Over the years I have created a list of useful tools that can be used for marketing. Most of these are free or offer a free plan that you can start with and the odd one or two may be a paid option.
These are just some of the marketing tools I currently use or have used in the past so they are by no means the best tools out there, just ones that I have used and enjoyed.
Here is my collection of useful SEO tools I currently use as well as some older ones I have saved for future reference.
Ubersuggest is a free keyword research tool that has expanded over the last few months so that it now provides an SEO dashboard, keyword rank tracking and backlink research.
Answer The Public helps to generate content ideas by taking a keyword or topic and then by using Google and Bings autosuggest to create a set of questions around that subject. For example, if you search for digital tools it will then spit out questions, prepositions, comparisons and related topics that can then be used as content ideas, long-tail keywords or insight into the people that are searching for your topic.
There is a free and pro version but the free version will most likely be enough if you're just looking to create some content ideas on related topics every so often. The pro version offers a greater number of searches and it also allows you to select a region which may or may not be useful depending on the topic you're searching.
httpstatus.io lets you bulk test status codes, response headers, and redirect chains. I've used this tool to check crawl anomaly URLs from Google Search Console to check their status, check for redirect chains so that I can make sure there's only the one redirect and to make sure my redirects are working as intended after a site migration.
You can check up to 100 URLs at once, change your user agent, rate limit your requests to prevent server overload and add basic authentication so you can test URLs on private/staging sites.
Once the tool has gone out and checked all of your URLs it then displays the results in a table where you can sort by the number of redirects for each URL and the HTTP status code. You can also download a CSV of all the data or link it up to a Google Sheet so you can then continue to work with the data such as creating 301 redirects for any pages with 404 errors or removing multiple redirect hops.
Seed Keywords allows you to use your network of contacts to help you come up with keyword ideas for a new page on your site or a new blog post. It works by allowing you to create a search scenario such as, "You have a faulty PC. You need to have it fixed. What would you search for?" and ask your contacts to type in the keywords they would use to solve it. You simply send your contacts the link they provide and as they start adding keywords, your seed list will grow and help to give you some insight as to how people are searching for the problem you're trying to solve.
You may already have heard of Hotjar as it's a popular tool for recording heatmaps, user sessions and form completions. It might look a bit odd in the SEO section as it fits better under conversion rate optimization (CRO) however using the data it provides can help inform SEO decisions such as what can be removed to increase site speed.
Hotjar's main feature is the ability to record different types of heatmaps such as movement heatmaps, click heatmaps and scroll heatmaps. This can be useful for seeing how users interact with the pages on your site and can help make decisions such as where to place content, how to optimize the page for conversion as well as identifying any friction points that exist.
The Google Structured Data Testing Tool allows you to quickly test your schema markup to make sure it's implemented correctly and doesn't contain any errors. It also flags up any warnings so that the data can be further improved. You can test a whole webpage that already contains the markup or you can test your code snippets individually which is helpful for debugging any errors
Web Page Test allows you to test your site speed to see where you can make improvements. This is my preferred tool for testing page speed as it shows a lot of information such as a waterfall of the page load to quickly spot any large images or scripts that are causing the site to load slowly, film strip and video views so you can see what the page looks like as it's loading and a content breakdown to show you what has the most requests and makes up the page weight. It's also very customisable by letting you change the network conditions, device type used and the location of the test. All of this can also be automated (see tab below)
Speed demon is a Google Sheets scripts which allows you to automate your site speed testing and will alert you if it falls outside of your defined parameters. By using your free Web Page Test API key it runs the full set of tests on pages you've selected, either when you manually click the button or by setting the script to run on a schedule of your choosing. Once the test has run it will add the 'headline' results to a Google Sheet along with a link to the test where you can go back and see the full set of results.
This is a great tool to have set up and running in the background as it's completely automated and allows you to view the impact of any changes to your site and as site speed is a ranking factor it can help you with auditing your site speed and quickly test any changes across a range of pages. This requires 5 minutes to set up and the guide can be found here.
SEO Quake is a browser extension available for Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Edge. It allows you to view some SEO basics at a glance such as the number of pages in the Google and Bing index, number of social media shares and backlinks. You can also get more detail such as page info, containing the number of internal and external links and meta tags. You can also view a mini SEO audit which contains the basics you should have on your page such as an h1 and alt text.
The tool also works on the SERPs so you can quickly view indexed pages and backlinks without having to navigate to that particular site. To get the most out of this tool you'll need to create a free SEMrush account but when you install the plugin it will walk you through this.
WhatRuns is a simple Chrome and Firefox extension that lets you know what web technologies a site is using. For example, if you take a look at this site it will tell you that I'm using WordPress along with any themes and plugins I'm using. It also lists things like frameworks being used, which version of jQuery, programming languages and any 3rd party scripts such as LinkedIn conversion tag, Google Analytics and Google fonts.
This can be helpful if you're looking to find out what your competitors are doing and you can keep track if they add or remove any of the above from their site.
SE Ranking is a cloud-based SEO tool for running audits, keyword research, checking backlinks and the part I use it for, checking your SERP rankings. The audits are great automated audits which would be great for a small business doing basic SEO by themselves but it doesn't compare to anything like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb. However, the rank checking is the best feature and what I use the tool for.
You can choose from daily, every three days or weekly tracking and their cheapest plan is £23+VAT and for that, you get to add 10 websites to your plan and track 250 keywords between them. You can also choose to upgrade the number of keywords you have checked without having to upgrade your plan which is a nice feature.
I have an affiliate and a regular link below, both link to the same place however one earns me 30% commission and helps pay for the site at no expense to you!
Sitebulb is a desktop website crawler similar to Screaming Frog. It's a very comprehensive tool that crawls your whole site and gives you hints on how to fix different issues that are present on your website. The dashboard gives you an overview of your whole site and then breaks it down into separate sections along with a score for each section.
The categories are SEO, Security, Page Resources, Page Speed, Mobile Friendliness, Front-end issues, Code Coverage, Accessibility and External content. They also have crawl maps to show you your website structure and also some helpful tools such as a quick link to Google Page Speed Insights, mobile-friendly tool, fetch and render and a single page analysis tool.
This is a paid for tool but they do offer a 14 day free trial. In future, I will write an in-depth blog post that goes into further detail.
The Panguin Tool is a free tool created by Barracuda Digital and it allows you to view your website traffic from Google Analytics and overlay Google Search algorithm updates. This way you can tell if you've bit hit by any of the updates and allows you to take action if the algorithm was targeting something specific such as the Panda and Penguin updates, hence the name Panguin.
Once you're in the tool you can filter by different kinds of algorithm updates such as named, structural, local, mobile and core quality updates amongst others. While it doesn't tell you what needs fixing and he to do it, it does give some insight into whether you've been hit by an update and with some further research you can find out what Google was trying to achieve with its update.
The Google Structured Data Markup tool allows you to visually mark up a webpage or an email with structured data. This makes it simple for people to create structured data without having to learn how to write it in a JSON format.
To get started all you have to do is choose the type of structured data you want to add to your page, for example, articles, events, local business, restaurant, products and a few others. For email, you can mark up most kinds of reservations such as bus, flights, lodging and restaurants as well as parcel deliveries and order confirmations. After that, you just paste the URL or (HTML if it's not live yet) of the page/email you want to markup.
You can then highlight images and text and simply select what that item is from a drop down menu and on the right hand side of the page you can see what data you've included and what data still needs to be marked up. If you have 100's of products or articles it's not practical to mark them up this way but if you're a small local business it's an easy way to get the data added to a few pages.
A simple tool that lets you check the domain authority of any domain. Simply add a list of domains you want to check and then the site will return your list of URLs with domain and page authority. While it's not great if you're trying to find the domain authority of 100's websites it's great for a quick check for your domain or a couple of competitors.
Here are my favourite tools I use for collecting, monitoring and increasing my chances of getting positive reviews from customers.
A great local marketing tool which lets you monitor reviews your business receives across the web. To get going all you need to do is create a free account and once you're signed up you can then add your three free locations. Just enter your business details such as website, address, phone number and it'll do the rest in the background. After it's had time to find all of your reviews it will then update you as you receive new reviews so that you can respond.
A useful marketing tool from Whitespark that lets you create a link to leave a review on your Google My Business page. Simply enter your business name, city and postcode and it will generate a link which you can send to customers.
If they're signed into their Google Account it will open up your Google my Business review section so all they have to do is click on the stars and type in their review. This will help to increase the chance that people leave reviews as it saves them searching for your business, heading over to reviews and adding one.
Here are some useful tools to help you with your copywriting. Some tools are for creating longer-form content while some, such as character counters are more for writing short-form content such as ads, meta descriptions, etc.
A simple but great tool for counting characters in your copy. This is a tool I use for writing meta descriptions, meta titles and ads. You can either write straight in the tool or copy and paste your content from elsewhere and at the top of the page it shows you the number of characters, words, sentences, paragraphs and whitespace.
Along the bottom of the page, it shows you how many times each word has been used, while this isn't too important for ads, meta titles and meta descriptions it's helpful when checking keyword density in a blog post or a service page.
I'm sure you've seen Grammarly advertising around the web or even heard about it from a friend or colleague but it's definitely a tool I use on a daily basis, not just at work but also at home. Grammarly is basically spell check x10, it checks everything from your spelling, punctuation, style and tone of voice.
While it doesn't suddenly turn you into Shakespeare it does stop you making silly mistakes in emails, blogs, social media and most other places thanks to their Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge extensions as well as native integrations for Microsoft Office, native Windows and Mac apps as well as a keyboard on Android.
Grammarly has got a free plan which is the one I use but if you do a lot of long form writing or are writing for a business it may be worth upgrading to a paid plan which starts at $11.66 per month when billed annually. They also have a business plan for teams from 3-149 people.
A useful tool for trying to find out what font is being used on a webpage, email, or other digital media. Simply take a screenshot and upload it to the site and it will tell you what font is being used. While it's not perfect and there are better ways of finding out what font is being used on a webpage, it is a quick, non-techy way of finding out and will help point you in the right direction.
Use this tool to check how easy your copy is to understand. This tool is great for content that is aimed at wide audiences such as your business service pages, news pieces or general lifestyle, day to day blogs as they are read by people with a wide range of reading comprehension skills, for example people whose first language isn't English, or students using your content as part of their learning.
To use it you can either input your text directly or use a URL and it will calculate the readability of your text. Your results are measured against common standards such as Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease Level, Gunning Fog Score, SMOG Index, Coleman Liau Index and Automated Readability Index and it also tells things such as the number of sentences, words, complex words and a few other useful statistics.
The SEMRush SEO Writing Assistant is a great tool for content writers, content marketers and all things content. The tool allows you to check basic things such as making sure you've included your target keywords as well as suggesting some new ones. It also gives you some quick readability statistics and a target word count based on similar content that's currently ranking.
While this isn't a tool for experienced SEO's or content creators it does allow you to optimise as you're going along and is a great start for people who aren't that well versed in SEO.
To use the tool you'll need to add it as an "Add On" for G Suite and because of that it only works in Google Docs. Once you've downloaded added it to your G Suite account you can then access it from the Add On's section on the toolbar in Google Docs. To get access to the SEO and readability section you can use a free SEMRush account however for the tone of voice and originality feature you will need a paid subscription.
The CoScheduel Headline Analyser allows you to check your headlines/titles for blogs, case studies and any other kind of content that needs to attract people to click and read your content.
Once you've written your content all you need to do is plug your headline into the tool and it will give you a general score as well as breaking down what can be improved to make your headline stronger. For example, my blog headline scores 60/100 and I can improve it by adding more emotional and powerful words, my headline is also a little short in terms of characters and also very short in terms of word count.
Some of the more interesting features are that it shows the first three and last three words together as people tend to skim read and only read these words as well as the sentiment of your headline with positive generally being better. It also saves each iteration from your headline so you can keep tweaking it to find the highest scoring headline.
The only negative about this tool is the fact you have to type in a name, email address, company name and company website the first time you use it however nothing is checked so you can just enter any rubbish and continue to the results
Here are some useful tools for when you're working with video. These tools are best for small businesses and personal projects who want to create and edit short clips rather than any long-form video content.
Kapwing is a great tool when it comes to simple video editing online, for example, adding clips and images together, adding subtitles, resizing video, trimming videos and much more. The tool is simple and easy to use while providing great features for free.
The free plan gives you 7 days to create your video before your workspace is cleared however can download and share your video. The pro plan allows you to keep everything in your workspace and costs $20 per month or $200 per year.
Restream allows you to live stream to 30 platforms at once. This means that your audience can use their favourite platform, be it YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitch and many more, to view your live stream. Their free plan allows you to stream all of the platforms along with a quality monitor and no limit on the bitrate.
Here are some of the tools I use when finding images, editing images and optimising them for web. There are also a couple of icon libraries and a CDN.
Unsplash is a website dedicated to giving away freely usable images that have been uploaded by the community. All of the photos in Unsplash's giant collection have been uploaded by the community and are free for anyone to use in any way they like such as using the images on their website, blogs, PowerPoint presentations, adverts and much more.
There are a wide range of photos from landscapes, nature, animals, patterns, colours and business related photos such as offices, computers, people working and remote working. This means there is always something you can use no matter what it's being used for.
The images are all high resolution so there's no need to worry about quality. They also integrate with platforms such as Trello, Adobe Spark, Medium, Squarespace, Google Slides, Codepen and many more so you might be using one of their images already without even knowing it. After many years of using Unsplash I have also become a contributor to give back to the community.
Undraw is a site with free to use illustrations, similar to Unsplash. You can search for different kinds of illustrations, from basic ones such as walking outside, mobile devices and downloading files to more specific ones such as building a website wireframe, product photography and syncing files. If illustration the way you want to break up long format content or just to add something different to your site then Undraw is great.
On the site itself, before downloading, you can edit the colours of the illustration so it's on brand which is a great feature for someone who isn't comfortable either doing this in CSS or an image editor. You can download your illustration in either and SVG format if you're comfortable using that on your website or as a PNG for posting on social media or is you don't have the ability to use an SVG on your site.
Pexels is very similar to Unsplash as it is a large collection of images uploaded by contributors that are high quality and free to use for whatever you'd like. It's great to use both Unsplash Pexels as sometimes Pexels has the kind of image you want and Unsplash doesn't or the other way round, also, quite a lot of the Unsplash contributors also post on Pexels so if you have a preference between the two sites it's not like you're missing out on certain content.
Raw Pixel is similar to Unsplash and Pexels and has a large collection of free images that you can use. It's not any better or worse than Unsplash or Pexels but if you're looking for a particular image and can't find it on the other platforms this is another good site to use.
They also have a premium collection of pictures which starts at $3 per month for unlimited personal use or $19 for unlimited commercial use. I haven't used the premium side of things but it looks similar to Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, etc.
Flat icon is a collection of thousands of icons. Most of the icons can be found for free and used with attribution or you can get a premium plan where you have access to all of the icons and no attribution is required. Icons can be downloaded on their own or as an icon pack and come in a variety of formats such as PNG, SVG, EPS, PSD and Base 64.
A simple tool which has a selection of free to use patterns and backgrounds. Great for website header images or to use in print.
Venngage is a tool to create simple infographics and is perfect for a small business without access to a graphic designer. To begin with, you choose one of their templates to give you a basic layout. Then all you need to do is add any charts and visuals to help show your data and then you can customise it to fit your brand by changing fonts and colours.
This tool has a free plan which limits you to 5 infographics and applies the Venngage branding to your infographic and the paid plans start at $19 per month.
Imgix allows you to transform and optimise your images using URL parameters and then host them with their CDN. Using the URL parameters you can resize, crop, overlay text, add & place watermarks, enhance images, compress them and then have them served through their CDN.
You may not have to re-upload any of your images depending on where they're located as Imgix can access cloud buckets with its own set of credentials. They currently support Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, Microsoft Azure or web folder.
As they operate on a pay as you go model they don't have a free plan but they give you $10 in free credit so that you can play around and test the platform before commenting to anything. As it's pay as you go they charge $3 per 1000 master images you access. Master images are the ones stored in your cloud storage and if they're accessed it counts as one of your 1000 images but if you have a page which uses one of your master images but no one ever goes to that page then you won't be charged. However you can crop, overlay, enhance, etc the same master image multiple times and it only counts as a single use.
You are then also charged for the bandwidth you use through their CDN, which is charged at 8c per GB so this probably won't be a massive cost factor unless you use a lot of large images or have a high volume of traffic. One thing to take note is that there is a minimum spend of $10 per month to keep your account active. If you spend over $10 a month then this won't be an issue but if you only serve a small number of images then it may turn out to be more expensive than you think.
Lorum Picsum is simply Lorum Ipsum for pictures. To use it simply use their URL and add your width and height to the end of it and you'll be given a random placeholder image in those dimensions.
If you're using a CMS like WordPress then this may not be much use to you as you'd need to download the image and then add it to your media library before using it as a place holder.
Free Stock Photos is pretty much what it says on the tin. It's a site with free stock photos you can use and is similar to Unsplash, Pexels, etc. While this isn't my favourite site for free photos to use online and in my marketing it's great to have as another resource in case the other sites don't have what you're after.
The Noun Project is similar to Flat Icon as it is a collection of 2 million royalty free icons that you can use in your projects. If you choose the free plan you'll have to attribute the creator of the icon in your project or you can opt for a paid plan which costs $39.99 for a year and allows you to use all the icon without attribution.
Adobe Spark is a design tool similar to Canva and allows you to create simple social posts, webpages and short videos.
It comes with templates for all of the major social media networks so you always have the right size you need and there are also a wide range of design ideas which help you to get started with Spark.
You can also let your creativity flow and start with a blank canvas where you can add photos from a wide range of sources such as Dropbox, Creative Cloud, Google Photos. It also has a search feature which lets you search for free images you can use across the web and also allows you to upload your own images from your computer.
You can then overlay your text, add icons to your design and any other finishing touches you need. Once you're happy with your design you can either download it or share it straight to Facebook, Twitter, Email or a custom link, straight from Adobe Spark.
ImgOptim is a free bit of software for Macs which allows you to compress images before uploading them to your website. This is the best image compression tool I have used either on desktop or a plugin/web solution as it's easy to use and offers the best compression without noticeably reducing image quality.
To use this tool just drag and drop your images or folders with images into the tool and it will go through each image and run several compression algorithms to see which one reduces the image size by the most and then applies it.
You can use ImgOptim to compress pretty much any type of image that you would use on the web such as PNG and JPG. In the settings, you can specify if you would like lossy (where the image quality is reduced by removing pixels) or lossless (where the pixels aren't removed) compression. I tend to use lossy and set the quality level to 75 for JPGs and 80 for PNGs which gives me the best results however it's always best to check you're happy with the results.
The downsides to this tool are that it's only available on Macs however, this can be overcome by creating a mac virtual machine. The other downside is that depending on the compression level, algorithms selected and the number of images you're compressing in one go, it can take a while to compress all of the images.