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Free Google SEO Tools

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Last updated Feb 26, 2022

Free Google Tools for SEO — Boost Your Website Visibility and Organic Search Performance

This post highlights a wide range of Google’s free SEO tools that are readily available to everybody. 

(I use several of them for my own SEO work and client website SEO consulting projects as well.) 

These free SEO tools from Google are great for keyword research, rank tracking for your key pages and posts, Google search analytics, website page speed testing and mobile-friendliness tests, Core Web Vitals analysis, Google Analytics integration, customized SEO reporting, and more.

Get started with your pick of these free Google tools and then decide what else you need to augment your SEO toolbox. You may find that you also need to invest in some good 3rd-party paid tools… or you may not.

For a few suggestions regarding paid options, see this post about budget-friendly, affordable SEO tools, and this post covering several good SEO audit software options

Also check out these posts about:

I also cover the important topic of understanding and measuring organic SEO keyword difficulty here. This is an important metric that Google’s SEO tools do not provide.

Finally for paid tools, here’s a post with an SEO tools pricing update.

 So… dive in below for more free SEO goodies from Google. I hope this post helps you with your search engine optimization efforts!

(Tip: The yellow ‘Article Contents’ navigation box directly below provides a quick preview of what’s inside. Click on these links to jump to specific sections.) 

Update Note

I’m launching a new SEO Case Study based on my small travel photography website. This study may be very interesting to readers of this post. I invite you to read more about it here and follow along with me and hopefully many others!

Article Contents

Introduction

There are so many good SEO software tools on the market today, it can be hard to decide where to begin. Many of the best paid SEO tools have a free introductory user tier, so it’s often easy to get started with SEO for free.

Since Google is the search engine that most SEOs care about first and foremost, I recommend starting with the free Google SEO tools and webmaster resources offered by the search engine giant itself. I introduce several of them below.

Use the yellow ‘Article Contents’ box above to quickly jump to specific areas of interest. Otherwise, just read straight through the post and I’ll tackle them in order.

First off, let’s take a quick look at some of the free SEO keyword planning tools available from Google.

I’ll introduce the Google Keyword Planner tool, followed by some useful SEO features of the Google SERPs themselves (SERP = search engine results page).

Google Keyword Planner

Most Google search engine marketing (SEM) practitioners are familiar with the Google Keyword Planner that is part of the Google Ads (formerly AdWords) pay-per-click (PPC) environment.  

This tool provides search volume estimates and keyword difficulty for PPC advertising. It is the best known and (arguably) most popular of the free PPC and SEO keyword planning tools available.

The catch is this: you must have a Google Ads account in order to use it.

Or you can access it indirectly by using 3rd-party SEO tools (some free, but mostly paid options here.)

You don’t need to have current Google PPC campaigns running in order to access the keyword planner tool, but you must at least have an account set up.

Go here for more information about the Google Keyword Planner.

Keyword Planner Uses

Google’s millions of online advertisers use the free keyword planner tool to help set up, optimize, and update their PPC ad campaigns.

But SEO users, who are interested in *organic* search traffic (vs. PPC traffic), also use the Google Keyword Planner tool.

SEO professionals use the Google Keyword Planner for two things:

  • To find approximate monthly search volumes for specific keyword ideas

  • To identify other good keyword variants  

So, the Google Keyword Planner is certainly a good starting point for building a short-list of possible keywords to target for SEO content purposes.

Getting Started with Google Keyword Planner

For users with existing Google Ads accounts, the keyword planner tool is available under the ‘Tools’ navigation, e.g., in the All Campaigns dashboard.

Simply click on the Tools icon, then select Keyword Planner from the Planning column.

Google Keyword Planner
The Google Ads Keyword Planner is in the Tools > Planning area.

 

These are the two basic options you’ll find inside the Google Keyword Planner.

Google Keyword Planner Research Options
Google Ads Keyword Planner keyword research options. 
Find new keywords will help you generate keyword ideas based on a starter set that you input. You will also see historical search volumes, as well as PPC estimates such as cost-per-click metrics and competition level.
 

Get search volumes and forecasts will provide similar information, but just for the specific keywords that you enter.

Brand new users of Google Ads may have to set up an initial account and basic search campaign before the keyword planner tool becomes visible and available.

Note: You should not have to commit to any actual PPC ad spending in order to access the keyword planner tool.

Example Keyword Planner Results

In the example below, we see a broad (10x) range for average monthly searches, along with PPC competition level (Low – Med – High) and $ bid ranges for top-of-page placements.

It is the average monthly searches data that is of most interest for our SEO purposes.

Google Keyword Planner SEO Search Volumes
Google Keyword Planner shows historical average monthly searches in a broad range here.

For SEO practitioners who *only* want to use the keyword planner tool for SEO keyword research and not run actual PPC campaigns, the Google Keyword Planner will only provide a wide range for monthly search volumes.

You may also get a pop-up notice (in the window above) that more keyword stats are available if you run an actual ad campaign.

Tip: This is where 3rd-party keyword research tools can be super helpful. They can provide a more targeted search volume estimate, so they can be a great complement to the free Google Keyword Planner tool.

Extending the Google Keyword Planner

The graphic below helps to illustrate one example of a useful free add-on to Google’s SEO tools. It shows additional data available from the Keywords Everywhere browser extension.

 
Google Keyword Planner SEO Search Volumes KWE
Google Keyword Planner with Keywords Everywhere data included.

Keywords Everywhere adds useful keyword data columns directly next to keywords in the Google Keyword Planner, Google search pages, Amazon search, and other places where potential keywords are shown. 

Check out Keywords Everywhere here.

We’ll also see it at work in a few more of the screenshot graphics I include further below.

Needless to say, the Google Keyword Planner is one of the most popular free Google SEO tools available today.

Google Autocomplete

Another helpful and free SEO tool from Google is available directly within their basic search page.

It’s the ‘autocomplete’ function that offers search suggestions. It works as you type in your search term and produces suggestions based on what other people have already searched for.

Google Autocomplete Sample
Google Autocomplete works as you type. It’s very handy for quick keyword research.

Google Autocomplete is a helpful free SEO tool (or search feature) within the search environment itself. It is not a separate app or tool.

Google Autocomplete with Keywords Everywhere

If you have the Keywords Everywhere browser extension installed, you’ll see their estimates for monthly volumes too. It’s a good add-on that integrates nicely with several Google SEO tools.

Here’s an example of Google Autocomplete suggestions with the Keywords Everywhere data added. We get monthly volume estimates, cost-per-click data, and a PPC competition value (0 to 1… where 1 is highly competitive for PPC).

Google Autocomplete with Keywords Everywhere
Google Autocomplete with Keywords Everywhere data appended. A helpful addition.

I find that Google Autocomplete, enhanced with the Keywords Everywhere browser extension features, is very useful for reviewing common search variants and basic volume estimates.

Note: Keywords Everywhere is now a paid tool, using a system of credits. It’s still a very affordable keyword research tool.

Google Related Searches

This keyword research feature is also available directly within the Google search environment, at the bottom of the search result pages.

See a typical example below.

Google Related Searches Sample
Google related searches at bottom of SERP Page 1. More helpful keyword variant ideas.

This is an easy way to identify possible search term variants and long-tail variants of your base keyword concepts.

Google Related Searches with Keywords Everywhere

Like Google Autocomplete, the Google related searches area can also be enhanced with data from the Keywords Everywhere browser extension.

Here’s a version with the Keywords Everywhere data appended.

Google Related Searches Keywords Everywhere
Google related searches with Keywords Everywhere data appended.
 

Google 'People Also Ask' Feature

The Google SERP feature labeled ‘People also ask’ can also be very helpful for identifying long-tail keyword variants and LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords. You won’t get estimated keyword volumes directly here, but it’s still useful for generating related keyword ideas based on your main topic.

This feature is useful for SEO content planning as well. It provides great clues as to what questions your target audience needs to have answered on a specific topic.

Google People Also Ask Example
The Google ‘People also ask’ feature is another handy free keyword research tool.

More Free Google SEO Tools Coming Up

So at this point we’ve covered four useful and free Google SEO tools.

The first one, Google’s keyword planning tool, does require a Google Ads account in order to access it. But it’s still free to use at a basic level.

The other three are related to the Google search function itself, and so are available for free to any user of Google search. Features such as autocomplete, related searches, and ‘people also ask’ are examples of user-friendly features that serve double-duty as useful Google SEO tools.

These search features help users conduct better and more meaningful searches. They also provide great value to SEO practitioners for real-world keyword research.

We’ve also seen that other low-cost SEO tools, such as the Keywords Everywhere browser extension, can add even more value to Google SEO software tools and search features.

Next up… let’s take a quick look at a very comprehensive Google SEO tool — Google Search Console (GSC). GSC also offers a lot of value as an SEO keyword research tool and rank checker, plus a lot more for webmasters and SEO practitioners.

Google Search Console

The Most Important of All Free Google SEO Tools

Google Search Console, or GSC for short, is the mother of all Google SEO tools. And it, too, is free for everyone.

Google Search Console provides a number of features, tools, and reports that allow webmasters, digital marketers, and SEOs to assess the performance of a website in the eyes of Google and organic search.

If you want more organic traffic from Google and use only one free SEO tool, Google Search Console should be it.

See the quick summary below. For more details, see my post on using Google Search Console for rank tracking, and this one covering an actual website SEO audit with GSC

With Google Search Console, you can easily:

  • Check all the essential SEO metrics related to your website’s Google search rankings: impressions, clicks, click-through rate (CTR), and position in Google’s organic results.
  • Identify actual user search queries that generate impressions and clicks for your website or blog content. Not your ‘best guesses’ or made-up keyword phrases. These are actual terms and phrases (queries) entered by real users of Google search. (These are also often called ‘keywords’ or ‘keyphrases’.) 
  • Spot good keyword variants that you can work back into your content (an SEO content optimization tactic). Try this 30+ days after publishing a new page or post and see what user queries or topic angles you could be covering better. 
  • Track SEO performance changes over time, including position rankings for keywords and target pages. You can basically get a free SEO ranking report with GSC.
  • Filter your key Google SEO metrics to analyze specific keywords, groups of keywords (e.g., ‘topic clusters’), specific landing pages, or groups of pages.
  • Analyze SEO results by countries, device types (desktop, mobile, tablet), search types (web, image, video), search appearance (e.g., Web Light results), and date ranges.
  • Compare search performance metrics between different time periods. Learn which search queries and landing pages are gaining or losing ground in Google search.
  • Check for indexing coverage and errors. (E.g., 404 errors… ‘Page Not Found’)  
  • Check your website’s link profile (external (incoming) links, internal links, linking sites, linked pages, linking text).
  • Check for good mobile usability, good user Page Experience, and Google’s ‘Core Web Vitals’ metrics. (See more on this further below.)
  • Check search appearance (structured data, etc.)
  • Check for correct XML sitemaps.
  • Submit new or changed pages for faster Google indexing.
  • Review Google crawler activity and any crawl errors spotted by Google.
  • Check for any website ‘red flags’ related to site security (malware, hacked site, etc.)
 

Google Search Console Main Menu

The image below shows the main Google Search Console options as of late 2021. Note that there are still a few options available from the ‘legacy’ search console environment. 

google search console reports menu
Google Search Console’s main menu and reporting areas.

My bottom line on Google Search Console is this:

All SEOs, and probably all website content marketing and inbound marketing professionals, should become experts at using Google Search Console.

The graphic below shows the Performance section of Google Search Console.

In this case, the search metrics are isolated on a specific keyword that I was interested in investigating further. As shown here, this site ranks on Google page 1 for this specific keyword (average position = 6.6), with excellent average click-through rate (CTR).

Google Search Console SEO Keyword
The Google Search Console Performance report.

It’s outside the scope of this blog post to provide a complete tutorial on Google Search Console.

However, these related posts are also helpful in this area. They show practical uses for GSC on real websites.

Also be sure to check out ‘Google Search Central’ for much more about Google webmaster tools and resources.

Google's Core Web Vitals & Page Experience Tools

Free Google Tools for User Experience Metrics

For quite a while now, Google has incorporated things like page speed and mobile friendliness factors into its ranking decisions. Webmasters know that slow-loading pages and non mobile-responsive sites are bad for users — and also bad for search rankings.

In 2021, Google started incorporating its Core Web Vitals metrics into mobile search rankings. These metrics also became applicable to desktop search rankings in early 2022.

While the ranking significance of these measurements is a subject of debate among the SEO and webmaster communities, it’s a very good idea to pay attention to them and understand where your website’s weaknesses are.

Google’s Web Vitals Metrics

Google’s three Core Web Vitals metrics are shown here.

They measure page load time (LCP), time to interactivity (FID), and page visual stability (CLS). 

google core web vitals lcp fid cls
Google ‘Core Web Vitals’ metrics and performance ranges.

Several Google Tools for Measuring and Reporting

Google provides several free tools for assessing Core Web Vitals and overall page experience. These include:

  • PageSpeed Insights (also discussed further below)
  • Chrome UX Report
  • Google Search Console (see the ‘Experience’ reports in GSC)
  • Chrome DevTools
  • Google Lighthouse (also discussed further below)
  • Web Vitals Extension (a browser extension)

 

google tools with core web vitals support
Google’s free tools for Core Web Vitals measurement and analysis.

For More Information

Google provides lots of in-depth documentation about these tools. To really dig in, see these Google resources:

 

Core Web Vitals and 3rd-Party SEO Tools

Given the SEO industry interest in Google’s Core Web Vitals and Page Experience potential impact on search rankings, it’s not surprising to see many paid SEO tools getting into the measurement action here.

For good examples, see this post on paid SEO tools with Core Web Vitals measurement features.

Typically, these capabilities have been added to the SEO tools’ technical website audit features. They can collect and report CWV data ‘in bulk’ for all pages and posts of a target website. SEO PowerSuite’s Rank Tracker application also provides this in their SERP Analysis data.

Here are two examples, from Semrush and SEO PowerSuite.

(Note: I do use SEO PowerSuite and recommend it as an affiliate referral partner.)

semrush core web vitals process
The Core Web Vitals analysis workflow in Semrush’s SEO tool.
seo powersuite core web vitals analysis
Google Performance Score and Core Web Vitals metrics in SEO PowerSuite’s SERP Analysis tool.

Google Analytics

Use the SEO Features Within Google Analytics 

If Google Search Console is the mother of all free Google SEO tools, then Google Analytics (GA) is the helpful aunt and trusty sidekick to GSC.

Google Analytics is Google’s ubiquitous website analytics platform. It’s free for most users and also has a paid high-end version (Google Analytics 360) for large enterprises.

Google Analytics’ SEO tools include the ability to connect Google Analytics and Google Search Console for the same web property. This allows you to see Google Search Console’s search analytics data directly within your Google Analytics interface, in the Acquisition reporting area.

You can then combine the search console data with other Google Analytics metrics and dimensions to get a more complete picture of how organic search-based visitors are using your site, reaching on-site goals and generating conversions, etc.   

Google Analytics and Google Search Console — Even Better Together

The graphic below shows Google Search Console data pulled into Google Analytics — in this case for the demo GA account based on live data for the Google Merchandise Store.

We see Clicks, Impressions, CTR, and Average Position in the Google SERPs, just as we would if we were inside Google Search Console for this web property.

In this case, we use Search Query as the primary dimension and a secondary dimension of Country as an optional addition for this report.

Google SEO Tools - Analytics and Search Console
Example of SEO data inside Google Analytics. Connection with Google Search Console enables this.

The next graphic below focuses on organic search Landing Page as the primary dimension in Google Analytics. We see the usual four columns pulled straight from Google Search Console: Impressions, Clicks, CTR, and Average Position.

We also see the Behavior and Conversions (eCommerce) metrics that are typically associated with Google Analytics… all in the same report alongside the corresponding GSC data.

It is this ability to combine Google Search Console and Google Analytics data into meaningful reports that makes it worthwhile to connect GSC and GA for a single web property.

It also helps to solve the common ‘(not provided)’ issue when looking for organic search keyword information inside Google Analytics.

Google SEO Tools - Google Analytics and Search Console Metrics
Google Analytics and Google Search Console metrics combined into a cohesive report.

Another reason for making the connection between GA and GSC is simply to have easier access to the main Google Search Console metrics within GA.

For users who spend much more time in Google Analytics vs Google Search Console, it can be a nice convenience to have the main Google SEO metrics readily available when reviewing GA activity.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool

A Mobile Friendly Website Is Good for SEO

This free Google SEO tool provides a quick and simple way to test your website and pages for ‘mobile friendliness’.

Try the Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool here.

These days, having a site that is NOT mobile friendly is definitely NOT a good thing — for users or for your SEO.

Google factors mobile friendliness into its search ranking algorithm, so you definitely want to be in reasonably good shape here.

Here’s what the Mobile-Friendly Test results look like for the main IBM website. There are apparently some issues with complete page loading (see yellow triangle), but the page overall is seen as mobile-friendly in the eyes of Google.

Google Mobile Friendly Sample
A quick ‘mobile friendly’ website test tool from Google. Mobile user-friendliness is very helpful for SEO.

So, use this free Google tool to see if your website pages or posts might have any serious ‘mobile-friendly’ SEO issues.

Note: Google Search Console (discussed previously) also now includes a helpful ‘Mobile Usability’ report. 

I would tend to use GSC as a primary tool for reviewing mobile friendliness, and keep this tool handy as a backup or supporting quick test when needed. You can also use this tool for sites where you don’t have GSC access.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Improve SEO with Faster Page Load Times

A technical aspect of website SEO is understanding the load times of the pages on the site. Lower is better, in the eyes of your site’s visitors and Google as well.

To help webmasters identify and correct issues with website loading speeds, Google provides the free tool known as Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI).

Visit the PageSpeed Insights home page here.

See below for an example speed test for the IBM (US) home page.

PageSpeed Insights provides scores for load speed and optimizations present, for both mobile and desktop test scenarios.

It also provides insights and guidance for making further optimizations that will reduce page load times.

Google Pagespeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights – example results for a typical large website.

Google 'Test My Site'

This free Google speed testing tool checks your site speed for mobile users and provides recommendations for improvements.

Try Google’s Test My Site here.

Google Test My Site
Google’s ‘Test My Site’ resource tests for site speed in a mobile world.

Test My Site is based on speed testing resources at WebPageTest.org, so you may also want to run the more comprehensive tests there in any case. (Note that WebPageTest.org is not a Google-owned resource.)

Google Trends

An Overlooked Free Google SEO Tool

Google Trends is a great free SEO keyword research tool that is sometimes overlooked.

It allows you to research and compare search volumes for up to 5 keywords over specific time periods. You can also see regional differences in search trends for these keywords, plus suggested keyword variations.

Google Trends allows you to determine which of several similar keyword phrases may be best to go after for SEO content planning purposes.

Visit Google Trends here.

For example, see the Google Trends results below based on SEO keyword research on the subject of ‘dog treats’.

I’ve entered five keyword variations and can instantly see the relative search interest, including breakdown by US geographic region / states in this case.

I can also see data on related queries, which will help identify good keyword variations for potential long-tail and LSI keywords.

Google Trends Sample
Google Trends is great for researching SEO keyword ideas and seeing regional trends.

Google Lighthouse (Chrome Extension)

A Free SEO Tool for Real-World Mobile Speed Tests

Google’s Lighthouse is an open-source web developer tool, designed to test web pages and web-based apps for speed and other issues using a simulated ‘real-world’ 3G data network.

It’s available as a free Chrome browser extension. You can run Lighthouse audit tests against any web page or web app, covering these areas: Performance, Progressive Web App (PWA) compliance, Accessibility, Best Practices, and SEO.

Get the Lighthouse Chrome extension here.

Once the tests are completed, Lighthouse generates a report on how well the page did.

Focus on the major problem areas identified in order to make the most meaningful improvements to the page. These fixes should all improve your end user’s experience, page speed, and SEO.

Google Lighthouse Example Results
The upper part of a Google Lighthouse mobile speed report for a large website’s home page. The report continues with a detailed list of improvement areas and their potential page load time savings.

As with any Chrome browser extension, be sure to visit the Lighthouse user reviews in the Chrome store to learn about any issues that may be worth your consideration. It’s a well-rated extension overall, with 4.5 stars after 280+ reviews.

For more discussion about Lighthouse, including a comparison to Google’s PageSpeed Insights, see this article from the SEO experts at Yoast.

Google Data Studio

A Useful and Free SEO Reporting Tool

Google Data Studio is not purely an SEO tool, but I include it here since it can be very helpful for improved (and free) SEO reporting.

(Note: Also see this post for more on good SEO reporting tools.)

For example, you can connect both Google Analytics and Google Search Console as data sources into Google Data Studio to provide an integrated reporting environment. This may eliminate any need to export GA and GSC data into spreadsheets for consolidated reporting.

Here’s an example Google Data Studio report that pulls in search console data from Google’s own merchandise store.

Google Data Studio SEO Example
A sample SEO report using Google Data Studio with Google Search Console data.

Google Data Studio can make SEO reporting much simpler, more visually appealing, easier to understand, and more user-interactive vs. trying to build reports manually in Excel or Google Sheets.

Google Data Studio SEO reports can also incorporate user-defined settings, such as filters and date ranges, as in the sample report above. Using actual search query data from GSC, it’s also useful for building keyword ranking reports. 

Google Data Studio also provides much more reporting flexibility and customization vs. the static PDF reports that can be exported directly from Google Analytics.

For these reasons, Google Data Studio deserves a spot on this list of free Google SEO tools.

Check out Google Data Studio here.

Google SEO Tools — Final Thoughts

Free SEO Tools from Google Are Everywhere

I’ve tried to show in this post that the world of free Google SEO tools is pretty rich already, and getting better all the time. Most of Google’s SEO tools and resources aren’t designed strictly for SEO purposes, but add value for SEOs and digital marketers who know where to look and how to use them.

They won’t replace all of the good paid SEO tools available, but they offer a great starting point for any digital marketer looking for SEO help.

Every SEO professional uses at least some of these free tools on a regular basis — probably even daily.

Most of the free Google SEO tools are also very useful outside of SEO purposes and should be used by just about all digital marketing professionals.

For example:

Google Analytics for website analytics that aren’t directly related to SEO.

Google Mobile-Friendly Test Tool and PageSpeed Insights for website usability, speed testing, and overall health-check purposes.

Google Data Studio for improved, integrated reporting of all website metrics, not just SEO data.

Google Keyword Planner for PPC ad planning.

So, if you’re getting into the world of SEO with a focus on Google, I encourage you to check out all of the Google SEO tools described above. See what you can accomplish with these free options first, then look to the wide range of paid / premium SEO tools to add more capabilities where needed.

Need a hand with your own website SEO work? I offer a range of SEO consulting services and would be happy to discuss your SEO goals.

Comments and Feedback

I’ll wrap up here with just a few questions for you. Feel free to add your comments below.

  • Which of these Google SEO tools do you use the most?
  • What else would you like to see Google provide (either free or paid tools)?
  • What 3rd-party software do you use most for SEO, either with or without the Google SEO tools mentioned above?

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing with your social networks, too.

 

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