The start of the new year is always a popular time to set new website goals and ramp up existing ones. For 2015, it is important to continue to take what you’ve learned in 2014 and focus on the results.
For What’s Huang, one of my goals is to build an email list. I’ve built many email lists for other sites and have recently decided that its time to also build one for this site. An email list is one of the missing ingredients for this blog and it is something that is my focus for 2015.
Below are 10 free tools to double your website traffic for the coming year.
1. Sumome.com – This is a tool that I recently deployed on this blog. It’s a new service that offers a marketplace for website owners to install easy tools to improve your website. Currently most of the tools are free to use. I’m using the service for email signups, social media sharing, and their contact form.
2. SEMrush.com – SEO is still an important ingredient in growing traffic. SEMrush is marketed as a tool for search engine marketers that run paid search campaigns, but I often use it for keyword research. I use it frequently to get a quick and dirty search volume estimate. The service has both free and paid options. In fact, you don’t even need to signup to use it. Just keep in mind that they do limit the amount of queries you do.
3. Paditrack.com – This is probably my favorite tool that I started using. It is my new secret weapon for doing funnel reporting and analysis. In order to use this tool, you must have Google Analytics (which is also free if you didn’t know). I’ve recently learned (the hard way) that doing any kind of funnel analysis in Google Analytics is a little misleading. One of the biggest problems is the fact that Google backfills steps in your funnel which leads to inflated numbers.
For instance, if you have 4 steps in your funnel i.e.: Step 1, 2, 3, and 4, and a visitor came in on Step 3, then Google will backfill as if the visitor visited Step 1 and 2 when they obviously didn’t.
This is where Paditrack fixes all of that. They help you identify the leaks and drop offs.
4. Bufferapp.com – Buffer is a service that allows you to connect multiple social media accounts together so you can easily schedule updates. There are a lot of social media scheduling services out there, but what Buffer does differently is the fact that they also suggest content for you to share. Buffer also automatically shortens all of the links you share and aggregates them all together to show you a nice report on which of your updates performs the best.
5. MailChimp.com – I’ve learned that having an email list is one of the most if not, the most valuable asset you can have. Having an email list is the only way to truly own your traffic because it protects you from the mercy of borrowed or rented platforms. I have seen first hand, way too many honest websites fall victim to the classic algorithm change.
With that said, MailChimp is a free service that you can sign up today to start. You can add a short snippet of code on your website to start collecting emails. They also have nice prebuilt templates to create nice looking newsletters. If you have any problems their customer support is first class.
6. Google Webmasters Tools (GWT) – This tool is an oldie, but a goodie. It is a tool that allows you to get a clearer picture of how your website is showing up in Google search. The tool helps you identify problem areas and offers tips and tricks to improve. One of the greatest benefits of using this tool is the ability to see what specific search queries visitors are typing to find you and what keyword position you were in search.
7. PageSpeed Insights – Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool allows you to quickly test how well your website performs. If your website loads too slowly, it will frustrate your visitors and they will leave. Google also has a vested interest to make sure all websites on the internet loads quickly because they want to serve searchers the best answer based on their queries. Even if your website has the information people are looking for, if your site takes too long to load, it might as well not have the proper information. If this is the case, Google may not rank your website as high as someone else.
PageSpeed Insights tests your site performance on desktop as well as mobile. It identifies why your site is performing slow and gives you recommendations on how to fix them.
8. Smush.it – One of the most common causes of slow page loads are uncompressed images. I have always found it a nuisance to edit the the images to reduce the size and quality. If you don’t have a lot of experience working with images, it can be a little challenging figuring it all out.
Luckily, there is a tool by Yahoo that optimizes your images for you. Smush.it will take your uploaded image and compress it in a way that won’t lose quality on the internet. The end result is an optimized image you can use on your website. You still have to make sure you don’t overstuff your webpages with images, but it is a step towards a faster page load time.
9. Wistia.com – Wistia is a free video hosting service that allows you to put your videos behind a paywall or membership site. It’s also a great way if you are creating an online course that only paid users can access. It is essentially a YouTube or Vimeo but only private.
10. Nibbler.silktide.com – Nibbler is a tool that spits out an overall grade of how well your website is doing. Social, SEO, usability, and content freshness are some of the aspects the tool grades you on. Sometimes you need tools like this to remind you of the things your website lacks.
Now its your turn. What tools have you used to increase traffic to your website? How did you improve it? Let me know in the comments below.