12 Tools And Recommendations For Digital Consultants
Another listicle post (a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article) instead of me arguing about a topic. But if you give me a brief moment I’ll go through the tools for most things digital I work with as a consultant at the Stockholm based agency Curamando. I want to make sure you’re using the same great tools and resources for SEO, analytics and online in general. My intention is to speed up your workflow, give you additional insights and help solve day to day issues.
Managing your digital life and all its glorious tasks
It took me a few years to find the perfect fit for managing my day to day work life. I’ve been a mess, but with the help of experienced colleagues, a good book and a great toolset – I’m on top of things.
1. This is Lean (for reading)
2. Pen and paper
4. Google Keep
I would recommend everybody and their mum to read This is Lean by Niklas Modig and Pär Åhlström. The book thought me how to manage time and tasks, from client projects to that time consuming thief we call the email inbox.
I am also a strong believer of paper and pen. When you write down tasks and ideas, they get stuck in your mind. We all need to scribble more and sort out our thoughts before opening up Powerpoint or tackle that analysis. Always carry a notebook and a pen. Always.
Make Trello work for you, not against you. I’m using Trello daily with a board of tasks sorted by Todo, Doing, Done and Delivered. I’m never adding tasks that are not in the project scope, to keep it clean and manageable. My column named Delivered contains tasks I’ve completed but waiting on feedback from clients or colleagues. It is way more fun getting things done when you actually see them completed. You can use Trello in your browser or as an application for you mobile device. Managing tasks could not be easier.
Google Keep fills a big gap in my world. Location based notifications. With Keep I’m adding “give Carlo that awesome Excel report” and then my phone will notify me when I enter the office. “Ah! Here you go, Carlo. That awesome Excel report is finished”. For a consultant, Keep is a must. I’m adding notes all the time based on my actual location which makes room in my brain for other things – like jazz music or the latest Miami Dolphins news.
Keeping yourself on top of tasks and always writing down notes is all you need. I tried the Trello, email, Slack, Skype, Excel project management sheet, Evernote and post-its on your desk approach. It does not work. Always keep it simple. One channel for communication, one for tasks and their progress as well as one place for your notes. So simple and straight forward.
Working with Google Analytics
If you’re not managing a Google Analytics account, shame on you! I’m sorry, but analytics is fun. And for us lucky consultants that work with data, we’re going to talk about:
5. Simo Ahava
6. Google Tag Assistant
7. Google Analytics debugger
If you’re not new to analytics, skip this part as you know who Simo is. That guy from Finland that eats Google Tag Manager solutions for breakfast and writes pretty awesome how to implementations for geeks like you and me, on his lunch breaks. Subscribe to Simo’s blog or follow him in social media. This is the shortest way to GTM enlightenment.
Are you back from a few weeks reading at Simo’s blog? Good. Let’s make sure that you’ve installed the Google Tag Assistant extension in your Chrome browser. This little extension will make debugging Google Analytics implementations a walk in the park. The extension have saved me from a headache or two, to say the least.
Getting into the data spirit, we want to install the Google Analytics debugger extension which enables the built in Console (in Chrome) to talk dirty to us. What is being loaded, what is being tracked – basically what is happening behind the scene. Oh mama!
Working with SEO and search
Reporting and managing rankings, share of search and the constant changes to our beloved SERP’s can be more than a handful. For reporting, doing research and checking rankings I have two tools that you should have too.
SearchMetrics is a wonderful tool for doing research. Finding out a domains visibility in search, getting ideas and keyword data fast – to get up and going. I’ve worked with setting up dashboards with clients and it does work as intended. Like a charm.
SEMrush is my killer tool which is always evolving with new features that I didn’t know I wanted. For the sake of transparency, I am sponsored by Semrush when I’m our lecturing about SEO. But I am also sponsored because I find the tool to suit my needs in my daily SEO work.
These two tools will not be free, but worth every single penny (or as we say in Sweden, Krona). When it comes to SEO tools, you really get what you pay for. But we’re not quite finished yet. A good digital consultant should use a few more tools that works for you, when you’re too busy drinking coffee or answering emails.
Robotto is great for keeping yourself updated with HTTP responses for your client websites, as well as any changes to the Robots.txt file. But just to be on the safe side when clients start to edit their Robots.txt file (we’ve all seen websites leave Googles index due to bad file handling) let’s use Changedetection to track changes to Robots.txt files. Oh yes, it works for those too. How great is that?
Finally, we have to address the elephant in the room. Speed.
Google Pagespeed Insights gives you insights and actions on how to tweak performance and speed of a website. We all want websites to load fast and without hassle, so let Pagespeed Insights guide you to a better experience for visitors.
Until next time – take notes with a pen, sort your tasks, understand data better for each day, make better informed search decisions with great tools and never lose another domains visibility in search when a client implements a strange HTTP response code or Robots.txt file.