Use these products and conquer your market by getting a head start. These are the tools I use to build all of my websites and my clients' sites, including several eCommerce stores, popular blogs, and service showcase websites. I endorse all of these products because I use them daily. As an incurable tinkerer and explorer of new stuff, I have tried thousands of pieces of software in my quest to build the best performing and converting websites. An insatiable curiosity will kill you if you're a cat, but can help you make better decisions as a marketer.
Digital Marketing resources, apps, tools, and tips to help you build a profitable business online
Edison tried 1000 lightbulb designs before settling on one final design. So, to save you countless hours of experimentation, here is my selection of final ‘lightbulb' software tools in the online business and marketing world.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you.
If you do nothing else, get a good web hosting package! Slow websites were acceptable back in the old days of the internet. Now the speed that your pages load directly affects your bottom line. A slow website means lost revenue.
And what about support when something happens to your website or if you have questions? Good web hosting companies are easy to contact and fast to react.
The web is absolutely full of hosting providers that work on the upsell method. Whatever you buy initially won't be good enough and you'll end up spending a lot of money in the long run. FastComet doesn't employ these shady methods. They are reliable, don't force the upsells, are fast, and the customer support is awesome.
FastComet – A new kid on the block but one that's blowing away the competition.
Opt-In Forms & Lead Generation
Building your email list is super important. I'm sure you know so I'll get straight to the point. Use one of these two options.
- Convertful is the software we use over many websites. With many different styles to choose from, A/B testing, and inline, after content, and pop-up options, ConvertFul is great value.
- One of the original lead generation tools is Optin Monster. With a great reputation the software is still serving businesses all over the internet.
Landing Page Builders
Creating fancy landing pages for products, launches, webinars, and even blog posts used to be difficult or expensive. These days it's a breeze with the following superb page builders
- Elementor is the rising star in the visual page builder and landing page builder world.
- Landingi offers great customizations and an interface that many people love. Get 15% off with this link. ⬅
- DragDropr is one of the easiest tools to use and the software I use to throw up quick landing pages.
Analytics and Webmaster Tools
Google Analytics is the big daddy of website (and app) analytics software. It's an excellent tool. Easy to get started with but if you want to get more than the basic reports you will need to invest some time in properly learning the software. It's way more complex and complete than most people realise. Try the (free) Google Analytics Academy or the (paid) Jeffalytics courses.
Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) could be considered a companion product to Google Analytics. It performs a different purpose but both are intricately tied and anyone with a website they care about should have Search Console installed. It's free and will improve your search ranking just by having it installed and performing basic tasks.
I also use Bing Webmaster Tools, which takes care of Bing and Yahoo search monitoring, URL submission, and reporting. Although Bing searches are tiny compared to Google, the market share owned by Bing is actually growing. It accounts for 10-20% of some of my sites' organic traffic. At the higher end, that's one our of every 5 people. Nothing to be sniffed at.
The bonus of having Bing Webmaster tools is the complete reporting of all search tools. Unlike Google's frustrating ‘not set' keywords (due to searches being encrypted with HTTPS between client and server for logged-in Gmail users), Bing allows you to view all search keywords. These keywords can be used to improve your overall search strategy.
Not to harp on a point, but I've tried them all. Every keyword research tool, backlink checker, website auditor, and rank checker available has been given a full examination over a period of months (or even years) in my hands. Each tool has its pros and cons. There's no one tool that does every SEO-type job. Don't let them tell you that there is!
These are the SEO software tools I use on a daily basis (I will highlight tools I no longer use but wholeheartedly recommend).
- KeySearch – I love KeySearch and spend hours running keyword checks and viewing the competition. It's one of the newer products on the market and has become my favourite tool in a few months. Use code KSDISC for a 20% discount
- SEranking is what we use for ranking tracking at Fat Frog Media. The interface is intuitive and the white label reports are a huge time saver. Check out the lead generation tool also. SEranking has a few useful features like this that no other tool offers.
- KWFinder – One of the slickest looking keyword research tools. KWFinder is fast, accurate, and a pleasure to use (which is important when you spend hours on one tool alone). There's also a companion SERP results-checker called SERPchecker, which gives deeper information about search results
The images you use on a website can make or break it. Especially if the website is in a visually-oriented niche, such as photography, travel, art, graphic design, etc. With the sheer number of stock image sites available these days, there is no excuse for putting low-quality images on your website. Whether you pay for images or use free photos, is your choice. Whatever your choice, don't use photos that you are not legally permitted to do so. Always check the licence agreement and the creative commons details.
The following are some of the very best free stock image directories that I use on a regular basis. My full list numbers almost 100 sites. If you'd like the list please click here.
If you need higher-quality, specialized images or simply a larger database of photos, I recommend Depositphotos.com. Almost all of my client websites and personal business websites contain images from this stock photo site.
User Experience Analytics
Make videos out of your visitors' sessions. Record their movements, clicks, and reading habits. Check out the mine of information for marketing and SEO people that Inspectlet provides.
Once you've uploaded those images you'll want them to load quickly for users. If not, they will click off to another site. Nobody likes waiting for websites to load. That's where an image optimization tool comes in. Check out ShortPixel, a plugin for WordPress that automatically compresses your images. There's no loss in quality but the file size drops right down. A brilliant plugin for making your website faster.
If you care about organic traffic then it's worth investing in a rank tracker to see how your website appears in the search engine results for certain keywords. Many Rank Trackers perform some or all of the following functions
- Track your website's page ranking for individual keywords
- Track rankings across different search engines and geographical locations
- Monitor search ranking fluctuations and historical data
- Track competitor rankings for keywords
- Every year there seems to be a new batch of keyword tracking apps and I always have to give the new ones a try. The statistics and tracking part of blogging and SEO always fascinates me so finding the ultimate rank tracker is an ongoing mission. I use rank trackers to see which pages and keywords are underperforming so that I can prioritize new blog posts and editing tasks to these.
These are some of the best apps you can use today to track your website's performance based on your target keywords:
- SEranking is what we use for ranking tracking at Fat Frog Media. Unbeatable price and options.
- SEMrush falls into the same category as Ahrefs. A keyword research tool at heart but it's also a great keyword ranking tracker.
I don't publish a thing without the help of my trusted writing apps. What's the point? The app sees the text from a clinical point of view and can spot the mistakes that I never would. When you're attached to a piece of writing (as I usually am, having spent hours working on it) the mistakes become hard to spot. That's why I like to have some software to make me look good.
- Grammarly. Probably the most important tool in the shed. This free app is a life-saver. Grammarly has a free and paid for version. I use the free one but I will eventually move to the full version (just as soon as that big writing contract comes in). Grammarly can work on text in any app while you write, making it a great way to fix up content as you go along. There's also an app that you can copy and paste content into for analysis. A must have.
- Hemmingway App. A great free web-based tool which also has a paid desktop app version. Hemmingway App is great at telling me that I use the passive voice too much, that I write long sentences (like this one), and that I use too many adverbs. Yes, it's like your old school teacher but it's very effective and makes your writing shine.
- Pro Writing Aid. I discovered this app in 2017 and have been infatuated with it ever since. It's so good. For me, Pro Writing Aid is like Grammarly and HemmingwayApp fused into one excellent tool. Check it out.
Social Media and Outreach Tools
Blogging and online business success require some form of social media interaction, whether you like it or not. I'm not the biggest fan of any social network but I'm pragmatic. I know that it works and I know what I have to do. Use these social media tools to make your life easier, less cluttered, and more productive.
- Ninja Outreach. I've been using Ninja Outreach for a long time and it's always been very useful. You can perform a lot of the tasks yourself but N.O. gives you a lot more power and flexibility with your outreach campaigns. Find social media influencers, shareable content, networking leads, and more.
- Content Studio does everything you need for finding good content, scheduling on social media (or your blog), adding retargeting pixels, and automating posting. It's the best product on the market by far. If you do social media, you should try it out
URL Shorteners and Cloaking Software
I use Pretty Link Pro exclusively. It works extremely well and is very flexible. Tracking clicks, masking affiliate links, pretty bars, and public URL shortener services are all possible with this little power pack. The Pro version is worth every penny, but there's a free version also.