Marketing Grader is one of the free tools that we use to assess websites and their weaknesses. Simply enter the URL to your website, and you’ll have a handy report in just a few seconds. You can even compare your site to competing sites so you know how your site compares in specific areas.
A few examples of metrics the report brings to light:
Top of the Funnel
- How your site resonates with search engines and social
- If your site is robust enough to grab traction with search
- How popular your site is with the rest of the world
Middle of the Funnel
- How easy it is to convert or connect with you on your site
- How integrated your content is on your site
- How active you are in driving traffic through social channels
- How traffic to your site compares to traffic from similar sites
The report gives you some great ideas for improving your site content for really making your website an effective and efficient tool to take your business to the next level. While it’s not a comprehensive 5-year marketing plan for your business, it does give you next steps you could take immediately to poise your website to better interface with your target. And that drives business.
Imagine this: you’re pouring your heart into writing a lengthy post in a web form, and it’s a thing of beauty. You’re inspired. You’re typing faster and faster, eager to get your message to the masses. And you know they are going to be just as emblazoned as you are after reading your insight. You give it a once-over, and, satisfied that it’s a work of art, press submit. Only to discover that the page has timed out and you’ve lost everything you just wrote! Gone are those days. Google Docs provides a great way to write, edit, and manage your content, and it auto-saves for you at regular intervals.
Google Docs also makes it really easy to bring collaborators into a project by sharing documents, either individually or as a group, with those who will be working on your project. Here’s Corey Eridon’s post on Free Tools for Business Bloggers, with more detailed instructions for collaborating with a team on Google Docs.
Christie, a member of the YDO team, posted few weeks ago about using Video and YouTube in your blog posts for greater impact. I couldn’t agree more! And here’s another plug for using video in your blog posts, from Corey Eridon at Hubspot (see post below). There are several free tools available, and a few tools that are paid but are really, really good (see Camtasia).
Sometimes, words just aren’t sufficient to make your point as a business blogger, and you need to pull in the power of video. Thing is, you’re not a video editor, and you don’t have all the fancy shmancy equipment to do the job. No problem! There are free, extremely user-friendly video editing programs out there that can help you edit your video footage for your blog posts. Our very own internal video guy recommends iMovie for Mac users, and Windows Movie Maker for PC users. And you’re in luck, they’ve both written clear guides on how to use the programs! Click here for the Windows Movie Maker user guide, and visit this page for a series of iMovie tutorial videos.
Gone are the days of lugging around the hardback encyclopedia that’s several inches thick (for those of us who were born before the turn of the century). Now the information is at our fingertips. Now there’s absolutely no excuse to allow spelling and grammar errors into your writing. Dictionary.com, Websters.com, pick your poison. But make sure you’re following the rules of the English language if you’d like your readers to stay tuned.
There’s also no reason to bore your readers. If you have that word on the tip of your brain — that one comprehensive word that says it all in one word instead of several — use a thesaurus to hone your content. The general rule: why say it in 10 words, when you can say it in one?
The Thesaurus can be particularly useful when titling your blog post. Check out an excerpt from Corey Eridon’s post on Hubspot’s blog.
Invest time in finding compelling words for your title — the more interesting your language, the more click-throughs you’ll receive. Consider the title of the blog post we published this morning, for example. Would you rather read “9 Pet Peeves to Avoid in Your Pinterest Marketing,” or “9 Thingsto Avoid in Your Pinterest Marketing”? Pet peeves are a bit more compelling than generic “things” don’t you think? That’s what a thesaurus is good for … helping you identify the best, most compelling words for your blog post title!
Caveat: use the thesaurus to tighten your content, but not to appear intelligent. Unless your target audience is a group of scientists or doctors, you generally want to keep your writing level to that of an eighth to tenth grade level.
Most blogging platforms now offer a method to allow your readers to share your content, and if your content is good enough, surely your readers will want to share! Here’s where this is extremely beneficial: your readers share with their connections, and your content can go viral.
The key is to create content that is worth sharing. Again, refer to our previous posts in this series that demonstrate ways to generate inspiration for great content. Once you have the content created, it’s a matter of integrating the AddThis plugin. AddThis offers code snippets that can be integrated into several blogging platforms, but we find it works especially well with WordPress.
What to write about next, huh? That’s a common challenge that we content-generators face. I’ve mentioned a great option already — reading good content often provides great inspiration! Check out our first post in our Free Tools for Business Bloggers series about how to get great content to pull ideas from.
Another source of great ideas are those whom you’re connected to. Even in the absence of a local team, you likely have connections in your social networks or in your blog readership who want to see content about specific things. LinkedIn provides a really nice tool to help elicit ideas from your connections: a polling feature.
Continuing our series on free tools for business bloggers, I cannot emphasize enough Google’s Keyword Tool. It just makes sense that if you’re trying to position your website to be found by search engines, you should know what keywords people are typing into the search engines to find services like yours.
It’s as simple to use as typing in a search phrase or two (or more!), and the Keyword Tool will return metrics showing the levels of estimated search traffic and competitiveness, so you can decide which keyword phrases you should target ranking for. There are more robust tools out there, but this one is great with a zero price tag.
Just a note: using Google’s Keyword Tool for better search engine ranking is not exact science, because this tool actually gives results for paid search results, not organic. But it stands to reason that the metrics are rather similar for paid results as those which show as a result of Google’s intermittent web crawling.
For a detailed tutorial on the Google Keyword Tool, watch our search engine optimization video tutorial.
For more on the topic of Search Engine Optimization, read more of our articles here.
2) Creative Commons
Each of your articles should contain at least one image, but sometimes it’s hard to determine which image to use — it’s hard to find the time to design your own image from scratch. Stock images can be expensive, and who knows whether you can legally use an image from an ordinary Google search?
Creative Commons helps you filter and identify images that are available to use for commercial purposes, and modify to suit your needs. You can search popular sites like Flickr, Fotpedia, Google Images, and Pixabay for images. Just be sure to give the artist credit where credit is due!
So you’re the resident expert in your field. You understand the nuances of regulations or technology, and how they impact your clients or consituents. You can write, inform and entertain — great!! But there are tools (free!) out there that will make your task of informing and entertaining much easier. Thanks to Corey Eridon for highlighting these tools for the Hubspot blog.
1) RSS Reader
A good RSS Reader helps provide you with great ideas, and locate industry news that may be important to your readers. Google offers a decent reader (and since they own the Search market, not a bad idea), but there are several other viable options as well. The idea is to consolidate content from across the internet in one place, easy for you to keep up with all the latest.
More tools next time…
At last, we come to the final article in the SEO series by our friends at Name.com. This article contains a list of strategies to use when creating your content so that search engines can find, identify, and index your content properly. Again, it’s all about showing up in Search Results when people are looking for your content, and having them be satisfied by the content you’ve produced. Content from Bo’s post:
Working to build successful inbound links to your site, is one of the keys to success in SEO. The more inbound links you have, the higher quality links they are, the more popular and successful your site will be. When you have a successful marketing strategies and build a quality SEO-optimized site, you are sure to have many quality backlinks to your site.
The more quality backlinks you build, the better your PageRank (PR) will be. However, the links have to be high quality. Otherwise, the traffic for the site will not increase. Only the most relevant, top quality links will serve the purpose of being seen by the latest page rank algorithm.
Read the entire article here.