6 Free Search Tools I’m Loving Right Now

by Ruth Burr June 9th, 2011 

ilovetools

I’m not afraid to say it: I love tools.  I would get a t-shirt that said “I Love Tools” if it wouldn’t get me entirely the wrong kind of tools.  I don’t know any search marketers who don’t have an entire Batman  utility belt worth of hidden tools of gadgets in their repertoire, helping them work smarter, faster and (my favorite) easier.  And of course, the only thing better than a useful tool is a free useful tool.

There are some free tools, which I won’t cover in depth here, that are pretty standard in the industry; things like Open Site Explorer, SEOBook tools/toolbar, Google Analytics, etc.  Not to say that I’m not totally loving these tools, just that you, Smarty McPants, are probably already using them. 

Here are some other free search tools that I’m so totally loving right now.  Take a peek inside my personal arsenal:

Xenu’s Link Sleuth

xenu-1.3.8-screenshot

You guys probably know this one. It crawls your site (any site, really) and returns all the pages that it finds, including their server status, file extension, title tag, and many other useful tidbits. Use it to:

  • Find broken links on your site
  • Find images with no alt text
  • Find areas of your site a crawler can’t access
  • Build a quick and easy site map

WPromote SEOAudit Extension for FireFox

seo-audit-extension

Once you have this plugin installed, you can right click on any page to access it.  It quickly pops out a list with all sorts of useful info like page rank, domain age, links to robots.txt and sitemap files if it can find them and other metrics of admittedly varying usefulness.  This tool is great for an on-the-go audit or any time you just need a quick info grab on a site – you can also export to PDF (yum!).

ClueApp

clueapp

 

Oh my gosh you guys, check out ClueApp; it is the best.  Enter a URL and ClueApp will take a screengrab and give you a URL that links to your test.  Send the link to (for example) everyone you know.  They’ll be shown the screengrab for 5 ½ seconds and then asked to enter the things they remembered from it.  This is the best quick-and-dirty usability test tool I’ve found and a super easy way to make sure your home page/landing page/etc. gets its message across.

Wikimedia Commons

wikimedia-commons

Everyone knows about Wikipedia, but the Wikimedia Foundation actually has an array of other free resources that you can use all day long.  Wikimedia Commons is a huge repository of images, sounds, videos and other media that are free to use under the Creative Commons license.  Need some images for a blog post? Head to Wikimedia Commons, find an image you love, attribute it based on the notes attached to the entry, and you are off to the races, my friend!

TweetBeep

tweetbeep

They say it best themselves: “TweetBeep is like Google Alerts for Twitter!” If you’re monitoring social media mentions of your brand, or looking to find influencers discussing topics of interest, you can set up alerts and TweetBeep will email you with them hourly or daily.  I prefer daily – hourly can get pretty overwhelming if you’re monitoring topic mentions.

BusinessHut Excel Tool*

spreadsheet

This tool gets an asterisk since it’s only sort of free.  If you have an SEOMoz Pro account with access to their API (that’s the part you have to pay for – but I recommend it wholeheartedly), you can use this handy-dandy tool to pull Open Site Explorer data for a large quantity of URLs at once.  I wouldn’t go too crazy – try running 1000 or less at a time – but it’s a clean, easy tool to get that data in a readable format.  Without having to learn to develop a tool on your own.  Can I get a FTW?

Ruth Burr

Ruth Burr has been working in SEO since 2006, both in-house and agency-side. She's currently working as the Lead SEO at SEOMoz. Ruth's passions include data-driven decision making, quality content, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

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7 Responses to “6 Free Search Tools I’m Loving Right Now”

    • Ruud Hein says:

      I can't speak for Ruth but I haven't tried that particular tool, no.

      What would you say is its advantage over other tools?

    • Vladimir says:

      It's a Firefox extension for SEO giving a wealth of on-page and off-page information, and it is simple, non-intrusive and intuitive to use.

  1. Ruth Burr says:

    I haven't tried it either – always interested to hear about new tools though!

  2. Jason Green says:

    Thanks for including my tool on your list. (immature giggle) :-)

    Anyway, I'd like to clarify that you can also use the SEOmoz/BusinessHut excel tool, even with the free SEOmoz account.

    I actually have a free account, and I created the thing. :-)

    Good post as well. I wasn't aware of most of these tools. Thanks.

    • Ruth Burr says:

      Thanks for the correction, Jason! You're right – the SEOMoz API is free to all registered SEOMoz members, not just paid ones. And here I thought I was so special using an API :-)

  3. Damon says:

    Hey Ruth,

    It is always great to get free stuff. I have been steadily learning a ton about SEO over the past 2 years or so. Mainly I have been doing it for my own site, but recently I had a few companies ask me to do it for them, so I have had a more focused effort on searching out tools that let me do things quicker.
    I am an SEOMoz pro user and I also use Raven Tools. Raven is awesome for keeping track of multiple domains.

    Awesome tip about the Wikimedia commons, I hadn't heard of that one before. I am also going to check out the firefox plugin, but my guess is between SEOMoz and Raven, my bases should be covered there. Of course those tools aren't free, but I am very dependent on both of their toolbars and that alone for me has been worth the membership to them.

    Thanks for sharing the tips.