Useful Tools for
Web Design & Web Site Marketing

All of the tools listed on this page are free, unless there is a price clearly noted. We're not really trying to push you to buy anything on this page--it is meant as a resource for you.

If you do HTML coding by hand, as we do, then you may already be using NoteTab Pro, available from www.notetab.com. If you would like to try it, there's a FREE "lite" version you can download and try, which is perfectly functional and will do a good job. And there's a professional version for about $20.00. Around the shop here, we prefer NoteTab Pro to any other program for writing HTML, and we've tried a bunch of them.

We also use the free NetBeans program for managing HTML/CSS/PHP projects, which is available here.

To learn HTML, use the W3Schools tutorials. There's also a free HTML learning site here: html.com.

We do not use and cannot recommend any WYSIWYG HTML editors, (like the old FrontPage or DreamWeaver) because, in our experience, all of them have quirks and problems and create the kind of bloated HTML code that we frequently have to fix when salvaging a non-functional website. With NoteTab Pro, you can edit, save, and flip back and forth instantly to Chrome, Edge (which used to be Internet Explorer) or Firefox to see what you are doing and how it looks.

It might surprise you to find out that we do not recommend making websites using WordPress or Joomla (popular Content Management Systems (aka "CMS") because, well, for a lot of reasons. Click this Why Not to Use WordPress! link to find out why.

Search Engine Optimization

I like and sometimes use this SEO Profiler from Axandra.com. It helps you figure out how to optimize your website based on the way the top 10 sites are optimized for particular keywords that you specify. The comparison is brilliant. It doesn't have every angle covered but it has had a lot of thought put into it and I use it to help with the analysis of what needs to be done to get to #1 on any particular search term. It's a very smart and useful program. They have a free version that will help you some, but I bought and use the $300 version that is incredibly detailed. I consider the money very well spent! (Disclaimer: We have an affiliate relationship with them -- If you buy IBP through this link, we make a commission.)

For the most complete information on search engines anywhere, go to the site Danny Sullivan founded, www.SearchEngineWatch.com and subscribe to their newsletter or RSS Feed. Danny is regarded by many as the foremost expert alive today on the doings of the search engines and directories. Danny goes to all the search engine conferences and pins down the people working on the search engines and gets answers from them about what they are doing and why, and then writes up the information on his website. Well worth studying if you are trying to get good rankings in the search engines and directories. Dany left Search Engine Watch a few years ago, but it is still a very valuable resource and the site is in capable hands.

A couple of tools worth getting if you need to track the results of your search engine registrations:

Search Engine Commando -- $179.00 -- worth it if you have to track and report the standings of a website for a search term across many search engines. You can download a free trial version.

Web Position -- $250 -- Previously known as Web Position Gold. It's not a program I use, but many people swear by it and use it regularly. You can download a free trial version. We have no affiliation with this company.

We also have some tools, listed on our PPC click fraud page that cover prevention of click-fraud, and how to handle it once it happens.

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Keyword Tools

GoodKeywords.com also offers a free downloadable tool that will help you to select the right key words for your website.

Agent WebRanking is another product that can help you monitor your web rankings. They have a free "light" version and a pro version that is licensed at $500 per year. They asked to be included on this page - I've never used this product so do not know how well it works. But it can't hurt to download and try their light version - it's a free tool. This product uses your browser to do the checking so it produces more reliable results--at least that's what it says it does.

MarketLeap has a free link popularity tool where you can check how many sites are known to link to yours from 3 places: Google / AOL (same search engine), MSN / Windows Live, and Yahoo. It will give you a pretty good yardstick by which to tell if your site has a lot of links TO it from other websites.

Keyword Density Analyzer - a useful tool for figuring out how many times you are using key words - enough, not enough? This will help.

A keyword analysis tool called WordTracker has developed a following. It runs at around $250.00 per year and up in cost, depending on what kind of subscription you choose. There is even a Keyword Research Guide put out by WordTracker, which helps lay out the basics and give you some good insight into choosing your keywords. Some of that advice is useful even if you don't have their program.

Here's another: Actual Keywords research tool, offering some free info (it's a paid tool).


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Opt-In Email Lists

We provide a free online directory of the companies we have been able to find which will rent you opt-in email lists of various kinds. There are about 50 such companies currently listed, and the information about them includes websites, contact information, and what we know about the lists they are selling. If you are looking for a particular email list so you can promote your site to people who are interested in your product or service, this is the place to go. (Of course the opt-in email lists themselves are not free.)


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Shopping Carts

Paypal has a free shopping cart that is worth checking out. Several of my clients use it--the nice thing about it is you don't have to have a merchant account to be able to take cards through the PayPal shopping cart. This can save you the $100 per year for a security certificate for your site, and several hundred more in lease payments on credit card processing equipment, and several hundred more for a good shopping cart. Quite a deal when you add it all up. The downside is that PayPal has both a great reputation and a terrible reputation, depending on to whom you talk. PayPal is the preferred form of payment on eBay (in fact, eBay bought PayPal, which is a very good thing for PayPal) but some merchants have complained about fraudulent purchases made through PayPal. Whether those same purchases would have happened using any other credit card processing company is a matter of opinion. It may be that PayPal has a problem with security. Personally, in the ten plus years I've used PayPal I have never had a problem it either as a payor or payee. Since eBay bought PayPal, I'd say that their problems are likely to disappear. eBay knows how to do things right!

xCart; this is the shopping cart we usually use for our clients. It is not expensive, works well, and has many features, modules and add-ons, and is the one we use for clients who need search engine-friendly page names and the ability to assign their keywords in the shopping cart pages' meta tags and headings. xCart is an all-around workhorse shopping cart, and highly recommended by us. (Note we make no commission on any sales of xCart.)

The following shopping carts have been recommended to us; we list them as a public service. Check them out thoroughly and make sure you understand how many types of products the cart will have to handle and the variables relating to them (scent, size, color, etc.), and the shipping and tax requirements for the website you are designing. This can all get very complex very quickly. Does your client sell T-shirts and hats? Then you've got various colors, sizes, and weights for shipping. And the various options for shipping (overnight, 2-day, ground, US Mail, Priority Mail, etc.) With ANY shopping cart, figuring out the shipping options is usually the biggest headache. Also, do certain customers get discounts? What about gift certificates? Do you want to offer wholesale prices through the cart? Make sure the cart you buy can securely handle everything you need it to handle.

Note: None of these shopping cart services are free. Also note that we no longer recommend Dansie Cart after a long battle with them trying to get tech support for several shopping carts we bought from them. I've rarely experienced such an unwillingness to provide tech support on a clearly broken software product.

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Credit Card Processing Companies

Paypal,through its free shopping cart, offers credit card processing. There are no sign-up fees. They charge a small percentage on each purchase, as would any other credit card company. That percentage varies depending on how much volume you have. Sign up for a PayPal premium account and the free shopping cart, and you can find out all about it. It's not free at $30/mo for their Virtual Terminal, but it works, and there's no shame in using PayPal! I have many clients using it because it works well. (Note that the PayPal Virtual Terminal charges $30/month to be able to run credit cards through PayPal--other credit card processing services, such as the one offered by QuickBooks, do not charge as much per month.)

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

National Discount Merchant Services (NDMS) offers a merchant eCommerce package that lets you accept credit cards and pay them only 1.79%, plus 25 cents per transaction.

Merchant Account Forum provides extensive free information and resources on how to accept credit cards for ecommerce - including sections on international merchants. Their most popular area is their merchant account fee calculator which allows visitors to compare the costs of different merchant accounts. A discussion forum exists for visitors to the site.

None of the following are free -- but they are all credit card processing companies that will work in conjunction with most shopping carts:



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Miscellaneous Tools

PGP --(Pretty Good Privacy) -- is an excellent FREE encryption tool for sending emails you don't want Big Brother or your local hacker to read. It's a little tricky to set up on the server (and that's an understatement!) but when you're done, emails sent via PGP encryption are for all practical purposes uncrackable.

ActivePerl is an open source, binary distribution of Perl5 available for Windows, Linux x86 and Solaris. You can download it and get extensive help.

PerlAccess - Many Perl tutorials.

Bravenet - Has a bunch of free tools for webmasters, such as polls, redirects, and a meta tag generator. It won't figure out what should go in your meta tags (you have to do that) but if HTML baffles you it will help you write the code once you figure out what should go in your meta tags.


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Domain Lookups

We use the free service from DomainTools to look up information on domain name ownership, history, and hosting.

Here's another free domain tool that will tell you a lot of information about a particular domain or IP address that you plug into it.

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Books

See our Books page, which contains many of the books we use when writing code to design or re-design websites. These are tools worth knowing about, buying and reading. They are not free but are worth every penny if you are in the business of designing websites.

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SEO by Words in a Row

It has been a lot of work putting together this list of resources for webmasters. If you have found it of use, please let us know.

This page contains useful tools for website marketing, website designers, and search engine optimizing.