Free Digital Marketing Tools for Start-ups

MEST Africa
Nov 7, 2019 · 7 min read

This post was written by a guest writer, Umbrella Host’s Andy Clarke.

Starting a new business is not easy. As the owner or director of a new business, your initial focus is on getting the business set up so that it will become a profitable business that can thrive in an increasingly competitive world.

One key aspect that will help your business succeed is setting up a website to showcase your products and services to potential consumers. Sure, you can use a web design and marketing agency to do this for you, but more often than not, your startup budget won’t have the funds to pay for what can be a very expensive initial outlay.

Your other option is to sign up for an unlimited web hosting account and set about creating a professional website yourself with the help of useful guides. This can be a very cost-effective way for you to get your new business online.

Regardless of which option you decide to take you will still need to optimize the site to ensure your website attracts organic traffic. You will need to deploy an SEO strategy to attract traffic from search engines. But where would you start?

Some common questions that need answering are: How do you find the best keywords to use? How do I collect data to make an informed choice? Is my website good enough? Does it meet my consumer’s requirements? and so on. This process can be extremely overwhelming and confusing.

Thankfully there are loads of free SEO tools that can be utilized to get you started effectively and ensure that you plan and deploy an SEO strategy that hits the ground running.

Here are some of our most used and favorite tools to make SEO simple and easy to deploy:

  1. Keyword research using Ubersuggest

A great free SEO tool that was recently acquired by Neil Patel, an SEO guru that has been around for many years and ran many successful businesses like QuickSprout (a marketing agency) CrazyEgg (heatmap SASS business) to name a few.

Since the acquisition by Neil, he has worked hard to make this an invaluable resource to help with your SEO. You can use Ubersuggest to find the right keywords to use for your website. Simply input an initial keyword to get ideas or by comparing them to a competitor’s website.

It will allow you to find keywords that are not as competitive as mainstream keywords yet still have a decent amount of traffic to enable you to convert more visitors into customers.

As well as the keyword research tool you have a content ideas tool that will help you to plan which content to deploy on your site. Of course, using that with the research carried out via the keyword tool will help enormously.

2. Google Keyword Planner

As the biggest search engine on the planet, it’s not surprising that Google also has a keyword tool. It’s primarily for those using the Google Adwords service but that makes it perfect for you to use on your own site.

As it’s a Google tool it will give you more accurate results than any third-party tool. Even though the numbers provided are estimates they are more accurate than other SEO tools.

Not only will it give you potential keyword ideas based on a seed keyword it can also present the results based on competitor websites.

Keyword ideas not only show you estimated visits they could attract but a golden nugget is what current Adword ads are paying per click to use that word. Yes, it may be an estimate but it’s certainly the most accurate from anything else available.

This not only gives you the potential competitiveness of a keyword but also how viable and potentially lucrative a keyword could be for your business.

It’s free to get started with the only requirement being to sign up for a Google account!

3. Hubspot’s Website Grader

Once you have your website up and running and sprinkled it with keywords to attract the right audience you want to ensure that the search engines start to love your site.

Some factors that the search engines look for is if your website is fast, is mobile optimized, has the right meta tags and doesn’t load too many resources.

A great way to check this is by using Hubspot’s website grader. As you can guess, it will grade your website out of 100 for various elements.

The closer you are to 100 the more optimized and search engine friendly your website is considered to be.

The tool will present your grade in a visually appealing way and for any issues that need addressing, it provides simple to understand tips in order for you to fix them.

Hubspot’s website grader is simple and easy to use, and should definitely be a part of your go-to tools when it comes to SEO.

4. Hotjar Insights

Once you have optimized your site and ticked off all the parts that website grader says needs fixing you will want to ensure the users who are now visiting your website like what they see.

A good way is to actually see what your visitors are doing on your site. Which pages do they go to once they land on your website? Do they spend time reading the text? Click on certain links? Or simply land on your site and quickly go back?

Hotjar will allow you to collect all this data via recorded videos so you can see what users are actually doing on your site. You can quickly identify usability issues and if there is something inadvertently stopping users from making a purchase or getting in touch.

You can combine the video recordings with the heatmap functionality to understand what users want, care about and do on your site which will visually represent their clicks, taps and scrolling behavior. These are the strongest indicators of visitor motivation and desire.

5. Google Analytics & Search Console

Whilst not strictly SEO tools these 2 free tools give you in-depth data about what’s taking place on your site from a search engine point of view.

Analytics will help to identify your top-performing pages by visitor trends i.e. time of day, country of visit, etc. as well as the bounce rate of the site as a whole or for specific pages.

Whilst analytics shows you the data about your website visits, search console will show you data it has about which pages of your site Google has indexed, the anchor text used, links to the site, which keywords are driving traffic to the site and a whole load of other useful information to improve the visibility of your site.

It is the most reliable information you can get rather than being solely reliant on third-party tools. Often those tools like the Ubersuggest tool recommended above will require access to these data points to show you the most accurate and relevant details.

Although they will work perfectly fine without connecting to these data points doing so will mean the information and data presented is much more accurate

It’s free to sign up for any of the Google analytics and search console services.

6. Generate blog ideas

Once you have identified what works its time to replicate that! If your website is now up to scratch, your keywords are good and you are not losing visitors because of any usability issues then it’s time to focus on content specific to your business and industry.

As they say, content is king. But, it’s not easy creating content especially if you’re not a writer.

The Blog Ideas Generator is a great SEO tool to quickly generate ideas for your next blog post. You can add up to 5 keywords into the search box for it to recommend up to a week’s worth of content ideas!

You can choose from those that are the most relevant to your site and it doesn’t stop you from choosing different words if the first batch doesn’t produce the results you were looking for.

It’s totally free to use and should you sign up to their newsletter Hubspot will also send you an editorial calendar template for you to use over the year. Very useful if you want to plan your content and SEO strategy together.

Wrapping up…

Using the tools above will allow you to structure your SEO efforts and take advantage of the organic traffic a search engine can send your website without forking out money on a monthly basis.

Once your website starts to perform then you can certainly use the premium tools that offer much more data to enhance upon the success you have already gained.

Let us know what you think below or if you have used a tool that has been invaluable to your new business. License: ✓ Free to use. ✓ No attribution required.


Navigating the African tech ecosystem through news…


Navigating the African tech ecosystem through news, lessons learned, and best practices from entrepreneurs, investors, and hubs across the tech ecosystem. Produced by MEST.

MEST Africa

Written by

The largest Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for startups:


Navigating the African tech ecosystem through news, lessons learned, and best practices from entrepreneurs, investors, and hubs across the tech ecosystem. Produced by MEST.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store