Anyone who has attempted to optimize their website for better results on search engines has undoubtedly seen advertisements for applications and services that promise to get your website to the top of the search results. Many of these programs are useful, but unfortunately, they are rarely, if ever, free of charge. If you are a beginner at SEO and don’t want to invest in pricey software before you know what you are doing, you can follow this guide, and use the free services and trials I have compiled into this list:


Free Utilities & Backlink Tools for the Broke SEO

Craawler – Great utility that is still in its infancy. Created by Reddit user Johnsee, the Craawler is still being worked on and tweaked, so expect a few minor bugs. Aside from that, this tool is awesome! The full utility and all of its features are entirely free (at least for now). Craawler can give you info about spelling mistakes on your page, point out ways to improve your meta tags, header tags, internal and external hyperlinks as well as give you social stats (likes, +1′s, follows) for each page of your site. I have been using Craawler a ton and I recommend you try it out too.

Social Monkee – This site has private, High PR private bookmarking sites. You can join for free and get immediate access to 25 sites and three URL submissions per day. That’s 75 links per day just for signing up. You can “refer” 12 people and get upgraded for free to 100 sites per submission. Just ignore the ads and marketing and take advantage of what’s available for free. High PR social bookmarks for free, doesn’t get much better than that.

Ahrefs.comAnother useful utility for tracking competitors backlinks. You will only be shown the “top” 100 links and you are limited to 9 queries each day from your IP address. – A bunch of useful utilities, all in one spot. I’ve been using the Related Link Suggestion Tool and the Free Meta Tag Generator, but the other tools are useful too.

OpenSiteExplorer.orgSEOMoz’s utility is pretty pricey at $99 per month. Useful mostly for tracking backlinks to your (or your competitor’s) site, you can get a brief taste of what the utility is like without signing up at all. You can also take them up on their 1 month free trial to see what they are all about, but remember to cancel if you don’t want to get hit with the hundred dollar charge once your trial has expired. Besides checking out backlinks, the full version will track your sites and keywords weekly and give you suggestions to improve your site right from your browser. – SEscout is a SERP tracker that runs automatically and hourly. There is a free version good for tracking 10 keywords per account. Set up an account for each of your projects – if you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t be worrying about more than 10 keywords per site anyway. I have found this very useful for accurately noticing changes in my SERPs.

Yahoo Site Explorer – I use Yahoo’s Site Explorer to check out the backlinks of my competitors. You can only get the detailed crawl data on sites that you own, but backlink data is available for any sites in Yahoo’s index. While most other free utilities will list 50-100 backlinks, yahoo site explorer will give you it’s whole list (though many will tell you that no backlink list is complete). – This is a useful free utility that will retrieve plenty of backlinks for you, but you will have to install their plug-in for your web browser.

Majestic SEO – I’m including this one because I found it recommended on a few different sites when I was initially looking for these utilities. You will have to create a free account to use this, and even once you do, too few of the options available are actually useful. You can get a pretty accurate snapshot of the site you look up, but few details. Use this tool to supplement your SEO work, if at all.

SEO Toolbar - This is a toolbar I have installed for Firefox, that I use primarily to see the pagerank of the websites I visit. I know there are plenty of other options to check PageRank, but if you ask me, having it automatically displayed for every site you visit is invaluable.

twitter auto follow – Tweet attacks is a useful program you can download for free to help manage multiple twitter accounts. I haven’t used this too much yet, but it came highly recommended and I will be posting a follow-up once I have more experience with it.


Why Print to a PDF?

Many of us are familiar with PDF files and have been using them for years, but what is a PDF anyway? A PDF File is a “Portable Document Format” file, and it used for just that: documents. It has several advantages to a simple text file. For one, it is standardized. Most any company you deal with will be able to open a PDF file, and if not, Adobe’s PDF software is free and easy to download. You can send the file without having to worry about the recipient having the same software as you to open it. PDF files can hold images. Not just rasterized images, but vector images which can be stretched and printed as large as you want without losing sharpness and picture quality. You can send PDFs that are locked and the text cannot be changed, or send a form where only certain fields are modifiable. You can even sign and validate your signature electronically with PDFs. So clearly, these files are invaluable tools in the office, but which PDF printer is best?

Choosing a PDF Printer

If you type “PDF Printer” into a search engine, you will likely be overwhelmed with the number of results. There are countless different programs that allow you to print documents to PDF. We can narrow them down a bit, by eliminating those programs that are not free. Out of the remaining free software, I will also exclude the programs that punish users with a plethora of advertisements. After all, we want a PDF printer, not adware. This leaves us with a more manageable list of software. These are the printers I tried out. There are almost certainly others that I did not try, so if you know of one I don’t mention, please leave a comment at the bottom of the post!

  •  (Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7)
    Very good software, the one I used when I needed a PDF printer in the past. Includes practically every feature you could want. Light program as well, just 4.4 MB. One issue I had was that some of the PDF files I created were not searchable.
  •  (XP/Vista/7)
    PDF24 offers both reading and writing functions, so you wont need Adobe PDF reader if you’ve got this installed.
  • (Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7)
    Compact program, less than 4 MB. Good if you need very basic functions, but it was lacking in some of the features available in the other programs.
  • (Windows 98/2000/XP/Vista/7 – x32 & x64)
    Very interesting function – without opening the program you can drag and drop a file onto the shortcut, and Primo pdf will open, convert the file, save it, and close. Pretty cool!


Installing your PDF Printer

Now that you’ve had a chance to consider your PDF printing options, it’s time to install one and set it up. For this tutorial, I will be installing Bullzip on Windows 7 32-bit. Installing other software is quite similar, so follow along and you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Begin, of course, by downloading the installation file from The download is in the form of a .zip file, so you will need software to unpack it, download and install WinRar if you don’t have the software to extract the file already. When you unpack the .zip file you downloaded from bullzip, you will find the bullzip installation file. Run this file, clicking next when appropriate, agreeing to their license agreements (after reading it thoroughly, of course!), and allowing it to download the GhostScript Lite dependencies it requires to  function. Installation should complete in a flash. Upon completion of the install, your printers window will pop up and you will see Bullzip PDF printer installed and set as your default printer! Personally, I have a physical printer in the office that I prefer to leave as the default, so I changed it back by right clicking on the physical printer and selecting “Set as Default Printer”, you may or may not want to do the same.

Using Your PDF Printer

Printing a file to PDF is simple and straightforward. Open the file you want to save as a PDF and go to “Print” from the “File” menu. Select your PDF printer if it isn’t already set as default and hit “print”. Bullzip will open up and give you all the options available. You will be able to name the file, choose the directory of where to save it, add watermarks or password protect your file. Select the options that you need and click “Save”. That’s all there is to it! You’ve saved your file to a PDF and it is ready to be emailed or saved onto your USB drive!

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