Even though solid, useful, free tools and software do exist online, the trouble is finding them among all the junk tools and worthless ebooks (typically, you “get what you pay for”). Here’s a list of totally free tools that I use all the time.
Some are supported by crowdsourcing, some are free to support other products (ie, Google Analytics), some have unintrusive ads, and some are freemium with excellent free features. But all of them are the best free tools I’ve ever used to improve my and clients’ websites.
They are categorized, but otherwise in no particular order. If you have any ideas to add to the list – let me know. I also wrote separately about the 8 Must Have WordPress plugins. You can explore my other resources & recommendations here.
Marketing + SEO
Google Webmaster Tools is Google’s free diagnostic tool set. It’s a must have for any website owner who wants organic search visitors.
Bing Webmaster Tools is Bing’s free diagnostic tool set. It’s not as essential as Google’s – but it has some cool additional features to use.
Google Keyword Planner is Google’s keyword research tool. Use it to decide on what keywords to target for SEO or to bid on for PPC.
Google Instant is the feature in Google Search that tries to guess what you’re trying to type in. It pulls from previous searches – and is very useful to deciding on content to write.
Google Trends is Google’s historical archive of search volume for specific keywords. Use it to check out trends, seasonality, or compare different terms for content & SEO. I wrote a guide to Google Trends & Correlate here.
Ubersuggest will give you all the Google Instant results for a broad search. Essential for keyword research.
WhatsMySERP will show you all sorts of keyword information about a query’s search result directly in your browser.
KeywordTool.io is a solid alternative to Ubersuggest and Keyword Planner.
AnswerThePublic takes data from Google Instant and turns it into questions.
Wikipedia Article Traffic Statistics is an online app that will tell you traffic.
WikiGrabber will help you quickly find link opportunities on Wikipedia.
WikiStalker is an online app that will help you understand connections between topics.
MailChimp is an email marketing provider, and free up to 2000 subscribers. Great product, amazing service.
Screaming Frog for SEO is the most amazing and useful SEO tool out there. It’s not super-user friendly, but if you want to do SEO, then you should download and use this tool (free for most features).
MergeWords allows you to drop in various words, and it will combine them in every combination. Really useful for developing long-tail keywords for PPC or SEO.
GetListed will tell you exactly where and what to do in order to improve your local SEO. Absolutely invaluable.
SEO Tools for Excel will turn Excel into an SEO powerhouse. Not for beginners.
Google Webmaster Rich Snippets Testing Tool will tell show you how your page will appear in the search results – and will tell you if you are using Schema correctly.
MozBar Toolbar (download) is essential for SEO research. Use it to look at competitor websites to spy on their keywords, and how strong their site is. Use it to overlay Google search results to see if you can compete for a term.
Link Search Tool will help you dream up searches to find websites to begin your hunt for your audience and links online.
Google Places for Business Category Tool will help you figure out what business category to use when setting up your local profiles. Great for local SEO.
Guide to Geotargeting & Local PPC is a solid ebook from WordStream on how to do local PPC advertising.
Topsy is a social search engine and will help you find socially-successful content ideas.
Call to Action Cheat Sheet is a a great resource to help you think of better calls to action for you pages, PPC ads, or SEO.
Local Analysis Tool is a great tool for local businesses’ SEO. It will give you specific improvements you can make to your local listings to become more visible.
Review Handout Generator is a quick, easy way to create instructions on how customers can leave reviews for your business online (which are key to local SEO).
Keyword Wrapper allows you to quickly create keyword match types for PPC ads.
AdWords Editor allows you to edit your AdWords campaigns offline much more efficiently.
Split Tester helps you determine statistical significance in your tests.
OptinMonster is a a suite of tools for calls to action and email collection.
Social Warfare is a suite of lightweight sharing buttons.
Analytics + Technical
Google Analytics is helps you track the number of visitors to your site…and so much more. It’s an essential for every website owner.
Piwik is an open-source Analytics software – similar to Google Analytics, except that Google doesn’t own it. Great for webmasters who are wary or skeptical about Google.
URL Encoder / Decoder is encodes plain text into HTML so that you can do things like write manual (free) click to tweet messages – <a href=”https://twitter.com/home/?status=”ENCODED MESSAGE GOES HERE” target=”_blank”>Tweet this</a>
Is My Blog Working is a super-simple tool that will tell you the status of your website.
Pingdom Website Speed Test will tell you not only how fast your website is, but will show you what element is taking so long to load.
Google PageSpeed Insights will tell you how fast your site is – great supplement for Pingdom
Advanced Search Operator Guide will help you learn how to use Google to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Distilled Video Sitemap Generator will help you create an XML sitemap for your videos to help Google understand them better. Very useful since video sitemaps are typically a royal pain in the…
Check My Links will visually show you what links are broken on a page. Use it to repair your own site, or find broken links to point out to other websites.
Similar Page Checker will help you detect duplicate content on your site.
YouTube Analytics is the very much unknown cousin to Google Analytics. Learn everything about how your YouTube videos are performing.
Like Explorer will tell you the social statistics of any piece of content online (including your own). Great for researching content ideas, and seeing what has already worked.
Local Business Schema will give you the correct markup to place on your business’ contact page to help your local SEO efforts.
Code Academy will help you try your hand at coding. Even if you don’t complete it – just learning to think like a programmer will help you run a better website and ask the right questions.
Schema-Creator will help you generate the the correct HTML markup to take advantage of Schema use in search engines.
Design + Miscellaneous
W3Schools is the official guide to proper HTML & CSS markup.
Aspect Ratio Calculator quickly calculates proper dimensions of images and video for editing. Keep those images from looking smushed or distorted.
What The Font will help you match your page fonts with fonts within images.
Screen-cast-o-matic will allow you to record quick screencast videos from your browser. Great for communication and tutorials.
The Toolbox provides a giant list of great apps for designers & developers.
GeoPeeker lets you see how your website loads & looks in different countries. It’s really useful for diagnosing CDN issues.
Hemingway will make your writing more concise.
Headline Analyzer will check the emotional tone of your headlines.
CSS Button Generator will help you create buttons in pure CSS (instead of images), which will look great and load quickly.
YouTube Create is a not very well known hub for some fun & free video editing tools from YouTube.
Golden Ratio Typography Calculator will help you figure out your fonts if you aren’t a professional designer.
Pixlr is a simple online image editor. It also allows you to create PNG images that have transparency.
Hipster Logo Generator is a free logo generator if you’re into a certain style.
DesignEvo is a free online logo maker.
Canva is a fast, simple design generator for everything from business flyers to Instagram posts.
IFTTT will help you not go insane online. Automate simple tasks.
FileZilla is a solid FTP tool…which is a necessity if you run a website.
Character Counter Tool will count your characters. Very useful for pre-writing tweets or writing Title tags and Meta Descriptions.
Jing will help you take, edit, and share screenshots quickly. Create for communicating and integrating into tutorials.
Wayback Machine will help you find old content on the Internet that no longer exists.
How To Raise Your Consulting Rate is a great newsletter/guide from Patrick McKenzie on delivering value. Great resource for any business.
Breaking The Time Barrier is a solid ebook from FreshBooks on delivering value as a consultant.
FreshBooks Free Invoice Generator is a free invoice generator. Easy to use, and easy to set up.
AppSumo is a solid deals site to find other free or heavily discounted stuff.
Rapportive is a Gmail or email extension that helps you know/remember who you are emailing by pulling in social network data. Very useful.
Trello is free project organization and management software.