There are few people who can resist a good deal, and SEO practitioners are no exception. So if you’re wondering, “Are there free SEO tools?” then rest assured the answer is an unequivocal “yes.”
That’s right—whether they’re designed to help expedite keyword research, measure page speed, or analyze traffic, each of the following 11 tools is completely free. So if you want to gain a clearer understanding of your site’s performance, improve your SEO, and boost your rankings, you can use these free SEO tools to help, no payment required.
- 1. Ahrefs’ Free Keyword Generator
- 2. Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker
- 3. PageSpeed Insights
- 4. Moz’s Link Explorer
- 5. Similarweb
- 6. XML Sitemaps
- 7. Checkbot
- 8. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
- 9. Majestic Backlink Analyzer
- 10. Google Analytics
- 11. Bing Webmaster Tools
1. Ahrefs’ Free Keyword Generator
In our article about the best free keyword research tools, Ahrefs’ Free Keyword Generator was prominently featured for a reason. This tool is easy to use, highly customizable, and incredibly robust thanks to its source database of more than eight billion queries.
To use it, all you need to do is navigate to its website and enter a keyword. You’ll also have the opportunity to choose your desired search engine and country, a major plus for those who are practicing international SEO:
After clicking the find keywords button, you’ll be quickly presented with a list of keyword ideas organized by search volume:
You can also click the questions tab at the top of your list of results to see queries related to your chosen keyword:
The only catch is that if you want to see more than 100 keyword ideas, you’ll need to break out your wallet.
But for most general keyword research and inspiration purposes, the free version of Ahrefs’ tool should more than suffice.
2. Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker
Ahrefs delivers again—this time in the form of a backlink checking tool. These types of tools are instrumental in any SEO professional’s link-building efforts, and Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker is one of the best in that it’s both exceptionally powerful and totally free.
That’s largely thanks to the company’s absolutely massive backlink database. It boasts the second most active crawler after Google’s, crawls five million pages every minute, and as of September 24, 2021 consists of:
- 187.4 million domains;
- 395.8 billion pages;
- 3.1 trillion external backlinks; and
- 24.7 trillion internal backlinks.
To use the free version of the Backlink Checker, enter the URL of the site you’d like to analyze, choose the type of information you want (subdomains or exact URL), and click check backlinks:
You’ll then see your chosen site’s backlink profile, including the top 100 backlinks and detailed information about each one:
You can also view the top five anchors or top five pages, depending on the type of data you’re after.
If you want to see all of the site’s backlinks, you’ll need to use the paid version of the tool. But if you’re looking for an in-depth look at a site’s most important backlinks, the free version will certainly be adequate.
3. PageSpeed Insights
If you’ve been keeping up with SEO news for the past few years, then you already know that page speed is officially a Google ranking factor. And one of the best tools for measuring page speed, Google’s PageSpeed Insights, just so happens to be 100 percent free.
To use it, enter any URL and click the analyze button:
Once you do, the tool will generate an overall speed score based on the site’s mobile or desktop version, depending on which you select. It will also display the site’s Core Web Vitals, including Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS):
Further down, you’ll find actionable insights such as suggestions to increase page speed and specific problem areas that Google has identified:
These ultra-specific tips take the guesswork out of page speed optimization and instead allow you to start working on improving your site’s loading time right away, all without spending a dime.
4. Moz’s Link Explorer
Another powerful backlink analyzer capable of helping you explore your site’s link portfolio is Moz’s Link Explorer. The tool is backed by a link index that’s larger than Ahrefs’ and consists of:
- 718 million root domains;
- 7 trillion pages; and
- 40.7 trillion links.
To use Link Explorer, enter your desired URL into the empty search bar, select whether you want to view root domains, subdomains, or exact pages, and click analyze:
You’ll be subsequently presented with an in-depth overview of the URL’s backlinks and most crucial metrics, including linking domains, inbound links, ranking keywords and more:
Scroll down and you’ll see even more vital information, such as the URL’s follow versus nofollow links, top followed links, top pages, and top anchor text:
It’s also worth noting that Link Explorer provides more data for free than Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker, such as by offering the top ten anchors instead of just the top five.
And unless you want to make more than ten queries per month or need to see more anchors, linking domains, and the like, then you’ll never have to pay to leverage Link Explorer’s power.
Whether you’re curious about your site’s overall traffic, want to know how much of your traffic comes from social media, or are looking to discover some competitors, Similarweb can help.
To start, type in the URL you’d like to take a closer look at and click search:
You’ll then see a general overview of the site’s safety, available mobile apps, and rankings:
Scroll down and you’ll be able to see more in-depth information about things like the site’s referrals, audience interests, and competitors:
So whether you’re scoping out other sites’ traffic or identifying your own site’s competitors, Similarweb can be an invaluable addition to your arsenal of free tools.
6. XML Sitemaps
Creating a well-organized sitemap is an integral part of website optimization, and you’ll be glad to know that doing so doesn’t require a single penny.
That’s because of services like XML Sitemaps, which allow anyone to easily create sitemaps by doing nothing more than entering a URL:
After clicking start, XML Sitemaps will crawl the entire specified site. Depending on the size of the site, this process can take several minutes. We entered the URL of the U.S. White House, and it took just over five minutes to complete.
You’ll soon see a preview of the auto-generated sitemap. Click the button labeled view full XML sitemap to see a complete sitemap of up to 500 pages (to view more than 500, you’ll need to pay):
In short, if your site has about 500 pages or fewer, then you can use XML Sitemaps to create a fully-fledged sitemap in minutes, no payment required.
If you’re a fan of browser extensions, then you’re going to love Checkbot. This handy tool can automatically analyze a site’s SEO practices, security, and speed in a snap, so you can easily find potential issues and identify overlooked areas.
For instance, Checkbot can tell you whether your site is using unique page titles and descriptions, is free of duplicate content, has image alt text, and is steering clear of URL extensions:
Best of all, the basic version of Checkbot is completely free. It’s capable of:
- 100 URLs per crawl;
- unlimited crawls; and
- unlimited sites.
The only caveat is that you’ll be served ads in exchange for using the free version, but for SEO practitioners looking for a quick, no-cost way to stay up-to-date on their sites’ SEO metrics, a few ads are more than worth it.
8. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
From finding orphan pages to creating sitemaps to optimizing canonical content, the Screaming Frog SEO Spider can perform a wide array of advanced tasks quickly and thoroughly.
To start using the spider, go to its website and click download:
Once it’s installed, open the app from your computer and you’ll be ready to audit your site (your user interface may look different depending on the version you’ve downloaded). Toward the top of the window, you’ll see a row of tabs displaying all the elements of a site the tool can analyze:
For instance, it can find broken links, evaluate status codes, identify meta descriptions and keywords, find canonicals, and much more.
The free version can analyze up to 500 URLs, which will likely be adequate for most small and medium sites. Note that some features are reserved only for the paid version, so be sure to compare the two with your specific needs in mind.
9. Majestic Backlink Analyzer
Majestic changed the backlink game when it released Link Graph, but you don’t even need a Majestic account to leverage its backlink wizardry.
Instead, just install the Majestic Backlink Analyzer extension for Chrome or Firefox. It’s free to access basic metrics, and you only need a subscription if you want to use the more in-depth Backlinks and Anchor Text tabs.
You can access the extension’s summary for however many pages you’d like, though Majestic warns that “we have also beefed up our monitoring and reporting on the plugin data stream, so the heaviest of users may find themselves locked out of the toolbar for a period.”
If that happens to you on a regular basis, it may be worth getting a paid account in order to unlock more data and in-depth metrics.
10. Google Analytics
We may have promised not to mention Google Search Console, but we never said anything about Google Analytics. This tool provides priceless data-based insights about your users and also integrates with products like Google Ads and AdSense. So if you use any of those, Google Analytics could be a valuable way to knit your insights together.
But what makes Analytics worth using? It all comes down to user data. The vast array of reports it can generate include detailed information about:
- real-time user activity;
- e-commerce events; and
- much, much more.
And as of October 2020, Analytics’ reporting structure is conveniently organized by the user lifecycle:
For many small- and medium-sized organizations, the free version of Analytics will provide all the necessary features and data. But if you need enterprise-level benefits like BigQuery and Salesforce integration, more advanced reporting, up to 400 views per property, hundreds of custom dimensions and metrics, and raw data access, then you may want to consider upgrading to Analytics 360.
11. Bing Webmaster Tools
There, you’ll gain access to SEO-oriented features such as:
- a complete backlink profile;
- a built-in keyword research tool;
- reports containing all your site’s SEO errors; and
- an on-demand site audit tool.
You can also use Bing Webmaster Tools to analyze your site’s search performance, inspect its URLs, submit sitemaps, and more.
Use Free Tools, Get Valuable Results
Fortunately for SEO practitioners, the best SEO tools aren’t necessarily the most expensive. So what is the best free SEO tool? There is no single one that rises above the rest—the collection of 11 tools we’ve covered here is greater than the sum of its parts.
With their help, you can complete almost any SEO-related task, from finding keywords to identifying competitors to conducting a comprehensive audit. So whether you’re working with limited resources or are simply hesitant to add another paid service to the books, these cost-free tools can deliver truly valuable results.
Screenshots by author / September 2021
Checkbot / Accessed September 2021
Majestic / Accessed September 2021
Google / October 2020
Bing / Accessed October 2021