Why does SEO seem like an unsustainable investment for small businesses and startups? Although SEO is one of the most rewarding pillars of online marketing, it takes a while before its benefits are fully realized. Remember that brand image and traffic takes a lot of time to build and convert, respectively, while new websites may take weeks before they are indexed in search engine results. On top of all that, SEO can be very expensive if you’re in a competitive industry. Content marketing alone, which is the bread and butter of modern SEO, takes a lot of money especially if you utilize different content types to reach a broad audience. That’s why, as an SEO specialist, you should leave no room for guesswork. Every step must be guided by careful analysis to determine the specific needs of your clients or your websites. And to further save costs while acquiring actionable and useful SEO insights, below are five of the best freemium analysis tools you should use: #1. SEO Analyzer Neil Patel is a famous blogger, entrepreneur, and marketer known for his comprehensive DIY-style articles on digital marketing. However, one of his most significant contributions to the industry is SEO Analyzer – a free SEO audit and competitive analysis tool that can give you insights within seconds. SEO Analyzer generates three kinds of reports: website analysis, content marketing analysis, and competitor analysis. Each report uses simple visuals to illustrate data such as your page speed score, page shares per social media network, and traffic rank as compared with competitors. Although these reports are not in-depth regarding data collected, they do provide multiple actionable recommendations. You can also download reports in a PDF format for easy sharing with your team later on. #2. Google Keyword Planner Hands down, Google Keyword Planner is the most popular keyword research tool for online marketers and bloggers. Keep in mind that the success of any SEO campaign boils down to a set of carefully chosen keywords. Without them, you can’t have a clear direction for your content development and link building efforts. It’s important to note that Google Keyword Planner is not a standalone platform. Rather, it is a tool within Google Adwords, so you must have an active Google account to use it. One of Google Keyword Planner’s neat features is keyword search, which allows you to come up with a list of valuable keywords by entering terms that describe your product, service, or industry. You can also set different parameters such as location, average monthly searches, and average bid. An alternative to Google Keyword Planner is Ubersuggest, which offers a keyword search feature to help set the tone for your SEO. Its main advantage is that it will quickly supply you with a very long list of viable keywords. It is also more straightforward and a bit easier to use. #3. Moz Open Site Explorer Apart from keywords, another thing you need to look at when ranking for search engines is your site’s backlink profile. Simply put, you need backlinks from authoritative and trustworthy websites to be considered reliable and trustworthy yourself. On the flip side, you need to eliminate bad backlinks that can drag your rankings down. With Open Site Explorer from Moz, you can easily check your website’s backlink profile to find out what’s working at what isn’t. Each link is scored according to the source’s Page Authority (PA), Domain Authority (DA), and Spam Score. You can also view the anchor text used for each link, which can help you scale the effectiveness of your keyword strategy. Aside from your backlink profile, Open Site Explorer also measures your own site’s PA and DA. These metrics indicate the ranking potential of your website and can be increased through link-building and content optimization. Another way to use Open Site Explorer is for competitive analysis. For example, by analyzing the backlink profile of your competitor, you can quickly identify their advantages and thereby assimilate them in your strategy. #4. MozBar In addition to Open Site Explorer, Moz also offers MozBar – a browser plugin that analyzes on-page SEO factors that demand your attention. Once installed, you can activate the plugin by clicking the “M” logo in your browser’s extensions toolbar. In Google Chrome, this is located in the upper-right corner of the screen. As you browse pages, MozBar automatically provides you with the essential metrics right off the bat. Aside from the PA, DA, and Spam Score, you can also select one of the buttons on the left to expand the toolbar and access more features. For example, in Page Analysis à On-Page Elements, you can view the current page’s meta description, meta keywords, and primary header. You can also check which links on the page are set to follow and no-follow under the Highlight Links tab. Remember that you need to know when to use no-follow links especially if you like citing references in your posts. If you don’t use no-follow links at all, then Google might see it as intentionally passing link juice to manipulate the search engine results. #5. Xenu’s Link Sleuth Don’t let the outdated interface fool you – Xenu’s Link Sleuth is one of the most powerful free tools you can use to ensure a strong backlink foundation for your site. Unlike the other tools mentioned in this list, Xenu’s Link Sleuth is a desktop application, which means you need to download it to your computer first before you can use it. Xenu’s Link Sleuth works by thoroughly scanning text, images, style sheets, scripts, and other website elements for broken links. These links stop search engine crawlers dead in their tracks. They also give the impression that your website is incomplete or poorly maintained – compromising its rank-worthiness in the eyes of search engines. To use Xenu’s Link Sleuth, launch the file through the desktop link after installing. If you can’t find the icon, navigate to C:\Program Files (“Program Files (x86)” for 64-bit systems)\Xenu and run Xenu.exe. Click on the “Check URL” button and then insert the website’s URL and press “Okay.” Upon checking, broken links will be listed in red while good links are listed in green. #6. Netpeak Spider Another way to detect broken links is to emulate how a web crawler navigates through your site. You can do this with a tool like Netpeak Spider – a downloadable desktop app that functions as an on-demand web crawler. Aside from broken links, Netpeak Spider can also detect on-page optimization issues such as duplicate content, duplicate titles, 404 errors, broken images, and so on. Since the software will run through your site just like any other regular crawler, you are guaranteed to find priority issues that affect the searchability of your website. Netpeak Spider’s layout makes it easy for you to detect specific issues. You can configure filters from the main toolbar and directly review the issues on the right panel. For a more comprehensive analysis, you can get the tool with Netpeak Checker bundled in. This separate app works by aggregating SEO data from third-party services such as SEMrush, Serpstat, Alexa, and social media networks. Conclusion As an SEO specialist, you need to take full advantage of free tools to save money and keep your campaigns going. The tools above can help keep the costs down as you devise effective SEO strategies for businesses of all sizes. Just remember that these free tools can only do so much to maintain websites relevant to any niche. Sooner or later, you need to invest in premium tools that are more capable and can get you ahead of the competition.