If you want your small business to be found in Google searches, or you want to develop a following on social media networks, you need to create content. Like any small business marketing effort, creating content can be a lot of work. But there are a variety of free or inexpensive Web tools that make it easier to develop search-engine-optimized content and social media updates. Here are five of the best.
InboundWriter is billed as the "first social writing application." The free version lets you optimize up to eight documents per month; more than that requires a $20 monthly plan. While there are a few other keyword-optimizing tools out there, none that I'm aware of are as comprehensive.
The small business software works like this: After setting up your account, you create a new document. Next, tell InboundWriter what the document's topic is; you can supply up to three terms. Once you've entered those terms, you can also give InboundWriter some websites your site (or blog) competes against.
All this information provides InboundWriter with context, so it can make its best guesses as to the keyword phrases for which you should optimize your content. After you type your document (I prefer to copy and paste text from Microsoft Word), you'll receive a document score from 0 to 100, based on how well or poorly your document is optimized for relevant keyword phrases.
InboundWriter is a keyword-optimizing Web tool.
(Click for larger image).
InboundWriter displays a list of focused and relevant terms and rates them as to how effective they may be for optimization purposes. The software calculates how many times you've used a given term and provides easy-to-follow recommendations.
For instance, for a blog post I wrote, "Checking email on vacation? Read me first," InboundWriter made the following suggestion: "You are using the Focus Term 'vacation' in your title - nice job. However, it is not at the beginning of the title.
We suggest starting your title with a Focus Term to increase emphasis. This will help improve your score. The star rating of a term reflects how well the term is suited for your current strategy."
While helpful, InboundWriter has some room for improvement. For instance, it suggested I consider optimizing my blog post for "renewable energy" and "solar power information," topics my post didn't touch upon. (Although I guess you could argue that a vacation is its own form of renewable energy.)
Also, typing into InboundWriter's document field can be extremely slow, and the sluggishness tended to cause me to make errors. But these are minor quibbles. InboundWriter is a must for anyone writing online content, and I'm looking forward to the WordPress plug-in that's in the works.
Distributing keyword-optimized press releases can help potential customers find your website through Google and Bing searches. And it can help you get noticed by media and bloggers (as long as your release has genuine news or useful information, of course.)
There are multiple press release services available online. Some are too expensive and complicated for the average small-business person without a PR/marketing background. Others are free but don't provide any guidance or SEO boost. PRWeb manages to find a happy middle ground.
PRWeb's rates are reasonable, ranging from $80 to $360 per release; I usually go with the $200 per release rate, a level that includes search engine optimization. As you go through the process of creating your release, however, PRWeb will offer a number of add-ons, which can add up quickly if you're not careful.
The interface is easy-to-use, and the PRWeb Learning Center provides practical advice on how to SEO your release; press release writing tips; and more. I've found their phone support to be friendly and helpful, too. And PRWeb provides good (though not extensive) analytic data about the traffic and distribution your release receives, too.
As with InboundWriter, it's best if you write your release in Word or another text editor, then copy and paste it into PRWeb's template. Two complaints: Formatting, such as italicized book titles, is stripped out, and at least with the $200 level, you can't add hyperlinked phrases to your release (which can help with SEO).
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