Nowadays, it seems as if everyone has a pulse on the branding and SEO market. There are so many companies with so many products it’s hard to discern what works and what is worth making the investment and taking the risk. I’ve compiled a very small list of some of the online tools I’ve used over the years, and if you are starting out as a small business owner and want to break out into sea of SEO and brand development, I have some tools you absolutely cannot live without. Check it out!
Brandify is an incredible tool. I love this product so much I tell all my clients, big and small that they need to employ this crafty little site, just so they can glimpse at their score. Even if it’s just for kicks, big businesses should see how they score in the scheme of things. And if you are a little fish starting out, this is a great tool to show where and how you need to engage (more or less) on the internet. Your brand is everything, so build it, protect it and get noticed and Brandify helps simplifies the branding formula. To begin with, it is a FREE service. There are a couple fundamental steps to get you started. For the sign up all that is required is an email address or an existing personal Facebook or Twitter account that is attached to your business page(s). From here it will take you through a very painless set up process. Be sure to have your social media account URL’s, and correct business name available. After this step, you can now discover how your brand and online presence appears to the world. You will be given a page that shows you your score, trends, what of their recommended sites you are set up on and how they rank by interaction. In these boxes, you will see a circle that is either orange, green or red that indicate, what your existing sites are, what you need to setup, and what you don’t have setup online at all. It is very easy to add any/all sites and once this is completed you will have a custom page tailored to your brand and online presence. It gives you insights, recommendations, social data and an activity feed so you can track and understand why your score is going up or down. You will also get a weekly Brandify update to assist you in tracking your progress. In addition to this awesome little nugget, they have excellent customer service. I had an issue with Bing, for some reason my listing wasn’t showing up, I emailed Brandify’s support about my issue and they added it for me. Recently, Brandify added a publish option as well so you are capable of publishing content and back-linking it to your website. It’s quite brilliant and it will help boost your SEO and branding efforts in addition to helping you understand how social media effects all of these things.
All in all, Brandify isn’t THE tool, but it’s definitely “a” tool to add to your marketing toolbox. Big company or not it’s worth just looking at your score and having fun with it!
UpCity (formerly DIYSEO)
Cost: $24 p/month approx.
UpCity is another great tool for your toolbox! If you are trying to become skilled at what this SEO thing is all about SEO is great way to learn the lingo get the beginner’s look at what this all means. The one thing we fail to remember about SEO is the fact that SEO is more than just becoming #1 on Google by creating off page links. There is the on page SEO as well, and UpCity will teach you what you need to know about on page SEO in addition to branding, identity management, social media content, directory listings, meta tags-titles-descriptions, the importance of reviews, creating Google keywords, how to set up Google Analytics for your website etc… This might seem like pretty basic stuff for the novice but not so much for the beginner hence why UpCity is great when learning basic SEO. For the beginner, this is a brand new world, one that is filled with acronyms, tech savvy words, lingo and website directories you’ve never heard of.
When I first started out in SEO I was able to talk my boss into paying the nominal $26 a month for DIYSEO. At first glance, I felt like I was reading a website in a foreign language but with perseverance and some good counsel from some encouraging developer friends, I pushed on. Along with DIYSEO I learned the basics of on page SEO. Our website was old, and even after redeveloping the site, we were still indexed vey low on Google’s radar. I was able to turn our ratings from 100+ to 28 in just a matter of months. Mind you if I was an SEO expert then I could’ve done this in a couple of weeks or days, but for a beginner who became a novice, this a huge triumph. UpCity gives you a report card and daily tasks to check off every week, so you can stay on task. If you don’t know how to do something they have a “how to” on every task, and if something is too overwhelming you can check, “I’ll do this later”. UpCity is not going to make you #1 on Google, but it will unquestionably impel you in the stratosphere of SEO and online capture. They touch a little bit about off page SEO by creating links and encouraging you to write reviews about products you use and linking it back to your site which is great, however, be informed, UpCity’s main intention is to teach you basic SEO. Quite honestly, I had no guidance when I was first catapulted into SEO/online marketing, and this was a great teaching tool. We still pay the $26 a month so I can go back and re-visit and polish some of the basic SEO, and UpCity keeps up with everything new, they are constantly updating their site to make sure that their clients have the freshest content out there in the world of marketing and SEO. It’s a great service at a great price and well worth the nominal investment.
Google Trends is another incredible tool to have in your toolbox. Wanna know what people are searching when looking for let’s say a dentist in Austin. Type in Dentist Austin, and you GT will show you the top 10 searches with those two keywords. You break it down by country, state, city, zip code. The idea of this is to make sure that your website has the right meta data content, which means you want to have the right words in your website so Google will catch you in their online searches. Now, to be clear this isn’t a slam dunk, Google has created a very intricate algorithm to keep you from placing too much Meta data within your website. If Austin Cosmetic Dentist is the top keywords search for a dentist in Austin, TX then you have to be careful how many times you place this in your content in your website and Meta data. Relevancy is key as well, if the content is not relevant to the specific pages you placing, then Google will either drop your rating or mark you as quarantine. Be careful, and be smart when writing the content for your website and Meta data. Always make sure it is original and unique, because Google and their crawlers will crawl your site and they will see what you’ve been up to!
Cost: $450 annually
Directory listings are a pain in the butt! Let’s face it, none of us want to sit in front of a computer like a marketing robot and type the same thing over and over. More importantly, we want to make sure that our listings are uniform. Yext is a great tool to get yourself listed on every directory that matters. It’s simplistic to use, you basically go to http://www.yext.com, type in your business name and phone number and voila, Yext will show you every directory you are not listed on and/or what directory needs to be updated. Google likes consistency and so do consumers, the more places you are listed, the better and the higher the Google ranking. Mind you, Yext is not cheap, however, it is cheaper than paying a monthly individual fees for most of the web directories, such as Manta, Merchant Circle, Yellow Pages etc.. Yext, puts you on the map, pulls the information from your website and when done, you have a full list of directories you are posted on. When you want to make a change you don’t have to remember a million usernames and passwords, you just have to remember one (Yext) and from there you can edit each individual site. The annual charge for Yext is around $480 and you have to pay this up front but if you look at it from a monthly standpoint it comes to around $20 a month; a trifling investment for something that is tedious, time consuming and frustrating.
The online success of your business is dependent on how much effort you want to put forward. These options are great starter tools and a fabulous way to teach yourself a little bit about the branding and SEO world. And if you are a small business starting out and are trying to learn the world of SEO these are awesome! If you have the time and little bit of marketing budget, I highly recommend these tools, they are effective, smart and intuitive and well worth the investment!