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5 Free SEO Tools To Boost Your Rankings

Search Engine Optimization can be an intimidating phrase to companies and individuals who aren’t familiar with everything it entails. From keyword strategies to fixing broken links, it can be overwhelming to try to accomplish everything at once, rather than take it one step at a time. Luckily, there are a number of tools to add more value to each effort. We have outlined five free tools that can help you the next time you want to tackle some digital marketing tasks.    

Google Keyword Planner

This tool addresses the most basic form of keyword research. It shows you what people are searching for and the volume of the search phrases. You simply type in one or more keywords, choose where you want to focus your search geographically and let Google take it from there. Along with search volumes for your phrases, Google’s Keyword Planner will also provide a long list of related keywords and phrases to guide you in the right direction. If you’re interested in a pay-per-click campaign, the Keyword Planner also provides you with the average cost-per-click price for each search phrase.  


Keyword Finder

The Keyword Finder tool goes more in depth than Google’s Keyword Planner. Along with search volumes, this tool shows you the ranking score, or how difficult it is to organically rank, for particular search phrases. This helps you put together a thorough keyword strategy.  


Check My Links

Broken links on a website can hinder any company’s organic search ranking efforts. Check My Links is a Google Chrome extension application that checks for broken links throughout your site. It can be installed directly into your web browser. Once installed, you will notice a small icon in the top right corner of your browser with a check mark. When selected, it will immediately activate and crawl the website you are currently viewing, searching for valid, invalid and questionable links. It will highlight where all of the links are located, making it easier to fix the broken ones.

SEO Quake

SEO Quake  gives users the most on-page search engine optimization value. With the page analysis tool, you can see how the technical characteristics of your website compare to how Google and other search engines want them to look. Meta descriptions, headings and image tags are just a few of the things SEO Quake assesses. The tool also compares internal and external links on your website, as well as generates a keyword report showing the density of each individual phrase. SEO Quake is one of the best all-around search engine optimization tools for any company’s digital audit to improve their overall efforts.


One of the best pagespeed reporting tools, GTmetrix takes an in-depth look at how long it takes for your website to load. Simply type in a URL and wait for GTmetrix to work its magic. The dashboard will give you a pagespeed score, page load time and a variety of other technical aspects. Modern search engines have made pagespeed a top priority when it comes to organic rankings. Their ultimate goal is to give the user the best experience possible, and if a website takes too long to load, Google and other search engines are going to penalize it.  


These five SEO tools can provide value to you as you modify your digital marketing practices. Search engine optimization doesn’t have to be a big scary monster that seems impossible to master. By taking it one step at a time and mastering the tools above, anyone can face it head on.

What SEO tools do you use?



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Managing Time Efficiently At Work

Time is a precious element, and our lives revolve around it. Everyone manages time differently at work, even when we have the same deadlines. How do you manage your time at work? Our team members Felicia, Jamie and Christiana share their time management tips.


Senior communication specialist Felicia has a plethora of projects to complete each day, including writing and editing content for marketing pieces (print and digital), public relations, social media management, etc. Is there enough time in the day to complete all of these projects? The answer is yes, thanks to effective time management.

What helps Felicia manage her time? Lists and organization. Working under the pressure of deadlines helps her complete tasks in a timely manner. She also makes lists within lists, and often puts post-it notes of her daily duties on top of her weekly lists. This method helps her stay organized and keep up with her deadlines. Often, she alphabetizes her lists and puts boxes around certain items to organize priority tasks. These methods help her complete tasks in a timely manner.



Jamie has many large projects to complete throughout the day. Being the art director, a good portion of her day is spent checking up on proofs from the designers and organizing emails. She works on organizational tasks alongside her leadership team, designs projects and coaches her design team. She does a lot of “floating” around the office, assisting wherever help is needed. This sounds like a lot, so how does she do it all?

To manage her busy schedule efficiently, Jamie has a few tips and tricks up her sleeve. To start, every Monday she reviews what is on her plate in terms of her own projects and designers’ projects. This helps her mentally prepare for the week so she can plan out what days are busiest and where she will have the most time to work on various tasks. Another trick she uses is observing her productivity patterns to see when she is most productive, which is the morning for Jamie. This is when she catches up on proofs, emails, trello and other tasks. Later in the afternoon, she begins to work on bigger design projects.

Jamie gets energized off of other people, so walking around and talking to her team members as well as listening to music helps her focus. Every week, she is always aware of what she has to do, projects that are on deck, and meetings she has to attend. These techniques help make her hectic days more manageable and enjoyable.



My internship at Candeo Creative has not only taught me a great deal about the communication world, but also how to effectively manage time. In addition to my various projects, I take classes at the university and tackle homework on a daily basis. This busy schedule forces me to practice time management skills.

I have two simple techniques that I have found extremely useful in managing my time: making lists and setting goals. I start by writing down a to-do list of everything I need to get completed. Then, I make another list and organize the tasks in order of due dates and importance. I have lists for school, my internship and personal life. I also set goals and reward myself for reaching them. This allows me to physically see everything I have to accomplish, and it makes me motivated! Also, who doesn’t love the feeling of crossing items off a checklist and reaching goals? It’s a win-win situation!

Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to market your business or organization? Don’t worry, we can help! Contact us today!



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Marketing And Music

Before I was exposed to the vast world of marketing and advertising, playing music was easily one of the most important aspects of my life. It has given me so much; it deserves an endless amount of recognition and respect. Too many times artists take it for granted and fail to remember having the talent to create a song is a gift many would kill to have.

My guitar has always been my greatest stress reliever, and I recently found myself making the connection between music and marketing and how both have helped me find my true passions in life. Although they are two completely different subjects, I have identified a few similarities.

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1. Building and maintaining relationships is the key to success regardless of the industry. Since I started playing shows and gigs throughout the area, I realized instantly that being humble and friendly goes a very long way. Getting a big head is one of the biggest mistakes a musician can make, and I pride myself on never letting this happen.

We have to appreciate businesses who give us an opportunity, most of the time based on word of mouth, to assist their customers. Clients put their full trust in us to engage their customers and make them want to come back based off of our performance. That being said, fostering relationships is just as important in the workforce, especially when it comes to marketing agencies, the vendors they work with and their clients.

2. Professionalism is a trait that must be exerted to the highest degree in both the advertising industry, as well as the music world. Obviously, meeting clients’ needs in every way possible is the number one goal for any marketing agency. Clear communication, understanding your audience and being able to deliver a valuable message are all aspects of a successful firm.

The same principles apply to entertaining a crowd with music. Being able to understand what people want to hear, especially here in the Fox Valley, is essential in retaining customers of the establishment I’m playing at. Everyone has a unique taste in music and being able cater to each and every one of them is virtually impossible. That being said, it’s all about finding a happy medium that everyone is comfortable and entertained with.

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3. There is no limitation on how creative I can be in my positions as a creative strategist and musician. The culture we have here at Candeo Creative is one that focuses on the freedom of the individual. None of us are limited in terms of what our minds are capable of creating. The same idea applies with music and what it takes to create a song. When I’m at home with my guitar, I am free to express whatever I am feeling at that exact moment through strings, chords and lyrics. Obviously, not every song I write is going to be great, because if that were the case, I would be a star and be singing to thousands of screaming fans. Every musician has the same goal–finding their voice and their own particular style.   

Everyone has the opportunity to choose what path they take in life, regardless of where it takes us. I believe we as individuals have the power to choose and pursue our own destiny. At first, music was everything to me. I wanted a life filled with instruments, packed venues and long nights driving stateside to a new city.

A few years ago I was introduced to marketing and advertising and everything changed. I now have the privilege of going to a job that I love every day, and then get to come home to my studio where I am limitless in terms of what I can create. Life is all about being innovative, as well as creative, and I have the freedom to do both.

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3 Tips For Better Smartphone Pictures

Now more than ever, it is easier to take photos and film video. The power is literally in everyone’s pockets; I mean, there are film competitions where you can only use your smartphone! Even with the growing technology, not many people know what goes into making a great picture. I’ll highlight some simple lighting concepts to help squeeze out those last Instagram and Facebook likes for you or your business!

When taking pictures with your smartphone, nobody is going to be setting up studio lights to get the right look. Instead, let’s take a look at the biggest light that’s available to all of us, the sun! The trick to a good picture outdoors is harnessing the sun in a way to make it work for you. You have two options, direct and diffused light. Direct light is when the sun is out and bright on a clear day, but it will cast strong shadows in your photo. The other type of light is diffused light, which is the blurry shadows you find on a cloudy or overcast day. Diffused light makes it much easier to get a good picture because you don’t have to worry about a shadow crossing a face or object in an unappealing way.

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The most important thing to keep in mind is how you frame your shot in relation to the sun. When taking a picture of a person, you want them to face the sun, or if you want a dramatic look, you could place them in a shadow or backlight them, which is focusing on the light in the background so it looks like the object/person is filled in black.


One thing to notice is how the shutter speed affects your image. While you won’t see a number or icon on your phone, here’s the breakdown. The brighter your image, the higher the shutter speed; the darker your image, the lower the shutter speed. A high shutter speed will make things in motion look crystal clear and frozen in the air, while a low shutter speed will give you streaks and motion blur in the image, so you’ll have to hold the camera steady!

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There are many more concepts in cinematography, but these lighting basics will get you up and running regardless of what camera you have or where you are. Next time you take a picture with your phone, these quick adjustments can make a whole world of difference.

Now go out there and get creative!

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Planning a Website

My niece asked me if I still developed new websites. Being a Website Developer I, of course, said yes. Why wouldn’t we? Her next question surprised me.

“Well, doesn’t everyone already have a website?”

Granted, this question came from my 10-year-old niece, I still wondered how many other people thought this?

There are several reasons you might want to plan a new website, including:

  • Updating an out-of-date website
  • Starting a new business
  • Releasing a new product line
  • Wanting to put your ideas or thoughts into an interesting blog
  • Raising awareness for a cause
  • Earning money

Now, the big question: where do you start? This can be a stressful and overwhelming question for people or businesses owners that have never had to consider it before.

The answer: you need a plan. The most basic steps you need to know are as follows:

Determine the Goal of Your Website

Some possible goals could be:

Educate: Inform people on a cause, service, product or a topic of interest, such as politics or movies.

Sell: Provide a product or service useful for people.

Question: Pose questions on popular beliefs, legislation or current events for healthy online discussions.

Share: Upload photos, recipes or other resources people may find useful.

Once you’ve determined the goal of your website, you can proceed onto the next step of your plan.

Find a Developer

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

This can be the most nerve-racking part of the plan, but it’s the most important part of the plan, especially if you have no experience in website development.

There are many different types of developers and agencies involved in website development. You need to find the developer or agency that will help you fulfill the goals you have set for your website.

Development agencies can range from simple coding companies to niche development agencies to full-service marketing agencies.

Many of these agencies will offer graphic and copy development, as well as programming services. Full-service marketing agencies go beyond the website, graphics, copy and programming to help refine your original goals and set up strategies for achieving those goals. This can include promoting your website and helping you in the next steps of your plan.

Set Your Budget

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Photo courtesy of

How much do you want to spend on your website? An easy question, but a tough one to answer.

Pick Your Domain Name

This step isn’t necessary if you already have a domain, but it is my favorite part of creating a brand new website. Go to or one of the many other registrars out there to see if the domain name you want is available. If it isn’t, many of these registrars will give you a list of available alternatives.

Keep in mind that just because these companies offer hosting, it does not mean you have to host with them if you purchase your domain name through them. A development or marketing agency can help you decide on the best hosting solution for your website, too.

Instead of stressing, have fun planning your new website!