I’m typically not a blogger that blogs about blogging, however, when I come across some good information, I like to share it to help other bloggers grow. There are so many blogging courses that you can buy, but I love the good blogging tips that I can get for FREE! So whether you are needing blogging for beginners or just looking to up your blogging game, I have found some great free SEO tools that you can use instead of paying hundreds of dollars each month for comparable services.
I have been blogging for about six years now. And truth be told, I’m still learning how to do it more effectively. But, I just can’t bring myself to pay hundreds of dollars each month for things that I can do as well for free! Okay, there probably are some things that I am missing out on… some cool analytics or something, but trust me, using these FREE resources will definitely take you to the next level. And did I mention, it’s FREE?!
Blogging for beginners
Are you new to the blogging world? Starting your own blog can seem quite easy—until you figure out how much work is involved! And then it can seem a bit overwhelming! And there are so many things that you will learn and find out and wish that you had done differently. And that is why you are reading this article—to get a head start and hopefully grow your blog much quicker than if you were just going it alone.
If you don’t have a blog already, I have a step-by-step tutorial that walks you through setting up a blog with Bluhost. If you are just starting out, this is a very easy, and affordable option. Once you have your blog set up on WordPress (which I talk about in the tutorial as well), you can start exploring what plugins to add.
If you don’t want to start with Bluhost, you certainly don’t have to. I have compared and contrasted other web hosts and ultimately decided to migrate to BigScoots. Of course, this is not a complete list and prices and packages can change frequently, so make sure you verify your own figures before committing to a particular webhost and plan.
Best Free SEO Tools to Quickly and Easily Grow Your Blog
If you have been blogging for a little while, you know how important SEO is. This is how your articles and blog are found on the web. So, optimizing you content to be search engine friendly is very important.
SEO Review Tools
One of my favorite tools to analyze SEO for my blog is SEO Review Tools. This website will give you a full, free audit of your blog! You can check for headlines on your blog or individual posts for H1, H2, H3… and so on. You can check your domain authority, site speed, backlinks, and much more! If you are looking for a snapshot of where your blog stands in regards to its current SEO, this is a great starting point. There are several tools on here so you will need to set aside some time just to explore and figure out what everything is.
Keywords Everywhere is an extension for your Google Chrome browser. I found this when I was looking for an alternative to SEMrush. I have watched some of the free information videos about SEO from SEMrush, but never actually brought myself to pull the trigger on the $100 per month membership! There is a 7-day free trial, so you can try SEMrush out before deciding to purchase or not. Honestly, I had trouble even trying to get logged in. I requested the confirmation email to be re-sent three times. I even emailed SEMrush about it and never heard back. Needless to say, I never got my free trial. It was probably a glitch in the system or entirely bad luck on my part. I have heard a lot of bloggers that rave about how wonderful SEMrush is, so don’t be discouraged if you really want to try it out—at least for the free 7-day trial!
However, in my quest to look for keywords and search terms for SEO, I found Keywords Everywhere and it really is a goldmine! All you have to do is add the extension on to your Google Chrome browser and then ANY term you search will give you stats for how many people are searching for that exact term and related terms in monthly volume! So when you are working on your blog post title (H1) and subheadings within the article (H2 or H3—I don’t even bother using any others anymore!), you can determine how to word those based on the popularity of keywords searched.
Why do you want to know the volume of keywords searched? Well, it gives you an idea if anyone is searching the internet for the keywords that you are writing about. I try to use keywords that have at least a few thousand people searching for them each month. If you use terms that too few people are searching for, well then, no one will ever find your content because it won’t show up in Google searches. And if you use terms that hundreds of thousands or millions of people are searching for each month, then your content may never be found because it will be lost in the sea of information. If a search has a search volume of at least 1,000 to 10,000 per month, I think that is a good number.
FREE Content Writing Tools
The Hemingway Editor is a great tool to help you analyze the readability of your content. It will highlight areas or phrases that could be improved and also let you know what “grade level” your writing is. Keep in mind, the internet is a vast place, so you want to make sure that the average person coming across your content can read and enjoy it. However, you don’t want a low grade level because that may indicate several spelling or grammatical errors. Depending on what you are writing, you probably want to stick with a reading level of grades 9 through 12.
FREE Headline Analyzer
We all know that a catchy headline is of the utmost importance. If you don’t grab someone’s attention right away, they aren’t going to ever bother clicking on your article—much less read it. While you definitely don’t want to tempt readers with click-bait headlines, you want to format your titles and article headlines to entice your reader. Coschedule has a great free tool that you can use to analyze your headline. It will help you determine what type of words you are using in your headline, if the length is good, and tips to tweak your title and make it a bit more SEO friendly.
FREE Sources for Stock Photos
As a blogger, you will probably want to take a lot of your own photos, depending on what you write about. So if you are a food or travel photographer, you definitely want to get good at taking photos. I have taken several free online classes—of course there are more courses that you can buy—but I have found many tips to help with photo composition even in the free info. Some of my favorites are Amy & Jordan and Cole’s Classroom if you want to check them out. I am not an affiliate of either of these, but I have learned a lot from both of them—even in the free courses!!
But sometimes you just need to use a stock photo. I write a lot of personal finance and budgeting articles, so taking my own photos for something like that isn’t all that important. So, if you are just writing on a more general topic, you may want to utilize a stock photo. I have written an article about the Best Sources for FREE Stock Photos. I have listed my favorite websites that provide photos that you don’t have to worry about attribution—which is so important because you don’t want to get in trouble for using someone else’s photo in the wrong manner.
Regardless of whatever source you use, make sure to read what type of licensing goes along with that photo—some require attribution, some do not.
FREE Sources for Photo Editing
If you take your own photos, you probably know that editing your photos is essential to creating quality content. And you probably also know that there are many photo editors that are expensive and not very user friendly! One of my very favorite—and free—photo editing resources is A Color Story. You can also download their app, which is one way that I save time… just edit a picture right on my phone. I am not a professional photographer, but honestly, my smartphone takes great photos, and once I put them through a filter, they truly look great. Good news is, you can use A Color Story on your desktop or through an app on your smartphone. So no matter how you prefer to take your pictures, this wonderful, free editor is available to you.
Here are a few before and after photos so you can see what a huge difference it makes to edit your photos on A Color Story:
As you can see, the original photos looks nice, but once I used A Color Story to quickly edit… the colors really pop!