32 free tools to help make your digital campaigns more effective
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes, 14 seconds
Since I started working in digital marketing around four years ago, I’ve found and used hundreds of free tools with the intention on making my working life easier.
Of these hundreds of tools, here are some of my favourites that I now use religiously.
About: SpyOnWeb is an amazing tool that allows you to input a URL and identify other websites that are featured on the same server or Google Analytics account.
- Detecting link networks
- Finding future competitor projects
About: Robotto, built by Semetrical, is a robots.txt monitoring tool that alerts you when your robots.txt file is changed.
- Monitoring changes to your robots.txt file
- Preventing robots.txt from staging server being pushed to your live site
3. Microsoft SEO Toolkit
About: Despite having a steep learning curve, the Microsoft SEO toolkit is probably one of the best ever free SEO tools, allowing you to crawl websites and mine huge amounts of technical data.
- Crawling (customised crawling based on rules)
- Mining data from complicated sites
- Technical auditing
- Problem solving
About: Tynt is an extremely valuable tool for online publishers, as it allows you to add links to content that is copied and pasted from your website. Once you’ve added the code to your website, Tynt will automatically add a source link to any content that is copied and pasted from your site.
- Preventing people from stealing your content
- Generating links
About: UberSuggest is a keyword suggestion tool that provides ideas for keyword targeting by scraping Google suggest and other similar resources.
- Keyword research
- Article ideas
6. Screaming Frog
About: In my opinion, Screaming Frog is the best crawler currently available, as it has the best user interface, the best customisation options and it can be ran an ad-hoc basis (as opposed to scheduled crawlers).
- Crawling websites
- Detecting technical issues (ie: rogue 404s, response codes, redirect issues, mis-used meta robots & canonical tags etc)
- Finding GA tracking code issues
7. Author Crawler
About: Author Crawler, which was built by Tom Anthony, allows users to automatically find potential prospects for link building and also display information about them and the sites they contribute to, which is taken from their social profiles.
- Link prospecting
- Social analysis projects
8. Buzzstream Blogroll List Builder
About: The blogroll list building tool from Buzzstream is a great addition to any link building campaign, as it helps to build comprehensive lists of blogs in seconds.
- Building lists of niche bloggers
- Finding under-the-radar bloggers
9. Bulk http header checker
About: This tool, built by Tom Anthony of Distilled, allows you to simply and quickly check the response codes of large lists of websites / pages. You can also download the results as in csv format.
- Checking redirects
- Checking if pages are accessible to different user agents
- Checking if websites / pages are unavailable
About: Wirify is a really useful Google Chrome extension that quickly creates a wireframed version of the website you are on. Although you need the premium version to get the most from this tool – the free version is a great resource.
- Creating wireframes quickly
11. SEO bookmarklets – Tom Critchlow
About: The bookmarklets featured in this blog post by Tom Critchlow are extremely useful and can save you loads of time. These bookmarklets are all different and range from viewing a site’s link profile in Open Site Explorer to checking for technical issues.
- Quickly viewing OSE data for the page you’re on
- Quickly running a site: search
- Checking Google’s latest cached version of the page you’re on
- Viewing social data for the site you’re on
- Viewing information about the site you’re on
- Identifying technical issues with a site
12. Scraper for Chrome
About: The scraper extension for chrome is an amazing tool that allows you to scrape particular elements of a web page directly into Google Docs. This plugin has revolutionised the way that many people obtain data and is one of my favourite browser extensions.
- Scraping Google (great for prospecting when using advanced search operators)
- Gathering data with similar attributes quickly
About: Wappalyzer is a simple chrome extension that tells you which applications are being used by the website you’re looking at.
- Finding out which platform / CMS a website is built on
- Finding out which analytics platform a site is using
- Looking at server information
- Finding out which frameworks are being used
14. Grab y’all links
About: Grab Y’all Links is a simple yet effective extension for Google Chrome, allowing you to convert a list of all of the tabs you have open into a pdf or text list.
- Saving link prospects
- Saving links for later
15. Awesome screenshot
About: Awesome screenshot allows you to take a screenshot of an entire page (not just the bit on the screen) and it then edit it. Once you’ve edited the screenshot you can then save it as an image or to Google Drive.
- Taking screenshots of specific sections of a page
- Taking screenshots of an entire site
- Annotating screenshots
- Highlighting focal points
Project Management Tools:
About: Trello is an amazing project and task management tool that can be integrated with a range of additional tools and service providers with its API. Trello has already been integrated with lots of software, including Harvest, Dropbox and Google Docs.
Trello also has apps available for iPads, iPhones and Android devices.
- Task / project management
- Integrated time management
- Export as CSV (and import into Tom’s Planner)
- Tracking tasks against a calendar (using a plugin)
17. Remember the milk
About: Remember the milk is a task management and to-do list application that can be integrated with your calendar, mobile phone and much more. You can also add tasks on the go via their apps, Gmail and even Twitter.
- Task management
- To-do lists
About: Redmine is an open source project management tool that allows users to track bugs, manage project sprints and phases, track time and display project gantt chats. Redmine can also be integrated with a host of other services and can be customised due to the open source code.
- Project management
19. Tom’s Planner
About: Tom’s Planner is one of the tools we rely on the most at GPMD. It’s a really simple gantt chart web app that is ideal for collaborating and using as a central reference point to organise teams. There is also a public view that you can give access to people with a password. We use Tom’s Planner to plan development work, sprints and monthly digital marketing retainers. It also supports a variety of import and export options.
- Project management
Social Media Tools
20. Social Crawlytics
About: Social crawlytics, built by Yousaf Sekander of RocketMill, allows you to crawl a website and identify which pages have been shared the most. This service currently provides data on shares via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Delicious, StumbledUpon and Pinterest.
- Finding the most popular content on your site and competitor sites
- Evaluating / qualifying blogs and link prospects
- Competitor analysis and benchmarking
- Reporting (also has an API)
21. Twitter Feed
About: Twitter Feed is a really popular application that helps you to automatically update your Twitter feed. Social media automation is often frowned upon, however it’s ideal for connecting to your blog for example to automate sharing your blog updates. I also like the way you can create automatic updates with different settings for Facebook, so you can create more frequent updates on Twitter and less frequent for Facebook.
- Twitter automation
- Facebook automation
- RSS feed syndication
About: MentionMapp is one of the easiest ways I know to visualise social media networks. This tool has been gaining traction a lot over the last year and lots of people have referenced it for finding link prospects.
- Finding new people to follow on Twitter
- Finding new link prospects
23. Social Mention
About: Social Mention is a great tool that allows you to search the social web in real time. One of the main selling points of Social Mention is that it has a relatively simple API that will allow you to aggregate social data across multiple networks.
- Monitoring brand reputation
- Social prospecting
- Social data analysis
About: Tweetreach is a simple Twitter tool that provides information on how many Twitter users specific tweets and groups of tweets have reached.
- Evaluating Twitter campaigns
- Competitor analysis and benchmarking
Other / Misc Tools:
25. 4Q Survey
About: 4Q is a website survey plugin that asks your online customers four simple questions (via a popup), with the intention of gaining feedback on the usability of your website.
- Gathering customer feedback
- Identifying conversion barriers
26. Google Tag Manager
About: Google released their tag management software earlier this year, as one of the first ever free tag management options. Google tag manager allows you to manage and test all of your tags (such as analytics tracking code, third party fonts etc) in one place.
- Improving performance of your website (less tags to loads)
- Managing all tags in one place
27. RSS Mix
About: RSS Mix allows you to convert / aggregate multiple RSS feeds into one easy to access feed.
- Pulling content from multiple sources
- Saving time when manually refreshing RSS content
- Escape feed limits
28. Pingdom Server Monitoring
About: Pingdom’s server monitoring service is a hugely valuable tool that provides alerts when your website goes down.
- Alerts for when your website goes down
- Monitoring server downtime
About: Rapportive, an insanely useful extension for Gmail, is probably my favourite of all of the tools in this blog post. Rapportive provides information (such as tweets and their LinkedIn and Facebook accounts) on users based on the email address you input.
- Finding alternative contact details
- Finding people’s email addresses
About: Balsamiq is a design tool that allows you to quickly create useful mockups and wireframes. Balsamiq is now available to use via their online web app, downloadable desktop application or as a plugin for Google Docs.
- Creating wireframes and mockups
31. Pingdom Speed Tester
About: Pingdom’s speed testing tool provides a quick, yet comprehensive report on your website’s performance, giving you an overview of header requests, load time and a quality score. This tool also provides an itemised overview of the files that are contributing the most to your sites load time.
- Speed testing
- Competitor analysis and benchmarking
About: Knowem is a useful tool that lets you register profiles on over 40 different social networks at the click of a button. Knowem has free and premium versions with different features and social network options.
- Registering all social profiles for your brand
- Checking the availability of your brand name across mass social networks
If you have any other free tools / applications that you think should be on this list, please feel free to add them in the comments below.