As a small business owner or employee, if you hear "Social Media and The Internet is really important" one more time, odds are high that you may throw something at the speaker. Yes, of course both are important: if you didn't know that, you wouldn't be in business. But, we need to be more specific than that. So, here are five great, free tools that can dramatically help you save time, learn more information and make more money.
1) Google Alerts: Google Alerts allows you to enter search terms and receive E-mails when Google discovers a new result for that search term. So, if you enter your name, your company's name, etc., you can be notified when Google discovers a new search result. You can also customize the options so that you receive notifications instantly, once a day or once a week. Make sure you get creative with the search results - don't just put in where you work, put put in your location, your business category, your competitors names, etc. Google Alerts allows you to harness the power of Google and kept in the loop about new happenings.
2) Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a great way to determine the effectiveness of your website. It tracks pageviews, where visitors are coming from and when they arrived, traffic sources, most popular pages or posts, etc. Installing it is as simple as setting up a Google account and copy/pasting the HTML code. These are some pretty advanced analytics that can really help you determine your websites effectiveness.
Also, if you have a blog on blogger (as we do), you have Google Analytics built in.
3) Google Insights: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is absolutely critical to the success of any website - and thus, to the success of any business. That being said, you absolutely HAVE to make sure that you are using the right search terms to capture a website audience. Google Insights was made for this. It allows you to test the popularity of search terms, determine the popularity of certain search terms, compare one term against another and see where search terms already lead. Again, these are extremely robust features that are absolutely critical before working on your own websites SEO.
4) Website Grader by Hubspot: Again, in the area of SEO - you have to know how effective your website is before having any ideas of how to make improvements. Fortunately, Hubspot has an incredible free tool available. Plug in your website and the website of competing businesses. Hubspot will then E-mail you a report that does an analysis of your website's SEO and that of your competitors. The website "grades" your content against others, checks for blog articles and other Social Media content, determines how many pages Google has indexed and makes suggestions for how your website can be improved. In other words: hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in SEO improvements is now available through this website.
5) HootSuite: Keeping track of Social Media newsfeeds, searches, comments, messages, etc. can be an incredibly time consuming and annoying venture. HootSuite simplifies the process by allowing you to integrate your Facebook Profile & Pages, Twitter feeds and LinkedIn Newsfeed into one account. You can set up tabs and keep track of what your Social Networks are saying. You can also use Hootsuite to write messages, shorten links and schedule messages to be sent at a later date. Believe me, this makes life much easier!
What do you think? What other tools do you use that can be helpful to small businesses? Let us know in the comments!