There are a variety of (mostly) free online tools companies can use for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content creation, social media and online reputation management and website performance, all of which have the potential to improve their web strategies.
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SEO, or Search Engine Optimization
Google has found a way to help small businesses create low-budget, local advertising messages. Adwords Express is a simplified, automated version of Adwords that does not require business owners to have a website. The ads can only be seen by users who search near the business, or who use the name of the city in their search. They are displayed next to the results of Google searches on the Web and on mobile devices, on Google Maps and on the websites of relevant partners. The screen cap (below) shows how a Montreal Bed & Breakfast can compete with Booking, Trivago and Airbnb in terms of visibility.
Google Maps is an important Adwords Express feature: only ads from businesses in the travellers’ current geographic area will show when they search for a given product or service.
All the business owner has to do is write three lines about their business – including, a title and a description – and set a budget; the rest is done automatically. And, the budget is flexible: it can be increased for greater visibility, or reduced in low season.
However, this effective and profitable strategy should only be used in conjunction with Search Engine Optimization or SEO (article in French only). And, because it can be a challenge to master the complexities of SEO, there are tools to help you create an organic SEO strategy. For instance, WordPress (French only) content management users can install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin to optimize their site in search results pages and on social media. The plugin also helps users configure their SEO title settings, meta descriptions and keywords for each page of their site. It also offers advice on how to write better content.
Starting this year, Google’s website analytics service, Google Analytics, has a new feature, the Search Console, enabling users to monitor and maintain their site’s presence in Google Search results through reports, tools and educational resources.
Buzzsumo is a content intelligence tool that tells users what content is being shared the most across all social networks on a given topic, thereby enabling businesses (among other benefits) to target their blog posts. The following screen cap shows the most shared content on family activities in Québec.
In a move to make promotional videos available to small businesses, YouTube recently launched the YouTube Director app, a tool that advises users on content choice and suggests different templates, music and editing tools. With the app, users can easily create video ads from a mobile phone and then upload them to YouTube’s platform.
There are also many editing tools out there that make it easy to create compelling visuals, whether for websites, social media posts or paper versions. The Tourism Intelligence Network uses Canva, which has the added benefit of proposing predefined formats for Facebook ad banners, Twitter profile photos, Pinterest posts, and more.
Social Media Management
Managing and updating social media can be a time-consuming process. Fortunately, there are a wide range of tools to auto-schedule posts, monitor your online reputation and generate statistics that measure your actions’ effectiveness. In 2015, G2 Crowd analyzed feedback from hundreds of users on the main social media management tools. The top four – Hootsuite, AgoraPulse, Sendible and Sproutsocial – were assessed based on eight criteria, with AgoraPulse earning the highest approval rating due to its range of compelling features and its ability to meet user needs.
Subscription costs start at approximately $70 per month. While there are sites that cost less, they also offer less. Buffer, for instance, offers a $10-per-month version, but it only covers a maximum of six social media accounts and 100 posts per month.
Online Reputation Management
It’s not always easy to follow what’s being said about your business on the web. The sheer number of company mentions, volume of interactions and speedy response times that can be required all point to the need for a reputation management tool. Talkwalker and Mention both have a free version that lets you create alerts based on keywords, delivered straight to your inbox. The paid versions offer more comprehensive social media monitoring and analysis. They can also identify influencers, measure their effectiveness and provide competitive data intelligence.
Canada’s Business Development Bank offers a free website assessment tool. Simply enter the URL and you will instantly receive a personalized report of several dozen pages that includes a rating from one to ten on different aspects of the site: accessibility, user experience, marketing and technology. It even includes advice on how to solve the problems and make the necessary changes that can be passed on to the webmaster.
Along the same lines, Google has developed a tool to help companies test the strength and speed of their websites across desktop and mobile platforms, with Test My Site with Google.
This wide range of tools enables VSEs and SMEs to compete with the huge corporations’ mega advertising budgets. Do you use them? If so, we’d love your feedback.
— Chaney, Paul. « Google Launches Free Tool to Test Website Performance on Mobile and Desktop », smallbiztrends.com, 2 juin 2016.
— Coëffé, Thomas. « Adwords Express: 3 nouveautés pour améliorer la visibilité des commerces de proximité », blogdumoderateur.com, 18 août 2016.
— Gonzalo, Frédéric. « 7 outils pour gérer vos médias sociaux », fredericgonzalo.com, 9 août 2016.
— Mathieu, Isabelle. « 3 Outils de Marketing de Contenu pour Améliorer votre Stratégie Éditoriale », emarketinglicious.fr, 24 mars 2016.
— Mathieu, Isabelle. « Les 4 Meilleurs Outils de Gestion de Réseaux Sociaux en 2015 », emarketinglicious.fr, 16 septembre 2015.
— Swant, Marty. « YouTube Is Introducing New Ways to Help Small Businesses Make Better Video Ads Including a free app with music and editing tools », adweek.com, 15 juin 2016.
— Webmarketing & Com. « Top 30 des plugins SEO WordPress », webmarketing-com.com, 30 juin 2015.
OTHER ARTICLES TO READ:
(ARTICLES IN FRENCH ONLY)
- L’art du référencement naturel
- Référencement naturel : l’abc des mots clés
- Création d’un site Web sur WordPress
- De la création de contenu à la diffusion de la vidéo
- Comment tirer parti de la vidéo
- Le sondage de satisfaction a-t-il toujours sa place en hôtellerie
- Se classer aux premiers rangs sur tripadvisor