This article is part of a larger series on Small Business Websites.
Search engine optimization (SEO) audit tools let you analyze your website’s performance vs best practices, goals, and competitors. The top options pinpoint ways to make your site rank higher in Google search results, earn backlinks, provide a better site visitor experience, and—ultimately—generate more leads and sales. We found top contenders for both general and specialty uses to help you identify the best SEO audit tool for you.
Based on our research, here are the best SEO audit tools for small businesses, including many you can use for free:
- Semrush: Best overall and top choice for those wanting the most comprehensive tools for optimizing and evaluating a website
- Ahrefs: Best free SEO audit tool for beginners
- Moz Pro: Best platform for tracking website rankings on multiple search engines
- Google Search Console: A must for any businesses wanting the most accurate data about its website’s organic search performance (plus, it’s free)
- Hibu: Great option for those wanting a free digital marketing summary
- HubSpot: Perfect for those looking for a free website grader to provide SEO insights
- SEO Scout: Best free search results preview tool for those wanting to see how their listing will display in Google search engine results pages (SERPs)
- Merkle: Great find for those looking for a free local search simulator that shows where their or their competitors’ websites rank in location-based search results
- SureOak: Best free keyword density checker for content marketers looking to analyze keyword density to optimize page content for search
- GTMetrix: Affordable technical SEO tools for those wanting to check or monitor their site’s technical performance (page load speed, size, scripts, and more) over time
Best SEO Audit Tools at a Glance
SEO Audit Tool
Free Version, Tools, or Trial?
Starting Cost of Paid Plans per Month
Free plan and 7-day free trial
Free tools and 30-day free trial
Custom, starting from $300
Free tools, demo, and plans
Free tools and 7-day free trial
Custom, from $1,000**
Free plan and tools
*Save substantially with annual prepayment
**Based on reviews online
Semrush: Overall Best SEO Audit Tool
From the Semrush dashboard, you can perform any number of SEO audit tasks, including with the free version. For example, you can see statistics at a glance for websites you want to track, perform keyword research, check competitors’ keywords and backlinks, see which keywords a site ranks for, set up website audits and projects, and perform social media, Google Ads, and content marketing research.
Ahrefs has similar tools in its free version, but only allows you to access data for sites you have Google Analytics permissions for. Semrush enables you to retrieve the data of any URL, even in the free version. Plus, you can add the free SEO Quake Chrome extension and connect it to your Semrush account to get instant site metrics (e.g., traffic overview, pages per visit, backlinks summary) and the page-level data (index status, backlinks, page keywords based on density, and more) of any URL.
You can use Semrush to identify the keywords your site ranks for, track rankings over time, see position changes, and set up position tracking for specific keywords. Perform a backlinks audit to see which websites link back to yours and identify any that might be hurting your website, which you can then disavow.
Competitor research tools include accessing the same types of data for competitor websites as well as competitors’ backlinks and Google display ads. With a Guru subscription, you also gain access to historical data and tools for comparing domain-to-domain or multiple domain rankings. This way, you can find opportunities for your site’s improvement based on strategies others are using (or not using).
Semrush has long been one of the best tools for content marketers. Not only can you perform the keyword and competitor research described above, but there are also tools specifically for SEO content writing and research. For instance, you can create a Content Template based on your target keyword to get an overview of top search engine results pages (SERPs) and enrich your content with additional keywords Google expects to find.
Then you can use the Writing Assistant to check the content right in your Docs, Microsoft Word, or WordPress drafts (or by importing any URL) to analyze SEO, readability, tone, and originality. It will provide specific suggestions for ways to improve your content for online search.
You can also set up brand monitoring to get alerts when your company is mentioned online. Likewise, small digital marketing agencies and freelancers can set up alerts to monitor clients’ brand presence online. You can even track external content (e.g., guest posts) and run a content audit to get actionable insights for improving your SEO.
Connect your social media accounts to track activity on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and your Google Business Profile. Then post directly to social accounts and create and manage Facebook ads (currently in Beta) from the dashboard.
Semrush’s SEO audit tools extend to search engine marketing (SEM) as well. For example, you can research competitors’ Google Ads and even see which keywords they are bidding on and how their ads performed. Use the pay-per-click (PPC) keyword tool to design and optimize your ad campaigns.
You can set up Semrush reports to monitor multiple as well as single aspects of technical SEO like site performance, broken links, backlink quality, and crawlability. You can also create custom reports on domain performance as well as for specific pages on a website. Then Semrush simplifies the process of fixing technical issues with instructions built in to project and site audit results.
The sheer number of capabilities and tools available on this platform can be overwhelming. For this reason, we highly recommend requesting a free demo or training session to get more familiar with Semrush and ensure you get the most return on your investment.
Semrush Pricing & Tiered Features
Price per Month*
Projects per Month
Keywords to Track per Month
Pages to Crawl per Month
Keyword, Domain & Backlink Analytics
10 data requests per day (total)
Data Aggregate of Desktop & Mobile
Content Template & Writing Assistant
Domain vs Domain
Google Data Studio Integration
Share of Voice Metric
*Save up to 17% with annual prepayment
In addition to the robust SEO audit tools included in Semrush plans are add-ons for Listing Management, Semrush .Trends, an Agency Growth Kit, and for additional user seats. Add additional seats to the Pro plan for $45 per user, per month, $80 a month for each additional Guru user, or $100 for each additional Business plan user seat (per month).
The Listing Management add-on costs $20 per month for automatic distribution to listings sites, duplicate suppression, Google Business and Facebook Profile management, and reviews monitoring. Upgrade to Premium for $40 per month to add a local heatmap and the ability to respond to reviews.
The Semrush .Trends add-on costs $200 per user, per month. It includes Traffic Analytics for a channel-by-channel breakdown of website traffic sources, top pages, engagement, and user behaviors. It also includes the Market Explorer, which provides a comprehensive overview of top market players and their market share, dynamics, audience characteristics, industry trends, and more.
Add the Agency Growth Kit to any plan for $100 per month to automate agency workflows and gain new leads with a listing in the Semrush Agency Partners platform. The Kit also includes a bid finder to help acquire clients, a customer relationship management (CRM) to organize client and prospect data, and the ability to automate reports and repetitive tasks in a Client Portal.
Semrush is the best SEO audit tool for small businesses overall. It has a wealth of features for gaining a comprehensive view of your site’s performance and that of your competitors, as well as in-depth research, reporting, and monitoring tools. Because of the number and depth of its tools, it may be overkill for some businesses or challenging for beginners who might find that Ahrefs is the best alternative to Semrush.
Ahrefs: Best Free SEO Audit Tool for Beginners
Ahrefs is a fairly robust SEO audit tool and one of the most user-friendly for beginners. For example, when you create a free plan, you can immediately play a short video tutorial to get an overview of what you can do on the platform.
The free version is called Ahref’s Webmaster Tools. You’ll find a link right underneath the main “Sign up for Ahrefs” button on the home page. Sign up and connect your Google Analytics and Search Console so you can monitor your website’s health score, check for over a hundred SEO issues on your site, and see what keywords your website ranks for.
The free plan enables you to connect your Google account to get data about and track your Google-verified websites (these are sites that you have permissions for in Google Analytics and Search Console). One of the primary benefits is that it puts key SEO benchmarks into a dashboard, enabling you to see your site’s status at a glance as well as the progress over time for domain rating, traffic, keywords, and more.
The free version offers startups, small businesses, and even small digital marketing agencies the ability to set up and track organic search and rankings for free. It’s ideal for those learning about search engine optimization who want to know how SEO audit tools can help before subscribing to a paid plan.
Unfortunately, without a paid plan, you can only track and get data on your own websites for free. Alternatively, with Semrush, you can check out similar details for any domain for free (albeit limited to 10 requests per day).
Semrush plans are far more robust for those wanting in-depth data and insights for content marketing, competitor tracking, website audits, and overall SEO efforts. Still, no other platform gives you the level of data and tracking over your own sites for free as you get with Ahrefs.
Ahrefs Pricing & Features
Price per Month
Tracked Keywords per Month
Non-verified Projects per Month
Unlimited Verified Projects
Google Data Studio Integration
The Standard plan is needed to use the Domain Comparison and content explorer tools. However, comparable tools are included in the first paid plan with Semrush. Using Ahrefs’ content explorer, you can see high-performing web pages under any keywords or topics, but you have to upgrade to view historical data, which also costs less with Semrush.
We are most impressed with what Ahrefs includes for free in its Webmaster Tools version, and that you don’t have to be an expert to use Ahrefs to improve your website’s rankings. Small businesses and digital agencies can see data and track Google-verified sites, and get actionable insights to rank higher and ensure website health. However, before choosing a paid plan, compare it to Semrush and Moz to be sure you’re getting the most value for your money.
Moz Pro: Best for Tracking Rankings on Multiple Search Engines
Moz Pro’s SEO audit tool enables business owners to identify site performance issues, track growth, and optimize results. Among the free SEO audit tools on its site, you’ll find a Link Explorer, Keyword Explorer, competitor discovery tool, and the ability to analyze your domain and your brand’s online presence (i.e., listings).
While most of its competitors only evaluate Google search-related data, Moz Pro shows your rankings on Bing and Yahoo! search engines as well as Google International and Google Mobile. For this reason, it’s the best SEO audit tool for those who want the ability to track rankings across multiple search engines.
With paid plans, you get an individual walk-through and 24-hour support. They include research tools and performance metrics, as well as insight into issues impacting your small business website and how to fix them to achieve better rankings. Moz Pro has produced extensive resources and training via Moz Academy for search optimization to help beginners and experts alike.
Moz Pro Pricing & Tiered Features
Price per Month*
Tracked Keyword Rankings
Link Tracking Lists
User Seats Included
Unlimited On-page Grader Reports
*Save substantially by paying annually
Moz was a pioneer in the organic search tactics now widely used for content marketing and site optimization. You can trust the data, insights, and strategies gleaned from the Moz Pro platform will help your site rank higher and pay off with more traffic and conversions. It’s the best SEO audit tool for those who want to improve optimization not only on Google, but also for Google International, Google Mobile, Bing, and Yahoo! searches.
Google Search Console: Most Accurate Keyword Ranking Data
The most accurate source of data in terms of where your website ranks in Google search results is the Google Search Console. Google is highly proprietary and renowned for keeping a tight hold on its data and details about its ranking algorithm. For this reason, platforms like Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, and others have created highly sophisticated software to constantly test search engines in order to provide the most accurate keyword search volume and ranking estimates.
However, Google gives you full and free access to a virtual smorgasbord of data relative to your website, or the websites for which you have Google permissions, such as digital agencies. Whether you are a small business owner trying to get a handle on how to drive traffic to your website or a marketer who wants to track 100% accurate data about site performance, Search Console is a must.
First, to ensure your site gets fully indexed, it’s essential that you generate an XML sitemap and submit it through Search Console. (Merkle offers a free XML sitemap generator should you need one.) Once added, Google will periodically revisit the sitemap to check for new pages that need to be indexed.
In the Performance tab, see how many clicks brought visitors to your website and what queries (keywords) brought them there. View total impressions, which is the number of times your content was displayed in online search results, and for which queries. See your site’s average position for each query and see which pages brought the most traffic to your site in a given period. For all of that data, you can also compare performance based on specific time periods.
See which countries your site visitors came from, when they visited, and more. Search Console also inspects your site and alerts you when you have error pages or pages that aren’t mobile-friendly. And the fact that Google gives you all this for free makes it a no-brainer for your SEO audit strategy.
Search Console shows which of your pages are being displayed in online searches. Since this is Google’s own data, it allows you to see exactly which keywords are producing visibility (i.e., impressions) and clicks. Google will also send alerts when basic errors are found on your website, such as URLs not being crawlable, not being mobile-friendly, or when page speed is negatively affecting your site.
Connect it to other tools, including Google Analytics and the Google Data Studio, to unlock more features. When you add Search Console to Google Analytics (GA), you can analyze your SEO rankings along with other analytics data, such as new vs returning site visitors, which search engines are driving traffic, where site visitors are located, and how long they stay on your site. This also allows you to save time by viewing Search Console data from the GA interface.
For the most accurate data on your website’s performance in online search, Google Search Console is the best SEO audit tool. Plus, it can be integrated with platforms like Semrush and Ahrefs to give you the best of both worlds in terms of getting data on competitors’ sites as well as your own and getting actionable insights to improve SEO or fix website issues—all for free.
Hibu: Best Free Digital Marketing Score Report
In contrast to the robust SEO audit tools above, the following solutions provide specialty tools or services. Hibu is the best SEO audit tool for small businesses lacking internal SEO expertise, as it provides a one-stop solution for optimizing a brand’s online presence. Among its free tools are a free digital marketing score that shows a summary of your online presence.
In addition, when you set up a free consultation, the experts at Hibu include a detailed analysis of your online presence. The presentation will also show you how Hibu’s services can help you get the results you want, from smart website and social media tools to getting more reviews on Google and driving web traffic through organic and paid search efforts. Learn more about Hibu in our article on the best digital marketing agencies for small businesses.
HubSpot: Best Free Website Grader
HubSpot’s free website grader is one of the best free SEO audit tools for analyzing several potential ranking factors relative to your web site. For example, you can instantly discover if page size or slow load time due could be hampering your digital marketing efforts, if you need to add page titles and meta descriptions, or whether you would benefit from integrating social channels into your site.
It will test whether search engines have permission to index your site and whether your titles, meta descriptions, and links in your content help with search. As Google has a mobile-first approach, the free website grader also shows you whether your site is fully search friendly and how you can improve the experience for mobile site users. At the end of your report, HubSpot includes a list of specific ways to improve your site’s performance.
As a leader in content marketing, HubSpot’s platform is designed to enhance your search optimization efforts overall. Specifically, you can use the HubSpot CRM, Marketing Hub, and Customer Service tools free of charge up to specified contact list limits. This includes access to tools that improve SEO, such as email marketing, online forms, ad management, and building lead and conversion-generating landing pages.
SEO Scout: Best Google SERP Simulator
SEO Scout is online software you can use to audit your site’s SEO and identify effective ways to improve it, including free tools. For example, you can use the free Google SERP simulator to see exactly what someone searching online would see when they see your URLs in online searches.
This gives you the ability to test variations of your title and meta description to increase click-through rates (CTRs). In turn, this drives more traffic to your website and landing pages, helping you fill the sales funnel and increase conversions, including lead generation and sales.
Other free SEO Scout tools you can use to expand your brand’s online presence include the Scout Suggest keyword research tool, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help you identify the best keywords to try to rank for. Tools also include a schema markup generator, keyword intent categorizer, and content analysis tools for keyword density and word count.
Paid plans start at $49 per month, putting many more tools at your disposal. For example, you can split test nearly every aspect of your website to ensure you are using the top-performing titles, descriptions, tables, and more. AI-powered keyword research, the ability to check your site and competitors’ sites, rank tracking, and keyword gap analysis tools are also all at your disposal.
Merkle: Best Local Search Results Simulator
While Merkle’s services aren’t targeted toward small businesses, they have made several free SEO audit tools available online. Among them, you will find a local search tool that allows you to enter location details (e.g., country, city, ZIP code), specify a language and device type or browser, and then input a search query.
The local search tool then replicates what someone searching for that query in that location would see in Google or Bing search results, including the map pack (if applicable). You can use this to see where your business ranks in local search results in various ZIP codes near you, or where most of your customers are.
SureOak: Best Keyword Density Analyzer
SureOak is an SEO marketing agency that offers small business-friendly freebies, including free SEO audit tools and a free strategy consultation session. Among the free tools on the website is a keyword density analyzer you can use to assess any page on your website in terms of how you are using your target keywords.
This can help you determine if you have used a keyword too many times (called keyword stuffing), which can hurt your search rankings. It can also help you discover whether search engines might interpret that your page’s content centers around topics not related to your intended target keyword due to the frequency with which keywords occur in the text.
In addition, you can see whether you are using semantic variations of your keyword. These are called “LSI keywords.” LSI stands for latent semantic indexing, and these keywords are used by search engines to further determine when your content is the best result to show in an online search.
GTMetrix: Most Affordable Technical SEO Audit Tools
From the GTMetrix home page, you can input any URL from your website and get a comprehensive performance audit and report. You can also retest a page after making adjustments to address issues or compare the performance of one URL to another.
GTMetrix does a really good job of not only providing your results but also explaining them. Nearly every section title displays a question mark icon you can click to get more information. This makes it easy for non-technical small business owners to not only check site performance but understand what the results mean, and what might be needed to address any issues.
For ongoing site performance audits, GTMetrix offers a free plan that allows you to monitor one URL and perform 50 on-demand tests. Paid plans that increase the number of monitored URLs and add more features start at $10.67 per month.
Honorable Mention: Google
It simply wouldn’t be fair to Google (or you) if we didn’t give an honorable mention to the Google ecosphere. It contains an amazing array of search optimization tools, resources, and instruction available to any business that needs them—for free. Here are some worth adding to your search optimization toolkit:
- PageSpeed Insights: Check to see if slow site load-time could be hurting your website’s SEO.
- Google Trends: See if searches for your keywords are on the uptick and find out what the next big thing will be.
- Think with Google: Find out what Google thinks in terms of best practices for SEO, including data-based strategies to help your site rank better on PC and mobile.
- Google Analytics: Get 100% accurate data about your website’s performance, connect Analytics to Search Console, and see all of your data in one place.
- Google Search Central: Google explains what to do to make your site rank in online search, in plain language anyone can understand.
- Google Business Profile: Formerly called Google My Business, this free and essential business listing includes reviews that can help your site rank higher in online search.
- Google Optimize: This handy little corner of the Google ecosphere literally exists to help you better optimize your online content for site visitor experience and conversions—A/B test, set up multivariate tests, run redirects, add pop-up banners, and personalize your content for visitors.
How We Evaluated the Best SEO Audit Tools
Whether you need a free SEO audit tool or a cheap all-in-one solution, the best SEO audit tools allow you to identify site issues that you need to address and the best practices to apply. We looked at leading comprehensive and specialty solutions, with an emphasis on tools that are affordable for small businesses.
Here are the factors we took into consideration:
- Cost: We looked for tools that offer well-rounded features that justify the price, offer a free plan or trial, or that are free to use.
- General features: To be considered, a tool had to offer features that can increase your website’s traffic and improve the quality of that traffic. We also evaluated which tools deliver the most accurate and meaningful data.
- Niche features: We also considered niche features such as insights or instructions to fix issues, keyword planning, and compatibility with other marketing software.
- Usability: Search optimization doesn’t have to be daunting. We evaluated each SEO audit tool based on ease of use and whether beginners can use it.
- Expert opinion: With many SEO audit tools available, we recommended those that we know, based on our own firsthand experience, provide a high level of value and potential return on investment for small businesses.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I rank higher on Google?
There are a number of ways to rank higher in Google. One of the more effective long-term strategies is content marketing, which is the tactic of using search-optimized copy to drive more traffic and exposure to your website. Creating web content, from web copy to blog posts, and optimizing said content with the right keywords and design can help you rank higher in Google search results.
How can I find the right keywords for my website?
Using keyword research tools, such as Ahrefs and Semrush, can help you find high-value keywords (e.g., high search volume and low competition) to include in your website’s content. These tools enable you to determine keyword difficulty (how hard it will be to rank for a given keyword based on competition), the search volume and potential traffic for each keyword, and help you generate content ideas.
How can I make my site more visible to people in my area?
Implementing a local SEO strategy will help boost your online presence and increase in-person sales. In addition to local SEO tools you can use to optimize your site and gain more brand exposure, make sure you have a plan in place to encourage reviews and add listings on directories that point back to your site.
Conducting regular website audits is very important to assessing the overall health of your site and finding ways to improve its ability to attract and convert organic traffic. For the most comprehensive tools, Semrush is our top recommended platform. Alternatively, save yourself time and money and get SEO services from the experts at Hibu.
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