If you don’t do SEO for a living but want to do some major search marketing work with your website, you’re in luck. You don’t need to pay an expensive monthly fee if you need to do one-time research. The following are awesome SEO tools you can use for free or cheap for a limited time to do your search marketing research.
Premium SEO Tools with Free Account Options
First off, let’s start with premium SEO tools that offer free accounts for basic functionality.
MajesticSEO is a link research tool that offers a free account option that allows website owners to run detailed reports on their own websites and limited access to the following tools.
- Site Explorer – Site Explorer lets you explore a domain’s backlinks. It offers a summary of a website’s backlink profile (number of backlnks, referring domains, .edu backlinks, etc.).
- Keyword Checker – Search our index for a Keyword or Phrase and see how many times it appears, as well as getting the Search Volume for each keyword.
- Link Profile Fight – Compare the backlink profiles of two sites graphically with our enhanced link profile “fight” tool.
- Backlink History – Our Backlink History tool allows SEOs to determine the number of backlinks detected by our sophisticated web robots for given domains, subdomains or URLs.
- Bulk Backlink Checker – Our Bulk Backlink Checker is a valuable time saver when all you want is backlink counts for many domains. Using the simple form, just enter a few domains and we return the external backlink counts.
- Majestic Million – The top one Million Domains* on the internet – listed by TLD and updated frequently. Explore the top one Million Domains* on the internet with the Majestic Million tool.
- Comparator – Compare headline stats for up to 5 different domains with the site comparator tool.
- Neighborhood Checker – The Majestic SEO Neighbourhood checker tool presents a list of “neighbours” – or, in technical terms, the sites hosted on the same IP.
They also offer a tool called Clique Hunter that can find all of the ‘cliques’ that link to a list of domains, but it is for paid subscribers only. Paid subscriptions start at $49 per month.
Premium SEO Tools with Free Trials
Next, let’s look at services that give you a free trial to use their tools. These are in order of the tools that offer the longest to shortest free trial periods.
SEOmoz offers a 30 day free trial with full access to their SEO toolset. After the free trial, plans start at $99 per month for the following.
- Open Site Explorer – Research and compare backlinks with competitors for intelligent and targeted link building. Identify top pages, view social activity data, and analyze anchor text.
- Followerwonk – Analyze your followers, discover deep insights about your social graph, target influences, search Twitter bios, connect with interesting people, and so much more.
- Fresh Web Explorer – Discover emerging trends in keywords, phrases, and URLs in the webâ€™s freshest content. Search for conversations about your brand, your competitors or relevant industry terms to find fresh mentions and links.
- Rank Tracker – Our Rank Tracker allows you to check, track, and monitor where your site lands in Google, Yahoo, and Bing. We watch your ranking and give you peace of mind.
- On-Page Analysis – Receive graded on-page keyword targeting. Find out how well your pages are optimized for target keywords, and improve your site for best performance.
- Keyword Difficulty & SERP Analysis – Uncover opportunities, determine how challenging it is to rank for a keyword, and get a powerful analysis of your competitive landscape.
- Crawl Test – Check your site to see how accessible it is to the search engines, link information and identify common SEO problems that may be systemic.
Also, don’t miss their members-only resources. When you go to your Pro Dashboard, scroll down until you see the PRO resources which include webinars, discounts for members, and a list of the top directories you can submit your website to. I *think* these should be accessible during your free trial, but since I have a subscription, I can’t be 100% sure. Be on the lookout for them.
Raven Tools offers a 30 day free trial for their online marketing toolset. After the trial, plans start at $99 per month for unlimited projects and websites. While they were initially known for their link management tool, they also offer 30+ other tools for the following.
- SEO Research
- SEO Campaign Management
- SEO Link Building
- SEO Competitor Analysis
- Social Media Monitoring
- Social Media Campaign Management
- PPC Research
- PPC Campaign Management
It’s actually pretty insane how many tools they have built into their system for just about anything you need in your online marketing campaign.
Authority Labs is a simple service that allows you to track your keyword rankings across multiple domains. They offer a 30 day free trial. After your free trial, plans start at $49 per month for monitoring 250 keywords across 50 domains.
Whoosh Traffic is another keyword rank monitoring tool that offers a free 30 day trial. After your free trial, plans start at $49 for monitoring 300 keywords across unlimited domains plus email alerts about your rankings.
Along with their keyword monitoring tool, they have additional SEO tools in beta. These include the following.
- Keyword Research – Use this to see estimated global searches, exact searches in the US, CPC, and estimated value based on the CPC and number of searches in the US.
- Competitive Analysis – See what websites rank in the top positions for a particular keyword along their number of backlinks, age, PageRank, and whether the site uses the keyword in the domain, title tag, meta description, and H1 tag.
- Backlink Analysis – See the top 50 backlinks for a particular domain.
WebMeUp is a SEO dashboard currently in beta. They offer a 15 day free trial, after which plans start at $99 per month. Their tool allows you to monitor traffic, social, and search metrics for your website along with your competitors. The backlink research tool allows you to sort through backlinks based on PageRank, TLD, Alexa Traffic ranking, country, and number of outgoing links. You can also mark backlinks to monitor them in the link management section of your project.
cognitiveSEO offers a 14 day free trial for their powerful link analysis toolset. After the trial, pricing starts at $19 per month – one of the best for bloggers and small businesses.
- Backlink Reports – Aggregates backlink data from several different backlink providers such as MajesticSEO, SEOmoz, blekko, ahrefs and SEOKicks in one place.
- inBound Link Analysis – With our backlinks analysis you can keep an eye on your competition by monitoring their backlinks, no matter how many they are. Browsing large lists of backlinks will take you minutes, instead of hours, thanks to the charts that breaks down a link profile visually saving you lots of time you can use on other important tasks.
- Link Management – With the monitoring option, you’ll only spend a few minutes of your time managing your links. You will see a clear overview of the links that have changed a day before as well as the week before.
- Rank Tracking – With the Rank Tracking tool you will see where you are ranking in search against your competitors. This way you can determine where you need to make changes to increase your rankings and be the first in your niche.
- Campaigns – A campaign is a website youâ€™re analyzing. Once you add all the information about it â€“ including competitors â€“ you can run the analysis and then get an accurate and detailed report on that site to see how itâ€™s performing.
cognitiveSEO’s best feature? The Visual Link Explorer tool shown in the above image. This allows you to see everything about your own link profile and your main competitor’s at a glance. You can see everything about your link profile quickly: homepage vs. deep links, high authority vs. low quality links, nofollow vs. dofollow, website category, website type, and more. You can even hover over specific points on the explorer to see specifics about that particular link and click on it for more details.
It’s the best for those who might not fully understand link building as it includes so many different ways to visualize your link profile along with your competitors.
SEMrush is a PPC / keyword research tool that doesn’t normally have a free trial offer. But if you go to this post by SEOBook and click on the Start Your Free Trial button, you can get a 14 day free trial of their tools. Whenever this offer expires, you can subscribe for one month at $79.95 or a recurring subscription at $69.95 monthly.
Aside from their main PPC keyword research tool, they also have the following.
- Position Tracking – Tools that allows you to monitor your keyword rankings and your competitors in Google search. It also includes a backlink checker, potential ad buyers, and other features.
- Domain vs. Domain – Create charts showing the commonalities of multiple domains and their organic or paid search keywords.
- Charts – Create charts based on number of keywords, search engine traffic, number of ads, ad traffic, and ad price between multiple domains.
What I really like this tool for is content research. In the main search box, enter a keyword you’re targeting and then select one of the domains under Organic Results for that keyword. Then click on Organic Keywords for that domain. Sort the position column to show lowest to highest. Then Export to CSV or Excel.
You’ll now have a spreadsheet showing the top keywords that domain ranks for along with the related page on their website. Sort the data by Search Volume. This will help you see what keywords drive the most traffic to your competitors and what type of content will rank best for those keywords.
Link Prospector is a powerful discovery tool for link building opportunities. Their free trial is one free credit you can use for the discovery report of your choice. You can use this tool to find a variety of types of links as shown in the image above, from directories to topical blogs.
Premium SEO Tools at a Lower Rate
The following is one of the more pricey SEO tools out there that offers a way for everyone to use it at a lower cost.
Link Research Tools
Link Research Tools is one of the more expensive toolsets I’ve come across starting at $269 per month. Fortunately, they offer a Daypass that gives you access to their most popular tools and reports for 72 hours for $39. These tools include the following. Note that you will only get a limited amount of reports for each as noted in the parenthesis.
- Quick Backlinks (10) – See the top links of a domain/page including basic SEO metrics and charts within a minute!
- Quick Domain Compare (10) – Compare up to five domains based on the most important SEO metrics within a minute!
- Juice Tool (10) – Get detailed information about any page. Get data from the types of backlinks to trust and domain information.
- Competitive Landscape Analyzer (15 credits) – Compare your domain against your competitive landscape to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
- SERP Research Tool (3) – Find new link prospects easily! You can filter out results that are useless for your campaign and use our approved SEO metrics.
- Contact Finder (10) – Looking for a way to contact a site owner? Search the web for relevant people and their contact information.
- Common Backlinks Tool (3) – Find common backlinks off your competitors pages. If you want, we can even find your competitors for you!
- Link Juice Thief (3) – Find out where your competitors link to. If you get links there, your competitors are indirectly linking to you!
- Missing Links Tool (3) – Find links your competitors have from sites that talk about your niche and get links there, too!
- Link Detox (3) – Analyze all links to your website and get alerted about toxic and suspicious ones to clean up.
- Strongest Sub Pages Tool (3) – Find the strongest sub-pages and sub-folders of a domain and find the best page for your link!
If you suspect your website may have been affected by a Google penalty based on bad links (or probably will be), definitely grab a daypass and get a Link Detox report as shown in the image above. It will go through your link profile and sort them by toxic (definitely bad links), suspicious (possibly bad links), and healthy (good links). This way you don’t remove good links when working to get back in Google’s good graces.
While these tools do not have a free trial, they are well worth the price for their unique features.
If you are working with a local business, Whitespark will discover unique places to list yourself based on your keywords and location. Accounts start at $20 per month.
Broken Link Finder
Broken link building, in a nutshell, is the process where you find a page with a broken link. You let the webmaster know they have a broken link on that page. After you offer them the helpful tip, you let them know that you have a website that would be a perfect fit for that page in hopes that they will add your link while taking down the other.
The Broken Link Finder tool makes discovery of broken links in your niche easy. Just enter a keyword and you will receive related broken links. You just export the backlinks to that broken link and start sending your helpful tips and requests. Pricing for this tool starts at $69 for 10 credits towards broken link searches. You can also use your credits to reserve a particular broken link so that you can be the only person who uses it for link building.
How to Get the Most from Your Trial Subscriptions
There are two ways you can get the most out of your free trials and daypasses with any SEO tool.
First, plan. Before you start your free trial, look at the tools you will have access to and figure out what websites / keywords you want to analyze with them. This will give you more time to use the tools and less time diddling around with what you want to do with them.
Second, export. Export every piece of data you can as an Excel / CSV. If you don’t have Microsoft Office, you can download Open Office for free or import your spreadsheets into Google Drive. This will also help you spend less time analyzing one report and more time creating reports that you can dig into later.
Also, for the tools that make you enter a credit card in order to start the free trial, set a reminder for yourself to review whether you want to keep the subscription or cancel two days before the trial is scheduled to end. This way you won’t be surprised by a potentially hefty charge two to four weeks down the road.
There are a lot of SEO tools out there – these are just the ones I have used. What are your favorites?
As a disclaimer, I do use affiliate links for some of the products listed. They are all products I would recommend regardless of whether they have an affiliate program.