You can never see too many lists of free tools if you're just starting out in SEO. Tools are crucial to practicing SEO and grasping a better understanding of how the industry works, but many of them are very expensive. As a beginner, it is not necessary to start by buying a tool that costs a lot of money. Once you know what you're looking for and know what you're doing, then you can move on to something advanced. For now, the free SEO tools out there will absolutely get the job done. In fact, many are surprised at just how many quality tools SEO professionals give out for free. Below are some of the top choices for beginners:
- Google Analytics. A great tool to get you started. Even the most advanced professional who make SEO a full-time job are using Google Analytics. It might be confusing at first, but it will help any beginner get a sense of what is measured (website traffic, conversions, audience, etc.) and therefore what is important.
- AdWords Keyword Tool. Completing keyword research is an incredibly important aspect of SEO (you have to know what and where to optimize, after all). This tool will show you the competition, global monthly searches, and local monthly searches for every keyword you try. Even the most advanced SEO professionals turn to this tool for their research.
- Open Site Explorer. This tool will help you find link opportunities through competitor backlink research. The tool comes from SEOmoz and helps you determine if you can earn the same links that your competitors have earned (not to mention do a little bit of snooping).
- SEO by Yoast. This is my favorite SEO plugin to install on a website. It helps walk you through the different steps of SEO to make sure that you're optimizing each and every webpage. This works best when you're focusing on optimizing the content on your website.
- PageRank Status. You can download a free browser extension to help you see the PageRank of every webpage you visit. This will help beginners get a sense of where the website ranks on Google (it doesn't always mean that one website is better quality than another, but it does mean it is more established). This is a great way to find authoritative link building opportunities. You can see SEO stats, site info, page info and page speed all by just clicking on the plugin.
- Google Webmaster Tools. Every SEO professional has a Google Webmaster Tools account, so the sooner beginners get on board, the better. The tool allows you to monitor the indexing of your website, keyword clicks, sitemaps, and lists of links (external as well as internal) to you site.
- Bing Webmaster Tools. You can't forget that Bing is still the number three search engine out there, so optimizing for it is important even if you're a beginner. Bing has a few different features than Google Webmaster Tools, but for the most part it serves the same purpose-giving you insight as to the number of clicks, links, indexing, etc.
I highly recommend clicking on the links to learn more about the free tools and what they can offer. The above just gives a quick overview, but each individual tool is chock-full of information to learn. If there is a free tool that has helped you learn SEO in past, let us know.