Category Archives: Tech Tools

Free Tech Tools to Make Your Life Easier

Free Tools

There are a few free tools that use almost daily that I can’t imagine being without, and here they are:

Gadwin Printscreen is a free screen capture program that can capture your whole screen or any portion of it, I use this tool almost daily since I write a lot of How To articles. It’s also a super-handy communication tool because you can grab a quick screenshot and include that in an email. As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words.
You can get Gadwin Printscreen at: http://askjo.co/1SNjz94 (Look for the one that says Freeware)

PrimoPDF is a free tool for printing anything that you might ordinarily send to the printer to a PDF file. I know that a lot of computers now offer a “Save to PDF” option. I’ve been using PrimoPDF since before that option was available and I find it easier to use. Why Print to PDF? Well, suppose you have designed a beautiful flyer or other document in MS Word on a PC and you are sending it to a colleague who uses a Mac, because the display of fonts in Word is dependent on that same font being installed on the other computer, your flyer could come through filled with wingdings instead of your lovely font. By printing to PDF (stands for Portable Document Format) you can be assured that whoever receives your file will be able to see it exactly as you designed it. You can get Primo PDF here: http://askjo.co/1SNkbM0

Picasa is a free tool provided by Google for photo editing and organizing. I have spoken about it many times before and have done YouTube videos on how to use specific features. Some of the handiest features for people who use images online is the ability to setup a custom aspect ratio for easily cropping images to upload online. You can get Picasa for free here: http://askjo.co/1GtTxQH

How to Edit Audio and Video Tracks Separately in Camtasia Studio

I love doing screencasts… that is, little How To videos that focus on what’s going on onscreen with my voice in the background “teaching.”

Ask Joanne How To ScreenCasts

However, frequently when I record a screencast I find myself needing to edit the audio and video separately… adding in a still frame, keeping a screen shot but editing out a bunch of UMs and AHs, etc.

But I don’t do them frequently enough to always remember the tips and tricks.

Frustrated, I Googled about a half-dozen variations on how to edit audio and video separately in Camtasia studio and kept coming across the same two results… the Camtastia How To that said to use ctrl-click (or right click) on the video or audio track and you would get an option that said “Separate Video and Audio” but that option was not showing up for me when I clicked my tracks. I also found several videos by a guy with such a deep Indian accent that I could hardly understand him, who went so quickly through the instruction that I couldn’t find out what was going on.

Finally, I came across this video: http://www.screencast.com/t/YTljNzIzZDc and realized how simple the answer really was.

There’s a little blue button next to the video and audio clips in the Camtasia timeline, if you hover over it you will see:

separate video and audio camtasia

 

Click the little blue button and you can edit tracks separately.

Problem Solved.

One thing to note… if you want to cut only video or audio and leave the other intact. Lock the one you want to preserve first. Click the little padlock next to the track to lock or unlock the track.

If This Then That – My new best friend

If This Then That

I’ve written about IFTTT.com before. It’s a wonderful tool to automate and track things that  happen online by using triggers on different internet channels. In their own words, they are a service that lets you create powerful connections with a simple statement.

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If this, then that. This little recipe, used on a variety of incoming and outgoing channels can create a very handy set of customized tools. Here are some of my recipes:

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  • The weather forecast is daily sent to my calendar
  • Changes on my Wikipedia watch list are sent to my Evernote account
  • When I tag something in Feedly, it creates a draft message in HootSuite
  • When I publish a blog post, or make a status update on my Facebook page, a note is added to my publishing calendar.
  • I can even send a text to IFTTT and have it record things I am tracking daily, like my weight or amount of exercise I’m getting.
  • There’s no end to the number of cool automated actions you can take to keep your favorite online tools connected.

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By having these channels automated and connected I feel that I have a better handle on the information flow in my life. I will write again soon about Evernote and how learning to use it a little better (and installing the mobile and desktop versions) has also been a life changer for me.

What I really want now is a way to connect a private online journal so that posts get posted to my diary calendar. I tried WordPress, but a private blog won’t work with IFTTT, Penzu doesn’t have an RSS feed that I could access, nor does 280daily.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Why Wistia for Video Hosting?

I just recently bought a basic plan with Wistia to host the videos I produce for my business website and for my personal blogs. I made the decision to go to a paid version within a week or two of having the free service.

ScreenShot961The main question you’re probably asking is why not YouTube or Google Video or Vimeo? For me, as an SEO the biggest bummer with those video hosting services was that all the link juice for the better videos I created was going to YouTube (or Google Video, etc.) Now, if you have advertising on your videos, that might make you want to stay with your present video hosting service. But if you’re not using advertising on your video, wouldn’t it be great to get all the credit for your productions? and have a live “call to action” button on your videos?

The beautiful thing about Wistia, aside from the ease of use, the straight-forward instructions, the superb videos (and advice) is the fact that you can easily edit your sitemap to include your videos. So your website (not your hosting service) gets the credit for the value and traffic that your terrific videos are creating.

Add this to all the information we all know about video marketing being the wave of the future (and how much we all love a good video tutorial) and you have a perfect combination.

The steps for Video SEO are very easy (http://wistia.com/doc/video-seo). You just have to get a few things in place and use the embed code type that facilitates the use of the sitemap code that allows you get the full value of the videos on your site.

Video SEO Made Simple:

  • Create your video
  • Upload to Wistia
  • Make sure your Robot.txt is setup
  • Embed your video using the Advanced Type: SEO Embed
  • Make an entry to your video sitemap

They also have great analytics on your vids… number of views, engagement stats, etc.

Video Engagement Stats

It’s a beautiful thing. And besides, videos are fun.

Resources:

3 Great Tools for Bloggers

Ask Joanne Blogs

I made a goal to blog daily (on at least one of my blogs) on April 5 2013 and (so far) have been able to keep that up. So, now that I am spending more time blogging I find that there are tools that I use regularly to help me keep going and feed the “relevant content” beast. I use WordPress for all my blogs, so this is not about platforms, but instead tools and services for bloggers.

  • Evernote is a fantastic tool for all kinds of web-clipping and note taking. You can download the desktop and/or mobile versions so that you can have access to your data from any device. I use Evernote to make notes on possible blog topics, outlines of posts, and all my references and resources. Evernote also integrates with Penultimate, Skitch and via 3rd party software, with Outlook. It’s a fantastic service and forms the basis of all my notetaking and information gathering.
  • Feedly is a news aggregator (like Google Reader) that allows you to pull into a single “dashboard” all kinds of online content (RSS feeds) sorted by topic, so that you can “watch” what’s being said on certain topics which can either help you with curating great content for your blogs or social media or help spark some ideas and references for your own new blog posts. You can also use Feedly mini to tag/flag/share great content for later use.
  • IFTTT : If This Then That is a wonderfully useful tool that can help you manage information by linking online activities together and automagically create other kinds of actions. For example, I have a “recipe” in IFTTT that when I tag an article in Feedly with a specific tag, IFTTT can create a draft post on HootSuite, so it helps me “fill the queue” with information that I might want to post to my social media channels.

I also watched a fantastic Mozinar “From Nothing to Expert: How to Blog like You Mean It.” I really liked several of the main points that Tanner Christensen presents like “Focusing on Answering Questions,” “Learn to Write Well” and “Interesting Things are Often Widely So.” It’s a great webinar and more than worth the time to watch. It helps to keep me inspired.

Do you blog? What tools to you use?

5 Best Tools for SEO Analysis

SEO Analysis Tools

Following is a list of my (current) favorite tools for SEO Analysis. There are many, many tools available; some paid, some free. This list is simply my current favorite tools.

  1. A1 Website Analyzer by Microsys
    • This handy-dandy tool is an inexpensive piece of software that scans and documents all the URLs on a website. It shows the URL, the response code, the number of internal links and external links, the page titles, meta-descriptions, meta-keywords, H1 and H2 text, and lots of other data about a website’s pages. This the first tool I use when asked to analyze a website for an SEO project. The spreadsheet that you can create via export also serves as the basis for part of my final reports where I replace the current data with my SEO recommendations.
  2. Google Webmaster Tools
    • Using Google Webmaster tools is the best way to see how Google sees your website. There’s so much information here it deserves it’s own dedicated post and screencast. For now I will just say it’s a tremendous tool, but if you don’t have your site verified with Webmaster tools, you can use things like the Google AdWords Tool to learn more about how Google sees your site.
  3. Google’s AdWords Tool
    • I use Google AdWords keyword tool (if you have an AdWords account, it’s right there in your dashboard, if not use the external tool) to see the keyphrases that Google sees on a website. By typing in the website address in the website field and clicking search  you will see the words and phrases that Google sees as being related to the site content. They provide you with estimated search volumes, level of advertiser competition and estimated costs-per-click if you were to advertise on those phrases.
  4. WebCEO
    • This was my very first SEO software related purchase and I still use it today. There are many things you can do with WebCEO including keyword research, link research, and rank checking. These days I mostly use it for keyword rank checking. They’ve added a new level of information that can show where the site is appearing for organic search, paid search, local/map results, video, etc. I used to use this tool alot for link research, but now I use…
  5. OpenSiteExplorer
    • I have a sort of on-again off-again relationship with the pro account at SEOMoz. I love the tools, especially the newest ones like Followerwonk, but the starting price for the Pro Account is $99/month and I just can’t justify that price for the regular information I need. Anyway, OpenSiteExplorer is a great tool to explore the incoming links to a site, the anchor text of those incoming links, the page and domain’s authority. You can also compare up to 5 different sites for some fantastic competitive metrics.

Do you have some great tools to share? Please comment below.

YouTube and Google Account Merge – What it means for your Videos.

Well, I learned a lesson this week…. a few months ago, when I logged into my YouTube account, I was told that I could no longer use my Username (AskJoanne) for my videos but instead my account would be linked to my Google+ profile and use Joanne Marcinek instead.

I didn’t much like this idea, since I was quite happy having AskJoanne as my Channel name. So I quickly clicked through the available options and promptly forgot about it.

There’s a video I did on how to use Google Webmaster tools:

That for a while, came up ABOVE Google’s Webmaster Tools help in the search results. In fact it was so popular that someone stole it and re-published it under their own YouTube account. I was pretty proud of the great search results I was getting and the number of views this video has had.

Just the other day, I did a search for Google Webmaster Tools and discovered that my video was nowhere to be found, Nowhere! What happened?!

Turns out that my speedy clicking through the options last fall was the culprit. Apparently, by refusing to let Google use my Google+Profile name on my videos, all my videos were changed from public to private. Apparently there’s no way around this. Google owns YouTube and they hold all the cards.

I’ve accepted the inevitable and changed the settings on all my videos back to public. Will my videos ever regain their search position and audience? I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.