1. Rank Checker
Rank Checker is a handy plug-in that allows you to quickly see where you are ranking for a keyword. It covers all Google country domains and some Yahoo country domains.
I found this particularly useful when going through optimization excercises for China, Japan, and other non-US locations. You'll need Firefox to use this one.
> Go to Rank Checker
> Click the Download button
> Right click the Rank Checker icon that appears in the bottom right of your browser
> Right click "Options"
> Select your Google domain and click OK
> Left click the Rank Checker icon in the bottom right of your browser
> Type in your website domain
> Type in your keyword
> Click ADD
> Click START
Rank Checker Example: google.cn Keyword Checks in Simplified Chinese
2. Backlink Anchor Text Analyzer
Inbound links and anchor text are very important factors when it comes to SEO. The key is getting another site to link through to your Preferred Landing Page, using the keyword you are trying to optimize for. If that site happens to be a high authority site (for example, a .gov or a .edu), then you benefit even more.
The Backlink Anchor Text Analyzer helps you to identify what sites are linking through to you, and what link labels (anchor text) are being used. Unlike some other link/anchor text tools, you don't have to sign-up or upgrade to a paid account in order to see all the data.
3. Google Ad Preview
As people within an organization start to become more aware of search engine marketing, a bad thing that can happen is if internal people repeatedly perform a bunch of searches and click on your PPC ads. Believe it or not, I had to explain just last week about the difference between paid and organic search, and the pay-per-click nature of sponsored links.
Another bad scenario would be if internal folks repeatedly search on the same keyword and don't click on your PPC ads. Why? Because Google will remember and think that the ad (your ad) isn't relevant to that searcher, and so won't serve it up to them again. This is often followed by a string of Emails asking, "Why aren't we showing up in Google anymore?". Argh.
This is why I've found the Google Ad Preview Tool a quick and useful way to test and see what is showing up without adversely affecting what appears. This is also a good tool to share with other inquisitive minds in your organization. What's also nice is that you can select the Google domain and display language, so it's not just limited to the US.
4. Keyword Niche Finder
Google Adwords is where most of us go to do our regular keyword research. But if you are interested in spending a bit more time doing long-tail keyword research, check out Wordstream's Keyword Niche Finder.
This is a more recent discovery (thanks to Larry Kim at the SearchFest conference). For me, it's been helpful in finding those three to five word long-tail queries that are becoming more and more popular. Although overall volume may be lower on these keywords, conversion rates are often much higher, so it's important to balance these into your keyword mix.
5. Google Translate
Whilst I would never use Google Translate to translate any public-facing content (always best left to the native speakers, I'm sure you'd agree), I've found it a very useful tool to "back-translate" local language content that is provided to me, particularly when it comes to keywords and PPC adcopy.
You'd be amazed at how many weird things I've uncovered doing this, including adcopy that is off-message and use of non-customers facing keywords... the list goes on. If you work in a centralized worldwide role, make sure you have this one bookmarked in your favourites; it can save you from some uncomfortable questions later down the line.
What free seach marketing tools could you not live without? Please feel free to share any gems.