Move Over Content Marketing: Why Creating Tools Can Be a Better Investment Than Creating Content

tool image

Have you ever thought about using a free tool to market your site? I know I didn’t until I read about Moz’s analytics stats and saw that a lot of their traffic was coming from Open Site Explorer, which is their free backlink tool.

With a bit of research, I realized that it wasn’t just Moz that was seeing great results from releasing a free tool. HubSpot was generating lots of traffic and leads with their Grader tool. SEMrush was also generating millions of monthly visitors by offering free competitor analysis tool.

So, I decided to spend $45,000 on building a free website analyzer. I released it on Thursday of last week, and within the first four days 17,747 people ran 22,562 URLs through the free tool.

But what’s more interesting than the usage data is what I learned:

Everything dies down

Here are the usage stats of the tool during the first four days:

  • Day #1: 8,462 people ran 10,766 URLs
  • Day #2: 5,685 people ran 7,241 URLs
  • Day #3: 1,758 people ran 2,264 URLs
  • Day #4: 1,842 people ran 2,291 URLs

The big reason that the tool did better on the first two days is because they were weekdays. Based on the data from past launches, the tool should still be used at least 1,000 times a day once the launch traffic dies down.

Tools have a higher perceived value

Before I launched the tool, Quick Sprout received 1.8 pageviews per visitor and had a bounce rate of 74%. In addition to that, 65% of the visitors were first time visitors, who stayed on the site for 2 minutes and 10 seconds.

After I launched the tool, each visitor viewed 2.35 pages. The bounce rate was 63%. The loyalty of each visitor also increased as the percentage of new visitors dropped down to 57%, and they stayed on the site for 3 minutes and 10 seconds.

tools stats

Over the years, I’ve been expanding Quick Sprout in many ways. I have created advanced guides, released a forum and tried multiple types of blog posts. None of these things provided as high of an engagement rate as the free website analyser tool did, which shows that people perceive software to be more valuable than content.

More traffic doesn’t really mean more traffic

As I mentioned above, the tool was used a fair number of times in the first four days. But usage doesn’t necessarily mean more traffic. If I didn’t release the tool, I would have released a blog post, and each post generates new visitors.

Although the tool was used 22,562 times, the site only generated 6,301 extra visitors that I wouldn’t have normally received compared to just writing a new blog post.

I also experienced similar results every time I released a new guide. This means that I am cannibalizing my visitors to a certain extent, as many of my visitors are viewing the new things I am releasing, and they are ignoring some of my older pieces of content.

If you are looking to grow your audience, you should continually release new content, software updates and whatever else your mind can dream up. But don’t expect exponential growth as you will be cannibalizing your visitors to some degree, which is fine.

What’s the ROI?

So far I have spent $45,000 building the tool. To finish off the rest of the features will roughly cost me $60,000 more. That means the total cost to build everything I want would be $105,000.

Before I created this tool, I created three other software companies for marketers, and I bought one. Based on my experience of creating products for marketers, I should easily be able to convert 2% of the people who put in a URL into paid plan subscribers at $97 a year for extra features.

Assuming I can maintain at least 30,000 unique people entering in URLs through the system each month, a 2% conversion rate would mean 600 paid customers each month. At a price point of $97 per year, that would generate $58,200 in revenue each month.

As you can see, I would easily make my money back if I decided to charge for a premium version as I am only investing $105,000 into the tool. My monthly hosting cost, just for the tool portion, wouldn’t be higher than $1,146.50, and the cost to support paying users shouldn’t be more than $5,000 a month.

I have no plans charging for the tool or even creating a paid premium version, so in this case, I will end up losing money. But if I wanted to, I could make a healthy profit.

Conclusion

If I had to do it all over again, I would still spend the money on the website analyzer because it has helped to grow my overall traffic and to increase the loyalty of my audience.

If you want similar results, you can add a free tool to your website, but before you do, there are a few things you need to know:

  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – there are a lot of popular software products that are old and hard to use, but they are popular because people didn’t have as many options back then. Whatever you end up creating, make sure it is easy to use. Creating a complicated product that is feature rich won’t get you as far as creating a simple product.
  • Build for others, not yourself  – before you start building any product, you should survey your visitors and figure out what they want. If you build something that solves their problems, it’s more likely to be successful.
  • Wireframe before you design and develop – once you know what your visitors want you to build, make sure you wireframe it before you start the design and development process. Once you have wireframes, go back to your visitors and get feedback to make sure you are on the right track.
  • Design before you code – I’ve found that it’s easier and cheaper from a development standpoint if you have your designs completed before the development process starts. This way your engineers won’t overdevelop.
  • One domain is better than two – in most cases, you are better off launching your product on your existing domain… especially if your existing domain has traffic. My co-founder and I have tried creating tools on separate sites, and they typically haven’t done as well. If you launch your tool on a separate domain name, be prepared to spend triple the amount of time marketing it.

So, what do you think about creating free tools to market your business?

PS: If you haven’t checked out the new Quick Sprout tool, you should give it a shot. Chances are you’ll be impressed. ;)

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Comments

  1. But how does one create tools?

  2. When I looked at the title of this post in my feeds, I was like “I finally met my twin brother!”

    I believe in the same thing… And the obvious reason for that is because I believe [and know] that tools “practically help” people!

    Take your analyzer for example, I’ve been reading quicksprout for like a month now but I’ve visited it the most in the last week! Because you built a tool that is astonishingly simple and effective!

    Plus, for people like me, who are interested in coding, this is chance to learn more and gain reputation, both at the same time!

    So yeah Neil, creating a few tools for our visitors has many advantages rather than keep on writing those theory-oriented articles!

    • Raj, glad we think along the same lines :) . I like to create tools and content that helps people along the way. It really gives me joy to see people get from point A to Z as quick as possible. I know in my own experience people helped me, so I want to return the favor and help as many people as I can. Thanks for your feedback :)

  3. But tools are content! If you define content as something that pulls visitors to your site because they want to find a solution to something or find the answer to a need they have – then this is content. It’s just a niche type of content.

  4. Once again a great blog. I think this is an outstanding idea for businesses with the capital to burn. I would also suspect that this would be exponentially more effective for about 30-40% of the niches out there. If you fall into that category, then this seems like an A+ idea.

    So my question to you is if you agree with my educated guesses above, what would be the tight budget, SMB’s version of this tactic?

    Thanks Neil!

    • I wouldn’t do it on a tight budget unless you can either program or design to save cost. As a SMB, I would focus on smaller investments that produce a big ROI. Such as content marketing is really effective as you don’t have to spend money on it.

  5. Hi , I like all your articles, and I think you are the mentor for many online guys, But when you write that i spend 30,000 $ for design and 50000 $ for this and this , then i come in doubt that , is it really true?
    because it is very big amount in my opinion. Well sorry if you dont like this comment.

    • DP, I don’t mind the comment at all. I like that you are asking these questions because it shows you are generally interested in what is being written. I do spend all that money on these initiatives because I see an ROI and I want my site to be top notch. Thanks for your questions!

    • Just for the highlight here DP, Neil love to point out the price I think it’s because people tend to take think easily and might underestimate the real value of things.

      It’s important even for you to make sure, people understand the value.

      So the money value behind that and that, it’s Neil is saying” I care”.

  6. Hey Neil,
    Thanks for releasing the tool. However, I found a bug or rather caching issue I guess. After entering the url for the first time, I saw the report. Then I went back and updated my site. But now, whenever I enter my site url, it still shows the old report.

    I hope you fix this soon.

    • Abhijit, thanks for bringing this to my attention. I will definitely look into this and get back to you when the issue has been resolved. Let me know if I can do anything for you in the meantime.

  7. Great tips and strategy to drive traffic with a boost. Thanks for the share and disclosing the experience. However this needs a high investment and may not be easy for a typical blogger.

  8. Good stuff. I agree tools are a great investment with a high perceived value but it definitely takes a good amount of money and I wouldn’t want to create a lower quality budget tool to save a few bucks.

    What are your plans for A/B testing with how it is now? When I first visited the site I almost closed the window because I didn’t know to click on “blog”?

    -Amir

    • I may ad some sort of hand written text to get people to the blog similar to iwillteachyoutoberich.com to get more people to click the blog link.

      Will have to a/b test it.

  9. Qamar Mahmood :

    Great effort basically easy to use and understanding, Actually i was working on that tool, Over all your tool is really awesome Thank you for Releasing that tools, But i am lil bit confuse about social media state section it is lil bit disturbing then my real stats, May be i was wrong but i heaved check that three time. In that i like your screen shoots section which is really good,

    • Qamar, thanks for the feedback. I am going to work and look more into the social media section and there should be updates coming. Thanks for reading and I look forward to speaking with you again soon :)

  10. Hi Neil, firstly I want to thank you because I am learning a lot with your words that you share here on quicksprout. On the very first day I used the tool as you released it :D. I was excited but I didn’t find it really efficient. I hope there it is just beta version.

    But I just read in my mail box that it could be a trick to attract people as you have increased your traffic. I am wondering but again you shined :D

    Learning again and again from you.

    Regards.
    Sunny

    • Sunny, thanks for sharing your feedback. As with any product it will only get better over time. I just wanted to provide something that is free and easy to use and get it out the door. There will definitely be more and more upgrades to it. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  11. Amr El Desouky :

    thanks neil for your post and I’m now create my plugin to help affiliate to make more conversion and my domain now frombutton.com .. hope to see your review

  12. Fantastic post Neil… I am process of getting some tools developed for my website, was doubtful about my investment but now it seems It is a good decision… thanks for disclosing your stats.

    Regards,

  13. The new tool is amazing. I’m still unsure how to proceed with some of the suggestions it’s given me, but it’s a huge starting point. Thank you.

  14. Nice post! I think the amount mentioned in tool development is way too much. This can be achieved in less amount also. I’m writing this because I’m Web developer with good experience…

  15. Hi Neil,

    I have just subscribed to your updates. I am working on my new websites with all the things you mentioned and in last two days I have experienced great traffic. First of all thanks for that.

    I have also gone through the parameters which I need to improve for my site’s speed.

    Thanks for everything.

    Regards,

  16. Qamar Mahmood :

    Glad to see your reply Thank you,

  17. Yes! You have convinced me to complete work on my productivity tool that I’ve never released to the public.

  18. Neil –

    Wow! I not only used the QuickSprout tool, but asked how other companies could get one developed as well. You went above and beyond in answering my question with this blog post.

    Thanks!
    Maria

  19. Thanks Neil for taking a look into it. I am just starting out a new blog and this tool is really very helpful. I will wait for you to fix this.

  20. Completely agree with you, Neil. And once again thank you for sharing the candid details. I am betting on this line of thinking and creating a business model around coding content. Your tool is an excellent case study which I will share with many customers and prospects.

    • Manav, glad you found the post helpful. Please keep me up to date on your progress. I would love to hear how you are doing. Please let me know if you need any help along the way :)

  21. Love the concept as yours clearly provides HUGE value.

    Pushes me to think hard how I can create a useful tool that will add value, though not cost a tremendous amount for a new blog.

    Any sites that pop to mind that you see do this well, less elaborate or costly?

    Mike

  22. I knew Hubspot’s website grader was a tool that drove a lot of traffic for them.

    I think it’s a great idea and makes complete sense, I just need to put on my “thinking cap” and come up with something. Ingenuity is an excellent trait to have in the online marketing world.

    Sometimes I have a hard time finding it though :)

  23. Neil,

    I am always impressed by the quality of the content you create, AND the transparency with which you share the results of your activities. It’s so refreshing to see a talented and smart marketer like you who wants to really help others succeed. You are an inspiration to us all!!

    • Richard, thanks for the kind words. I want to provide ultimate value to all of my readers. I think information should be free up to a certain level, which is why I provide these tools.

  24. This is a great tool and I really like the simplicity of it. There are a lot of SEO tools out there, but often you have no idea what you are supposed to focus on.

    Keep on doing the great work, and I have my credit card ready for a premium version!

    • Richard, glad I could help. Please let me know if you have any feedback on the tool (any things you like/kinks you may have found, etc..) I look forward to hearing more from you :)

  25. Thank you Neil for confirming what I was trying to suggest to one of my clients several years ago.
    I actually went ahead and programmed a very unique and sophisticated technical calculator with charting features that I placed kinda hidden in one of the very technical sections where the owner would never look.
    In 2 years calculators were attracting ~30% of total visitors for the whole website without any ads or mentioning them anywhere.
    After looking at google analytics the owner was still now convinced. I gave up.
    I’m thinking on designing some of free tools for my websites but my niches are fine art and art prints related, so it will be a lot more challenging to come up with something unique and advanced.

    Do you have plans to offer your tool as an iPhone app?

    • Yuri, that is a tough situation you are in. Maybe you can come up with something innovative that can blow the top off the industry. I often find great ideas come to me when I least expect them. As for an iphone app…maybe? Right now it isn’t something I am really focused on but things can change.

  26. The tool is really awesome Neil!

    It’s giving me the exact errors and score where my websites should be improved. Also the GUI is so awesome that I couldn’t resist taking multiple screenshots of my clients websites to send them across.

    I just loved the tool! :)

    • Satish, glad you are finding utility with the tool. Also, glad you are able to share the insights with your customers. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any help with anything.

  27. That’s a lot of money but I guess it depends on the developer and what they charge. My company builds backend administration systems (Trouble Ticket System, WordPress Deployment Systems with cPanel Integration, etc) and the cost is usually pretty low since we build on our own custom framework. At our normal rate we’d have to spend 600 hours (Almost 4 months) at our highest rate to be able to charge you that amount.

    Maybe I don’t charge what I’m worth but that amount feels like someone is ripping you off.

    • Paden, it’s all about the value proposition you attach to your product or service. If creating x amounts of widgets at y costs allows a customer to get a massive ROI then it is up to you to decide what the right cost should be. It’s all about using discretion though, as you mentioned.

  28. Neil,

    its always great reading your content and I had to agree with your point that people will invest more time on this and infact I have recently spend more time in last tweek plus I have shared this tool to other people,

    I have one simple question if you could tell me, that no doubt you have invested lot of money in building this tool, but how you will be getting a return on this? if you are not looking for a return what is the point for investing so much on your tool?

    • Fatih, I think information should be free. I wanted to provide this base model of the website analyzer to provide value to all of my readers. I think it will help people along the way. There is always more functionality that can be added to the website analyzer. Right now I just wanted to give these free features out to everyone.

  29. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for developing website analyzer, I also have a content site and which has high PR but for last 12 months it has hit by Google and it hard for me to regain lost traffic.

    Surprisingly the site now ranking are not any authority but sites with have thin content, what’s your thought on that, do you provide any services or consultancy for such situation or any company which can help me with my site http://singlemomfinancialhelp.com; my site is 5 year old site whose content is refreshed very periodically and still enjoys good traffic from other tier1 search engines.

    vpatodi@glamplaza.com

  30. Hey Neil,

    Great tool, no doubt about it…

    But the conversion rate (2%) seems a bit high for me, especially if the cost would be $97 p/m.

    Could you elaborate where did you exactly come up with the 2% number? Not that I’m trying to be pessimistic, but for me it looks like a bit high conversion rate for a tool like that.

    Where would you get the paying customer? Only from quicksprout.com or would you do some extra marketing for that tool (PPC, SEO, Media buys etc) or.. ?

    Have a good day

    • I know I can convert at 2% as that is only 2% of the people who use the tool. That is a low number considering that I know the data for other marketing apps in the software space. Should be obtainable fairly easy.

      No need to market it as I already have a good amount of traffic.

  31. Sorry, wanted to say $97 per year, not month ;)

  32. I’d have to agree with you that hosting the tool on your EXISTING website is definitely much easier and more beneficial. I’ve launched similar tools in the past and regret not hosting them on my main domain. However, I’ve started adding content to the “main site” and will then implement the tool(s) I’ve developed into my main domain ;)

    • Serge, that is definitely a sound strategy. Ideally you want to keep all of your information on one domain so you can share and update your information easier. Also, people can more readily find out about updates, etc..

  33. Great post. It seems so obvious now that you have written it.

    We are actually a software company (Microsoft Outlook addons) and until now we have mainly used reports or videos as give-aways on our website (www.standss.com).

    I will look at some simple (but useful) addins that we can give away to attract more visitors.

    Question: Do you think that downloadable software is as useful as web based software in gaining traffic?

    Thanks
    Sanjay

    • Sanjay, I think that is a great strategy. I would love to hear more about it. I think downloadable software if it is sticky can be great. The only drawback is that it can be disseminated quickly and given away for free. Software subscriptions allow you to make tweaks and updates while maintaining the integrity of your client base.

  34. Neil,

    Not sure if it was typo or miscalcualtion. You said: “.. 600 paid customers each month. At a price point of $97 per year, that would generate $58,200 in revenue each month.”. If it is $97 per yr, it will be 58,200 per year not per month. It will be 4850 per month. If you add your hosting and support cost of will eat away that. If you keep 2% target of additional customers, your break even will be in some 4-6 years (more customer more overhead cost).

    • No typo, I would charge with a yearly option only. I wouldn’t offer a month to month option as the price point would be low.

      With a yearly price point, I would make money from day 1.

  35. Love your behind the scenes adventures Neil. Thanks for sharing.

    Which tools do you like to iterate on projects with devs and designers?

    Thanks again

  36. I really Love Quick Sprout Neil, Great information and tools you develop. Keep on working and doing nice things. I really enjoyed the new tool you develop. Thank you!

    Best regards,
    Sebastian Papp & His Team

  37. I just used the tool. It is pretty good. I now have a list of things I need to do to my site. I had overlooked quite a few. Thanks for the idea and for making your own tool free Neil.

  38. Just curious what your reasoning is for placing the tool on your home page and moving your blog to /blog/ instead of just placing the tool on a unique page within your blog? I have some assumptions, but would love to know your thoughts.

  39. Thanks for sharing, Neil!

  40. Functional website tools with utility add value, help increase page views and potentially lower bounce rate. The website analyzer on this website is a good example of that.

  41. “Build for others, not yourself”

    Not sure about this one Neil. I have seen many people build their own software tool for themselves because a problem existed where the solution couldn’t be found elsewhere. Once they took their software public it was well received by others who had similar problems. I am sure you have seen this before also?

    • Samuel, I didn’t mean it in a mutually exclusive way. You can build for others and it can definitely benefit yourself as well. It’s all about doing something for the community of like minded people you are associated with. Thanks for your feedback :)

  42. I think your tool work effectively. You can invest more bugdet to develop it to bring more value for the reader.

  43. Completely agree with Neil on this, this is part of our goto market strategy, a pull version of marketing for highly qualified people: http://www.steadydemand.com/Google-Plus-Brand-Audit-Tool.php

  44. Although we are in widely differing niches, I always find it valuable to see what new directions you’re exploring in content creation, Neil.

    Whatever our niche, we’re all in the business of serving our customers with some new content that is useful to them. This post and your new tool have given me some ideas already as to how I can increase engagement in my site.

    Thanks, Neil, for sharing your cutting-edge thinking here!

  45. I thought the purpose of creating the FREE tool is to get leads for your biz.
    Why is the GET HELP button leading me to the forum.

    I would think it should lead me to your sales page or something.
    Just a thought in case it is an error so that you can fix it asap.

    # Glad you mentioned hubspot. I have been following them for years and how they continuously use Free tools to get inbound leads.

    #3. Neil, why did not NOT gate certain features of the tool so that you can grab their email addresses and they see the result of their analysis.

    Another epic stuff Neil. Thanks

    • Williams, that can be a way to get leads if you choose to go the sales route. Hubspot does a great job with their suite of tools and certifications. You bring up a good point with the gate, that can be used for advanced features, etc…

  46. I agree with you Neil. You have to remember that you are building a product for the benefit of others,not yours. Think of some ways on how to make their life become more convenient. And if you already have a plan in mind,then now is the time to start working on it.

  47. Hi Neil,

    first of all THANK YOU very much for all what you do & share. I consider myself a “baby” within SEO & inbound marketing and reading your posts or advices it is just a pleasure and real inspirational experience. Said this, today I read your post about the new analyzer tool you have just implemented and obviously I’ve tried it out immediatelly. One of the results I got back says that within the home page is missing the title + description meta tags, which after verification they are not. I did a 1st inspection looking at the page source and I found them, and then to be 100% sure I also scan the website through Screaming Frog and the title + description are appearing again. :) my comment is not to complain, it is just to inform you that may be there is something not working well so you can fix it.

  48. This is amazing Neil. I am just wondering why it is costing too much to you, for the development of such tools.

    Anyways, big luck and ideas are with you. I was thinking same with my niche, and looking to launch something more locally (area).

  49. Now looking at our website’s source code again I’ve noticed that our development team inserted the tag with a capital D instead of a non-capital letter (Please see below). Is it making a difference this or it doesn’t matter? Is it the reason why your analyzer tool can’t recognize the title tag & description tag? Please forgive me if it’s a stupid question :) thank you

  50. Hey Neil

    I really loved the insight in this post and I agree that creating free resources can and should go above and beyond a simple blog post.

    I think you analysis tool is fantastic but one of the most impressive features for me is the look and layout – there is no reason creating something amazing if its impossible for the average Joe to use it.

    I am also in the SEO industry and I view your move to create this as an inspiration rather than a threat, you truly enlighten the community and I appreciate it a lot.

    I also respect how up front and honest you are about the process, and the money involved – I truly believe that your goodwill shall be re payed even if you had lost money in creating this tool for us.

    I go out of my way to promote this on my twitter (3x tweeted) and google+ accounts and I hope others are doing the same. Its a small price to pay for this sort of work.

    Looking forward to your next bit of content in what ever form it may be.

    Paul Back

    • Paul, I knew you would notice the design I put into the tool. You can agree with me that design goes a long way into anything you are creating. I wanted it to be simple for people to input their URL and get actionable insights. I also wanted to make it look visually stunning. Thanks for your feedback, as always :)

  51. WOW the tool *did not* ask for my email address and permission to spam it!

    Let this sink in. Enter website URL, click a button, see a report. Instant gratification.

  52. Sachin Bathla :

    Of course creating tool is a better idea and if you are offering free of cost and its a demand of trend then it will boom like a viral. I 100% agreed with Neil, but Neil Can you mention your thoughts when to invest on tool if you are running an SEO company?

    And What are the best alternatives of tools through which can engage current visitors and spread like a viral?

    • Sachin, I think that consideration should be made with your business’ progress in mind. If you are finding that engagement through content marketing is waning then a tool is definitely a good option. Also, if you find that content marketing is going great and you want to kick it up a notch then tools like then one I provided will do that for you. It’s all about your present circumstances.

  53. Hi Neil

    On the first day of the launched i ran that tool. My first impression was wow but later i realized there should be some more suggestion in terms of link building.Can you also add something like “what are the websites which are passing more link juice to a particular site” when we crawl that site using your tool. This was just a thought of mine, i just wanted to tell suggest you to add something which can help all of us making our site offpage SEO even better.

    Regards
    Tauseef Alam

  54. Neil your free website analyzer is great and very helpful, with your permission I would like to post a link to it from my site. I have lots of different web design tools to help visitors and your website analyzer would be a great benefit to my visitors.

  55. Fantastic I just used the tool and will now change a few things on my site then check again. Very helpful thanks

  56. Seth Yves Ducre :

    As usual, your products are a graphic delight.

    I’ve tried the tool a couple times and each time it gets stuck at “TESTING PROGRESS 95%.” I’m not sure if it’s just me or your team is still working out the 1.0 bugs.

    I’ve been using another pro tool for this type of analysis, but the scores are about as far apart as yin and yang. Without your WEBSITE ANALYZER having completed it’s run, I’m hesitant to draw any conclusions, but I’m curious about what factors your tool weighs heavily and which it assumes are more trivial.

    Thanks!

  57. Excellent tool! Found out quite a few repairable errors in my website. Will work on them soon.

    Tool is a nice ‘content’ that can attract audience. The real challenge is to first identify ‘what’ tool has to be made.

    • Srish, great point. Tools can work just like content marketing. As you can see my web analyzer tool is laid out like an infographic so it is visually appealing. Thanks for reading!

  58. Neil, I want to ask you that if I use free tools provided by other websites would I be able to generate so much traffic.

  59. Excellent tool and really easy to use!
    And thanks for sharing the data…investment, roi, etc.

  60. Why not give the option to download the report free in a pdf or png?

  61. Neil, Thank you for this tool that is helpful to your readers and site visitors.

    While you may not “need” the additional income of charging for the $97 yearly membership, and clearly you value the social value of giving away the tool instead of charging for it as it is further proof that you truly care about helping people to possibly improve their businesses and benefit from higher incomes, IMHO it would not in any way hurt your reputation to offer the upgrade to the paid yearly membership to benefit from additional premium features.

    That said, I and probably many others can have a big respect for you as someone who truly cares about sharing free tools to help people, more than increasing their income to be a millionaire many times over.

    Can you please tell us about when the advice tips return that Title tag should be 70 characters or less and heading tags between 15 and 65 characters, where did you get that from?

    And if people exceed those numbers, what happens?

    • Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate it. I’ll see what happens once the better features are added in within the next 45 days. ;-)

      It’s based on Google’s cut off for the title tag. It is roughly 70 characters (although they do it by pixel length).

      As for heading tags, too short means you didn’t use enough keywords in them and too long means you are stuff. You can use that range as a general rule of thumb.

  62. Wow Neil! This is awesome.

  63. Anyway don’t worry about me :) I’ve tried the tool on other websites & it’s really cool. Earlier I’ve tried to past the Meta description tag to show you what I was meaning but the systhem didn’t take it..again..great job Neil :) hope one day I can reach your levels of knowledge, work & presentation…

  64. Neil I’m completely blown away! The cost isn’t that readily accessible ;) Well, I know there can be simpler ways or tools to create. However, do you intend to do API for this too?

  65. Hi Neil, great job on your website analyzer, I’m looking forward to seeing what additional features another $60k investment will bring.

    Also another on the money point regarding ROI on creating tools vs content. Thinking of even the simplest tools that I use for character count or domain age checks monetized by Google Ads, had they been content it would have been unlikely that I would have returned to that page.

    Keep raising the bar!

  66. Hey Neil – Cool little tool. Very reminiscent of the Hubspot’s marketing grader. I will probably blog about it in a couple of days. Couple of things seem to be buggy, while a couple of things seem pretty good.

    The design is great.

    The code analyzer is pretty good. It picked up our site and I realized after doing some code work on our site that we forgot to pick up a new meta description. Whoops.

    Beyond that…the H1 and H2 analyzer and corresponding tables are good and they do a great job of visualizing your keywords on a particular page.

    However, the social share stuff is off as well as the backlinks. Not only did I run our site through it, but also http://neilpatel.com/ and apparently your site is slow and you have no shares or links…which I think we can say is not really the case.

    So somethings need work…but foundation wise its great.

    • It’s not perfect yet… but I am working on solving the bugs. It is pretty accurate though from the neilpatel.com perspective as there isn’t many social shares on that site.

  67. I love the tool you’ve created it really puts a lot in prospective as it shows your level of expertise.

  68. Nikolas Nikolaou :

    Creating tools is one of the best ways of gaining traffic, there are some sites than don’t even have content or their content is limited (Mailchimp , infogr.am etc) They are high performers in search and earners. You can create tools in any niche market with a little brainstorming or surveying/asking people to start your own idea “ripple effect” .I have already started my own development of 2 projects three months ago as I felt it was something my users would love and we are currently in the beta phases of both. One of the projects will have a cost of high 4 digits while the other one is in the low 3 digits.

    I like your tool but …
    This will sound rather harsh – XYZ most popular website in the world at the top pulled from Alexa should not be there. This is very misguiding for any niche other than internet marketing, especially for newbs as it is based of taking data from a users browser toolbar. I have alot of people mentioning Alexa in terms of how popular a website is and I get angry.

    Seo Moz’s Page Authority – Domain Authority should be added to the mix in terms of the Back links counter (or backlinks quality) as showing a simple low medium or high inbound links is not accurate, as some sites might have 50 links all from well established authority domains (editorial in-content links) while another might have 5000 links from spammy domains (footer,blogroll,comments,forum signatures).

    Cheers

    • Good suggestion on Alexa. Right now I am talking with Compete and Quantcast to see if I can get more accurate data.

      As for page authority and links, I am also talking with Ahrefs to see if I can get API access from them.

  69. Neil,
    Thanks for all the details on this post. I have a couple of questions:
    1. How did you determine the name of the tool?
    2. I have a tool that I use for business assessments, however I do not have nearly budget as yours. What are other methods to create an online tool with a smaller budget?

    • Rafael, the name of the tool just came to me. As for your second question, I think you should just start small with content pieces until you can work your way up to a tool.

  70. Nikolas Nikolaou :

    I use both ahref and majesticseo for monitoring links. One covers the others weakness. Majesticseo would be a great additionespecially the map tab, which shows where the websites linking to you are hosted (this has correlation on which google search engine you get traffic from). A nice addition aswell is the link profile tab where you can view a visual of the referring domains to your site as well as there “authority”.

    Sorry to be a troll but I think the tool will be 10 times better if its actually possible to get api access from majestic seo aswell.

    I only mentioned those 2 tabs in majesticseo as visuals are alot easier to digest.

  71. I think this is a fantastic strategy however it seems hard to translate to many more traditional industries. For example, being involved with a health product. How could I translate this? I’m finding the same dilemma with infographics in many cases.

    Great post either way!

    • Jordan, I think you just need to relate the information to your niche. It’s all about catering your content to your audience. They will most definitely find some value if you provide it to them.

  72. Hey Neil,
    Great name :) and great article on tool creation vs content. I especially appreciated your layout of the benefits of tool creation based upon the data analysis – and how to also turn it into a profitable undertaking.

  73. I think it will be not easy for other websites, your credibility is so much high in market and you can do what ever you want. But for startups there is lot of money required for marketing as well.

  74. Neil your shares are amazing man. You spill all the data, I almost feel wrong reading your posts like I am reading a classified government document LOL.

    This tool you built is fantastic. One thing that I always notice about your experiments is how expensive they are.

    An important realization from reading your blog posts came about 6 months ago – you cannot make marketing moves without a budget!!!

    Development is expensive, content is expensive, proper SEO execution is definitely expensive in terms of time.

    It’s inspiring and provides direction towards moves that make this type of thought leadership possible. Wherever we go in life, there is likely someone who has traveled there before and is willing to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to the top of the mountain!

    Thanks for always being so generous with your private data and giving all the juicy goodness that most “thought leaders” leave out either on purpose, or for a lack of organized thinking and communication!

    • Steve, thanks for the great and insightful feedback. I truly believe that to succeed and do well in any field you have to commit the time and resources. I don’t feel like I am spending money when I create these tools. I have the mindset that I am investing towards the future. People have told me they find great value from the posts, and that’s what keeps me going. The greatest currency I can think of is contentment :)

  75. Website design and content are the main things left to rank after Google crackdown on back links. I think Creating tools is a big ask. Not everybody’s cup of tea but we are also trying hard to come up with one. I agree totally with the article. thanks

  76. I totally agreed with you here. Recently, I have developed a tool for my readers that let them check the status of their devices, and upcoming updates for them. It is driving more traffic to my blog than my normal content.

    Now, I am seriously looking forward to launch more tools in my niche to easily gain some social hype.

  77. Nice work Neil – both this article and the tool. We are of course now inspired to build our own :)

  78. Neil, great tool and article.
    Actually I’ve been/will be reading all your articles from page1. They are of great value.

    Also I’d like to mention your another great ‘tool’ – your forum http://www.quicksprout.com/forum/
    Though I just registered as a member but definitely I’ll hang around there just like your blog!

    Sorry for my bad English ;)

    Leo

  79. A great post Neil, I follow your blog as often as I can but this post is especially relevant to me as I am building some free tools to give away in the hope of building interest in my site. Seeing detailed information is a real motivator for me. Keep up the great blogging.

  80. Hey Neil,

    Would like to know how you implemented the (absolutely fabulous) exit modal on quicksprout.com when a visitor tries to leave.

    I have one on my site, but somehow, my code only triggers when a visitors moves the mouse to the top-right hand side…

    Can you point me to the correct code please… :)
    Thanks,
    Amod

  81. Neil,

    If I had 3000$ per month to spend for an exit popup, I don’t think I’d be here asking such questions…

    Is there any raw code that you can point to? Lead magnet is great, but it’s rigid. I can’t just show an image in the popup like you do…

    Any raw code?

  82. yes! we actually implemented this on our site and we have seen a higher rate of interactions.

    we have been leaning to being more environmentally conscious so we created 3 tools and we noticed that our customer base has responded very well to two of them!

  83. Great tool,Thanks for the free tool,works perfectly….best part is competitor analysis.

  84. Neil,
    do you consider free directory section with ability to have a very detailed description, many product pictures, PDF specs and other extras be a tool?
    In my industry most of the companies are rather small, 95% of them have terrible websites – NOT SEO optimized. It takes hours and days to find needed supplier or a rare part via Search engines.
    I already have ~ 1000 of them in my database.

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