Do you like to try things yourself?
When I started my e-commerce business, I always wanted to learn how to do things myself. While this isn’t always the best strategy if you’re not going to turn that knowledge into a full-time profession, there are many tools available to help you along the way. I’ll continue to update this list as I find different tools and resources that may be helpful to you.
Alternatives to the Google Keyword Tool
Google Keyword Tool used to be the best free tools available, and was often all you’d need. For organic search, keyword research isn’t so much about finding many variations of keywords like you might for a Pay-Per-Click campaign, but rather finding out which keywords are the most commonly used by your target market. That being said, Google’s semantic search has become so sophisticated that using the precise term people search for isn’t as critical as it used to be – using a variety of terms around the same topic or keyword is recommended. Google no longer makes search data publicly available, partially because they want marketers to focus on describing their products in a way that’s naturally useful to consumers, rather than trying to ‘game’ the system with over-emphasis on a particular keyword. Of course, business owners, as specialists in the products or services they provide, sometimes forget (or don’t even realize) that their target market may not be up to speed on the industry vernacular they’re used to speaking. Keyword tools can help remind you what language makes sense to your potential customers. Here are a couple of free alternatives that can help:
- Ubersuggest – When you type a word into Google’s search box, you’ll see some auto-complete suggestions show up. These are based on commonly searched terms that begin with the letters or words you began with. This is a great way of finding common ways people search, and Ubersuggest brings this data together into a tool.
- Wordstream Keyword Tool – Wordstream will still give you an estimated search volume, which is useful in determining which words people search with the most.
- Hashtagify – Hashtags are used throughout social media to tag social updates with relevant keywords. Hashtagify leverages the huge amount of content posted on Twitter every day to see which hashtags are being used the most, and which other hashtags are used in conjunction with the original one you searched. You can view hashtags like keywords, and you’ll get a popularity ranking, the one-week trend, the one-month trend, and a measurement of how frequently it’s correlated with related hashtags.
- Market Samurai – This is downloadable software that runs on your desktop and provides great keyword research tools as well as competition analysis and more.
- MOZ – MOZ has been collecting their own search data for years now and has the most reliable data now that Google’s data is no longer available. This tool helps you determine how difficult it will be to rank for a particular keyword.
- Advanced Web Ranking – This tool will give you a ‘keyword value’ score based on data brought in from a variety of sources.
Social Media Apps
BufferApp – Buffer is one of my favorite go-to tools. You can connect it to all your social media accounts, set a schedule for each one, then you just stock up your ‘buffer’ whenever you have time to share content. Buffer will drip your content out according to your schedule. The Android app interfaces perfectly with my browser and my rss app, so anytime I read an article or see a video I think my followers would enjoy, I just click the ‘share’ button and add it to my buffer. I can select which accounts I’d like to share on, and edit the text that goes with it however I like. It’s also got a browser extension if you prefer to share content from your computer.
HootSuite – This is a great tool that allows you to manage multiple accounts on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – all from one easy dashboard.
Mike Martin Photography – We partner regularly with Roseville photographer Mike Martin. He is available for on-site photo shoots at your place of business. This is a great way to get some shots for a visual tour or slideshow on your website, as well as photos of your staff. At his Roseville studio, he offers professional headshots as well as product photography. You can schedule your shoot through Satin Web Solutions, or contact Mike directly. Please let him know Kristin sent you!
MailChimp – MailChimp is currently my top recommendation for email marketing. They offer a great feature-set, the majority of which is even available on their free plan (up to 2000 subscribers!). One of my favorite features you don’t get with most other providers is the A/B testing. Whether you want to test which subject line gets opened most, which ‘from’ name gets the best results, or what time of day is best to send out your campaigns, MailChimp will test it for you.
iContact – I’ve always loved the flexibility and feature-rich services at iContact. Now that they’ve launched their new page creator, it’s easy for anybody to take advantage of their inexpensive all-inclusive packages. Their strengths include flexible list management and segmentation options, built-in survey and auto-responder features. They’ve added some social media management features as well to schedule posts for the month, in case you’re not already using another tool for this.
aWeber – aWeber has been in the email marketing business for a long, long time, and they know what they’re doing. They are specifically geared towards internet marketers who would like to implement longer auto-responder series, sell informational products, and test various marketing strategies, such as pop-up sign-up boxes or one-time follow-up offers. (This is an affiliate link, but feel free to navigate directly to www.aweber.com if you prefer not to be tracked as my referral.)
Bluehost – Economical yet powerful web hosting service. For most business sites, shared hosting offers everything you need. I use Bluehost for my own sites, as well as for many of my clients. They offer reliable, flexible hosting, keep their servers up to date, and offer 24/7 phone or chat support. (This is an affiliate link, but only because I use them and love their services!)
Rackspace – Some businesses may grow to require, or simply prefer, more than shared hosting can offer. Maybe you anticipate a website with a high resource demand, either from phenomenal traffic or high-bandwidth activities, or maybe your site will involve complicated custom applications that require more personalized control over your server. In these cases, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or a Dedicated Server might be your best options. Rackspace is the best in the business when it comes to managing your own dedicated servers. If you’re interested in this option, you can choose Rackspace Managed Hosting, or we can help set up and manage your servers for you. Rackspace also offers a powerful, cost-effective hosted email application. If you are interested in Rackspace Hosting or Rackspace Email, please contact us to find out how to get started.
While I am a Rackspace partner, the affiliate program NEVER plays a role in my decision whether to recommend a particular service or not. If you prefer not to use my affiliate links, feel free to navigate to Rackspace Hosting directly yourself.