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Erika Varagouli

The 17 Best Free SEO Tools You Should Use in 2020

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Erika Varagouli
The 17 Best Free SEO Tools You Should Use in 2020

A full suite of fantastic SEO tools can make seemingly impossible jobs possible and make our working lives much easier.

The problem is that a full suite of such luxuries is not exactly cheap.

Thankfully, there is no shortage of free SEO tools that can take pride of place on your marketing mantelpiece, so we have broken down the 17 best ones that we think you should be using in 2020.

You will find them grouped into the categories below to make it easy for you to find specific features when you need them: 

You can also take a look at our guide to the best free keyword research tools for even more useful resources.

Free Technical SEO Tools

Identifying and managing technical issues on a site should be part of any SEO workflow. Here are some free tools to help you do that: 


Google Search Console

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is where you can gain insights into your site's organic performance, and any reported issues such as notifications of manual action penalties. Every SEO concerned with ranking well on Google should be familiar with it. 

What it can do:

You can get a full rundown on the tool in our definitive guide to Google Search Console, but as a quick summary, here are some of its main uses:

  • Understanding your site's SEO performance in terms of clicks, impressions, CTR, and average positions on an individual keyword level - ultimately helping you plan a growth strategy;
  • Inspecting URLs to identify crawling and indexing issues that could prevent it from showing on the SERPs;
  • Finding coverage errors and the cause of these (404 errors, crawl issues, pages blocked by robots.txt and more);
  • Submitting a sitemap;
  • Finding manual actions and security issues;
  • Gaining insights into the backlinks and internal links that Google knows about;
  • Request the indexation of a URL;
  • Informing Google of a domain name change.

We love it because:

It is the best place to see the exact issues that Google sees when it crawls and indexes your site.

On a page-by-page level, you are able to test a URL to understand exactly how Googlebot interprets it, including the user-declared and Google-selected canonical, the date it was last crawled, and much more.

It is the first place you should go to diagnose any issues regarding the way your site appears on the SERPs. Google Search Console URL Inspect


Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights

Site speed is not only a ranking factor, but it also impacts the user experience (UX) of your site. Slow pages can prevent conversions and damage rankings, so Google's free PageSpeed Insights tool is a great way to keep on top of this.

What it can do:

You can use the Google PageSpeed Insights tool to understand your site's PageSpeed score and learn how to improve it by fixing highlighted issues.

Even if you are not overly technical, you will be able to see the main areas that are affecting the speed of your site, such as image load time or server issues, as well as the areas that are performing well. 

We love it because:

It gives you clear suggestions for improvements to your site, and also indicates how much time can be saved by making them - it's a great way to fine-tune your website's performance.

Google PageSpeed insights opportunities


Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing has a market share of 25% in the US, which makes it far too big an opportunity to ignore by focusing on Google alone. Bing Webmaster Tools exists to help you manage your site's appearance on the search engine. 

What it can do:

You can get a whole host of insights into your site on Bing Webmaster Tools, including a summary of how well your site is performing and the areas on which you need to focus to improve. It helps you understand how users are finding your site to allow you to prioritize improvements, diagnose site issues and receive alerts and notifications from Bing.

There is a chance your competitors are turning blind eyes to Bing, so you might be able to use this to your advantage.

We love it because:

Bing Webmaster Tools actually gives you more insights into your site's performance than Google Search Console.

It offers an SEO analysis tool (namely, SEO Analyzer) that gives best practice recommendations, which even bypasses your robots.txt file to allow you to check pages you aren't yet ready to index.

Bing SEO Analyzer


SEMrush

SEMrush

SEMrush is the comprehensive SEO toolkit that, amongst many other things, allows you to keep on top of all technical matters related to the optimization of your site.

What it can do:

While there are a number of different pricing plans to choose from, a free subscription provides a range of opportunities:

  • You can perform up to 10 searches a day in our Domain Analytics and Keyword Analytics databases;
  • You can use the Keyword Magic tool (without saving searches);
  • You can create and manage a single project (each project includes 12 individual tools);
  • You can crawl up to 100 pages of your site with the Site Audit tool to find issues and opportunities (if you have a registered SEMrush account; a limited crawl of 25 pages is available without an account and can be done here);
  • You can track the positions of up to 10 keywords in the Position Tracking tool;
  • You are given a total of 10 SEO Idea units per month.

Find out more about what you can do with a free subscription here, including checking for up to 130 technical and SEO issues on your site within minutes.

SEMrush site audit

We love it because:

From keyword research through to technical SEO auditing, reporting, and competitive research, SEMrush's free subscription offers a wealth of features that will make your life easier. It will even give you access to free extensions like SEOquake and glimpses of paid add-on features like the Growth Quadrant for competitive landscape analysis.


Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Screaming Frog SEO Spider allows you to crawl up to 500 URLs with a free account, which allows for a good level of insight into technical issues. 

What it can do:

Unlike many other crawlers, Screaming Frog is a desktop-based tool for analyzing and auditing technical SEO issues. From finding broken links and auditing redirects to analyzing meta data and discovering duplicate content, this powerful tool can be used for sites large and small.

We love it because: 

Screaming Frog makes it easy to export your findings to a spreadsheet to be used for informing SEO recommendations, so the range of possible analyses can make for useful strategic insights in the long-term. 


Sloth

Sloth

Sloth helps you use Cloudflare Workers, along with their extensive network of global data centers, to set 301 and 302 redirects, implement hreflang, conduct A/B testing, modify your robots.txt file, and even collect log files.

What it can do:

When working at enterprise level, it is not uncommon to encounter roadblocks when trying to implement solutions to fairly common SEO tasks, such as redirects to hreflang tags. 

Sloth lets you use Cloudflare Workers to execute JavaScript on the side without impacting the underlying infrastructure, which means you are able to clear any obstacles to get your tasks done. 

We love it because:

This free tool puts you back in control of many essential SEO tasks, so you don't need to rely on developers or find workarounds to restrictions imposed by a CMS or a server.


Hreflang Tags Testing Tool

Hreflang Tags Testing Tool

Google's John Mueller has previously said that implementing hreflang is one of the most complex parts of SEO; using Merkle's hreflang Tags Testing Tool is one way to make it that little bit easier to check for any errors.

What it can do:

Whether you are implementing hreflang tags in HTML, HTTP headers, or an XML sitemap, mistakes can be easy to make.

This free tool from Merkle lets you enter a URL, select a user agent, and test your implementation to help you spot issues and resolve them as soon as possible. 

Merkle's hreflang testing tool

We love it because:

It means you can spot problems with hreflang implementation within minutes, and understand the alternate URLs and the targeted region. 

Diagnosing such issues can be time-consuming and frustrating, but when you are able to see the annotations presented in a clear format, spotting that one incorrect tag couldn't be simpler.


Free On-Page SEO Tools

Given that WordPress now powers 35% of the web, there is a reasonable chance that it is your CMS of choice. If it is, there are many free tools that can help you get the most out of the platform from an on-page SEO perspective.

Let's look at a few here.


Rank Math

Rank Math

Rank Math is arguably becoming the go-to WordPress SEO plugin, with more than 300,000 installations to date. 

What it can do:

The tool covers everything from optimizing your page titles and meta descriptions and monitoring 404 errors, to creating XML sitemaps and identifying fresh content opportunities. 

It will even recommend the ideal settings to help you run a fully optimized WordPress site.

Rank Math’s SEO suite includes the following features:

Rank Math Features

We love it because:

Unlike some WordPress SEO plugins, you get complete control over what you use and what you don’t thanks to its modular framework, which means you can pick and choose your features with more freedom than you would get with an all-in-one plugin.  Rank Math modules


Yoast

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a free WordPress plugin that makes optimizing your site as simple and straightforward as it should be for beginners.

What it can do:

Since it is fully integrated with the Gutenberg WordPress editor, Yoast SEO gives you complete control over your site's optimization for specific keywords. Its built-in support also means that complex tasks like adding structured data blocks for how-tos and FAQs are made much easier. 

Yoast structured data blocks

We love it because:

Yoast SEO makes it incredibly straightforward to manage your on-page optimization yourself, so it is great for people who run their own business.

Once you have entered the focus keyword for a page, the tool gives you a number of pointers for must-fix problems and improvements, but it also shows you what you have already optimized correctly. 

It uses a simple traffic light system that shows where improvements can be made on a page-by-page basis, so it is a great way to look after the individual elements of your onsite optimization efforts.

Yoast SEO plugin suggestions


Free Link Building Tools

Building great links is a game of patience, but there are many ways to optimize the process with tools to make sure you are being as productive as possible. Here are some great examples:


Hunter

Hunter

One of the most time-consuming tasks in an outreach campaign is finding the correct email address for prospects, but this is where hunter.io can save you hours on Google or social media. The best bit is that you can use it for free to find up to 50 email addresses every month.

What it can do:

Hunter provides a way to find the most common email pattern for a particular domain, so you can be confident you are pitching to the right address. It can save you hours of work (and frustration) on each campaign.

We love it because:

Each returned email address comes with a confidence score based on where it has been found (and a link to each source). 

This is a great way to figure out the email structure at any given publication - all you need is a name.

Hunter.io find email


HARO

HARO

Earning links from the press isn't easy. In fact, it is a link building tactic that many SEOs struggle with, but HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a great way for you to receive and respond to specific requests for sources and quotes that journalists put out each day. 

What it can do:

HARO will send you three source request emails every weekday, broken down by industry. Within these, you will find requests from journalists across a range of chosen topics.

If you see a request that aligns with your expertise and you could easily provide a suitable quote, you can go ahead and respond to it to share your insights. If yours is chosen as a source, you could see yourself featured in the final article alongside a link to your site. 

HARO email

We love it because:

It makes it easy for anyone to earn great links from the press simply by sharing their expertise. It should only take a few minutes each day to check through the source requests, but the opportunities can be huge. 

Those without PR experience, a dedicated team, or a big budget can still benefit from authoritative links with minimal effort and resource. 


Streak

Streak

Streak is a free Gmail extension that lets you track email opens. It is perfect as a free solution for tracking your outreach emails and gaining valuable insights to help tailor your campaign follow-ups and re-pitches.

What it can do:

In order to maximize the success of your outreach efforts, you need to know who has opened your emails and how many times they have done so, as well as who has not opened them. 

Whilst most dedicated outreach tools have this functionality built in, they can be costly, so, if you're working to a budget, Streak is a fantastic solution to get the insights you need to make your campaign a success.

Streak email tracking

We love it because:

You can do a better job of tailoring your follow-ups when you can see how each of your prospects reacted to your initial email, making your outreach campaigns much more personal. 

You don't need separate tools; you can see these insights in your Gmail inbox, so it can slip seamlessly into your natural workflow. 


Free Local SEO Tools

Competition for local customers can be tough for small businesses, but there are some excellent free tools available to help maximize visibility and drive growth on the SERPs.


Google My Business

Google My Business

If you run a business with a physical store or one that serves customers at their locations, use Google My Business (GMB) to claim your business listing and appear on Google Maps, in the Knowledge Panel, and in the Local Pack.

What it can do:

Unless you create and optimize your GMB listing, you are not going to be able to appear in key locations on local SERPs.

If you want to stand out against your competitors for local searches for opening hours, photos, videos, reviews, Q&As, and more on Google, then Google My Business is the only way. 

Google Knowledge Panel

We love it because:

It is possible to gain a significant competitive advantage if you are prepared to put in the time and effort to optimize your GMB listing.

Your competitors might treat it as a 'set and forget' listing, which means they will miss out on opportunities to add new posts, keep Q&As up to date, respond to reviews, add photos, and upload offers.


Free Tracking, Analytics and Reporting Tools

Tracking and analyzing your data with the right tools is essential if you are to run an effective strategy informed by insightful reports. Here are a few that should be on your list: 


Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free tool that no marketer should be without; the fantastic insights it offers can help inform decisions in almost every area of your strategy. 

What it can do:

The ability to report on and analyze metrics like number of sessions, unique visitors and conversions will help you develop a detailed understanding of your traffic, including where it came from, where it went on your site, how it engaged with your content, and where it exited.

You can even get detailed user data, such as demographics and device usage, to help inform your strategy. 

Google Analytics insights example

We love it because:

It is the most cost-effective analytics platform for businesses of all shapes and sizes to nurture their traffic generation activities. 

The fact that you can demonstrate success (and failure) with statistical evidence is a powerful way to boost any kind of SEO strategy.


Google Data Studio

Google Data Studio

When you need to create an engaging SEO report, check out Google Data Studio for opportunities to utilize interactive dashboards and visualize your site's performance. 

What it can do:

Whilst Analytics is a fantastic tool for understanding the behavior of your site's users, there are often times when you need to combine such data with those from other tools, such as Google Search Console.

Data Studio lets you do just that with its effective reporting dashboards that utilize multiple sources - it even lets you merge them if necessary. 

It is one of the best free reporting tools out there for showcasing the results of your marketing efforts. 

Google Data Studio report

We love it because:

Data Studio helps you to see the trends that some other tools don't, and, alongside it being a fantastic way to create fully customizable and engaging reports that show real-time data, historical comparisons and more, it won't cost you a dime.

As stated by Google, "Blending sources can reveal valuable relationships between your data sets. Creating blended charts directly in Data Studio removes the need to manipulate your data in other applications first, saving you time and effort.”


Other Free SEO Tools

Some tools might not naturally fit into a certain category, but that doesn't mean they can't be fantastic additions to your marketing toolset. Let's take a look. 


SEMrush

SEMrush Sensor

SERP volatility is fairly common. We all see fluctuating results from time to time, but it can be difficult to know whether this is caused by an algorithm update that's getting rolled out or by new competitor activity.

SEMrush Sensor tracks Google's volatility each day and helps you see how much rankings are fluctuating in your market.

What it can do:

You should always be keeping a watchful eye on the SERPs you are ranking on, but such a task is made easier with a tool that does it for you. 

You can use SEMrush Sensor to see whether or not there are significant fluctuations in rankings and to look for signs of a Google algorithm update, which will prompt you to check your own site's performance in more detail. 

You do not need an SEMrush account to use the tool; it is completely free. 

SEMrush Sensor

We love it because:

It gives you the bigger picture of fluctuations on the SERPs by allowing you to not only drill down into details of the keywords you rank for, but also see movements in other sectors.  


Panguin Tool

Panguin Tool

Algorithm updates can affect any site that is deemed to be offering a poor user experience, but fluctuations on the SERPs don't always make sense to everyone at first. The Panguin Tool is the ideal free way to investigate these fluctuations.

What it can do:

The tool allows you to quickly see whether or not your site has been impacted by a recent or historic update to Google's algorithm.

Within seconds, you can connect your Google Analytics account to the Panguin Tool and overlay numerous algorithm updates onto your traffic graph, which will let you identify any potential causes for drops in traffic. 

Panguin Tool graph

We love it because:

It streamlines the process of checking your traffic performance against algorithm updates, so you no longer need to switch between tabs and match up the dates yourself.

What could take hours manually only takes a few minutes with the Panguin Tool, which means you have an excellent free way to help you deal with past and future algorithm updates.


Did We Miss Anything?

We hope you have discovered a few new tools that will improve your workflow without putting a dint in your budget. 

There is almost no end to the number of amazing innovations in our industry, but we have tried to capture a shortlist of the best ones here.

If we have missed your favorite tool, let us and other readers know by leaving a comment below. 

Erika Varagouli
SEMrush

SEMrush employee.

I create local and global content marketing strategies here at SEMrush. I started my career as a journalist, but gradually the world of SEO and content marketing won me over. I am obsessed with creating content people love, Nick Cave, and Italian films. Fueled by caffeine.
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