Weekly Wisdom with Ross Tavendale: Zero Budget SEO

Ross Tavendale

Sep 10, 20197 min read
Zero Budget SEO
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Modified Transcript

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's Weekly Wisdom. Today I want to take you on a little trip down memory lane to when we were all scant, flat broke, had absolutely no cash, but we still had to do all of our SEO work and get results for our clients. I don't know about you, but nowadays I could probably buy a small country for my monthly tool bill. We spend so much on tools and things like that. But what if we didn't have any cash? Could we still do our jobs as effectively? Maybe not as quickly, but we can definitely still get the same results. So in this week's Weekly Wisdom, I will be going into all the tools and processes you need to use if you are absolutely broke. Without further ado, let's get into it.

A lot of these tools are going to feel very nostalgic to some of the guys that have been doing SEO for five, 10, 15 years. The ones who have been doing it for 20 years, you need to get a life because SEO wasn't really a thing 20 years ago, so I don't know what you were doing.

First and foremost, you are going to need a crawler. And what better crawler, that is free, than Xenu's Link Sleuth. This thing is like, imagine if your grandfather had a baby with Screaming Frog, it is kind of like that. It is a really basic crawler, it is very slow, but it gets all URLs out and gives you some cool things like titles and descriptions and things like that. If you have got no money, this is potentially a particularly good one to use.

Xenu's Link Sleuth

Google Search Operators

I think just having base-level knowledge is really underestimated. And one of the big things, especially if you are doing any sort of link building, is to be understanding search operators. One of my friends, a guy called Andy Drinkwater, created this massive list of Google search operators. You can copy a query and then Google it with your keyword. Let's say the keyword is "SEO" because I do not have a creative bone in my body. This query (become a contributor + intext:”seo”) puts together all of the pages on the web that will allow you to contribute to them that's around the term "SEO". If you are doing link building, this might be a good start for you to have a look and see if these sites are appropriate for you.

intext Google operator


Now, talking about finding out if a site's appropriate, if you have the SEOquake plugin, which again is completely free, you get this cool thing that sits over the SERPs. With any Google result, you get overlay information from SEOquake, which is pulling all this SEMrush data into it.

SEOquake Chrome Plugin

If you are doing loads and loads of such searches and you want to pull the entire SERP, there is a really nice feature, which is called Export CSV, and you will never guess what it does! That is right; it exports the SERP to CSV. But it also gives you all of the metrics along with it. I am a bit of a crafty SEO, and instead of doing just 10 results, I have got a hundred results at a time. You can do that by changing your search settings inside Google. Now when you hit export CSV, it is going to give you a hundred of those results with metrics, which is a nice, quick, easy way to get a bunch of stuff into a spreadsheet. 

SEOquake export data

Word of warning, if you are using it consistently, you will see a lot of captchas from Google because it pulls in so much information.

Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is a plugin for Firefox and Chrome, and it is free. Once you install it, it will show up inside of the Google SERP, Search Console, Google Analytics, you name it. This tool pulls keyword data in for you. It is a really good tool if you are doing some sort of keyword research, but you don't have the budget to buy into something like SEMrush.

Keywords Everywhere extension

G Suite YouTube Channel

The next one is going to feel like a bit of a low ball; you just need to know a little tiny bit of JavaScript and a bunch of Excel formulas to use Google Sheets and Google Apps properly. The reason I have put their YouTube channel up is they have got a ton of really good tutorials on how to manipulate data inside of Sheets and how to automate SEO processes. If I had this when I was starting out in SEO, one of the first things I would be doing is starting to build apps on top of G Suite. The moment you get the data you can manipulate it and automate it in so many ways, you can cut out a lot of the time needed when you are running all of your different SEO projects.

G Suite Youtube channel


Another big one for me and I still use it to this day, although I am not actively link building, that is mostly the team thing right now, is Linkclump. If I have a big group of domains or links, Linkclump pulls all of the links and the anchor texts out and that allows me to copy and paste that directly into Sheets.



The next tool is very controversial. We use this to pull data in, not to push data out. When we mentioned all of these amazing kinds of footprints Andy Drinkwater's blog has got, doing that one at a time can be quite slow. If you use something like ScrapeBox, you can run those through Google thousands at a time. And if you have got a massive team of people doing outreach, being able to get a couple of hundred results for each of your pieces of outreach you are going to be doing, is going to save you just that little bit more time.

So again, a really good one. And in terms of actually cleaning up data, you can check the metrics, you can see if the URLs are even indexed before you reach out to it, and so on. It will do a lot of heavy lifting for you before you even get to the point where you're doing your outreach so you can work out if it's a good URL or a bad one.


Next up I was looking for something called Wiki Summarizer, but it has since gone extinct. If you can outlive the software you use as an SEO, I think that says a lot about your longevity. Wiki Summarizer essentially used to be exactly what it sounds like. It used to summarize Wikipedia. When you are building a content list, for example, on basketball, you could use this to pull in all the main entities. Then we can start giving this to a writer and say, "Well, we are creating a page for basketball, we need to mention basketball hoops and Michael Jordan and things like that." The thing is the Wikipedia page is huge; it is like 5,000 plus words. And if you are going to be briefing a copywriter, you can't spend time just going over Wikipedia and pulling things in.

What you can do is copy and paste in the Wikipedia content and hit "summarize" in as many sentences as you want. It is going to start giving you all the major core points. After you drop a huge basketball text in here, you will see that you need to talk about dribblers, you need to start talking about stealing the ball, you need to mention Kevin Durant and so on. This gives you a very good idea of what you should be writing about to rank.


Server Header Checker

Another tool that I absolutely love is Server Header Checker by SEOBook, and we used to use this all the time to see what the header response was. Do you know how sometimes there are daisy-chain redirects or problems accessing a website? We can literally just click "check headers", and it is going to give you the header response rate. In this case, it's 200.

Server Header Checker

Now if you are one of those annoying characters that use a Mac, I am one of them, you can just use curl inside the terminal in order to get that. All you have to do is bring up the terminal and specify the URL. I put in my company, typeamedia.net, hoping it is a 200, and it is. Thank God for that.

curl command

Along with an HTTP header, a lot of header information comes in. If you have a bunch of daisy-chained redirects and things like that, this would also show up here. With curl, you can very quickly diagnose what is going on with your redirects.

Traffic Travis

Now we are really going down memory lane; Traffic Travis is a desktop rank checker. Full disclosure, I have not used it in a very long time, but if you are struggling to do quick rank checks, this might be quite good. It has also got a bunch of kind of top-level SEO stuff as well you can have a little look at.

Traffic Travis

That is everything for this overview of some tools to use that will help you get along inside of SEO and are pretty much free of charge. Thank you so much for watching this week's Weekly Wisdom. If you have got any tools that I have missed that are absolutely free, please leave them in the comments down below. You can also follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter, and until next time, we will see you later.

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Ross is the Managing Director at Type A Media, an independent search agency that work with FTSE250 companies and mid-sized brands to help them find the optimal way to talk to more people online. When not obsessing over his clients rankings, he hosts the Canonical Chronicle, a weekly web show watched by 100k people every month. If you want to ask him a direct question you can find him @rtavs on Twitter.