Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Top Ten Free Website Tools and Services

The internet abounds with freebies and a do-no-evil attitude. And although there are many services that are worth every penny that you pay, here are the top ten freebies to help you build traffic and create a better visitor experience on your web site.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics has rapidly become the industry leader in site analytics - giving paid options such as WebTrends a run for their money. Simply copy and paste a small piece of code onto your web pages and Google offers advanced tracking and traffic statistics for free. To learn more about using Google Analytics, Ian Lurie of Conversation Marketing has developed a series of tutorial videos on the subject.

MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog

For Blogs I have not found a more effective way to drive traffic to a new site than through these two services. By combining social networking with helpful blogging tools, both MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog are making a huge impact on giving new blogs a kick-start to success.

HitTail and 103Bees

HitTail and 103Bees are similar in nature - they offer site owners a way to understand and analyze their search engine traffic in an easy-to-use interface. Both of them also indicate whether your site was found on the front page of search results, or in the “long tail” of search results (many pages down). This knowledge can then be used to develop content in specialized keyword niches to push your site up in search engine results.


For any site that produces content for syndication, FeedBurner is an absolute must for managing and tracking RSS subscribers and republishers. The site offers extremely user-friendly advice with a support staff in the background that has an outstanding reputation for fast and friendly help.

MorgueFile Photos

Although having a unique and original site is quite important, there are times when everyone needs a photo for a small project that isn’t worth paying for. The Morgue File offers free high resolution digital stock photography for either corporate or public use. Usually all that is required is author notification that the photo is being used.


For sites that want to serve and track advertising, OpenAds is an easy and sophisticated program that can be installed on your server. It even allows for clients to have their own access to the system to see performance statistics, upload new ads, or change campaigns. Even if you don’t sell advertising on your site, OpenAds is a must if you want to track and optimize your own self-promotional efforts site-wide.

The 37Signals Suite

Although technically not a suite of tools for websites, the 37Signals programs are critically acclaimed as they offer tracking of project management, contact management, group communications and information organization. Any tool that so elegantly increases productivity and makes life easier is well worth mentioning on this list.


If you or your business hasn’t already started a blog, it’s probably my most highly recommended site promotion tool of all. Just the search engine benefits alone are worth the time and effort of starting and maintaining a blog. WordPress is the industry standard blogging platform, and it is both free and easy to use.

Overture Keyword Selector Tool

For more advanced search engine optimization, it helps to do a little research on what exactly internet surfers are looking for. The Overture Keyword Selector Tool offers insights into the exact number of searches that Yahoo receives for search terms and their related phrases. By understanding what phrases are most common, you can use this knowledge to incorporate the highest volume keywords into your site.

Pew Internet

The non-profit Pew Internet Project offers highly valuable data, research and statistics on the impact of the Internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. To understand your target audience better or to pull information for a business plan, this site offers a wealth of insights for savvy web entrepreneurs.This entry was posted on Friday, April 27th, 2007 at 12:05 pm and is filed under Productivity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Some Troubleshooting Commands

Some frequently use commands:

ipconfig - Displays IP configuration information
ping - Tests connections to other IP hosts
tracert - Displays route taken to destination
netstat - Displays network connections
nslookup - Directly queries the name server for information on a destination domain

1. Troubleshooting using Ipconfig


Ipconfig is used to display the current IP configuration information for a host. Issuing this command from the command prompt will display the basic configuration information including: IP address, subnet mask and default gateway.

Ipconfig /all

The command ipconfig /all displays additional information including the MAC address, IP addresses of the default gateway and the DNS servers. It also indicates if DHCP is enabled, the DHCP server address and lease information.

How can this utility assist in the troubleshooting process? Without an appropriate IP configuration, a host can not participate in communications on a network. If the host does not know the location of the DNS servers it cannot translate names into IP addresses.

Ipconfig /release and ipconfig /renew

If IP addressing information is assigned dynamically, the command ipconfig /release will release the current DHCP bindings. Ipconfig /renew will request fresh configuration information from the DHCP server. A host may contain faulty or outdated IP configuration information and a simple renewal of this information is all that is required to regain connectivity.

If after releasing the IP configuration, the host is unable to obtain fresh information from the DHCP server, it could be that there is no network connectivity. Verify that the NIC has an illuminated link light, indicating that it has a physical connection to the network. If this does not solve the problem, it may be an issue with the DHCP server or network connections to the DCHP server.

2. Troubleshooting using Ping


If the IP configuration appears to be correctly configured on the local host, next, test network connectivity by using ping. Ping is used to test if a destination host is reachable. The ping command can be followed by either an IP address or the name of a destination host, as for example:


When a ping is sent to an IP address, a packet known as an echo request is sent across the network to the IP address specified. If the destination host receives the echo request, it responds with a packet known as an echo reply. If the source receives the echo reply, connectivity is verified.

If a ping is sent to a name, such as , a packet is first sent to a DNS server to resolve the name to an IP address. Once the IP address is obtained, the echo request is forwarded to the IP address and the process proceeds. If a ping to the IP address succeeds, but a ping to the name does not, there is most likely a problem with DNS.

If pings to both the name and IP address are successful, but the user is still unable to access the application, then the problem most likely resides in the application on the destination host. For example, it may be that the requested service is not running.

If neither ping is successful, then network connectivity along the path to the destination is most likely the problem. If this occurs, it is common practice to ping the default gateway. If the ping to the default gateway is successful, the problem is not local. If the ping to the default gateway fails, the problem resides on the local network.

The basic ping command usually issues four echoes and waits for the replies to each one. It can, however, be modified to increase its usefulness. The Options listed in the graphic display additional features available.

3. Troubleshooting using Tracert

The ping utility can verify end-to-end connectivity. However, if a problem exists and the device cannot ping the destination, the ping utility does not indicate where the connection was actually dropped. To accomplish this, another utility known as tracert must be used.
The Tracert utility provides connectivity information about the path a packet takes to reach the destination and about every router (hop) along the way. It also indicates how long a packet takes to get from source to each hop and back (round trip time). Tracert can help identify where a packet may have been lost or delayed due to bottlenecks or slowdowns in the network.

The basic tracert utility will only allow up to 30 hops between a source and destination device before it assumes that the destination is unreachable. This number is adjustable by using the -h parameter. Other modifiers, displayed as Options in the graphic, are also available.

4. Troubleshooting using Netstat


Sometimes it is necessary to know which active TCP connections are open and running on a networked host. Netstat is an important network utility that can be used to verify those connections. Netstat lists the protocol in use, the local address and port number, the foreign address and port number, and the state of the connection.

Unexplained TCP connections can pose a major security threat. This is because they can indicate that something or someone is connected to the local host. Additionally, unnecessary TCP connections can consume valuable system resources thus slowing down the host's performance. Netstat should be used to examine the open connections on a host when performance appears to be compromised.

Many useful Options are available for the netstat command.

5. Troubleshooting using Nslookup


When accessing applications or services across the network, individuals usually rely on the DNS name instead of the IP address. When a request is sent to that name, the host must first contact the DNS server to resolve the name to the corresponding IP. The host then uses IP to package the information for delivery.

The nslookup utility allows an end-user to look up information about a particular DNS name in the DNS server. When the nslookup command is issued, the information returned includes the IP address of the DNS server being used as well as the IP address associated with the specified DNS name. Nslookup is often used as a troubleshooting tool for determining if the DNS server is performing name resolution as expected.