And then you've also got a directory tree graph, which looks at all your different directories and how it's built out. So, we've got the entire website here, whether it's our core site or whether it's going to be the site with our content and everything that we've got around there. So, those are the things that we want to look at.
And actually right here, I actually want to index my author page. I think that's something very important because I want Google to know that I'm the author of this site so they can pass some of that authority to this site as well. So, that's something I need to fix. And again, without some of these tools, I wouldn't actually be able to see that as quickly as I would like to. So, there's definitely some things that I could clean up on this site.
It's also got some really cool force-directed graphs. You can also look at your EnLink anchor clouds, so you can see what are the internal links on your site and how they're coming across. These make for pretty good visualizations to share with clients. You can even run what's called the crawl analysis afterwards, which adds more information.
One of my favorite things about this tool is that it will actually calculate an EnLink score. So, it will calculate how strong my pages are internally, and what is the score that those pages gains, kind of like an internal page rank. It's a very useful piece of information to know because it helps me to pass the authority to other pages if I need to improve that, or maybe I want to make sure that things are easier to get to from one page or another.
This tool has got so many features. It would take me hours and hours to go through it all. If you're not using Screaming Frog, I highly recommend that you check this tool out because it will give you awesome insights. And it's a free tool, which is cooler than anything else. But if you like it, and you're getting a lot of use out of it, I highly recommend that you pay for it, too, because it's one of the most amazing tools that we use all the time.
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