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Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are referral (or “affiliate”) links. We may be paid a referral fee if you make a purchase after clicking these links. However, we only recommend products we actually use—either internally or with our clients. If you’d prefer to use a non-affiliate link, one is provider for you in each case.
Part 1: David on The Web
Web Trends / Search Engine Marketing / Ranking Factors
- How does Google rank websites? Google created an interactive story to explain How Search Works.
- How fast does my site load? Test the loading speed of your website with Pingdom
- Make sure your site is up and can handle more than a few visitors at once with host-tracker
- SSL Certificates for free from StartSSL (use this handy guide to get started). Check with your hosting provider to be sure they accept 3rd-party certificates (many sell their own and don’t support allowing you to install your own).
Essential Web Tools
These are “must-have” tools for every modern marketer. You may want to check with your webmaster, web development, and/or hosting company to see what accounts may have already been set up for you.
- You must use Google Analytics to track visitors to your website and measure the results of offline and online campaigns of all kinds.
- You’ll want to claim your website at Google Webmaster Tools and check it at least once a month.
- For your WordPress website, you’ll want to have Jetpack connected up to free services from the creators of WordPress, including simple visitor data, a fantastic grammar checker, social sharing buttons, and more.
- You need a Gravatar account (works with the same account you use for Jetpack) to connect a photo of you to your email address for blogging, commenting and other purposes.
Part 2: Jill on Content Creation
- Coax Creativity through the use of Categories
- Categories Exercise
- Cardinal Concepts
- Use a calendar to capture and schedule blog topics
- Company events/happenings/trade shows
- Special Days
- Today (9/18/2014): National Cheeseburger Day
- October 29, 2014: National Cat Day
- Find all the “national days” by month
Part 3: David on Measuring Social Impact
Social Media Tools
- Facebook made its Business Manager tool available to small businesses a few months ago. We highly recommend it and have been using it—especially for scheduling content and granting employees and others access to your page.
- Twitter recently made its Analytics tool available to all users.
- Simplify your social media accounts and schedule posts with Hootsuite (non-affiliate link here). The free version is often sufficient, but the premium tool comes in handy for larger businesses.
Create Your Own Visuals
- Free (mostly) online graphics creation tool: Canva Upload your own visuals free and/or purchase premium elements as needed. The demo graphic here was created in just a minute or so with elements we uploaded.
- Turn words into art with Recite. The fortune cookie graphic from earlier on this page was created with Recite in about 3 minutes.
- Use popular internet memes with your own text at livememe (I recommend you get familiar with memes before you use them)
- No Photoshop? No Problem. Free Image Editing Software for Your Computer: GIMP (plus, your life with GIMP will be easier if you add the layer effects plugin)
Use Beautiful Images
- Royalty-free Free Images (keep an eye on search results, they include links to paid images).
- Completely free, no-strings-attached Public domain photos (not the greatest quality, but if you look hard enough you can find nice stuff)
- The Wikimedia Commons contains many public domain and Creative Commons-licensed (free to use, but often require attribution) images.
- Our primary low-cost source for royalty-free images for blog posts, web content and social media is BigStock Photo (non-affiliate link here)
- Get Personal. Go Custom. Hire Jake from Mavella to take photos of your team, products, customers, and more.
Marketing Automation / Email Autoresponders (Drip Campaigns) and More
- The easy-to use, entry-level system that’s actually quite capable is MailChimp (non-affiliate link here)
- My long-time favorite (before MailChimp) is Aweber (non-affiliate link here). Still has some of the highest email deliverability rates available.
- Full-on professional marketing automation + CRM + eCommerce and more: Infusionsoft (non-affiliate link here). There’s a free online demo there, but if you’d really like to find out if this might be a fit for your business, please contact David to discuss it.
Bonus: Other Resources for You
- Cheap, but workable: HostGator (non-affiliate link here)
- Better Quality: Media Temple (non-affiliate link here)
- Super-fast Virtual Private Servers from Digital Ocean (non affiliate link here). These involve highly technical setup, and are not for the faint of heart.
- Get hosted email (running on the Gmail platform), calendars, contacts, cloud storage and more with Google Apps for Work (non-affiliate link here).