10 Premium SEO Tools That You Can Try for Free (or Cheap)

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

MajesticSEO Site Explorer

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

SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty Tool

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 web’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

raven-tools-site-metrics

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
  • Content
  • PPC Research
  • PPC Campaign Management
  • Metrics
  • Reporting

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

authority-labs-keyword-tracking-tool

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.

WhooshTraffic

whooshtraffic-keyword-monitoring-tool

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

webmeup-project-dashboard

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

cognitiveSEO-visual-link-explorer

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 you’re analyzing. Once you add all the information about it – including competitors – you can run the analysis and then get an accurate and detailed report on that site to see how it’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.

cognitiveSEO-visual-link-explorer-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

SEMrush Keyword PPC Research Tool

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.

semrush-for-keyword-content-research

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

Link Prospector Link Opportunity Discovery Types

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 Link Detox Report

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.

Honorable Mentions

While these tools do not have a free trial, they are well worth the price for their unique features.

Whitespark

Whitespark Local Search Citation Finder

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.

broken-link-finder-search-results

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.

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Comments

  1. says

    Awesome list Kristi!

    Nice to be here after long, and I love the new look of your blog too. :)

    Wow! I have just about heard of all of them, and to be very honest keep debating about which one is THE ideal one we should use – I guess for a lay person it can get rather confusing when you have so many options in hand.

    I know there are trial periods that can help you decide, but which one from all of these would you really recommend – a personal choice as such. I ask as you have used all of them, and there could be no better judge than you to help us decide. :)

    Thanks for sharing this one, and I am just bookmarking it to get back to later when I need one too. :) Have a great week ahead :)
    Harleena Singh just posted 30 Top Women Bloggers of Aha!NOW

    • says

      Thanks Harleena! I have used all of these and, as someone very familiar with SEO, I love them all. I think that everyone needs to try them all until they find what really works for them. Like cognitiveSEO, for example, offers a lot of ways to visualize what makes up your link profile which would be easier for someone with no SEO experience to understand compared to a site that just lists your backlinks and you have to categorize them yourself. I love SEMrush – unique features you can’t get in other tools, especially when it comes to seeing a site’s top keywords in organic search and the pages that rank for those keywords. They’re all really worth it – it’s just a matter of finding which one you like using and understand the best.

  2. says

    Deferentially a lot of tool to try, Great list Kristi.
    I ever have a trial period of MajesticSEO but don’t know If I can use it as what pictured here :lol: One that I mostly want to try now may be SeoMoz, because the site itself already a good resource for me to get newest updates about SEO.

    Thanks, once again :)
    Tiyo Kamtiyono just posted WordPress SEO Plugin Review; SEO Ultimate

    • says

      You’re welcome Kyle. I would say, in this order, keyword research, on-site optimization, and then link building. You can’t do anything until you have your target keywords set, and link building is useless if you haven’t optimized your pages for the keywords you’re trying to rank for. SEOmoz has a nice beginner’s guide to SEO if you’re just starting out too! http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo

    • says

      I have an account with all of these Richard. I probably use SEMrush and cognitiveSEO the most on a regular basis, but if I’m deep diving into a project, I’ll run all of the ones that do competitive analysis on it. I’m new to the Broken Link Finder, so I’ve been playing with that one a lot too.

    • says

      I liked the free version of SEMrush too, but kept running into the need to see beyond the limits for free members. I love having the option to export thousands of organic keywords and sort them by search volume and position in search to get a quick view of their top traffic generating content.

    • says

      It’s really not Pat. I find that is the best tool for someone not too familiar with SEO to use. It’s also good for experienced consultants who just want to make categorizing backlinks faster. :)

    • says

      Exactly Kerry. I bypassed SEO tools for a long time because I just looked at the cost, but then I realized there were so many you could get a lot out of just by using the free trial.

  3. says

    Wow, this is an amazingly detailed list. Bookmarked for future reference!

    The honest truth is that beyond a few trials I’ve never really kept up with any of the premium services and have just gone with the free ones. Now that I am transitioning into a much bigger project though, I think it’s time to take it a bit more seriously and invest more.

    There’s no doubt that many of these tools are extremely useful and if you’ve monetized your site in some way then it will likely pay off for you.
    Cody Hind just posted Emini Day Trading Series: What Are Emini S&P 500 Futures?

  4. says

    I always say, if a company has a service or product that they are proud of they offer a little sample for free and let the consumer test it themselves. That’s what Majestic SEO does, I’ve used their services in the past and can’t complain much.
    You show case a few products here which I have never heard of but am eagerly looking forward to trying – thanks!

  5. says

    Nice set of tools,
    I am going to use few of them to find out our website’s SEO performance,
    Thanks Kristi to share such a useful post.

    • says

      Yep, Majestic lets you use their tools for your own website and a little competitor data for free. And not just a trial – it’s always free. :)

  6. says

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been interested in working more with SEO, but to be honest, it’s a little overwhelming. Having free trials or even free services makes me more interested in trying it out because I can essentially learn for free and then begin paying for it instead of paying from the start and not getting full use right away.
    Jon just posted Financial Lessons Learned From The Bachelor

    • says

      It can be overwhelming, but it’s nice to have lots of options that you can try out. Just pick the one that gives you the simplest to use information. :)

  7. says

    Kristi,
    Thanks for sharing this list 0f SEO tools with us. I’ve already bookmarked this as a resource that I’ll come back to. I’m sure everyone reading this understands how long it takes to write a post like this. (It would have taken me hours to research this myself.) The discussion in the comments is great too. Congrats on your blog redesign and the direction you’re taking. Enjoy your baby!
    Sherryl Perry just posted How to Use Facebook Fan Gate to Get New Likes

  8. says

    Excellent list. Found a couple extra tools I’ve haven’t heard of before too.

    My personal favorite would have to be SEMRush.com though. Have you checked out the “Advertising Research” section yet? It’s pretty sweet. You can check out the landing pages for PPC and Facebook ads, a feature I haven’t seen anywhere else.

  9. says

    Hi Kristi,
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful information with us. Definitely these are the best tools to keep eye on SEO. I personally use SEOmoz and SEMrush. These are two very good tools to track everything you want related to your website. I also use SEMrush to keep eye on my competitors keywords and traffic source.
    Thanks once again for publishing it.
    Kshitij Jain just posted Best Antivirus For Mac 2013

  10. says

    Great list of tools, Kristie.

    I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a slight tool/analytic headache as I scrolled through the list. A while ago I’d be clamoring all over this list as I used to be a huge SEO/tool freak.

    However, now my blogging life is much easier as I only focus on driving traffic via socially engaging with other bloggers, building relationships and a community. Just makes more since to me and severely decreases the “overwhelmed” feeling I used to get.

    Thanks for compiling this resource for those who might need it; I appreciate the time it took to put a list such as this together.

    Ti

    P.S. Congrats on your beautiful baby girl! I’m so glad to see that you’re back on the blogging scene and I love your new blog theme! :)
    Ti Roberts just posted Why Traffic Does NOT Equate to Money (My Response to Ana Hoffman)

    • says

      I know what you mean Ti – I try not to obsess about the SEO, but every couple of months I like analyzing where I’m at and what else I’d like to target.

      And thanks! I’m happy to be fully recovered and balancing work & baby well. :)

  11. says

    That Link Prospector looked the most interesting to me. As I look at it, I fear I would go through credits pretty quickly. Have you used it and how often do you use the credits?
    Stephano just posted ASEA è una truffa?

    • says

      I’m using it now Stephano. Most of the reports only cost one credit, so for the trial, you can basically one run report to see what it digs up. :)

  12. says

    Hello Kristi!

    This is a very useful SEO post! I have used Majestic SEO before, and I like it a lot. I really like the ability to compare five domains at once.

    I like your suggestion about Link Research Tools. The monthly fee is expensive, but if you need to check out some potential problem links, the 72 hour pass is pretty affordable and reasonable :)

    Thank you!

    Sam Martinez
    Los Feliz Realtor just posted Hollywood Hills Real Estate is set to go BOOM!

    • says

      Thanks Sam! I think they just started offering a lower-rate plan, but if you’re looking at a one-off project, the daypass is still the best option.

    • says

      That’t the nice part about Majestic (free for webmasters) and cognitiveSEO (lowest monthly cost for basic accounts). They’re great entry level accounts for those that don’t need a robust system for multiple clients.

    • says

      I actually haven’t used that one Justin – I was sticking to services I currently use. But from the comments, I gather I should get ahrefs in my SEO toolkit. :)

  13. says

    I LIVE for posts like this! Thank you so much for sharing these. I know it would’ve taken me at least a month, easily to find all of these. For now, I’m focusing on filling my blog with plenty of useful and interesting information. At the 50 post mark, the real marketing work begins. I’m so excited about trying these out. Hopefully I’ll become a loyal fan of at least one.

    Nikki
    Nikki just posted Small Business Startup Ideas: Just How Brilliant is Yours?

  14. says

    Hi Kristi, I was looking for a better way to optimize my site for SEO, and your article came in handy. However being completely analytical will do little help with the site promotion. I like to stare at my web stats and see people coming to my site. But it does not helps me much for building the actual traffic. Just like that using the tools will help me improve my website for SEO but it can be addicting and a tool for procrastination.

    I don’t remember, but someone from SEOmoz said that SEO and rankings move in months, not in days. -and yes I am the one who like to open up the browser every single day to see if I am moving. So this comment is a personal reminder to myself as well :D

    By the way Kristi, in WebMeUp screenshot I looked that your site has like 2.5k broken links. I suggest you install the broken link checker plugin in your website. Scan for your website and unlink/fix these links. Most of them are from the comments left by people. When I first ran it, it come up with about 2-3k broken links. Now I am clean after regular use of that plugin.
    Tamal Anwar just posted How to Start Your Own Online Business in 2013 (Infographic)

  15. says

    From your list, I really like SEOmoz & Whitespark… the broken link finder and cognitive SEO look interesting. Thanks for making this list Kristi :-)

  16. says

    I’d like to mention linkody.com for managing, analysing and monitoring backlinks. I don’t think any of the other tools offer 24/7 backlink checking with email alerts. It’s fremium and the 1st plan starts at $4/month!

  17. says

    Dear Kristi,

    I personally like SEOMoz the best. So far that has been the only tool I’ve been willing to pay for. I guess I look for the look and feel of the program in addition to the function, and I’ve found Moz is the best.

    I’ve also used the Link-Assistant PowerSuite tools. The free tools are very robust, but again I’m not totally sold on them like the others.

    Mike

    • says

      SEOmoz does have a clean, easy to use layout. I think their toolset is more for people who really know what they’re doing without need for much explanation. Other tools are better for lesser experienced SEOs that don’t have a clue what half the information is for.

  18. says

    Thank you so much for your informative list.
    This really comes in the right time when I am looking to subscribe to one company but I couldn’t find the right one yet.

    • says

      I like OSE to a point… I’m a little spoiled now with the services that go beyond just listing your backlinks and actually break them down into groups / categories.

  19. says

    Hi Kristi,

    This is a good list – thanks for putting it together. Personally, I use SEOmoz and find that it’s well worth the price. I haven’t tried WhiteSpark, but probably will sometime soon since local search is becoming so important. Also saw your comment about not being able to get into Market Samurai – I tried it a few times and couldn’t get into it either, but I decided to give it one last try since I heard so many good things about it. Now I don’t know how I managed so long without it! It has a learning curve, but it’s worth it once you get used to it. :)
    Carolina just posted Small Business SEO: What Business Owners Need to Know

  20. says

    Hi Kristi,

    I am one year late but heck, better late than never :)

    Came across this when I was trying to determine the best buck for my … SEO spending. Haha!

    Great list and among all, I think Moz is pretty good (tried the trial and that was a blast!). I am really looking forward to try Authority lab and fingers crossed.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Reginald just posted 21 Industry Experts Share Their SEO Tips 2014