Believe it or not, there are a ton of great free online PR tools that business owners can take advantage of. Since we've been in business as an online PR agency, we've tried just about every tool, tactic and trick you can think of (and probably some you can't). After all that experimentation, there are just a few programs and apps that we rely on to do the majority of our web PR work for us -- and many of them are free.
Here's a list of our favorite free online PR tools for business:
- Hootsuite. This is something our lead social media manager, Joan Barrett, uses on a daily basis for all of our clients. Hootsuite lets you schedule and post Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn updates, monitor the Twitterverse for keywords related to your company/industry, check the popularity of the links you tweet and more. Out of all the free online PR tools in this list, Hootsuite is the one we love the best. As long as you're just managing one account, Hootsuite is free to use. If you're using Twitter for marketing, it's a must-have.
- iWebTool. We were (fashionably) late to the iWebTool party, and now we wonder how we ever did business without it. iWebTool takes Google Analytics to the next level, and you can use it to check where you stand with the search engines. You can check your backlinks, find out where you rank for specific SEO keywords, find out your the keyword density of your site content and a ton of other stuff. It'll pretty much do everything but make you breakfast in the morning, and it's free to use.
- Google Docs. Oh man, do we love us some Google Docs. They pretty much have the same functionality as the Office suite, but with the notable difference of enabling multiple people to work on the document at once. This works really well for Joanie and I, because we're constantly having to share/update spreadsheets, calendars, TPS reports, etc. You can also share the documents with people outside of Google's system by attaching the documents as attachments. When you can track and share your web PR progress with clients or other members of your team, you'll have a clearer view of where you're headed.
- AutoCrit. Let's face it, you're probably not the second coming of F. Scott Fitzgerald (it's okay -- neither are we, so you're in good company). For those of you who aren't natural born writers, AutoCrit is an invaluable tool. As we've told you before, web content writing is serious part of your company's public relations online, and crappy copy can really affect your bottom line. AutoCrit will let you know when you're overusing words, when your sentence structure needs to be overhauled and when your spelling is off. It's basically a better version of Word's editor, and it'll help keep your web copy on the level it should be.
- Google Analytics. They're the first thing I check in the morning, and they update at midnight every day. Google Analytics lets you see where your traffic is coming from (both in terms of cyberspace and actual physical location, right down to the city). It will also tell you which search phrases people are finding your site using, how long users stay on the site, how many pages they view and more. This is the most insightful of all the free online PR tools listed -- they know a lot about your business.
- Google Alerts. We're big fans of Google, obviously. But with all the great free online PR tools they keep coming out with, how could we not love 'em? You can set up Google alerts for your name, company name, competitors and keywords relevant to your industry. Then, as those things are mentioned, you'll get an e-mail with a link to the source. It's a fantastic tool for keeping track of who is saying what about you, and who is talking about your industry, products or services.
- Zemanta. Blogging is a huge part of the web PR process, and Zemanta makes the process smooth and simple. This free web app works with you while you blog, coming up with relevant images, links and articles to use as resources. When you see something you like, you just grab and drag the links or images into your content.
- Polldaddy. Want to make your website more interactive? Polls for your blogs are a great way to do it and Polldaddy gives them to you for free.
- Copyscape. Is somebody stealing your web content writing? Are you sure? Copyscape will let you know with just a few clicks for free, and if you want to check and make sure your SEO article writers didn't steal somebody else's content, it costs just 5 cents to check up to 2,000 words.
So, those are the 9 free online PR tools we use the most -- the rest we have to pay for (although we do pay for Hootsuite -- we're waaay past the free version). Did we leave any off of the list? If so, let us know in the comments section.