We will go through the best free SEO tools and the best paid tools. There are a ton of tools out there, but you don't need every single one. I will run through these pretty quickly and why I like each one. Let's start with free tools.
Free SEO Tools
There are not many free tools now because SEO has become a pretty big industry and if you want to compete with the best, you must have some kind paid tools to guide your efforts.
Some of these I've already mentioned, so I'll start with Answer the public for the user-generated keywords.
As I went over earlier, another great keyword research tool is the Chrome Extension, Keywords Everywhere. It used to be a free tool, but now it's paid. You can still use keywords everywhere in your browser because it gives you lots of related keywords in your searches.
You have to pay for full functionality, which is great to use in conjunction with Answerthepublic. It will give you the stats for each keyword, cost-per-click, number of searches per month, and AdWords competition.
A free alternative to Keywords Everywhere is Keyword Surfer. It doesn’t have the same functionality of Keywords Everywhere, but it works as a good alternative.
Screaming frog is a good tool to see your overall site health when it comes to broken links, excessive redirects, and more.
You can also use the Chrome Extensions like Checkbot to check site health. I really like this one for a quick site audit and to check other sites for prospective broken links.
Moz bar is good for checking keyword competition because it gives an estimate of the websites trust and number of backlinks. Not super accurate, but decent estimates.
SEO Meta in 1 click is a good Chrome Extension for checking title tags, descriptions, and other on-page aspects of SEO for any website.
Most of the free tools are Chrome Extensions that tend to change, so I’ll keep these updated for you.
I'll give an honorable mention to Adwords because it used to be free, but you have to actually spend some money on advertising to see the stats. I’m not a fan of using Adwords for SEO keyword research, you can find much better tools for doing this research.
Those are my favorite free tools. Of course there are others but those are my favorite right now.
I've tried out many other tools and I don't find those to be particularly accurate at the moment at least not when compared to my paid tools.
Neil Patel also has some free tools you can use, like Ubersuggest, and his array of tools. But they don't seem to be as accurate as my favorite paid tools.
Paid SEO Tools
My favorite paid tool is SEMRush. SEMRush is my favorite tool by far because it has everything you could need for SEO.
Keyword research, TF-IDF, rank tracking, competitor backlink spying, and more. This is probably the most complete tool I have ever used.
Ahrefs is another paid tool that is comparable to SEMRush. Ahrefs can do anything you need for SEO but, it's not as user-friendly as SEMRush. With SEMRush, I can just click around and learn how to use it.
Ahrefs was a little difficult to figure out at first, but it can do everything you need it to do. I wouldn't recommend it for people that aren't tech-savvy or don't have SEO experience.
SEMRush puts everything right in front of your face and is my favorite tool if I didn’t make that clear. It is priced at $100 per month which is great value for what you get.
Ahrefs is $150 per month and it's a great tool I would still recommend to those more tech-savvy users.
My next favorite tool is Long-tail Pro. This gives you many things you would need to very effectively search for long-tail keywords that have low competition. It does this by giving you a pretty effective search engine results page analysis.
It even tells you how much real estate is on Google for your specified keyword, so it'll tell you if your keyword has ads, knowledge boxes, map listings and more. It also breaks down the top ranking sites by trust flow and citation flow.
It does a pretty good job of this but keep in mind, trust and citation flow metrics are not created by Google and can be manipulated. The tool is still pretty accurate though so I have no complaints.
You can also do some rank tracking and competitor backlinks spying. I think the main thing that's missing is the TF-IDF, but otherwise this is a very great tool.
I would especially recommend it if you're starting with a brand new site and don't have, or want to invest a ton of money. You can get this for about $300 year, which is way cheaper than the other two tools.
Those are my favorite paid tools. There are other tools like MOZ, SEOPowersuite, or tons of others, but I shared my favorite tools.
I think you can use just one of these tools and be highly successful instead of buying 100s of smaller tools.
I'd rather work smarter, not harder.
With SEO becoming pay-to-play, you can rank using only free tools and not spending any money, but it's going to be a lot more time-consuming.
It's much better to just invest that money into a tool to save yourself time and give you a better aligned strategy.