I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit of a sucker for free downloadable PDF eBooks and White Papers. Because they are usually organized into chapter form, they tend to be meatier and contain more valuable content than blog posts and articles. I’ve obtained an impressive collection of eBooks over the years and will often whip one out to share with a client or a Search Engine College student who might be struggling to understand a particular marketing or SEO concept.
So I thought I’d share with you my favorite free eBooks and White Papers, categorized by theme. Where possible, I’ve linked to the jump page from where you can access the PDF file, rather than linking to the PDF itself.
Top 5 Free Marketing Related eBooks
1) Definitive Guide to Marketing, Metrics and Analytics by Marketo – This chunky, 70-page eBook is a methodical guide for how to implement effective marketing measurement practices across your organization — big or small. It deals with that tricky subject of determining how your various marketing programs impact your revenue and profit so that you can decide which ones to focus on going forward.
2) The Email Marketing Showcase by Pollen Marketing – A recent discovery, this ROI-Driven email marketing guide by Natalie Giddings includes 50 published email examples compiled by experienced Internet marketers. It showcases stunning newsletter design elements, clever use of graphics and color and highly converting calls-to-action so you can learn from and implement them in your own e-mail marketing programs. I read this in one sitting and then spent the weekend completely re-writing my follow up email series. I was so impressed, I contacted Natalie and offered her a tutor role at Search Engine College! (more about that soon).
3) A Guide to Marketing in 2014 by Vocus – How will you make the right choices for your 2014 digital marketing mix? This comprehensive guide will light the way for you. Written with a team of digital marketing’s foremost technologists and innovators, the guide explains 2014’s key marketing trends, what they will mean for you, and how to make them work with your brand’s strategy.
4) Take Your Business Online in 5 Hours for $26 by AWeber – You might be aware that I use AWeber for nearly all my online marketing activities. This includes e-mail marketing campaigns, newsletter distribution and subscriber management needs. They just make it SO easy. So it makes sense for a company serving small- and medium-sized businesses to create a PDF guide to getting a biz online, fast. As they say in this guide, you can take your business online with just a basic website, an email series and some social network profiles. This step-by-step guide shows how to create an online presence for your business in only five hours for just $26.
5) The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing by HubSpot – I just love Hubspot. They are very clever marketers and always seem to come up with a relevant eBook, right when I’m researching a particular marketing topic. This was one of the first eBooks I ever downloaded from Hubspot and I refer to it all the time. Whether you’re just getting started with Internet marketing or you want to brush up on the basics, this ebook can serve as your essential guide to setting up and implementing a successful internet marketing strategy, step by step. Be sure to check out their free MS Excel-based Editorial Calendar as well.
Top 5 Free SEO Related eBooks
1) SEO Starter Guide by Google – First published in 2008, Google has recently updated their SEO Starter Guide and translated it into 40 different languages. The Guide was written in response to Google staff being inundated with the same question in various formats over many years: “What are some simple ways that I can improve my website’s performance in Google?” The result is a compact guide that lists best practices that webmasters can follow to improve their sites’ crawlability and indexing. The Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide covers a range of common site design and coding aspects that webmasters need to optimize, such as improving title and description meta tags, URL structure, site navigation, content creation, anchor text, and more. If you want to improve your rank in Google, downloading this eBook is a no-brainer.
2) Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz – Following on from Google’s SEO Guide, this Beginner’s Guide from Moz will fill in any gaps you may have in your SEO knowledge. Beautifully designed and divided into clear, logical sections, this Guide is an ideal starting point for webmasters who want to educate themselves about what makes a search compatible site. It’s viewable online or via downloadable PDF and because it is written in such an approachable format and regularly updated by the Moz team, I recommend this eBook to all my SEO students.
3) 17 SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind by Hubspot – You’ll see Hubspot mentioned a few times in this article, for good reason. Their content is always timely and intuitive. Hubspot produced this eBook shortly after Google rolled out their confusing Panda algorithm update and webmasters were clambouring for some kind of guidance about how it would impact their SEO strategy. In the eBook, Hubspot debunk some of the most common SEO myths that still persist. After Google let loose their shiny new Hummingbird algorithm update, Hubspot cleverly updated this eBook to keep the advice fresh and relevant for the latest SEO methodologies.
4) The Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet by Moz – When I first started optimizing web sites for clients back in 1996, I actually wrote a similar Cheat Sheet of my own to give to web development staff to ensure they wouldn’t make any major SEO blunders and undo all my hard work. But Moz have taken the SEO Cheat Sheet concept to a whole new, beautiful level. Recently updated, all the geektastic SEO tips and shortcuts you’ll ever need while coding are in here, including metadata, sitemaps, pagination, authorship, user agents, robot syntax, canonicalization and much more. This one is permanently pinned to my office wall.
5) Microsoft Excel for SEOs by Distilled – This Guide is so much more than an eBook. Produced by London-based digital creative agency Distilled, Microsoft Excel for SEOs started life as a White Paper written up to help SEO professionals retrieve meaningful information from mountains of data, using MS Excel. It is now less of a White Paper and more of an extremely comprehensive mini course in how to use Microsoft Excel to revolutionize traditionally time-consuming Search Engine Optimization tasks. If your job involves data analysis of the marketing kind, give this Guide a look. It’s viewable online or via downloadable PDF and comes with an XLS Example Workbook to help cement your knowledge with practical examples.
Top 5 Free Social Media Related eBooks
1) The Marketer’s Guide to Social Media by Vocus – This guide is written for marketers to help them come to terms with where they should invest their time and money and what social media tactics will help them achieve the greatest ROI. The guide includes insights from social media butterflies Ekaterina Walter, Jason Falls and Michael Stelzner that will take you through the most pivotal social media marketing trends and show you how to leverage them to deploy winning campaigns.
2) The Definitive Guide to Social Marketing by Marketo – If you are looking for a comprehensive understanding of Social Media for business in under 100 pages, this visually splendid eBook won’t disappoint. Written from a strong business ROI perspective, this guide is the one eBook I recommend most often to all my Social Media Marketing workshop attendees.
3) How to Get 1000+ Followers on Twitter by Hubspot – If you’re a Twitter junkie like me, this snappy eBook will make light work of the problem of not having enough Twitter followers. The advice includes how to optimize your Twitter profile, how and when to follow people, how to use hash tags and what to retweet.
4) Do It Yourself Social Media Audit by JanetFous.com – Did you know that you should conduct a social media audit quarterly? Well apparently you should. According to Social Media expert Janet Fouts, it’s a good idea to conduct a social media audit every so often to step back and take a benchmark of your performance. This allows you to see yourself as others might see you and judge if you are delivering the message you think you’re sending. It’s also a good way to evaluate what networks are working for you, which aren’t and if you are using social media efficiently. This eBook shows you what you need to do in order to audit your own Social Media activities and set a benchmark for the future.
5) Building a Killer Content Strategy by Hubspot – Everyone knows that great content is the foundation of highly trafficked sites. But how do you define great? How should you implement a content creation and publication strategy? This guide will teach you how to do all these things by giving you actionable advice, including how to understand your audience, map content to the buying cycle and build an editorial calendar.
Top 5 Free Advertising Related eBooks
1) AdWords Step by Step by Google – It’s amazing the number of marketers who abandon AdWords as a channel following a string of failed campaigns. The truth is that AdWords is a complex and tricky beast and you really need to educate yourself in campaign set up and planning before any of your ads go live. This free eBook by Google is a great starting point for both new advertisers and experienced marketers.
2) Google AdWords: A Brave New World by Google – Andrew Goodman wrote the first eBook on AdWords, more than 10 years ago now. As Andrew states in his book, the world of AdWords changes frequently, even though many of the fundamental principles do not. Andrew’s original eBook eventually morphed into a 400 page published book that quickly became everyone’s favorite AdWords reference and has been updated several times. This pocket guide is a 40-page mini version of Andrew’s book, that offers a faster read for marketers in a hurry to understand the complexity lurking in Google’s advertising system.
3) Open the Black Box – Maximizing Success in Bid Automation by OptiMine – Bid automation software is essential for companies with complex paid-search programs. However, when using bid automation software it’s hard to determine the “why” behind their paid-search performance. This whitepaper looks at why companies need to use bid automation software that gives them transparency and control of their paid-search programs.
4) Conversion Secrets of a Million Dollar Landing Page by Conversion Rate Experts – This case study really put Conversation Rate Experts on the map. During the process of building a highly converting landing page for SEOMoz.com (now re-branded as Moz.com), CRE obtained such phenomenal results, that they set a new conversion benchmark for the industry. This online case study (downloadable as a PDF) is another resource I refer my students to frequently. It contains invaluable advice on boosting your ad and landing page response rates and highlights all the key features of high-converting content.
5) From Abandon to Conversion: Why Shoppers Abandon Carts and What Merchants Can Do About It by Bronto – Shopping cart abandonment is a major problem for online retailers, with rates averaging between 60-70 percent. Departing shoppers represent a significant amount of lost revenue and to reverse that trend, you need to understand customer motivations and reasons for abandonment. For this white paper, Bronto staff examined the carting experience and follow-up email strategies of 100 retailers to discover the reasons for abandonment and the top strategies for bringing those shoppers back.