Marketing tools are perhaps one of the most fun aspects of online marketing. In order to understand your market, your competition and your place in the niche, you have to do a lot of leg work, researching, crunching numbers, analysing and more. What makes this fun is having tools that do the tedious work for you.
In recent weeks we’ve already covered a number of marketing tools and tips, including,
- Repurposing content for content marketing
- Social media marketing with Twitter hashtags
- Marketing grader to diagnose the health of your website’s marketing efforts
Each of these marketing tools and tips can save countless hours of manual research, analysis and production effort.
7 Essential Marketing Tools, Free for Any Online Entrepreneur
Maybe you’re using some or all of these already, but read on. You may not be using them to the max.
1) SEO Quake
This browser add-on is awesome for giving you a quick idea of how each page stacks up. The toolbar gives you Google Page Rank, pages indexed, plus SEMrush data (including price), Bing index, Alexa Rank, Webarchive age, number of Tweets, FaceBook likes, Google PlusOne, Whois information, internal links and external links. It includes buttons for quick access to page source, keyword density analysis and a handy page health diagnosis. Amongst all free marketing tools, SEO Quake is a must have.
The SEOquake Diagnosis tool gives you information you won’t find on the Marketing Grader tool we reviewed earlier. You find things like URL, title, Meta description, Meta keywords, heading usage, image alt text usage, and text/HTML ratio. These are some of the basics of on-page SEO. And yes, I know Google no longer uses Meta keywords, but some search engines may still include this, so don’t miss on the opportunity to boost your ratings for them, even though Google is the big prize. Every little bit helps.
It will also detect the presence or absence of your robots.txt, XML sitemaps, language specification, doctype, encoding, favicon and Google Analytics. Of course, if you have a simple website, you likely know all this in advance. But if you have a large website or several websites, these can help you double-check things.
The diagnosis also includes some items that may or may not have any bearing on your current SEO healthâ€”microformats, Dublin Core, and Geo Meta Tags, but these may become more important as the web continues to grow.
When you do a search in Google, Yahoo or Bing, the SEOquake toolbar stats will appear below each search engine return page. If the bar covers anything important, you can simply click on the SEOquake button on the end to retract the bar. Click it again and it returns. With this you can see at a glance the Google Page Rank and a whole lot more for each item.
2) Google keyword tool
Even if you don’t have an Adwords account, you can use Google’s keyword tool to check for similar keywords and the popularity of each one, plus how much competition you can expect on each of them.
It’s easy to copy and paste all of your results into a spreadsheet for analysis. Over the years, Google has made changes to the formatting, so you may need to tweak the layout of the data to get it into neat, spreadsheet columns. I personally paste the content into Notepad to strip out font information, then I cut and paste that into Microsoft Word. I’ve written a macro that adjusts the format so it’s ready for my Excel spreadsheet. With the macro, I don’t need to do the manual work each time. And, if Google ever changes their format again, it’s easy enough to create an upgraded macro to process the data.
3) Do Follow blog search
Google has a Do Follow blog search that can be really handy in finding blogs with juice attached to their comments.
And here’s another one that includes some helpful hints:
4) Google webmaster tools
Since we all want to rank high on Google’s search results, it’s good to keep Google happy about each of our websites. By registering each of your domains with Google Webmaster Tools, you can keep track of the health of each site, as seen the eyes of Google.
Not only does Google give you warning messages about things they found wrong, you can check for Crawl Errors, Blocked URLs, your Index Status and the presence of any Malware.
Under Traffic, you can find the number of impressions and clicks your website enjoyed for any specified period of time. But pay particular attention to the list of keywords (Query column). The far right column will give the average position you rank for each keyword listedâ€”position 1, 91 or 301. Saves having to count positions manually.
This also consists of links to your site, including No Follow links.
And Google Webmaster Tools has optimisation tools, including submitting a sitemap, removing URLs, HTML improvements and other resources. The HTML improvements tab lets you know if you have duplicate content or tags that are too short, too long or not informative.
You can’t go wrong by taking advantage of all these marketing tools wrapped up in one place.
5) Page validator
Make sure it’s easy for search engines to understand your web page. Validate the code. You don’t need a perfect 100%, but make certain to tackle all the worst errors.
Don’t be frightened if you start with dozens or even hundreds of errors. Quite often, a bug (error) early in your code can trick the validator into thinking there are more errors than there really are. Fix the first few, plus the easiest ones and you may find that some of the remaining errors disappear, because the validator is no longer confused by an early error or two.
6) XML sitemaps
This is a really superb marketing tool to build your site’s XML sitemap. If you have 500 pages or less, this freebie can build your sitemap file ready for uploading to your Google webmaster account.
It’s really simple to use. Just type in your site’s root URL (full http address).
Set the change frequency. This will be applied to all records within your XML sitemap file, so choose the frequency most applicable for the majority of pages. If you have a static site, then just leave it at “none” or set it to “never.” But if you want search engines (particularly Google) to come by your site often enough to catch the changes you make, select something other than either of these two. If you select “never,” the sitemap file you get will not have any of the Change Frequency fields. By selecting something other than this, you will at least have the field there to edit.
If some pages will change at greater frequency, then simply open up the XML file in a text editor or XML file editor and change the appropriate records. For instance, your home page may change more often like, Always, Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly or even Yearly. Administrative pages, like Privacy, Contact, Log-in, etc., may never change.
Be sure and add the sitemap reference in your robots.txt file. The following gives an example of the line you are to add, of course changing the “mysite.com” to your domain name.
I don’t know how much of a benefit this one item is to your overall online marketing efforts. But if you can make it easier for the search engines to find your content, on an appropriate schedule, and with this little effort, why not take advantage of this?
7) Google search engine
Yes, you read that right. Plain old Google search. There are a lot of ways you can use Google search to help in your marketing efforts. One of my favourite uses the Google search operator, “site.” For example,
site:awebsitedesigner.com.au "website design"
This can be particularly helpful, because the order of pages returned are in Google’s perceived order of relevance. If the top pages for the keyword are not what you expected, you may be missing out on some link juice. Put links to your desired page (say, your landing page) from the pages high in the list so you can transfer that “page rank” juice where you really want it. Be sure and include the right anchor text (keyword) to maximize the effect.
Bonus Marketing Tools
For “paid” marketing tools, my favourite has been Market Samurai. It takes you from finding the choicest keywords to generating content for your website. Market Samurai’s powerful marketing tools also let you analyse the competition in ways that normally would’ve taken hours to complete. What’s even better, is you get to use Market Samurai, free for nearly 2 weeks.
And fresh off the Samurai ship, is a new tool that makes the most of the old marketing leverage of “scarcity” â€” Scarcity Samurai. It automates the idea of creating a built-in scarcity for your product that keeps working 24/7 and 365 days a year. Check their main website for more information.
We would love to hear from you. Let us know your favourite marketing tools or special tricks you’ve learned for any of the above.