5 Free Search Engine Optimization Tools

Free Search Engine Optimization Tools

 

We have all been in a situation where we need a certain tool to get the job done and may not have the resources to purchase paid tools. These are my top 5 favorite SEO tools to get the job done when you are on a budget or you are free-lancing on a budget.

My top favorite tool is SEO Book because it has a few different programs within it that are pretty awesome. I generally use it to do some preliminarily keyword research for content writing.

SEO_book_overview SEO Book’s keyword research tool is a great starting point if you need to do some quick content research for a client and don’t have a paid plan with Moz or another prominent platform. I have had some pretty good results with SEO Book in the past and I highly recommend it. digital_marketing_search

When you are accessing the tool you get a pretty standard search bar you can begin your research. Unfortunately, this tool is not great for discovering long tail keyword opportunities. However, you can export your results and filter through them and gain some insight into your keywords.

Digital_marketing_QuerySEO Book is nice enough to also suggest other related keywords along with search volume and their relative competitiveness. Then you can export your results into excel and proceed to determine if your website is competitive enough to rank or gain any organic traffic from using them.

My next tool I like to use to get some insight into my competition is SEM Rush. While SEM Rush does have a paid version it does have a pretty neat free option. SEM Rush has a pretty generic search bar to research your keywords from SEO Book and gain some industry insight. Or, if you prefer you can spy on your competition fairly easily for free as well. You get an overview of how many backlinks your competition has, how much organic search traffic they have, along with their top organic keywords they are ranking for.

SEM_competitive_research

SEM Rush also gives you insight into their top paid keywords and their referring domains. This will help you compose a more comprehensive SEO and digital marketing strategy.

My next top free tool I like to use is Epicbeat for content research. Epicbeat has another pretty standard search feature that allows you to conduct some research on keywords and phrases. This free tool gives you an overview of which types of content is gaining traction within your niche or industry.

Epic_beat_overview

This free tool lets you know which social platforms are popular for the topic you are researching and even gives examples of types of high-performing content.

The next tool I like to use is Google’s mobile-friendly test tool. With all the Google algorithm updates, there is a preference being placed on mobile-friendly websites. Google has begun using mobile-friendliness as one of its ranking signals so now more than ever it is important to have a mobile-friendly website.

Google_mobile_friendly_testGoogle’s mobile-friendly test tool will analyze and report if the page conforms to Google’s mobile preference. When performing updates and changes to your website it is important to remember to test the impact of the impact on user experience.

Finally the last tool I like to use for SEO purposes is the Moz bar. The Moz bar will give you quick insights into your clients link metrics, meta data along with Moz’s own PageRank and Domain Authority.

moz_bar.png

There are a plethora of Free tools you can take advantage of for SEO and digital marketing purposes. I recommend doing some extensive research prior to purchasing any paid tool to see if there is any free alternative.

 

4 Social Media Best Practices to Give you an Edge.

Social Media Best Practices

 

Social Media is still a relatively new marketing tool and is often misunderstood and not used properly. Using social media for marketing is still new in the business landscape. Smaller and medium-sized businesses generally do not have the resources to allocate towards social media or cannot justify hiring someone even part time to do it. Even larger organizations do not properly understand how to leverage their social media platforms to yield their full potential and as a result, they come off kind of spammy and alienate their intended audience.

Social Media’s history dates back to 2004 but using social media for marketing was not conceived as a strategy at that time. By 2006, Twitter and Facebook were two new social media sites that became available to users. Eventually, web platforms such as Tumblr, Spotify, Instagram gradually became available to users as well and quickly gained traction.

Generally, small to medium sized businesses have a hard time grasping how to use social media for marketing and tend to stumble along the way. Here are some social media best practices that will give you an edge against your competition.

Hard sales

Social media is not the platform for companies to use hard sales tactics to generate revenue. It seems difficult for businesses to break this habit. We as consumers do not want to be sold to anymore. Social media is a great platform to promote your company and share relevant useful information but not the place for hard sales tactics. Social media for marketing is more useful as building and deepening relationships with that can be leveraged. A best practice for social media is to leverage the technology to nurture relationships and build connections with your audience.

Consolidate  

Another mistake companies make is trying to be on too many social media platforms. It is wonderful to be on a variety of social sites but it would be beneficial to be on a few sites. It is more important to put out strong compelling content rather than trying to be on 5 different platforms and do a mediocre job. Pick one or two platforms in an effort to use social media for marketing rather than trying to be everything to everyone.

Talk less   

It is important for businesses both small and large to realize sometimes it is important to listen more and talk less. One of the main goals of utilizing social media for marketing is to promote a business or service. It is just as important to minimize yourself promotion, at times as well. Just remember the more helpful you are to others the more likely they will be to seek you out for additional information later on. Start asking your customers what they think of your business, why they follow you, what products do they own and you may find out how you can improve your business. A social media best practice is to actively listen to your audience and look for trends among them to leverage for content creation.

You do not need a big budget to appear big  

Sure, companies like Nike, Apple and Coco Cola have a large marketing budget but smaller companies can still leverage social media for marketing to achieve their goals. There is no need to try and keep up with what the big brand are doing. Coupons and giveaways are a great tool to generate engagement and buzz around your brand. Consider developing a promotion and giving away one of your company’s products as a way to drive brand awareness.

In order to do any sort of social media for marketing, there are some important first steps that need to be done for your campaign to be worthwhile.

First, clarify the purpose in starting a social media campaign. It is crucial for an organization or company to understand what they hope to achieve by implementing a social media strategy. I recommend having a brainstorming session with everyone who will be involved. It is also important that everyone is on the same page when the social media campaign does kick off. As a team, it is important to decide whether the campaign will drive brand awareness, generate sales leads or even be used as an inbound marketing strategy.

Next, once everyone who will be involved has decided on the purpose of using social media for marketing the next step is to clarify goals and objectives for the campaign. Like any other marketing strategy, it is important to set clear goals and objectives that can be flexible throughout the campaign. It is important to be flexible and be able to innovate to differentiate yourself from your competition. Some examples of solid goals would be:

  • Drive innovation
  • Create interesting, relevant and shareable content
  • Measure ROI

As a company using social media for marketing, it is important to have achievable, measurable and specific. 

The next step once the goals and objectives of your organization’s social media strategy are addressed it is time to decide which social media platforms to be a part of. Before this step can be done, it is critical to have some sort of understanding of your target audience and what platforms they use if any at all. This could be a great opportunity to utilize your email marketing campaign to ask some questions. Your team can ask what social media platforms your existing customers use. How often they use them and which kind of content they find most engaging. If you ask these important questions, it can save you a lot of headache and time in the beginning. After this step is out of the way as a team pick one or two platforms to utilize at first. If you only have one or two people involved in the social media campaign for your business, it may be necessary to stick to just one channel.

Finally, the last step is to decide on a social media schedule and adhere to it. Mapping out a social media schedule for marketing will allow you to

  • Create consistency with your audience. This is going to allow your audience to know when to expect new content while maximizing your engagement.
  • A social media schedule is also going to allow time to plan for time sensitive content well ahead in the future. This will give you time to develop content for the holidays and other important events.

As an added bonus, there are a variety of free social media tools available to help you scale your efforts. Be sure to do your own research and integrate them into your social media plan.

Keep a balance between promotions and useful engaging content on your social schedule. I hope this is enough to get anyone started on the path to use social media for marketing. In the next post, I will be doing a deeper dive into some of these strategies in my next blog so stay tuned.

What everybody ought to know about a Marketing degree and how to take charge of your education

As I approach my graduation I find myself reflecting on my past educational journey and how my educational expierences have shaped who I am today. I quickly realized that there is a disconnect in what is being taught in the classroom and what I am expected to know. I highly recommend any Marketing student to determine early on what specific direction they want to go within marketing and begin doing research into what employers are looking for.

I found myself one fateful day flipping through job ads on Simplyhired, Indeed and I noticed something concerning. Alot of the entry level positions wanted a marketing student with some sort of technical expertise whether it was graphic design, html/ CSS or some sort of analytics expierence. I realized I had neither up until this point I was under the impression that if I attended my classes and made good grades everything else would kind of sort itself out. Unfortunately this is not true at all.

I found out how wrong I was at my first internship.  I was overwhelmed by a vortex of data, information and digital marketing practices. I was really at a loss and desperately needed training that was never to come. As clique as it may sound if I knew then what I know now I would have taken charge of my self education a lot sooner than I originally did. Here are some resources to get you started on training yourself to be more marketable among your peers.

  1. www.Copyblogger.com  – Coppy blogger has plenty of useful resources for anyone looking to learn how to be a better copy writer.
  2. copyblogger  www.Codeacademy.com– Wonderful resource that allows you to begin your journey into learning how to code.
  3. code academy www.udemy.com – This website offers a variety of courses on a wide variety of subjects. This is a great starting point to learn anything from web development to graphic design.
  4. Udemy The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking–  “This guide is for entrepreneurs, founders, growth leads, or anyone else who is trying to grow a startup.” This guide may be primarily for start ups but I believe it is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in marketing.
  5. the-definitive-guide-to-growth-hacking Google Analytics- Of course how could I not write a blog and not include google analytics. This is a free resource offered from Google which basically allows users to track user engagement on their websites.

google-analytics

Content Marketing

Most recently I have noticed a huge shift in the way some companies have began to market their services and ideas. Content marketing is now king. No longer is traditional advertising an effective means to market their products or services. We are constantly bombarded with commercials and marketing messages all the time.

Fortunately there are some companies who understand this and have differentiated themselves from the competition. Two companies who really stand out when I think about content marketing are Copyblogger.com & Marketo.com . They offer free e-books and How to- books that their specific target market may find useful. While reading the book they carefully insert ways their company can assist in accomplishing these tasks. Towards the end of their books and articles they always have a call to action as well.

I decided to modify this approach and offer free logo and graphic designs to companies. I make connections and generate “leads” and take the chance to offer digital marketing services or further design services. Thank you so much copyblogger.com

 

marketo logo

copyblogger

Jiffy Lube

I forgot how important customer service is for a company until recently. I visited a Jiffy Lube to get my oil changed and regular maintenance done on my car. I previously had a bad experience at a Jiffy Lube prior and I have not visited one since until this day. Jiffy Lube not only changed my oil but the on duty manager took the time to explain the recommended maintenance and explained other issues thoroughly about my car. They even went the extra step and vacuumed my car out as well. The management was extremely informative, helpful and outgoing. I believe the company had a major restructuring done recently. Needless to say a company should never skip on their customer service program. I did not even mind paying the expensive price to get my oil changed.  Jiffy Lube went above and beyond and gained another customer.

A Surefire Way To Get Yourself Noticed Through Non-Traditional Marketing

You’re walking through Boston, right along the Charles River. Maybe you’re on your way to your first class of the day, or making the commute to work, and you come across something unusual: A strange light board depicting a pixelatedcreature waving around his middle finger. What do you do?

A Bomb Scare Shuts Down Boston

For many, the answer was to call authorities, under the suspicion that there were bombs placed all around downtown Boston. It can’t be said that these colorful boards didn’t garner attention.

This is, while extreme, a prime example of the kind of guerilla marketing stunts that get companies attention. The objects were placed around Boston to promote the channel Adult Swim, and the release of a film based on their popular adult cartoon, “Aqua Teen Hunger
Force”.

More traditional forms of marketing both old and new are used by every company in some form or another. Every traditional avenue from newspaper to television, to internet marketing, a form that is becoming more and more common for companies as the digital age hits its prime. It is because of this that companies find themselves struggling for a way to differentiate themselves from a pack of other marketing campaigns. Non-traditional marketing techniques such as these guerilla style publicity stunts have become one way to get yourself known.

I was lucky enough to be living in Boston at the time, and was able to witness a bit of the panic myself. The cops had closed down certain areas, so the “bombs” could be carefully investigated. The two men placing the light boards were arrested for causing a public panic. While this is an extreme stunt with a rather extreme outcome, it can definitely be argued that the shows ratings were better for having been promoted in this way. In fact, I would argue it put “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” on the map for many people.
In fact, what was supposed to be a black horse in the box office did make a respectable $5.5 million in gross domestic earnings, thanks in part, to its very non-traditional form of marketing.

Publicity Stunts- Why Risk It?

While I don’t recommend “causing a public panic”, I do see value in getting people’s attention, and non-traditional marketing techniques such as guerilla marketing campaigns can be a great way to do so. Even though the two men’s arrest in connection with this campaign was an unforeseen consequence, it also increased awareness of the film by being one of few campaigns to become a story covered eagerly by every major news source in the country. Those who can be creative enough to pull off such attention-grabbing stunts are likely to see a steep rise in awareness, and for some it is indeed a risky, but smart move.

The Dark Knight Rises Defaces Cities Everywhere

The Batman film franchise performed a similar, but more interactive campaign by painting white, bat-shaped graffiti in cities all around the world. The film’s advertising implored eager fans to find and tag, through social media, every one of the Batman marks around the world in order to unlock the full trailer for the film. Not surprisingly, the fans were rabid enough to have the clever puzzle unlocked within a few hours. This campaign mixed the traditional forms of internet marketing (through social media participation), and the non-traditional through their use of scattered world-wide bat graffiti. This campaign proved that while a more common form of marketing such as social media marketing is an important method of promotion, it can only become stronger through the use of non-traditional marketing campaigns in conjunction.

The social media interaction that the film’s marketing department experienced was only further proof of the effectiveness of grabbing the attention of people in a non-traditional way. The film made over $1 billion worldwide, which are numbers you just can’t argue with.
These kind of stunts may be risky, but for many they result in the spread of a kind of brand awareness you really can’t buy. So from a marketing perspective, I urge you to be creative with your campaign– both through traditional and non-traditional methods, the goal of your marketing campaign is to grab attention.

Try not to get arrested, though.

 

*The credit goes to Article Alley

Your business card sucks and I am going to tell you why…

I like to collect business cards whenever I get the chance. The majority of them look the same and rarely stand out from the crowd. I firmly believe a business card needs to:

  • Stand out
  • Be professional
  • Contain basic contact info
  • In today’s competitive market a business card should include a link to a website or a Qr code
"These I would put in the corner and forget about"
“These I would put in the corner and forget about” 
" Sleek, clean and effectively communicates with his audience"
” Sleek, clean and effectively communicates with his audience”

Free QR code generator allowing prospects to go directly to your website 

https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/

Some good examples of excellent business cards – Taste of ink- They do excellent work

http://tasteofink.com/gallery/business-cards/18