The Tools Between You and Your Audience

Some tools exist because they are valuable and remove market friction. Others exist because they are perceived as being valuable, even if they are actually value destroying, or only valuable in rare circumstances.

Valuable Tools of the Trade

Outside of paying for a domain name, hosting, site design, and buying a few links you could create (an ad supported) business online virtually free.

Blogs are easy to post to, easy to subscribe to, and easy to comment and interact with. Keyword tools and analytics services are easy to view and infer ideas and trends from. Searchable email saves time. Google Alerts and feed readers save time and keep you connected with your industry. Many of these tools are free, in spite of offering great value.

Negative Value Software

But there is another class of software that exists long after it is useful or profitable to use, or long before you would need to consider such a solution. Are you still paying for monthly submissions to the search engines? Not all of the solutions are outright fraud though (like monthly search engine submission services are). Even some of the good intentioned tools can still hurt you.

Automated Email

A friend of mine is nervous about launching their first linkbait, and wanted to use this enhanced email software to help automate finding the right people to contact. But until you get some experience in the marketplace you might be paying for value destroying software that hurts your brand.

  • One software program my friend bought crashed his computer.
  • Another was bought through Plimus. It was purchased, and simply never came...pretty bad after about a half dozen emails and a few phone calls. How hard is it to send an unlock code?
  • One of my friends got his account banned by an ISP the first day, when he accidentally misused one such software program. One minute he was doing research, and then he clicked to the next step to refine it, and accidentally ended up sending out about 150 emails in under a minute. Ooooops.

And none of those situations even take into account brand value and risks of a reputation management issue arising.

Automated Bid Management Software

A customer of mine recently asked about what bid management software program made sense to use, as he was new to PPC and wanted to do it right from the start. But if you are new to the game I think you first need to do it by hand so you can understand how it works. If you use bid management software that is optimizing for the wrong things you may end up blowing through a lot of money. It is much harder to learn the ad network + the management tool at the same time rather than learning them one at a time, and in many cases human intuition works better than machines do.

There are a lot of ways to get caught up in the complexities of money saving tools and ideas to where you never do anything. You can't teach a software program, machine, or employee how to do marketing until after you have done it yourself.

Other Backwards Solutions

  • Have you seen people pay to be able to resell some sleazy MLM company's junk on a 100% duplicate content subdomain off of the corporate site?
  • Have you seen people pay for hosting and CMS services that are far worse than they can get for free from other providers or the open source community?
  • Have you seen people using expensive keyword density analysis software this year?

What causes people to buy into such stuff - laziness? lack of research? greed?

What (does/doesn't) Work Well for You?

What tools made your marketing easier? Which ones set you back?

What works well in 2008? What is a waste of time? Twitter? FriendFeed?

Published: March 19, 2008 by Aaron Wall in seo tools


Search Engine O...
March 19, 2008 - 2:52pm

We are still discovering what works for us and what doesn't in terms of these types of tools. It's tough because while some tools may work one month, they may be far less effective the following month.
We keep getting suggestions to try things like TrafficGeyser and similar programs but while some say it's beneficial, others say it's quite spammy. One must be very careful of which programs they choose to dabble with as it can obviously effect your reputation and integrity as an internet marketer and no dodgy program is worth that.

March 19, 2008 - 3:51pm

I've not found any automated tools that were any better than successfully optimizing keywords on my site. Twitter has been mildly useful for getting info from other people, but I find Google's keyword tools to be my best friend.

That, and commenting on other people's blogs. ;)

On Stage Lighting
March 19, 2008 - 7:55pm

Like all things in business - it's easy to spend money.

I am suprised at how much money is spent on Adwords by some clients for limited measurable benefits.

I am still mulling over the choice of using a paid keyword tool to replace the spreadsheets and free keyword services. It comes down to what is important in your business, I could spend all day researching and honing KW only to end up having not written any content.

I am starting to do some minor KW work for other clients - are the paid tools cost effective for the odd job?

March 19, 2008 - 7:59pm

I typically mostly use my tool and the Google traffic estimator.

I do have subscriptions with Wordtracker, Wordze, and search analytics, and use each once or twice a month or so.

Carlos o
March 19, 2008 - 8:20pm

As the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true it probably is. This particularly applies to the tools or "systems" that promise you to help you kick butt without any hard work on your part.

March 19, 2008 - 11:49pm

Two new tools that I have really started using in 2008 are Google Reader and Google Alerts.

Alerts for tracking/news, Reader for being connecting with other webmasters.

March 20, 2008 - 11:44am

Bad tools? Article Generators and Article Spinners come to mind. So do article submitters, automated directory submitters, and automated "link generators" (read spambots).

Sometimes having a even a mailing list software in your hosted on your server is just unnerving with the email limits on your accounts.

March 20, 2008 - 3:54pm

I have seen a large subscription based company that has over 6,000 brand related searches / week allow a PPC agency to exclusively bid on their brand, use a subdomain to their site and work on a CPA model.

Hitwise shows that over 60% of the sub-domain's traffic comes from their brand. Don't get me wrong, they could be providing value, but it is so black-box as PPC media spend is uknown and so also are converting keywords and the use fo the brand.

That seems backwards, but it is being addressed now!

March 20, 2008 - 6:37pm

I use tools for analysis of stats, and to find keywords (google tools), but by far the best tools in my companies arsenal is our brains! Many people buy seo software thinking it will resolve all there problems and put them straight to #1, (which is kind of what IBP promotes), not realising the work involved in actually training the software. I know it's back to basics, but you only get out what you put in, and you can't beat the human mind when trying to reach other humans. So a note to newbies, learn the ropes, keep your tools simple and spend your time learning what seo is all about, and it will all begin to make sense!

March 21, 2008 - 11:01pm

I use SpeedPPC for Adwords campaigns (combined with Adwords Editor). It's expensive, but it really helps to cut everything into small chunks (small ad groups, great keyword grouping, etc.).

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