23+ Free DIY SEO Tools: All You Need to Strategically Plan Your Way to #1 Position on Google’s SERPs

Here are three awesome stats on the power of SEO to turn your head.

  • As of 2022, there are now over 7 billion searches per day on Google. (Up from 3.5 billion per day in 2019!)
  • 53% of web traffic comes from organic SEO, compared to only 27% from paid search.
  • The first page of results on Google gets 71.33% of all clicks, compared to only 5.59% on pages two and three.

If you’re a marketer, this means one thing:

It’s time to get cracking on those SEO strategies!

The problem:

SEO won’t work if you approach it in a hit-or-miss manner. Guesswork and “publish and pray” will do nothing to get you a top position on Google.

What you DO need for great SEO is hard data and a strategic roadmap to success, which you can get with solid, well-optimized content and solid SEO tools.

Problem #2?

These tools are expensive, and maybe beyond your startup’s monthly budget.

Not to worry, though! I’ve put together this guide just for you. In it we’ll look at:

  • A list of the best free DIY SEO tools out there
  • Step-by-step guidance on how to use each tool
  • Free SEO tools you should never use
  • Plus, I’ll show you my favorite paid tools (for when you’re growing and ready to make a bigger investment)

Ready to rock Google’s SERPs?

Let’s dive in!

For a full run-down of the tools, systems, and strategies you need to build a self-sustaining, profitable online business, check out my free class

free DIY SEO tools

Free DIY SEO Tools: 5 Keyword Research and SEO Agency Tools

Need to find profitable keywords for your content?

Try these five tools for free.

(Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links. However, don’t worry! I never promote tools I don’t personally use – and love. ♥)

1. Free Trial: DIY SEO Tool Semrush

Semrush is one of my personal favorite tools for keyword research. (I use the paid version, but you can totally use it for free if you’re just starting out!) It’s incredibly comprehensive, and packed with everything you need to discover profitable keywords for targeted traffic and leads.

To begin, head over to Semrush’s signup page. All you need are your email and a password to create your own account.

SEMrush create your account

Once you create your account, you have two options:

  • Sign up for a free trial (where you can test the complete arsenal of Semrush’s tools for 7 days — after that you’ll be charged for a plan unless you cancel)
  • Use Semrush’s free version (you’ll have limited searches and access to data, but that’s OK for starters)

To start your free trial, click Get free trial. If you’d rather go for the free version, click Skip trial.

semrush free trial sign-up

Now, let’s get into how to use Semrush for free!

If you chose to skip the trial, you’ll go straight to your Semrush dashboard. It looks like this.

semrush dashboard

To begin, choose one of your seed keywords. (Keyword research always begins with brainstorming seed keywords. Get the details on this in my in-depth guide.)

Navigate to Keyword Overview from the left menu.

semrush keyword overview

Type your chosen keyword into the search box at the top of the dashboard. For example, let’s say you go with “writing tips” as your seed keyword.

researching keyword on semrush

Once you click Search, you’ll be able to view specific data on your chosen keyword such as:

  • Search volume
  • Keyword difficulty score
  • Keyword variations
  • Questions
  • Related keywords

semrush keyword overview for writing tips

Here are four great tips for using these analytics:

  • Go for a search volume of above 1,000
  • Go for a keyword difficulty score of 40 or below if your site is new. For older sites, you can go for 60 or below.
  • Use the Keyword Variations section to find other keywords to target.
  • Use the Related Keywords section to find amazing secondary keywords to sprinkle in your content.

If you scroll down, you’ll find the top sites ranking for your chosen keyword.

semrush serp analysis

Are the results accurate?

You bet! Head over to Google and you’ll find that MasterClass does indeed rank #1 organically for writing tips.

google serp for writing tips

Of course, using Semrush’s free version comes with a downside — its limitations.

  • You’re limited to 10 searches per day. If you click a link to view a report, that counts as one search.
  • You’re limited to 10 results per search. For example, the Keyword Variations section (which leads to the Keyword Magic Tool) lists 13.6k keyword variations. However, you’ll only be able to see 10 of them.
  • You won’t be able to view your keyword research history.

For a list of all the limitations in your free Semrush account, check out Semrush’s blog post.

Don’t worry. If you chose the free trial, you can always downgrade to the free account by emailing [email protected].

2. 10-Day Free Trial: DIY SEO Tool Mangools KWFinder  

If you’re just beginning the content marketing journey and you need a few keywords to jumpstart your website, you can use the 10-day free trial of Mangools KWFinder.

To start, sign up for a new account. (What’s great is you don’t need to add your credit card information for the trial. When your 10 days are up, your account will simply expire and you can decide whether or not to go for the paid version.)

The sign-up process is super easy. Simply fill in the blanks with your information, head over to your email, and click the confirm link they send you.

KWFinder create an account

What I love about KWFinder is its user-friendliness. You can view important keyword data on your dashboard, complete with:

  • Search volume
  • Keyword difficulty score
  • SERP overview

mangools kwfinder dashboard

You can also refine your search by clicking Filter above the list of keywords.

KWFinder filter

Let’s say you want to filter for a search volume of 1,000 and a keyword difficulty score below 50.

KWFinder filterClick Set Filter to view your results.
KWFinder result with filter

3. Free Version: DIY SEO Tool Moz Keyword Explorer

Another great tool to add to your toolkit is the Moz Keyword Explorer. Moz Keyword Explorer has a paid version, but let’s dive into what you can do with the free version.

To start, you’ll need to create an account on the platform.

Moz sign up

On your dashboard, you’ll be able to see which tools you can use for free (and which are locked until you get the paid version). You can also see how many queries you have left (Moz Keyword Explorer’s free version allows you to get 10 queries per month).

Moz dashboard

To start using the keyword explorer, type your keyword into the search field.

Moz keyword research

Click Analyze to view your results.

moz keyword explorer overview

The Moz Keyword Explorer is great because it shows you everything you want to know about a keyword in one glance. Plus, it has extra features that most other SEO tools don’t have. These are:

  • Organic CTR: Learn how many clicks come from organic instead of paid search.
  • Priority: According to the MOZ Q&A Forum, Priority “was conceived to aggregate all the other metrics – Difficulty, Opportunity, Volume, and (if you choose it) Importance.” The higher the priority score, the better your keyword.

Moz Keyword Explorer is also unique because you can view unlimited search results with a free account.

For example, say you want to view the complete list of keyword suggestions. All you need to do is click See all suggestions at the bottom of the keyword suggestions preview.

Moz keyword suggestions

This will allow you access to the complete list of suggestions for your keyword.

Moz unlimited keyword suggestions

seo course

4. Free DIY SEO Tool: Answer the Public

If you’re looking for a simple tool that gives you information on exactly what people are searching online, Answer the Public is a great place to start. This tool churns out a list of Google and Bing’s autosuggest features to show you keywords actual people are using.  

To start using Answer the Public, type your keyword idea into the search field and click Search.

What you’ll get is a bunch of keywords and keyword ideas for your content.

Here are the results you’ll get (complete with cool visualization).

  • Questions: The top questions people are asking about your keyword. For example, “tips when writing a book” and “tips when writing an essay.”
Answer the Public questions
  • Prepositions: These are keyword variations people use when they search for your keyword using certain prepositions. For example, “writing tips for beginners” and “writing tips in English.”
Answer the Public prepositions
  • Comparisons. Keyword variations based on words such as “or,” “versus,” and “like.”
  • Alphabeticals. These are keyword variations listed from A to Z. As you can see, the list is comprehensive!
Answer the Public alphabeticals
  • Related. These are keywords similar to your seed keyword.

Free DIY SEO Tools: 10 SEO Checker Tools and SEO Web Page Analysis Tools

Want to know how your site is doing in the SERPs?

Want to strategically plan your way to the top, plus beat your competition?

Check out these 10 free tools.

Free DIY SEO Tool #1: Semrush’s Off-Page SEO Analysis Tool

To check out your site’s SEO in Semrush, simply head over to your dashboard and type your URL into the search field.

You can select whether you want to do a Domain Overview or Keyword Overview.

semrush domain and keyword overview

Select Domain Overview and you’ll see your domain authority, organic search traffic, and backlinks. You can also check out your organic and paid search traffic trends.

semrush domain overview

  • Authority Score. This number refers to your domain authority. New sites are ranked one, while more established ones can go up to 100. The higher your domain authority, the stronger your site.
  • Organic Search Traffic. This tells you how many organic visitors you’re getting, plus how many organic keywords you’re ranking for.

Scroll down to see the top keywords your site is ranking for.

semrush top organic keywords

  • Backlinks. Backlinks are inbound links from other websites. Click the backlinks tab to view more detailed information…

semrush backlink analytics

…and scroll down to see who’s linking to you and which pieces of content they’ve linked to.

semrush backlinks list

Want to see how you’re doing against competitors?

Go back to your dashboard and type your domain into the Domain Overview search bar. Then, scroll down to Main Organic Competitors. These are the brands and organizations you’re competing against in the SERPs.

Free DIY SEO Tool #2: Moz’s Free Tools

Moz’s tools aren’t only for keyword research. They have great SEO analytics tools, too (you can use the limited versions for free).

To start, click Free SEO Tools at the top right of your dashboard.

Moz Free SEO Tools

Let’s look at the tools one by one.

1. MozBar

MozBar is amazing because it lets you see page authority and domain authority without leaving the page or SERP.

To start using it, you’ll need to download the extension. (Don’t worry, it’s totally free and takes only a few minutes to download.)

Click MozBar from the Free SEO Tools dropdown menu, then click the download button.

MozBar download page

After you’ve downloaded it, go to your extensions options and select MozBar.

MozBar chrome extension install

Click on the blue M to activate MozBar.

MozBar extension in Chrome

When you do, the extension will appear on your browser. Visit any site to instantly see its page authority, links, domain authority, and spam score. (All this data is included in the free version. To unlock more data for MozBar, you’ll need to pay for Moz Pro.)

MozBar in action

2. Link Explorer

Moz’s Link Explorer allows you to view your site’s domain authority, linking domains, inbound links, and ranking keywords.

To use it, simply click Link Explorer from the dropdown menu and type your keyword into the search field.

Moz free SEO tools - Link Explorer

moz link explorer

Click Analyze to view your results.

Just like other free Moz tools, you only get 10 free queries per month.

3. Check My Online Presence

This tool is great if you run a local business. It helps you discover if your website is listed accurately and consistently across all web directories.

Using it is super easy. Simply type in your company’s name and address to get started.

moz local listing score tool

Free DIY SEO Tool #3: Check My Links

Worried your site has broken links but don’t have enough time to check them one by one?

Try Check My Links, a Chrome extension you can use as you browse. It highlights broken links so you can see what needs fixing at a glance.

To start, you’ll need to install the extension on your browser. Click the Add to Chrome button and select Add extension in the pop-up box that appears.

Check My Links Chrome extenstion

Once you see the extension on your toolbar, click it and select Options.

Check My Links options

Check the boxes depending on your preferences and save when you’re done.

Check My Links options menu

The next step is to visit a page you want to check. When you land on the page, Check My Links will ask your permission to access it.

Click the extension and reload the page.

Check My Links wants access

Here you go!

Using Check My Links on a Content Hacker blog

As you scroll through the page, you’ll see each link highlighted in green, yellow, or red.

Content Hacker blog with Check My Links

Cool, huh?

Free DIY SEO Tool #4: Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider

If you want a quick way to make sure your website’s SEO is running on all cylinders, check out Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider. It checks for:

  • Broken links
  • Page titles and meta descriptions that are missing, too short/long, or duplicated
  • Duplicate content
  • Redirect chains and loops

To begin, download SEO spider to your computer.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider

Here’s what you can get from the tool’s free version.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider paid vs free features

Free DIY SEO Tool #5: SEO Plagiarism Tools

Worried about unintentionally toeing the line between taking inspiration and copying? Use a free SEO plagiarism checker to make sure your content is totally unique. The two below are solid and easy to use:

Plagiarism Checker

Free DIY SEO Tool #6: SEO Title Tools and Snippet Tools

A compelling title and meta description can mean the difference between people clicking or people ignoring your site in the SERPs.

So, before you hit that publish button, it’s a great idea to test-drive your meta title and description first.

Here are three free tools that allow you to do that.

  • Portent’s SERP Preview Tool. This tool makes it easy for you to stay within the recommended meta title and description length.
Portent SERP Preview Tool
EZlocal pro
  • Google SERP Simulator. This tool allows you to actually preview what your meta title and description will look like on the SERPs.

Free DIY SEO Tool #7: SEO Site Checker Tool

If you want a quick overview of your site SEO, these tools are gold.

  • Sitechecker. This free checker gives you an in-depth look at your site’s technical SEO. You can view your site’s critical errors, warnings, and more.
Sitechecker

What I love about this tool is how simple yet detailed it is. Click any of the cards to dig into your site’s main issues. For instance, let’s look at the Critical Errors card.

Sitechecker critical errors

Free DIY SEO Tool #8: SEO Submission Tools

If your site is new, you won’t have any links that’ll help Google’s spiders crawl your pages.

To submit your site to search engines, use this tool.

  • Entireweb. Simply fill in the blanks with your URL and email address and click Proceed. Go to your email and confirm by clicking the link you receive. Your site will then be submitted to the top search engines like Google, Bing, AOL, and more.

Free DIY SEO Tool #9: WordPress SEO Plugins and Tools

If you use WordPress as your content publishing platform, you need these free SEO WordPress plugins.

  • Yoast SEO – This is the #1 WordPress SEO plugin for a reason. It gives you all the tools you need to optimize your posts right inside the WordPress platform. Yoast SEO even includes analysis and suggestions to improve your SEO.
Yoast SEO analysis
  • SEO Press – This is an easy-to-use tool that will help you optimize your content, improve your SEO, and boost traffic and social sharing – all from within WordPress.
SEO Press

Free DIY SEO Tool #10: Google Trends (YouTube SEO Tool)

Did you know you can search for topic trends on YouTube with Google Trends? Simply enter your search term and select “YouTube Search” from the last filter category.

Google Trends for YouTube

The data shows you how popular your keyword is with YouTube searchers.

the art of writing for an online audience

Beware the Cost of Relying Too Heavily on Cheap Tools

We’ve gone over a TON of free DIY SEO tools, which are great options for the bootstrapped business owner (that was me, once upon a time).

But, you shouldn’t stick to free SEO tools for a lifetime. Only use them as long as you need them. Once you can afford better, upgrade post-haste.

Why’s that?

Two reasons.

Reason #1: Paid Tools Have Better Development, Maintenance, & Data

Paid tools are brilliant because money is put into hiring talented professionals to research, develop, and maintain them. (In the same way, quality ingredients like Ruta Maya organic premium roast coffee beans will make your latte more expensive than the free instant coffee you get on your cafeteria lunch break.) ☕

free diy seo tools quote

I’ll show you an example.

(This is why I never recommend using free tools for keyword research indefinitely!)

Do you want to invest all that time writing and creating around a keyword you thought you could rank for…

Only to find out the data is bad and you’ll never rank organically in Google for that keyword? Or, it’s going to be much harder than you thought? 🤦🏼‍♀️

Never, ever completely trust free keyword research tools.

Let’s look at the keyword “content strategy.” I plugged it into two tools.

First, a free tool: Ubersuggest — and then a paid tool: my subscription to KWFinder. Look at the big difference.

difference between free and paid keyword tools

“Easy” to rank for vs. “possible” is a BIG, GIANT difference!

Never invest your time in keywords you haven’t researched deeply enough.

And the best way to know if the data is right?

A tool that charges you for a subscription is FUNDING their development. That means the quality of their system is better than the free tool.

(My top favorite SEO tools, besides Mangools’ KWFinder: Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz.)

Reason #2: Free Tools Greatly Limit Your Research Capabilities

To get accurate, robust keyword data, you don’t want limits. ❌

Free versions of paid tools are extremely limited, which in turn will limit your ability to find the data you need.

You could miss big keyword opportunities because the data is missing or locked in a free tool.

And missing opportunities matters in SEO. You can bet that your competitor will see them and grab them, and ultimately earn great keyword rankings that bring leads their way.

In this scenario, it’s like those leads are walking straight past your doorstep to your competitor a block away. And it’s all because you were too cheap to spring for a paid tool once you could afford it. (Yikes. 🙈)

Leveling Up from Free DIY SEO Tools: 4 Paid SEO Tools Worth the Investment

Yes, free SEO tools are great to start with.

But the moment you have the budget for premium paid tools, don’t be afraid to invest — you’ll get better data, which will help your SEO immensely.

Here are four I recommend.

SEO Tool #1: Semrush (Paid Version)

If you’re starting out and want just one paid SEO tool, definitely make it Semrush.

I personally use it for my keyword research and SEO analysis, and it’s pure gold.

I’ve already given you a hint of Semrush’s awesomeness with the free version, but here’s what you’ll get when you go for the paid version.

  • Up to 10,000 rows of data on your searches (compared to just 10 in the free version)
  • Up to 3,000 keyword reports (compared to just one in the free version)
  • Track up to 500 keywords at once

Pricing:

  • Pro: $99.95/month billed annually or $119.95 billed monthly
  • Guru: $191.62/month billed annually or $229.95 billed monthly
  • Business: $374.95/month billed annually or $449.95 billed monthly

For a deeper explanation of why I love Semrush, check out this video:

SEO Tool #2: Ahrefs’ Suite of Tools

If you’re going to buy SEO tools, make sure Ahrefs is on your consideration list. Purchasing a plan from Ahrefs gives you access to their entire toolkit, including:

  • Keywords Explorer – A comprehensive keyword research tool
  • Site Explorer – Check your organic search traffic and backlink profile
  • Content Explorer – Research popular content and see what’s getting engagement
  • Rank tracker – Track your SERP rankings and compare to your competitors’
  • Site Audit – Crawl your entire site and get a thorough look at how it’s performing, SEO-wise
  • Alerts – Get alerts whenever you’re mentioned online, whenever you earn or lose backlinks, or when your keyword rankings change

ahrefs toolbar

Pricing:

  • Lite: $99/month
  • Standard: $199/month
  • Advanced: $399/month
  • Agency: $999/month

By the way, investing in paid SEO tools is just one piece of a solid business strategy that leads to GROWTH. Learn all of the other working parts with 1:1 guidance, lessons, templates, and more in my Content Transformation System.

SEO Tool #3: BuzzSumo

Sure, you can write splendidly around a keyword and see your content shoot to the #1 position in Google…

…but how do you know your audience will love what you write about it?

Enter BuzzSumo.

This amazing tool shows you EXACTLY what your audience loves by giving you a list of top-shared articles and blogs around your keyword.

Is BuzzSumo technically an SEO tool?

No.

However, I’ll argue that topic research and keyword research go hand-in-hand. When you find the golden combination of profitable keywords + on-point topics, your content will fly.

To use BuzzSumo, enter your keyword/topic into the search box to see top-shared blogs and articles surrounding those terms. Analyze what’s doing well, the angle they used, and how you could do better.

buzzsumo content analyzer

With BuzzSumo, you can also check what’s working for your competition. Simply type your competitor’s domain in the search box to see their top-shared content.

buzzsumo domain content analyzer

Pricing:

  • Pro: $79/month billed annually or $99 billed monthly
  • Medium: $139/month billed annually or $179 billed monthly
  • Large: $239/month billed annually or $299/billed monthly

SEO Tool #4: Mangools KWFinder (Paid Version)

Mangools KWFinder is a must-have if you’re going into paid tools. It’s the easiest keyword research tool out there, plus it’s more affordable than other tools.

Already using the free trial of KWFinder? Simply upgrade to the paid version after your 10-day trial.

Pricing:

  • Basic: $29.90/month billed annually
  • Premium: $39.90/month billed annually
  • Agency: $79.90/month billed annually

4 Free DIY SEO Tools to Stay Away From

Before we end, I’ll list four SEO tools you should avoid. (Warning: Don’t touch #3 and #4 with a ten-foot pole!)

  • AtoZ SEO Tools. You don’t need AtoZ SEO tools. Why? You can get all of them free from other, more reputable sources like Moz Keyword Explorer, the free version of Semrush, and more.
  • Small SEO Tools Article Rewriter. Don’t use this tool, or any rewriter tool in general. Unless you’re into black hat SEO — which you’re not.
  • Shared SEO Tools. These are tools bought by a merchant and shared by a bunch of people using VPNs. Nope, nope, nope.
  • Nulled SEO Tools. Nulled SEO tools are the equivalent of pirated software. In other words, they’re stolen tools. Need I say more?

The Best Free DIY SEO Tools for SERP Ranking Success

Here’s the thing.

You can guess which keywords will get you success on Google’s SERPs and “publish and pray” yourself to mediocre results.

OR you can invest in quality SEO tools and consistently strategize your way to the top.

free diy seo tools quote

I know you’ll pick the second option.

Now, the mic is over to you!

Which SEO tools caught your attention? Which do you plan on trying out first? Have you tried any of them, and what did you think of them? Do you have a favorite SEO tool I missed mentioning?

And if you’re ready to get serious about building your business with the right tools, systems, and strategies that lead directly to growth…

You need my Content Transformation System.

This is my 12-month mentorship program packed full of absolutely everything I’ve learned and know about building successful brands…

Including leveraging SEO in content marketing for massive results. 💯

This is the strategy that shot my brand from $30k months to $70k months in just one year. 🚀

You’ll work with me in a powerful curriculum and get clear on how to build your business so it runs on autopilot AND soars to the next level.

Want to get started on learning how to build a sustainable business – for free? Begin with my entirely free class for solopreneurs building their business through content strategy. See how content strategy works, and how to build one from scratch. Sign up to watch now.

free class from content hacker choose your level

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.