Save your arms and legs. Learn to build websites on a budget.

Free SEO Tools

So your new boss is all hip on the new Internet lingo and hits you with “Did you SEO our website?” “What is SEO?” better not be your response.

True story, about 4 years ago I was working for a company that was sold to a a larger company. Our company did about 3-4 million a year in sales, $750,000 or so was from web sales. The new parent company was worth 3 or 4 times our company so I figured there could be  a place for me in this new organization, especially after I looked at their web presence. I meet with the parent company’s tech guy. We chit chat a bit and start talking web. I ask him what he was doing with the websites, programs he was using and his SEO strategy. He asks me “What is SEO?”  Holy bleep are you kidding me. He had no idea what SEO was and ran all their ecommerce (and network, anything PC/Internet related). This new company was old school.

I left about 1 month after the sale was completed and agreed to be a contractor so I could work from home. So rather than pay me to work X amount of hours per week, they only called when new products were available to be added to the website. They moved their website to a new platform a few months later and never asked my input. After 2 years, sales were down to barely $100,000 a year on the website. Moral of the story, SEO is important!

Time to move onto the real reason you might be reading this blog post, FREE SEO tools.

Ahrefs Site Explorer and Backlink Checker - Find out who is linking to you or to your competitors. Good quality backlinks is a must if you plan to get ranked for the keywords you are targeting.

Bing SEO Analyzer - Requires Bing webmaster account. Get an on-demand report that highlights issues in your page source and provides you with recommendations how to fix them.

MOZ Open Site Explorer - Another resource for checking backlinks to your website or a competitor.

On-Page Optimization Tool by Internet Marketing Ninjas – See how spiders see your website. It analyzes your internal links, meta tags and keyword density.

Remove’em - You can over optimize anchor text links. Remove’em identifies your anchor text diversity and highlight those areas where you are at risk for anchor text over optimization. If you find that you are over optimized for specific keywords or keyword phrases, you should consider modifying the anchor text of specific links to focus more on your brand or remove links that are using that specific anchor text.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider – Free download for Mac, Linux or Windows. Watch the video below to learn more.

Virante Duplicate Content Tool – Google’s not a fan of duplicate content. You need to add the rel=”canonical” tag to your head section of your web page so google knows what page to index.

XML Sitemaps - If you happen to be coding your site by hand or using a tool like Dreamweaver, create a free XML site map (up to 500 pages) for Bing and Google.

Free Photoshop Resources

I wish I was a Photoshop guru
I wish I could teach lessons to you
If I had mad graphic design skills
I would not need to search google

If you listened to rap in the mid-90′s, you might remember Skee-Lo and his hit “I wish”, see the youtube video (warning , I cannot be held responsible for time wasted viewing the related videos) or more recently the song was used in a Toyota Rav 4 commercial. Above was my sad attempt at pretending I was Weird Al Yankovic. Ok, I’m old and you probably just want to see the Photoshop resources so here you go.

Have Photoshop CC or CS6? Check out layers control, a free Photoshop extension that includes a collection of scripts that make tedious job easier. Well it’s not exactly free, you have to pay with a tweet.

Brusheezy has a good selection of free Photoshop brushes, patterns and textures. Many can be used in commercial projects just be sure to read the Creative Commons Licensing for any itmes that includes that type of license.  They also have a premium paid service that includes royalty free graphics, vectors, brushes, backgrounds and more.

Photoshop Tutorials at Photoshoptutorials.ws. If I am in the mood to dive deeper into Photoshop, I follow some of their tutorials.

PhotoshopEssentials.com provides great tutorials on the basics of Photoshop, photo retouching and manipulating text.

DeviantArt has hundreds, if not thousands of brushes, textures, backgrounds, actions and anything else Photoshop related. Not all things on Deviantart is free. Many contributors require a link back to their site or be credited somewhere on your website. Some items even have a fee associated with them.

If you use images, brushes, actions or other Photoshop plugins, be sure they are truly free. I love free stuff but also believe that if someone gives out their works for free with a simple request of a link back to their site or credited somewhere on your website, you should be courteous and give credit where credit is due. I have even contacted some people directly and most are OK with no credit or link if you just ask them nicely. Maybe even buy them a beer using paypal, after all, they just saved you time in creating an image, background or whatever it was you downloaded.

I’m Back, Again

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated this site and it’s time to kick the cob webs off.  I’m hoping to share some of the many sites that have inspired some of my best work to date. I sure wish I could wrap my brain around programming php or similar language. But I start trying and it just goes over my head. So here I am, sharing tips on how to to get over being programming challenged.

Todays tip, paid wordpress themes can be your friend. If are going to use one for a commercial client, be upfront with them. Tell them you will purchase a nice theme and customize it, saving them some cash.  I typically choose Themeforest (for the record, this is an affiliate link, that means I get a commission if you click the link and buy something.). I’ve had some good luck with the developers who list their themes on Themeforest. Most themes run from $30-50. Just try to pick a them that the developer is active in supporting. If the theme is over a month old and has only a handful of sales, chances are the developer will not be updating it to keep up with wordpress upgrades.

 

2 Responsive Open Cart Themes

If you’re using opencart and looking for a nice responsive theme, check out Sellegance or Shoppica 2.  I prefer Sellegance, the developer has been great about fixing any issues and even integrating 3rd party extensions.  Shoppica 2 might be the most widely used open cart theme. Many extensions have special versions to comply with Shoppica so it might save you a few headaches over Sellegance in that regard.

Brief overview of Sellegance:

  • Compatible with OpenCart versions 1.5.2.1, 1.5.3.1 and 1.5.4.1, as there are NO modifications in core files.
  • Built on HTML5
  • Uses the Twitter Boostrap Framework.
  • Fully responsive: looks great on laptops, tablets and mobiles devices.
  • Choose your own colors and backgrounds: customize your site colors and upload your own backgrounds from the admin panel easily.
  • Custom homepage slideshow: fully responsive too.
  • Elegant and clean design which is enhanced by some pretty jQuery effects.
  • Clean HTML /CSS: if you want to digg in the code, you will find it easy and well organized.
  • SEO optimized. Semantic, clean code. Search engines will love your site.
  • Cross browser compatible: it works fine under any modern, major browser(IE7+, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari and Opera).
  • Google fonts: you can select them in the backend.

Brief overview of Shoppica:

  • Compatible with OpenCart 1.5.2.x,  1.5.3.x and 1.5.4.x.
  • Responsive layout – you shop will appear nicely on every mobile phone and tablet.
  • Unlimited color combinations; full control over the colors of the site elements; Every category and subcategory can have different color scheme!
  • Custom background textures and images – you can upload your own. You can set different background for every category.
  • SEO -ready.
  • 2 different site design styles: fixed and full width
  • Custom fonts with option to choose subsets for every font (google webfonts). You can choose different fonts for every installed language
  • Fully localized
  • Horizontal navigation with unlimited subcategory levels
  • Shows brands for every top level category in horizontal navigation and creates a page with the category products filtered by the selected brand
  • Custom cart menu dropdown
  • Jquery enhanced user interface – tabs, lightbox photo preview, form validation
  • Footer information – short info, contact details, twitter and facebook widgets with multilanguage support
  • Enable / disable default OpenCart features such as Wishlist, Compare, Returns etc.
  • Category sitemap in the footer
  • Multi-Store ready – different theme settings for every store in a single installation

You can’t go wrong with either theme and the price for Sellegance, $30 and Shoppica will set you back $40.

Disclaimer. I am an affiliate of themeforest and receive a small commission if you buy either theme mentioned in this post. I have used both themes on live websites, you can see Sellegance in action here, http://cobrabraid.com  and Shoppica at http://fairydustshop.com.

Another Webdesigner “Helper” Resource

Yet another resource I stumbled upon a few months ago that is a great help to web and graphic designers is MightyDeals.com. I figured if I was going to mention this resource and they offered an affiliate program, why not join? So this brief article does provide monetary compensation to me if you click on a link and buy an item.

Might Deals has a random deal of the week set up with some deals running longer. The items they offer are vary greatly with many WordPress and photoshop related. You can pick up some great themes for a very low price, just read the fine print because some of the deals are at sites that offer premium memberships and the mighty deals discount is usually for a few particular themes at a site that might offer dozens of themes.  I’ve seen ebook, video tutorials, photoshop brushes, fonts and software all at special prices. I’ve bought 2 or 3 items so far and happy with each item and usually check our their deals once a week.

 

See their latest offers below:

Web Design, Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Let me first say that I do earn a referral commission for the review below.  I only receive monetary compensation if you happen to follow a link and then buy a script. I’m not a hard core web designer. More the “jack of all trades, master of none” kind of designer. I know more aboutRead More

Is OpenCart a Viable Alternative?

It’s been a while since my last post. Busy trying to recover after Google’s Panda update killed some of my sites. I recently started helping out a local business with some SEO. They use Opencart, an open source shopping cart. At first I thought, “it’s definitely not Magento”. It had a more “for dummies” feelRead More

My Latest CoreCommerce Experience

I’ve finally convinced a client to upgrade their antiquated ecommerce platform.  As I stated in some earlier posts, I was a fan of Corecommerce when I first tested them out a little over a year ago. This time around the experience was much different. First I googled some reviews and found one in particular thatRead More

Magento Go – Not Really Magento

I’m back in the market for a new shopping cart. I was pleased to find out that Magento Commerce has offered a new version of Magento called Magento Go. I thought, great, my favorite ecommerce package with hosting and technical support, how can I go wrong.  After a few emails with Magento Go Support, whichRead More

Quick Update on Shopping Carts and My Experience

New information about the Big Commerce ecommerce scripts.Read More

Get in touch with us

Aliquip ex ea commodo consequat duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur.

20 Cape Trafalgar, East River, Cape Town, South Africa, 8001