A huge list of SEO Tool

Categories that you can actually click:

The same in a practical spreadsheet list format


    Competition Research

    AdWords Keyword Planner

    Use Competitor URLs in Keyword Planner tool, review suggested keyword groups and keywords.


    Batch Analysis: very fast overview of backlinks & social metrics for any list of URLs you enter.

    Fresh Web Explorer

    Where are your competitors being mentioned? Are there feeds that highlight their content frequently? FWE is a good tool to build up your outreach list.

    Market Samurai

    Top 10 SERP comparison module outputs a color-coded grid of various key ranking metrics.


    Browser toolbar – provides wealth of metrics & data on web pages and SERP listings.


    Bulk URL checker to grab Moz stats on multiple URLs via SERPs scrape/download.

    Open Link Profiler

    “The freshest backlinks, for free”.

    Open Site Explorer

    Get most linked-to URLs for popular content research – many, many more uses.

    Reverse Internet

    Serious competitive intelligence including finding all GA accounts!


    Use the domain vs. domain tool to see what keywords competitors rank for with associated metrics. View Competitor keywords, ad copy, organic or paid.


    “On-page report card” – grade a page for a Keyword.


    Analyze competition and discover keywords.

    Similar Sites

    Easily find similar websites.

    Similar Web

    Via Avinash at Mozcon – use to get a *&%$load of data on your site and other’s sites.

    Site Alerts

    Instant insights on any website: can also get email subscription to alerts.

    Web Me Up

    Backlink profile checker, not free.


    Get a quick overview of site metrics.


    Content Strategy

    Content Gems

    Quickly find and share the most valuable content in one easy-to-use platform (paid tool).

    Content Strategy Generator Tool (updated)

    This very cool tool from Richard Baxter and the Builtvisible team helps you plan your content strategy intelligently, using keyword research and estimating your audience size. Their description of the tool is “Easily consolidate trending news from across the web, and find inspiration for your research topics quickly and easily”.


    Content “story” creation service via Mike King.


    Copyscape serves both as a plagiarism checker and a duplicate-content checker. Great to use if your content has been distributed across the web.


    Navigate the world of public data.

    FAQ Fox

    Find questions your target demographic is talking about online.

    Fresh Web Explorer

    FWE allows you to check on or keep track of a set of terms over time, and helps you get a sense for what type of content gets a lot of mentions, shares, and links. Many more uses, features keep getting added.

    Google Public Data

    Drawing on vast public databases, Google public data offers a great starting point for content research, infographics, and more.

    Headline Analyzer

    Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer.

    Similar Page Checker

    Use this tool to check for duplicate content issues. The Similar Page Checker will give you a score of how closely the HTML of two pages resemble each other.


    Transcription service.

    Trend Hunter

    Paid tool.


    A community of bloggers and influencers come together to read and share great content.

    Wiki Mind Map

    Create mind map out of Wikipedia topics & articles.

    Content & Headline Idea Generator

    Enter a subject (or topic or keywords) and get all kinds of titles and ideas.


    Conversion Rate Optimization




    Form Analytics.


    Heatmaps, screencapture.


    Get visitor feedback.


    Get visitor feedback.

    Kiss Metrics

    CRO, A/B testing, analytics.


    Live click tracking.


    A/B testing.

    Survey Monkey

    Get visitor feedback.

    Visual Website Optimizer

    A/B & MV testing.




    “Amazingly simple graphic design for blogs, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers and so much more”.

    HTML Color Picker

    Use the online image color picker right to select a color and get the html Color Code of this pixel.


    International SEO


    Hreflang testing tool.

    Hfreflang Generator

    Hreflang tag generator from Aleyda Solis.

    HREFLANG Sitemap Tool

    Create HREFLANG Sitemap.

    Impersonal Me

    Search de-personalized, via Portent SEO Kaitlin McMichael.

    International Geo-Surfing

    Search international, get SERPs.


    Displays a handy little chart with every definition of a word and synonyms. It’s a lexicon-builder’s dream.

    Search From

    Simulate using Google Search from different location or device or perform a search with custom search settings – useful for searching Google as if you were somewhere else and for SEO & SEA testing.

    Search Latte

    Build Google searches in any combination of Google supported top level domain, country and language.

    Word Reference

    Online translator.


    Keyword Research

    AdWords Keyword Tools

    Generate keywords from a seed keywords or enter a list to obtain search volume and other data points.

    Google Analytics

    Look at the keywords that drive traffic – especially historical data before the onset of (not provided). Matched Search Queries – the keywords a searcher typed before clicking on an AdWords ad.

    Google Correlate

    Find searches that correlate with real-world data.

    Google Search

    Look at related searches at bottom.

    Google Suggest

    Don’t hit enter when you start searching. Thanks to Wil Reynolds.

    Google Trends

    Get idea of up or down trend & also look at hot trends for new ideas.

    Google Webmaster Tools queries

    Look for striking distance keywords. Export for further analysis in Excel or other tools.

    Keyword Eye

    Free section requires signup.

    Keyword Spy

    Organic & paid info. Recently added killer backlink analysis.

    Keyword Tool

    Like Ubersuggest: get 750 google keyword suggestions for free.


    Create “wonder wheels” of related terms – hover for definitions.

    Local Keyword Tool

    Local SEO keyword research tool – enter Zip & KEYWORD, get list of KEYWORD plus local cities.

    Market Samurai

    Research a list of keywords you enter or enter a seed keyword to generate related keywords; huge amount of associated metrics is available.

    Merge Words

    Concatenation tool.

    Meta Glossary

    Get definitions and related terms for keyword research.

    Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool

    Keyword difficulty tool.

    Moz On-page Grader

    Grade a page for a keyword.


    Enter site: get keyword list export, organic or paid

    SEO Chat

    Keyword suggestion tool.

    SEO Chat Keyword Suggest Tool

    Like Ubersuggest, you can generate lists of related keywords using a root term. Need to play with this, check it out.

    Social mention

    Download top keywords; use wordle/compose to create word cloud to visualize. Hat tip to Ben Lloyd.

    Sonar Solo

    Visualize social trends.


    Organic & paid info.


    Suggester is another free tool like Ubersuggest where you can input a seed term and generate variations – download to CSV is desired.

    Tag Crowd

    Make your own tag cloud from any text.


    Enter keyword, look at trends & spikes.

    Trend Hunter

    Trend Hunter.


    Generate list of keywords from seed; enter into AdWords tool for volume etc.


    Create word clouds.


    Generate keywords – paid tool.

    Wordstream Free Keyword Tools

    In addition to its paid offerings, Wordstream offers a suite of free keyword tools offering access to thousands of keyword suggestions.


    Generate keywords – paid tool.

    Yahoo Glimmer

    “An RDF Search Engine”.

    Yelp Trends

    Yelp Trends tool.

    YouTube AutoSuggest

    Just like Google Autocomplete.


    Link Building Earning

    Author Crawler

    You’ll end up with a report allowing you to sort your backlinks by the social standing of the authors of those links.

    Advanced Search Operator Auto Generator

    Incredible: enter a keyword, it outputs links to Google SERPS of your keyword plus various advanced search operators.

    Banana Tag

    Email Tracking service, via Ross Hudgens.

    Bookmarklet – Domain Hunter Plus

    Checks for broken links on a page. Browser plugin.

    Broken Link Check

    Checks a site for broken links.

    Broken Link Finder

    Garrett French’s tool – Citation Labs.

    Broken Link Index

    Scrapes the web for broken links based on keyword input!

    Bulk Doman Authority Checker

    Check DA of up to 200 domains at once.

    Buzzstream tools

    Various tools & uses.

    Domain Hunter Plus

    This magic extension for Chrome not only helps you find important broken links, but also tells you if the links point to an available domain.


    Free tools for creating and sharing inforgraphics. The templates allow anyone to create a professional-looking graphic.

    Email Format

    Find email address via domain name entry.

    Free Email Verifier

    Verify email addresses.

    Fresh Web Explorer

    Find recent mentions where you aren’t being linked-to.


    Help a reporter out.

    Image Raider

    Automated reverse image search! Search who’s using your image, request a link from them.


    A great free Infographics resource that allows you to easily create graphics and data visualizations.

    Keyword Typo Generator

    Create domain misspellings (add TLD) add to bulk backlink checker like Majestic or Ahrefs, find links that point to you then go and ’em.

    Link Search Tool

    Enter keyword, generates clickable advanced search operators!


    Mine our database and identify opportunity for content placement whether as a link builder, an affiliate or a website owner.


    Discover new links immediately, even as they’re being placed (via Mike King).


    Need to send an email to an untested address, but you don’t want to spam them? Check it first with this mail tester to verify.

    Majestic SEO

    See competitor’s link profile.


    Community of guest bloggers.

    Open Site Explorer

    Look at competitor’s links for good opportunities.

    Outdated Content Finder

    Find outdated content, build fresh, and ask for links.


    Grab OSE data via API with this tool.


    Scrape, check, ping, post!

    Search From

    View all your tweets on one page.


    Word cloud tool – use to see influencer names.

    Twitter Archiver

    Via Richard Baxter, Mozcon 2013: twitter archiving Google spreadsheet.


    Send email with a 1 min video (via Mike King).


    Local SEO

    Best Darn Local SEO Client Questionnaire

    It really is.

    Census.gov Tools

    US Census tools for audience demographics.

    Generate local AdWords and Keyword Lists Tool

    Your Local SEO not-so-secret weapon.

    Moz Local

    “In one easy step, Moz Local ensures your business listings are correct, consistent, and visible across the web so search engines and new customers can find you.”

    Google Gadgets Driving Directions Widget For Your Webpage

    Google Gadgets driving directions widget for your webpage.

    Google Map Maker

    Among other things, Google Map Maker allows you to contribute to public map information, which may be shared and incorporated into Google Maps.

    Google Places for Business Category Tool

    Google Places for Business Category Tool.

    Google+ My Business Page Finder

    Michael Cottam’s Google+ My Business Page Finder.

    Whitespark Offline Conversion Tracker

    Offline Conversion Tracker

    OSHA Standard Industrial Category Tool

    OSHA Standard Industrial Category Tool.

    Plagiarism Checker

    Plagiarism Checker

    Schema Creator

    Create HTML with schema.org microdata.

    USPS ZIP Code Tool

    You’ll need a specific address, so be ready for that.


    Online Reputation Management

    Complaint Search

    Search all complaint websites at once.



    Note: although I’ve been AdWords certified for years and have run some small campaigns, I don’t necessarily consider myself a “PPC guy” or expert (we have those here, though) – so my list of PPC tools is not particularly extensive, to put it nicely. Feel free to send me your non-commercialsuggestions to add here via Twitter (@dportney) – thanks!


    Landing Page Creator.


    Rank Checking

    The relative importance of checking rankings is debatable. In fact, it was at @SEMpdx SearchFest industry conference where I heard my first full-blown rant from @ConradSaam about the uselessness of checking rank (he recommended focusing on traffic and conversions) – that was 4 years ago and before the Google Hummingbird algorithm update and before Google started rewriting queries based on perceived user intent. I’ve used and still use rank checkers, but the effectiveness of SEO strategies based on keyword ranking really seems to be dying if not already dead. That said, here’s some tools I’ve used:

    Rank Checker for Firefox

    This light and easy desktop tool checks rankings with the click of a button. Quick, easy and free.

    Advanced Web Ranking

    Actually, AWR does much, much more than just rank tracking and is definitely worth checking out (this is a paid tool).

    Authority Labs

    I haven’t used AL in awhile, but have used their service and it’s generally very good – I’m sure they’ve made improvements since (this is a paid tool).


    Site Analysis

    I love doing site analysis. Whether it’s a relatively quick SEO Triage, a comprehensive SEO Audit, or even a full-blown SEO Strategy Playbook, conducting a thorough site analysis and providing recommendations is one of my favorite tasks in SEO-land. Here are some tools that I use and that will make your analyses faster, easier, and more comprehensive.

    Aardvark bookmarklet

    Mouse over page elements to see HTML data like div classes & IDs.

    Backlink Over Optimization Analyzer

    Anchor Text Over Optimization Tool.

    Bing Webmaster Tools

    Bing users will thank you.


    Get an overview of site metrics.

    Check All the Links on a Website

    “Find Broken Links, Redirects & Site Crawl Tool.”

    Compression / gzip test tool

    A simple online web page compression / deflate / gzip test tool.

    CSS Sprites

    Create CSS Sprites Online.

    Developer Toolbar for Firefox

    Many use cases – a Swiss Army Knife of tools.


    Website Debugger.

    Foxyseo toolbar

    Get various site metrics.

    Frobee Robots.txt Checker

    Many robots.txt files contain hidden errors not easily visible to humans. Run your file through this tool and you never know what you’ll discover.

    Google Page Speed Insights

    Tools, data, and insights to improve your page speed.

    Google Penalty Checker

    Google Penalty Checker tool.

    Google Plus 1 Checker

    Google Plus One Checker in Bulk!


    Pagespeed & Yslow grade, great report!

    Gzip Check

    Check if Gzip is enabled.

    HTML Markup Validator

    W3C HTML markup validator.

    HTTP compression and conditional GET test tool

    Some web servers enable HTTP compression and conditional GET to reduce bandwidth usage with browsers that support these technologies. Use this tool to test whether a webpage supports HTTP compression and conditional GET.

    HTTP Compression Check

    Check if compression is on.

    IIS Search Engine Optimization Toolkit

    IIS Search Engine Optimization Toolkit.

    Image & Link Analyzer

    Check All Links or Images on a Page.

    META SEO Inspector

    Inspect Meta Data via Chrome Plugin.

    Mobile Test Me

    Check how a site looks on various mobile devices.


    Various tools – check dmoz, backlinks, DA etc.

    Neil Patels Website Analyzer

    Get various stats on your site and where you might make improvements.

    On-Page Optimization Tool

    Check the Important SEO Content on Your Webpage.

    Page Speed Tool

    Check the Speed of your site and your competitors.


    Pingdom offers an entire suite of speed tools to help analyze page load, DNS issues, and connectivity.

    Qualys SSL Labs

    Enter domain to test SSL Certs and get a report.

    Rex Swain’s HTTP Viewer

    See URL HTTP status.

    Robots.txt Checke

    Use robots best practices and discover hidden errors in your robots.txt files that may cause search engine crawling problems.

    Screenshots dot com

    Better than way back machine – easy way to quickly see past versions of sites.


    SEO, Social, Rankings, keyword and backlinks report tool

    SEO Crawler

    Crawler – cloud based, allows export – max 250 URLs – plus other tools.

    SEO Quake

    Get key metrics & data quickly – use plugin or toolbar.

    Similar Web

    Via Avinash at Mozcon – use to get a sh*tload of data on your and other’s sites


    Check if a website properly supports the SPDY protocol, the super-fast HTTP replacement, and troubleshoot any problems with the configuration.

    Sprite Me

    Create CSS Sprites out of background image using bookmarklet

    Sprite Pad

    Create CSS Sprites – drag and drop interface

    Spy On Web

    You Can Disclose Websites With The Same Google AdSense Code, Google Analytics Code, IP Address etc.

    SSL Server Test

    Analysis of the configuration of any SSL web server on the public Internet

    URI Valet

    A great tool for digging into server headers, canonical information, analyzing redirect problems and more.

    Wayback Machine

    Want to see the history of your website or your competitor’s site? The Wayback Machine allows you to step back in time and track important changes.

    Web Page Test

    Page Speed Tool via Ian


    Get a quick overview of site metrics


    Social Media

    Circle Count

    Google Plus Analytics

    Facebook Debugger

    Debug your OG tags

    Facebook Power Editor

    Facebook Power Editor Download page

    Find People On Plus

    The ultimate Google+ directory that’s great for research, outreach, and link building. Sort by keywords, profession, country, and more.


    Find influencers; competitive research.

    Gplus data

    Google Plus trends and stats.


    Search and find the best twitter hash tags.


    Create tabs to listen on a particular topic or hashtag

    Know Your Meme

    Internet Meme Database


    Check for if your brand is available across multiple social sites

    Meme Generator

    Easy way to generate those images with text at top and bottom like “what if I told you…”

    Pinterest Rich Pin Validator

    Test structured markup and get approval in same process (per Cyrus’ Moz post)


    Want to know how any piece of content was shared socially across the major services? This is the tool to use.

    SharedCount API

    Harnessing the combined statistics of Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and more, the SharedCount API puts a ton of social data at your fingertips.

    Social Authority API

    How much reach and social authority do your followers have? How about the people you’re trying to connect with? The free Social Authority API will tell you.

    Social Crawlytics

    ID competitors most shared content

    Social Sites Image Size Template

    Complete data on all image sizes for major social media sites

    Sonar Solo

    Visualize social trends

    Twitter Land

    Social media analytics

    Twitter Validation Tool

    First submit domain (per Cyrus’ Moz post) – then check URL


    Analytics and more for Twitter via Matt McGee glowing recommendation.



    Structured Markup

    Good Relations

    Good relations snippet generator

    Google Data Highlighter

    Use to grab HTML Markup

    Google Plus Schema Creator

    Google Plus Schema Creator

    Google Structured Data Testing Tool

    If you use Schema.org microformats or any other type of structured data, this tool will verify your markup.

    Schema Creator

    Everyone loves using Schema.org, but the microformats are difficult to write by hand. This generator from the folks at Raven simplifies the task.


    Miscellaneous Tools & Toolsets

    Ontolo – Extract Unique Hostnames

    Extract unique hostnames

    Ontolo – Remove Dupe Hostnames

    Remove duplicate hostnames

    Scraper Tool (Desktop)

    Desktop scraper / data harvester

    Seer Toolbox

    SEER opened up its internal toolbox for everyone in the world to use. These are the same tools used in-house at SEER, and they rock.

    SEO Automatic

    Lots of great tools here

    Small SEO Tools

    All kinds of tools to choose from, pretty cool!

    Virante SEO Tools

    Virante offers a number of high quality SEO tools to the public. These are often the same tools developed for the Virante team, opened up for public use.

    A/B Test Calculator

    Creates a bell curve.

    Aleyda Solis’ Tools List

    Aleyda Solis’ Tools List.


    How do they make CloudFlare free? It works both as a CDN and a security service to provide your website with speed and safety.

    Convert Word Documents to Clean HTML

    Despite the rise of Google Docs, Word still dominates much of the world. Copying and pasting has always been a hurdle, but this tool makes it easy.

    Dingus Markdown to Markup

    Convert HTML markup to markdown – via Matthew Henry at Portent.


    Keep stuff in the cloud, notes, screenshots, etc.

    Free download tool

    We help to download files from many popular sites.

    Google Local Search Weather

    Like MozCast – Daily Ranking Changes for Google Places for Business.

    Google Page Speed Service

    Singed up several times, never heard back.

    Google Play URL Builder

    Link tagging for Google Play Apps.

    Google Scraper Report

    Report if a site has scraped you and is outranking you too.

    Google URL Removal Tool

    Remove outdated content from the search results, public tool.

    Internet Marketing Ninjas SEO Tools

    The Ninjas are some of the best SEOs and online marketers out there, and they’ve put some of their best tools online for free.

    IP Address Range Tool

    Creates regex for IP address range.

    ITTT (If This Then That)

    If this then that – general usage.

    List of Tools

    List of tools on OnlineSales.co.uk


    Look at SERPs volatility.

    Nerdy Data

    Search code online!


    News story notification service, free.


    Turn any URL into an RSS feed – use with IFTTT.


    Free images!


    Great toolset here.

    Remove Duplicate Items

    Ontolo offers a suite of link building software and a few helpful productivity tools for link builders. The remove duplicates tool solves a common problem.

    Scraper for Chrome

    If you’ve never scraped a webpage, you’re missing out. Scraper for Chrome puts the power of simple web scraping in your hands without the need for code.

    Secure Referer Quick Check

    This web page shows your secure (i.e. HTTPS) referrer.

    SEO Automatic

    Bulk status code response checker.

    SEO automatic toolbar

    Browser toolbar – various uses.

    SEO Book Toolbar

    Browser toolbar for SEO.

    SERP Snippet Optimization Tool

    Preview SERP snippet live while writing it.


    Look at SERPs volatility.

    Sitemap Generators

    Google offers a slew of free, top-notch sitemap generators. Most of these live on your server and generate new sitemaps automatically.

    Talk Walker Alerts

    Like Google Alerts.

    Text Expander

    Expand text like MS Word autocomplete.

    User Agent String dot com

    Shows your user agent string.

    What’s My Info

    Get your complete browser information.

    Yahoo Pipes

    A great mashup tool that combines different feeds into content and other magical creations. Used for link building and whatever you can dream of.

    Caption Tube

    Free and easy resource used to create captions for YouTube. Helps with usability and offers viewers a readable transcript.


    One-click screen capture recording on Windows or Mac computers with no install for FREE!

    Video Embed Generator

    Create custom embed code for video to include a link: via Phil Nottingham.


    Video hosting.


    Expand a shortened URL.


    The same in a practical spreadsheet list


    This list is the work of David Portney, SEO Strategist and Analytics Geek at Portent, Inc. Find him on Twitter @dportney.



    I have started using Make from the Theme Foundry couple of months ago. The reason was a new client in desperate need of a clean and professional website.

    I have chosen Make because on an article from Chris Lema where he is saying:

    If you’ve been on my site recently, then you know I’m using a theme here called Make, by the Theme Foundry. It’s an awesome WordPress drag & drop theme that everyday people – people who don’t code – can use to create a variety of page designs.

    So far I have been using the theme for more then 6 website and I can easelly say that I strongly recommend it.

    The reasons are:

    • Simplicity
    • Minimalistic
    • Clean code
    • Next level Typography
    • Easy to customize
    • Excellent customer support
    • Frequent updates

    So, if you are looking for something professional and reliable, give it a try.

    How to Design a Billion Dollar Company

    Question: What do Airbnb, Snapchat and Uber all have in common (besides multibillion-dollar valuations)?

    Answer: None of these startups directly create the value that end users consume. These companies facilitate the exchange of value between users.

    Uber does not own or operate any of the cabs its riders use, but it has avaluation of $17B. Pinterest does not post any of the ‘Pins’ that refer 23% of all traffic to e-commerce sites. Vine does not create any videos, yet is thefastest growing app in the world.

    This is a colossal shift from traditional business models, where a company creates a product or service and then sells it to its customers.

    Some call this the sharing economy or the collaborative economy. Others refer to these businesses as marketplaces or networks. But the overarching term for all of these multisided business models is a “platform.”

    Platform startups have been disrupting entire industries (like Facebook and WhatsApp with communication, Youtube with entertainment and Uber with transportation), or are innovating with the goal to disrupt and take over outdated industries (healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, finance and many more).

    How Does Design Fit Into a Multisided Business Model?

    Let’s start with a quick history of ‘Design Thinking’.

    Design Thinking was created to be a step-by-step method to creative thinking and innovation by using a user-centered approach. Unlike analytical thinking, which is often associated with “breaking down” ideas, Design Thinking is a creative process based on the “building up” of ideas.

    Design Thinking has evolved throughout the years, from Human-Centered Design focusing on customer experience, to Service Design focusing on customer journeys and touch points between a business and its customer.

    Depending on who you talk to, Design Thinking generally follows a five-step approach:

    This process has worked very well for traditional products and services. However, designing a business that will succeed in this new economy requires us to take Design Thinking one step further. We call this Platform Design.

    Platform Design isn’t about making it look pretty. It’s about nailing the experience of user-to-user interactions and making the exchange of value really, really efficient.

    Is this similar to Design Thinking? Yes, but a successful multisided business needs to build for both consumers and producers. If you fail to attract either group, your platform won’t succeed. Your platform creates value to one group of users only if the other group of users is also present. The good news is that thanks to the network effects between your different user groups, you can enjoy exponential growth if you succeed in getting both sides on board.

    But for Platform Design, this interdependency between user groups makes the task exponentially more complex than traditional product and service design. That’s why I say that:

    Platform Design = (Design Thinking)^2

    What do I mean by this? To explain, let’s go through each of the steps associated with Design Thinking and see how Platform Design is different.

    1. (Empathy)^2 = Understand those who produce the value and those who will consume the value — and why and how they need each other

    As Lean Startup pioneer Steve Blank put it:

    “Get out of the building and talk to customers.”

    Innovation is not possible without stepping into someone else’s shoes and finding out what they see, feel and experience.

    So if you’re building a platform or thinking about creating one, stop staring at this screen and start engaging with potential consumers and producers. Focus on finding groups that have some attraction to each other. Understand who needs who, and why.

    Next, synthesize this information by taking it out of your head. Putting it up on a physical wall is highly recommended. This could take the form of an empathy map, or you can create user personas.

    Airbnb founder Brian Chesky has been “mostly homeless” since 2010. He rents Airbnb apartments while hosting other users at his apartment. This practice has helped him empathize with both renters and hosts and experience the quality of consumer-producer interactions first hand. He regularly receives insight into potential problems and pain points, which enables him to continually innovate and improve on his company’s core interaction. This approach has worked out pretty well so far. Airbnb has disrupted the hospitality industry and is now worth $10B.

    2. (Define)^2 = Identify the problems that exist for those who produce value and with those who will consume that value

    Are there any companies (traditional or startups) that are trying to solve a similar problem? What are some common problems with existing solutions? How could they be improved?

    Define the problems that you identify into clear problem statements. Figure out how your user groups interconnect and what pain points there are in their interactions. Will you be able to provide value to both consumers and producers?

    Group your findings and identify patterns that you see. Bridge the gap between problems and identify commonalities between the two groups. Consider how this may have looked for Uber in the beginning.


    • As a cab driver it costs me money when someone calls for my service and then doesn’t show up
    • As a cab rider it wastes my time when I call a cab but it never appears

    Supply and Demand:

    • As a cab driver I do not get paid extra to drive in hazardous conditions
    • As a cab rider I am unable to hail a cab when the weather is bad because there aren’t enough taxis to fulfill demand

    By solving these problems for both drivers and riders and making it easier for them to interact, Uber has been able to create a hugely successful and rapidly growing platform business.

    3. (Ideate)^2 = Brainstorm solutions to solve the problems that exist for those who produce value and for those who will consume that value

    This is the idea generation phase. You want to brainstorm as many ideas as possible.

    For example:

    • Consider who the various types of producer/consumer groups will be (college kids vs. professionals vs. ?)
    • What is the value that will be exchanged?
    • How can you make the exchange of value from producer to consumer to make it more seamless?
    • How can you improve the quality of the value being exchanged?
    • Will your solution enable producers to innovate on top of your platform?

    Once you have exhausted all your solutions, start identifying which are the most feasible. Also, start narrowing down and clarifying the core value that you want to be exchanged. Too often a startup will try and cater to too many users and offer too many things.

    TaskRabbit is an example. It tries to facilitate the exchange of a number of different services and hasn’t been able to deliver a high-quality experience as a result. And now it’s starting to see a decline in users as it goes up against competitors that have more clearly defined value propositions.

    Aiming to facilitate too many different interactions on your new platform and you’re destined to fail. Remember this: to build something complex you first have to build something simple. If you want to build something complex from the start, it will never work.

    4. (Prototype)^2 = Experiment to learn whether your solution solves the problems that exist for both consumers and producers

    The goal of this phase is trial and error through rough prototyping. By creating prototypes you are able to learn often by failing quickly, and then iterate onto the next experiment. As is often stated in the design world:

    “A picture is worth a thousand words, and a prototype is worth a thousand pictures.”

    One of the best methods for bringing platform concepts to life is to create a story, which could be in the form of a sketch or acting out a skit. Stories help put abstract ideas into a context that people understand, since stories are tangible. They inform, inspire and engage.

    For example, sketch out a storyboard for producers and consumers and identify the interactions. How can these touch points be made easier and more exciting? How can the value being exchanged be of higher quality? Are there any instances of wasted interactions? A variety of basic prototypes like this will iron out a lot of these questions before you start building your platform.

    Airbnb is a company that lives by this. Their CPO, Joe Gebbia, describes their process well:

    So how do we bridge from our script to these real world experiences? We storyboard. And we storyboard like crazy. Last year we embarked on an ambitious project to map the entire guest and host terrain of Airbnb and we did it through illustration. We looked at key emotional moments of the journey and we drew them. We visualized them. And what it’s done for us, it’s allowed our entire company to achieve a whole new level of empathy with our customers.

    5. (Test)^2 = Assess the desirability of the prototype from the point of view of consumers and producers

    Traditionally, there are three factors that need to be analyzed when qualifying a new product or service:

    • Feasibility from a technological perspective
    • Viability from a business perspective
    • Desirability from a human perspective

    Unfortunately, the third point is often overlooked when a new product or service is launched. Businesses will spend huge sums of money to ensure that their idea is technologically feasible. And there is always someone crunching the numbers to work out whether a venture is viable and can make a profit.

    But too often businesses will skimp on the human element and fail to see their platforms through the lens of their producers and consumers. They do not try and understand them and find out what is meaningful to them.

    This brings us full circle back to (empathy)^2

    As I discussed earlier, for a multisided business, understanding its users is more important than ever. The interdependency of each user group also makes innovation even more complex since you now have to balance technological feasibility, business viability, producer desirability and consumer desirability.

    As we’ve seen, entrepreneurs who are taking a human-centered approach to designing their platforms have seen enormous success. For future platforms to be successful, aspiring entrepreneurs should be doing everything they can to walk in the shoes of their producers and consumers and experience the core interaction through their eyes.

    Remember that this process is different than designing a product or service for a traditional, one-sided business. You need to learn both what each user group values individually and how they relate to each other. This interdependency is key to figuring out how you can create value for both groups by bringing them together.

    This task requires a new way of approaching the problem: (Design Thinking)^2. Only then will you understand what each group values and how you can truly delight them.

    View at Medium.com

    This post originally appeared on PlatformInnovation.com. Read there for more insights into Platform Design or follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.
    Illustrations by Applico Designer Matt Kofman.