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Comparing SEO Tracking Tools: free alternatives to AuthorityLabs

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results. If your site is higher ranked on the SERP (search engine results page) it will generally get more visitors, more ad views, more sales etc.

Many businesses target a lot of keywords to track and know how hard it is to keep it all straight. It’s good to start tracking now so you can see how your target keywords are performing over time. I have been focused on tools that are web-based. Ideally the tools would be simple — most small businesses don’t really want the geeky interface some tools offer — info overload  that is only appropriate to an SEO professional. Some find it useful to track their competition also.

Tracking links to your web pages is a major part of any SEO strategy. Fortunately, there are many tools to provide a comprehensive view of where your web pages stand. Here I will talk about four of those tools: AuthorityLabs SEO, Microsite Masters Rank Tracker, Wincher, and TinyRocketLab.

AuthorityLabs

AuthorityLabs started in 2008 and gained a strong reputation in delivering search engine ranking monitoring services. AuthorityLabs has three plans available, and it is the only one that does not offer a free plan, but it offers a free 30 days trial and it is the most complete tool.

SEOscreenshot_lab1

Some of its special features are:

  • Daily Data: Daily rank checking is provided on all accounts to give you the best opportunity to react to changes in the search results.
  • Local Results: Track search results at the city or postal code level for the most accurate and granular reporting available.
  • Global Tracking: Easily add domains or pages to be tracked from any country and language offered by Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
  • It provides all the important ranking reports, option to download and export to CSV and PDF format.
  • Emailable, automated reports available

SEOscreenshot_lab2

AuthorityLabs tracks Google, Yahoo and Bing, you can generate the graph selecting the time range, and you can also see how the graph was in a specific date in the past, this way you have total access to the keywords history.

Visit the official website: www.authoritylabs.com

 

Microsite Masters Rank Tracker

This tool was launched in 2009 and offers comprehensive rank tracking services. The first thing that you should know about Microsite Masters is that you can join for free and track up to 10 keywords, then you can update your account anytime toward one of the following plans:

SEOscreenshot_micrositemasters2
This tool tracks Google, Yahoo and Bing. It is the most complete free tool and the most similar to AuthorityLabs.

The dashboard of rankings (and the interface in general) is very user friendly and all features available are well organized on the left sidebar.

SEOscreenshot_micrositemasters1

One other cool feature is the Customized Report, which allows you to easily export the report into Excel or PSD Files and share with clients and partners. There are advanced tracking metrics to determine campaign efficiency and there is the possibility to generate graphs of each keyword to view the site’s rankings, and also where other sites rank for each keyword you track.

  • Emailable, automated reports available

SEOscreenshot_micrositemasters3

In this tool you can also generate graphs within a specific time range, but it differs from the AuthorityLabs graphs because AuthorityLabs compares all the keywords and the Microsite Masters compares each keyword by search engine.

Visit the official website: www.micrositemasters.com

 

Wincher

This tool offers two plans, both with unlimited numbers of keywords, but the free one has weekly updates, while the paid one has daily updates and costs €6.

Wincher is a simpler tool when compared to the previous ones and it just tracks Google, but it does everything it should and has the most user friendly interface, with all the rankings, graphs, keywords information, etc.

SEOscreenshot_wincher1 SEOscreenshot_wincher2

The main features are:

  • Easy search engine monitoring: Add your important keywords. We notify you when something big happens.
  • Get a grip of your Ranking history: We save ranking data every day for your keywords.
  • Dynamic low price: Add domains and keywords of your choice. Pay only for what you use.
  • Daily ranking updates: Your domain rankings on chosen keywords updates daily. And of course your competitors position as well.
  • Ranking alerts: Wincher alerts you when important changes take place!
  • Easy sharing: You can easily share your ranking success via social media.

Visit the official website: www.wincher.com

 

TinyRocketLab

This is the newest contender to join the market — in 2013. The plans available are:

SEOscreenshot_tinyrocketlab1

Key information such as keyword progress and visibility is shown in the Dashboard, and a graph is available as well. TinyRocketLab is even simpler than Wincher and offer a little less information about the keywords, but it’s not a bad tool, it’s just less detailed-oriented.

However, there is the Task management feature, that allows you to work with your team, create tasks and experiments. This is something unique among the rank trackers.

SEOscreenshot_tinyrocketlab2

 

Visit the official website: www.tinyrocketlab.com

MORE SEO RESOURCES

  • This article is very developer focused but lists some great SEO tools.
  • the place to start keyword research is here: Google Keyword Tool.  You input a series of search terms and Google tells you how many people searched for those terms, and searched for related terms, both globally and locally.  Click on the headings at the top of the table to sort by keyword, number of searches or competition. Competition is a measurement of how many people are actively marketing on that term through Google Adwords. This gives you some idea of how hard it may be to rank for the term.
  • Google Insights for Search:  Some search terms are just better than others, and search term value changes over time.  Google Insights for Search lets you rank keywords against one another and lets you see their performance over time.  The best thing, from a marketing perspective, it to have a website that sits on a keyword which is starting a meteoric rise.  For example, if you are the only cell phone accessory store with content about the iPhone the week the iPhone is announced, and your site is equipped to close sales, you’ll likely draw a lot of traffic and sell a lot of product.
  • Also a nice Beginners guide: http://www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo 
  • UPDATE: RankScanner has a great looking WordPress plugin. 5 keywords free, up to 30 free if you refer others to free  accounts. 9/month for 100 keywords.
Posted in Product Reviews, Web Design | Tagged | 3 Responses

WordPress Popover options and ways to make them less annoying

I have many clients who find that their email list is their most important marketing tool. If someone allows you to message then in their email inbox you have a great opportunity to communicate your ongoing brand messages.

The most sophisticated solution requires a member log-in system so the website can know who has signed up already. That’s what NYtimes has, for example. Without a login, the system can’t check the Mailchimp (or whatever) list and see who subscribed because WordPress doesn’t know the email address of the person who is currently visiting the site.

WHO CLICKED A LINK IN NEWSLETTER?
A partial solution is to add a special link in your email newsletter so when someone clicks a link from the newsletter they don’t get the “email wall”.

The Dreaded Email Wall and How to Make it Less Annoying

Another popular solution is to set up a “wall” where users have to give their email to read your content. Sometimes this “wall” can be “leaky” in the sense that you are not strictly requiring signup so users can just “close” the request to sign up. The strongest from of a “wall” is a “popover” where the browser screen dims and a message and signup form appear in the middle of the screen. This completely interrupts the users flow of reading your content and many users hate that interruption. But it can be effective. The name differentiates it from a “popup” which refers to how a ling can open a whole separate browser window/tab.

There are many ways to improve the way an email wall gets the users attention. Of course you want the wall to remember the user’s action from page to page so they don’t get asked over and over again. But another option is simple to have the popover appear at the bottom of the page – not when the page  first loads. Here’s a setting option for the free ITRO Popup Plugin that shows a pixel offset – a user has to scroll that far down a page to see the popover:

itro-Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 5.30.41 PM

I also suggest if you use this option you set display mode to be once per 30 days   or something like that – so if someone “closes” it the popover won’t come back.

I have recently used this more sophisticated plugin: PIPPITY

To try it out is not free – it is @$50 (or google around for coupons) – but it offers some nice features. They do offer a demo mode on their site so you can test it to some degree before buying.

Not sure if you can make the text look like anything or just work within their templates.

pippity

Some features

  • popup trigger only at the end of an article, once the reader has read some content
  • popup appear after a certain number of pageviews
  • Have popup appear only on article pages (posts)
  • Create multiple popup profiles – view and manage them from an easy to use dashboard.
  • includes analtyics for each popover
  • Settings requires a few clicks in a kind of ‘wizard’ and would be simpler laid out in one form but overall I like this tool

See these hovers for explanation of what it can do:

pippity-hovers

 

 

 

SCROLL TRIGGERED BOXES

There are other kinds of notifications – ones that appear at the end of a page and may slide in from the side. These are less intrusive than a “popover”. Also called “toasters” since they can pop up from the bottom of the screen.

this looks like a nice simple option: https://wordpress.org/plugins/scroll-triggered-boxes/screenshots/
UPDATE: Scroll Triggered Boxes is now Boxzilla

DEMO:
(their site is no longer working at http://wecandothatforyou.com/scroll/)

See more:

 

ANNOUNCEMENT BARS

Another way to be less intrusive is to use an announcement bar at the top of the page instead of a popover.

All-IN-ONE TOOLS

Popup_Popover,-Embedded,-Top-Bar,-Scroll-Box-mailchimp-options

  1. MailMunch offers all 4 types of signup forms (Popup/Popover, Embedded, Top Bar, Scroll Box) and includes free and paid version (plugin links). Free version available.
  2. Launch Effect is a WordPress landing page theme with built in MailChimp integration.
  3. AddThis: I mention them above but it’s worth repeating since they really have a fully-featured set of tools. Free version available.

OTHER PAYMENT-BASED OPTIONS

  1. There are some other interesting options at this link: https://wordpress.org/plugins/tags/paywall
  2. But most of them are related to people paying $ for articles – not for requiring email signup. Like this one:
    https://wordpress.org/plugins/leaky-paywall-article-countdown-nag/
    A “leaky” pay wall is basically what NTtimes does.
  3. This gives other options for the paywall – https://wordpress.org/plugins/bitwall/
    1. Pay to access content.
    2. Tweet to unlock access.
    3. Opt in to view an ad before consuming content.
  4. This is similar: https://premium.wpmudev.org/project/pay-with-a-like/
  5. Another fully featured payment system: https://zeen101.com
  6. And another non-free, fully featured landing page and “LeadBox” creation tool: leadpages.net
Posted in Web Design, WordPress | Leave a comment

The difference between “custom content type” and “custom post type” and how to use them

CPT-IN-WORDPRESS-ADMIN“Custom Content Types“ (CCT) or “Custom Post Types” (CPT) are the same thing:  ways to group together similar types of content. “Custom Post Types” is the official name since WordPress started with “posts” but I think it’s more useful to think of them as types of  “content”. They are stored just like posts and pages with a unique ID (what Drupal calls a ‘node’), but aren’t considered the same as a post or a page. WordPress comes with 2 main default content types: posts and pages. Technically these are also CPTs: menus, media/attachments and links (an older default that won’t appear on newer WP sites).

Taxonomies are ways to categorize CPTs. Tags and Categories are the default taxonomies for Posts. If you are building a food website perhaps “color”, “flavor” and “season” would be usefully custom taxonomies. Tags and Categories are very similar but have a different admin interface and only Categories allow for nested (“parent/child”) sub-categories. Only “posts” are in the main default RSS feed but WordPress automatically builds an RSS feed for each taxonomy item and each CPT.

Custom Page Templates are special files for WordPress that control how content will be displayed. They are used only with pages in WordPress, not with posts or CPTs.

Here’s a breakdown:
CPT data types

  • Posts
  • Pages
  • Menus, Attachments (Media), and Revisions (technically CPTs but not as useful to think of them in the context of this article)
  • Common Custom Post Types added by plugins or themes:
    • Forms (like Gravity Forms)
    • Events
    • Products
    • Quotes
    • Sliders
    • Portfolio items
    • FAQs

tagsUsed to structure and relate CPT data

Used to display CPT data

  • “Archive” (an index or overview page that commonly shows 10 recent posts at a time. for a simple blog this is the homepage. But every taxonomy term will have an archive page and WordPress also builds archives pages by date.
  • “Permalink” or “single”: shows one post
Posted in WordPress | 1 Response

PressThis 2.0 › WordPress 4.2 “Powell”

Really excited about the new “Press This” in WordPress 4.2 – just released today. Here’s how it look (and a “meta” screenshot of me making this post).

press this wordpress 4.2

But I found a bug already – dragging an image into the browser uploads to media library but “add to post” button doesn’t actually add it to the post. This was always an issue with the older PressThis – it opened up the ease of adding images to media library from an external web page but would not allow adding images directly to media library/this post. Well there is also the nice new “undo” button….

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 3.37.56 PM

 

 

You can now also save PressThis as an “app” using the “Add to Home Screen” button on an iPhone. then you enter a URL to “scan” for content. It works and is a great shortcut but I found it only grabbed images – not the page title. And of course you can’t preselect text from the source web page to start your post – that’s a great feature of the full PressThis bookmarklet.

The first part of the intro video is all about PressThis:

Source: WordPress › WordPress 4.2 “Powell”

Posted in Web Design, WordPress | Comments closed

Scam alert – web designers targeted – hearing impaired wants agroamerica site

First read the Forum post here: http://www.graphicdesignforum.com/forum/forum/graphic-design/general/1584508-scam-alert

  • Ultimately, he wanted to send me the amount of the project plus an additional $2700 which I was then to pay his content manager.
  • Post any online classified ad and you’ll get a bunch of quick replies from people “interested in your item” they all use this we’ll send you extra money ploy. The check is always counterfeit.

Here’s the 2 exchanges I had recently…. luckily that second one tipped me off that the first one was a scam. I didn’t waste time sending them a proposal.

Begin forwarded message:
From: Jennifer Wooldridge j.wooldridge@outlook.com
Subject: RE: Web Design Service Ca!!!
Date: March 2, 2015 at 8:29:36 PM PST

Thanks for your swift response and i have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in CA and the company is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa so i need a best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?. so i need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible .http://www.agroamerica.com <http://www.agroamerica.com/>…. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out and i have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.

Note:
1. I want the same number of pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I want the domain name as Finestplantationproduce.com <http://finestplantationproduce.com/>
4. you will be updating the site for me.
5. i will be proving the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of next month.
7. My budget is $4000 to $8000

Kindly get back to me with:
(1) an estimate
(2) your cell phone number
(3) And will like to know if you are the owner ??

Jennifer

email thread started with:
Am Wooldridge i am an hearing impaired.i wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards ??


 

Date: Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:36:32 -0700
From: Terrance Spencer <terrancespencer01@outlook.com>
subject line: web designer needed
Thanks for your swift response, here is the job details

l have small scale business which i want to turn into large scale business now it located in NV and the company is based on importing and exporting of Agriculture products such as Kola Nut, Gacillia Nut and Cocoa, so i need a best of the best layout design for it. Can you handle that for me ?.
I need you to check out this site but i need something more perfect than this if its possible .http://www.agroamerica.com…. the site would only be informational, so i need you to give me an estimate based on the site i gave you to check out, the estimate should include hosting and i want the same page as the site i gave you to check out. I have a private project consultant, he has the text content and the logos for the site.

Note:
1. I want the same number of pages with the example site i gave you to check excluding videos and blogs.
2. I want only English language
3. I don’t have a domain yet but i want the domain name as qualityfarmzproduct.com
4. you will be maintaining and updating the site for me.
5. i will be providing the images, logos and content for the site.
6. i want the site up and running before ending of next month.
7. My budget is $3000 to 6000

Kindly get back to me with:
(1) an estimate
(2) your cell phone number
(3) And will like to know if you are the owner ??

 

Original message:
Good Day,
Am Terrance Spencer I am an hearing impaired. I wanna know if you can handle website design for a new company and also if you do you accept credit cards kindly get back to me with you requested to my email address terrancespencer01@outlook.com so I can send you the job details. I will be be expecting your responds, Thanks.


 

here’s another one:

From: Calton Ball <caltonball500@gmail.com>
Subject: WEB DESIGNER NEEDED ASAP
Date: August 5, 2015 at 6:34:56 AM PDT

Good DAY!

I’m hearing impaired i need to know if you can handle website design for a new company and i also need to know if you accept credit cards as form of payment?

Regards,

Carlton Ball

 
 


 
 
 
Posted in Web Design | 158 Responses

Safari 7.1.4 Where is “Empty Cache”

Speaking of food metaphors…. an Apple moved the cheese.

Trying to clear cache in Safari 7.1.4? It’s no longer under the “Safari” menu.

Here’s how to clear the cache in the new Safari. Select “Preferences” from the Safari Menu and then follow these steps…

  1. Select the “Advanced” tab and check the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” boxsafari 7 1 4  settings
  2. Note the “Develop” Menu. Select “Empty Caches” from the Develop Menu.safari develop menu

 

The keyboard shortcut didn’t change but this hardly seems a step forward IMHO.

Posted in Product Reviews | Leave a comment

Fake reviews at Yelp, Amazon Books – authenticity engine details

An interesting new report from PBS NewsHour about fake reviews on Yelp and Bazaarvoice:

They don’t mention the services that sell Facebook friends and other social media followers but that’s in the same dishonest ball park.

Reminds me of Amazon’s decision to delete thousands of book reviews that generated an uproar — the company never offered a public explanation for the sweeping purge back in 2013.

 

Giving raves to family members is no longer acceptable. Neither is writers’ reviewing other writers. But showering five stars on a book you admittedly have not read is fine.


Amazon has not said how many reviews it has killed, nor has it offered any public explanation. So its sweeping but hazy purge has generated an uproar about what it means to review in an era when everyone is an author and everyone is a reviewer.

Is a review merely a gesture of enthusiasm or should it be held to a higher standard? Should writers be allowed to pass judgment on peers the way they have always done offline or are they competitors whose reviews should be banned? Does a groundswell of raves for a new book mean anything if the author is soliciting the comments?

via Amazon Book Reviews Deleted in a Purge Aimed at Manipulation – NYTimes.com.

Posted in Product Reviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Notes from WooConf 2014

wooconf-ariWooConf was full of interesting talks and it was great to meet up with Woo-enthusiasts… I liked that part of the presentations were technical and part were marketing driven – my goal is to help my small business ecommerce clients understand how to use marketing tools to optimize the performance of the websites I build for them. I’m not primarily a marketing guy so some of this is new territory for me.

SAAS Marketing Tools

  • GraphFlow: recommendation engine
  • Improvely: Conversion Tracking & Click Fraud Monitoring
  • Vero – Track behaviors and trigger all kinds of email autoresponders
  • Raven: online marketing reports – integrate all kinds of reports in one place
  • SharpSpring: marketing automation

Other tools

  • Elto marketplace for Woo and other dev tasks like site speed
  • Measure site speed with GTmetrix
  • Tip: Sliders are not good for conversion rates
  • Plugin to sort products in many ways — maybe useful if you have lots of products

Notes on talks

chris-lema-wooconf

Chris Lema

 

 

 

 

Posted in Web Design, WordPress WooCommerce | Leave a comment

Creative WordPress Archive Pages – Posts in Grids

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.01.49 PM

“Snazzy” Archives at thinkimagine.com

I use “Snazzy” Archives (wp.org page) and you can view mine but it is more interesting when you go back in time to view months where I have more posts. It has not been updated in a while but it still works great.

Another great option is the JetPack Infinite Scroll + Masonry and some detailed notes on making a responsive Pinterest-like Grid of posts.

Dynamic Grid: WordPress Posts Feed Slider

Dynamic Grid: WordPress Posts Feed Slider

This plugin offers an animation option to the grid of posts

  • I also found a Query Posts plugin that spits out fairly raw content for you to style with CSS
  • Reviews of a few post grid plugins
  • Grid Layout Shock offers free and paid version of it’s post grid plugin
  • Also minimal listing of months/years can be useful too if you don’t want a big preview image
Posted in Web Design, WordPress | Leave a comment

Review of WordPress Face Detection Cropping Plugin: My Eyes Are Up Here

What a great name for a plugin: “My Eyes Are Up Here

It helps get around the problem of WordPress cropped thumbnails that always take the center of an image – but sometimes you have a a face or other point of interest that is not in the center.  From an aesthetic point of view, if you’re using the rule-of-thirds when you frame your shot, the subject is always off-center — but ultimately  depends what the image is.

 

face not centered testSo here’s a test image with a face that is not centered:

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here’s before and after shots of how the media editor looks….

… I clicked  the “detect faces” button and it said “No faces were found” – so that’s too bad but… I added a “hotspot” manually and clicked the “finish adding hotspots” button

Before pressing "add hotspots"

Before pressing “add hotspots”

after pressing "add hotspots"

after pressing “add hotspots”

this view from the post editor is pretty cluttered since the theme I’m testing in has lots of extra sizes. It’s a bit confusing but once you know what to look for it is a nice time saver.

Note this all appears in both the ‘media’ part of the WP admin area as well as when adding an image directly to a post like this:

View from within the post editor

View from within the post editor

 

 

Here’s a comment from the wptavern review: “If your theme makes heavy use of featured images with human subjects, this plugin will help you to get the desired crop around faces and avoid the dreaded crotch shot”

Thanks to the folks at interconnectit for providing this free plugin.

Posted in WordPress | 1 Response
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