Top 10 FREE SEO Tools & Plug-ins You (Literally) Couldn’t Live Without

You can find inspiration in the strangest of places.

I happened to find my ray of light whilst re-organising my SEO related bookmarks. Yes, they may have been messy and a clean out might have been overdue, but if I didn’t do it today, the day I happened to be thinking about what to blog about then we would have never arrived here, would we?

Trying to structure my bookmarks made me very aware of what was current and what was out of date. It made me realise what tools I could, and couldn’t live without. What blogs I could and couldn’t stop reading. And most importantly, what people I could and couldn’t stop listening too. The top blogs and people are another post altogether so you will just have settle for the most valuable tools and stay tuned for the rest of the series. So without further ado, here we go, the top ten SEO tools and plug-ins you literally couldn’t live without:

SEO Quake

This powerful tool is compatible with a range of browsers and gives a user a wide range of SEO parameters. It saves you so much time it must be similar to hiring a personal assistant, without the tea making ability. You can utilise it to see a quick overview of number of links to page and domain, number of internal & external links from individual pages, age of domain, keyword density and other important SEO factors of a page. Go see for yourself.

Open Site Explorer

This is one of the best link analysis tools around (without paying) Essential for any link building campaign , it will show you up to 10,000 links to a page or site based on Page Authority OR Domain Authority. You can even see the anchor text used, compare two domains side by side, and which content is drawing the most links on your competitor’s website. AND if that wasn’t enough they even offer a good sorting and filtering option for reports and can be exported to CSV for further analysis. How considerate of them.

Redirect Checker

This tool lets you check what type of redirect is in place for any individual page. A programmer’s nightmare as we are now able to see very quickly just how lazy they have been by implementing 302’s instead of 301’s.

SEO Book Tool Bar

Where would a workman be without his toolkit? This is another great toolbar which contains a lot of valuable and essential tools of the trade. It has many of the same features as SEO Quake but also a few more hidden up its sleeve. You can compare up to 5 different sites which is great for link analysis for competitor research and another great gem is an easy no follow link highlighter.


I recently read Kelvin Newman’s “Are we ignoring the Golden Age of SEO” post here, and I agree, technical knowledge is important within the field of SEO and can’t be ignored. Firebug goes someway to addressing these concerns by putting a wealth of development tools at your fingertips. You can monitor CSS, view HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page and it can even help you see how long pages take to load and what may be causing the slow loading times. Absolutely essential for web developers and very handy for knowledge hungry SEO’s.

Spider Test

Ever wondered what a spider sees when it crawls your page? Is it giving you endless sleepless nights? Then worry no more with our star prize this week. This spider simulator tool displays shows the source code of a page, and identifies all outbound links on the page, provides cached copies of the page, the number of indexed pages in major search engines, and common words and phrases found in the page copy.

XML Sitemap Generator

Creating XML sitemaps is a key part of technical SEO. It helps you monitor broken links and is particularly useful if your site has dynamic content or has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to.
This tool lets you enter your full website URL and some optional parameters and then provides a detailed sitemap page, including the number of pages, broken links list, XML file content and a link to a compressed sitemap. It is FREE up to a maximum of 500 pages and you can manually or automatically adjust the priority of pages.


Great for domain ‘who dunnit’ mysteries and snooping around online. You can check important server and hosting details via this tool.

Google Webmaster Tools:

I had to have one Google based tool in here. Webmaster tools let’s you see an overview of your site, including broken links, http error pages, Geo Targeting and the option of resubmitting of sitemaps. Two of the more recent additions is the search query feature, which lets you see  the number of impressions for search queries, the CTR you are achieving for it and an average ranking position. Another addition is the subscriber stats for your site. Go have a look and boost you ego.

SEOmoz GeoTarget

As explained from the horse’s mouth “this tool determines how well a site is targeted to region-specific search engines”. This tool is great for small local businesses as it helps you understand where search engines think you website is located, and how this may be affecting targeting a specific audience. It also highlights your local online presence by providing a list of local search results for the 3 major search engines for your brand name and website.

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About Sam Murray

Sam Murray graduated from University with a BA (Hons) in Marketing in 2007 and wrote his 10,000 word dissertation on Search Marketing. Sam is a freelance search manager.

  • Excellent stuff Sam. I use a slightly different set of tools myself, such as SearchStatus, SEO for Firefox, and Live HTTP Headers. And SEO Quake, OSE, GWT, and Firebug are also fixed tools in my arsenal. 🙂

  • Nice list Sam! I’d agree with Barry that Http Live Headers is a good go-to to have sitting in your FF. I’d also add the Web Developer Toolbar and User Agent Switcher Firefox addonare super useful for quickly seeing a page the way you want – switching js off, seeing the page as it’d show in dreaded IE6 etc.

    Any thoughts on Chrome extensions? I’ve got a few but they’re so far generally not half as good as FF plugins. Still stuck on my super slow FF at the mo until Chrome extensions expand a little!

  • Thanks for the additional tools Barry and Annabel.

    Funny you mention the Web Developer tool – I actually had the Chris Pederick tool in there but took it out as many people have experienced minor issues with it. I also have the HTTP headers tool which I agree is great!

    I am a FF whore I am afraid :0) I believe a few of the tools are compatible with Chrome but in terms of general plugins and extensions they are just not competing as of yet….

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  • Yeah I still am a FF whore – but it’s necessity rather than love. I’m ever losing patience with the damn thing crashing all the time or running slower than a lame snail. Chrome is awesome for general browsing, really hope they get some decent extensions for it soon!

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  • Sabine

    I use for the spider check. Also, and firebug + yslow, and the google page speed plugin are great. Another cute tool is search cloudlet, which works on the SERPs and in twitter.

    Let’s not forget about the classic Xenu link sleuth which has been invaluable more than once.

    Also, because I have the tendency to behave like a pedantic schoolteacher: You use the word literally like Alanis uses the word ironic.


  • No Google Keyword Tool? or another keyword research tool?

    The Google Tool is the only way for me to do research relevant keywords for an audience outside of the US.

  • Just wanted to mention that you should look up the word literally. Unless, of course, people are actually dying…

  • Hello @Ann – thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment. The only reason a keyword research tool was not in the list was because of the many FREE and PAID varieties, and for me to discuss both and their benefits would need a whole new post!

    @Brian – Thank you for your insightful comment. I literally did look it up and it literally said:

    1. In a literal manner; word for word: translated the Greek passage literally.
    2. In a literal or strict sense: Don’t take my remarks literally.

    Thanks everyone.

  • @Sam I see you found the topic for your next post then 😉

  • Those are very good tools which i like to use myself, good share!

  • Bryan Ferry

    Hi Sam,

    First time writer, long time reader.

    I love SEO book I use it all the time to gauge improvements to websites

    Ps can I have your number?

  • Sam

    Hello everyone, thanks for all the comments.

    Welcome Bryan, happy you have stepped out of the shadows :0)

    The internet is probably not the best place to post a phone number but my email is sam[@]


  • I’ve been using firebug and seo quake. These really works for me.

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  • Nice list mate, its a shame XML sitemaps only generates sitemap for upto 500 pages for Free addition.

    I also quite like SEO Browser and Web Sniffer for Spider test. On these you can select how Bot will look at your page on different browsers including Iphone’s Safari browser :).

    Also agree with Annabel about Web Developer Toolbar and User Agent Switcher Firefox addons.

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  • Check the screaming frog seo tool. its like Microsofts SEO site analysis crawler but with a better GUI and it does first link checking on a per page basis which is outstanding… takes my onsite analysis time from a few weeks to a couple of days!

  • spend in finding keywords. These tools also analyze your competitor’s website keywords. And finally they output easy to understand report for this whole process for you.

  • These are great tips.  For a dumb tax attorney, these are terrific.  Cannot wait to try them.

  • Dennis Greenfield

    Because this post is two years old I can see some that are outdated

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  • Great tools. I love Firebug and SEOQuake.

  • Taran

    These are really great tools.This post is so helpful for me.You have shared such nice post.Thanks a lot for sharing these tools.

  • Taran

    These are really amazing tools to work with, these tools will help me a lot.Thanks a lot for sharing such useful tools.

  • Sam, great list! I’d also add Screaming Frog to the list as well as pointed out a couple of duplicate content checker tools (we’ve all been focused on good content these days, haven’t we?) – PlagSpotter (free … at least for now) or CopyScape (paid and a bit pricey)

  • FireBug really is amazing. It makes things so much easier!

  • RyanP

    Recently, I’ve tested Colibritool and I think they are also worth mentioning. Great seo and internet marketing tool 🙂 BTW thanks for sharing such a great an complete list! Very useful

  • These are really basic, yet I’m sure a lot of people don’t know them.

  • These are some great tools which is very important for every Seo analyst . Thanks for sharing Free seo tools.

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  • Great list, am using most of these myself, and now might be good idea to add SEMRush to your list, I find this a useful tool (the free part)

  • Please let me know if there is any free SEO tool for link building. I do not wish to hire any company

  • Arjan

    Analytics????? Missing that very important one to. Google Speed test/Pindomtools/GTmetrix/Yslow, Screaming frog, MajesticSEO are some of my preferred tools

  • The tools are great. But I prefer that you include one of my favorite tool which is ColibriTool, it is consider as a multi-seo tool because it performs different types of seo tasks in just one place. You can review it here:

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  • Nelly Vinnik

    Thank you, Sam, for the brief information on essential tools for those who want to do full-fledged SEO. All the tools you have experienced are powerful and cope well with the tasks and I use most of them. However, a lot of
    major agency players who run SEO on a professional level prefer having all their tools under one roof. SEOs often want to use rank checking, backlink analysis and submission tools located in one tool producer’s interface. All-in-one software saves a lot of effort in terms of scheduling scans, running history reports, mailing comprehensive reports, etc.There are a lot of online SEO tool providers on the web but only a few of them have a full set of SEO services, from content management on out to social media (e.g. Hubspot, Moz, WebCEO). Only a few of these allow free access for an unlimited amount of time. I work for WebCEO, and we have a freemium plan subscription with no time limits or expiration dates.
    With Web CEO Online you can submit multiple projects and run all types of reports on automated tools. You will have access to 12 of 13 reporting tools which will help in:
    – On-page issues analysis and detection;
    – Toxic link detection and removing/ earning new authoritative and juicy backlinks;
    – Rank tracking of blended results on local and global search engines with the option of country targeting;
    – Internal links optimization;
    – Web analytics monitoring;
    – Social activity and engagement tracking;
    – Competitor power metrics analysis.

    Though Web CEO is not officially “inbound marketing software” but rather a full set of SEO tools, it
    serves as a solid platform for many website owners. I highly recommend the Web
    CEO online tools for your SEO management.