Look for existing free tools in your industry by searching for [topic] generator or [topic] calculator, like invoice generator or net salary calculator.
Use Google search to immediately find existing tools in your industry. Here are a few search operators you can use:
Free [topic] calculator [topic] calculator Free [topic] generator [topic] generator Free [topic] tool
For example, hreflang tag generator is a small tool idea. The keyword itself only gets 20 searches/month (source: Ahrefs), but the intent is so high, the tools that rank are doing very well. In fact, Aleyda Solis’ hreflang tag generator got over 2300 backlinks from 720+ referring domains.
Create a list with all the free tools that are relevant to your business and use an SEO tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush to see each tool’s backlink performance.
When comparing different tools, look at:
- Total number of backlinks
- Total number of referring domains
- Estimated monthly organic traffic
If you use Ahrefs, go to Site explorer and search the URL of the tool you want to analyze.
Use the Quick batch analysis tool to analyze more than one tool (URL) at a time.
Go to Ahrefs > More > Batch analysis to analyze up to 200 URLs at the same time.
Using the same Quick batch analysis feature from Ahrefs, compare tool ideas by finding which tool gets the most backlinks:
Consider whether you can build a better, more engaging version of the tools that get the most backlinks. Look for easy improvements.
Your tool doesn’t have to be 100% new as long as it’s better than any existing tools.
Find templates people are looking for and see if you can build a free tool that generates a similar result.
This is a great way to find new ideas for tools. A few search terms to easily spot existing templates in your niche:
Free [topic] template [Topic] templates [Topic] examples
The Make My Persona tool from HubSpot is a good example of a free tool built based on the demand for templates. Buyer persona template gets 900 searches/month globally (source: Ahrefs), but there’s no search volume for buyer persona tool. The fact that there’s no search volume doesn’t mean there’s no interest in a better way to build a buyer persona profile.
Make My Persona got 12,700+ backlinks from almost 2,800 referring domains.
Validate which templates are worth turning into tools by looking at the search volume of keywords in your list, using an SEO tool like Ahrefs, SEMRush, or MOZ.
- Compile all the template-related keywords into a list. Use an SEO tool to see how many times per month people search for those keywords.
- If you use Ahrefs, go to Keyword explorer and search your keyword ideas or upload a CSV file for a dashboard view of all keywords plus information regarding difficulty to rank in top 10 (KD), local (Volume) and global monthly search volume (Global), and estimated clicks on the search results (Clicks).
Prioritize potential new free tools based on the information you gathered.
Once your new tool is live, make sure it reaches blog authors and publications who might mention it.
Reach out to those who mentioned the old tool and ask them to link to yours instead. If it’s significantly better, their readers will benefit from the update. For a template you turned into a tool, reach out to those who linked back to the template and inspired you. Ask that your tool be included as an alternative.