The 8 Best Free and Low-Cost SEO Tools for Small Businesses Here are some tools that business owners can use to optimize their websites and bring in more revenue

By Jason Hennessey

Key Takeaways

  • Utilize free and cost-effective SEO tools to enhance your small business's online visibility and organic traffic.
  • Google's suite of SEO resources provides valuable insights for free.
  • Additional tools offer targeted features for keyword research, site audits, content strategy and more, tailored to small business budgets.
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Small businesses face unique challenges when it comes to their marketing operations. For one, very few have dedicated personnel to manage marketing campaigns (there may be few team members wearing many hats). They might also have limited financial resources, making it difficult to subscribe to the latest and best marketing tools.

But running a small business also has its advantages. There is often far less competition within a small niche market, and successful marketing campaigns are significantly less expensive. Similarly, amazing results can still be achieved even with a small repertoire of marketing tools.

If you're looking to increase organic traffic to your business via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), here are some cost-effective software solutions to have in your toolkit.

Related: 5 Simple SEO Methods That Produce Major Traffic for Small Businesses

1. Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is Google's own SEO keyword research tool. Although Keyword Planner is primarily used to identify keywords to target with Google Ads, the same data can be used to inform your organic keyword strategy for your website.

Use Keyword Planner to find keywords your target audience may be searching for, validate the search volume and competition level for each and discover related keywords that can help you reach people interested in your products or services.

Cost: Free

Related: 5 Simple SEO Strategies to Improve Your Rankings

2. Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) is another Google-hosted SEO tool, but specific to your website performance and analytics. GSC measures your website traffic, identifies site issues and allows you to monitor your ranking keywords. Sign up for GSC using your Google account, add the code to your website, and start tracking. This data will allow you to make improvements to your website that can help increase your organic traffic.

Cost: Free

3. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is perhaps the most widely known SEO analytics tool, and for good reason. For one, it's fed by first-party data directly from Google, making it one of the most accurate analytics tools. Also, it allows you to implement conversion tracking to monitor what actions users take on your website, whether filling out a form, subscribing to a newsletter, purchasing a product, etc. You can also monitor traffic from other channels, not just Google, such as referral traffic, direct traffic or social media traffic.

Cost: Free

Related: 7 Ways Small Businesses Can Use SEO to Boost Customer Service and Growth

4. Yoast (WordPress only)

With WordPress being the most popular Content Management System (CMS), it's only fitting to mention Yoast. Yoast is a WordPress-specific SEO plugin that allows businesses to add essential on-page elements to their sites, including meta titles, meta descriptions, keywords and internal links. Once activated, the Yoast plugin displays a score (red, yellow or green) to reflect the degree to which your website is optimized. Some alternatives to Yoast include RankMath and SEOPress.

Cost: $99 per year

5. Semrush

Semrush is one of the best "freemium" SEO software options, with a wide range of keyword research functions, site auditing features, content optimization tools and more. Like Google Keyword Planner, you can research keywords relevant to your service or product and even discover the keywords your competitors are ranking for. You can audit your site for on-page and technical SEO issues and receive an easy-to-follow report on how to fix them. Semrush also includes backlink analysis, listing management and local SEO tools, which are not available via Keyword Planner or Google Analytics.

Cost: free (limited); paid starts at $129.95 per month

6. SpyFu

SpyFu is a small-business-friendly competitive keyword research tool. Its complete SEO marketing suite includes a Pay Per Click ad analyzer, robust historical data, competitive analysis tools, backlink outreach and even custom reporting. SpyFu is a close runner-up to Semrush, as it provides a range of helpful SEO features at an affordable price. However, Semrush is often the preferred option, given that it includes on-page, off-page, and technical SEO tools (the trifecta).

Cost: free (limited); $16 per month (annual plan)

7. AnswerThePublic

AnswerThePublic is not explicitly an SEO tool but rather a "search listening tool," but it made the list because it is supremely helpful when it comes to small business content strategy. And content is one of the most important drivers of organic traffic. AnswerThePublic allows you to search for a primary keyword and discover a "web" of questions and/or topics to turn into blog posts or web pages.

For example, say you sell dog toys online; some topic ideas generated could include "Are dog toys machine washable?" or "Which toys are safe for dogs?" These might make interesting blog posts that appeal to the interests of your target audience.

Cost: Free

Related: How to Create an Effective SEO Strategy in 2023

8. Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is an industry-leading website crawling and log analysis tool. Its purpose is to imitate a Google web crawler, "crawl" your website and identify any issues hindering its organic performance. Such issues might include broken links (404 pages), missing page titles, oversized images, unused JavaScript and many others. Addressing these issues can help you speed up your website, make it more discoverable by real search engines, and increase your organic rankings, leading to more site traffic. Screaming Frog is best paired with a keyword research tool like Semrush to ensure a holistic SEO strategy.

Cost: free (limited); paid starts at $259 per year

So now what?

In small business marketing, the challenges are unique, often stemming from limited resources and personnel juggling multiple roles. SEO can feel intimidating, especially to small business owners facing limited technical and financial resources. However, the advantages of operating in a niche market with lower competition and cost-effective campaigns are undeniable. To harness these benefits, businesses can leverage powerful yet budget-friendly SEO tools. Elevate your small business's online presence with these tools, turning challenges into opportunities for growth and visibility. So, dig in, get optimizing and start seeing the organic payoffs for your website.

Jason Hennessey

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Entrepreneur & CEO

Jason Hennessey is an entrepreneur, internationally-recognized SEO expert, author, speaker, podcast host and business coach. Since 2001, Jason has been reverse-engineering the Google algorithm as a self-taught student and practitioner of SEO and search marketing.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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