Toolbox

SEO & Affiliate Marketing Tools

I get asked all the time about what products, services, resources and tools I use for running my websites. You'll find a list of my favorite products and services below. Some are free. Some are paid. And even though I use affiliate links when available - which means I may receive a commission if you sign up or purchase something - I can promise that everything listed on this page is on it because I use the product or service and find it to be a valuable asset to my business.

I will do my best to keep this list as updated as possible - when I either find new great products and services or change my opinion on one I used to love for whatever reason.

I would recommend you bookmark this page for future reference.

Building Your Site

  • Namecheap - Domain registrar with competitive pricing and a great reputation.
  • Netwisp - The main hosting company I have been using for over a decade - and their support is second to none.
  • A2 Website Hosting - Another great choice for hosting sites when wanting one on a different host for whatever reason.
  • WordPress - The best free platform to build a website on.
  • WooCommerce - A free WordPress plugin that allows you to build an online store for your website that can sell physical products, digital downloads and link out to affiliate products.

Awesome WordPress Themes

  • Beaver Builder - My top choice for a premium WordPress framework/theme builder. All of my sites have been transitioned to this framework, including Sugarrae.
  • Genesis - My secondary recommendation for a premium WordPress framework/theme. You can see my full review here.
  • Restored 316 - Well-designed premium Genesis child themes with a feminine flair. Almost all of them have built-in WooCommerce design support.
  • Themedy - Produces child themes and skins for Genesis - as well as the Thesis theme - and sells them in bundles.
  • Pretty Darn Cute - A great collection of premium Genesis child theme designs for bloggers.
  • Bloom Themes - Awesome collection of premium Genesis child themes. Sugarrae runs on one of them.
  • Utility Pro Theme - A premium Genesis child theme that is built from a mobile first perspective.

Improving Site Speed

  • GTmetrix - Free tool that analyzes your site speed and identifies items you can fix to make it faster.
  • W3 Total Cache - Free caching and site performance optimization plugin.
  • WP Rocket - A better caching plugin, and the one I now exclusively use, but it's not free.
  • Imagify - Free plugin that lets you optimize your site images for speed.
  • MaxCDN - The content delivery network I use to speed up my sites. Use this link to get 25% off your first month.
  • P3 Plugin Performance Profiler - Free plugin that lets you test the resources your other plugins are using allowing you to find alternatives to plugins that are causing bloat and affecting site speed.

General WordPress Plugins

  • Advanced Ads - Allows you to add display ads based on specific pages, page types and other criteria. It also allows you to choose whether to display an ad on mobile, desktop, or both. It also has support for special AdSense ad types and allows split testing and ad rotation.
  • Pretty Link - My preferred plugin for cloaking affiliate links. I use the Pro version. (Tutorial here.)
  • Broken Link Checker - Another free plugin that allows you to check for broken links on your blog.
  • Envira Gallery - Hands down the best image gallery plugin for WordPress.
  • Search Everything - Free plugin that allows you to restrict specific posts and pages from showing up in your internal search results.
  • TablePress - Free plugin for creating responsive tables within your blog.
  • WeDevs PM Software Plugin - Paid plugin for adding a project management solution inside of your WordPress blog. Fantastic organizational solution for individual bloggers.

Perforing Keyword Research

  • SEMrush - This is my favorite keyword research tool and is more than merely a keyword tool. Check out my full post on how I use it to increase traffic and revenue via this tutorial.
  • SpyFu - Another keyword research tool I use. It also has some kickass link building research and outreach tools. Check out my full review here.
  • Answer the Public - Free tool that shows you the questions people are asking around specific keywords.

Search Engine Optimization

  • WordPress SEO - Free plugin for optimizing your WordPress blog to do well in the search engines.
  • Deepcrawl - The best crawling tool available for larger sites (100K pages or more). Linkable reports and PDF downloads make it great for agencies.
  • Screaming Frog - Another crawling tool I use. Free version crawls up to 500 URLs per crawl. I recommend them for smaller sites (sub 15K pages) and checking manual lists of links.
  • Screaming Frog Log File Analyzer - Extremely useful tool that allows people to download and analyze their raw log files with SEO in mind.
  • Ahrefs - Backlink research tool that is also useful for performing quick health checks on a website.
  • Authority Labs - Useful rank tracking tool. It also includes notations on which kind of results show in each search result page, but its cost makes it best for enterprise rank tracking needs.
  • Google Search Console - A Google run portal for webmasters that provides information about how your site is ranking and how Google sees your site.
  • Google Analytics - The best free analytics service available.
  • Wayback Downloads - Affordable service that downloads an entire website from archive.org for you and emails you all of the files up to ten levels deep, including images.
  • Redirect Path - a free Chrome extension that will show you the redirect path of any page you visit, even when the page has multiple chained redirects in place.

Content Creation

  • BuzzSumo - Awesome tool for finding new content ideas and doing competitive intelligence research surrounding the content your competitors are producing.
  • Grammarly - An awesome grammar checking tool. I don't publish a single piece of content without it. Full review here.

Be sure to check out my full, detailed guide to generating kickass content ideas.

Email Marketing

Affiliate Networks

Other Monetization Methods

  • Google Adsense - Gives you a piece of code to put on your website to automatically display paid advertisements from various companies.
  • VigLink - Gives you a piece of code to put on your website to affiliate existing non-affiliated links to merchants with affiliate programs automatically.
  • Skimlinks - Does the same thing as Viglink. Which one works best varies. I would recommend testing both.
  • OIO Publisher - A paid WordPress plugin that allows you to offer native banner advertising (and more) on your blog. See my guide to OIO here.
  • Flippa - Website marketplace that helps you buy and sell websites. I have sold multiple sites using their service.

Business Books

  • The E-Myth Revisited - If I had to choose the one book that influenced me most in my business career as an entrepreneur overall, this would be the one.
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - This book is a must read - and you should be reading it at least once every two years to reinforce it. Think of it like a workbook to creating a successful life.
  • Brand is a Four Letter Word - Insightful book that argues whether or not branding is something you can control.
  • The Dip - Short read that explains the difference between quitting vs. knowing when to walk away.
  • Don't Make Me Think Revisited - No one should be able to build a website or blog without reading this book first.

Social Media

  • Social Media Calendar - Downloadable and customizable calendar with over a year's worth of social media posts and graphic ideas. Huge, huge time saver.
  • Snappa - Allows you to create blog post images and social sharing graphics quickly an easily with zero design skills.
  • Picmonkey - Another awesome tool to generate images for promoting your posts in social media. Cheaper than Snappa, but less features.
  • ShareTally - Free tool to find out how many social shares a specific webpage has.

Running Your Business

  • Zapier - Automate. All. The things. The service lets your favorite apps and services talk to each other and automate mundane business actions.
  • Pipedrive - An affordable and simple customer relationship management system that we use to manage all of our sales leads. Sign up via this link and get two months free.
  • Dropbox - Online cloud file storage. The free account lets you store up to 2 GB in the cloud. I use the Pro plan which offers 1 TB of storage for $9.99 a month.
  • Teamwork - Easy to use online project management system. All the stuff I need to manage projects without all the complication found in other services. I ditched Basecamp for the service and have never looked back.
  • FreshBooks - Awesome online invoicing software. All the features small businesses need without all of the confusion found in competing software.
  • NiftyQuoter - Online proposal software that allows for extensive design customization.