KenVillegas - SEO Specialist

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Top 101 Tools to Help Grow Your Online Business in 2016

online business tools in 2016
Photograph by Pexels.com

If your goal is to be a successful online entrepreneur this 2016, then you came to the right place, where you can find the best tools to grow your online business. These online business tools could help me a lot for my future endeavors as an SEO Specialist as well. Check out the top pick tools below!


There are many things that can contribute to business growth, but, more often than not, what tools businesses use can make a significant difference to the bottom line. Whether they’re looking for increased productivity, better customer service, easier billing, more professional looking content, or finding a tool that silently speeds up project completion, every business needs a solid framework for growth.
I have compiled a list of 101 tools I believe can make a big difference in the vast majority of businesses. Chances are you are using some of them already; maybe you will find some more to add today or even a tool that seamlessly connects all the tools you have been using. The list is based on my personal experience as well as popularity among businesses. 
Disclosure: I am not paid to mention any of these companies in this article. Some of them are clients, some are not. I only recommend what I think is truly helpful. 

Here are my top tool picks for 2016 sorted by category. 


Content & Social Media:

1. Openr: Turns everything you share into a call to action. Share on social media and automatically add targeted promotional calls to action onto any page you share.
2. Freepik: Free graphics, vectors, and icons. (Attribution required and provided ready to be copied and pasted.)
3. Hootsuite: Social media management. Great for businesses with 12-50 profiles and pages to maintain.


4. Buffer: Social media management. Limited to the biggest platforms and great for up to 11 profiles and pages. Beautiful design, flawless app.
5. Canva: Use templates for perfect social media headers, flyers, Facebook post images, featured images with custom dimensions, and more.
6. Alltop and HolyKaw: Use Alltop to find out what’s most popular on specific websites. If you need to curate content for Twitter profiles and the like, this is your website.
7. Hashtags.org: Find out quickly what the most popular hashtags are so you can jump on the trend and get more visibility for your posts.
8. Hyperlapse: App from Instagram. Use this to create time-lapse videos.
9. Layout: App from Instagram. Use this to create collage images.
10. Boomerang: App from Instagram. Use this to create looping short videos.
11. Easel.ly: Intuitive and quick way to create professional looking infographics.
12. Fontawesome Icons: Steal any of these icons to enhance your blog images. They are free and come with transparent backgrounds (as vectors).
13. PicMonkey: Free online photo editing. Filters, collages, overlays, and more.
14. Pixlr: Free online photo editing. Use the free Pixlr Express web app to resize images, for instance.
15. Sprout Social: Social media management software. This is a Guy Kawasaki favorite.
16. PremiumBeat: Royalty-free sound effects and music. Extremely useful for videos.
17. Socedo: Automatically generate list of potential customers based on keywords, hashtags, or other search criteria. Ideal for finding leads on Twitter.
18. Tweetwall.com: Project tweets in real-time at events or on a wall in your office to show tweets that include your signature hashtag.
19. Bitly.com: Shorten URLs so they fit the character limit of Twitter and other social networks. Also tracks cross-channel marketing strategies, among other things. 


Digital Marketing: 

20. Google Web Designer: Create banners for any device.
21. Instagram Ads: You don’t need an Instagram account to show ads on Instagram. Use Facebook to create an ad that shows up on Instagram and leads directly to your website.
22. Facebook Lead Ads: Lead ads were awesome when they were in private beta, but they weren’t practical. Now that Facebook has unleashed lead ads for all advertisers, this feature is one of the best tools out there for small businesses to generate leads and scale it up quickly.
23. Facebook Power Editor: If you aren’t using the Power Editor already, it’s time! 600 targeting options for the good old boosted post are awaiting you among other neat options like bulk editing.
24. Google AdWords: Use everything Adwords has to offer and get your campaigns on steroids with location bid adjustments, dynamic keyword insertion, ad extension, converted clicks, separate device targeting, video ads, shopping ads, behavior-based remarketing, and a ton of other things you might not have tried yet.
25. Bing Ads: Bing powers the web search on Twitter, Apple’s Siri, the Kindle Fire, the Amazon Fire phone, Xbox, and many other things. So get your Bing ads up and running to no longer miss out on Bing traffic!
26. Cross-Channel Remarketing: Show ads on Twitter and Facebook to people who came to you via Google AdWords. Connect the platforms to convert customers wherever they are.
27. Facebook Audience Insights: Use it in reverse. Upload people who already purchased from you and get insights on demographics, what pages they like, location, household composition, and more. 
28. SEMrush: Find out what keywords your competitors are using for their paid search campaigns, among other things. 

29. VWO: A/B testing. Split test ad headlines, website designs, website copy, and more.
  

Business Organization and Productivity: 

30. ToutApp: Email tracking that integrates with Salesforce and analyzes buying personas. In other words, this platform automatically finds a pattern of what wording works best with what type of clientele.
31. Phone.com: Cloud based VoIP Business Phone Service. There are too many neat features to name just one, but one of the biggest advantages is that they can handle whatever volume of calls you are getting.
32. Salesforce.com: CRM solution. Systemize business processes such as lead management and conversion; manage projects; synchronize it with your mailbox and calendars; and get some automatic data about your business to present to banks, investors, or simply for your own knowledge.
33. Insightly: Stripped down CRM solution for small businesses. Integrates with Google Apps.
34. Skitch: This is the quickest tool I know to insert arrows and text in images. Also very useful to use to pixelate information you don’t want to share—such as sensitive data when sharing “how to” tutorials with screenshots. It integrates with Evernote and it’s for Mac only as far as I know.
35. Evernote.com: Use this to manage your notes in an organized fashion. Use the web clipper to save websites for later or simply stay organized by synchronizing across devices.
36. Zapier: Connects hundreds of apps you use, automates tasks, and maximizes productivity. Apps include, Evernote, Salesforce, Trello, Google Calendar, Twitter, Slack, MailChimp, Dropbox, Google Drive, Typeform, among others.
37. Google Apps for Work: It’s cool to have your corporate email run via Google’s server. Besides that, you get all the Gmail features and Google App goodness. It’s practical and makes sharing and storing things easy.
38. Intranet with Google Apps: One of the most overlooked features of Google Apps for Work is the possibility to create an intranet. Automatically update it with your Google+ page feed and use it as the place to go to for internal trainings, company updates, and other information that shouldn’t be public.
39. Google Drive: Create folder trees to store information and keep things organized. Employee resumes, bios, profile photos, projects—you name it, Google Drive is a handy cloud storage and file backup solution.
40. Screencast: Record your screen and send the video links.
41. Camtasia: Screen recorder and video editor for Windows.
42. Google+ Hangouts: If the quality of video conferencing with Skype doesn’t live up to expectations, try a regular Google+ hangout. When you send Google calendar appointments, Google automatically sends a video link with it, so it’s easy for everyone to join.
43. Google Calendar: Use personal and shared calendars to keep track of appointments on all devices. It integrates with nearly everything and loads fast.
44. Notes: Use the default note program on your laptop or smartphone to keep all your thoughts somewhere. If you are a Harry Potter fan, think of this as your pensive. There are countless useful versions for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and more.
45. Skype: Get a phone number from Skype and forward it to your cellphone. This way you never miss a call from a client even when you are traveling.
46. Tripit: Trip planner app with real-time flight alerts.
47. Basecamp: Project management for service businesses.
48. Desk.com: Help desk solution for small businesses that integrates well with Salesforce.
49. Sidekick: See who opens your emails and when.
50. AngelList: Post jobs to recruit someone from a startup-loving community with Silicon Valley vibes, raise money, or invest.
51. Asana: Tracks time spent per project.
52. Harvest: Tracks time and issues invoices accordingly.
53. SwiftKey: Multilingual keyboard with smart prediction for mobile phones.
54. Time Doctor: Manage the productivity of your team. Tracks people’s work time.
55. Dashlane.com: Get a grip on your password mess with this password manager.
56. InvoiceBerry: Track business expenses, send quotes and invoices.
57. Upwork: Platform for freelancers, formerly oDesk. Get your projects done by recruiting the right team.
58. Trello: Visually organize emails, spreadsheets, sticky notes, and other things by project.
59. ReferralSnip: Create your own referral program to keep track of word-of-mouth better. 


Website: 

60. Google PageSpeed Insights: See how fast your website is on desktop and mobile. Automatically generates list of things to improve.
61. ThriveThemes Content Builder: Create conversion focused websites wth this Wordpress Theme Plugin.

62. Google Mobile-Friendly Test: Get a mobile friendly label below organic search results if you pass the test and an overview of what can be improved to make your website even more mobile friendly. The test consists of submitting your URL. It’s free!
63. Uberflip: Show different content on your website depending on who is looking at it.
64. Mashshare: Social sharing plugin that looks like Mashable’s sharing buttons
65. Publicize for WordPress: Automatically shares blog posts on Google+ profiles and other social media accounts.
66. GoToMeeting: Set up meetings and set automatic reminders for everyone. Professional look and top quality audio.
67. Zopim: Live chat for websites.
68. Yoast SEO: Free, handy WordPress plugin to check your blog posts for the right keyword density and preview posts in organic search results. There is a lot more to it, but I find this is the most useful function.
69. Instapage: Quick landing page creation with templates.
70. Unbounce: Quick landing page creation with split test integration.
71. CrazyEgg: See exactly where your customers click on your website. This goes into detail, for instance it shows where on a photo or button people click. Helps to find out why they leave your site and where to position the most important call to action.
72. W3 Total Cache: WordPress plugin that increases server performance. In other words, this makes your website load faster.
73. timetrade: Online appointment scheduling with concierge and analytics.
74. Autosend: Automatically sends personalized emails and text messages to (potential) customers based on what they do on your website.
75. Picreel: It’s inevitable that some people will leave your website without converting. Show them customized exit offers based on what they did on your website. 


Branding and Promotions: 

76. AgoraPulse: Social media management. Useful for Facebook contests and promotions, as well as reporting.
77. Mobile Roadie: Create a mobile app for your business.
78. MailChimp: Intuitive and cost-effective email marketing.
79. Intercom: Email marketing with event-triggered emails, among other communication features.
80. Infusionsoft: CRM for small businesses. E-mail marketing, sales platform, customer relationship management, marketing automation, lead capture, and more.
81. Tinyletter: If you send any newsletter to someone in Silicon Valley you better have the tiny letter logo on it. It’s the way to go.
82. Etsy: Get creative with your print collateral. Or better yet, have other people do it for you. For example, get business card-sized envelopes and put a note with your story inside. This is a unique card that people will remember and keep!
83. QRstuff: Get a free QR code and send people to exciting landing pages (think contests, limited edition products, behind the scenes insights, industry reports, etc.)
84. Postcardly: Upload a photo and have it sent as a postcard. Upload addresses in bulk. Great for the Holidays!
85. Google Photos: Use the automatically generated gifs to have more content variety for your social media profiles/pages.
86. YouTube Live Stream: Start a live stream in your office or during an event.
87. Google+ Hangout on Air: Have a hangout that is streamed publicly in real-time so other people can join. Not to be confused with regular Google+ hangouts that are not public! Google+ Hangouts on Air can also be broadcasted on your Google+ page.
88. GoToWebinar: Great for webinars. Intuitive and good quality.
89. Paper.li: Website/blog based on feeds and auto-generated like a newsletter. People you feature will automatically get Twitter mentions which helps to get more traffic.
90. Powtoon: Create animated videos and business presentations.
91. Google Alerts: Get a notification when someone talks about your brand.
92. Mention: Find out who is talking about you or your competitors on the web and view reports on your online performance.
93. Oktopost: Social media management for B2B marketing. 


Education: 

94. Udemy: Sell courses and/or learn from others.
95. Flipboard: Mobile app with customized newsfeed. Stay up-to-date on the go!
96. My Alltop: Sign up free and choose what websites you see the most popular posts of. These are typically the most informative and you are up-to-date on what’s trending in your industry.
97. Medium: Minimalistic blogging with in-depth articles. Write and/or read articles with specific topics.
98. Reddit: Find your topic of interest and get more info than you could read in a lifetime.
99. BuzzSumo: Find what’s most shared and trending.
100. Teachable: Sell your online courses.
101. Google Trends: Find out what the world is talking about on Google and where those searches are.
What Helped Your Business Grow?
This is a list of my favorite tools, but there are many more useful ones out there. If you have used or are using some of the tools mentioned in the list, feel free to share your experience in the comments to help others decide what’s best for them. If you have additional tools to recommend, please share them in the comments as well.

I wish you all the best for your business this 2016! If you enjoyed reading this article, please leave a comment below.. Thanks! ;)


Content curated from 101 Tools to Grow Your Business in 2016 by Christina Baldassarre  of Search Engine Journal.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Responsive Web Design: The New Frontier in Online Business 2015

If you are currently not on responsive web design you are losing big time.  With responsive design, your website simply adapts itself to whatever device it is being viewed on.  If on a PC it fits the large screen perfectly and on a mobile device, such as your phone, iPad or Tablet, it fits that smaller screen perfectly as well. The idea is to make the viewing experience the absolute best it can be making it easy for visitors to your website to navigate easily with little to no need to pan, resize or scroll.  It also makes for easy reading which means that visitors are most likely to stay on your site longer.
Responsive Web Design - The New Frontier
Image courtesy of 2nix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s safe to say that just about everyone with a computer or phone has access to the internet.  In fact, statistics show that most people enjoy reading magazines and newspapers online among other things.  Having a resposive website means that anyone looking to find your company online can easily switch from a desktop or laptop to a mobile device without losing the experience they were enjoying on the larger screen.  Let’s take for instance, a busy businessman who needs to look you up in transit from one business meeting to the other.  A great viewing experience of your site will give a much better impression of your company than if he had a difficult time scrolling, panning and resizing just to read what you have on your site.

So why is responsive web design working so well? There are several reasons:

  • It is very flexible.  You do not have to build a regular site and then build a mobile site.  You build just the one website and it works like magic on every other device.  This is a great benefit because you only have to maintain the one site which can be viewed on thousands of screens, all different sizes, seamlessly, for a better user experience.
  • Another reason why responsive web design is doing so well today is that it does not need much adjustment or maintenance in order to work with other browsers that may be coming up in the future  . 
  • With responsive website, you can also get a response on time, location of the person and whether or not they have read the particular article or viewed the said website. For more informationa about resposive website design, you can read it more from Huffington Post about, "The Importance of Responsive Design for New Websites", by Eric Fischgrund.
Any smart business person will note the exponential growth of Smartphone’s and mobile devices in the last 5 or so years.  In fact, it is said that by the year 2015, desktop internet traffic will be overtaken by mobile traffic.  Getting yourself strategically placed for this mobile takeover is essential for future success and having a responsive website is just the beginning.

Whereas, many business owners have focused on getting their desktop experience to the height of perfection, it has been found that most people tend to have an enhanced view of those brands that give them a great mobile experience.  You can use wordpress ThriveThemes Content Builder to make the creation of your responsive web design much easier. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Who Says Guest Blogging is Dead? Guest Blogging is not Dead

This is the first time I have updated my blog since May of 2013. Well, it’s time for me to share what I have learned to you guys!Before I jump into the main topic, why “Guest Blogging is not dead ! I will explain first why this issue has been widespread to many of us SEO’s. It is indeed pretty alarming to us, that’s why I decided to write this article to clear it out that there’s no need to panic!


I think most of us knows that Matt Cutts stated on his twitter account in his latest blog post regarding, "The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO."

Matt Cutts stated the decay and fall of guest blogging.

It was surprising that Matt Cutts stated this on his blog:

Okay, I'm calling it: if you're using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it's become a more and more spammy practice, and if you're doing a lot of guest blogging then you're hanging out with really bad company.

It was actually a warning to us SEO’s that we need to think beyond guest blogging as an SEO link building method because many online marketers nowadays are opting to guest blog posting as their number 1 link building method. They don't mind that they are producing low quality articles or duplicate content, posted to unrelated and low authority sites, just for the sake of link building, to improve their Google rankings that could lead their website penalized by Google.

Warning! Stop Guest Spamming! :D


He also added: It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.  


The Downfall of the Large Guest Blogging Network

In the recent blog post of Barry Schwartz from SearchEngineLand regarding, “Google’sMatt Cutts: We’ve Taken Action On A Large Guest Blog Network”.

As Matt Cutts previous blog post warned the SEO community that, “guest blogging is dead” in the previous statement above. He actually took down the largest guest blogging network (MyBlogGuest.com). But he did not specify which network was hit by the update.

He warned us but you did not follow! LOL!

Here’s the screenshot of  what Matt Cutts says on his Tweeter Account:

Matt Cutts took down a large guest blog network.

Think Beyond SEO Link Building

 

Matt Cutts was clear enough with his statements that we should not abuse Guest Blogging as an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy instead, we need to focus more on creating blogs for guest posts as a means of:


  • Branding
  • Increase your relevant traffic
  • Build credibility in a specific niche
  • Exposure to new audience
  • Authorship
  • Community Building

You can check more about guest blogging with purpose here.

Come to think of it! When you write write yor own article for guest blog posting campaign, just don’t think of it as an SEO link building method, just think beyond SEO as what I have mentioned above, and what Matt Cutts really want us to do when it comes to guest blogging. 

The 6 purposes of guest blogging (above mentioned), are the true meaning of Guest Posting not link building, for your information. 

Therefore, if we simply follow the the rules of guest blogging, then you have no reasons to worry about because I’m sure you will be successful with you marketing campaign as well as, improve your website and brand reputation.

If you enjoyed reading my post please feel free to leave a comment below…



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Learn More About Social Media Marketing by Checking Out These Tips!


Do you already understand the power of social media marketing, but you are still unsure how can you implement it into your business plan? Social media is always opening doors for new companies, but if you approach it incorrectly it won't be as advantageous as you would like. You can follow this social media marketing tips and learn the proper way to create a standing company via quality media.

Let all of your existing customers know if you are going to start being active in social media. When your existing customers follow you on most social media websites, all of their followers will know about it. You should not underestimate the power of this free advertising. This is basically a referral which can really help your business. To help a new business get accustomed to social media marketing, you should start out small. Starting out small will give you the opportunity to target the customers that are looking to purchase the products you sell. You don't want to promote your site in too many places at first because you need to know what works and what does not.

social media marketing tips Understand that Technology is Driving Social Media and Vice Versa


Every day that social media becomes more popular, technology races to catch up, which prompts social media to become more popular. Know what the technology is offering your customers in their social needs so that you can take part in talking WITH them, as opposed to talking AT them.

Sign up for Twitter. Get as many followers as you can, by signing up for blogging sites like Tweepi.com. Using a site like this makes it easier for people to find you on Twitter. Tweet regularly about other bloggers. You should also automate your tweets so they aren't forgotten about by your followers.

When working with social media marketing, you should always remember that you are speaking to individual people, and not the masses. The tone of your postings should be directed towards personal level for maximum success. It takes some practice to develop the right voice, but over time and with practice you will be able to communicate effectively.

Answer any Comments and Questions on your Social Networking Websites


Log into your sites multiple times per day, and be sure to review all notifications. You can also elect to receive emails each time you have a new notification. Keep in mind that everything you are writing as a comment or a response to one person can be viewed by anyone who goes to your site.

Tools such as Tweepi and Twellow are integral for social media marketing. Using these tools, you can more easily identify users in your target audience as well as those users with the most influence. You should be able to establish a list of people you should follow, hoping that they will subscribe to your updates too.

Remember that this will take time. It takes time to create a truly winning social media campaign. Prior to announcing major social media efforts, take the time to get as many people as possible signed up to your Facebook and Twitter account. Always mention the social media websites in any marketing that you do for your business.

Attract More Followers by Offering Coupons and Special Offers


Your consumers can feel like they're in a special club where they get discounts from their profiles, and that can boost your profits with extra sales. Do some research with regard to social networking. You may have a profile on Facebook already, but keep in mind that professional use of social media differs from personal use of these sites. There are many resources available on the Internet to help you.
social media marketing offers

It is important to be involved in the newer large social media sites for effective marketing, but do not forget about the older sites. Social websites like MySpace and Craigslist have huge followings, and you will be missing out on a large market if you ignore them. Social media is extremely competitive and the older established sites still have market share

When writing a social media blog for your business, remember to add Twitter. You can easily place a re-tweet button at the top of your blog. This will allow Twitter users to easily share your blog on their site. Think of all the potential that one button can have on your marketing efforts.

Comment on other social media bloggers' posts frequently. The term social media implies interaction and communication. A great way to promote yourself is to engage others in dialogue that blog within your niche. This can quickly turn into a great networking opportunity.

Social media is an extremely vast and powerful tool. It should be something that all business owners squeeze into their marketing plans, despite their other advertising routes. It will work perfectly with any options you have already started developing and won't require an entire rework of your core scheme. However, it is important that you follow the advice given and always focus on reaching a better future.

P.S. Feel free to leave a comment below if you enjoyed reading my blog. Thanks!