My customers and subscribers are always asking me about
Free Web Tools "freebies"... Can free resources provide solutions
to their marketing needs? Are they a viable way to avoid
some of the costs of marketing online?
And many of you already know that I am not usually an advocate
of freeware or free online services, but persistently ask...
"Aren't there ANY Free Web Tools "freebies" I can use?"
Allow me to restate my mantra: Your most important e-
business tools must be high-quality, dependable products
You will never establish your e-business as a serious
presence on the 'Net if your pages are filled with
the garish advertising and sponsorships that typically go
hand-in-hand with free services, or if your site has too
much downtime, or if the services you use are constantly
closing up shop...
At the very least, you absolutely must have reliable web
hosting, effective site design, and good software. The
better these elements of your e-business are, the more
efficiently your business will operate, the more easily
you will establish your credibility, and the more money
you will make in the end.
You simply can't afford to cut corners here -- you get what
you pay for with these products and services, and paying for
them is just the cost of doing business.
However (now that you've been sufficiently warned!), there
are A NUMBER OF VERY GOOD FREE WEB TOOLS AND RESOURCES
available on the 'Net.
And these can be excellent ways to complement your existing
Free Web Tools at no cost, helping you to make your site stickier
and more user-friendly, make your keywords more effective,
keep an eye on your competition, find potential business
partners, and more...
Of course, I recommend that you proceed with caution in the
"free" world, and always be aware of what you may have to
give up (like reliability) or give over (like advertising
space on your site -- and potential customers).
But the following 12 Free Web Tools and resources can be effectively
used to give your online business that EXTRA EDGE YOU NEED
TO STAY AHEAD OF YOUR COMPETITION.
1. Link Partner Evaluation Tool
The Alexa toolbar is one of the most useful Free Web Tools around for
businesses on the 'Net. Alexa provides a free, downloadable
toolbar that opens in your web browser whenever you're
The most useful feature is a "site info" option. When you
click on this button, Alexa lays out all the details of the
site you're on, including:
- The traffic ranking of the site (this is also listed right
on the toolbar itself)
- A list of related links (two or three of the most popular
links also appear on the toolbar)
- The number of other sites that link to the site
- The contact information of the site owner
- All site/user reviews
This is the exact information you need when you're
researching high-traffic sites in your industry and
considering link partnerships or joint ventures. Use
this information to...
- Decide how much you're willing to pay for advertising
- Make educated decisions about the worth of a joint
- Determine the credibility and the perceived value of
The list of related links -- which also has its own button
on the toolbar -- is an excellent way for you to find other
popular or similar sites that might be good linking partners
or joint venture partners.
Use this list to determine other popular sites that your target
market visits -- start by looking at your own site with Alexa's
toolbar, and see what related links are suggested!
When you're establishing the credibility of a joint venture
partner, be sure to check out Alexa's "WayBack" button.
The WayBack Machine allows you to see the past pages of
any existing sites, or even see sites that no longer exist,
letting you check out the history of any online business and
understand how the business, the site, and the marketing
approaches have developed or changed over time.
The toolbar also contains a Google search option, so you can
jump directly into a search without having to leave the page
Alexa was designed to be used with Internet Explorer and
Microsoft Windows, but the toolbar may slow down or even
crash your browser unless you are using Explorer 6.0. You
can download the latest version of the Internet Explorer
browser free at:
For Mac users or those using Netscape Navigator, the Alexa
"snapshot" is available as a free download from:
2. Free Image-reducing Tool and "Tool-kit"
NetMechanic is a "tool kit" resource offering a number of
free trials and free web tools that are great for easily locating potential
problems with your site and repairing them quickly. Address
problems such as...
- HTML code errors
- Browser display problems
- Lengthy load times
- Broken links
- Site downtime
Some of these Free Web Tools will even give you a free monthly
update! However, you'll get a limited version of each tool
unless you're willing to pay the fee. But NetMechanic's
image-reducing tool, GIFbot, is totally free and is a
particularly useful resource.
Using GIFBot is an excellent way to reduce the file size of
your images so that your web pages load faster -- and you
don't lose those impatient surfers.
Image files can be reduced by as much as 50-85% in many
cases, and it's so easy to do that nowadays you'll look
totally unprofessional with huge, lagging image files
that take forever to load on your site.
3. Free E-mail Client
Eudora is a dependable, well-established e-mail client that
offers a version of their software free -- and without all
the advertising that comes with most free e-mail clients
and services (including the "sponsored" version of Eudora).
Eudora Light is a scaled-down version of the original, but
still offers plenty of punch and is available without all
the ads -- although the newest version of Eudora Light MAY
contain the occasional ad or sponsorship. Using this free
version, some of the regular features of Eudora will be
- spell check
- statistics on how much mail you send and receive
- multiple personalities
- multiple signatures
- advanced editing features
- advanced filtering features
...But unless your e-business is large or your mailings are
particularly complex, this free client may be all you need
4. Free-Trial Keyword Service
Using a service such as Wordtracker allows you to easily
discover which keywords are frequently searched by your
target market -- but are not being used by your competition.
Wordtracker has compiled a massive database of terms that
people search on, so all you have to do is enter your
keyword, and Wordtracker tells you...
- How often people are searching that term
- How many competing sites are using that particular keyword
- How much they are bidding for keywords in the the pay-per-
click search engines
Free Web Tools like this will help you optimize your search engine
ranking by targeting keywords and phrases that are
frequently searched by your best potential customers, but
that few (if any!) of your competitors are competing under.
Capitalize on the streams of neglected and missed traffic
that are passing your competition by -- and even discover
misspellings of your keywords that may be drawing traffic!
The free trial version of Wordtracker, however, will only
compare your keywords with AltaVista, while the paid
version compiles results from the top 24 search engines,
directories, and pay-per-click engines.
If you're happy to limit yourself to AltaVista, you can use
the free trial as many times as you like. Otherwise, the paid
version is available for $6.51 per day or $21.70 per week,
with monthly and yearly subscriptions available as well.
You might also want to try out Overture's Keyword Popularity
and Suggestion tool, available free at:
Overture's keyword service will give you a list of related
searches that include your term and tell you how many times
those terms were searched in Overture in the last month.
This is a good way to find out the popularity of your
keyword, but Overture doesn't list bidding amounts. If
you're looking for great deals on your keywords, your best
bet is to search in both Overture and Wordtracker to gauge
popularity, then use Wordtracker to determine your bidding
5. Free Browser Compatibility Service
The browser compatibility experts, AnyBrowser offers every
tool you'll need to make your site viewable, as the name
suggests, in any browser.
The most useful Free Web Tool is the "SiteViewer," which allows you
to see your web pages as surfers will see them on multiple
browsers. For example, your site may look different in Netscape
Navigator 3.0 than it does in Internet Explorer 6.0 -- images
may be broken, tables may shift, and so on. With AnyBrowser
you can ensure you meet the needs of every browser.
You can also make sure your coding checks out and your links
aren't broken, and view an example of how your listing will
appear in the search engines (what description will be used,
what the title will be, etc.).
AnyBrowser is also a great resource directory, pointing you
toward a variety of really useful free tools. It's a great
place to find online HTML tutorials, banner exchanges, CGI
scripts, free HTML editors, free classifieds, free fonts,
free graphics, free Java scripts, free message boards, and
6. Free Search Tool
Atomica is a downloadable search Free Web Tool that allows you to
search multiple information sources at once.
After you've downloaded the personal (free) version, you'll
have a search bar right on your desktop. When you search
on an item, you'll get results from some or all of the
following resources, depending on your search term:
- Quick Tips
- User Links
- Web Search
...All in just one step! No more messing around with
multiple search tools; Atomica consolidates them in one
source to save the precious time of the busy netrepreneur.
7. Free Site Ownership Inquiries
"Whois" inquiries will tell you the owner of a particular
domain name. Just enter the URL and you'll get the name
behind the web site (business name and contact),
administrative contact information, and technical contact
Not only does this allow you to collect the contact
information of your competitors -- it's also a great way to
collect the names and e-mail addresses of similar businesses
for the purpose of proposing business relationships such as
joint ventures or link exchanges.
8. Free Content
This resource is a good place to find Free Web Tools (or cheap)
content for your site, so you can keep your site fresh and
interesting for your visitors -- and keep them coming back.
Find articles, news briefs, headlines, tickers, tips of the
day, and more.
The broad variety of topics ranges from financial advice to
hip hop headlines, from travel guides to lottery results.
You can also give away free software applications directly
from your site, many of which are available for co-branding.
Another good source for articles is: http://www.ezinearticles.com
This site offers free content designed for both web sites and e-
Watch that you don't just load up your site with a lot of
Free Web Tools and stuff that you think is interesting. The material you
provide has to be relevant to your business and your
Also be aware that the sponsorship information that is usually
included can pull your readers' attention away from your purpose
-- and, most important, the sponsors' links can draw traffic away
from your site. It is always a good idea to have quality content
on your site, but be discretionary, and make sure it's worth the
9. Free E-mail Campaign Roi Calculator
A very cool tool... Marketing Today's ROI calculator is an
easy-to-use little device that allows you to accurately
estimate what kind of return on investment you can expect
from your upcoming direct mail or e-mail campaigns and
The most accurate way to operate this tool is to use the
response rate you received from your previous mailings to
calculate your ROI for future mailings.
All you have to do is enter the numbers: the number of
mailings you'll be doing, your total costs, the response
rate you expect, the conversion rate you expect, and how
much you expect each buyer to spend (i.e., the cost of your
product or service).
Hint: If you do not have previous response rates and
conversion rates to base your figures on, you should
estimate much lower than you think necessary. If you guess
too low, you'll just end up with extra cash on hand; guess
too high, however, and you'll be making a costly mistake.
The ROI calculator is a simple tool that acts as an
excellent reality check when you're determining your
10. Free Referral Service
This free service can be used to create a "tell a friend"
link on your web site, whereby your visitors can recommend
your site to their friends or colleagues.
As we all know, referrals are the best influence... we
are far more likely to be open-minded about information
that is presented to us by someone we know and trust.
Having a referral Free Web Tool set up on your site is one of
the best ways to get the word out -- and use viral
marketing to your advantage.
When a visitor wishes to recommend your site, they simply
click on your "tell a friend" (or equivalent) link and
they're immediately sent to iRecommend-It's referral page,
where they can enter their name and e-mail address and
recommend your site to up to eight people.
iRecommend-It offers sweepstakes, great prizes, and free
newsletters as incentives to your referees -- but do stop to
consider that these may distract your visitors and lead them
further away from your site. Your visitors can also choose
to receive news and announcements from your site by simply
opting in at the bottom of the referral form.
11. Free Site Search Tools
SiteLevel can set you up with effective, Free Web Tools
for your web site. If your site is more than a couple of
pages and doesn't have a good internal search tool, you're
probably losing many a frustrated visitor.
While appeasing your visitors, a site-level search engine
also enables you to find out what your users want and need.
SiteLevel's search tools allow you to track what your
visitors are searching for and see what they are finding or
not finding, so you can adapt to their agendas and increase
visitor satisfaction -- and the stickiness of your site.
SiteLevel also lets you customize your own search results
page to make it suit the look and feel of your web site.
The basic (free) version has more than enough "oomph" for
the average small-business web site, allowing you to index
up to 1,000 pages and incorporating a variety of search
12. More Marketing Free Web Tools
You got it... The Free Site is Free Web Tools and stuff! And lots of it!
Not everything on this site is e-business related, but you
can find plenty that is. Probably the most useful section
for e-business is the "webmaster" section at:
Here you'll find the "Internet Seer" site monitoring Free Web Tool
that provides downtime alerts so you don't lose valuable
customers. You'll also find:
- Free Web Tools to help you check your keywords and your link
- Suggested methods of winning awards for your site
- Scripts, banners, and polls
- Guestbooks, message boards, and more...
The Free Site also lists free technical support and online
tutorials, personal management Free Web Tools, plenty of Java
script resources, free fonts, clipart, graphics, icons, and
buttons, plus much, much more.
Again, be wary of freebies that ask for advertising space in
return... but you might want to bookmark this page!
With this set of tools at your disposal and these great
resources backing you up, you have a number of ways to start
getting the edge on your competition... at no additional cost!
For those of you who are a little more technically inclined,
you may want to check out some of the many free CGI script
resources out there. Two good places to start include:
The tools I've recommended are personal favorites and I
know you'll find them incredibly useful. There is very little
standing in your way with these Free Web Tools -- in most cases,
they'll do nothing but improve your marketing techniques and
But remember to always weigh your options when you're
choosing free services or software.
Find out whether any advertising will be included, whether
you will be bound by any restrictions or obligations...
Consider what effect these "catches" might have on your
marketing strategy or your customers. Always be aware of
the price you may have to pay for anything that is "free."