Lee Odden

Free Tools for Social Media Optimization

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

Plenty of bloggers are talking about the inevitable intersection of social media marketing and search engine optimization. Heck, we’ve been blogging about SMO since 2006! Keyword optimized social content and channels of promotion provide abundant signals to search engines for improved visibility on standard, social and real-time search.

The changing nature of social media marketing and optimization create the need for tools whether for research, marketing and promotion or analytics. Here are  social media and SEO tools you might find useful:

Below are screen shots of each tool with a more detailed description of how you might use them.

HowSociable is a useful tool to quickly gauge the social presence of a particular keyword or brand name. Agencies like TopRank Marketing will use this kind of tool (customized) to take snapshots of customer social presence metrics for social media optimization programs. For each social site polled, you can clickthrough to see specific mentions.  This is a characteristic of more advanced social media monitoring tools, but for those that want a quick glimpse, HowSocialble is easy to use and the price is right, just like these free social media monitoring tools. However, if you want more comprehensive brand search and monitoring, then a paid social media measurement tool is worth the investment.

KnowEm is both a free and a paid service that will help you easily and quickly check whether your brand terms or other keywords have been registered as social profiles on a wide variety of social media web sites. Everything from blogging platforms to social news and bookmarking services are included. If you don’t want to complete all those profiles yourself, you can pay knowem to do it for you.  Companies invest a lot in building their brand, so this tool is helpful both for creating off site promotion channels as well as guarding against brand name squatters.

Social Media for Firefox is the only browser addon in our list and can be a handy tool to identify upcoming news items that are gaining popularity on certain social news and bookmarking services. A big part of building a more influential user profile is to be a consistent source of submissions for articles that become popular. This addon helps identify articles that are becoming popular on services like Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon giving you a heads up to submit to other services.  The logic is that if a news item becomes popular on one service it has a good chance of becoming popular on others.  Relevance, timing and focus are key as is patience for this kind of tactic.

SEMRush is an interesting tool for identifying the keyword visibility, both organic and PPC, on Google for pretty much any domain name you might be curious about. Your own or competitors for example. A common question for marketers is, “What are my competitors optimizing for?”. This tool helps uncover that insight and in combination with other standard and social keyword research, can be very helpful insight in a social media optimization program.

Google Insights for Search is a handy tool to research trends in popularity of various keywords on their own or in combination.  Filters for search type, geographic location, industry or topical category and timeframe allow you to refine some pretty useful information about what’s in demand.

Eric Miraglia ‘s Inlink Analyzer is a back link analysis tool based on Yahoo’s Site Explorer that not only counts and displays source links to a particular URL, but it also shows if the source links were bookmarked on Delicious and what keyword tags were used. This kind of insight can be quite useful for understanding the relationship between social keywords and link popularity. It would be nice if there was a CSV export option.

Majestic SEO is easily one of the most powerful and useful link analysis tools available. There is a free version that gives you link acquisition counts over time and if you are a site owner, you can get full reporting for your site once you validate it.  If you use the paid service, you can get the juicy link details on your competition.  This tools is useful for finding high impact links for standard SEO but it’s also useful for finding out which social media sites your site or competitors’ site are getting  the most links from.  Also, which of your own social destinations (blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc) are getting inbound links and from where.

SocialMention is a free real time and social search tool that offers an array of search options (just blogs, just forums, just bookmarks or all) and output in the search results. You can get an indication of basic sentiment and the top social keywords associated with your query. As a free service, you don’t setup an account and save your search results, but you can easily download them into a spreadsheet. This is probably one of the most useful, free social search tools online.

Bit.ly URL shortening is very handy since they’re included as a default service on Twitter and many other Twitter applications. Bit.ly is rock solid reliable with uptime, which is pretty critical when you’re relying on their URL redirect to send traffic to whatever it is you’re promoting. You can also get basic statistics for each URL that your shorten to show how productive the site is where it was shared.  In today’s succinct social web with Twitter, status updates and micro-content, being able to conserve space with a reliable URL shortener is very helpful. Stats on top of that make this a “go to” URL shortening service.

PostRank offers a nice measure of engagement at the individual document level and if you pay attention, you can get that data on any web site in their database, not just your own. You can easily see what content on your competitors blogs are getting popular and where.  If you sign up for the PostRank Analytics service, you can incorporate Google Analytics data with social engagement metrics. These are essential comparisons in a social media optimization program and can help you understand where to plan your time on the social web.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO and Social Media Marketing tools. What low cost or free tools have you found to be effective for social media optimization tasks?

PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (14 votes, average: 4.93 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Thank you this is a great list. I especially like howsociable.com. It kind of blew me away…

    nice one.

  2. Personally I want tools that load online without requiring browser addons, extensions, toolbars, or downloads. That way I can continue to refrain from adding potential security holes to my personal computer. For example, Firefox always includes a disclaimer that tells users to only use addons from developers that they can trust.

  3. I would have to say I agree with Johan on this one, howsociable.com is pretty sweet. Now off to re-check out a few of the others to see which ones work best for me.

  4. Very helpful article and resources – I've been looking into them already and they're great! Thanks for the great read.

  5. Avatar bradfordbarker says

    Please stop calling it Social Media Optimization. Check out my blog post on the topic http://ow.ly/1gzxm. It should be natural and not contrived.

  6. I don't care what you call it. Thanks for aggregating some good tools. The demystification continues!

  7. Avatar arnie00717 says

    Good post , especially the howsociable.com is good find. Keep it up as usual.

  8. Avatar ღ°•.♥.•°ηєнα•¯`•°•.♥ says

    very effective blog post thank you

  9. Lee, I am well aware of the history of the term. His post just caught my eye because of the relevance to SEO. Just because it has been around for a while doesn't mean I have to use it or even like it.

    • Of course, that's true with anything. Search engine optimization for example, is a misnomer because it's not search engines that are being optimized, it's web pages (or other digital assets). Oops, more jargon to dislike. 🙂

  10. a very good post with so much good tools. thanks tom

  11. Avatar joshgroth says

    Great post, and useful tools.

    I was wondering if anyone else found SocialMention to be pretty inaccurate? I participate in a weekly Gen-Y professional chat (#u30Pro) and there are hundreds of posts of in the hour-long chat. After a recent chat, I went to SocialMention, and it said that the term had only been referenced something like 80 time in the previous hour, being off by probably 500-1000 tweets. I know that I personally had 30+ tweets with that hashtag, and it had only show me using it about 5 times…

    Just wondering if anyone else had seen this.


    • Josh, I agree that socialmention isn't going to be as accurate as something like Radian6, SM2 or even Trackur, but for the price, it's still the most useful search of its kind. I would never use it for social media monitoring, mostly for social keyword research.

      • Avatar joshgroth says

        Very true. I wasn't expecting it to be nearly as accurate as Radian6 or ScoutLabs, but I figured it would at least be somewhat accurate.

        Some free ones I've enjoyed are: Twitalyzer and OneRiot. Again, neither will replace Scout Labs for me, but for freeware, they were pretty decent.

        Thanks for the response.

    • We also found problems with Socialmention we are using Howsociable index but the rest of keywords etc from Socialmention. Also found http://www.samepoint.com/
      generates a great deal of volume but unfortunately stats are all but impossible unless done manually

  12. Avatar crunkspot says

    Great site!!!

  13. Love how sociable!!!! I use it to show my clients how much they are lacking in the social media world!Greg

  14. Just wanted to Add SEO Quake, a Firefox plugin that incorporates some of these tools in one. Social searches, seo, page rank, etc. I find it useful. Can be annoying though cause there is a frame that always appears.

    • Thanks Barbra, I was trying to avoid plugins but I agree SEO Quake is useful. BTW, I was just reading your posts on personas and content mapping. Well done!

  15. Great blog with many great ideas, I also like http://www.filtrbox.com/twitter.htm which lets you check your twitter influence

  16. Sweet! I always like posts with nice clear screenshots. I've used Bit.ly and Google Insights for a while, but I hadn't come across Trackur yet. I'll give HowSociable a few tries too.

  17. It's a really good list! Worth trying them, althought the free ones tend to be less reliable.

    • Thanks Daniela. I agree free tools can often be less reliable or accurate, but most of the free tools in this list are the freemium versions of paid services. That type of free tool as part of a sales offering is often much more reliable and accurate than a pet project.

      • Free is suppose to be juciy enough to get one buy premium services. So many people get by on free versions of the above mentioned services and even make SEO decisions on limited reporting, which is the scary part. For many SBOs, deciding on what to invest in is sometimes a challenge, especially if he or she is attempting DIY SEO.

        Better to have some reporting than none at all at the end of the day!

  18. Bit.ly looks good to be tried.

  19. Great list of tools. Google Insight is a tool we use a lot to see research keyword trends.

  20. Interesting list, you've gathered up a lot of useful information. For further info on the use of social media and social media marketing and PR this might be useful: http://contemporarypr.blogspot.com/2010/02/soci

  21. As others have said this is a very helpful collection of sm tools and these many comments and remarks have also been insightful. Meaty post! Even to find what does or does not work for our strategies is valuable. Thanks!

  22. The only tool I’ve never used was HowSociable, it is cool but it would be nice if it worked for smaller brands.

  23. Just starting out, and felt I had learned quite a lot already, but see several tools, I haven't yet used… back to work I go.

  24. HitsLink is my favorite for tracking referrals and overall traffic & conversions. Not free, but reasonable at $39/month.

  25. This is great information! For just basic back link checks I use Yahoo Site Explorer. But these are great sites when more analytics are needed.

  26. This was really cool. I learned about your site yesterday at the leading RE conference. I love all the tools 🙂

    What’s your favorite one that you use all the time?

  27. Avatar nanditakhan says

    All the TECHNICAL INFO is very simply yet promptly put.
    Must read for people who have the notion that SEO can just be done by Tecchies:)

  28. Great post! Thanks for sharing social medial tools you know. It seems like more and more tools are coming out for social media. I could only say that the phenomena continues! Thanks.

  29. Great list of collection.. I will follow and implement in my work.. Thanks for the useful list..

  30. i think it is so great site for seo, and so many tool which is help for any one, i like it.

  31. Really informative article. Didn't know a few of these even existed.
    Howsociable.com is what am gonna try out next.

  32. Avatar exploremyblog says

    Very handy tools but i think Google Analytics is best if we compare it with all other tools, anyways its my personal experience. I really enjoyed postes on this blog.

  33. Thanks for this list, Lee! Even if you are a staunch user of Google Analytics or any other SEO measurement tool, it's always interesting to explore what's new. You never know what you might find that could be supplemental to the tools you already use.

    I, for one, can't wait to give some of these a try.

    Thanks again!
    Tessa Carroll

  34. Thanks for posting these are very useful SEO tools. I really like the new Google insights for search. Here is a link to some additional handy tools that are right in your browser:

  35. Avatar Create a Website says

    Thanks for this post Lee 🙂
    On my personal experience i think Google Analytics is best because didn't know a few of these even existed. 😉

  36. Nice list!

    One of the best, Twitalyzer (also free) is missing. Have you looked at that?


  37. Hi Lee and all other visitors of TopRankBlog,

    Could you please review my new social media monitoring tool. I have just released the first BETA version of this free social media monitoring service. This free SMM / SEO tool will crawl the top 20 social media websites for your URL exposure and will make an online profile. Although I hope you just want to review it, it could be good for SEO too as it contains a backlink to your website .

    Please testdrive it yourself at http://www.socialwebsiteanalyzer.com

    Thanks in advance and please reply me your thoughts, desired features, add-ons. I want to add more features to this free tool.


  38. Avatar Wristmarketing says

    Thank you for this post, great value.

  39. This is a great post. I've been frequenting social media sites, for personal and businesses use, for several years now and it never occurred to me to actually pay attention to the numbers associated with these sites. I will bookmark several of these sites right away. Thanks!

  40. Avatar joseggonzalez says

    Cool tools !
    Thank you !

  41. Avatar angemarsden says

    I love bitly and also use SEOBook to track backlinks as it sits handily on my firfox browser toolbar.

  42. Really useful post. Bookmarked.

  43. just have a look

  44. Avatar laralayaa says

    very good article

    thanks for the nice information


  45. Great overview and insight on some very useful tools. Thank you for sharing.

  46. Great overview and insight on some very useful tools. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Avatar mkt_newbee says

    I just discovered your blog through Adam Vincenzini's 40 tools:)
    Really useful post thank you! It will be of great help!

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  49. great practical post – thank you!

  50. this is a nice list , i just want to say thanks for this , i have a blog http://social-catalog.com for which i want stuffs like that .