March 22, 2023 | Robert Campbell
We’re living in a Golden Age of SEO Tools as many web monitoring companies give away valuable data for free to secure leads and raise the bar on competitors. Knowing where to get good stuff without paying can boost your SEO abilities and allow you to create more insightful proposals and reports without increasing your overhead. An inexpensive second opinion is a validator and another way digital agencies can show due diligence.
Giving away free research power alongside a premium service is the Freemium model and it works well in the web-monitoring industry where the product being delivered is data. Offering a robust suite of free auditing services is a status symbol for SEO tool companies. Titans like the brands you see above will say they’re being altruistic by donating their service to small business owners, but really they’re using their complimentary offerings to generate mailing lists, and to appear more venerated, and to crystalize the notion that they’re indispensable at any level.
Free SEO tools we actually use at KPDI
When composing this list of free SEO tools, we debated whether to list them alphabetically, or by their function, or by the order in which they appear in reports and proposals. In the end, we decided to rank them by their age and by their own glory with the oldest and most glorious placed at the top of the list.
MOZ is a respected Domain Authority Measuring Stick
Moz was founded by Rand Fishkin and Gillian Muessig in 2004 which makes it the oldest and most venerated company on our list. It was called SEOmoz originally and started life as a blog and online community where some of the world’s first SEO experts shared their research and ideas.
Open Site Explorer was their groundbreaking website SEO auditing tool which they introduced by giving it away for free in 2008. Right from the beginning their efforts centered on backlinks and finding link-building opportunities and they pioneered the idea of using their equipment to discover potentially damaging, rank-impacting toxic links. OSE had a meter for toxicity. In April 2018, all that came to an end when MOZ dropped Open Site Explorer and introduced a more refined Link Explorer with a new dataset and more advanced AI modeling, apparently.
Above is how MOZ appears in our proposals and reports. We don’t pay for this. We use a simple graphics program to clean a screengrab and cut away all the numbers that have no relevance. Then we add the current date and save it so it can be used later as a benchmark to chart growth. There’s only one number worth noting, and that’s the Domain Authority score (and also Page Authority score if checking a sub URL). MOZ is the most well known and well respected domain authority measuring stick primarily because it’s so old and famous, but also because it’s essentially free.
How to get MOZ Link Explorer for free?
The best way to get MOZ Link Explorer for free is to ignore all the prompts on their website and navigate directly to MOZ.com/link-explorer by typing that in the address bar. Register for site membership and use the Create Account option with email and password. Once you’ve verified your email, ignore all the messaging and navigate directly back to the Link Explorer page again. MOZ gives each member (unpaid, but registered user) ten free searches every thirty days.
SpyFu’s Kombat Visualization Tool is Free
Founded in 2005, SpyFu has been a trusted intelligence gathering tool for SEO for eighteen years. In our collective memories, their SEO Kombat visualization tool has always been a Freemium giveaway. The pretty pictures can be made for nothing (without even logging in), but obtaining complete lists of related keywords requires a membership.
Anyone can come along and type in their domain URL, and add two competitors’ URLs, and the program will make this compelling graphic which shows a combined SE rankings battlefield. Here is our agency alongside two slightly larger firms which have their offices in the Mowat Carpet Factory. The common keywords are mostly digital agency related search terms.
Kombat battlefield graphics are an exciting insertion to SEO proposals especially if the potential client is locked in a close race with competitors. This informative graphic is more than just a pretty picture. The different sections show webmasters where they need to take action to increase the size of their presence relative to the other businesses. Unpaid users can click on the tabs and see lists of keyword search terms, but to get the full package requires a paid subscription. Unregistered users can still track the most common keywords, and note their strengths and weaknesses. Their strengths are searches where they are unrivalled, and their weaknesses are the areas where competitors’ alone appear for popular queries.
SEO Spyglass First Appeared as an Espionage Tool
In 2006, Aleh Barysevich and Yuri Bitno debuted SEO Spyglass as a competition espionage tool and it has since evolved into an increasingly powerful incoming link checker. At the time of this writing, their database has grown to 2.7 trillion links from 7.1 billion web pages and a great portion are crawled daily.
In addition to using MOZ Link Explorer, we also use Ahrefs com’s backlink-checker because it’s also free (for all the same reasons that have already been discussed), but what Ahrefs offers for free is far inferior to SEO Spyglass in terms of its depth and scope and because of how the data appears out-of-order in Ahrefs. To be clear, Ahrefs is an industry giant and uses their own proprietary Domain Rating score which they show to users as DR Rating, but they now keep hidden the UR or Page Rating score which is the metric they actually use to rank the links on display in the Freemium offering. The resulting array appears unsorted.
SEO SpyGlass by contrast makes pages of data available and allows users to index their research any way they desire. The company boasts they can detect and measure new incoming links faster than all other backlink checkers. Getting the service requires a download, but is otherwise free.
Above, in the bottom left corner is the ubiquitous upgrade button. SEO Spyglass has further optimized their conversion rate by adding a 20% discount if the user upgrades within the first twenty-four hours. Presumably, their thinking is the average user will be so impressed with these free offerings that they’ll rush to buy a service package to discover what else could be provided. If not accepted today, what will be offered tomorrow?
In the example above, the free tool also tells us that our own KPDI agency website has terrific incoming links stemming from the live events and industry talks we hosted years ago. Eventbrite invitations and social media reactions top our list, but these are nofollow links. The blogs and editorial media documenting those events is what has boosted our reputation and added to our trust score, and that’s how we’ve achieved our MOZ 25 Domain Authority rating.
SEObility’s SEO Checker is a Secret Free Tool
SEObility.net debuted on Oct 1, 2013. It was born in what was then a more crowded website auditing service marketplace and the heavy competition informed their offering. They maxed out their On-Page SEO error checking efforts and put as much as they could in a single report. The idea could have been to put everything on one page and thus not require the user to switch about to get this or that type of information, and that’s how it works today.
SEObility grew really fast by offering such a robust free service and eventually they removed all prompts from the homepage to their free SEOCheck service page, and then they limited the amount of audits an unpaid user could conduct; it’s currently three checks every 24hrs. The company was acquired on Sep 1, 2022 by saas.group for an undisclosed amount. We’ve been waiting for SEObility’s free tool to disappear entirely, but it lives on, hidden on the back of their website with no clear navigation to the page. Its a secret.
SEObility is a good education tool that an SEO practitioner can use to show a prospective client where they could easily make changes and better conform to search engine guidelines. Like all of the free ‘website graders’, we take exception to how they score a page, but regardless they scrape up a lot of information which makes it easier to plan other strategic fixes and recombobulations.
Use LetterCount to Compose Snappy Meta Descriptions
Lastly, we use a free tool called Letter Count to compose 156 character meta descriptions. We like this handy service better than Yoast, which is not on all of our clients’ CMS dashboards, and other services which use colors to indicate the correct length. We find it easier to compose meta descriptions here and we make spreadsheets and do whole websites at once. We pride ourselves on Meta Description structure (which is X + A, B, C.) and we’ve proven our style is effective by measuring associated click through rates.
In preparing our SEO content marketing strategies, and our monthly reports to measure our efforts, the experts at KPDI use an arsenal of digital weapons which includes both paid services and free SEO tools. We predominantly employ SEMrush ranking data to tell stories and draw insights and find opportunities in clients’ search landscapes. But we also have a paid Screaming Frog account and use Bright Local for N.A.P. citation tracking.
Our monthly reports typically open on Google Analytics – Audience Overview followed by the Traffic Acquisition Overview. SEMrush position tracking data is presented in a table wherein we pinpoint the search terms that are doing the most work. After that, we can play jazz with it. Depending on our passion for the plan, or how much convincing might be required to elicit a sale or contract renewal, our SEO team may use any one of five free services to add more data to our documents.
Would you like to see an artful combination of paid and free website auditing tools displaying your business data? What stories could we tell about your operation and your struggle for market share? Perhaps one of these free services will better inform your thinking and inspire a content marketing campaign which doubles your online business presence and the findability of your most profitable goods and services. Contact us today.