Best Free SEO tools & tips to make search engine optimization easy and get tons of search engine traffic. Learn how to do keyword research for free for your blog and confidently add “SEO” to your list of services if you are freelancing. Check out these 25 + best free SEO tools 2018!
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So, you get that search engine optimization, SEO, is important if you want to grow your blog to the next level. You have learned that you need keywords that you use in your posts. You know your posts will do better with a little bit of SEO love. You totally understand that you need more than just social media if you want to grow big.
HOW the heck do you do SEO if you have no big bucks to slap out for those fine SEO tools everybody recommends? How do you even understand what SEO is all about? How do you optimize posts for search traffic on your WordPress blog?
If only you could hire someone to do it for you! If only you were not such a budgeted blogger.
Help is here!
In this list, you will find the best FREE SEO tools and resources
- to get a thorough understanding of SEO,
- how to use it on your blog, and the
- tools to get the absolute most out of search traffic to every post you write!
Again, all this SEO goodness for free! These free SEO tools and resources are amazing, insanely helpful, and updated for 2018!
What are you waiting for? Get results!
I know… throwing 25+ SEO resources at you can be overwhelming. Be sure to check out my quick starter guide and tips at the bottom of the post! Bookmark or pin this post for later reference so you can come back to it if you are ready for the next step.
Remember that user experience is key. Don’t write for search engines but for people. Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm to show results that people enjoy reading. They track how long a person is on your website, if she clicks on more than one link, or if she is actively scrolling down your webpage.
Want to keep readers around? Make your posts useful and good-looking. Beautify your posts with gorgeous free stock photos! Find stunning blogging photos in these places – for absolute free!
Keyword Research Tools
First things first. Keyword research is foundational for your SEO projects and content creation. Adam Clarke, Google certified SEO expert and author of the bestselling book “SEO 2018”, calls keyword research
“the most important step of SEO“.
There are many great but expensive tools out there to help you with keyword research. But also free ones!
Action Tip: Schedule a working session and go through each of the following tools. Experiment, play around, check out the features it comes with. Then, choose and bookmark those that you find most helpful and spend a few minutes researching search terms before you write a blog post. Or even use the tools to come up with a great post idea.
Here is a list of also great but free keyword tools:
- Google Adwords Keyword Planner. Unfortunately, Google has made this tool available for Adwords customers only. You need to set up an account. You will probably be forced to create an ad before you can access the tools. But you can create an ad using your bank account instead of a credit card. Your bank account needs to be verified and as long you don’t finish this process, you can’t run a paid ad yet. But you can access the Keyword Planner. As long as you are not paying anything, you will not get the full scope but it is still very useful. So make use of one of the most powerful keyword tools out there.
- Ubersuggest/NeilPatel. Another free keyword tool that will give you a list of ideas.
- LSI Graph. LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. The tool will provide a tag cloud of related search terms when you enter your keyword. You beef up your post for search engines when you use those terms in addition to the main and long-tail keyword. When you sign up for free, you can do 20 queries each day on LSI Graph. You can also use them as an idea generator for new blog posts on the topic.
- Thesaurus will help you find more related terms or synonyms for your keywords. Also, consider different spelling.
- KWFinder by Mangools. A great tool that shows you at a glance how difficult or easy it will be to rank for a keyword, who your competitors are, and more. The free plan will only let you do 3 queries a day, though.
- Keyword Tool.io will give you a list of hundreds of long-tail keywords after you enter a keyword idea based on auto-suggest software. You can also browse keywords for YouTube, Amazon, or more websites.
- Google, Pinterest, and Google Trends. Use the search to check what exactly people are actually interested in or to check out who is ranking high in the search results with what content. Google Trends also helps you decide which term performs better with a comparison of keywords. For example, annual versus yearly. (84:17 !! Who knew…)
If you want to go deep with Keyword Research you will enjoy the “Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research” on the Yoast SEO blog. (This blog is by the way one of the most frequently updated ones on SEO that you might want to check out further).
No time for a full guide? Then, at least avoid these 7 Mistakes of keyword research.
Free SEO courses for bloggers
Researching keywords may be the most important step. But it is not the only step in good SEO. Deepen your knowledge and understand how SEO works with these free SEO courses for beginners and advanced.
Don’t overwhelm yourself. Choose one course to start with. Decide how much time you can invest in learning and how much time you will invest in implementing SEO on your blog.
Here are some beginner-friendly free SEO courses to choose from:
- SEO Tutorial for Beginners This masterclass has 45 minutes of video lessons. You can do that, right? Sacrifice one episode of Queer Eye and you move from rookie to advanced!
- Total SEO blueprint. This course has it all and is up-to-date (06/2018). It covers the theory and goes into detail implementing everything on and off a page. That’s why you need to invest 20+ hours to watch every video lesson. You can download 20 study materials to go along.
- SEO for beginners – Free course by Yoast (yes, those from the SEO plugin that you really should be using. The free plan is all you’ll ever need. So, get it if you haven’t already! More on the plugin below.) Then, sign up for their free beginner’s course.
- SEO video training at SEO company MOZ (moz.com) starts at 49$ on their website. Udemy has all the frugal bloggers covered with a Free SEO course by Moz here.
- YouTube SEO Growth: Conquer YouTube for all you YouTubers out there. Vlogging becomes more and more popular. Get the most out of YouTube by implementing SEO on your videos!
Shortcut to video marketing: Create one or two videos for your most important posts or topics, upload them to YouTube, and optimize them for YouTube search. Add a link to your blog in the description. You can also embed the video into a blog post or page. Good SEO juice for your blog! If creating a video freaks you out, try Lumen5, which automatically creates a video from a blog post. For free. Boom.
If you want to do a video but don’t have time for a full-fletched course, check out the Guide To Video SEO at Backlinko.
Helpful and “inspiring” SEO insights
Ahrefs is the industry’s go-to tool for anything SEO. But with plans starting at 99 $ a month, it is out of the reach of budgeted bloggers. They still provide a pretty helpful and free tool for anyone to use: the Ahrefs SEO toolbar for Chrome or Firefox.
The toolbar gives you juicy SEO insights on any webpage you land on, be it yours or your competitor’s. It provides 7 SEO metrics on any link at a glance. But there is more. It shows you important metrics of any keyword you type into the Google search box as well as of any link on the Google search results page! See why you want this toolbar?
Also, the Ahrefs blog is one you should consider following if you want to become an SEO master.
Resources from Google
90% of online searches are performed by Google. This is almost exactly what I see with my blog, too, when it comes to search engine traffic:
So, optimizing for search engines means, you optimize for Google.
For a long time, Google made a secret out of how exactly they assess the quality of a website and what makes a website rank high – or not. Luckily, things have changed and Google is more open with how they rank websites.
- Let Google introduce you to SEO with the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Yes, Google herself lets you in on the not-so-secret secrets of SEO in this 12 chapter starter guide.
- And this is for the ambitious bloggers out there: If you consider whitepapers a leisurely reading, check out what Google says about the ranking factors and quality assessment of websites in the 2018 whitepaper “Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines”. 160 pages of pure fun! No, seriously, if you want to go deep with SEO, then THIS is it. No rumors, blabla or speculations. The mother of all SEO information directly from Google. (Shortcut: If you have 8 $ to spend, you might enjoy the Kindle book “SEO 2018” by Adam Clarke. It includes an easy-to-digest walk-through of the biggest takeaways from the paper.)
- Stay up-to-date with official Google news by following their webmaster’s blog. Not a very fancy one but useful to always be in the know of SEO news.
Ranking factors of search engines
Talking about quality assessment. Ranking factors are often discussed but rarely put together in one compilation with the most important takeaways for bloggers. Backlinko has done just that. 200 Ranking factors listed with short (!) important information for people doing SEO.
Website Tools for search engine optimization
As a budgeted blogger you are your own webmaster per default, right? Make use of these free tools to help you put in place some SEO strategies on your blog.
- If there is one plugin every WordPress blog should be using it will be the free Yoast SEO plugin. It walks you through all the SEO steps when creating a blog post in a fail-proof way. Besides, it provides metadata for your social media channels, adds canonical tags to your post so you don’t get penalized for having duplicate content, lets you add custom descriptions for Twitter and Facebook, and a lot more. Kinsta has a great tutorial for setting up and using the free plan of Yoast’s SEO plugin.
- Tons of broken links or 404 errors on your website will make it look bedraggled to Google and will turn off readers. Add checking for broken links to your monthly blogging tasks. Use a free tool like BrokenLinkChecker to find all broken links. Then, go through the list and weed them out. Keep your blog clean and functional. That will help you rank higher and give your readers a better experience on your blog.
- As a blogger, you will want to use Google Search Console to check how your blog is performing and to find out about crawling errors on your website. You can check who is linking to you, too. My favorite feature is the list of search terms my blog is ranking for. With this list, I can easily check my pageranks, how many people actually see my link and click through, and whether or not my SEO efforts work. Make sure to submit a sitemap of your blog. You can create one with the Yoast plugin or the free plugin “Google XML sitemaps” which is very easy to use. If you want to learn more about Search Console, check out Neil Patel’s post on how to use Search Console to grow search traffic to your website.
- Google now indexes the mobile version of your blog first! So, your design needs to be mobile-responsive. Google has a free tool to check how mobile-friendly your website is. Run the test for free with the mobile-friendliness checker. Run it a few times to get an accurate picture.
- Also, check for loading issues. A slow website can harm your ranking. Check your website speed with the Google Pagespeed Insights or a service like the Pingdom Website Speed Test. Learn how to measure your blog’s speed correctly in this post by WP rocket.
Finally, subscribe to my newsletter, go to the insider-exclusive content in the library and download the SEO Mini-Guide For The Clueless. Learn how to maximize SEO with minimum effort and simple steps. All tools mentioned in the quick guide are FREE. Print out the one-page SEO checklist, or use the editable digital checklist, and check off everything whenever you write a blog post from now on.
Optimizing your posts for search engines sounds boring as it can be and you won’t see results right away. But the hours you invest in search engine optimization now can pull in traffic and pageviews for YEARS to come. Not for days, or months at best like with a good pin image.
Investing in SEO is a smart idea. If you can’t invest money in a thorough and fantastic course like Sticky SEO (affiliate link), do yourself a favor and invest at least a bit of time.
Help! This list is huge. I need some starting aid
I hear you!
-> Keep in mind, that SEO is not for a brand-new blog. If your blog is only a few weeks old with little content, then bookmark this guide to come back later. Focus on creating some kick-ass content first. Get your content out there and promote it on Pinterest. The majority of websites close down in their first six months. Google accordingly does not send very much traffic to new domains.
But if you blog for more than a year, SEO is a gem for you to exploit! Now.
So, here is some starting aid for you
SEO Quick Starter Guide
- From now on, do some keyword research BEFORE you write a blog post. Check out the keyword research tools and choose one or two to use when writing new blog posts. Bookmark them. Use them for every new post.
- As a subscriber, download the SEO Mini-Guide for the clueless blogger. Print out the blog post SEO checklist or use the digital editable Google Docs checklist that comes with the guide.
- If you haven’t already, install, activate, and set up the free Yoast SEO plugin (instructions above). Enter your focus keyword into the field and use your keywords within the post. Work on it until your post reads great and you have a green light overall and as many items checked as possible.
- To take the next step, decide on how much time you invest in learning more about SEO each week and schedule it. Choose a learning resource and go through it. Take a notepad, a list in Asana, Trello, or Evernote and create a list of action tasks that come up. Schedule them.
- Check your rankings monthly with Google search console and/or track users from organic search. (In Google Analytics > Acquisition > Organic Traffic)
- Optional: Create a strategy to build more high-quality backlinks to your blog over time. (To learn more, check out the module on backlinks in the SEO Blueprint course, link above in the courses list).
- Optional: Check your popular posts and schedule SEO make-over time in your blogging calendar. (You can use the Yoast plugin for checking posts.)
The more SEO you do, the easier it gets. You now have free SEO tools and resources to become a well-educated webmaster and benefit from search traffic years down the road.
Please, let me know if there is a free SEO tool you would love to see included in this list!
And don’t forget to pin this post for others to rock SEO and for your reference! Thank you! 🙂