Understanding the world of digital marketing is confusing enough. With a dozen new web digital marketing tools every day seemingly popping up on forums and websites, how in the world do you know where to start? Below, I’ve highlighted hand-picked digital marketing tools that have served me well working with dozens of clients in the vacation rental, real estate and other industries. They’ve stood the test of time and show me a ton of value every time I use them.
Search Engine Optimization
Getting started with SEO can be daunting. From learning about keywords, title tags, sitemap files and robots.txt, you could spend a month just learning all the terminology that’s thrown around. In short, SEO helps you generate traffic for your rentals or real estate website by earning free traffic from those searching for rentals in your area. While large sites like Zillow, HomeAway and others rank highly in the search engines, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for you to out-rank them. Nailing the SEO basics is a bit like getting a solid foundation for your house: it’s hard to gain rankings without a strong base to work from.
This free tool for getting long-tail keyword ideas is great for nailing blog post topic ideas. It scrapes Google’s autocomplete results to find what users are looking for on two or three keyword long searches. Perfect for finding the best keyword for a blog post topic.
Another third-party keyword research tool, this one is a bit more limited in the free version, but offers a wealth of information. From keyword volume to technical SEO-nerdery like Page Rank scraping and TrustFlow metrics, you’ll get a spreadsheet like feel from using this tool. Compliment your searches from the other tools to find out more about your targeted search results page with this tool.
3. Google’s Keyword Planner
Intended for building AdWords campaigns, you’ll be able to use this tool to find the top-searched for keywords about your area. Check out the trends tool to learn what keywords gain popularity during a certain timeframe to better time marketing campaigns.
1. GT Metrix
With this tool, you’ll have no problem finding out how quick your page loads and other missing or broken scripts, tags and other errors on your website. My goal on websites is to load in under three seconds on average internet connection speeds. On mobile, you’ll have to be extra careful as users expect your website to load even quicker.
2. Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)
Honestly, I still call it Webmaster Tools, but Google’s rebranded their search toolbox into Search Console. Here, you’ll find all types of technical errors straight from Google like broken links, 404 error pages, any hacked site issues and more. It’s silly to not set up this free tool on your website!
1. Yoast SEO
I’ve gone on about this before from the SEO end of things: Yoast SEO for WordPress is the best. Bar none.
For almost every lead-based business I work with needs to have great forms with lots of functionality, I use this plugin. Gravity Forms is the best plugin out there for tracking, sending and dealing with contact and inquiry forms in WordPress.
To speed up your site (see GT Metrix above), using a caching plugin will help minify CSS and JS files. Short version: you’ll get a faster website.
There are a ton of rank trackers. Personally, I’ve only spent enough time with two to make a really solid recommendation.
The agency tool of choice (I’ve worked in an account with 50+ domains and over 2,500 keywords), Authority Labs is the type of company that does one thing well. I’ve been using their rank tracking software in one form or another for over three years. They do have a basic plan for the lower volume rank tracking.
I’ve been a beta member of Serpwoo since its inception. The model is a bit different compared to the normal rank trackers out there (it’s more based on the whole search result, not just your domain). At their prices, the Bronze account is worth testing out to see if it fits your needs.
Pay Per Click Advertising
In the world of pay per click advertising on Google and Bing, third party tools are typically reserved for high-end agencies spending thousands of dollars per account monthly. I’ve never found anything truly better than the suite of tools below. Management platforms like WordStream and others promise huge benefits with minimal time and effort, but I have yet to find any that live up to that promise.
Hard to get much closer to source, so by default I feel it’s the first place to start with your keyword research for AdWords.
With Semrush, I prefer to use the ad copy tool and advertiser research tools to find our how others are writing PPC ads and how they’re changing over time.
Another tool similar to Semrush, Spyfu has (in my experience) better estimates of your competitors spend in AdWords and keyword scraping data. I do not have a paid Spyfu account, and the free tier lets me grab the two metrics above for a few domains per day.
Social Media Marketing
Getting social isn’t optional anymore. Your guests and clients expect you to be on social media, so use these tools to make it easier on your time and make better posts.
Buffer is my social media posting and scheduling tool of choice. It integrates well with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus and allows for up to 12 social accounts for only $10/month.
Overlooked by many, Facebook’s own data on your audience is very valuable to review.
See what types of content gets shared in your area with this tool. You can get a good idea of what’s working well even with the free version of this software.
4. Moz Content
A new tool, Moz Content promises to “Quickly Audit, Measure, and Discover Relevant Content” for keywords that you enter.
When designing social media graphics, using Photoshop can be a pain! Use Canva instead for an easy way to create graphics, images and other media.
This oft-proclaimed dead form of online marketing drives more revenue for businesses than almost any other channel. Between transactional messages and promotional sends, email can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. The tools below should let you kick off your marketing campaigns on the right foot.
The way that Mailchimp builds on their software lately has impressed me. From beginning your email marketing all the way through intermediate automation campaigns, Mailchimp offers up top-notch software that works well for most businesses needs.
To grow email marketing lists for my clients, I use Optin Monster to get new signups with pop-up modals. This software lets me do it the way I prefer with subtle timing options, mouse tracking triggers and direct email provider integration.
3. URL Builder
The URL Builder Tool from Raven Tools let’s you tag and track email links from non-Mailchimp clients. You may have employees in your company sending out 1-to-1 emails – using tagging links lets you see the results of your efforts in Google Analytics data reports.