19 Free Online Tools and Resources for Smarter Local Online Marketing
One of the great things about digital marketing is the myriad of online marketing tools and resources out there for local business owners to use. Here’s our round-up of the top free ones that are available on the web at the moment. Some have been around for a few years, others are fairly new on the scene. All are worth adding to your arsenal – if you’re not already using them. Put them to use in your business right away for faster and smarter local business growth.
Local Search Marketing Tools and Resources
1. The Local SEO Checklist
A 39-point checklist of all the boxes you need to tick for better rankings in the local snack pack and local organic listings.
Visit the local SEO checklist site to learn more.
2. Google My Business profile
We spoke a couple of weeks ago about the importance of setting up your Google My Business profile. Having a Google My Business profile correctly set up can account for as much as 15% of the overall local search ranking factors. It’s free (and easy) to set up. If you haven’t done so already, set yours up without delay.
3. NAP Hunter Lite
A consistent NAP (mentions of your name, address, phone number across the digital ecosystem) is one of the most important factors for doing well in local search. Having an incorrect phone number on a local directory site would be an example of an inconsistent NAP.
Although it’s an essential part of local SEO, hunting down inconsistent NAPs across the web is painfully slow work. Until you make use of this handy tool: The NAP Hunter. It’s a free Google Chrome extension that makes the whole process a lot speedier. It works by searching for various combinations of your NAP which you can automatically download to a .csv file. You’re guaranteed to save hours of otherwise tedious work. Check it out here.
4. Microdata Schema Generator
According to Kissmetrics, “Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users.”
While Google recently announced it’s not actually considered as a factor for seo rankings at this time, it’s still got major search benefits.
By displaying more information about your business in the search results, schema markup gives your local business more visibility. Being more visible in the local search results, increases your chances of getting more clicks (because you stand out more). And if the rest of your local online marketing is done right (i.e a professional conversion-optimised website with convincing copy), more clicks means more business.
If you want to avoid the messy job of creating the correct code for your business, use the Microdata Schema Generator. Simply enter a few details related to your business and in seconds it bangs out the microdata you need for your website.
Here’s the link: Microdatagenerator.com
When you’ve got your code (and checked that it’s free from errors by using Google’s structured data tool), head on over to either the header or footer file of your website and paste the code in. (Note: If you run a WordPress site and you don’t like venturing into your header or footer files, download the free header and footer plugin that will allow you to insert any code with ease).
Website Lead Generation Tools and Resources
5. Sumo Me
Driving traffic to your local website is essential. Converting that traffic into leads is just as important. Sumo Me is an easy-to-use software plugin that can turn your local business website into an incredible lead-generating machine.
It contains a plethora of tools for building your email list, social sharing, and analytics – all that can help supercharge your business growth. Many of their tools are free, but there are some premium add ons that you can pay for if you find yourself needing more. Easily installed on your site in seconds.
Wishpond is another lead generation software tool and contains a wide variety of additional marketing automation tools that you can use to grow your business. Choose from three paid plans or a forever-free plan to get started.
With the free plan you can create an unlimited number of landing pages, email pop ups, email newsletters, and automation campaigns. This plan also allows you to generate up to 200 leads. After that though you need to switch to their paid plan, which starts at €40 per month. A small price to pay for growing your business. Access it here.
Analytics and User Testing Tools and Resources
7. Google Analytics
Google Analytics shows you important information like how your customers are discovering your website (whether through search or social, for instance), how long they are spending on your website once they land (are they sticking around? or do they disappear seconds later?), what pages they are checking out (and what pages they are ignoring), and so on.
Having Google Analytics installed on your website enables you to make better decisions based on the data you have gathered. Making better decisions based on customers actions can ultimately increase your revenues.
Despite this, a considerable number of small local business don’t have Google Analytics installed on their websites. If you can’t install it yourself, get your webmaster to install it for you – it takes minutes to do. It’s a powerful free tool that can make your business a lot more money when used correctly.
While Google Analytics can give you information such as what pages on your website have a high bounce rate, Hotjar is an analytics solution that can tell you why this is happening. It does this by providing you with features including heatmaps, video recordings (of individual visitors landing and interacting with your site), and polls.
By using their impressive video recording feature for instance you can see what kind of content is getting ignored and what’s getting the most attention as individual visitors are videoed engaging with your pages. You can use polls to get direct user feedback in seconds from visitors rather than blasting out email surveys that are increasingly ignored. Or use heatmaps to discover where your visitors are clicking or tapping as they make their way through your local business website.
This is hands-down one of the best analytics solutions currently on the market. If you want to turn more website visitors into customers, get it installed on your website without delay. It’s free version is more than enough to provide you with all the visitor insights you need. Check it out here.
9. Peek User Testing
If you care (and you should) about how people use and view your site then you need to make use of user testing. You might believe that your website is doing what you set out for it to do, but is it really? Are there stumbling blocks or points of friction that you’re not aware of?
Peek User Testing is a fantastic tool that enables you to get a peek into a user’s mind as they interact with your site. Simply enter your website url and within twenty-four hours you’ll receive a video of a sample user thinking out loud as they navigate your site. If you want an unbiased opinion about what works on your site as well as what doesn’t, this is a tool certainly worth adding to your arsenal.
Social and Content Tools and Resources
10. Google Alerts
Another free tool from Google that’s simple to use. With Google Alerts you can find out every time your local business is mentioned across the web: whether on social media sites, forums, news sites or other blogs.
Hootsuite is a complete social media management tool that makes managing your social media more efficient and effective. With their free package you can track and monitor up to three social media accounts, publish and schedule your posts, and engage with your audiences from one concise dashboard.
Buffer optimises your social media post scheduling by tracking your follower activity. It also comes with a free image tool – perfect for creating social media images like a pro in seconds. Get access to Buffer here.
Buzzsumo is primarily a paid content search tool but its free version is worth checking out. It’s ideal for discovering what content is performing the best for any given topic or search query. You can share the content you discover on your own social media networks. Or use it to identify influencers for connecting with. Or for simply generating content ideas for your own blog post.
14. Click to Tweet
Increase your social media engagement by using Click to Tweet. It allows readers to effortlessly tweet an interesting quote from your blog posts. Also includes tracking and analytics.
15. The Hemingway App
Writing for the web isn’t always easy. The Hemingway app makes it easier by helping you write clearer and simpler sentences. Hemingway himself was renowned for writing short sentences using simple language. It works by highlighting any long and complex sentences that need to be worked on. And provides you with a readability score. If you’re looking for a free magical editing wand this could be it.
16. The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer
If you want your content to get read you need to be able to create killer headlines. It doesn’t matter how good your content is if nobody actually clicks into it because you’ve got a crappy headline.
The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer is a super-simple tool created by the Advanced Marketing Institute. Simply paste in your headline idea and you’ll get a scored based on how emotional your headline is. Emotional headlines matter because they get more reactions by connecting deeply to our emotions. Emotional headlines are also proven to get more shares and better overall engagement in social media.
Design Tools and Resources
Having incredible visual content is a must for standing out in noisy, cluttered social media newsfeeds today…as well as for getting better engagement from your blog posts.
Canva is a relatively new incredible design tool that enables you cut down on your graphic design costs (or eliminate them altogether) by bringing much-needed simplicity to design work.
Their easy-to-use software means that after a few simple tutorials you could be creating graphic designs as good as the professionals. It doesn’t matter what your level of design experience is (or even if you’ve had any at all), Canva makes it simple to learn and do.
18. Free image sites
It can be incredibly difficult to source professional-looking, high-quality images for your website or social media posts. Especially when you want to avoid paying for them. A hunt on Google for free images can often take you to websites that trick you into thinking you’ve landed a great freebie, only to require payment for the download.
But despite all the deceptive sites, there are also still some fantastic ones where you don’t have to pay a red cent. Here are our top choices..
Email Tools and Resources
Email is the unsung champion of the digital marketing world. Not only has it got the highest ROI out of all the digital marketing channels, but it’s one of the most frequently checked items on our smartphones, making it easy to tap into the exponentially growing mobile market.
Mailchimp allows you to grow your email list and send 12,000 emails a month to a list of up to 2,000 people. It’s easily one of the most generous free plans in the industry.
What’s Your Online Tool of Choice?
What online tools and resources are you using in your local business to get the best results out of your local online marketing? And if you’re using any free tools that aren’t on this list, we’d love to hear back which ones and how they help.