For anyone starting up a business on their own, there are going to be elements of the process that require steep learning curves. As a micropreneur you’re in charge of your own education, finding out which tools work the best, what practices you need to educate yourself with and where you’re lacking in information. One subject that needs the right tools is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and there are some free SEO tools to get you started.
One of the more trickier learning curves you might come across is SEO which is how potential customers will find you in search results. SEO can be an involved process trying to get your head around it.
Thankfully we’ve come up with 10 of the best free SEO tools out there to make your life easier as a solo business. Each will help you overcome a different element of your sites SEO process, while remaining fairly easy to use and of course, free.
10 Tools to make your SEO efforts a breeze for free
1. Content Strategy Helper
This free SEO tool from SEOgadget, helps you to plan your content strategy by using keyword research and providing an estimated audience size. It’s based in a Google Sheets format, making it incredibly easy to use and save – you simply need to create a copy of the original to get started.
The Content Strategy Helper works by pulling in data from Google, based on the keyword you add into the sheet. Press enter and the sheet populates with results relevant to your keyword, to help you come up with popular content topics that are already doing well in your niche.
As a Solopreneur you’re likely to have a very limited amount of money to spend on paid advertising. So it’s important to spend it as cost effectively as possible to acquire new customers.
iSpionage is a free SEO tool that is used mainly for researching competition for PPC. Using iSpionage you can enter a keyword, say “shopping cart”, and see the top 10 PPC advertisers on Google Adwords and on Bing Ads. Alternatively, if you want to see what keywords a competitor might be bidding on you can enter a domain and iSpionage gives you a list of keywords.
The really handy feature is that you can also see a sample of the top five ads for the keyword free. More ads are available to paid subscribers. This is very useful to providing ideas for potential copy when creating your own ads. You can also see which landing pages they’re directing visitors to.
You can also see the top ten SEO competitors for your keyword and see related keywords (which is only available for paid users).
You can do a limited number of searches for free before having to upgrading to be a paid member.
Another useful feature for paid members only is the Keyword Monitor Dashboard and Competitor Alert. These allow you to keep track of your rankings for keywords, or you’ll know when competitors make a change to their ads or campaigns. You’ll be alerted when they start bidding on new keywords or change their ad copy.
3. Google Keyword Planner
Still one of the best ways to research keywords for your niche, the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, allows you to search through millions of keywords in order to find the perfect ones for your business.
Searching is easy, simply enter your keyword ideas, set your parameters and hit enter. Google will do the hard work by filtering through its data, providing you with results relevant to your search term.
You can filter your results by average monthly searches, competition, relevancy and more. Once you’ve found the keywords you’re most happy with, you can then proceed to craft valuable content for your audience around them – all for free.
4. Google Trends
Google Trends is an invaluable resource that everyone should be utilizing, if they’re serious about building their audience and growing their search traffic. This tool provides you with some of the most popular search terms that Google users are searching for.
You can filter the results in a manner of ways. See what’s currently trending in that exact moment, analyze trends for a previous year or month and get an overview of what’s trending globally.
Further to this, you can set up an email alert based on a particular term you’re interested in. Whenever that term begins to trend, Google will email you straight away, allowing you to jump onto the trend-wave before it crests.
5. Free SEO Tools for Excel
If feel at home when playing with an Excel spreadsheet, then you’ll going go love this tool. This useful free SEO tool from Niels Bosma has been around for a while but is still a handy add-on for Microsoft Excel which provides you with powerful SEO tools, right from within your spreadsheet.
Some of those functions include:
Debugging and analysis on page
Analyzing your backlinks
Researching for domains
Pulling data from Google Analytics
There’s plenty more where that came from and while you might not need all of the tools on offer with this add-on, it certainly makes life a little simpler.
Ubersuggest is a friendly keyword suggestion tool, without the bells and whistles that come with Google Keyword Planner. While it may not necessarily look as sleek as Google’s offering, Ubersuggest is nonetheless just as useful. Ubersuggest is a great free SEO tool to use to get ideas for blog post articles on specific topics.
Where this tool excels however is in its user-friendliness – perfect if you’re a busy solopreneur who’s on the go. Simply enter your keyword idea, click your preferred language and away you go.
Search results are displayed in alphabetical order. Clicking on a result will provide you with additional suggestions based on that term. Ubersuggest then searches for your base term, adding either a letter or number after or before it, giving you plenty of results to choose from.
7. WordPress SEO by Yoast
Probably one of the best known WordPress SEO plugins you will ever download, the other being All in One SEO.
SEO by Yoast makes optimizing your website content an absolute dream. The plugin offers basic verification options for Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, Alexa and Pinterest as well as connecting with Facebook, Twitter and Google for things like Authorship and Twitter Cards.
In a post or page’s edit mode, Yoast analyzes your content based on a traffic light system. Add your post’s title, target keyword and meta data and the plugin will provide a score based on your content. Red is bad SEO, amber is average or “could do better”, while green is good.
Within a separate tab, there’s a breakdown of your post’s score which explains where you may be going wrong with your SEO. It’ll also provide tips on how you can improve your score – helping you to gain that elusive green light.
8. Open Site Explorer
Open Site Explorer is another free SEO tool from Moz, that will provide you with important metrics to gauge how well your website is doing. The free version offers limited data, yet even so this data can be valuable to users who just want a basic overview of their site’s health.
All you need to do is enter your URL into the search box and you’ll be provided with your results. Open Site Explorer will tell you what your Domain Authority and Page Authority is. It’ll show you how many links have recently been discovered for your site and show which links are already established. Beneath these results, will also be an overview of domains linking in to your website, including their own DA and PA.
Are you aware of current plagiarism rules? Did you know that Google penalises sites with duplicate web content? Both of these are things that you need to be clued up about when creating content for the web. Copying other people’s work can not only land you with a legal case on your hands, but will also damage any SEO efforts you’ve been working on.
Thankfully Copyscape can kill two birds with one stone, by scanning any text you input into its system for copying and plagiarism. This resource is invaluable if you tend to outsource your content writing to freelancers, as it will provide you with the peace of mind and confidence of knowing that it’s completely original work.
10. Pingdom Website Speed Test
Lastly the speed of your website can dramatically influence where and how your site appears in search engines. Generally if it takes more than three seconds to load a webpage, your reader will likely move on, abandoning your site for something faster.
Pingdom’s Website Speed Test tool analyzes your website and ranks its speed for you. You’ll get an overall score based on all of the websites already analyzed through the tool, your average page speed and size, along with a breakdown on which pages, images and plugins take up the most resources.
This is an ideal tool if you’ve got a slow website but don’t know how to speed it up. By looking at your results you might decide that your images need to be optimized, or a certain plugin is eating up your resources. With this level of detail you can take steps to fix these problems and ultimately improve your website’s loading time.
This list of tools is by no means an exhaustive one. A simple web search will bring up hundreds of options with a little digging. However, these tools are great for starting out, doing enough to give you a handle on things, without melting your brain in the process.
Do you know of any more free SEO tools that aren’t on our list? Tell us about any you use in the comments section below.