If you are using the Internet to market yourself, your company or your service, you certainly know there is no lack of expensive tools being promoted promising you a flood of free traffic simply by turning them "on".
We all get the same emails, from the same relatively small group of "Gurus", promoting the next " Secret Weapon" that you need to add to your internet marketing arsenal if you have any expectation of making big money online. And of course, we all know how the story ends – you are out 27, 47 or 67 bucks, ( or much more ) and the fantastic piece of promised software doesn’t work at all, or as advertised, or rarely, DOES work well but 3 months later is discounted by the search engines and all of your sites are de-indexed and you are back to square one.
The truth is – for those of us in the know – other than a few requisite must have tools – most of the things you really need to effectively market your product, service or site can be found for free.
The three tools below are just a few of those resources – I picked one from each major search engine to illustrate just how much competitive intelligence you can get – for nothing – if you know where to look!
This is a bit of a buggy, beta tool from MSN – but it is really a gift if you are trying to quickly identify search funnel
patterns in your niche or chosen industry. Essentially – you type in your keyword phrase and tell the tool whether you are trying to identify "incoming" or "outgoing" funnels – and MSN will query their database and give you the search patterns that identify words that either precede the search or follow it. For example, want to know what people search for after immediately after typing in " dog food" ? All you need to do is type in "dog food" and MSN will spit back out a nice little funnel tree, showing you logical progression that their users follow after keying in your seed word! You can * dig* down or out several levels deep with this great free tool to get into the mindset of your potential customer or website visitor. It’s amazing and powerful stuff as not only does it illuminate the key word map as your potential site visitor "finds" you and your site, it also gives the strategic marketer a window into the mindset that gets them there. Still a beta tool ( meaning it’s reliability might not be as good as it’s going to get ) but get in on this now, before your competition does!
Google offers a great free service that follows the trends and patterns of different markets, regions and volume. This is a finger on the pulse tool – keeping you abreast of what is hot now – what was hot then – and what will be hot when. Want to compare two different power phrases for your market – to see which ones are hot during which seasons? Google trends will give you that kind of targeted seasonal related information. Want to know what specific geographical areas are most likely to be seraching for your product or service? You got it. And again – for free. How about what what is popular right now – keywords, news and blogs? It’s all right there for you to jump on. Compare what news is hot on the wire and compare that against the blogs that are editorializing the same stories side by side. Really powerful stuff. Graphs showing historical trends on your keyword topic and industry, with newstories iluminating the high points on the spikes so you can see live links that successfully drove momentum in the market. If you are a proactive sort of person and want to zero in on exactly the what and when of your market, if you use Press Releases and Articles in your online marketing, this is a must have free tool to add to your marketing mix.
Yahoo Buzz is like a professional bloggers fantasy – a hyperlinked heaven of everything buzz worthy in the blogosphere. If you havea blog, and you have readers, well – you need to be checking out yahoo buzz. It will tell you what is popular today, right now – what is related to what is popular today and how you can get in on the action. Looking for some easy low hanging fruit in your keyword search universe? Well – using a little bit of simple ingenuity and creativity you can get major traffic surges to your blog or website simply by *posting* and joining the conversation on any number of popular topics. Yahoo Buzz will show you how to leverage the related points on interest within the blog universe so you can hone in and jump on a popular topic by keying in on tangential, but highly related keywords. For example, as of this writing in July of 2007, "the Transformers" is the topic Du Jour in the blog universe. Not going to be too easy to rank for that, right? Megan Fox, one of the stars of the movie, trails
just a little behind in popular searches. Not going to be easy to rank well for her either. But – did you know she is engaged to Brian Austin Greene ( of Beverly Hills 90210 fame)? I didn’t – ( until I logged into Buzz this morning) and It’s not going to be too tough to rank well for him..;-) Further, because according to Yahoo Buzz, you know that his search popularity has gone up over 200% since the movie has been released, a little creativity and effort should give your blog a huge boost if you can say something funny or topical ( how about – what could she possibly be thinking – or even better – post a video on Youtubeof that terrible Vanilla Ice-esqe rap album he released a few years back branded back to your site – maybe with a recent picture of the two of them at the movie Premiere..;-) and if you running contextual ads on your site, your bank account will thank you ( and yahoo) for the effort!
Remember – there are lots of free tools out there if you know where to look. You don’t need to settle for the ones that the "Gurus" would have you believe you need to make a living online. Dont’ forget to add us to your favorites – as in the coming days and weeks I will be covering many more tools that you can utilize to grow your business for free – which – as we know – is the best sort of growth there is..:-)