Oh, you brave affiliate marketers. Trying to outdo major corporations with only your passion, hard work and marketing savvy. It’s no little thing, what you’ve undertaken. You need all the help you can get. Just remember: One tool won’t make the difference between success and failure. But if you’re already on your way to success, a good tool can give you an edge.
We’ve compiled this list in the hopes of giving you as many edges as possible. Every tool listed here is free. To keep this list manageable, I have not included even one WordPress plugin. There are no apps, either. It was hard. But next week’s post will make up for some of the absence. It’s a roundup of the best and most essential free WordPress plugins.
So here’s your list, grouped by activity. If one of your favorite online tools for affiliates isn’t listed here, give it a shout-out in the comments.
As an affiliate, you’re fundamentally a traffic broker. Traffic flows toward good content. It flows toward killer headlines. Get the headline right and you’re more than on your way. So here’s the tool to pick a highly viral headline every time.
Also good for finding the headline most likely to succeed.
Want to know which blog posts, videos, podcasts or infographics have gotten the most shares in the last 24 hours? The last three months, six months, or a year? This is the tool for that. It’ll even tell you who shared the most. This is killer information if you want to reach out to influencers on a specific topic. Check out NinjaOutreach, too. Just want to know how many shares a URL has? Try SharedCount instead.
4) Portent’s Content Idea Generator
Give it a topic, and Portent’s Content Idea Generator will do the rest. This tool is especially good at funny headlines like “Why Wily Affiliate Marketers are Hotter than Jennifer Lawrence”.
5) Content Idea Generator
Want hundreds of content ideas? This is the tool for you. After you register, they’ll ask you about your target audience, what they struggle with and what they want. Then you click a button and see several hundred ready-to-use headlines and topic ideas. You’ll have enough content ideas for the next year.
One of the best ways to develop content ideas is to get exposed to a lot of them. That used to mean reading dozens of blogs and signing up for dozens of email newsletters. You can still do that, but Feedly makes it way easier.
7) The Google keyword tool
This is the granddaddy of all keyword tools. You will need to register an AdWords account to use it, but it’s worth it. Even though the Google keyword tool has become less helpful over the years, it’s still essential. Don’t make a business decision about a keyword without checking it first.
8) Google Webmaster Tools
There are so many SEO tools and resources here, it’s hard to know where to start. Start with creating an account. Link your sites to it. Then use the PageSpeed Insights tool to see how your sites are doing speedwise. Next, check how mobile-friendly your sites are with the Mobile-Friendly test. Finished with that? Optimize how your pages appear in the SERPs with the Structured Data Testing Tool. That’s just the start of what you can do with Webmaster Tools.
9) Portent SERP Preview tool
Moz also has a preview tool, but I prefer Portent’s. If you don’t happen to have the Yoast plugin installed on your WordPress site (whoops… not supposed to mention plugins!), this is the next best thing, at least for your title tags and meta description tags.
10) Google Analytics
Like Google Webmaster tools, this has so many powerful features that it’s kind of a world onto itself. It lets you find out where your traffic comes from, and what people do on your site. You can even set up website tests with Content Experiments. If you’re not using Analytics, I hope you know what you’re doing.
11) Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker
Affiliates often get hit particularly hard by Google algorithm updates. Fruition won’t stop that from happening, but it will tell you what happened better than any other tool I know. When you’re dealing with a drop in rankings, it’s critical to know what you got slammed by. This tool will show you that for free.
11) Majestic SEO
There’s a free version of this tried-and-true SEO tool. It will show you details about your sites’ link profile, plus all sorts of cool info about keywords. If you want to analyze competitors, this should be one of the tools in your arsenal.
12) Keyword Spy
Want to know what top affiliates are promoting which products, and where? This is the tool. Affiliate marketing, as you know, is extraordinarily competitive, so these kinds of competitive analysis tools can really make a difference. At first glance this appears to be a paid tool, but they have a “lifetime free trial”.
If you like Keyword Spy, check out Spyfu.com. Especially if you’re doing pay per click advertising.
13) Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool
The Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is free for sites up to 500 pages. It’s primarily used for SEO and content audits.
Want to save yourself a mountain of time? Automate your social media updates. Buffer makes it easy.
This Moz tool will help you manage your Twitter account by finding followers, managing your followers, and tracking what people are doing with Twitter. It’s essential for growing your Twitter following.
17) Do Share
This is a plugin for the Chrome browser. It’s also arguably the best free tool for Google+ marketing. Because free traffic is so important to affiliates and because Google+ is Google’s product, it’s worth your time to have at least a presence on Google+. Do Share is especially valuable because it lets you schedule posts to Google+ pages and Google+ profiles.
Link tracking & creation
Bit.ly is both extremely popular and extremely easy to use. It’s a link shortener, so it’s helpful anywhere you don’t want a URL that goes on for two miles. Bit.ly also lets you track which links get clicked in a PDF or in a Kindle book. You can even bundle links together. There are also some basic analytics reports.
19) Google’s URL Builder
This tool complements Google Analytics. It makes tracking your ads and social media posts far, far easier. Once you get the hang of it, it actually enables you to do simple split-testing with ad creative.
As mentioned before, if you’re an affiliate, you’re basically a traffic broker. To be a good traffic broker, you need to track all the links you create. You also need an easy way to see which links are driving the most revenue. This is what Linktrack does, and it does it specifically for affiliates.
This is another free link tracking tool. It’s also made for affiliates. Whether you use this or Linktrack may end up as a matter of preference. It might be worth your time to try both these tools, then pick the one that works best for your business.
This is an awesome resource, but there’s a trick to finding images that haven’t been over-used. Find the magnifying glass icon to run a search query. Look for the buttons on the top right that say “All” and “Featured”. The default is “Featured”. You want “All”. It will show you way more photographs, and they’ll be the photographs least often used.
23) Death to the Stock Photo
They’ll give you a free batch of photos when you sign up for their list. Then every month they’ll send another batch of free photos. Some months, they’ll send two.
Another free image site to help you make your content more click-worthy.
Animated gifs are cool, easy to make, and attract a lot of attention. This free tool is the best of its kind in terms of features, ease of use and the final product.
Want a nutshell report about every metric that matters for your site? Want that report for your top three competitors as well? Also want a numeric score of how your site compares to theirs? That’s what this tool does.
27) CB Engine
You know how big Clickbank is. That’s actually part of the problem with it. There’s so many products and so much information it can be hard to find the diamonds in the pile. This is what CB Engine does. This is a paid tool, but the 7-day free trial will get you started.
Know of any more free online tools an affiliate marketer could use? Tell us about them in the comments.