Top Free Webmaster Tools
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Once you have set up your web site, you'll want to look at free webmaster tools to help enhance it. These free tools are especially useful for novice webmasters and designers who do not know yet how to code in scripting languages, or whose sites are hosted on free servers with limited scripting capability. Let us look at some popular free webmaster tools and see which of these you need.
1. COUNTERS. This is the number one tool for page analysis. Make sure you get a good one that reports all the vital visitor information to you: visitor's computer profile (OS, screen resolution, browser, IP), time of visit, referring pages, most popular pages and so on.
2. GUESTBOOKS. Only a small percentage of visitors ever sign guestbooks. Still, it is still a useful and usually free webmaster tool. Make sure you choose a guestbook that has a "private message" option, so as to encourage more timid guests to leave feedback.
3. SEARCH ENGINES. This free webmaster tool is useful for large web sites. If yours isn't that big, you probably won't need it (your visitors should be able to find their way around easily enough). Try to find a search engine tool that can adopt your web page design and layout. Inconsistent web page design looks unprofessional.
4. FORM MAILERS. If you don't have access to your own cgi-bin (most likely if you use free web hosting), you'll want a form mailer. This is one of the really useful free webmaster tools out there. Before you make up your mind, test the service first yourself. Make several test submissions from different e-mail addresses and see how soon the posts arrive, if they do at all. (Some don't.) You don't want to lose valuable feedback.
5. POLLS, SURVEYS and QUIZZES. We are of the opinion that interactive features like quizzes and polls are a nice addition to your collection of free webmaster tools. You might want to post a different quiz every week or so and post the results to keep visitors coming back.
6. LINK and BANNER EXCHANGES. In our experience, this is not very useful. Your banners may get exposure through 3:2 ratios and so on. But if you analyze your page hits, we think you'll find that those who click your banners hardly go beyond the first page they get into. Why? Because these visitors are not looking for anything in particular, just surfing around. On the contrary, people who find your site via search engines are actually looking for something.
7. RANDOM PAGES, LINKS and IMAGES. Sometimes you'll see free webmaster tools like these. People with idle time in their hands might want to click a link just to see what it is, but for most of us, this is unnecessary. As a webmaster, you priority should be to give information as needed, when needed. Stick to those free webmaster tools that are really useful.
8. AFFILIATE PROGRAMS. This free webmaster tool works like this: You list products in your web site and if people click on that, are taken to an online store, and eventually buy the item, you get a commission. This is a cool way to make some extra money off your site. For example, if yours is an art web site, you can list your favorite books and link them to your affiliate bookstore. Note, however, that you won't get a commission on other books purchased in that store once the visitor leaves your site.
Free webmaster tools are so numerous that chances are, there's a free tool out there for anything a webmaster needs. Just choose your tools wisely-and be sure to support those people who provide these freebies.
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