Some Ideas for Food and Fun at #Pubcon Austin

Pubcon-Austin

Howdy and welcome to Texas, y’all. One of the best things about the smaller regional Pubcon conferences is the local culture. For the upcoming event in Austin on April 20th, Pubcon attendees will be able to sample a slice of life as varied as cowboys and hipsters. No matter what you’re into when it comes to food and activities Austin has so much to offer that you’ll wish you had booked a couple of extra days to hang around and take it all in.

FOOD

Austin boasts an incredible food & drink culture. Think BBQ, Tex Mex, food trucks, gourmet coffee shops, and microbreweries. There’s a fantastic sampling of all of this within easy walking or biking distance of the AT&T Conference Center on the University of Texas campus. My good friend and foodie extrodinaire, Kathryn Hutchins of austingastronomist.com, gave me a few recommendations to pass on.

  • The Carillion – Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this dining spot is located in the same building with the conference center allowing you to avoid the Austin traffic completely. Much of the ingredients for their artisan menu are locally sourced and amazingly fresh. Be aware that you may need to make reservations for this popular dining spot.
  • Hopfields – Maybe craft beers and a burger are more your style. Located about a mile down Guadalupe Street, this popular hang out offers craft beer on tap and one of a kind gourmet burgers. Skip the car and take a short bike ride or a long walk to keep from feeling guilty about the calorie splurge.
  • Blackbird and Henry – If wine, cocktails, and dinner with a European flair are what you really crave, then Blackbird and Henry is the place for you. Also located within a block of Hopfields, this foodie’s delight also boasts fresh ingredients from local Texas farms. They serve dinner every night and lunch Tuesday through Friday. Be sure to reserve your table in advance.

Bonus Selection – As I was cruising Yelp I spotted one more place I could not leave off the list.

  • Daito – If you love sake and sushi, this is your place. A leisurely 20 minute walk down Guadalupe will take you to another world. The owners and most of the staff are from Osaka and graciously serve Austin’s most authentic Japanese cuisine.

FUN

Dining is just the beginning. Hop on one of the shuttles running from the campus into the core of downtown Austin. You’ll find tons of live music all along 6th Street starting at Trinity. There’s also the wearhouse district on 4th street that offers jazz and speakeasy style cocktails. There are tons of museums and galleries. And, don’t miss out on the uniquely Austin experience of the flight of the Congress Avenue Bridge bat colony. If you’re sticking around for an extra day, please treat yourself to a walk, bike ride, or jog along the trails around Lady Bird Lake, or rent a kayak and get on the water.

As a resident of the greater Austin area, it is my pleasure to show you a little bit of our southern hospitality. Come find me between sessions, or give me a shout on Twitter (@socialmicheller). I’m happy to point you in the right direction to anything you’d like to do or eat.

Getting Ahead of the Facebook Marketing Curve – Part 2

facebook

As we discussed in part 1 of this series, the Facebook audience is not exclusively on Facebook but spread across a network of mobile apps.

It is then no real surprise that the news with the most impact for marketers had to do not with the latest content type supported on the Facebook newsfeed, but with how businesses can interact and track customers in the wider range of Facebook apps and apps developed for Facebook.

Messenger Power

During the course of the conference keynote we were given a look at new features available in Messenger and more very soon to come. Mark Zuckerberg announced to the very excited crowd of developers that Messenger is no longer just a messaging app, but a fully realized stand-alone platform. Expect to see lots of mobile apps developed especially for the way people communicate with one another and very soon businesses, via Messenger.

The first big change to Messenger is already available for users.

Apps within Messenger

Did you know that while 300 million people use Instagram, there are currently 600 million users on the Messenger app? Is that an audience large enough to get your attention? It should be. And these are users that are already accustomed to sharing not just text messages, but photos, videos, map locations, and links to things around the web that interest them. Facebook also recently launched the ability for people to send money to one another via Messenger.

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Just of a few of the options now available to Messenger users

 

As a platform Messenger is a new opportunity for app distribution, discovery, and attribution. Right now Messenger users are able to find, install, and use several apps designed to add fun and emotional context to their messages without leaving Messenger or the conversation. For brands, this is an opportunity to create something fun and emotional for users and build a top of mind awareness in the minds of potential customers.

Messenger has the potential to become the direct one-on-one real time brand to customer communication that Twitter had hoped to become.

If your business is already considering building a mobile app, how might you rethink the development to take advantage of this opportunity to have a direct connection in the palm of your customers’ hands?

Messenger Business

customer-service-facebookWhat if customers could contact businesses directly and quickly without having to deal with phone routing systems, long wait times for an email response, or hit and miss monitoring of a Twitter account? What if a customer could use Messenger to make a reservation, place an online order, track a package, or get more information that would bring them to your door?

This is the motivation behind the development of Messenger Business. Facebook hopes to facilitate a better communication experience for brands and their customers. This experience would be very personal and very in-the-moment for the consumer.

Think about it, with Messenger Business Facebook is giving you the opportunity to have a direct open line of communication at the moment that your customers are thinking about you. That moment may even be when they are in the middle of a competitor’s store and wondering if you might have a better deal or a nicer quality product to offer. This isn’t a passive search and goes far beyond “showrooming,” this is active real-time communication with your customers.

What will your business need to do to take advantage of the opportunity when it becomes available?

Analytics for Apps

As you know from building a website and developing products and services, creation is only the beginning. To keep doing business requires continual understanding of customers’ needs and tastes. That understanding comes from data. In order to give developers and businesses a better understanding of how often people come back to an app you’ve developed, where they might be dropping off before conversion, and whether or not your marketing campaigns are reaching the right audience with the right information.

The analytics offered by Facebook for apps is cross-device and takes into account the real person rather than relying on cookies for tracking. Is your app drawing three distinct audiences from desk-top, tablet, and mobile, or is your audience really a much smaller highly engaged group of people that use several different devices to connect with your business? Facebook offers to help you determine the answers to those questions.

Combine that data with your SEO and web analytics and you begin to get a much clearer picture of your customers and how they wish to conduct digital business with you.

Facebook Audience Network

The Facebook Audience Network was first introduced last year at f8 to help app developers monetize their apps by offering to display Facebook ads. What makes ads in this network so powerful are the native ads that have the same look and feel of the app they are displayed in. As we mentioned in part one of this series, the audience you can target via Facebook isn’t necessarily on Facebook. That audience is spread out across a whole network of mobile apps.

Word of Caution

Is your business ready for the next wave of technological advancement? Have you yet to catch up the current wave of mobile usage?

Tapping into these powerful tools will drive great, qualified traffic to your business presence online. But, if the core of what you do is not ready for mobile visitors, that traffic might do more harm than good. As you consider how you want to get ahead of the marketing curve via Facebook, make sure that you are ready for the mobile audience onslaught.

  • If you already have a mobile site or an adaptive site, make sure that it is up to date and loads well in the various mobile platforms. Don’t get hit with mobile performance penalties as the new Google mobile algorithm rolls out.
  • Get your hands on the tools that can help you make sense of your mobile search rankings, mobile traffic and mobile user behavior. Authority Labs will be launching a new mobile toolset very soon.
  • If your business is not yet mobile-friendly, you are already way behind the curve and need to reach out for expert help. As a part of the Authority Labs community, you are already a part of a network of experts that can help you take your business to the next level.

Learning How To Everything Part 2: Tips For Maintaining A Great Client Relationship

Relationships are hard. Especially when you’re income is dependent upon their success. Your customers and clients need to believe in your company and ability to give them a strong online presence. When you do your job correctly and communicate clearly, maintaining client relationships doesn’t have to be so difficult. Here’s a few tips to help you get through the many hurdles of client success.
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Image Source: Giphy

Know Your Stuff

Have you ever been asked a question you weren’t sure of by a client? It can be an awkward situation as the professional when you don’t have an answer for everything. This is especially true if you don’t handle the response well and start mumbling or act uncomfortable. A good way to respond is by being completely honest and inform the client you’ll do research and get back to them with an answer, instead of trying to fake the front.

Customer Success Manager at Rivet, Stephanie Carls, has encountered several of these types of questions and offers a way around these sticky situations.
“Have confidence when you give suggestions to your clients. As your relationship with your client grows, so does their confidence in you as someone who can offer suggestions for best uses of your platform.  If you waver on decisions, it starts to give clients an uneasy feeling. They always want to know you are looking out for their best interest and will provide the best use cases for their programs.”

Simplify Your Verbiage

SEO is complicated. Especially when you’re trying to explain what an algorithm is to the local barber shop owner. Take your time and approach what you’re trying to say from the clients perspective.
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Are you using marketing slang in your descriptions? What you think is common jargon can become language barriers between you and a client. Explain in detail what they can expect, and what that really means. Improving your rankings on Google may not mean anything to a client. Making them show up on page one of Google means everything. Understand what language works best for them and accommodate.

Communication is Everything

If a spontaneous meeting is needed because of errors or a lack of communication, take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with your client and evaluate the situation. Clients need to hear what you’re really trying to say and what actually happened. That doesn’t mean you have to be defensive or automatically look at the conversation as a negative thing. Instead, look at client conversations and meetings as a way to deeply connect with the client, reassure your professionalism to them and the company’s ability to exceed their expectations.

There are several tools that can help streamline meetings and make yourself more available for communication. Felena Hanson, CEO and Founder of Hera Hub, a coworking space for women, uses several different tools to communicate to her customers and potential business partners.

“In building a platform for hundreds of female entrepreneurs we are consistently making sure we are creating a productive coworking space where everyone has a voice and can easily find the resources they need.  I sometimes feel like I use every communication vehicle known to man to ensure that we’re staying visible with customers (our members) – Facebook groups, Google hangout, email, text message, and good old fashion face-to-face connections.  We use some of the same tools to support our franchisees.  Thank goodness for FaceTime, Skype and GoogleHangout or I would be on a plane to the East Coast every other week!”

Be Aware of Your Deadlines

When giving estimates and deadlines to clients, it’s important to make them feel like they’re you’re only client. We all know they’re not, but making them feel like they are priority is important for relationship building.

That doesn’t mean you have to promise a 24-hour turnaround when you have other projects with tighter deadlines. Give yourself more time than you need so you’re always delivering early, while still accommodating their needs. It’s the idea of under promising and over delivering. Making too many promises when you’re nervous or because you don’t know how to say no won’t make a great impression after having to continuously apologize for delays.

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Image Source: Giphy

Correct Your Mistakes

Every once in a while you or someone on your team will make a mistake. Even though us perfectionists try our best to avoid failure, of any kind, mistakes happen. If you’ve made a rather large or highly unexpected mistake, calculate what a valuable response would be and reciprocate with such. 

If you’re contracted to write four blog posts a month, and accidentally used one of their images incorrectly, take responsibility and ensure it won’t happen again. Throw in a free blog post for next month or some form of compensation that shows you really care about the issue. You’ll quickly see how fast the client is willing to forgive you and grant you their trust, once again.

What If My Client Is The Worst?

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We’ve all had that one client. That one who truly thinks they’re your only client and expect the world delivered to them on a silver platter. Those can be tough clients, but not because of their neediness. The toughest part is learning when to fight your battles and when to stop typing and start doing. Here’s a few tips for lowering your blood pressure:
  • Breathe. Before you start your lengthy email rant of how unfair everything is, take a deep breathe. Every one of your clients and customers are important, equally important, and are the foundation of your company and the business you work for. Mistreating one because you can’t keep your temper together is not a reason to loose a client.
  • Look at the other perspective. For your client, their business is their everything. Just as is it for you. If results aren’t coming in as expected or budgets are tight, take a second and reflect on all of the business road bumps you’ve overcome and how important succeeding is to you. It’s just as important to them, so have a little bit more compassion and understanding when dealing with client hurdles.
  • Don’t forget about the bigger picture. Have you gotten in the habit of doing the same tasks over and over again, forgetting what the overall goal is? It’s important to have regular meetings, reporting, and communication with your client to make sure you both are on the same page. This also gives the client a designated time and place to voice their concerns and opinions, instead of constant emails and phone calls out of the blue.
  • Know when to adjust. If the amount of time you’re spending on a client exceeds how much you are getting paid from such client, it might be time to reconsider the relationship. Does the client have enough budget so you can charge what you think is right, while being able to give the client actionable results? If so, plan out ahead of time and draft up a proper response to approach the increase.
  • It may be time to “fire” your client. Unfortunately having to “fire” clients is a real thing and does come up for all of us. How you do it makes all the difference for your future reputation and branding. If there is someone else you know who would be a better fit, refer them to your client. Don’t 100% throw your client out without a final month of service or at least a great referring company who can better help them. 
Whether you have tons of clients or just a few, maintaining great client relationships is the most important thing you can do for your business. Never dull your value as a company, but more importantly never dull the value of your clients. Happy client=happy life!
Do you have a great client story? Share it in the comments below!

6 On-Site Elements That Offer Evergreen SEO Swag

seo-page-elementsOnce the mantra that SEO professionals lived by, keyword optimization has turned into somewhat of a distasteful word today. The hundreds of backlinks that we begged, borrowed and bought are now taboo for fear of Google’s wrath. The Google authorship that every content professional worked so hard to cultivate lies in the dust by the wayside.

While it is tricky to predict today what may become untouchable in SEO tomorrow, there definitely are a few educated bets that one can make on what will still matter five years down the line. Given where we stand today on SEO, here’s my take on which site elements will be your best friends for the long haul from a rankings perspective.

1. Page Title

If your face is the first thing that another person notices about you, the page title of a web page is the first thing search spiders notice about a website. The page title is like the calling card of each page that tells search spiders as well as users what the page is all about. Of course, these page titles also get displayed prominently in search results.

The page title is one constant on-site ranking factor that hasn’t changed ever since optimizing for search engines became something that marketers actively did.

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As we see in the example above, the browser is not very generous in terms of number of characters it displays to the user. Which means it makes sense to keep those titles short and to the point. Under 60 characters is a good bet to begin with.

A good page title describes what your page is all about and preferably does this using keywords that matter to that page. Unless you are an established brand already, putting your brand name at the end of the page title and putting your keywords closer to the Beginning ensures that users see the page description with the right keywords in the SERPs or the browser, leading to higher CTRs which in turn lead to better rankings in the long run.

2. Site Speed

Google is testing a bright red ‘slow’ label on its SERPs that warn users about the speed of each site listed in its search results, much like the ‘mobile friendly’ label it has already rolled out. This brings into action what Google has been encouraging website owners for a while now. In the words of Matt Cutts cited five years ago, “Speeding up your website is a great thing to do in general. Visitors to your site will be happier (and might convert more or use your site more), and a faster web will be better for all…”

Even if site speed was not ranking signal, it would make sense for any website owner to consider it as a key priority. Web users are notoriously impatient and a delay of even a single second can lead to drastic results for your conversions. According to a study by Radware, a six second page load time meant a 40% drop in conversions for an average website in 2010. Fast forward to 2015, and a six second load time will earn the site a further drop in conversions taking the exact loss to 50%.

So, in the interest of pampering those impatient customers as well as staying in Google’s good books, you need to:

  • Test your site speed using Google’s own Page Speed Insights tool or a third party tool like GT Metrix or Pingdom.
  • Identify roadblocks that slow down your site and actively work on removing them.
  • Insist on developing light and quick loading pages for any new content that you host on your site.
  • Pick a good web host with a reputation for high speed servers and site load times.
  • Search your site for plugins that you don’t use anymore and remove them right away. Many older, unused plugins tend to clog up site load times.

3. Intuitive URLs

This one is another oldie that has stood by us.

Since search crawlers index websites in the form of URLs, optimizing a URL to be easily discovered by a search engine is a great way to rank high on search results. The idea here is to ensure that your page URL describes the contents of the page so that both search engines as well as users know what they are clicking on. By describing the contents of the page, a URL usually ends up with at least one of critical keywords for the page. However, working backwards, i.e. stuffing keywords into your URL is a strict no-no.

The early days of SEO saw a mad rush to buy exact match domains for your business. While the idea of having your keyword in your website URL is not a bad one, using just the keywords is like trying to fool search engines into giving your site importance it may or may not deserve. When simply too many black hat SEOs began misusing EMDs with thin or unrelated content, Google stepped in and began penalizing such practices, effectively putting an end to them.

That doesn’t mean you should not have your keywords in your URLs – you just have to be smarter about it, because after all keywords in URL are still an on-site ranking factor. A keyword tracking tool like RankTrackr allows you to group together similar keywords and build URLs that cater to each of these. This way not only does every URL on your site relate to a specific keyword or search intent, you also get to see which ones perform better from an SEO perspective and focus your efforts on the high performers.

A good URL:

  • Is short. Under 100 characters works best.
  • Describes the contents of the webpage. Avoid gibberish URLs that only contain your domain name followed by a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Contains a keyword relevant to the page. In the case of local SEO, ensure you mention your city in the URL to rank better.
  • Offer a clear breadcrumbs navigation structure that includes site categories making it easy for search spiders to dig out the right pages for the right search.

4. Content That Connects

There was a time when the biggest aspect of search engine optimization was keyword optimization (read ‘stuffing’) across the site. Today, the best part of an SEO practitioner’s day is spent in content marketing.

The seeds of content marketing were sown years ago, but they firmly took root with the back to back Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird updates from Google within a span of two years. These three updates tied together three important features – content quality, backlinks and semantic search – which today make up the backbone of content marketing.

With the focus on content marketing today, Google encourages brands to help users in their own domain. Instead of optimizing web pages by overstuffing them with keywords, overusing keywords as anchor text or building spammy backlinks to one’s website; Google expects marketers to create content that answers user queries that happen to be related to their areas of core competency. The focus has clearly shifted from keywords to user intent.

Google (and other search engines) no longer process users’ search queries based on specific keywords alone. Instead they understand the context behind the query and are capable of understanding natural language patterns.

This focus on semantics and contextual search results is now an expected UX search functions on websites. While a tool such as Swiftype allows content publishers or blog sites to quickly refine results by date, author, location and content types, ecommerce merchants can take advantage of an offering like Unbxd that for personalized site search with faceted search, autocompletes, and context-aware product suggestions.

Winning content across various websites tends to have some common characteristics. Content that consistently gets ranked high on search engines is:

  • Relevant to users’ search intent
  • Contains keywords that matter incorporated in a natural way
  • Unique and extremely high quality
  • Fresh and constantly updated
  • Belongs to sites that enjoy high domain authority

5. Clear Internal Link Structure

Just as re-sorting the clothes in your wardrobe helps you dress faster before work, a clear site structure with a place for everything and everything in its place helps search engines retrieve specific pages quicker. The way your URLs are structured tells search bots about the way different categories relate to one another as well as their relative levels of importance.

Make sure your content links to inside pages of your site wherever relevant. Not only does this help in clarifying the point you’re attempting to convey through your content, it also provides some much needed visibility to webpages that are buried deep inside your internal site structure. Just the way backlinks from external sites at as votes in favor of your webpages, the presence of internal links across your site perform a similar function though at a relatively muted level.

Keeping your XML sitemap updated in real-time is a great way to show a search bot exactly what pages your site hosts and how they relate to each other. This helps search bots in indexing your web pages as well as retrieving the correct one when needed. The other benefit of a clear internal linking structure and XML sitemaps is that search engines get alerted about new content in time and this new content gets crawled and indexed correctly. In an age where Google can slap a Panda penalty on your site for duplicate content, an updated XML sitemap that reflects new content every time you publish it helps establish that you are the original creator of such content.

Some aspects to keep in mind when tweaking or improving your internal link structure include:

  • Stick to an easily understandable category structure for your webpages. Make sure your page URLs reflect this category structure and information hierarchy clearly.
  • Never forget to create an XML sitemap for your site for the benefit of search bots – both desktop and mobile.
  • Update your sitemaps each time there is new content posted to your site so search bots can index the new content right away.
  • Avoid creating too many internal links on a single page. Google and most other search engines only crawl through the first 150 to 200 links per page. Any links that appear beyond this figure typically falls into the dark zone from an SEO perspective.
  • Create a coherent linking structure between all your webpages. Pages that can only be accessed through onsite searches will most likely not be indexed at all by search engines.

6. Optimize for Mobile

The predictions of web pundits finally came true last year as internet browsing via mobile devices officially overtook that via desktop computers. The explosive growth of smartphones has not only transformed web browsing but also e-commerce, app marketing, digital advertising and social media marketing to name a few affected disciplines.

This move from desktop to mobile prompted Google to launch their ‘mobile friendly’ tags on search results pages that called out websites that were optimized for mobile and ranked them higher than those that were not.

With future trends pointing to an ever growing dependence on mobile devices and wearable technology, this focus on mobile optimized sites is only going to get stronger. To qualify as a mobile optimized site, your site needs to

  • Offer responsive design. While mobile only sites or adaptive sites are alternative ways to serve data on screens of different sizes, Google by its own admission prefers responsive design thanks to its versatility and SEO friendliness.
  • Simple and intuitive layout that carries over from desktop to mobile in a robust manner.
  • Uncluttered design with adequate white space. This will prevent users from clicking inadvertently on wrong sections on smaller screens and reduce the associated frustration.
  • Use images that are responsive as well to be visible on the small screen.
  • Be light and quick to load. Heavy sites that take forever to load incur high mobile data charges and can often deter users from entering them.

In Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. There are a host of other elements that hold promise as potential SEO superstars for the future, like optimized site images and schema markup. However without clear indications from Google about the importance it places on these secondary factors, your core focus for a long term SEO vision should ideally revolve around these evergreen site elements.

Learning How to Everything Part 1: 5 Tools All Online Marketers Should Use

Marketing-tools

Wearing multiple hats in the online marketing world has become a necessity. With the Internet and leading social networks constantly developing new protocols and guidelines for online business success, it’s essential to have multiple skillsets and to adapt quickly.

Very rarely will a social media specialist only focus on writing Facebook posts and an SEO specialist only work on optimization. Many online marketing roles tend to blend together, for the better. A social marketer who has a basic knowledge of SEO and keyword terms is more likely to produce better clicked-on posts. Same goes for the blog writer who has a decent understanding of keyword research.

Running around in circles trying to crack Google’s new algorithm, while watching Zuckerberg’s latest statement can be stressful. These five tools will help you not only succeed in the online marketing world, but survive.

​Project Management – Basecamp

When managing a team or working directly with clients, it’s important to have a central database to stay organized with. Basecamp is the perfect product to combine client and employee interaction as well as daily to-dos, file management, and approvals. Imagine logging onto your computer each day and having your to-do list already sorted for you, by priority, and an overview of what your week is going to look like. Welcome to the world of Basecamp.

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Image Source: Basecamp

Pros

  • You can access Basecamp from anywhere! It’s mobile-, tablet-, computer-friendly so you never have an excuse to miss your next deadline. Check your daily to-dos over morning coffee, communicate with clients, and open project files from your phone or tablet.screenshot-01-7a745d6b7c345a05e59ec99ac87ad5a8

Image Source: Basecamp

  • Basecamp is very user-friendly. It’s dashboard is extremely self explanatory making it easy to communicate with clients and delegate new projects with coworkers. Adding new tasks, projects, or members, as well as removing them, is simple with Basecamp.
  • You can duplicate already created templates saving time on creating new project folders with deadlines and tasks.
  • Basecamp offers the first two months for free. Unlike most 30 day trials, Basecamp gives you two months to really implement it’s product with your day-to-day systems.

Cons 

  • Repeat reminders or a deadline with a clicking clock would be helpful for us marketers who suffer from Sticky Note Syndrome. If we don’t have something staring at us in the face or popping up to remind us, we forget everything. Similar to notes on your phone, a project management tool needs to have pop-up alerts reminding you of deadlines and countdowns. Basecamp has similar features with their milestone email reminders that go out when it is assigned and 48 hours later, but misses the overall point of reminders. Checking your calendar and to-do list on Basecamp regularly is your only hope of reminders, so you may want to keep that stack of sticky notes on your desk.
  • You can create duplicate templates, but not recurring to-dos in Basecamp, which can be a huge face palm when your daily to-dos consist of 15+ of the same tasks. Repetition at it’s finest.

SEO Management – Authority Labs

Well, duh. We couldn’t talk about managing your SEO and keyword research without at least mentioning our homemade SEO software. We’ll keep the breakdown quick and to the point, to avoid any biases.

100awesomeImage Source: Honesty For Breakfast

Pros

  • Avoids having to login to multiple tools. AL is a one-stop SEO shop that provides accurate and reliable SEO tracking, competitor tracking, and keyword insights all in one place.
  • Tracks local rankings and recover the really annoying not provided keywords
  • You don’t have to download any additional software onto your computer. Just login and use.
  • Can share reporting internally, as well as with clients, to help keep everyone informed of SEO efforts.
  • There are no contracts, so you can cancel anytime. Not that you’d want to.
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Cons

  • Being too awesome.

Social Media Management – Sprout Social

The debate between if Hootsuite or Sprout Social is better can go on forever, but as a social media specialist who has to use one of these tools, I prefer Sprout Social. Sprout’s dashboard alone makes me more inclined to use it over Hootsuite. With it’s clean and easy to use interface and client reporting features, it helps managing several different social media profiles easy as pie.

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Image Source: Tumblr

Pros

  • View all of your profiles and messages at once and organize how your feed looks. If you want to focus on a specific client and the messages they’ve received on all of their social networks, just check the box. Same goes for viewing different profiles. If you have similar clients or a client who has multiple profiles, you can filter them all at once or one at a time just by checking the box.

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Image Source: Zack Sylvan

  • If you have a social media team, Sprout Social makes it easy to manage who is in charge of what with their “Tasks” option. Internally message your team or direct a person to be in charge of scheduling Facebook posts for your new client. Follow-up and create dialogue all within Sprout Social.
  • Make the social media reports (CSV or PDF) from Sprout Social your own with their free branding option. It allows you to embed your logo and business information onto the report so it feels as if it is coming directly from you.
  • Everything you need to perfect your social media marketing comes with Sprout social, including their ViralPost feature that determines the best time to schedule posts based on your audience, ability to monitor your brand keywords, and shorten website links all in one program.

Cons

  • Sprout Social currently doesn’t offer it’s services for every social network out there, specifically Pinterest. It connects with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Pinterest has it’s own analytics and is a network you don’t really schedule things for anyway, so it may not make a huge difference for your marketing.
  • The cost for Sprout (starting at $59) is higher than Hootsuite (free to $9.95), but some argue it’s features, reporting, and tracking are well worth the increased cost.

Online Marketing Education – Lynda

In any industry it’s important to never stop learning. Want to learn how to produce stunning visuals in Photoshop? Need specific info on how to create a WordPress plug-in? Lynda is a great tool for online marketers who wear several different hats and want to polish up their skillset. Lynda offers a variety of online video tutorials and training, especially for graphic design, SEO and social media marketing.

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Image Source: Lynda.com

Pros

  • When you’re a member you can take as many courses as you want 24/7, with as broad of topics as you’d like. If you have a week off and want to learn how to master Google Analytics, Lynda can help.
  • You receive a certificate for each course you complete. This is great to share with colleagues and add to your resume.
  • The teachers aren’t just classroom instructors. They’re people who do what they’re teaching for a living, and are experts at the subject, giving you the most up-to-date information.
  • Catch up on courses on using your tablet or mobile phone. You can access Lynda from any device.

Cons

  • Lynda doesn’t always have the exact course you want. For very specific topics you want to learn, you may have better luck on YouTube or following industry blogs. For overall ideas and a better understanding of online marketing topics, Lynda has just what you need.

Content Marketing – Buzzsumo

Even the best writers eventually run out of ideas. Buzzsumo is a great idea generator, as well as research tool for content marketers. Discover what kinds of content people in specific industries are reading, linking to, and responding best to. Buzzsumo helps content marketers generate new ideas for topics that are already succeeding and being shared online.

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Image Source: buzzsumo.com

Pros

  • Identify key influencers and their topics
  • See who is linking to and sharing specific kinds of articles. You can recreate similar articles to reach a similar demographic.
  • The analysis report Buzzsumo provides goes back 6 months and provides you with tons of information like how many articles were published with that topic, the average shares per social network, most shared domains for a keyword, and more.
  • Link builders, also known as “Guest Posters” can use Buzzsumo to scrape new potential blogger relationships, as well.

Cons

  • Buzzsumo isn’t the most cost effective tool for small businesses. Starting at $99 a month, Buzzsumo can take up a pretty large amount of the marketing budget for small and local businesses.

There are hundreds of other equally helpful tools to streamline your day-to-day tasks, but the above tools are a great starting point for any online marketer. Did I miss one of your favorite tools? Comment below with the tools you use most to help succeed with your online marketing.