Posted by gmehrguth

[Estimated read time: 5 minutes]

Every small business owner needs tools to get their marketing campaigns off the ground. Frankly, too many of these tools are only for enterprise-level businesses or require a budget that doesn’t always justify the ROI.

A personal hobby of mine is testing out tools and finding the best ones for myself and the team to use on our campaigns.

After much testing, here are some of my favorites that every small business should have in their tool box. [Editor’s Note: Each of the tools listed here has a free version.]

1. Answer The Public

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Answer The Public’s tool is completely free and has become an integral part of our content strategy. We use it to determine the topics and questions surrounding the primary keywords that we want to rank for. We then try to answer as many of these questions as we can with our content. This way, when Google is looking at which websites have the best information regarding the topic, we’re not only more likely to rank, but we also are more likely to convert visitors because we answer the most important questions they have.

2. Open Site Explorer

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Understanding your link profile and that of your competitors is crucial to building your Domain Authority. One of the quickest wins in every SEO campaign is to copy and paste your competitor’s URL into OSE and find all the sites that are linking to them but not linking to you.

3. Screaming Frog

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Screaming Frog is the go-to crawl tool for most everyone in the industry. While they do have a paid version of the tool, you can crawl up to 500 pages for free, leaving most small businesses in the clear. As mentioned above, this tool is terrific for finding broken links, auditing your redirects, finding pages that are missing meta data, and finding duplicate content at a URL level.

4. Siteliner

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Siteliner is a dream come true for quick and dirty duplicate content analysis. Once again, they limit the amount of pages you can crawl, but 99% of small businesses are totally fine with the free version. Simply place your url into their search bar and press go. You’ll be rewarded with tons of actionable data, like:

  • Duplicate content
  • Common content
  • Unique content
  • Average page size
  • Average page load time
  • Number of words per page
  • Internal links
  • External links
  • Text-to-HTML ratio

5. Portent’s Title Generator

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Say goodbye to writer’s block with this handy tool. Our content team loves to use this tool to come up with highly shareable content ideas. With the simple press of a button, this free tool gives you title ideas that range from serious to downright hilarious. Nobody’s ever said: “WOW, that sounds like a boring article; I’ll read it!” Have some fun with it, and even if you can’t find the perfect title, you’re bound to get the creative juices flowing.

6. Google Keyword Planner

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Google’s keyword tool is a great resource for any small business looking to launch a pay-per-click campaign. Countless opportunities exist to use this tool when setting up an Adwords campaign. One of our favorite features is the search volume calculator. Here, you can enter a keyword and see how many people searched for it each month for the past year. From there, you can layer it with location targeting to get an estimate of how many monthly impressions you’ll get for that keyword in your area. On top of search volume metrics, you can check out competition level and suggested bid for any keywords that you select.

7. Moz Local: Check Listing

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The key issue for every small business that does business locally and wants to show up in search engines is the consistency of their name, address, and phone number (NAP) across citation sources like Google, Yelp, Facebook, Yellowpages, and more. Moz Local’s tool gives you a free way to audit your NAP and easily fix on your own. Or, you can pay to have them do it for you. Either way, it’s a great free tool for quick analysis and improvement.

8. Keyword.io

Screen-Shot-2016-04-29-at-8.04.10-AM.pngKeyword research is a necessary aspect for every small business’ SEO campaign. With this handy tool, you can get keyword ideas from Google to Fiverr to help you understand which keywords to target and/or topics to create content around. Unfortunately, at the free level you’re not able to get important metrics like keyword competitiveness or search volume.

If you do have a couple extra bucks to shell out, Moz Pro has done great work with their keyword tool, and recently launched an improved version with some free access. There’s also the old-school favorite, Long Tail Pro, which will integrate with Moz and Adwords to give you killer data at scale.

9. Facebook Audience Insights

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Facebook Audience Insights is a terrific free tool for doing market and content research. By toggling through the options, you can view specific demographic information about your audience and even learn a few new things.

One great way to use this tool? Allow it to help you create content your audience will love. For example, if you’re a local business you can type in your service area/location, toggle the advanced option (bottom of the left column), select “home,” and start learning exactly what the homeowners in your area are interested in.

10. Pablo by Buffer

Screen-Shot-2016-04-29-at-8.11.14-AM.pngWith Buffer’s free social media tool, you have access to over 600,000 images (or you can upload your own image) and all the tools necessary to be a social image pro. You start by selecting an image, and from there you are able to overlay with text, choose sizes, select filters, add logos, and download/share. In moments, Pablo makes it easy to go from Photoshop noob to social media design pro.

Bonus: Followerwonk

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Followerwonk is amazing for quickly and easily analyzing your Twitter followers for information that can be used for your brand. It allows you to search Twitter bios, compare accounts for overlap, drill down by location, see who others are following, and identify influencers. It’s a tool with many uses, capable of taking some of the pain out of finding the people who could most help your brand.

Whether you run a small business or market to them, these free tools can help add expertise and insight into your marketing campaigns. Have fun trying them out and feel free to add your favorites in the comments below!

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