Free Marketing Tool for Small Business SEO

By Andrew Lock | Posted May 04, 2010

Andrew Lock

MarketLeap: Small Business SEO

One of the questions entrepreneurs face is how popular is your website?  Are your SEO efforts actually working?  We’ll show you a tool that might help you determine that. It's called MarketLeap.com, and it uses the one word that always attracts my attention: Free. 

MarketLeap.com screen shot; small business SEO
MarketLeap.com
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Under "Free search engine marketing tools” the site has something called the Link Popularity Check.  This allegedly lets us figure out how many other websites link to our website -- which, of course, is how many of the search engines build their results pages. 

You type in your URL (I’m going to enter mine, which will probably be very embarrassing for me when I get the results back), and then you can enter two comparison URLs. I assume they mean your competitors.  So, let’s see, Voices.com is and Voice123.com is another.  Next you select your industry and enter an access code -- you get only 10 of these free reports a day, so they have to track that somehow. 

After you enter the access code, you click “generate report.” It checks the various search engines and provides the results – your link popularity. MarketLeap says that "link popularity is one of the best ways to quantifiably and independently measure your website’s online awareness and overall visibility."

So popularity refers to the total number of links or votes -- “votes,” really?  That’s a strange term for a search engine that found for your website.  Regardless, MarkektLeap is a good way for you to check your backlinks to see who is linking to you and how the search engines treat you.

Crackle: Online Video

Do you watch TV on the Web?  You'll want to know about Crackle.com – a site where “video matters.”  I'll tell you how I found it -- I was actually referred by Hulu.  There was a program that I really wanted to watch, but frankly I’m so cheap that I don’t have all the cable channels that most people have, and I wanted to watch Damages with Glenn Close. 

I went to Hulu and searched for it there, and the site redirected me to Crackle.  So let me tell you a little bit about Crackle.  It has original programming that it creates, or at least licenses, that you won’t see anywhere else.  Some of it is a little risqué, I gotta say, but I think you might like it.  It also has movies, and of course, you know, we’re not talking about major movies here, but they have quite a selection of movies that stream.

Did I say for free?  Yeah, let me make that clear.  Everything on Crackle is available for free.  And in the television category they also have Rescue Me with Denis Leary, another one of my favorites.  But I don’t get it on cable TV, at least not the package that I have. 

Yes, they have commercials and no, you can’t stop them or bypass them.  But the good news is that the commercials are only 15 seconds.  And also, sometimes they don’t have commercials at all. 

Another great thing is that you can view it in HD.  I’m not quite sure what the resolution is, but I can tell you this much – I have a laptop with an HTMI port and I hooked that up to my HDTV and the quality is pretty incredible.  Is it as good as my cable box?  I think it’s pretty darn close.  And this is streaming over the Web. 

Check out Crackle.com for a great mix of original video programming, movies, and full episodes of TV shows.

LendingClub: Financing for Entrepreneurs

In times when credit is tight, the concept behind LendingClub.com may make a lot of sense.  At LendingClub, either you can borrow money at competitive rates, or you can lend money by basically investing in notes.

If you want to invest money, here are some of the things that Lending Club claims.  you can earn better returns: it says that the average return over the last 20 months was just a little over 9 percent.  [Note: the site states that investors have earned average returns of 9.64 percent as of 05/04/10].  

LendingClub.com screen shot; small business technology
LendingClub.com
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It’s straightforward: the money that you invest goes directly toward loans made to credit-worthy borrowers.  LendingClub says it's selective – that fewer than one out of six people who apply for a loan are accepted.  I wonder if they point that out on the borrowing side?

The site says it’s easy – basically, you build a portfolio based on criteria that you set up, and most lending members spread their investment across 10s or maybe 100s of qualified borrowers.  So you're not lending your money to any one particular person, it’s a pool of borrowers.  I hope this is different than those mortgage pools I’ve heard so much about. 

LendingClub sets the rates, so you don’t set the rate at which your money is borrowed.  And you get flexibility -- you can either reinvest the interest that you earn or you can withdraw it from the system. 

Now let’s take a look at the borrowing side of the house of Lending Club.com.  It’s a personal loan, and you can use it for anything -- it’s an unsecured loan.  The amount of that loan can be between $1,000 and $25,000, and you can use it for any purpose -- maybe debt consolidation or home improvement, an auto loan. 

Really, they’re going to grant an unsecured auto loan?  That’s interesting.  And you get a relatively low rate. It says that’s possible because, well, LendingClub doesn't have the infrastructure that a bank has.  Basically, someone else has ponied up the money and it's just the middleman.  . 

LendingClub is open to U.S. residents and in order to qualify for a loan request, you need a FICO score of at least 660. I suspect that cuts out a fair number of people. You also have to have a debt-to-income ratio below 25 percent – that’s the amount of debt that you owe compared to the amount of money you make. I guess that screening process increases the repayment success, and also the chances are much better for the people who are investing in those loans. 

LendingClub lets you invest in a series of loans, or you can borrow money from the investors – it basically bypasses the whole bank thing for loans.


You'll find lots more marketing tips and resources from Andrew Lock in our Small Business Essential series, Lock in Your Marketing Resources.

Andrew Lock is a self-described maverick marketer and the creator and host of Help! My Business Sucks, a free, weekly Web TV show full of practical marketing tips, advice and resources to help small businesses "get more done and have more fun."

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