The Best Website Evaluation Tools on The Web Today 

By Steve Hoag

best website evaluation tools

Having a great business website is all well and good, but you need to leverage tools to keep it optimized. There are a bunch of free evaluation tools out there that will help you keep your website in tip top shape. Many of them focus on areas like SEO, design, and marketing. It’s important to use a variety of them to get an accurate view of how your website is performing. Some of the best free tools available today are:

HubSpot Marketing Grader

HubSpot has made a huge name for itself in online marketing. Their main product is a marketing automation platform, but they have some other nifty tools like their Marketing Grader. This takes a look at a variety of things like social media and blogs to evaluate your online marketing. It evaluates everything in the marketing funnel, and then compares that to your competitors’. Definitely check this out!

Pingdom Full Page Test

Pingdom is great at evaluating your website in some key metrics. For instance, it takes a look at your website’s speed and bottlenecks, and identifies areas where you can make simple changes for big performance boosts.


This tool is, as the name denotes, SEO focused. It’s a toolbar plugin for your internet browser that gives Google/Alexa scores, and your Pagerank. It’s great for monitoring and analyzing links. It also offers features that can analyze your keyword density, and then diagnose problem areas on your website.

Fast Track Site Evaluator

Another great tool worth checking out is our comprehensive Site Evaluator. It measures your performance on everything that goes into a website like SEO, marketing, and design. Getting a full report will take a couple days, but it’s well worth the wait. You will receive a detailed analysis which identifies areas of strength and weakness, as well as recommendations on how to improve. Get yours today!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, March 27, 2014 12:59:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise inbound marketing landing pages SEO SMB social media social media marketing web design website

Template Design: Is It Right For Your Business? 

By Sherry Kinavey

web design template

When a small business decides they need a new website, many face a decision as to whether to choose a custom design for the site or to create a site by using a pre-designed web template. 

There are pros and cons to each option, so it's important to understand these before making a choice.

Advantages of using pre-designed template

They're more affordable.

One of the main advantages of opting for a template is that you'll save money. They tend to be quite a bit more affordable than custom designs.

WordPress, an open source platform, offer basic templates for free and for sale.  If you take the time to learn how to use WordPress and other free online platforms, you can set up a site for a very reasonable price.  If you're strapped for cash, sites such as these are a alternative.

What you see is what you get.

Some people love surprises. Others hate them. When it comes to your web design, surprises are typically a bad thing.

Templates offer security. What you see is what you get. No surprises, no hassle. This can save both money and time in terms of preventing future revisions that could result from custom design.

Faster turnaround.

Templates are ready to go, plug and play. When you use a template, it's pretty much plug and play.  And, faster turnaround means lower costs.

If you need a website now and don't have the budget for a custom website, a template is the way to go.


It's not as unique and tailor-made for your business.

Obviously, the main drawback of using a template is that it isn't necessarily unique.  There will be other companies out there with a similar color scheme and layout. If you want a completely unique online presence, it's better to get a custom design for your site.

They can lack scalability.

Some templates are specifically made for smaller websites. They aren't designed to accommodate the needs of a large enterprise or business. If you want to plan for the long term future, custom design may be a better option.

Can prevent the use of some custom functionality.

Template designs can be very cookie cutter-esque. They may not be designed to accommodate different widgets and custom tools that you want to use.

It's important to clearly define all the different features and requirements for your new website before choosing between a template or custom design.  And, make sure they can be met by the solution you choose.

View User Profile for Sherry Kinavey
Posted by Sherry Kinavey Friday, March 21, 2014 4:38:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website

Landing Pages: Three Mistakes To Avoid 

By Steve Hoag

inbound marketing strategy

Landing pages are one of the main components of any inbound marketing strategy. They capture the user’s attention and drive them back to your website, while capturing lead information. Landing pages are extremely effective when done correctly, but there are some easy mistakes to avoid and be aware of.

Don’t forget to have a compelling call to action.

Users need a good reason to click on a landing page link, and then they need a better reason to fill out a lead capture form. You may have a great e-book waiting on the other side, but that doesn’t make a difference if the user isn’t made aware of that. Make sure your call to action is easy to see, front and center, and compelling.

Don’t overcomplicate sign up forms.

Landing page sign up forms are great for lead capturing. They need to be as simple as possible. Too many fields can scare potential leads away. Focus on what’s absolutely necessary. You can use A/B testing to find out how many fields is ideal. Don’t worry if that ideal number is just two fields for first/last names and an email address. Some contact information is better than no contact information.

Don’t forget to integrate analytics with your landing pages.

This is absolutely crucial. Using analytics to track performance is a must. Without it you will be completely in the dark as to how you are doing and what you need to change. Use or another URL shortener to track click throughs to your landing page. Then make sure to use Google Analytics and/or a marketing automation platform to track landing page performance. Some of the more comprehensive marketing solutions offer great features like A/B testing, and on page analysis to track performance. At the very least make sure you have something in place to track click throughs and that your forms link to a database.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, March 19, 2014 7:11:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise inbound marketing landing pages social media social media marketing web design website

Blogging: Why Every Company Should Be Doing It 

By Steve Hoag

benefits of blogging


Blogging isn’t just for teenagers who want a virtual diary anymore. It’s mainstream now, which means everyone is getting in on the action. Blogs are being used in a ton of ways today like showcases, developer notes, news editorials, etc. Companies are paying more and more attention to blogging because of what it can mean for online business, especially in the B2B market. For instance:

Blogs help to increase search engine rankings.

SEO is a huge part of any online marketing effort, and blogging is a great way of improving search engine rankings. Having dozens of articles with keywords, and linking to them from social media networks can help significantly. Not to mention doing guest blog posts on other reputable sites to link back to your company website. A strong SEO program is one of the best marketing tools, and a solid blogging presence will help to facilitate this.

Blogs are a low cost, easy to share method of attracting attention and traffic.

Running a blog is very affordable compared to other marketing initiatives. It is also highly effective when done right. Blog content is so easy to share and build traffic with, it’s ridiculous. Focus on writing content that your audience enjoys, and be persistent in sharing it on social media. People love free content, and social media is the best way of reaching a ton of users quickly. Traffic building doesn’t happen overnight, so define your sharing process and stick to it.

Blogs help to improve thought leadership.

Another benefit of blogging is that it can improve brand equity and credibility online. Blogging is a great way of showing off what you know and do. A strong blog presence can make a small company seem much larger than it is. For instance, if people see you constantly sharing quality content about digital marketing, they will be more likely to come to you when they need marketing help or want to acquire your services. An ounce of perception is worth a pound of performance!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, March 18, 2014 6:36:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise inbound marketing SEO SMB social media social media marketing web trends

The Ultimate Website: 3 Best Practices 

By Steve Hoag

website best practices


There are many things that must come together for a great business website. Design, development, and copy are three primary components. It’s also important to focus on the nitty gritty details of each. Your website is about getting the user’s attention, keeping it, and converting that into a sale. So what specific best practices should you focus on when looking at your website? Take a look under the hood.

Great use of landing pages and calls to action

Landing pages are a great way for quickly communicating what your product does and why someone should buy it. They are simple and very effective. Landing pages also serve as one of the best ways to capture information on leads through simple forms. One of the latest trends in online business is inbound marketing. This focuses on providing free content to drive traffic and lead captures. Landing pages are a core component of this, but can also be used separately. Your primary focus should be on quickly and clearly defining what you have to offer and drive the user to a product info/buying page from there. Besides this, your website should have call to actions throughout every page. You don’t need flashing banner ads everywhere. A call to action can come in many forms. Use a variety of methods like hyperlinks within copy, a large image on the home page etc. Just make sure that the user knows what decision or action he/she should take, and a compelling reason to do so. If you have special deals advertise those!

A clear and compelling value proposition

A value proposition is at the forefront of what will convince a consumer to purchase your product. Focus on simplifying your value proposition when deciding how to communicate it on your website. Treat users like they are five years old. That doesn’t mean treat them in a patronizing manner. It means that your value proposition should be so simple and compelling that a five year old could understand it. Complexity drives users away. No one likes having to read a page of copy and still not understand why they should buy something. A user should know why they should purchase something within 30 seconds of being on your site. Use images, simple tables, and bold what they should focus on. Many users skim pages, so simple and effective communication methods work best.

Intuitive navigation that guides users through the buying process.

Every website should have a compelling narrative for users to guide them through the buying process. An important component of this is intuitive navigation to facilitate the flow of the website so that users are never confused on where to go next. Again, focus on simplifying and streamlining. Endless tabs and buttons to click on can end up hurting more than helping you. A user should clearly see how and why to go from point A to B, and then to buy at C. A great trend in websites is page-less design. Many social media and small businesses are using this to quickly and effectively guide the user through the buying process and website. You should check out examples for this, because it’s a great example of intuitive navigation. While this strategy may not work for large enterprises, it’s still important that you focus on streamlining and simplifying your navigation if you choose a different tactic.


View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, March 12, 2014 3:37:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise web trends website
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