Free Business Tools and Resources - Useful Stuff to Help You Reach More Clients

We've put together some of our favourite online tools and useful resources that we hope will be of some benefit to you. Some are related to website design, some to small business marketing, others are just generally useful or fun.

Would you like to see how your competitors have developed their businesses and services over the years? Then type their website address into the WayBackMachine. This will show you cached pages from their websites from previous years. You can see how they started out, how their services have changed, who's come and gone.

Find out if a domain name is still available, find out who owns existing domains and where they are hosted etc. Also, you can convert IP addresses into domain names and vice versa, check 'ping' times, verify email addresses, check for blacklisted websites and IP addresses, and many other useful functions.

Ever had trouble converting measurements? This tool converts just about anything to anything else! There are lots of online tools for this job, but we like this one best because it's easy and quick. How many inches in a lightyear? Answer: 1 ly = 3.722e+17 inches!

A good way to check the credibility of a business website, is to look at the Google PageRank. If it has a PageRank of 2 or 3 (or more), then it's more likely to be trustworthy as a vendor/supplier (of course this is only one indicator, but it helps). By the same token, a reasonable PageRank may denote a competitor to be taken more seriously. Our own PageRank varies from 3 to 4. Just install the Google toolbar and choose 'PageRank' from the 'Tools' menu.

Sometimes it's helpful to know a little more about the people that you may be doing business with (associates, clients, vendors etc.). There are plenty of places where you can do this but we've found this tool to be the most useful, particularly if you're in a hurry. It sucks in an amazing amount of information from the Web from many different sources and brings it all together on a single page. Just type the person's full name in the search box (try it on yourself, you may be surprised!).

To achieve good search engine results it's important to write good content material for your webpages. However, it's also important that grammar, style, spelling and structure are correct too, if you want to be seen as professional and credible by your potential clients. Here are a few sites that are really useful in this regard.

Now take a look at how 'not' to produce webpage content! :-) Bud Ugly Design!. This is one of our favourite websites, and always cheers us up but it has a serious point too; you would be surprised how many small business websites look this way - really!

Ok, every small business owner should read this website Mistakes to avoid, again it's one of our favourites - the messages it contains are really useful and so true. The main point in terms of website design and small business marketing, is to concentrate on your potential client's needs and objectives. Your website should be designed for them and from their point of view - this is so important.

Always prepare your images and photos before uploading them to your website. Make them sharp, bright, get rid of superfluous backgound content and size them to suit your content. Piklr This tool is one of the best online photo editors, ideal for this purpose.

Here are some good forums for obtaining small business advice, marketing tips etc. Not all UK based but the information is still relavent. Forums are a good place build relationships with potential clients. Join forums relevant to your hobbies, skills, profession etc. Then contribute answers and solutions to posts and threads. Many forums allow you to insert a footer at the bottom of your comments with your contact details (even your website address), this is a great way to bring traffic to yur website.

We hope you find the above useful, informative, or at least entertaining :-) We will add more as we become sure of their value.

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