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Essential Online Tools Every Business Professional Should Be Using

Working smarter entails leveraging tools that are up to the task. Otherwise, while you may be trying to optimize your work process, if your systems are obsolete or sub-optimal, then you may still be underperforming. So whether you’re operating a plucky startup or small business, running a bigger enterprise, or working for these as a Virtual Assistant, you’ll need to stay on top of your game with the essential online tools we’ll enumerate below. And note that to choose the right ones, you’ll have to consider the scope and scale of your operations, tech savviness, and of course, your budget.  

Search Engine Optimization

You want your site to be visible and accessible to your customer-base, and to do that you need good SEO ranking to come out on top. Examples include:  
  • Website SEO Plugins: These are essential for optimizing your pages in terms of SEO rating and readability. Posting an article or blog promoting a product? With tools such as Yoast SEO for WordPress, SEMrush or SEOquake you can see how well it is formatted and whether the Google Gods will favor it.
  • Backlink Analyzers: Tools like Moz, Ahrefs,  Linkody and others are crucial in helping you check if all your backlinks and keywords are in order since spammy backlinks are penalized by Google. This is essential in boosting your search engine rating.
  • SEO Crawlers: Similarly, these tools analyze your site to check if you have broken links, landing pages missing important meta tags or duplicate content that search engines might dislike. Siteliner and Screaming Frog are good examples of crawlers.

Leverage the Cloud

Depending on your needs, you might just use the cloud for robust data storage or for an array of services and business processes such as customer management, analytics, computing, networking, and so on.
  • Storage: Google Drive and Dropbox are leading cloud-based data storage services. These are great for ensuring the files you’ve spent ages working on won’t just disappear if your drive gets wrecked or your laptop gets lost.
  • CRM, Analytics, Networking,and more: If you really want to unleash the power of the cloud, then services like Salesforce may be called for – it’s a favorite for big corporations. Streak is a simpler option that you can run out of your email inbox, and can be set up by a layperson.

Social Media Management Platforms

We’ve already explained why social media marketing is important for SMEs, and these are the instruments to bring your goals to fruition. These include:
  • Hootsuite
  • Tweetdeck>
  • Postcron
  • Buffer
  • Sprout
These are major time savers when it comes to cultivating a presence across multiple social media platforms. It would simply take too much time to manually open each site and upload the content one by one, from Facebook to Twitter all the way to Pinterest.  

Listing Management

Similarly, listings and ads are the bread and butter for SMEs and there are just so many sites around that doing them one by one is simply unfeasible when time is a factor. This is when the likes of Whitespark, Yext, Moz Local, Synup and others.  

Conference Apps

You may need to reach your staff when you’re off-site, or your crew could be working remotely. A Virtual Assistant definitely will. So you’ll need to choose an app, or several, to suit your needs.  
  • Skype is basic for conferences.
  • Slack is more of a corporatized group chat that’s great for running conversations with teams, where you can share files and conjure a variety of tools, or sync it to platforms like WordPress and Skype too.

Copyright-free Stock Images

This might seem like something out of the left-field, but small businesses should be wary of decorating their sites with images just grabbed from a Google Search. Copyright issues may ensue, or questionably sourced images might just turn off savvier audiences who’ll see it as a sign of dodginess. And unless you have a trained photographer or the equipment for it, taking your own stock images usually leads to dubious results. So, for copyright-free stock images you can go with:  
  • Pexels, Pixabay and the like which are open to use and free.
  • Getty Images and Shutterstock come with fees but have a wider array of images.

Swiss Army Startup

“The right tool for the job,” is the saying for the day. Those tools we mentioned are just a few of the options startups can leverage to enhance their business processes and their workforce capabilities.   And, of course, the right tool is only as good as the hand that wields it. A business’ staff, in-house and Virtual Assistants alike, will be the ones who’ll make these work. Moreover, the tool is only the “right one” if it meets an organization’s needs – setting up a big cloud-based customer relationship management system might not be worth the cost for leaner operations.   So choose wisely. These are the instruments you’ll need to navigate when things go wrong, the solutions to the problems startups might face down the line.     -John Li

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