How I Use SEO Tools To Rank My Blog For Free.



This will be a combo of “how-to” and lists posts about hands-on experience in using SEO tools to rank a website higher on Google.

Before putting any word in this article, I’ve learnt and tried out some tips offered by Neil Patel and Brian Dean. Moreover …

To help my blog grow in organic traffic, I regularly use all of the services and tactics in each category mentioned below on my list. ⤵️

Keyword brainstorming

High-value articles covering my readers’ questions emerge from comprehensive search intent analysis.

So, I begin with formulating a theme, look through relevant hints dropped by Google on top, bottom search lines and “People also ask” as in the snap below.

SEO tools_Google search results_englishwithpolina
SEO tools_Google_search_results

1. Google Keyword Planner

Collecting phrases from different hint texts and phrases, I add a bunch of words in Google Keyword Planner to continue my research work. 

What I like best about this tool is that I can use filters, estimate keyword difficulty, average monthly searches, export reports to Google Sheets and other,

google keyword planner englishwithpolina-start with keywords
google keyword planner englishwithpolina-start with keywords

or pick the “Start with a website” option to analyze any of top 10 Google competitors’ products or services related to my topic. It’s good to note that the tool includes search partners and displays their variations as well.

google-keyword-planner-englishwithpolina-start with a website
google keyword planner englishwithpolina-start with a website

2. Quora

No doubt, pulling keyword ideas from paid services is an ultimate advantage, but what if free methods can also work out?

I pore over any tips, lists, everything that could get me to better understanding of people’s pain in the neck.

In my opinion, Quora search results are worth being looked through to go after English long-tail or low competition keywords for my blog.

Quora search results

So, I keep doing keyword research with an eye on optimizing my future content for what people ask for in the niche.

3. Wordstat

As my blog is about English exam preparation, including for Russian-speaking students, I study keyword variations through reading relevant ESL/EFL blogs as well as using the local browser and its free tool called Yandex Wordstat. 

What local keyword statistics services do you use in your niche? Or perhaps, you specify geo in your keyword combinations?

Wordstat. Unified State Exam Keywords.

4. Google Trends

Looking at suggestions in Google trends, I can analyze which query is seasonal, which one is waning to save my time and create the content meeting my readers’ needs as accurately as possible.

Google Trends

On-page optimization

What can I do to improve on-page SEO for my blog?

The first thing to do on my list is to write readable, well-structured and relevant materials. This is how I organize information on any post before publishing it.

SEO optimization for Polina’s ESL Blog. Article Structure.

5. Ahrefs Toolbar

Then, with the help of Ahrefs Toolbar I check on-page optimization for such content details as title and description, canonicals, content hierarchy, tags, image alt, hreflang.

The tool also provides a free option to highlight and count internal and external links on a page.

Ahrefs Toolbar. Polina’s ESL Blog.

6. Google’s Rich Results Test

One more tip to improve on-page optimization for your website is to test whether its pages are eligible for rich snippets in search results.

Structured data help search machines better understand what your site is about, snippets get your posts to stand out attracting more visitors to your blog pages.

By the way, markup is also one of the technical issues, so it’s recommended to consider it as well when optimizing a page on Google.

Off-page tips

Good quality link building will boost a site in search results. But what if my blog is very young and no one wants to link to me?

➡️Some years ago I started writing some notes on a free platform: a well-known Blogger. Back in those days, I couldn’t even guess that SEO existed, so the best I could do then was just plain posting. Today my old wishy-washy blog became a good starting point for backlinking my professional one.

➡️Then I learnt other variants to build quality and free links to my website:

  • writing shortcuts on article directories sites;
  • creating personal accounts on such bio linking services as linktree, aboutme;
  • commenting on forums;
  • mutual guest posting;
  • sharing useful materials on community sites, for example, for ESL teachers.

This routine and decent work gave me some results which I could track with

7. Google Search Console

8. Ahrefs Link Checker

SEO experts and big platforms advise to earn authority links, and they are right, but I believe that great things begin with tiny steps.😊

Technical SEO tools

It is worth mentioning that all the SEO categories and tactics are tightly interwoven and interlinked.

If your content is unique, informative and well-organised, but technical issues (page speed, HTTPS certificate, XML sitemap, AMP) are dragging behind, then there is no expectation of good rankings.

Unfortunately, fewer people will see your posts or guidelines if it takes too long for a website to load or its pages are not mobile-friendly unless you are Tim Ferriss himself. Despite technical mistakes, his blog beats all records in traffic because it is a well-known brand name.

In 2021 Google announced a range of user page experience updates which should be taken into account if you long for better rankings.

Google Search Console helps me with detecting and fixing technical problems on my WP blog. Besides, I consider Page Speed Insights to do what I can do on my own in terms of technical moments: compress images, texts as I am not a coding guru 😩 at all.

How to Improve Your Website’s Page Load Speed

Core Web Vitals. English with Polina.

Ahrefs Webmaster Tools

Even with the free version of the service I can :

  • monitor my site health;
  • view my backlinks (new, lost, broken);
  • view keywords I rank for;
  • view top pages and top keywords with positions;
  • find out traffic and its cost.
Ahref Dashboard. English with Polina

It’s great to have a good alternative to Google instruments.

Rankings monitoring

In addition to Google Search Console and Ahrefs, to keep an eye on my blog positions I use free options offered by



10. SEOptimer


Some final thoughts

Definitely, this is not a comprehensive list of all the SEO tools and techniques in the world. I just focused on some of them to show that essential works to rank your website could be completed even with the minimum toolkit of online SEO services.

Moreover, providing free instruments mentioned above, Google creates equal opportunities for everyone who uses white hat methods to bring their website higher in rankings and show its real value to Internet users.

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