5 Free SEO Tools For Small Business Owners

Let’s face it, marketing isn’t cheap. On average, small businesses spent 10.4% of revenues on marketing in 2012. 46% of those marketing budgets are spent on digital. Not only that, but marketing efforts never end. You have to keep your marketing efforts going or else they’ll stop producing for you. Which means that you will be paying out for it forever and ever. With that in mind, I created a list of free SEO tools for you, mister/misses small business owner.

5 Free SEO Tools For Small Business Owners

These SEO tools can help you improve your marketing, and keep costs down at the same time (since they’re all free). As a small business owner myself, I know how busy the day can get and how easy it is to say “I don’t have time to look at this”. I also believe that you should delegate this kind of marketing work because it is constantly changing and evolving. It’s not worth your time to keep with every detail unless you want to be in the business of marketing. That said, it is worth your time to check in on it from time to time so you know the people you pay to help you with this stuff are doing a good job.

Below are some free SEO tools that anyone can use to improve their marketing efforts. These are mainly SEO tools and content tools which, if used wisely, will go a long way to helping you improve your marketing results and save you money. At the very least, these tools can be used to check on whether or not the company you hired to help you with your digital marketing is actually doing a good job.

Webmaster Tools

This is a free tool that Google provides to all webmasters and in my opinion is one of the most under rated SEO tools in the SEO arsenal. Webmaster Tools provides great information that you can use to diagnose issues and improve your rankings. Most importantly, it’s data provided to you directly by Google so it’s coming straight from the source. It’s probably not as popular with folks because it hasn’t been the most user friendly reporting tool in the past, but Google has made a lot of improvements to it over time. Here are some of the cool reports in Webmaster Tools:

  • What keywords are people using to find your site and what is your average ranking for those keywords? WMT shows how many impressions each of your keywords gets and how many clicks your listing gets from those impressions. Are there some keywords that get a very high number of impressions but a low number of clicks? What could you do to improve the CTR (Click Through Rate)? BTW – Keyword data is almost completely gone from Google Analytics reports so this is one of the few places that you can still get it directly from Google. To find this report go to the Search Traffic > Search Queries report.
  • What other sites are linking to your site? We all know the more high quality links you have pointing to your site, the more your rankings increase. You can also use this report to find bad sites linking to you that you may want to try and remove or disavow. To find this go to the Search Traffic > Links to Your Site report.
  • Index Status – This SEO tool shows you how many pages Google has indexed for your site. As a general guideline you want to make sure that this number stays consistent and doesn’t show any wild fluctuations. If your index rate drops or increases significantly, it might mean there some sort of crawling or indexing problem with your site. To find this go to Google Index > Index Status.
  • The Disavow tool – With the disavow tool you can disavow low quality links that may be pointing to your site and hurting your rankings. Word of caution, do not just go disavowing all the links that you think are bad. You can do more harm than good. I would get help from someone who has experience with using this tool and getting sites out of penalties.

Quick Sprout

Unlike Webmaster Tools, Quick Sprout (founded by Neil Patel) is an intuitive and user friendly suite of free SEO tools. It can help you assess key factors on your site and see how you stack up to your competitors. It is actually three tools built into one. A website analyzer, a social media analyzer and a competitor analyzer.

  • Website Analyzer – Once you put in a URL, this SEO tool gives you some nice reports. It reports on site speed, your backlinks, your SEO score (determined by how many on page factors your site has issues with) and a few other on-page factors.
  • Social Media Analysis – Provides a list of all the pages on your site and the number of social shares for each page in Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Google+. This is a really nice way to see the top shared pages on your site (or a competitors site). It’s also a great way to come up with new ideas for content based on what’s worked for you in the past.
  • Social Media Analysis – Provides a list of all the pages on your site and the number of social shares for each page in Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Google+. This is a really nice way to quickly see what are the top shared pages on your site (or a competitors site). It’s also a great way to come up with new ideas for content based on what’s worked for you in the past.
  • Competitor Analysis – Let’s you add up to 3 competitors to see how they stack up against your site. It compares estimated traffic, SEO score, site speed score and social share score.

Moz Tools

Moz (previously SEOMoz) is perhaps the most trusted online resource for information about SEO and digital marketing. Their ongoing series of blog posts and educational videos called “Whiteboard Friday” have been a game changer in our industry. Moz’s main source of revenue has been from the tools that they create to help out the industry and a lot of them are free! Two of the most useful SEO tools for small business owners are:

  • Open Site Explorer – This is a backlink analysis SEO tool that is one of the oldest and most trusted in the industry. In the old days of SEO, Google and Yahoo used to provide the public backlink data about other websites. When that came to an end, Moz was one of the first pioneers to provide backlink data in a private tool. There are two main metrics that you can see with Open Site Explorer.
    • One is who is linking to you (similar to Webmaster Tools) but Open Site Explorer lets you slice and dice that data in a more user friendly way. For example, you can see what links are pointing to a specific internal page on your site and group those links by “1 per domain” instead of showing you every instance of every link from another domain.
    • Another important thing to analyze is your anchor text. Anchor text is the actual keywords that are used within the link. For example, Being an SEO company in Chicago we’d prefer to get a link to our SEO page with something like “SEO Company in Chicago” as the linking keywords instead of “Click Here”. This helps increase rankings for that specific keyword. What’s important to know is that you should monitor your anchor text to make sure you’re not overdoing it. Recent Google algorithm updates over the last 2 years have penalized sites with too much exact match anchor text. It’s important to mix in some branded anchor text so that your link profile doesn’t look unnatural.
  • Moz Local – If you have a physical local location, you should be optimizing for Local. If you’re not, you’re missing out on a big traffic opportunity from Google’s local results and from other local directories like Yelp. To get started with Moz Local, all you have to do is put in your business name and your zip code. The SEO tool will then recommend fixing your business listings that are either incomplete, inconsistent, or duplicate. In order to rank well in local results, it’s important to make sure you have listings in local directories and that your business name, address and phone number is consistent throughout these listings.

Copyscape

Unlike the above, Copyscape is a very simple SEO tool. It only does one thing. If you put in the URL for a page on your site, it will show any other pages on the internet that have the same content. This is a very useful tool if you are using freelance or in-house writers and you want to make sure that they aren’t plagiarizing. When you put plagiarized content on your site, Google considers that duplicate content, which devalues the authority of your site. There have been situations where clients came to us with ranking issues not knowing that all of the content on their website was duplicate plagiarized content.

Hubspot Website Grader

Hubspot creates lots of tools and templates that educate and make marketing easier for small business owners. Their marketing grader is a quick and easy way to get a quick evaluation of how you’re doing with blogging, social media, SEO, lead generation and mobile. This SEO tool provides a more holistic view of your entire marketing strategy rather than just your SEO campaign. To give it a shot, put in your home page URL and email address and the SEO tool will give you an overall grade and an overview report on how you’re doing with each of the above areas.

Do you have a free SEO tool that you love using? Please share!







George Zlatin

George Zlatin is a Co-owner and Director of Operations at Digital Third Coast, a search engine marketing company based in Chicago. Founded in 2007, Digital Third Coast's mission is to make a measurable difference for its clients through search engine optimization, Pay Per Click and Content Marketing services. You can find George on Twitter and Google+. Connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.

Comments

  1. George;

    Thanks for the very comprehensive overview — it’s great to have that kind of expertise on the blog.

  2. Craig Simoes says:

    Finding unlinked brand mentions is really powerful. There’s a great free tool built into a Google doc that does it: http://www.ranktank.org/brand-unlinked-mentions-finder/

  3. I’ve used all of these except for Quick Sprout. I’ll have to give it a try. After a while of trying to do everything on our own and bootstrap it all, we finally hired an agency to take over the majority of our SEO/digital marketing. I think we had just reached that point where we needed professional help, but we couldn’t afford any of the bigger agencies. It was frustrating, but also forced us to expand our own knowledge and skills in the area. After finding a few companies that actually had small business pricing and good reviews (boostability, yellowpagesdigital.com, and a couple others I don’t remember), we went with Yellow Pages Digital. They seem to do everything organically and completely white hat, which is so important. Having gone through this process, I bet a post on how to find a digital marketing company for small businesses would be a great help to everyone out there. Thanks for the info!

  4. Thanks for sharing this valuable marketing tool, I also do use some of the tools in my daily professional life, such as smresh, Siteliner, majestic and SEOToolsCentre etc.

  5. webmaster tools already show all information. but ahrefs show you complete backlinks and traffic ideas. i will always suggest uses just webmaster tools for professional.

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