SEO-optimisation-tools

Top 25 Free Tools For Mastering SEO in 2019

Competition for the top spot in search engines is becoming increasingly fierce, with new websites popping up all the time. To make matters worse? Competitors aren’t the only thing you’re…well, competing with. Thanks to Google’s ever-changing algorithms, you have the search engine itself to contend with, too!

Staying ahead of the field can be a full-time job, so when it comes to building a solid SEO strategy it pays to make the most of the tools available to you. From researching your site’s keywords and monitoring its traffic, through to finding relevant content ideas and building high-quality backlinks, here is our list of the top twenty-five (free) tools you should be using right now:

1. Google Keyword Planner

Keywords are an essential component of SEO. They tell the search engines what you, your website, and its content is about so that it’s found when people search for these terms. Google Keyword Planner shows how different keywords perform, their search volumes, and competitiveness, making it easy to choose the right keywords for your site.

2.Integrity Link Checker

Broken links lower the quality and usability of your website and, in turn, your SEO. Apps like Integrity help you identify, find, and repair these broken links so you can improve your site’s performance and ensure users aren’t left staring at a 404 Error Page.

3.Spider View Simulator

Have you ever wondered how Google views your website? Spider View Simulator allows you to see your website exactly as Google does by simulating a search engine spider. This allows you to see the source code of a page, your inbound and outbound links, main keywords, and phrases.

4.Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the most well-known SEO tools, and rightly so. This allows you to track and report on conversion rates, search traffic, and pageviews from a variety of sources. To name just a few! It’s a super handy tool to have in your digital toolkit.

5.Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker

Backlinks are the hyperlinks that point back to your website from another webpage. High-quality backlinks build authority in the eyes of Google and improve your rankings.

Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker makes tracking these links easy. You can easily check the number of backlinks and referring domains to your site, as well as monitor important metrics like Domain Rating, URL Rating, and AHREFS rank.

6. Remove’em Over Optimised Backlinks

Over optimizing can be as detrimental as under optimizing. Over-optimizing the links back to your site is now seen as a spammy, black-hat practice by Google which is harmful to your SEO. Remove’em makes it easy to identify and then remove these over-optimized links that may be damaging your site’s rankings.

7.Google My Business

If you think local SEO isn’t important, you should think again! Google My Business is the holy grail for local SEO. You can claim your listing, share your location, respond to reviews, and connect with customers across the web.

8.Page Speed Insights

If your page load speed isn’t up to scratch, then your visitors are going to leave. So too will the search engines! Page Speed Insights from Google analyses the load speed of your webpages and generates suggestions that you can use to speed up the slow ones.

9.MobileMoxie SERP Test

Mobile phones serve as the largest platform for searching and browsing the internet, so it pays to make sure your website is performing at its best. MobileMoxie allows you to search for individual terms on different devices, see results for specific locations, and view page variations by location.

10.Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Looking for another option? If MobileMoxie isn’t what you’re after, you can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to put your site through its paces and test its usability across a range of mobile devices including tablets and phones.

11.Moz SEO Toolbar

Master the basics of SEO with MozBar, the industry’s leading SEO toolbar. MozBar provides you with SEO research on the go, so you can quickly and easily view page metrics, authority scores, and so much more while you’re browsing the web.

12.SEMrush

Do you need insights for SEO, paid campaigns, social media, content, and PR, or marketing research? SEMrush can help with it all. This versatile site runs the gamut, providing tools for everything from checking keywords and traffic through to analyzing competitors and their content.

13.Portents SERP Preview Tool

Want to visualize your webpage’s snippet in Google Search before it goes live? Portents SERP Preview Tool shows you your proposed meta title, description, URL, and bolded keywords in a preview SERP. It’s a great way to measure your ‘clickability’!

14.Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Yoast is one of the most popular WordPress plugins around, and for good reason. It provides a sweeping range of tools that plug right into your WordPress website that makes managing your SEO, simple.

15.Google Search Console

Google Search Console allows you to check your site’s ranking as well as which of your web pages aren’t indexed so you can improve and track your SEO performance.

16.Smush Image Optimisation

Images are the top culprit for slow page load speed due to large file sizes. Smush is a great plugin for WordPress which helps compress, resize, and optimize images so you can speed up your site and improve performance.

17.Answer The Public

Do you want to create content that people are actually interested in? Answer The Public provides you with queries that people are searching for in search engines like Google, which can help you create content that users are actually interested in within your industry or niche.

18.BROWSEO

View your webpage in plain HTML as a search engine does without the distractions of styling and CSS with BROWSEO. It’s the perfect way to check your page’s structure, and ensure that it’s set up in such a way that makes it easy for search engines to see what you’re all about.

19.Keywordit

Keywordit searches and extracts keywords from the popular US discussion site, Reddit. This handy tool generates hundreds of popular keywords and monthly search volumes so you can quickly and easily identify your audience’s major interests.

20.SEO Web Page Analyser

SEO Web Page Analyser provides a snapshot of your website’s SEO, breaking down the structure of your website and analyzing usability, content, and built quality from a search engine’s point of view. It’s a great way to improve both on- and off-page SEO.

21.SERPROBOT

SerpRobot checks your ranking in Google’s search engine quickly and accurately to show you where you stand amongst competitors and how you can best optimize your website for search.

22.Screaming Frog

This industry-leading SEO web crawler allows you to analyze your onsite SEO, making it easy to manage broken links, page titles, metadata, redirects, duplicate content, and so much more.

23. Where Goes?

Check the path of your redirects and meta refreshes with Where Goes. It’s the easiest way to troubleshoot and diagnose any problems you might be having with links, as well as ensure redirects are up and working.

24.Keywords Everywhere

Reduce the amount of time you spend researching keywords with Keywords Everywhere. This add-on for Chrome shows you cost-per-click, monthly search volumes, and Adwords competition right there in your browser.

25.Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is a free tool created by Google that allows you to manage HTML and Javascript tags, without the need for any coding. It integrates seamlessly with a range of Google products, including Google Ads for easy conversion tracking and remarketing, as well as a variety of third-party vendors.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a lot of useful free tools out there that can help you master the fine art of SEO, whether you’re just starting out or an industry veteran. By adding one, two, or even all of these to your digital tool belt, you’ll be finding keywords, writing content, and promoting your site more effectively than ever before in next to no time!

corporate gift, holiday gift business,

Corporate gift innovations 2019

Early birds, it’s time to plan your Christmas holiday gifts for clients.  Branded gifts are still good, not naff and definitely give a good return on investment for existing clients and returning client programmes.

I took a look at some of the newer and older products available.  Get in touch to discuss your needs – no I don’t do a heavy sales push on this…

  • Branded bluetooth speakers – they came out last couple of years but they are STILL great value.
  • A waterbottle…. with a bluetooth speaker in the lid.  Yep, that’s right!
  • Novelty USB sticks – I love to pull the “head” off this lego man.
  • Wireless phone induction chargers and wireless power banks – a step up from just a battery-0n-the-go
  • A webcam cover – a little slider which slots over your web cam on the laptop.  Neat, cheap and valuable.
  • Reusable drinking straws (no, don’t ask me about inappropriate uses for these!)
  • And the usual enormous range of bags, hats, cheese boards, bottle openers, towels and coffee cups.
corporate gifts, B2B marketing, bluetooth speaker

Branded bluetooth speaker

Branded water bottle bluetooth speaker, corporate gifts, B2B marketing

Branded water bottle speaker

Branded USB, Key shape USB, corporate gifts, B2B marketing

Branded USB, Key shape pen drive

Padlock USB, corporate gifts, B2B marketing

Padlock shape USB

Branded power adapter plug, corporate gifts, B2B marketing

Branded power adapter plug

USB toy, corporate gifts, B2B marketing

USB toy

Waterbottle and bluetooth speaker, corporate gifts, B2B marketing

Waterbottle and bluetooth speaker

office view for copywriting inspiration

Anatomy of effective cold direct mail

I love getting really timely direct mail messages that are relevant.

This one came just in time to help me navigate a change to podcast categories.

Let’s analyse the direct message

Hello podcaster,

[Small fail here as they don’t know my name.  Implies a purchased list rather than an opted in CRM database.]

In case you missed it, Apple Podcasts have changed how they categorize podcasts. In short, new categories like True Crime have been introduced, old categories have been rebranded and lots of new sub-categories dedicated to sports, comedy, TV and more have been added!

[Opening paragraph – helpful link to contextualise in case I haven’t seen the news.  It’s a blog post on their website…. that’s good because it drives traffic and cookies my browser.  Nice bold text for likely interesting new categories to draw my eye.]

Unfortunately, some services as SoundCloud don’t support them yet. Spreaker is a platform dedicated to podcasting and we put the podcasters’ needs first.

[Natch!  a snipe at a popular competitor.  I use SoundCloud for my podcast and so this is relevant to me.  Could be a merge field – but not likely.  I think they may have targeted me from the SoundCloud platform.]

For this reason

  • our podcast platform already fully supports the new Apple Podcasts categories so you can improve your show’s discoverability
  • Spreaker allows you to set three categories – your podcast will rank in more than one category on iTunes at the same time – and fully customize the RSS feed tags
  • our service enables you to earn money with your podcast thanks to the Spreaker’s Monetization Program.

[Small quibble about supplying 3 reasons and not numbering them… and referring to “this reason” when it should be “these reasons”.  However, their nimble coding enabling the new categories quickly is encouraging when considering an alternative hosting platform.  Hopefully they keep up the speedy work.]

If you want to start using the new Apple categories and are curious about what Spreaker could do for your podcast – why not give us a try with our FREE, no strings attached, month-long trial.

All you need to do is click this special code: GETAPPLECATEGORIES

[Simple offer, clear time limit and a coupon code so they can identify subscribers from this campaign.]

If you need instructions to move your podcast over to Spreaker, you can follow this guide.

[More useful user guides to smooth a transition.]

We hope to see you on Spreaker sometime soon!

Template your own message

Follow the same paragraph structure when approaching your own prospects and try this for yourself.

Read more of our articles on copywriting and learn tips for your own marketing.

conversation, art of conversation, problem conversation, issues conversation

Conversation as a marketing tactic

At the weekend I was teaching a class on The Art of Conversation and it was such an enlightening experience.

Firstly, the topic intrigued me because I wondered who wanted to learn – and I soon found out that the group was a complete mix of people.  Some wanted improved networking for work and some wanted to make new friends and others who found it hard to keep a conversation going. 

Marketers and sales folks all use conversation in our daily work.  Step back and take a read of the insights below and challenge yourself to improve or work out solutions to these situations.

How Conversations are Structured

Conversations are unique – but they are all underpinned with a framework which can be easily learned. The 4 Fs which give ideas about how to ask initial easy questions around four themed topics.

Because I like to balance teaching theory with practice we spent time face-to-face with each other trying out the techniques – a bit like speed dating!  Then we moved into practicing “branching” which is when the topic of conversation can move to adjacent topics. 

As a tutor, I delight in the unique learning experience every class has and so the second day began with feedback from overnight practice of “The Conversation Game”.   The students had chatted with parents, relatives, people at the bus stop and supermarket.  Each was a special and individual insight into their new confidence gained by practicing the framework.

Our final task was to learn how to disagree.  This is difficult because many think an argument is not a conversation.  I think learning how to respectfully disagree is an art form and a useful skill to balance with listening and really hearing the message in a conversation.

What our conversations lack

In researching the topic I asked the crowd what they thought was lacking in good conversation and the top picks were:

  • balance in exchanges – time speaking
  • listening deeply
  • ensuring the next topic is related to the previous one
  • bringing in spectators to the dialogue
  • interpreting body language successfully
  • don’t propose a hypothesis – ask a question
  • know how to conclude a conversation graciously
  • listening to understand, rather than listening to respond

Some good insights on conversations [forgive me if I don’t attribute]

Dialogue is like a good game of ping pong or a satisfying volley. Full of questions, quick 2 sentence exchanges, more questions. Good conversation is Not about serving aces, or hogging the ball (pontificating). That’s boring for both players as well as anyone watching.

In Howard’s End E.M.Forster has that great phrase ‘only connect’ which can be read many ways, but the art of conversation (rather than the art of debate) is about connecting and listening, and making your contribution to a conversation relevant to those of others. It is about connecting with their point of view or description or anecdote, being appreciative of what someone is sharing with you and listening, even if you don’t agree, and even committing it to memory – even if only as an exercise in concentration.

In the Steve Martin film, LA Story, he’s at a trendy dinner party and says to the woman next to him, “I hear you’ve just finished your masters in conversation”. She says “Yes” and then just sits there.

Reframing can be helpful or follow up questions to check what they really mean. In a group of more than two, take care that it doesn’t become a spectator sport for the rest. Ask the third person if they can describe a similar experience to draw them in.

Indicate that you are committed to spending some time in this conversation and talk about random stuff. Never ask a woman what her husband does for a living or show other gender discriminating assumptions. Ask a lot of ‘what made you..’ ‘how did you manage to..’.  Ask for opinions and advice from the field of strength of your conversation partner. Go a bit crazy and don’t be predictable. Make the person feel accepted and belonging, not patronised or alienated.

Conversational Challenges

Some of my correspondents play games during their conversations – especially if they think the dialogue is not balanced

Sometimes I have even stopped mid sentence just to see if they noticed and they don’t they simply use to gap to jump in as that’s all they were waiting for. I see this a lot at work and especially in meetings. If I call them out on it gently we laugh and it resets the exchange. Most don’t even know they do it.

Others presented situations which are worthy of our thoughts and so put your insights in the comments.

I particularly notice that many men do not ask open questions, and if they do, they are significantly less likely to actually listen to the answers. Of course #notallmen, but there is a strong correlation. They often just expect to be interviewed about how brilliant they are, and the idea of putting in effort to develop a conversation seems alien to them. I honestly think that there are plenty of men out there to whom it has never occurred that this might be a specific responsibility to be shared equally.

Here’s a problem that I don’t know how to solve: providing honest feedback has about zero if not less than zero benefit to the person providing the feedback. And so most feedback is dishonest – either superficial or irrelevant or in what may be the most misleading and useless cases, inaccurate. What to do?

Podcast marketing

What are the key essentials for promoting and marketing a podcast to grow listeners so you can improve monetisation?  This article runs through some of the fundamentals and also asks some important questions so you can find out if a podcast is the right marketing tactic for your brand.

Brand suitability for podcast marketing

Here are some simple questions for you to review before deciding to start a podcast.

Microphone for podcast: Photo credit Neil Godding on Unsplash

  • Who is the target audience?
  • Are they are already listening to podcasts?
  • What does your brand want to get out of the podcast (leads, brand awareness, thought leadership etc)
  • Which channels to market do you already use?
  • What headcount / analytics are in each of the existing channels?
  • What will success look like?

These are all questions worthy of a full day workshop.  Now, assuming you have robust answers to each of them, let’s dig into the tactics suitable for marketing a podcast.

Podcast marketing tactics

  1. Cross-promote through all existing channels controlled by the brand
  2. Select guests who have a large audience on the understanding they will cross-promote
  3. Add listeners by adding podcast into existing marketing tactics e.g. record a live episode at a trade show / a conference stage
  4. Get other podcasters to do a mutual episode with each broadcasting the same episode to their feeds
  5. Record in video and audio so you can use YouTube as a distribution channel
  6. Advertise
  7. Use clips and short video as content for social sharing
  8. Run campaigns which include the podcast e.g. contests where you have to listen to find out how to enter
  9. Use the podcast shownotes on your website and blog as SEO

Plus take a look at all the Quora questions I’ve answered and articles I’ve written about podcasting.

Customer Reviews – a reality check

The New Zealand Commerce Commission is investigating online retailers who they claim have manipulated customer reviews and testimonials in

“…conduct that was liable to mislead consumers by creating artificially positive impressions…”

NZ Commerce Commission website

What actions constitute “misleading consumers”?

Read more

Is Guest Posting Dead?

In 2014, Matt Cutts, former head of the Web Spam team at Google, wrote the following:

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”

Ever since the state of guest blogging has been debated heatedly. Indeed, guest blogs with low-quality content have truly been dead for decades.

On the other hand, high-quality blogging is an effective strategy to create backlinks, and drive traffic to your website. Even Cutts eventually published a correction, and said: “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.)”

So, the question is, how can we create quality guest blogs every time?

Here, we have outlined three easy and effective strategies to create guest posts that are sure to attract links, and bring in traffic:

The Robin Hood Technique

The Robin Hood technique, as suggested by SEO Gold Coast, is a quick and effective way to write guest posts with good quality content. This technique involves recreating great content from popular blogs and offering them to platforms with a low ranking, and less credibility and traffic.

Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean plagiarizing the content – instead, you must only take inspiration from the blog to recreate ideas for your own post.

The following steps can be undertaken for this technique:

Ahref’s Content Explorer Tool contains one billion pages and can be used to find blogs you can write a guest post for

Ahref’s Content Explorer Tool

Source: ahrefs

  1. Enter a keyword corresponding to your chosen topic to find similar articles
  2. Check the “one article per domain” box to find unique blogs related to your keyword
  3. Sort the results according to Language, Shares, Domain Rating, Organic Traffic, and Number of Words to truly find a customized blog post idea

Note the importance of Domain Rating (DR) that showcases the popularity level of a backlink, based on a scale of 1-100.

While it is tempting to only work with high DR blogs, low DR blogs are also worth investing your time and energy in, as they usually have a niche following and are bound to grow.

What’s more, low DR blogs usually receive fewer pitches and have less strict editorial standards – thereby making it easier to get featured or published.

Finally, you can move on to step 4:

4. Read the content of your chosen blog piece, and recreate it by adding a unique spin to it –  conclude by pitching it to low or high DR blogs through email outreach

Splintering Content

Another effective way of guest posting is by splintering or breaking existing blogs into shorter, but authoritative posts.

The point of splintering content is to dive deep into a topic that you have already researched before, as it is easier to recreate, revise, or rewrite.

After writing detailed individual posts, you can then pitch the pieces to online magazines and platforms that would publish it as guest posts, whilst still re-directing the reader to your original blog post – thereby creating quality backlinks.

The Perspective Technique

A small change in perspective can lead to a completely new, and unique piece of writing.

The trick here is to use a previously written blog post and turn it into multiple guest posts by simply tweaking your overall perspective.

For instance, if your previous blog post was on the “The Future of Link Building” – you can now write on a variety of topics by changing your viewpoint, such as:

  • Future of link building for small business
  • Future of link building for E-commerce
  • Future of link building for startups, and so on

Effective Guest Posting

The techniques outlined here are a good way to get you started. Keep in mind, however, that once you start pitching your guest posts, you may be faced with some problems.

For instance, editors and bloggers may routinely reject your pitch, negotiations may take months, or the link to your article may be taken down suddenly and without prior notice.

To address this concern here is what you can do:

  • Focus on creating good quality content for your blogs
  • Pitch to multiple blogs at the same time
  • Include links to your other guest posts to generate more traffic
  • Keep exploring and writing for new platforms and sites

In short, by following the techniques outlined above, you can defy Matt Cutt’s claim that guest posts are dead. Indeed, guest posts are thriving and can be used to generate traffic and brand awareness for your business in the long run.

Make your B2B proposal stand out

One of the joys of being a freelance consultant is that sometimes I get to act on behalf of my client and hire specialists to work on their B2B marketing campaigns.

I recently advertised a job and was stunned by one of the proposal submissions. As a new business specialist I know how hard it is to make your proposal stand out from others. This one hit all the gold stars for me.

Integrate proposals and CRM

I was sent an unique URL to view the proposal. This makes everything trackable – it was on a sub-domain of the B2B marketing agency’s website and so I know they will be able to track:

  • How many times I opened it
  • Which sections I browsed (they are distinctly separate)
  • How long I spent reading each part
  • Which sections I expanded to read further

All in all it was a pleasure to read and to be “sold” to. I felt engaged in the process and I know my actions on that page enabled the agency to get better insight into me as a prospect.

Screenshots from the marketing proposal web page.

And a final note, there’s a Squarespace service Qwilr which offers this on a 14 day trial.