Five Great Free Tools to Improve a Website
Syed Faris Hussain
These tools provide you with vital site data at low to no cost. In fact, all of them have at least a free introductory tier, and Google Search Console is completely free to use.
- Google Analytics
If you’re not familiar with analytics, you need to be. Analytics is the process of gathering and interpreting data left by visitors to your website, such as how long they stayed at each page and which pages or components are most responsible for direct conversions.
While analytics seems daunting at first, there’s an easy (and free) path in with Google Analytics. The free tier requires you to do nothing more than have a Gmail account, and to add a snippet of code to each page you want to see statistics on. Google Analytics provides you with a dashboard that shows you pretty much everything you’ll need to know about how your visitors interact with your site, and if you’re using AdWords it automatically integrates with that service as well.
A free Google Analytics account allows you to view up to 200,000 page hits per day and 10 million in one month. This will be more than adequate for most small and medium-sized businesses.
2.Crazy Egg / Hotjar
Crazy Egg is a piece of the analytics pie that covers something Google Analytics won’t show you; a virtual “heat map” of where visitors are clicking and hovering their mouse the most often. While Google Analytics will tell you how many times someone clicks through a particular link on each page, it won’t show you when people do things like highlighting text or attempting to click on an image that isn’t hotlinked. It also generates a “scroll map” that gives you an idea of how long visitors are spending looking at each horizontal segment of each page.
So what’s the difference between Crazy Egg and Hotjar? Functionally, not a whole lot. But Hotjar offers a free tier (limited to 2,000 page views per day), whereas Crazy Egg does not have a free option. Crazy Egg’s most inexpensive tier, called Basic, costs $9 per month and limits you to 10,000 page views and 10 active pages.
- MailChimp / Mad Mimi
MailChimp is an email management tool designed specifically for e-commerce stores. It integrates automatically with major platforms like WooCommerce and Magento, and allows you to create HTML email marketing campaigns using simple drag-and-drop tools that don’t require anything in the way of artistic training or ability.
Mad Mimi is MailChimps’ closest competitor. As with Crazy Egg and Hotjar, the difference between the two comes mostly down to pricing tiers. MailChimp offers a free entry-level tier limited to 2,000 recipients and 12,000 total emails each month. Mad Mimi also offers a free tier, and theirs allows unlimited emails but restricts you to only 100 recipients per month.
- Google Search Console
Google Search Console basically gives webmasters a peek into what Google’s “crawler” programs see when they access the site. This can tell you what links Google was unable to crawl, whether any pages are blocked from being indexed by your robots.txt file, and which keywords people are using to find your site in the search results among other possibilities. It also provides a more comprehensive list of sites that link to you than you will get by using the “link:” command in the Google search bar.
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider
This tool greatly simplifies and speeds up the process of examining all your existing links and pages for known problems that will ding you in the eyes of the search engines. The free version allows you to scan 500 pages for each website it’s pointed at and locks off a few advanced features. Getting unlimited scan capability and the full feature set is fairly affordable at $160 for a one-year license.
Smaller businesses should find the free tier of these services to be more than adequate for their needs. Upgrading to the premium tier of Google Analytics costs a whopping $150,000 licensing fee, but the other listed services offer their upgrade tiers at a cost that comes out to $10 or less per month.