Running an online business is not quite as simple as having a website and hoping for the best. You need to do everything faster, better, and more effectively than the competition. That's where using the right tools comes into play.
Why You Need Tools That Help With SEO And Marketing
Although customer conversion is still a numbers game, there are proven strategies to boost traffic effectively. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), online marketing - all of these could do with a boost.
SEO alone covers so many areas that without a bit of help, you may find yourself working 24/7 and still not achieving your goals. On top of that, some tools can help you uncover actionable information that you would not otherwise have access to.
Let's take a look at some of the tools we can use to improve various areas of your websites.
12 Awesome Free And Paid Tools To Use
1. Google Analytics
The cult of Google may leave distaste in some mouths, but there’s no denying we need to pander to them since they rule the roost in search. Because of that, using Google Analytics can be a good way of helping assess your own traffic.
By understanding how visitors use your site, you can make adjustments to shape the flow, so to speak. One example of this is the Behaviour tab which lets you see specific metrics such as most visited pages, landing and exit pages, as well as searches on your site.
2. Google My Business
Another free tool from Google, getting a Google My Business account is simply a must-do. This is even more so if you also have a physical presence. The account lets you boost your business visibility online and integrates digital sites with map locations and more.
The extended features available here means you can not only highlight specific areas of your business to customers but even interact with them through elements like reviews and photos.
3. Google PageSpeed Insights
Yes, it’s another Google product but this one is more important than most. The speed that websites load is very important not only affecting customer experience but also search rankings. If you have no idea how well your site is doing it’s time to use PageSpeed Insights.
By providing the tool with your site URL, it’ll be able to run a comprehensive performance assessment. This is pretty extensive and covers multiple areas such as Time to Interactive, server response times, and more.
While there are many other tools that do the same or similar things, remember that PageSpeed Insights was created by Google. They’ll be more intimately aware of what the important factors their search algorithms pay attention to.
Based on the report generated, you can make adjustments to your performance. Who knows if by simply switching your web host you might be able to significantly boost your server response speeds?
4. WHSR Tool
Part of your business strategy is doubtless knowing what the competition is up to. Take that a bit further and learn what drives their sites. From the infrastructure in play to various web technologies, similar to BuiltWith, the WHSR Tool will reveal what is typically not that easy to find.
As the image above demonstrates, simply by providing a URL to the tool, we can see exactly what the site runs on. From there, it’s a matter of sifting out what may be relevant or not to you and adding it to a shortlist for upgrade considerations.
Keep in mind though that this only covers a slightly technical aspect of competitive analysis. This segment of your marketing efforts needs a lot of assistance, which is where some of the other tools on this list will come in handy.
Images add a lot of overhead to our websites but they’re a necessary evil. Why not have it both ways by using images that will minimize the impact on how your site runs? Using an image compressor like Optimizilla, you can cut down the bulk while retaining all the bling.
If you’d like an alternative, there are many other tools similar to this around - for example, TinyPNG. If you’re running a WordPress-based website, plugins can do the same job for you as well. Many like Kraken are even automated so they’ll optimize as you upload the images.
The tool is free to use as much as you like. If you’d like more formal reports, you can also consider a commercial tool like BuiltWith that pretty much does similar things.
Outreach should always be a part of your growth strategy and that’s what email marketing tools like MailChimp can help you achieve. This handy service lets you build impressive newsletters or other forms of email and handle mailing lists for you. Automate your email marketing so you can focus on other areas instead.
While it’s the first that comes to most people’s minds, if MailChimp isn’t your cup of tea, there are alternatives. These include OmniSend, Autopilot, and ActiveCampaign. Just configure them to run on their own and only intervene for optimization tweaks or special campaigns.
Although Ahrefs is a paid service, for those serious about SEO it is absolutely fantastic. This very comprehensive SEO service can provide so much information you’ll wonder how you survived without it.
From your dashboard in Ahrefs, embark on an investigative campaign that will provide you with keywords to target, search volumes, Cost-Per-Clicks, and even information about competing sites. It’s a real one-stop SEO utility.
If you need alternatives, thankfully the SEO space has many. Ahrefs has strong competitors so you can also look towards SEMRush, Moz, Backlinko, and more.
8. BitCatcha Speed Test
If PageSpeed is a little too complex for your needs or you simply don't have the time to cover so many areas of performance, consider using the BitCatcha Speed Test Tool instead. This very simple utility will carry out multiple tests on your web host and simplify it for you into a single grade rating.
If you need more details there are numbers available too. However, the grade rating should serve as a quick analysis for you to know if everything is fine with your host server or not. While a single low grade shouldn’t be a problem, consistently low ratings mean it’s time to talk to your hosting provider.
If you’re working with a team - especially a remote one - Asana can be very useful to make sure everyone’s on the same page. This online service allows you to assign and oversee tasks in minute detail.
Make sure that your entire team knows what to do at any point in time, even as they work from any location around the world. There are many other tools that can help with this and other remote collaboration efforts as well. Some examples include Slack for team communication, Zoom for digital meetings, and Monday.com which is similar to Asana.
Back to the issue of knowing the competition, SpyFu helps by collecting information on your competitors. This can then be used to build more holistic and effective marketing campaigns of your own.
Information that you can get from SpyFu includes ad and paid search values used by competitors. Since you’re likely to run paid campaigns of your own - do it the smart way and surgically use SpyFu to trim expenses while maximizing returns.
The social media scene today is complex but necessary. Not only can you multiply your reach considerably, social ‘noise’ such as hype can also serve as indicators of your site popularity. The problem is that some businesses may need to use more than one social channel.
If you use multiple social channels to boost your online marketing effort, make use of a social media integrator like HootSuite for better control and less work. Here you can plan, create, and execute (or schedule) entire social campaigns on various platforms at the same time.
Although there is a free plan here it’s pretty limited. If you’re using HootSuite for business purposes, use the free plan to test out the service. If it suits your needs, then you can consider moving on to one of the better tiers.
12. Yoast SEO
For those who have chosen to run WordPress, there are lots of great plugins that can help your SEO efforts. One of the biggest names in this aspect is Yoast SEO. This plugin comes in free and paid variants. Even the free version is pretty comprehensive.
It lets you build very strong SEO into your content pages and along the way, has areas that you can use to improve the post’s profile. This includes allowing you to specify focus keywords, edit meta descriptions, and more.
While Yoast isn't perfect, it’s a quick and easy way to get started for on-page SEO without needing to know too many details of the whats and whys.
Whether you’re new to SEO or even owning a website, these tools can help you move forward with developing your site. Remember, if you’re not paying attention - others still will be. Don’t let your competitors get the upper hand as they target your keywords and shuffle you to the bottom of search rankings.