The best free SEO tools of 2018

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Techradar, one of the largest technology websites in the world, is visited by millions of users each month, the majority of them coming through Google and other search engines.

The web is awash with SEO tools and resources, but it pays to do your homework first and pick your kit carefully. Just like the practitioners within the search marketing industry itself, there's the good the bad and, well, the ugly. Here is our list of five of the best free tools around today.

1. Google Search Console

Even if you're not headstrong on SEO, whatever the size of your site or blog, Google's laudable Search Console (formerly Webmaster Central) and the myriad user-friendly tools under its bonnet should be your first port of call. The suite of tools gives you valuable information about your site at a glance: it can assess your site's performance and observe potential problems to troubleshoot (like negative spammy links), help you ensure your site is Google-friendly and monitor Google's indexing of your site. 

You can even report spam and request reconsideration if your site has incurred a penalty. Plus, if you don't refer to their Webmaster Guidelines now and again, well, you've only yourself to blame if you go wrong. A new version of Search Console is due to be rolled out imminently and will include additional functionality such as Index Coverage, Job posting, Search performance and AMP status as well as an updated user interface (finally!).

 2. SEOQuake 

SEMRush’s SEOQuake is one of the most popular toolbar extension adored by millions. It allows you to view multiple search engine parameters on the fly and save and compare them with the results obtained for other projects. Although the icons and numbers that SeoQuake yields might be unintelligible to the uninformed user, skilled optimisers will appreciate the wealth of detail this add-on provides. 

Gauge details about number of visitors and their country, get a site's traffic history trended on a graph, and more. The toolbar includes buttons for a site's Google index update, backlinks, SEMRush ranking, Facebook likes, Bing index, Alexa ranks, web archive age and a link to the Whois page. There’s also a useful cheat sheet and diagnostics page to have a bird’s view of potential issues (or opportunities) affecting a particular page or site.

 3. Google AdWords keyword planner 

Knowing the right keywords to target is all-important when priming your web copy. Google's free keyword tool, part of Adwords, couldn't be easier to use. Plug your website URL into the box, start reviewing the suggested keywords and off you go. Jill Whalen, CEO of HighRankings.com is a fan and offers advice to those new to keyword optimisation: "make sure you use those keywords within the content of your website. 

It's really a question of being descriptive as keyword phrases typically describe what you offer. Think about the fact that you're trying to answer someone's question at the other end of the search engine. They're typically searching Google because they have a question or a problem to solve. Make your website answer those questions and solve those problems and it will be the one to show in the search results."

 4. Google Optimise

Yet another Google tool on that list (not a surprise isn’t it). Optimise is not for the faint hearted and will make even seasoned SEO experts uncomfortable. SEO isn't all about rankings and without the right balance of content that engages with your visitors and drives conversions, you're earnest optimisation could be wasted. 

Google’s free service helps take the guesswork out of the game, allowing you to test your site's content: from simple A/B testing of two different pages to comparing a whole combination of elements on any given page. Note that in order to run some of the more complicated multivariate testing, you will need adequate traffic and time to make the results actionable, just as you do with Analytics.

 5. Live Keyword Analysis

Any seasoned search engine optimisation specialist will tell you keywords matter, and while simply clawing keywords into your text arbitrarily can do more harm than good, it's worth ensuring you have the right balance. Live Keyword Analysis is a breeze to use: simply type in your keywords and then paste in your text and your keyword density analysis will be done on the fly. Don't forget to proof and edit your text accordingly for optimum readability. A must for website copywriters especially as you don’t need to register or pay for anything.