30 Of The Best Free SEO Tools For Content Marketers
Dec 21, 2020
One of the most powerful uses of content marketing is to build an engine that continually delivers organic search traffic. The best way to do that is to infuse SEO best practices into your content from the ground up.
You can only improve what you can measure, though. And some SEO tools can be pricey, especially if you're just starting out. That's why I put together 30 of the best free SEO tools for content marketers.
Why should content marketers care about SEO
Strong content engines that perform well on SEO consistently drive organic traffic to your web properties. The more people get to your site, the better the chances are of buying something or doing something you want them to do.
Content marketing that has SEO built in from the ground up gives you a campaign that can compound over time. Your blog post or article can deliver value to your audience and your company over the next few years. That's what really separates content marketing from most other marketing campaigns.
Not every content marketers is as focused on SEO as I've been in my career ... and that's fine. If you've cracked the code on always creating fresh new content Instagram, Tik Tok or Pinterest, congratulations.
For the rest of you, here are some great free tools you can use to infuse SEO into your content plans.
Using Google for Free SEO Analysis
Image credit: Alpha Stock Images
We're all trying to get to that front spot on Google (sorry, Bing). It's no surprise that Google offers a series of great tools content marketers can use for improving SEO. Here's where to start with Google services:
- Google Trends: Use this to gather ideas for content creation based on what's trending. You can map this to your topic and keywords to inform what kind of content you should be going after.
- Google Ads: This is primarily used for setting up your paid search ad but you can definitely use this for your organic strategy. Google offers you keyword suggestions you might want to make content about, as well as provides rough estimates about the average search volume per month for keywords you want your content to rank for.
- Google Search: Yes, google.com is very useful for content marketers. Type in the terms you're looking for to see what ranks high and what type of content it includes. Consider incorporating the People Also Ask questions into your content, too.
- Google Analytics: You can't improve if you're not measuring. Google Analytics is the gold standard for free website analytics. You can also use it to determine what percentage of your traffic (and conversions) are coming from Organic Search. Google Data Studio is a fantastic way to visualize your analytics in an executive-friendly way.
- Google for technical SEO: There are hundreds of factors in SEO, including technical ones. Google offers free tools to see how fast your website is, if it's friendly for mobile, if the data is structured correctly and if it supports rich results (which are increasingly important). You have to nail these technical details to have a shot.
- Google My Business: A key tool for local SEO. This lets you claim a local business for yourself or clients, which increases your chances of getting seen in local searches.
I could go on and on about leaning on Google (don't forget about Google Search Console for keyword optimization) but I'll stop here. Needless to say, it should be every content marketer's first stop when thinking and planning for SEO.
Best Free SEO Tools For Coming Up With Content Ideas
We've all stared at that blank document trying to come up with ideas. Thanksfully, you're not alone. These free solutions will kickstart your content ideation process
- Answer The Public: Put in your target keyword or keywords and out comes the autocomplete data from search engines related to it. That's a great proxy for the exact query related to your keyword that your customers are actually searching for. You can take these autocompletes and build content around it or at least, incorporate that into the existing content you have.
- AlsoAsked: Similar but importantly different than Answer The Public. AlsoAsked gives you insight in the People Also Asked box. I suggest incorporating these questions into the meat of your content, as it's a great signal for what people are actually looking for related to your keyword.
- Bulk Keyword Generator: This is a lovely tool for Local SEO. You put in the type of business, the location and it gives you multiple keyword ideas to pursue.
- Exploding topics: Google Trends is great but wouldn't you love to rank for keywords before they're trending? That's what Exploding topics aims to give you. The free version is somewhat limited but it gives you good directional data on what's set to pop and the free "Exploding Topics Tuesday" newsletter is a must-subscribe.
- Ubersuggest: Leave it to Neil Patel to create a great, free SEO tool. Put in your domain or topic and it will provide you with a basic-but-useful analysis of how you're doing, keywords that are driving traffic and what keywords you might want to go after. You can get pretty far with the free version that only requires registering. If you do decide to pay, it's significantly cheaper than some of the alternatives, too.
- Question DB: Similar flow: Put in a topic and it will spit out blog topic ideas. For example, I put in "content marketing" and these results came out:
- Can I Rank: The name of this service says it all. They provide you detailed insights on what keywords you can actually rank for, as well as actionable tips on what to do to get there. The free version is limited but it gives you a great taste of what they offer and provides tips to improve your site.
Best Free SEO Tools For Content Creation
Now that you have your idea that's informed by SEO data, it's time to get to work. You and your team are responsible for the unique insights, cool data, brand voice and style .... leave it to some of these tools to help structure your work into SEO-friendly writing.
- Headline Analyzer: Your headline is the first thing that your audience sees. It has to be compelling, contain the right keywords and deliver enough reasons for your audience to click through. Co-Schedule's Headline Analyzer is a nice gut-check to see if your headline checks all the boxes it needs to.
- Grammarly: The champ at making sure your content isn't riddled with typos and other bad things. The free version is more than enough for content creation needs. I also love the browser plugin because it helps me make fewer written mistakes across all my written communications.
- Hemingway App: Did you know the average American reads at the 7th or 8th grade level? Is your content written at that level? Hemingway app is a content analyzer that highlights your reading level, when you're using passive voice and other bad things like using big words when there are simpler alternatives. Readability is definitely a major influence on SEO ranking for content.
- Ink: Like Hemingway, Ink is a content analyzer that scans your words for clarity and other SEO-best practices. But, you can put in your target keywords and it will offer granular advise and changes to better optimize for those keywords.
Other Great Free SEO Tools For Content Makers
Now that you have the tools to ideate and create, let's move on to other important aspects of SEO. This section is a grab-bag of great tools you can use for technical SEO, distribution and more.
- Small SEO Tools: This provides an entire suite of absolutely free tools for writing, image manipulation, keyword research, website optimization and more. It's ad-supported, so there are concerns about what it does with your data (it also has an ad-filled interface) but it's free. It's a great choice if you can't get any budget or can't afford to invest in SEO software.
- Schema Markup Generator: I have no idea how to properly write a JSON-LD file by hand. Thankfully, I don't have to: just put in your site into this tool and it will give you a good schema markup you can plug into your site. Schema markup can provide some incremental benefits to your SEO by letting Google know what type of content you're producing.
- Siteliner: This site gives you a quick report on how many broken links you have on your site, what kind of duplicate content exists and more. It's a good tool to identify some low-hanging fruit on your site that you can fix to boost SEO.
- ImageOptim: Every written piece of content needs great visuals to accompany it but those images can drag down your page speed and overall performance. This free tool reduces file sizes for your images without sacrificing quality or clarity.
- Bing Webmaster: Don't laugh at Bing! Sure, it's nowhere near the size or importance as Google but you can still get a lot of value out of it. It has tens of millions of users in the United States and is pre-loaded as the default for many Windows machines. The webmaster tools also provides great insight into what keywords are specifically driving traffic to your site. This doesn't translate in a one-for-one perspective to Google but it is great directional information.
Best Browser Plugins For SEO
Defined tools are great but I live in my browser. That's why I love having a browser plugin. Here are some useful ones for SEO:
- SEO Minion: Really cool free plugin to help with things you want to do on a daily basis. This includes on-page analyis, SERP results, broken link checking and ensuring you have the correct hreflang.
- Context: I spend a lot of time in Google Analytics and try to provide the proper annotation. But, it's hard. Not only do you deal with your efforts, there are things like algorithm changes and seasonality to account for. The Context plugin automatically annotates your Google Analytics with big changes like holidays or big changes to the search algorithm. This helps you to do thoughtful analysis.
- SEOQuake: My favorite SEO browser plugin because it gives you a ton of data on every single page you're looking at. This includes on-page SEO audits, link tracking, comparison of competitors and more. It's also very easy to export this data into tools or reporting.
- Link Redirect Trace: If your site has been around for a while, you likely have plently of redirects. This gives you a redirect path analyzers to equisly see if something went off the rails. You can use this to add Canonical links, check out your competitors' link paths and more.
- Moz Bar: There's a reason Moz has been around for so long: they provide a good SEO product. The free Moz bar gives you keyword research on the go and is worth trying out even if you don't have a pro account.
Best Free SEO Wordpress Plugins
I'm a Kajabi fan but I know Wordpress is a popular choice as a CMS. Here are some great free Wordpress Plugins that will help you:
- Yoast: The most-popular and arguably, best SEO plugin for Wordpress. The free version is, natuarally, more limited than the premium version but it's a great starting point. You can analyze content before it goes live to ensure it's optimized for the keywords you're looking for, as well as see previews, set your SEO titles and meta descriptions and more.
- The SEO Framework: A more hands-off plugin, this will auto-fill metadata for you and it comes preconfigured to help your site start ranking. The automated aspect can really save you time but if you'd rather dive into the nitty-gritty, this may not be the right plugin for you.
- SEOPress: This provides an "all-in-one SEO" service including content optimization, research, redirects, XML sitemaps and more. It's a freemium business but the free version is clean and a nice way to get started.
Become A Great Content Marketer
Hopefully, these free tools will help you to deliver content that drives organic search traffic.
If you're looking to take the next step, sign up for the online course of The Content Marketing Blueprint. This online course equips you with the strategies and frameworks to turn your content into revenue - no matter what industry you're in.