When you are running a business it can be hard to keep on top of all of the important jobs associated with owning a website. From getting your pages indexed in the search engines, to managing your social media pages, there are many routine tasks that need to be done in order to maintain an effective site.
What many people donâ€™t realise, especially if managing a website is a new experience for you, is that there are thousands of great free sites out there to help you with the day-to-day tasks. Here is our list of the sites we would recommend to website owners, we will update this page regularly so it is worth adding it to your favourites.
Keeping on top of your website admin is essential if you want to gain search engine traffic and provide a reliable website for your visitors. As they are the biggest, letâ€™s start with the Google tools:
Google Webmaster Tools â€“ this is the place you go to submit your website to the Google search index, check for issues such as malware, and find useful information about the performance of your site.
One specific page inside Google Webmaster Tools is worth mentioning; using the Fetch as Google tool is a great way of ensuring that all of your new pages are being crawled and added to the search index. If you just rely on the search engines to find all of your pages you will wait a long time with no guarantee that every page will be added. You can find this tool on the â€˜Healthâ€™ dropdown menu inside your Webmaster Tools account.
Google Analytics â€“ this powerful tool can give you all of the data you need to help you assess and optimise your website. Visitor numbers, geographic locations, time spent on the site, everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
Google Page Speed â€“ the speed of you website can have a huge impact on your sales and search engine ranking. People just wonâ€™t tolerate slow sites anymore, and neither will Google. This great tool will tell you exactly what you need to do to make your website faster and more efficient.
Bing Webmaster Tools â€“ donâ€™t forget about the other search engines, many people feel that Bing in particular will become more important in future. This is a similar setup to the Google Webmaster equivalent, but you can manage both Bing and Yahoo from one account.
XML Sitemaps â€“ you will notice in your Webmaster Tools accounts that the search engines need a sitemap to crawl your website more effectively. This service is the quickest and most efficient way to generate your sitemap.
myRepono â€“ it is essential that you find an effective way to back up your website in case of system problems or hackers. It would be devastating to lose all of your hard work just because you didnâ€™t have the right tools in place. There are other effective ways to do this but we like myRepono because it is automated and very easy to use. They also give you a few months worth of free credit to try the system.
We would recommend that website owners try to keep up-to-date with the trends and changes on the Internet. This can be difficult if you are busy, but it could save you time in the long-term by helping you to understand the web, and to make good decisions about your website strategy. Here are some good blogs to start with:
Matt Cutts â€“ if you want to stay in touch with Google, SEO and web marketing developments, Matt Cutts is the head of Googleâ€™s Webspam team and this is his personal blog. He often provides some explanation of changes that Google implement, and comments on other developments in the evolution of the web.
Mattâ€™s Marketing Blog â€“ another Matt (Carter) is a well-respected web expert who specialises in SEO and affiliate marketing. The blog posts and routine webinars are particularly useful for getting insight into a certain area of web strategy. Someone will often try to sell you something at the end of the session, but the advice and insight that accompanies it is usually very high quality.
Social networking and bookmarking have become such an important part of business now that we donâ€™t need to tell you to get on board. Basically, we would recommend that you have pages on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ as a minimum. If you have the time you could also consider Pinterest, Tumblr, and any of the other more prominent sites.
Social media profiles are a great way to reach a new audience, and also provide useful links and â€˜social votesâ€™ for your pages. All of these factors are now an important part of the search engine algorithms.
ShareThis â€“ social votes are an important measure of quality, both for the search engines and for visitors to a page who can see that content has been â€˜likedâ€™, â€˜tweetedâ€™ or â€˜plus 1â€™dâ€™ by other people. ShareThis is a great tool that enables you to add the sharing buttons and counters from all of the main social media sites to your website.
The modern Internet is all about using creative methods to engage your visitors and customers. Video is a proven way of doing this; people often prefer to watch than read. Whether it is on your own website, or creating a profile on a video sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo, video is a great way of varying your content and adding value to your business. Links from video sites to your website also look great to the search engines.
YouTube Create Videos â€“ this page features descriptions and links for most of the top free video creation applications on the web. You can find something here that will enable you to edit video, create slideshows, or even make your own animation.
Guest Blog It – you probably keep reading about the need to have â€˜quality contentâ€™ on your website in order to engage visitors and get a better search engine ranking. This site matches up website owners who need good content with people who want to write guest blogs on other sites.
stock.xchng â€“ whatever the purpose of your website, it is extremely important to have plenty of good quality images mixed in with your content. The big professional stock image stores can be very expensive, but this site is like a Wikipedia for images, and has thousands of great pictures for free. A little tip â€“ use the advanced search feature to filter the results and only include images that have no usage restrictions.
Content Delivery Network
CloudFlare â€“ if you want to make your website very fast and efficient, you should consider using a content delivery network (CDN) like CloudFlare. This network routes your website via their servers and distributes your content to various locations around the world. This means that when someone accesses your pages they are delivered from a location close by, at a much faster speed. The service also offers additional security protection and the basic plan can be used by anyone for free.
WordPress â€“ the Internet changed forever when WordPress was first introduced. It is now possible for anyone to make their own website without any knowledge of coding or design. Based on templates and free plugins to add additional features, this is a great option for small businesses who want to manage their own website without relying on expensive developers to do it for them.
w3schools â€“ if you have decided to try your hand at a bit of basic coding, this site is a very useful reference guide. You can easily look up the code for certain functions, or follow the tutorials if you want to learn more.
You need to be very careful with your backlinking now, as the search engines are actively penalising â€˜unnaturalâ€™ linking. However, natural, good quality links will still help you gain a better search rank and these tools are safe and very useful.
Onlywire â€“ this tool enables you to post your content to multiple social media sites as the same time, to get backlinks with keyword anchor-text. It is a paid service, but they give you a 300 submission free trial which is plenty to keep most small website owners going for a while.
Commentluv global search engine â€“ the excellent Commentluv plugin has two main purposes. As a visitor to other websites, it enables you to get â€˜dofollowâ€™ links, which are valuable for your search ranking.Â All you need to do is make a good quality comment on a blog that has Commentluv enabled, and you get linking benefits in return. This search engine will help you find blogs with Commentluv enabled.
You can also install the Commentluv plugin on your own website. There is a free version which will offer your visitors most of the same benefits you get on other sites. This is a great way to build social buzz around your content, lots of comments on a page always looks good, and having Commentluv installed will also bring you extra traffic.
Dofollow Checker â€“ this is a great tool which you can use to check and see if a website is worth making a comment on to get a backlink. You enter the URL and this site tells you which posts have page rank and provide â€˜dofollowâ€™ backlinks.
ahrefs â€“ if you want to check how many other websites are linking to you, and where they are coming from, this is the best tool we have found. Simply enter your URL and you will be provided with a detailed report on the type of links, and the anchor text that they use.