By: RSS Ray
Ask any contractor what he needs to do a job right and the first thing he will tell you is he needs the right tools. Online marketing is no different. If you want to get excellent results with your website you will need the right diagnostic tools to test, measure, and improve everything you do. Online marketers need tools for establishing a search engine optimization campaign, using web analytics to understand websites, preparing the latest keywords for a pay per click campaign in Google AdWords, preparing email marketing campaigns, and a whole lot more. Here is the best of the best free tools for online marketers.
The usefulness and design of these tools tends to range from downright awful, to absolutely amazing. Price ranges can also vary widely, but thanks to the efforts of a number of innovative companies and individuals, many of the very best tools are absolutely free.
Today we are going to take a look at twelve tools that are the absolute best of the best free tools for online marketers. Thanks to creativity, design, and in some cases a whole lot of money, these tools are the most innovative and useful tools you will find in 2008.
#1 Google Keyword Tool
Drawing from the largest collection of search data in the world, the Google keyword tool has always been an incredibly useful way to discover hundreds of new keywords for your search engine optimization and paid search (PPC) campaigns. As of a few months ago, Google managed to up the ante even more by providing monthly estimates of the search volume for each keyword it suggests.
Anyone looking to do keyword research online would be wise to start by using this tool for keyword suggestions, ad competition data, and information on average search volume. To make things even better, Google allows you to put the keywords you like right into your account so that you can target them with an AdWords campaign.
#2 SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool
Like the Google keyword tool, The SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool provides tons of suggestions for other keywords you might be interested in. However, unlike Google’s Tool, this one also gives estimated values for all three major search engines. Additionally, the tool allows you to easily use a number of other tools from Google, Yahoo, and others to get a lot more information on each keyword it suggests.
It’s unclear how accurate the search data is as it seems to differ significantly from Google’s numbers, however, with the numerous options and many helpful suggestions this tool makes, it should be a part of every serious online marketer’s toolbox.
SpyFu is an incredibly useful tool that might make you wonder “is this even legal?” followed quickly by “how can that be free?” Eventually you will realize you don’t care either way as you dive into the nitty-gritty of your competitors’ ad campaigns.
By entering in the website address of nearly any competitor, you can see exactly what their daily ad budget is, how many clicks they are getting through their ads, and even how their spending has changed on a monthly basis. You can even see which keywords they are targeting and exactly what ad they are using for each keyword.
SpyFu goes even more in-depth by showing every word that a website ranks in organically, as well as that website’s top competitors both organically and through paid search. Needless to say you’ll be hooked.
Compete.com is most often referenced for keeping track of the search engine wars. Those in the know are constantly checking to see if Google is at 74% market share or 78%. Fortunately, that same technology that tracks the search game is freely available to anyone who happens to visit the Compete.com website.
By entering in the URLs of up to five websites you can see monthly or daily graphs of traffic volume, customer engagement, and website growth. What this means is that in only a few seconds you can see the visitor count, length of visitor stay, and growth of your largest competitor in a series of easily downloadable graphs. What’s more you can compare all of this data against your own website so you can see how you stack up.
The depth of demographic information that Quantcast provides about nearly any website is simply staggering. The tool was made as a way for media buyers to discover valuable websites to advertise with based on traffic, user demographics, and ad type offered. Even if you are not interested in buying ads, this free tool will provide you with incredibly detailed demographic information about your own website as well as your competitors’.
Quantcast is able to provide some incredibly detailed data for most well trafficked websites including data on visitor gender, age, ethnicity, parental status, income, and education. Additionally the site provides monthly traffic data and classifies visitors into addicts, regulars, and passersbys.
Another feature that Quantcast offers is the ability to see other sites that visitors like, visit, and search for. This is excellent for marketers doing keyword research or link building.
Xinureturns is relatively simple compared to some of the other tools on this list but its usefulness should not be underestimated. By entering your URL into the tool you are given a complete assessment of your website in just a few minutes.
The tool starts by checking your Meta tags, your domain info, and your HTML and RSS validations. Once it is sure that everything is set up properly, it starts to check your rankings at various sites and directories, any social bookmarks that point to you, and all of your indexed pages. Finally you are shown the number of backlinks you have with several search engines including a few you might have never heard of.
This tool is incredibly useful for those of us who like to know exactly how our site is doing at every second, and it also allows you to identify any shortfalls that can likely be easily overcome with just a little bit of work.
#7 Google Analytics
What can be written about Google Analytics that has not already been said a hundred times before? In releasing this tool free to anyone who wants it, Google has created a host of super informed marketers who can quickly asses any issue on their website and compare it to the entire past history of the website.
By adding a simple piece of code to their website, anyone can track the exact way that their visitors are interacting with their pages. Google analytics provides traffic data, number of pages visited, average time on site, the location of visitors, and even where the traffic is coming from. The program also allows you to track conversions and a lot of other information about how users interact with your site.
Any competent online marketer should have this powerful free tool on each and every website he or she works on. The information it provides is critical to maximizing conversion rates and eliminating wasted opportunities.
#8 Ranks.nl Keyword Analyzer Tool
The Ranks.nl Keyword Analyzer Tool is the best example of a spider simulator I have come across as an online marketer. In addition to showing you how search engines view your site, this tool breaks down the keywords you are using by density, prominence, and location. The tool also has a keyword cloud that shows you visually the prominence of various keywords on your site.
Using a tool like this one allows you to make sure that you are correctly targeting the right keywords in natural search by including them often enough in your copy. It also helps by showing you some words that you are not targeting well enough or that you had not thought of targeting.
#9 Google Website Optimizer
The Google Website Optimizer is the last of the free Google tools on this list, and also maybe the most important. Using this tool, marketers can test each individual aspect of their website to see how conversion rates can be improved.
The tool makes use of A/B split testing as well as multivariable testing to measure each and every part of a landing page in order to find how best to convert visitors into sales or leads. Marketers can test such aspects as pictures, headlines, text, free offers, and anything else they can think of.
By serving visitors different versions of a landing page, Google is able to demonstrate which features are helping the bottom line and which are hurting it. Marketers can then take this data and create the landing page that will offer them the highest overall sales.
#10 Website Grader
The Website Grader is the like a report card for search engine optimization practitioners. In each of five categories, the tool assesses any website’s success in implementing proper SEO strategy. Each category including on-page SEO, off-page SEO, blogosphere, social mediasphere, converting qualified visitors to leads, and competitive intelligence, receives a score and at the end of the report a final score up to 100 points is assigned. The final score is a fairly accurate measure of how well a website is optimized.
In addition to being aesthetically pleasing and easy to use, this tool is an incredibly useful way to discover any optimization strategies that you might have not implemented. It is also a great way to track your progress in search engines, social networks, and blogs. Thanks to its automatic saving feature, you can compare your current results against and previous website grades you have received from the site. This way you can see how you have progressed after making the changes that it recommended.
#11 Constant Contact
Constant Contact is by many accounts the gold standard of email marketing. With over 300 customizable templates available to quickly and easily create a professional looking email newsletter, promotion, or invitation, the online software is, without a doubt, essential to any marketer looking to increase profits with email marketing.
Once you sign up for an account with Constant Contact, you can easily import an existing email list or you can use their software to begin creating a new email list from scratch. With your list created, you can build a professional looking email such as a newsletter using their template wizard and set it to go out at a predetermined time and date. Once your email has been sent, the program provides you with analytics on open rates, click through rates, and more.
Unfortunately, Constant Contact is not a free tool; however, they do offer a 60 day free trial to get started.
AWeber allows you to send out professional looking emails to your email lists; however unlike their competitors at Constant Contact, AWeber also allows you to set contacts into an email cycle that sends emails to specific customers at specific times. By building an email sequence, each new name that you enter into the program is sent a new email every day, month, or however long you choose to set each cycle. This way you can be sure that the right promotions or programs go to the right email address at the right time. For instance a new customer might get a special introductory offer right away while a lifelong customer will receive a special offer for valued customers on that same day.
Where Constant Contact only allows you to send out the same email to your entire email list, AWeber will likely have each of your contacts receiving different emails on different days. It is because of this distinction that Constant Contact is popular for newsletters while AWeber is much more popular for a continued sales cycle.
Unfortunately, AWeber is not a free tool; however, they do offer a free trial that is well worth your time to check out.
If you need help with using any of these tools, or with starting an online marketing campaign for your company, we can help. Call us today at (877) 837-8803 or contact RSS Ray to learn what you can do to skyrocket your success online.