Let me first clarify what this post is not. It is not a comprehensive list of SEO and Inbound Marketing tools, but rather is a list of the essential tool types you need, with some mention of specific and well known tools.
Within each tool category there are either zero to dozens of options. Where there are dozens we all benefit. Where there are zero I find myself wondering why the void exists.
Anyway, here is the list:
Marketing Analysis Tools
Perhaps they’re out there, but I know of no good tools that help guide a business through what I call their marketing analysis. This is an assessment of the four important questions every entrepreneur must answer in order to design their message, their sales funnel, their website copy, and their marketing automation setup.
- Why are you in business?
- What do you sell?
- Who do you sell it to?
- What decision process do they go through as they progress from strangers to customers?
I think there is an opportunity for someone to create a tool that will help walk entrepreneurs through this thought process.
Landing Page Layout Tools
Landing pages have characteristics special to landing pages and different from other pages.
They should make copious use of white space, lack all but two courses of action (go forward or go back) – even to the point of not having menu’s, and should encourage people to leave their contact information in exchange for something the visitor finds useful.
One low cost option is InstaPage, where you can buy landing pages templates for $12 to $18 each.
Sales Funnel Design Tools
Your sales funnel is the buyers decision process flipped upside down. Their buying decision process is your sales funnel.
At a minimum you need one piece of content for each step in the sales funnel, each step should lead to the next step, and the progress from one step to the other should feel natural to the website visitor.
Again, I see an opportunity for someone to create a good software tool for this. Right now I literally use a piece of paper and a pencil.
Call to Action Buttons Tools
This is nothing more or less than a tool that allows you to create large visually obvious Call to Action (CTA) buttons that when selected load either predefined URLs or pop-up windows.
My preferred CTA tool is MaxButtons, a free WordPress plugin. The CTA button at the bottom of this post was created using MaxButtons.
Website Audit Tools
Here we are getting to where there are literally dozens of tools, but there is one huge hole in these tools. These tools tend to report on every little technical SEO detail of your website, but completely ignore the most important stuff which is your publishing activities over time.
They fail to take into account how well your website tagline, website category names, and blog post titles either form a topic thread (or don’t) and they fail to take into account reporting on your publishing frequency and schedule.
There are literally too many such tools to create a comprehensive list, but since they fail to check the most important stuff (your publishing activity) that doesn’t bother me as the free ones are not very good and the expensive ones are beyond the reach of small business budgets.
Post Audit Tools
There are a lot of good tools in this category, which we generally define as SEO tools. The one that is most widely used is the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin. WordPress is the most common CMS (Content Management System) on the Internet, and (I believe) Yoast is the most widely installed SEO plugin among those WordPress sites.
Content Management Systems
This is almost another way of saying “webserver platform” as those have recently become synonymous. WordPress is the clear marketing leader with over 25% of the Internet now running on a WordPress website.
WordPress has become so popular because of the various CMS options available, it is easy to use and easy to update.
Content Creation and Schedule Tools
This is where things really start to get important and tools start to get good.
I’m going to specifically mention two tools, along with their pros and cons.
HubSpot is the 800 lb Gorilla in this market
The most important thing to know about HubSpot is it’s not WordPress, it’s a WordPress competitor. The big advantage of HubSpot is that various important pieces (content creation, landing page design and creation, calls to action, etc) is that fact that all the various components of the HubSpot system work well together and as a result HubSpot has an excellent analytics dashboard where you can get a great view of what’s happening and how things are going.
The two BIG disadvantages of HubSpot are: 1) that it’s very expensive for small businesses ($800 to $1,000 per month) for the tool and someone still needs to create content at regular and frequent intervals, and 2) In the HubSpot business model because the website is built on HubSpot rather than a different CMS, you don’t actually own your CMS you rent it by the month. This is a problem as when you stop renting it, it goes away.
CoSchedule is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create a “multiuser” blog where more than one writer and/or editor work together on the generation, scheduling, and publishing of content. CoSchedule allows you to create a true editorial workflow, which is one thing that native WordPress does very poorly.
The only tool that currently exists to do this (that I know of) is CoSchedule and I’ve heard it’s a very good tool.
I personally give writers author accounts in WordPress and provide feedback and editorial comments on post via Google Docs in a shared Google Drive. Inelegant and a bit clunky, but free.
If you do’t use HubSpot (or even if you do) you have access to two free and excellent tools from Google. They are Google Analytics and Google Search Console, and yes you need them both. They report on different aspects of your website.
Having said all that, tools aren’t enough, you also need well established processes for publishing fresh useful content to your website and regular and frequent intervals.SEO Needs Link Building