There is a free version of integrity that checks for missing links etc and Robotize that looks at the site like a robot. I think I paid $5 for that one but there is a free demo available.
Neither taught me any magic tricks or offered any SEO advice but I found them useful for looking at the site and immediately spotting problems that I probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise such as alt tags with spelling mistakes or repeated page titles etc. Much easier than manually going through page after page looking for errors you might have missed.
In terms of SEO, that’s something you really need to study. I’ve found that good SEO requires a lot of work and a firm understanding of how search engines work. I just spent three days educating myself on this topic and I can now see why reputable SEO companies charge so much—especially for bigger sites.
Having said that, I think it’s possible for any of us to optimize our client’s websites, you just need to invest the time in learning what it is and how to target specific areas of your site. Like anything, I fully expect to become more proficient over time.
The only FREE tools I found that are the most helpful are from Google. I really like the Moz suite of products, but alas most of those require some type of subscription, which is more than my clients or I can afford.
I am curious to try Caleb’s suggestion. Thanks again.
I think a lot of people confuse SEO with SEM i.e search engine marketing. Actual SEO probably counts for relatively little and it’s mainly a case of using best practices. A few sensible points spring to mind though:
A fast loading responsive site
Avoid keywords. Google ignores them and Bing uses them as flags for spamming.
Use effective meta descriptions
Plenty of high quality unique content
Establishing creditability and ownership e.g meta tag linking to Google +profile and a humans.txt file
Include image alt tags
Using an SSL certificate
Avoid writing content for search engines. This will backfire these days.
Tag pages for structured data
SEM is where it gets more tricky because lots of backlinks are good but only if they are deemed to be the right kind.