The Website Marketing Group Blog

About The Website Marketing Group Blog

Michael Doyle - Managing Director of The Website Marketing Group

After 14 years of working in this industry, every day is a new learning curve which is why I love the job.

In this blog, you will find some of our findings on various “the best things of the web” to keep you up to date with the latest news in the Internet business.

From small businesses to Australia’s leading brands across multiple sectors and disciplines, this means we know what works and what doesn’t, allowing us to deliver tangible results that benefit your business where it really matters.

Whether it is a new brand identity-logo design, a social media marketing,  a complex website, an email marketing campaign or all of the above and more, our team can deliver the solution for your business.
Contact us today on 1300 911 772.

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Congratulations to the TWMG Team ! The Website Marketing Group has been successful in making the Smart50 for the SmartCompany Smart50 Awards 2011.

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Google Analytics 101: How To Optimise Your Marketing Strategy

Google Analytics

If you’re not too familiar with Google Analytics, trying to find out how it works can be a little daunting task. With so much data available to look for, it’s hard to know where to look to find the most important metrics.

Marketers that want to better understand their audience, and strengthen their marketing strategy, need to know how to best utilise all of the data available inside Google Analytics. Without knowing which sections to pay attention to, you could spend hours digging through the platform and walk away with your head spinning.

Similarly, without analyzing your website traffic, it’s hard to assess the effectiveness of your current marketing strategy and know when it’s time to make a shift. However, if leveraged correctly, Google Analytics can provide valuable insight into who visits your website, how they got there in the first place and what pages they spend the most time on; this is powerful data for marketers that can be used to enhance their strategy.

An Overview

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for brands, bloggers or businesses alike. Through use of Google Analytics, you can uncover a tremendous amount of data about your website that can be used to enhance your marketing and business development strategies.

The back end of Google Analytics is broken down into eight main sections: Dashboards, Shortcuts, Intelligence Events, Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions.

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Almost all eight sections contain sub-sections that provide a ton of data, but not all sections are critical for marketers to pay attention to.

Before we dive in to the sections that matter most to marketers, let’s get familiar with some basic Google Analytics terminology:

  • Users: These are people who have visited at least once within your selected date range, and includes both new and returning visitors.
  • Dimensions: These are descriptive characteristics of an object. For example, browser, exit page and session duration are all considered dimensions.
  • Metrics: These are individual statistics of a dimension, such as Average Session Duration or Screenviews.
  • Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of single-page visits, meaning that someone left your site from the same page at which they entered; aka, they didn’t interact with your site.
  • Sessions: A session is the period of time that a user is actively engaged with your website.

Now that you’re familiar with the Google Analytics sections and terminology, let’s dive in to the areas that you want to pay most attention to in order to save time and strengthen your marketing strategy.

Zeroing in on what matters most

There are three sections that matter most to marketers: Acquisition, Audience and Behavior.

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The Audience section provides a tremendous amount of data about your website visitors. It contains multiple subsections that provide information about the gender, age and location of your website visitors. You can also uncover information about their interests, as well as the browsers and mobile devices used to access your site.

The Acquisition section will provide detailed information about how people arrive to your site. Digging in to the “All Traffic” tab will show you exactly how people are arriving at your website – whether it be a search engine, social media site or blog that you’re a contributor for.

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The Behavior section helps you understand how people are interacting with your site. You’ll visit this section to better understand which pages on your website are the most popular.

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Focusing on these three sections will help you save time when digging through Google Analytics.

When used together, the information uncovered can help you make decisions about which marketing efforts (be it guest blogging or social media posting,) are most useful in driving website traffic.

Analyzing these sections within Google Analytics will provide you with insight that will enable you to make smarketing (smart, marketing) decisions about the type, tone, and placement of content that you use on your website.

Traffic Channels

Before we dive into who exactly is visiting your site, it’s important to understand how they’re getting there.

To see your various traffic sources for a set period of time, go to the Acquisition tab and click the “All Traffic” dropdown. Select the “Channels” button, set the time period at the top of the viewing pane and scroll down to see the results for the give timeframe.

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Here’s a simple breakdown of what these different channels mean:

  • Direct: Visitors that came directly to your website. They either typed your URL right into their browser, clicked on a bookmark or clicked a link in an email. Direct traffic is a strong indicator of the strength of your brand.
  • Organic Search: You can thank search engines like Google and Bing for these website visitors. An organic visitor is someone who got to your website by clicking on a link from a search engine results page. A lot of organic traffic is a strong indicator of the value of your content and SEO strategy.
  • Paid Search: You’ll find any paid search (think Google AdWords) campaigns in this viewing pane. A lot of paid search traffic means that you’re Google AdWords are working well.
  • Referral: This represents visitors that clicked a link on another site to land on your website. Years ago, before social media was what it is today, all other traffic (that wasn’t direct or organic) fell under the referral tab. Within the past few years, Google created a separate tab for social traffic, which makes it easy for marketers to focus in on just the websites that are driving traffic to their site. If you guest blog, this is the section to visit to see how much traffic is being driven to your site from your guest blogging efforts. A lot of referral traffic means that you’re being talked about (and linked to) from multiple other websites.
  • Social: As a social media marketer, this is the favorite section within Google Analytics because it shows me exactly what social media channels drive the majority of traffic to your site. This data can be used to shape your social media strategy.
  • Email: The number of visitors that came to your website from an email campaign. If you do a lot of email marketing, you’ll want to dig through here to see how effective your campaigns are.

Looking at the traffic channels will allow you to see which channel is the largest driver of traffic to your site. You’ll notice that the Channels are listed in order of driving power; the Channel at the top is the one that drives the majority of site traffic.

To dig deeper into the data, click each Channel to see more information.

For example, when you click Social, you can see the entire list of social media sites (again, listed in order of most to least powerful) that drove traffic to your website during the selected timeframe.

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Analyzing the power of different channels will help you decide which efforts to focus on, and potentially spark ideas to increase traffic from other channel types.

Here are a few ideas to increase traffic across all channel types:

  • Direct: Share the link to your website with friends and family the next time you’re with them. Tell them to type it directly into their browser and voila! You just got a nice direct traffic boost.
  • Organic Search: Make sure that you’re utilising H1 and H2 tags, meta descriptions and keywords in all of your website pages and content updates. The stronger your SEO, the greater likelihood that someone will find you on a search engine.
  • Paid Search: Try adjusting your keywords and/or targeting options to make your ads more relevant.
  • Referral: Start reaching out to popular blogs and forums in your industry to see if you can guest post or perhaps be featured on their site. Contributing content to other sites is a great way to increase your referral traffic.
  • Social: Increasing the frequency of your posting, and the number of links you share on social media will undoubtedly result in a boost of social traffic. I recommend increasing your efforts on one channel at a time to see what drives the largest impact. For example, make February your Twitter month; aim to tweet a lot of links that drive back to your website and at the end of the month, analyze the website traffic. Then, come March, turn that attention over to Facebook and see which social channel drove more traffic.
  • Email: Start including more calls to action and links in your email campaigns. Make sure that your calls to action stand out in your email templates and serve to drive people back to your website.

Once you’ve implemented some of these ideas, take the time to review the Channels breakdown again to see the impact of your efforts.

If your efforts to grow traffic from one channel go unnoticed in your analytics, try a different one. For instance, let’s say you have a ton of referral traffic and very little organic traffic. If your attempts to improve SEO and grow organic traffic have little impact, it’s probably not worth the effort. You’re better off continuing to guest blog, as it’s proven to be a critical marketing activity that is worth your time and effort.

Audience Demographics

Understanding who is visiting your site in terms of their age, location and gender is the best way to tailor your site to suit their interests and preferences.

If you want your website content and imagery to appease and resonate with your audience, you need to know who they are.

To find this information, head over to the Audience tab. You’ll want to focus on the sub-sections of Demographics and Geo.

First, let’s look at the Demographics of Age and Gender.

As you can see, the majority of the following website visitors are aged 25-34, followed by those aged 35-44.

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Knowing this, your aim to create content that is geared towards, and valued by, young professionals. Some examples are tips for professional development and advice for managers leading a team of employees.

Understanding how old your website visitors are, and whether they’re male or female, is helpful if you’re looking to capture their attention when they land on your site.

For example, if 90% of your website visitors are women, you could deliver a more personalised website experience for them by starting your “About” or “Welcome” page with “Hey ladies!”

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Through analyzing the Gender section, you can see that the majority of your site visitors are female. It’s not skewed too heavily though, so you don’t want to tailor your site to females only. Digging in to the age and gender of your website visitors is useful if you want to craft creative content for your blog posts and website pages that captures their attention and gains their trust.

For example, telling your fans to “Treat yo self” to a free guide on your website isn’t going to resonate with individuals in their 60’s. However, it WILL get a chuckle from millennials.

Finally, you want to look to see where your website visitors are from. Looking at the Location tab under the “Geo” dropdown will show you the countries, states and cities of your website audience.

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When you first click “Location” you’ll be shown the list of countries. Not surprisingly, the majority of your website visitors are from the United States.

Looking at the different states is a great way to gain insight that can be levered for any AdWords or paid Facebook campaigns you’re going to run. You want to target those states and cities that you see are frequenting your site.

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You can see that New York dominates the results by a large margin. Clicking on the individual states will bring you to the list of cities, within that state, that your website visitors come from.

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If you don’t see your city as the top city, you might want to consider shifting your marketing strategy, and content, to target those in your geographic area.

Content Drilldown

Last but not least, it’s important to dive in to the content to see which pages people spend the most and least time on.

To do this, click the Behavior tab and go to the Site Content drop-down. You’ll want to look at the Content Drilldown, as well as Landing and Exit Pages to see which pages are most viewed on your website.

Content Drilldown is the overview of which pages on your website are visited the most.

Seeing which pages, and blog posts, are most viewed by your audience is helpful in guiding your web development strategy; you want to create more of what works.

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Through analysis, you can see your homepage and services page are the most popular. Now, you want to head over to the Landing Pages view in order to see what pages people are landing on when they get to your site.

The Landing Pages view is a good indicator of the effectiveness of your social media and promotional strategy, as you hope to see the blogs and website pages promoted most at the top.

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Analyzing the traffic of this page is a good way for me to assess both the value and popularity of the giveaway.

If you don’t see your most important and/or promoted blog posts and website pages in the list of the top ten landing pages, it’s time to either reevaluate their value and/or your promotional strategy to ensure you’re driving traffic to those pages through social media and email marketing campaigns.

Spending time in the behavior section will allow you to develop an awareness of what content your website visitors find the most valuable. You can use this as a guide for what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to blog topics and page types.

For example, if you notice that the top visited pages are all blog posts about social media, yet none of your design blogs are ranking in the top, you want to spend more time blogging about social than you do about design.

Conclusion

Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool.

By paying attention to the demographics of your audience, you’ll be able to create content and imagery that you know your audience desires. This allows you to craft a customised and relevant site experience for your audience that will keep them coming back for more. (Thereby increasing your direct traffic!)

When you start monitoring your referral traffic, you’ll start to see which guest blogs are helping to increase your online visibility. This will help you save time by focusing only on the guest blogs that provide a return (in the form of website visits) on your content creation efforts. Similarly, by diving in to your social referrals, you’ll be armed with data to decide exactly which social media channels are the best to share your blog posts on.

By utilising, analyzing, and focusing on these various sections within Google Analytics, you’ll have a deep understanding of who your audience is, what they want and how they find you.

70 Practical Digital Marketing Tools to Grow Your Business

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In today’s post, we’ve prepared a list of the top digital tools to grow your business.

It makes sense to think that the “best” ways to get job done is by constantly relating it in regards of ROI. However, how many of us actually consider ROI on everything we do?

With that in mind, here is a collection of tools to grow your online business. The list ranges from social media management, Instagram, forms, market research, SEO, and so much more. Some of the tools are a given, while others will be new to you. Some have free plans and some don’t. When reading the post, keep in mind that finding free tools was not the goal, rather to find ones that are worth your time and energy. Let’s start with:

Blogging Tools

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Do you spend too much time trying to find the right contacts or end up not reaching the right contacts when you do outreach? These should all change that, and also help you measure the return on your efforts.

1. Ninja Outreach: The leading blogger outreach software is perfect for influencer marketing. Ninja Outreach makes is easier to contact and track interactions with different social media “stars” on platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

2. InkyBee: With their solution you can search a database of over 1 million blogs, manage a campaign to to reach out to the influencer, and the cherry on the top is the option to monitor the traffic from blogs you are targeting.

3. Buzzstream: The important features you need to know about in order to reach out to the “big dogs” include, “Link Prospecting” (finding the right blogs via Google and not an interior directory), run your email campaigns from the platform, and it also automatically tracks your social conversations so you don’t forget or a miss a conversation.

Email productivity

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Want to spend less time on your personal or business email account? If you want more productivity, to reach inbox zero, and to get more emails answered, then these tools are worth taking a closer look at.

4. Sidekick: Curious if your emails are getting opened? With this tool, you can know who opens your emails, when, how often, and from where.

5. Unroll.me: Tired of an inbox so full you can’t stand it? Sign up, see a list of all your subscription emails, unsubscribe instantly from whatever you don’t want, get a digest of all of your remaining subscriptions.

6. FollowUpThen: Ever forget to follow up with a contact? Just send an email to [anytime]@followupthen.com and you will be reminded when you need to follow up with the contact [anytime (tomorrow, five days, 31st of December, etc)].

7. Boomerang: Do you ever work on the weekends or late at night, but want the email sent at a better time? Here’s the email tool you need that lets you, among other things, schedule when your messages are sent.

Social media management

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Be more efficient with the time you spend on social media, by scheduling your content at the right times, interacting with the right people, and never missing a conversation.

8. Buffer and Hootsuite: Create your content or curate (whatever works for you), and then use these two smart scheduling tools to make sure you are getting the content to the masses. We’re big believers in using both of these solutions.

9. Commun.it: Their intuitive dashboard shows you your most valuable relationships, new followers, suggestions for people to unfollow, missed conversations you should reply to, interaction, and your most important keywords.

10. start A FIRE: This relatively new tool makes sharing content from other brands rewarding. Your own links are shared with every one of their links, so that when someone enters a third party’s site, they are still reminded of your content. Highly recommended!

11. Meet Edgar (in Beta): Edgar, like Buffer and Hootsuite, is a great solution to manage what you share. Edgar though takes scheduling a step forward by enabling the system to choose what content to share (with your help).

13. Agora Pulse: If you are a hardcore social media marketer with tons of daily interactions on different platforms, then this might be your lucky tool. Manage all social media messages in one place, schedule and publish content while getting relevant reports on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

14. Pablo 2.0 (from Buffer): Ever find yourself scrambling to find an image to share with your latest blog post or some type of quote? Pablo is the easiest and fastest tool to use to get high-quality graphics for social media. This is in the “social” category as the software is targeted toward creation for sharing.

Instagram

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Yes, a category just for Instagram! If you have not joined yet, now is the time to start creating a plan, and then engage your fans on the image-focused platform.

15. Layout from Instagram: Are you trying to create a stronger, and more engaged Instagram community? Layout from Instagram is a simple app that lets you create collage-type images so your images can do more work (if one picture is worth a thousand words, what is a layout worth?)

16. Iconosquare: Instagram is going to become a leading player in social commerce. Now is the time to optimise your Instagram efforts. With their solution you can learn what images engage the most, easily promote your account elsewhere (on your site, Facebook etc.), and run contests that work for you.

17. ScheduGram: Are you posting multiple times a day on Instagram? If so, why not make you life a little more efficient by scheduling your posts?

File storage and sharing

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You are probably familiar with both, but at the same time there are probably those still not using them. So we’ll repeat.

18. Google Drive: Is there really a need to have Microsoft Office on your computer? Get on Drive, and start sharing and saving every file you need, from regular documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms. Welcome to the 21st century.

19. Dropbox: Cloud storage is here to stay, and you need to get your business’ documents on it so you can work more seamlessly from anywhere and anything (any device).

Project/task management

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There are too many options to mention in this category, and most of us have our own personal favorites, but here’s a short introduction to a few of our favorites.

20. TeamWork: This is one of the diamonds in the rough of collaboration. TeamWork has a simple and intuitive platform that enables simple communication and sharing between teams. Consider using this or Slack (listed below).

21. Trello: Trello is an absolutely awesome collaboration, workflow planning, to-do list managing tool. With Trello you can share ideas, schedule and assign tasks, create workflows, and just about anything else you would need to plan in your business.

22. MindMeister: If you need to brainstorm ideas, but creating a list just isn’t for you, then this solution is for you. Go back to the 90s and map out your ideas so that you can get a clear (and visual) understanding of your ideas.

23. Google Keep: Do we really need to get complicated apps for to-do lists? I don’t think so, and if you are with me, then Google Keep is your best bet for staying on top of daily/weekly/etc to-do lists.

24. Slack: We all heard about slack in 2015! Is it for you? Slack’s goal is to make your work-related conversations simpler. Instead of back and forth emails, you can use this platform for a cleaner conversation flow. Don’t forget that it integrates with many other tools so all of your information can be in one place.

Social and competitor monitoring

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Want to find out where your competitors get their traffic from, which social channels are most effective for them, which websites send them traffic, and more? Start here.

25. Mention: As they say, people are talking about you, it’s time to join the conversation. With Mention you can get instant notifications whenever your keywords are mentioned online (that includes social media and websites). The number of conversations we’ve been able to join put a big smile on our face when talking about Mention.

26. Alexa: Aside from seeing the Alexa traffic rank, you can also see search analytics which will show the top keywords driving traffic to the site, and also show you “before and after” shots of a site then and now!

27. Moz Toolbar: This is a simple, and effective plugin that you can use to analyse competitor’s websites. Some of the results you’ll be shown include Page Rank, Domain Rank, and inbound links.

Market research

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There’s a reason people say, “knowledge is power.” Businesses that have thrived and grown year after year have got one thing down right: taking time to research their market. Aside from all the daily tasks that go into the day to day operations, time should be set aside so you can get to know the market’s behavior.

Quora and Reddit are not “tools” but they sure are great platforms that you can use to get more information on what people want and are looking for. If you don’t want to create survey forms, then you should be asking your market research questions to the folks on both platforms.

28. Survey Monkey: Want to find out what your customers themselves think? This solution comes with a variety of pre-made surveys that you can use to find out what your customers think of your business, your ideas, and general thoughts on the niche!

29. Tally.tl: If you don’t want to spend too much time creating a survey, and you only have a question or two, then this might be the tool for you. It’s very simple, and within a minute you’ll have a survey.

Image optimisation and editing

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Image optimisation is not only key to conversion rates, but also an important aspect in your SEO. From here on out, you will only upload optimised images and keep your web store’s loading time from reaching sky high.

30. Pixelz: Instead of taking the time to optimise the images yourself, this platform just wants you to upload the images. The rest is history, as they optimise your product images for e-commerce.

31. Pixc: If you don’t feel like dealing with the background of your images personally, then here is another great option to have others get the job for you. Within 24 hours, you have images with the right background. A time saver, and hopefully, a conversion rate optimiser.

32. BeFunky: This is an easy to use option to edit your images yourself (without needing Photoshop). Added on to the normal/mainstream options, there are also some super easy features to touch up your photos (recommended for those photos with models).

33. Compressor.io, Tiny PNG/JPG, and Dynamic Drive: Need to shrink your images without losing their high-quality? Feel free to use all three, just like I do, or if you find one that is hands down better than the rest, go with that. Your SEO will thank you for shrinking your images with these tools.

Stock Video and Images

In 2016, you should not spend more than the minimum on stock photos and video elements. With all the free stock items available (these are just a few free resources), you are bound to find something valuable 99 percent of the time.

34. Coverr, Videvo, and Mazwai: If you need video clips to create a video for your brand, then these solutions each offer different elements that might help you create something engaging. Coverr adds new videos every Monday.

35. Pexels and Pixabay: Free and attention grabbing stock photos. If you can’t find the right photos on either one of these, then turn your attention to this curated list of image resources.

Forms

Not all forms were created equally. Although it is not something you play around with everyday, you might want to check up on your current forms and see if maybe one of these options gives you better value.

36. Best Contact Form: StoreYa’s free contact form tool enables you to add a contact form to your site, or to even pop up the contact form to your site visitors. Maybe it’s time for forms to be part of your lead generation?

37. Google Forms: The most diverse solution that enables you to create, for free, a form for every purpose, and not just contact forms.

38. 123 Contact Forms: 123ContactForms is another great form creator. With the free plan you can create five forms and collect 100 submissions per month.

39. Wuffo: Their easy to use HTML form builder helps you create online web forms: contact forms, online surveys, event registration, and more.

40. Jotform: This may look like a form creating tool from the 1990s, but its functionality is just like any modern day tool. This is a personal favorite for creating forms (contact, survey, RSVP, etc.) when I am down on time.

Business operations

Running your business is time consuming. Running your business when there are a 101 mistakes is a headache. There are no shortage of e-commerce businesses loving all of these solutions.

41. QuickBooks: This is one of the more popular accounting solutions for e-commerce businesses, with complete integration with several different eCommerce platforms.

42. FreshBooks: Another great solution for online accounting, this cloud based platform also has very small business friendly prices, with plans starting at $9.95.

43. Wave: Free—yes free—features and tools with Wave. The free tools include an accounting tool, invoice services, receipt management, and a general financial tracker.

44. Slimvoice: Would you like to be able to create, manage, export, and send unlimited invoices for free? If you answered yes, come on down and get started.

45. ShipStation: Tired of spending too much time on shipping issues and trying to track down your sent out products? Want to offer a more user-friendly shipping system? If you answered yes to either of those, or just want to improve your shipment process, then this is a must-use.

Customer support

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With the bevy of options now available to customers when shopping online, customer service has become just as important as your pricing, shipping, and web store. These tools will help you keep interactions straightforward and hopefully keep you on the positive PR side.

46. Intercom: If one of your goals in 2016 is to interact with more of your paying customers, then this is the tool for you. Intercom’s smart technology, enables you to interact with customers personally—or at scale.

47. Zopim: Their live chat app is one of the best on the market because it lets you, the business, act in a more active manner. Great customer service is not passive. Zopim chat has automatic triggers that you can set to cause an action on your end when the customer takes a decision (or doesn’t take an action).

48. Zendesk: Have you ever forgotten to reply to a customer’s question or do you find your inbox packed to the brim every morning? If you answered yes to either one, then this customer service platform is for you. Manage all of your customer service related conversation in one place.

49. Appointlet: If you frequently set up phone meetings with customers then check this out. This software enables you to accept appointments from your website 24/7 without needing to manage a thing (syncs with your Google Calendar). All you need to do is set your working hours, and Appointlet will display the available times to your customers.

50. Groove: Like Zendesk, Groove is another help desk that helps you offer awesome support. If you are a smaller business (and are not a tech guru), then Groove might be a better option for you than Zendesk.

SEO

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If you take a look at the world of online business, three channels lead the way for customer acquisition (getting tons of traffic and sales): email, social media, and Google. If you know how to use each one of these (recommended), you’ll find yourself winning at the game of Google.

51. SEMrush: You can use and should use SEMrush if you are tired of being beaten on Google by your competitors. Using this, you can discover, among other things, what keywords your competitors are using to get traffic, which keywords they are targeting for their PPC ads, and how their traffic has grown over time.

52. Google Trends: There is no reason to overlook the obvious. Use this constantly to make sure that the keywords you are targeting are not losing steam. You’ll also be able to get suggestions for other valuable keywords.

53. Google Keyword Planner: First things first, this is the tool to find out how good/popular your keywords are and to help you find new, relevant ones. On top of that, you’ll also be able to find keywords that have a high search volume, but a low-key amount of competition. People are searching for these words, but there aren’t many businesses focusing on them.

54. SEO Site Checkup and WooRank: Just like you go to the doctor every once in awhile to make sure everything is up to par, your site should too. SEO Site Checkup is a free resource that quickly gives you an update on the good, the bad, and the ugly regarding your site’s status.

55. Google Webmaster: This is your customer support help desk, but for your SEO. Here you’ll find various bits of data and information regarding your site. One unknown or less used feature is the “Search Queries” function that actually shows you what keywords are working for you.

56. Keywordtool.io: This is a great solution to use alongside Google Keyword Planner to get better, more precise results. It is free to a certain extent (recommend using their keyword list in Google’s tools).

57. Spyfu: Get all the keywords that your competitors are using. If there is a way to be James Bond on the internet, then this may be it.

Content

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If you still don’t have a blog for your e-commerce site, then this is the year to launch it. There is no need to blog everyday or even once a week. The goal is to create valuable content for your brand. That content can help you increase your social reach and engagement, improve your SEO, and at the end of the day, sell more.

58. Buzzsumo: Knowing what people are talking about is very valuable when it comes to producing content. At the end of the day, you are writing for people (and not just Google’s computers). You can use Buzzsumo to find what is being shared and gain insights on who is sharing what.

59. Feedly: Create your own personal feed of all of your favorite and go-to content providers in one place. Now you can save time, clean out your inbox, and still get all of your content on time.

60. Pocket: This is one of my personal favorites and one that I use almost daily. Ever stumble across a blog post you felt that you had to save? Meet pocket, the service that lets you “pocket” content for later.

61. Hemingway: Isn’t it a shame to find out that your site’s copy is less than flattering? We are human, and as such, sometimes we will make a grammar mistake. Use this app to make sure you don’t publish nonsense (grammar wise).

Design

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If you add these tools to your toolbox, you can forget about needing to hire a designer for every single task you undertake.

62. Power Banner: Create clickable web banners for your site in minutes.

63. Canva: We’re all familiar and for good reason. Canva is a top tool when it comes to creating and editing graphics for your site and social media posts.

64. Pixlr: There are two different editing options, based on what you need done (and based off of what skills you have): Editor and Express.

65. Type Genius: All you do is enter the main text that you’d like to use, and the system tells you exactly which text you should use with it as the subtext font.

66. Snappa: Similar to Canva, Snappa enables you to create beautiful graphics without the need to hire a graphic designer. I personally feel like Canva is the better option for quick projects, but Snappa may offer more freedom to create graphics when I’ve got plenty of time on my hands.

Marketing automation

67. IFTTT and Zapier: With these two tools, you can automate social sharing, get on top of to-do lists, make sure your team doesn’t forget deadlines, and so much more. All of it is done via automation so all you have to do is complete the one-time setup, and then let it work for you.

Analytics

68. Google Analytics: You can probably do just with Google Analytics. The amount of data that you can take away from taking time to understand what you are seeing in irreplaceable.

69. SumAll: This is a great analytics tool for anyone looking to better monitor the growth of their social audience (and at the same time keep an eye on actual paying customers). One could say that this is the Google Analytics for social media ad campaigns.

70. Kissmetrics: The bottom line is customer lifetime value. Their analytics service tracks individual and group visitor behavior from their first anonymous visit (before they’ve become a customer or a lead) and through each conversion, to tell you more about the customer lifetime value and several other key financial data sets.

Social Media Ad Dimension Cheat Sheet (Infographic)

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Social media marketing would never be fully optimised without relying on advertising.

The statistics are strong enough to back up the above statement. What makes social media advertising so powerful is the fact that it is not only do they take advantage of the popularity of social media platforms, but they also have a way of getting businesses to their target audience based on the latter’s social media activity alone.

This is also one of the main reasons why online businesses should grab at the opportunity that social advertising provides. Much like other forms of advertising, though, social media like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn have their own standards when it comes to placing ads on their sites. Factors such as ad types, ad dimensions, character limits on the title and description, etc. would still have to be considered to make sure that no ad guidelines are broken. This applies for both desktop and mobile versions.

For a complete list of types of ads that each social channel is offering, you can use the ad dimension infographic below. It provides a convenient view of the various ad sizes that you can choose from statistics and figures regarding the best performing ads are included as well.

social-media-ad-dimension-cheat-sheet-infographic

Infographic credit: Dot Com Infoway

120 Top Resources for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

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Whether you are starting a new business or scaling your business to new heights, these are some of the most useful entrepreneur resources you will ever need.

In this post, you will find a great resource list for all your entrepreneurial needs. This is a huge list of blogs, tools and general resources that could be useful for every entrepreneur. Let’s start with:

Great business blogs and resource sites

1. Inc. Start-up: Advice for founders of start-ups and start-up entrepreneurs on writing a business plan, running a home-based business, naming a start-up business, how to incorporate, financing a start-up, buying a small business, and starting a franchise.

2. OnStartups: Run by HubSpot cofounder Dharmesh Shah, On Startups offers advice and insights for entrepreneurs.

3. For Entrepreneurs: A blog for startups and entrepreneurs, written by David Skok, a five time serial entrepreneur turned VC (now at Matrix. Partners)

4. Startup Lawyer: Ryan Roberts’Startup Lawyer breaks down the legal issues of startups.

5. Mashable on Small Business: Essential business advice for starting and growing small businesses.

6. About.com for Entrepreneurs : Help and advice for going from the idea stage to business plan to the marketplace and beyond.

7. Mixergy: Successful CEOs share their experiences with the masses.

8. Small Business Administration: Find information, links and resources to help you start and grow your business, including SBA-guaranteed loans.

9. Accounting Coach: Accounting coach will introduce you to some basic accounting principles, accounting concepts, and accounting terminology.

10. NYT Small Business: Find breaking news & money news on mortgage rates, mutual funds, the stock market, bonds & notes, company research, earnings reports and market insight.

11. Chris Dixon: A General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz. He is also a contributing writer for TechCrunch. A seed investor turned VC, Dixon takes a macro view, considering industry-wide trends.

12. Quora (Startup Founders and Entrepreneurs page): Quora’s question-answering website has some fantastic responses from establish entrepreneurs and investors for entrepreneurs.

13. Wall Street Journal’s Small Business How To Guide: WSJ small business guide covering how to start, fund, run and manage your small business.

14. Forbes on Entrepreneurs: Forbes entrepreneur section, specifically on how entrepreneurs are running businesses and advice from entrepreneurs.

15. First Round Review: A compilation of startup-centric content. Case studies on the experiences of individual entrepreneurs and companies.

16. The Funded: An online community of entrepreneurs to research, rate, and review funding sources worldwide.

17. Paul Graham: Super awesome timeless essays about venture capital and entrepreneurship.

18. Springwise: Your essential fix of entrepreneurial ideas.

19. Big Think: Blogs, articles and videos from the world’s top leaders and thinkers.

20. PSFK: A go-to source for ideas and inspiration.

21. StartupDigest: Free weekly email to help you meet people and learn more.

22. The Startup Toolkit: Tools and guidance for all startup founders.

23. Both Sides of The Table: Upfront Ventures partner Mark Suster’s blog runs the gamut from sales strategies to fundraising and startup culture.

24. Chic-ceo: Slick site for women with the entrepreneur bug, but its downloadable tools makes this a must-visit for all.

25. How-to Guides on Entrepreneur.com: How-to resources for kick starting your new business.

Tools and apps exclusively for startups

Use these startups resources (mostly free) to launch your idea, gather feedback and grow your new business. Whether you are wondering about how to put your idea out there, how to make a good presentation or learn from the best you will find some of these resources useful.

26. GroupTalent: Top teams of developers and designers, on-demand.

27. Docstoc: Discover the best professional documents and content resources to help start and grow your business

28. CustomerSure: Simple, web-based customer feedback software.

29. Crowdvi.be: Get instant answers from over 50 million people.

30. AYTM (Ask Your Target Market): Market research has never been this easy.

31. Term Sheet Generator: Generate a venture financing term sheet.

32. Cofounda: App platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors.

33. Feedbackify: Simple, private website feedback.

34. Appfigures: mobile analytics and sales data.

35. Mopapp: mobile analytics, sales data, rankings.

36. UserTesting.com: Low-cost website usability testing.

37. Prezi: The zooming presentation editor.

38. CircleUp: Like AngelList with a crowdfunding twist.

39. AngelList: A platform for startups. Standardizing the pitch deck.

40. Idea Flight: Get your ideas off the ground.

41. CapLinked: Making private investment easy, secure and social.

42. Go BIG Network: Helps entrepreneurs find funding.

43. Intern Avenue: Find interns. Intern directory.

44. A VC: Musings of a VC in NYC.

45. Startup Weekend: Global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs.

46. LiquidSpace: Airbnb for workspaces. Book last minute or plan ahead.

47. OpenDesks: Find and share places to meet and work.

48. Founders Den: Invite-only shared workspace and private club in SoMa neighborhood.

49. TechHub: A physical space for tech startups in London.

50. Prosper: Prosper can help you get the seed funding you need to launch your own online business.

51. Unbounce: Easy landing page creator and tester.

52. Mobile Roadie: Full CMS, no coding app builder for iOS and Android.

53. Chupa: The marketplace for buying/selling mobile app components.

54. Grow VC: Get visibility with the right investing audience.

55. Appbackr: Crowdfunding for mobile apps.

56. LaunchRock: Setup a “Launching Soon” page in minutes.

57. LegalZoom: An inexpensive, fast, and easy to use online legal document service that can help you file the appropriate paperwork for your startup.

58. VCgate: Venture capital firms, angel investors and private equity firms directory.

59. Envestors: Pay-to-pitch investor network.

60. Startup Compass: Benchmark your startup’s KPIs against more than 10k internet startups.

61. Startup Tools: Complete list of startup tools by Steve Blank

62. KickoffLabs: Find new customers with a viral landing page in less than 60 seconds.

63. RocketHub: Launch, fund and fly.

Mobile app development tools

These are some of the best mobile app development resources out there that guarantees stunning app for mobile devices. These tools offer drag-and-drop interfaces, fast and easy mobile prototyping with support for designing some of the best Android, iOS and Windows mobile apps.

64. Ooomf: Create a beautiful landing page for your iPhone app in minutes.

65. Appcelerator: Mobile app platform for building on Android, iOS and mobile web.

66. GameSalad Creator: Create, test and publish your own game. Drag and drop.

67. Parse: Add a powerful and scalable backend to your app in minutes.

68. Mobile Roadie: Full CMS, no coding app builder for iOS and Android.

69. Proto.io: Silly-fast mobile prototyping.

70. StackOverflow: Question and answer site for programmers.

71. Kendo UI Mobile: Build HTML5 apps that look native on any device.

72. Tiggzi: Cloud-based mobile app builder.

73. Verious: A mobile app component marketplace.

74. justinmind: Rich interactive wireframes to define mobile apps.

75. UXPin: User experience design tools for professionals.

76. Chupa: The marketplace for buying/selling mobile app components.

77. Distimo: Providing valuable insight into the app store marketplace.

78. App Annie: App store analytics and market intelligence.

79. Kontagent: User analytics for the mobile web.

80. Applingua: iOS app localization (translation) service.

81. AppMakr: Point and click solution for building rich content based apps.

82. Flurry: Analytics, traffic acquisition and monetization.

83. Crittercism: Gives you real-time, actionable crash reports for mobile apps.

84. PhoneGap: Easily create apps using well known web technologies.

Incubators & Accelerators

Incubators and accelerators can be a great option for any young company or even idea to get off the ground. These programs offer everything from funding, connections with top investors and mentors and collaborative work environments.

85. Y Combinator: Has funded over 380 startups (3 months).

86. TechStars: Mentorship-driven seed-stage investment program (3 months).

87. The Brandery: Accelerating startups by building powerful brands (14 weeks).

88. KickLabs: Ready to start acquiring customers? (3-6 months).

89. i/o Ventures: Early-stage startup program focused on mentorship (3 months).

90. Capital Factory: Entrepreneurs like entrepreneurs (10 weeks).

91. NYC SeedStart: Focused on advertising, ecommerce, digital and mobile (12 weeks).

92. Tech Wildcatters: Mentor-driven and led by entrepreneurs (12 weeks).

93. Seedcamp: Early stage mentoring and investment program (1 year).

94. Excelerate Labs: Amazing mentors, Chicago resources, high-profile demo (3 months).

95. Springboard: Mentorship-led accelerator program (13 weeks).

96. Dreamit Ventures: Helping build great companies.

97. The ARK: Mentorship-driven tech startup accelerator (3 months).

98. Betaspring: Mentorship-driven accelerator focused on tech and design (12 weeks).

99. InnoSpring: Start in Silicon Valley, grow in the US and China.

100. BizSpark: Microsoft accelerator for Windows Azure (3 months).

101. Media Camp: Startup academy camp for media innovations (12 weeks).

102. Founder Institute: Helping founders to build great companies (4 weeks).

103. AlphaLab: Funding, mentorship, education and more (20 weeks).

104. 500 Startups: Provides early-stage companies with up to $250K in funding.

105. Startup Chile: Apply from anywhere in the world, start in Chile. $40k grant per project (24 weeks).

106. MEST: Entrepreneurial program designed to foster the growth of tech companies in Africa (24 weeks).

Crowdfunding resources

If you can’t find funding from angels, how about seeking help from the crowd.

107. Seedrs: Equity-based crowdfunding platform.

108. Crowdfunder: Equity crowdfunding for your business.

109. CircleUp: Like AngelList with a crowdfunding twist.

110. Grow VC: Get visibility with the right investing audience.

111. appbackr: Crowdfunding for mobile apps.

112. Kickstarter: World’s largest funding platform for creative projects.

113. Indiegogo: Fund your passion.

114. Crowdtilt: Group fund anything.

115. Invested.in: Raise money, reach goals, build community.

116. Funding Circle: Online marketplace where people lend to businesses.

117. Sponsume: Fund your project through social networks.

118. RocketHub: Launch, fund and fly.

119. SellAnApp: Make app ideas happen.

120. Petridish: Crowdfunding for science startups.

Should You Hire An SEO Agency?

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There are two ways to get seen on Google: paying for ads that will display on top of search results or investing in search engine optimisation (SEO).

If you choose to go the advertising route, it’ll cost you at least $1 to $2 per click, but it can be more than $50 per click. In fact, the average small business that signs up for AdWords spends between about $100,000 to $120,000 per year to be seen via paid search.

paid-search-costs-wordstream

On the other hand, SEO can be much more realistic choice for small businesses. If you have the means but you don’t have the time, you may want to pay for a firm to take over your SEO campaigns.

WHY HIRING AN SEO FIRM?

When you invest your efforts in AdWords, it’s a short-term solution. However, if you hire a good SEO firm with a portfolio of positive results, they’re going to be focused on more long-term goals and work with your business to organically build traffic.

SEO is a full-time job, which is why many small businesses choose to hire firms instead of doing it themselves. Firms dedicate all of their energy and resources to the task of improving your SEO. A decent SEO firm will charge between $5,000 to $10,000 per month. At this price point, you’re working with a company that has a staff of experienced content managers, web developers, copy editors and analytics experts. The average cost of paying for specific services like website and SEO audits is $1,000 to $3,000. Link building costs $250 to $2,000 per link, and copywriting is 75 cents to $1 per word.

If you hire an SEO firm, make sure that they’re up to date with Google’s requirements. Though no one can pinpoint exactly what algorithm Google uses to rank sites, it is known that they are looking at mobile optimisation and the authority and relevance of your content.

Your SEO firm should be concentrating on building up your site overtime. SEO is not a quick fix, and it can take months upon months to see results. When you add too many keywords to try and rank higher in a short amount of time, you may end up getting penalised by Google.

Your firm should also have a solid client list and a great track record, and talk about the importance of website content. If a firm is all about littering your website with relevant keywords and not even discussing content marketing, find another company.

Just because you hire an SEO firm, it doesn’t mean that you should step away from SEO efforts completely. Your whole team has to be involved in the process by thinking of content to create for your business and measuring your analytics. You must always monitor your firm, and make sure you’re getting what you pay for.

WHY DO SEO ON YOUR OWN?

At this point in time, you may not have the available funds to invest in an SEO firm. Or, you’ve had negative experiences with SEO firms in the past and you want to try it on your own for a while.

If you dedicate time to improving your SEO, you may see better results than a firm would provide. After all, no one cares about your business more than you do.

Another option, aside from doing it on your own, is to hire an SEO team member, which is a big investment up front that can lead to a huge pay off. This person will be much more invested in your company than a firm and know your business inside and out. You can see your analytics whenever you want, and personally consult with your specialist anytime. If you’re not ready to take on a full-time team member, you can hire a consultant for $100 to $300 per hour.

There are many resources available online for improving your SEO. After all, this is the age of DIY. If you are choosing to go on this path, here are some pointers to give you a head start:

QUICK TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED WITH SEO

  1. Create content that will attract your demographic to your website. Start a company blog that incorporates engaging images and video along with text and internal links to your website. Promote your blog and content on all your networks including your social media sites, since that’s where people are clicking through to content nowadays. Make sure content on your blog is unique and can’t be found elsewhere.
  2. Incorporate keywords into your posts. Make sure they fit in organically within your piece. To find out which keywords are best for you, use an SEO keyword research tool.
  3. Utilise all the SEO tools within your website builder for your blog posts. Include tags, make sure your search engine description is filled out, come up with an enticing headline, and use a descriptive URL.
  4. Focus on getting linked on high-quality websites. One effective method is to monitor your competitors’ backlinks and aim at getting links placed on those same sites. You don’t want links on any website, especially ones that see little traffic.
  5. Make sure your page is loading fast enough with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Otherwise, Google may penalise your ranking if your site loads too slow.

A great SEO plan is crucial for your business to succeed. Whether you hire an SEO firm or take it on yourself, make sure that it’s a priority for your company. If you want a solid, specially customised SEO program for both local and international business, contact The Website Marketing Group now!

36 Wonderful SEO Audit Tools For 2016

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Has your website SEO optimised for 2016?

Keep your website at its peak performance in 2016 with the help of these 36 SEO tools. In today’s post, you will notice all of them right here. Varied from speed tests to competitive analysis tools, this list will have everything you need. These are the exact tools we use for website SEO audits and client projects. In 2016, let the tech do the work for you to elevate your website performance:

Website performance analysis tools

1. Google Search Console

Monitor your website’s visibility in search. Easy to navigate for both advanced and general developers. Google suggests this tool can benefit all roles: business owner, SEO specialist, site admin, web developer, and app developer.

2. Bing Webmaster Tools

Similar to Google’s Search Console with some additional benefits, Bing Webmaster Tools aims to help you find traffic, analyse traffic, and improve your site’s content overall. Find more info about the tool and its specs versus Google Search Console here.

3. Screaming Frog SEO Spider

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This is a desktop program designed to audit websites on a large scale. The program is continuously updated with data gathered from your website, finding key SEO elements and organising them for logical navigation. You can even export all the data to an Excel spreadsheet.

4. Check My Links

A Chrome extension for checking links while editing or adding content to a web page. The app highlights which links are broken and which are working properly- simple and very helpful when developing a page with a lot of links!

5. Browseo

With Browseo, you can view your web page like search engines see it. This tool is just a web page itself which you simply visit to enter any URL and see a page in pure HTML. The idea is to view the page without style distractions as to notice any SEO issues.

6. DeepCrawl

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Crawl test environments, check tag applications, identify high and low performing pages, improve crawl efficiency, and more. DeepCrawl says it’s “the world’s most comprehensive website crawler”- check it out.

7. Google Mobile-Friendly Test

Mobile-Friendly or bust. Make sure your website is keeping up. All you have to do is visit this Google page and enter your URL.

8. Lipperhey

This free online tool will analyse your site for technical and SEO aspects and then show you a report of ways to improve your conversion rate. It will track and even suggest keywords.

9. WooRank

This tool scores high on user-friendliness. All the tests you want to run on your site with interactive and personalised reviews and presentation styles. It will make a checklist to help you complete your marketing tasks.

10. Site Analyzer

Particularly helpful for those analysing sites for clients: you can run ten free tests per month and export the reports into a personally branded PDF.

11. Webbee SEO Spider Tool

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Download to your desktop to search every little nook of your website. It has easy settings and ability to custom crawl so you’re getting exactly and only the data you’re aiming for.

Website Speed Test Tools

12. PageSpeed Insights

Measures mobile and desktop performance and returns a speed score 1-100. Anything over 85 points is considered to be performing well. The tool will also yield suggestions for improvements which are color-coded for importance.

13. Pingdom Speed Test

Enter your URL and view a results waterfall, performance tips, page analysis, and history of speed tests. Results are all coded with charts included on the website.

14. DareBoost

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Overall quality control and optimisation monitoring. Get weekly emailed reports of performance indicators and speed tests. Among other paid features, this online tool will test speed and quality for free.

15. GTmetrix

Get the full picture on how your site loads and learn what issues could be slowing it down. You can schedule monitoring and alerts, or even record a video of your page loading to pinpoint where issues occur.

Duplicate Content Checkers

16. Siteliner

A free online scanning tool- the only one you need for finding duplicate content and broken links.
Keyword Rank Tracking Tools

17. SEMRush

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“For digital marketing professionals.” Track yours and your competitors’ use of keywords, find keywords with less competition, and keep track of all of your campaigns (plus much, much more.)

18. KeywordSpy

The goal here is actually to learn from the keyword success of your competitors to apply to your own marketing campaigns. Big brands like Toyota and American Express use the Keyword Spy to gain a competitive advantage online.

19. Advanced Web Ranking

Reports gathered avoiding local search biases so you can serve your clients no matter where you are. Get accurate rankings and efficiently manage complex SEO projects. Expert tool.

20. Authority Labs

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This tool is for use of anyone from the everyday designer or the advanced site builder. It makes monitoring and understanding keyword rankings quick and easy. You can sign up for a free trial and get daily data on the sites you want to track.

21. Rank Ranger

Rank Ranger puts your focus on the future. Analyse your rank metrics and improve your SEO through keyword research and competitive insights for a more informed future.

Backlink Analysis Tools

22. Open Site Explorer

This tool from Moz is representative of the company’s overarching goal to simplify online marketing. The Open Site Explorer allows you to research backlinks, find link-building opportunities and discover potentially damaging links.

23. Majestic SEO

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It calls itself “The planet’s largest Link Index database.” Use the backlink history checker to find backlinks for up to 5 domains.

24. Citation Labs’ broken link Finder

Citation labs compares the rebuilding of broken links to the circle of life: one thing dies and a new entity must take its place. Use this tool to replace the dead parts on your website with new life (AKA working links).

25. Ahrefs

Build a content strategy on a solid foundation by discovering what type of content works for your niche. Analyse and optimise the content that gets the most shares and backlinks.

26. CognitiveSEO

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This tool offers a comprehensive audit of backlinks by crawling and analyzing backlink data from the most trusted databases. You will receive extensive and complete data that is easy to understand and apply.

27. Link Research Tools

Includes unique features such as Link Velocity Trends and Link Redirect Trace. Also offers a free 21-day link strategy training.

28. Open Link Profiler

Get a Link Influence Score to show the strength of your pages. Updated data and fresh backlinks, all organised after just one click.

29. AuthoritySpy

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Find and analyse online influencers. The program can also help you plan and manage multiple campaigns for clients. It makes finding and presenting results easy.

30. BuzzSumo

Research content and influencers, or get updates and alerts while monitoring a topic or brand. Find the most shared content online.

31. LinkBird

This online tool helps you plan and manage campaigns by organising company goals, locating websites for link building, and checking availability of backlinks.

32. Linkody

Monitor your backlinks in real time and get a notification if links are removed or gained. Linkody also helps you learn how your competitors are using backlinks to gain traffic.

33. Raven Tools

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This tool might just do everything. Automated crawls to audit yours and competitors’ web pages, comprehensive backlink data, social campaign reports, and more.

SEO Competitive Analysis Tools

34. SimilarWeb

You can use this tool to get insights about any website OR app. Get your traffic statistics and those of your competitors.

35. SpyFu

Want to know which keywords and ad spaces are the most profitable for your competitors? SpyFu helps you figure it out.

36. AdGooroo

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Actionable insights on Paid and Organic Search to help benchmark campaigns, uncover competitors’ search strategies, performance stats and budgets, and gain a competitive advantage.

The Power of Pinterest: Why You Need to Care? (Infographic)

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Pinterest is the fastest-growing social network. Its user-base includes millions of wealthy, brand-hungry consumers who are ready to buy.

The fact is, Pinterest users buy more frequently than users on any other social network, whether they’re shopping online or in a store. On top of that, Pinterest users also spend more money per purchase than any other social network.

However, you have one big problem: How can you turn those people into your customers?

Fortunately, you’ve found this post. In this infographic, you will learn about why Pinterest is so important to marketing and why you need to care.

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Infographic credit: Webpagefx

Deconstructing User-Generated Content in 2016

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At its best, UGC (user-generated content) appears to be an easy win for the marketing world, where genuine, satisfied customers publicly and voluntarily sharing their positive interactions with your brand have a compelling authenticity that money can’t buy.

A recent survey of 2,000 consumers has found that 66% of people prefer to hear brands’ stories from “real people”, as opposed to high-profile public figures, CEOs or employees. Although celebrity campaigns can still gain huge traction when done well, little to none viewers will believe that the smiling celebrity on their television screen is motivated by pure love of the product. An ad where a public figure enthusiastically celebrated his car insurance deal was ineligible to become one, as the company does not offer insurance to entertainers.

user-generated-content-1

Billed by many experts as “the modern version of talking over the garden fence”, UGC taps into the fact that real fans of your brand exist and are often happy to engage on social media. By publishing those conversations and interactions, you can prove that you value their contributions and gain significant insights into who those fans are and what they think you could be doing better. The report found that 48% of B2B and 70% of B2C marketers listed “Leveraging user- or fan-generated content” as an initiative that they were either working on now or would be within the next 12 months.

However, UGC campaigns can be something of a double-edged sword, particularly when it comes to maintaining control over the wave of incoming content. For instance, a promoted Twitter campaign from McDonald’s encouraging users to share their #McDStories in 2012 rapidly backfired, as negative tweets poured in mocking the brand. The promotion was pulled within two hours, but the hijacked hashtag continued to trend regardless. The old marketing adage that the satisfied customer will tell a few friends while the dissatisfied customer tells everyone they know has repeatedly proven itself to be painfully true in the age of social media.

Other examples of successful UGC, Marketing Week honed in on brands that have embraced the good, the bad and the ugly responses, seeing even negative feedback as a chance to improve. The Weather Channel doubled its video completion rates after incorporating footage from social media, while allowing consumers to refute their forecasts. By opening up a conversation with their consumers and showing a willingness to improve, the brand now stands in a much stronger social position.

starbuck-user-generated-content

For travel brands, the imperfection of users’ holiday content is exactly what sells it as authentic and attainable. “People can imagine themselves in that situation far more easily than a beautiful picturesque magazine photo shoot,” explains TUI’s Group Head of Social, Rachel Hawkes. In a UGC pilot across its Greek resorts, the firm recorded an average monthly increase of 45% in resort-specific social media conversations. With more ways than ever for consumers to discuss, rate and recommend your brand, it’s essential for marketers to get in on the conversation and take advantage of their ready-made content contributors.

Over 40 Percent Users Will Start With A Local Search

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In today’s modern age, buying decisions don’t come as simple as you might ever imagine. The way how people purchase things is typically involve multiple site categories and several devices.

What we widely call “local search” is only a small part of a SEO strategy. On the other hand, finding local content and making offline purchase decisions is a multifaceted process that involves several categories of information and devices. Roughly 80 percent said they own smartphones, matching overall smartphone penetration of just under 80 percent.

Where Do Local Searches Happen?

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The graph above revealed at how people go about finding local information on desktop and mobile devices. It focused on discovery of information tied predominantly to national brands but in an offline/local context across a range of categories:

  • Financial services and insurance
  • Automotive
  • Retailers
  • Travel
  • Casual dining
  • Business services

The research found that “general search engines” were the largest single starting point for local search users. However, as the graphic above illustrates, that was only 36 percent of the survey population. Roughly half of searchers (48 percent) said that when they were seeking information on a “familiar topic,” they would start at a vertical or content-specific site (e.g., TripAdvisor for hotels).

Local Research Path: Casual Dining Search

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Beyond the various local search starting points, there are generally several steps in completing a typical local search, often with variations depending on the product/service category. The dominant local search path to purchase starts at a search engine (for 36 percent), proceeds to content-specific sites or verticals and then concludes with user reviews and expert reviews.

Users starting with a vertical or topic-specific site often went to a search engine as a second step, followed by more content and review sites. The graphic above reflects the general path of a “casual dining search.”

Some consumers use more sites and sources, some use fewer. The study identified a category of super users it called “seekers.” These people tend to be better educated, somewhat younger and more smartphone-centric. They conducted more searches on more devices (including in-store searches on mobile) than other categories of users. Seekers are also more social and actively solicit social / friend input on purchase decisions.

Device Usage Among Local Searchers

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As one might expect, discovery and search on smartphones dominated when people were not at home. Less expected was the very compressed time frame of most of these local searches. Roughly 85 percent, on average, were completed in less than a day (start to finish). The bulk of those (63 percent) were concluded in less than an hour. Only 15 percent took more than a day.

In broad terms, the research is consistent with prior studies in a number of ways. However, what’s different or new is the convoluted purchase path — what the report calls the “local search zigzag” — and the wide range of sources used accordingly.

Article courtesy to: SEL.

15 Luxury Brands Who’ve Done Content Marketing Correctly

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Being a luxury brand, creating an effective and relevant content marketing strategy is not automatically easy.

While social media proposes accessibility, luxury brands tend to keep a sense of exclusivity. They often reaffirm their position as an elite, full of aspiration force to be reckoned with (like how Chanel follows no one on Twitter). However, nothing conjures up a fantasy like quality, immersive content. In today’s post, we will share 15 luxury brands which are creating the stuff dreams are made of. Below you’ll find great content marketing cases studies demonstrating what these luxury brands have done to make content work for them.

1. LVMH

Key Takeaway: Allow editorial and audience flexibility In 2010, leading luxury group LVMH launched Nowness.com, a self-described “daily resource for the culturally curious.” In 2011, the site was awarded a Webby for Best Fashion Website and a Clio Award for Best Interactive Website. Even after careful perusal, it’s not apparent the site is branded; LVMH allows Nowness to have its own creative, free-flowing voice.

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Content is accessible without a membership, but a registered login permits users to curate their own content experience by “loving” videos, photos and articles. Capturing this data allows Nowness to send registered users personalised recommendations via email as content is produced. Members can also view one another’s “loves” while checking out contributor favorites. Featuring a variety of original content from celebrities, rising stars and industry notables, Nowness brings it all together with polish and style.

2. Jaguar

Key Takeaway: Encourage user participation In 2013, Jaguar launched #MyTurnToJag, which called upon consumers to state why they should win an opportunity to test drive the brand new F-TYPE convertible. The campaign lived primarily within a Facebook page comprised of posts, tweets, Instagram photos, and even a couple of Vines, proving that Jaguar has an avid fan base willing to endorse the brand publicly. At the end of 2014, the brand launched Why Jaguar, a section of its site detailing its car models and customer photos and reviews. The luxury car dealer asks users to submit their photos and reviews, and proudly shows them off on its website. Jaguar isn’t afraid to put their users’ content on a prominent place on its website, showing that they are confident in their product and respectful of their customers’ opinions.

3. Gucci

Key Takeaway: Let users interact on the go Luxury customers are busy people. They may travel often for business or pleasure, and they rely on their mobile devices to pass the time. To ensure that the movers and shakers buying their products can be tuned in with the brand wherever they are, Gucci created Gucci Style, a “shoppable magazine” that allows users to shop on the go.

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The magazine features fashion photos and tips, as well as shows users Gucci’s social feeds and lets them formulate product wish lists. If users want to buy products, they can go to the navigation and look at the store locator.

4. Bergdorf Goodman

Key Takeaway: Forge frontiers while staying true to your roots Bergdorf’s online presence is inextricably linked to its New York City locale, with blog posts such as, “Best New York City Closets,” a Tumblr page filled with city-centric Instagrams, and a Pinterest board that shows classic New York sites and fashions.

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Bergdorf Goodman is an iconic, 110-year-old brand that has successfully made an energetic leap into the social media space. Cannon Hodge, the luxury retailer’s former social media manager, established the brand’s bubbly voice which stands out in already noisy landscape. Bergdorf’s maintains a presence on at least thirteen different social media channels, all firmly tied to its historical, local roots. The brand shows that a prolific presence doesn’t have to be divided when it comes to content, and sticking to a local theme doesn’t mean limiting creativity.

5. Standard Hotels

Key Takeaway: Express culture through content Standard Culture, the official blog of Standard Hotels, is the ultimate virtual concierge. Part city guide, part entertainment resource and part fashion diary, the site is a destination for both guests and locals with a love for travel and a flair for culture and good taste. Featuring original content on the latest happenings in New York, LA and Miami, customised playlists, guest photos and exclusive e-commerce partnerships with eyewear outfitter Warby Parker and artist Julia Chiang, the blog serves as a real-time account of the hotel group’s cultural ethos. And the best part about Standard Culture? Even when no rooms are available, users can still spend a night with The Standard.

6. OMEGA Watches

Key Takeaway: Promote a cause On its Facebook page and website, OMEGA is simultaneously promoting, showcasing the company’s history with, and selling watches geared towards women.

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7. Louis Vitton

Key Takeaway: Show off your influencers Want people to be drawn to your content? Give them a look at how influencers are interacting with your brand. The Louis Vitton Instagram page, which has 6.8 million followers, is a great example of this.

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The company posts photos of celebrities wearing its clothes and walking around with its bags. These trendsetters determine what’s cool right now, so if people follow a page that showcases the products, they’re going to be at the forefront of fashion as well.

8. Barneys New York

Key Takeaway: Give your audience exclusive content On The Window, the branded content hub for Barneys New York, readers are given a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite designers. They are taken into designers’ worlds, and learn about the inspiration behind the clothes and jewelry they wear.

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9. Burberry

Key Takeaway: Focus on one product Burberry recently re-launched The Art of the Trench, a campaign that features professionals’ and users’ photographs of people wearing Burberry trench coats. It spans across the brands’ social media pages, and highlights people from around the world.

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The trench coat is one of Burberry’s iconic products. On “The Art of the Trench,” they can showcase models and customers from all over, and demonstrate how their products are loved and worn by people of all different backgrounds. For Burberry, the trench coat is a true unifier.

10. Four Seasons

Key Takeaway: Provide opportunities for unique experiences Customers are already checking into their hotels physically, so why not ask them to check in online? On the Four Seasons Foursquare page, which has more than 29K followers, the hotel chain showcases its discounts and posts up about its events happening at hotels throughout the US. Once customers log on, they can see if anything is happening at the hotel in which they’re staying, while local users are able to see if it’s worth stopping by the Four Seasons and partaking in their experiences.

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11. Tag Heuer

Key Takeaway: Hire brand ambassadors Tag Heuer, in what can be assumed is an effort to connect with younger buyers, promotes brand ambassadors on its Twitter feed. One of the ambassadors is Martin Garrix, a 19-year-old electronic musician, and G.E.M., a singer in her early 20’s.

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12. Tesla Motors

Key Takeaway: Humanise your brand Teslas are expensive cars. They cost more than $100,000, and aren’t on the radar for most American families. However, Tesla aims to change the way the brand is viewed with its customer stories section of its website. Mainly featuring photos and stories of families enjoying its cars, these first hand testimonials humanize the brand and show that regular people drive these products as well.

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Tesla is now gearing up to release a $35,000 car; this part of its site is going to come in handy for families who are considering buying the more affordable version when it comes out.

13. STYLEBOP.com

Key Takeaway: Create an all-in-one destination for customers Fashion enthusiasts read Vogue, Nylon, and Elle. Instead of having its customers go to these publications for advice, STYLEBOP.com issues its own magazine instead. The magazine includes a mood board of the latest looks, notes from the editors, photos of trending fashions for the upcoming season, a feature on one of the designers whose products are being sold on the site, and tips from stylists.

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14. Cartier

Key Takeaway: Don’t send mixed messages If luxury brands want to successfully reach their customers, they have to coordinate uniform looks for the content. For example, they may put together fashion lookbooks for the season on Instagram, or follow Cartier’s lead and showcase multiple images from the same campaign all in a row.

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When scrolling through the Cartier feed, it’s apparent that the brand aims to drive home certain messages at specific times. Instead of having a seemingly scatterbrained feed like many brands, Cartier hones in on one product or theme, and posts numerous images revolving around it. Recently, they uploaded photos of celebrities wearing their jewels at the Met Gala and images of their summer jewelry collection sitting poolside.

15. Land Rover

Key Takeaway: Show users the dream Luxury brands are focused on providing users with exceptional experiences. To give its audience a glimpse into the Land Rover lifestyle, the company launched OneLife, an iPad magazine that features a Land Rover owners’ story and exciting journey. The latest issue, for example, is about surfer Chrystal Jameson Fitzgerald, who goes to Alaska with her Range Rover Evoque and tries surfing in the chilly waters.

A commercial that shows a Land Rover driving in remote places wouldn’t be enough. Firsthand content from an actual owner is much more effective at selling the car and getting prospects tuned into the possibility of one day owning the vehicle.