Howdy, Search Engine People! A little over a year ago I wrote a post on some free SEO tools I use to get my work done (as well as revealing to the world that yes, I'll say it again, I love tools). As we all know, one year is about a million years in Internet time, so I've made a ton of additions to my arsenal since then. Here are some of my new favorites:
This handy-dandy little Firefox plugin allows you to highlight an area on a webpage and open, copy or bookmark every link in the selected area at once. You could use Multi-Links for a lot of different things, but I use it as a link prospecting tool. After I've gotten my initial list of link targets from Open Site Explorer, I visit each of them and keep an eye out for Blogroll or Sites We Love type sections. These sites have a good chance of being semantically related, meaning they're likely good link targets as well. Plus, it allows me to quickly scope out communities and networks on the web that might share audiences, which is great if they're the audiences I want to reach.
As I'm speaking and blogging more and more, I'm using Flickr's Creative Commons filter to search for images like crazy all the time. As long as you correctly attribute the images, you're free to use them within the specific guidelines of the Creative Commons license they're under. This may include things like you can use it, but not change it in any way or you can use it, but not for commercial purposes meaning no using the image in ads or the like. The quality of the images you'll get can be pretty varied, and you may not be able to find exactly what you had in mind, but there's a ton of great stuff on there if you don't mind digging for it.
Once you've got your Creative Commons images, its pretty common to need to edit them a bit (look for Creative Commons licenses marked Remix on Flickr for images its OK to edit. Irfanview is a fast, free graphic browser that allows you to cut, crop, filter and convert image files as needed. Its surprisingly robust for a free graphics tool. A couple of caveats on this one: its PC-only (sorry Mac fans), and its freeware that's intended for non-business use. Its still great for editing images meant for posts on personal blogs and for educational presentations.
OK, so I'm a little biased on this one now that Followerwonk is part of the SEOmoz toolset, but I've been using it for longer than that. Followerwonk lets you see who follows whom and search for Twitter users based on keywords in their bio, URL, location and more. Its a great way to find new people on Twitter to expand your audience, or to find influencers in your niche to target for link building. The full version of the tool is only available with SEOmoz PRO, but the free version of the tool still has a ton of robust functionality, including the ability to search Twitter bios and analyze any users (including your own) followers based on a variety of authority metrics. I mostly use it to find new targets for building content-sharing and link-building relationships, but those of you who are tasked with building a social media following can quickly find new followers to reach out to as well.