Search engine optimization isn’t always complicated or expensive. Many tasks can be done in-house using free tools that analyze aspects of your site to help resolve issues or errors.
I will cover five of these tools in this article.
Free DIY SEO Tools
Google Search Console provides an incredible amount of insight (and reporting) on your site’s health and performance, including:
- Rankings and traffic generating search queries,
- Page load times and usability,
- Decline in rankings and organic traffic,
- Links to your site and with anchor text,
- Manual penalties or warnings.
The Search Console has its limits, however:
- Only 16 months of data.
- The “Links” report is inaccurate. Thanks to years of experience, I now combine third-party tools with Search Console to find everything backlinks.
- Your site only. Analyzing a competitor’s site requires external (paid) tools.
Page comparison. Several factors – backlinks, user experience, keywords – impact organic rankings. But the on-page factors are the easiest to control. Comparing a higher ranking page to yours can identify weaknesses that need to be fixed.
Webmaster World’s Page Comparison Tool highlights the differences at a glance, including:
- The word count of two or more pages,
- Keywords – expressions of two or three words on a page – to know the orientation of a competitor,
- The HTML headers of each page to compare page structures,
- Internal and external links on every page.
SEO Book’s spider test tool provides similar analysis but only for one page at a time. Yet comparing pages is easy by opening multiple tabs.
- Alt text image descriptions that don’t make sense.
Check Google’s cache for any page, yours or a competitor’s, provided the site hasn’t blocked Google’s caching.
Check my links. Broken links and redirects hurt usability and send the wrong signals to Google. It is therefore essential to regularly check all links. Several tools can analyze (and fix) on-page links for any page.
One example is Check My Links, a Chrome extension. It will color code the links on a page:
- Green: Live links,
- Light green: valid redirects.
- Red: broken links to fix.
LinkMiner is a similar extension. Broken Link Checker, a free WordPress plugin, identifies and fixes broken links and redirects, as do other plugin alternatives that include additional functionality.
Google flagship. The above tools mostly locate easy-to-fix issues. Google’s Lighthouse, while free, can identify issues that likely require an expert.
Lighthouse is part of Chrome’s “Web Developer Tools”. It rates a page:
- Performance: A Core Web Vitals check evaluating load times and mobile functionality.
- Accessibility: Highlight items that are difficult to read or access by blind or disabled users.
- SEO : Meta tags, structured data, etc.
Not all SEO issues can be identified or fixed internally. However, many can, especially for small to medium sized websites. But larger sites and those with custom code and complex functionality usually require professional help.