Blogging is one of the best ways to grow your business online. Blogs give you the opportunity to showcase your brand as an authority, publish consistent content and get more traffic to your website. However, just like with social media marketing, paid advertising and other online marketing strategies, there are several different steps and tasks involved with blogging.
Creating, organizing, publishing and promoting content can take a lot of time. Luckily, there are some great blogging tools that help make the process easier for marketers who want to implement blogging into their content marketing strategy.
We’ve compiled a list of the best blogging tools and here are 10 tools you should be using to pull in your target audience.
The first step in your blogging process is to build a place for all of your content to live. WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) available and it’s perfect for blogging. WordPress powers over 74 million websites and is particularly popular among businesses. Some of the key benefits of WordPress for blogging are:
A wide selection of themes/templates to create a professional looking blog
A variety of free and premium plug-ins that allow you to add cool features to your blog without needing to know how to code or develop
A built-in blogging feature
Painless integration with several other tools you may use
A very helpful and active support forum and community
You can have multiple users with different permission levels so your entire team can contribute
If you have an existing site that was built somewhere else, you can easily add it to WordPress. Your Web hosting company or Web developer can help you set this up.
2. Google Keyword Planner & Long Tail Pro
Once you have WordPress, you’re probably going to want to just jump right in and start creating blog posts. But before you do, you need to perform keyword research. Arguably one of the most important steps for blogging is keyword research. It’s all about finding the different terms and phrases that your target audience will use to find the specific content you’re publishing.
Some businesses resort to just guessing what keywords they think people would use. But with the help of these two tools, you can get a more in-depth look at the exact phrases people are using.
We combined these two tools on the list because they go together so well. The Google Keyword Planner and Long Tail Pro allow you to enter in seed keywords and get a list of suggested search terms along with their search volume (the average number of people that search for that specific term each month on Google).
The main difference between the the two tools is that Long Tail Pro gives you more information and has extra filtering options.
Our post, How to Write a Blog Post for Search & Social Success will give you a good overview of how to use the Keyword Planner.
Google Keyword Planner
If you want to take your keyword research to the next level, you can take some of the keywords you got through the Keyword Planner and plug them into Long Tail Pro. This tool focuses on what’s known as long tail keywords. These are phrases that are generally over three words long and have a lower search volume. The benefit of these keywords is they are less competitive, more targeted to a specific audience and there are a lot of them.
Keyword research will tremendously help you increase the chances of your blog being successful. Keyword Planner and Long Tail Pro are both very valuable blogging tools that will make keyword research easier and get you better results.
You have your keywords chosen. Now, you need to come up with some different blog topics and titles focused around those keywords. There are numerous ways to come up with blog topics. But one of the most powerful methods is to find existing blog posts with your keywords already in them. It’s best to pick blogs that have seen success with social shares. That’s where BuzzSumo comes in.
BuzzSumo lets you find blog posts that have been highly shared on social media. You just do a search for your main keyword and you’ll get a list of the latest and most shared blog posts related to your search. You can even search content your competitors have been sharing to see what’s working best for them. Then, you can create better versions of their most successful content to get more views.The trick is to make a piece of content that’s inspired by what you find through BuzzSumo, not just the same blog post reworded. Take a look at the posts that are getting shared the most and figure out how you can create something better. For instance, if you come across a blog post called “10 Facebook Marketing Secrets You Need to Know.” You could use that as inspiration to make a round-up post like “20 Facebook Marketing Tips From the Pros.”
4. Yoast SEO Plug-in
One of the most popular ways to get traffic to your blog posts, particularly if you don’t have an established audience, is through search engine optimization (SEO). Organic search traffic comes from people who use Google, Bing or other search engines from looking up specific phrases. Once they receive their results, they can enter your site. This is why it’s important to have a high rank on search engines, so you get more traffic to your blog.
There are a variety of factors that impact SEO, but the two major categories everything falls under are:
On-page factors: Such as meta titles, Web development, urls, the actual content on each page and page structure
Off-page factors: Such as backlinks, mentions of your company/website online and social factors
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plug-in designed to help you improve some of the most important on-page SEO factors–even if you aren’t experienced with Web development and SEO. This plug-in takes care of everything from setting up your meta titles and descriptions to creating a sitemap. Yoast even helps you tackle the more complex tasks like editing your robots.txt and .htaccess.
Some of the settings may seem a little complex if you’re new to SEO and WordPress, but Yoast created a complete tutorial to help you get everything set up. And the team at WPBeginner made this handy video to help you get set up quickly.
Having a blog post full of text makes your content less appealing and will immediately turn visitors off. Adding in visuals like infographics, charts and other images can help break up your content and make it easily digestible.
The problem that a lot of bloggers run into is figuring out how to integrate images into their content. This leads to bloggers loading their posts with stock images that aren’t eye catching or of any value to the post. Canva is a free tool that makes it easy to create custom graphics to go with your blog posts.
Whether you want to make infographics, featured images or just a few visuals to go within your posts, you can do it all in Canva.
One of the best things about Canva is it comes loaded with templates so all of your graphics can be sized perfectly for each specific social media site. If you want an image to be easy for your readers to Pin, choose the Pinterest template. Or maybe you want something that people can Tweet. You’d then just choose the Twitter template.
There’s a reason why 70% of marketers planned to increase their use of visual content in 2015. It works! Start making your blog posts pop by adding attention grabbing graphics instead of boring stock photos and walls of text.
6.Readability Test Tool
Would it shock you to find out the average college freshman reads at a 7th grade level? That means if your writing is too technically advanced, your audience may not fully understand your content.
The Readability Test Tool helps you ensure your blog posts are easy to read. It uses the top readability indicators to let you know the approximate grade level of your content.
The concept behind this is when text is easy to read, it’s generally more digestible. You should aim for your content to be around a middle school level (grades six through eight). If you’re in the green, that’s an indication that your content is easily readable. If you venture off into yellow or orange, then you may want to simplify your content a bit to make it more comprehensible for your audience.
Here are some tips you can use to improve the readability of your blog posts:
Avoid using technical or overly-complex words (i.e. words people may have to look up to understand)
Use shorter sentences
Use words with fewer syllables
Make your content direct and to the point
This blogging tool is critical for companies and marketers that create a large amount of content or for those who work in teams. Trello is essentially a project management tool focused around improving your workflow.
You can create tasks, set due dates, add multiple team members and do almost everything you need to manage your entire blogging process. There are plenty of project management tools out there, but Trello is great for bloggers because it’s streamlined and doesn’t have a lot of the clutter that you don’t need.
Something that bloggers aren’t aware of is that you can actually create a blogging editorial calendar in Trello. Here’s a template you can use to get started. Organization is key for bloggers, so Trello is definitely something worth adding to your list of blogging tools.
8. Sprout Social
You’ve created visually stunning content that’s perfect for SEO and readers, now what? It’s time to get the word out. Social media is easily one of the best ways to quickly generate activity for your blog posts. To do that, you’re going to need a social media management tool.
You’ll want to use Sprout Social to schedule your posts to be sent out through your social media profiles like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s best to schedule your posts to go out multiple times throughout the week and even the month. Sprout Social makes it easy to schedule your posts across your different profiles at once.
You can even try testing out a few different headlines in your social media posts to see which generates the most clicks and activity. It’s simple to track your content’s performance on social media right from the dashboard too.
Another great reason to use Sprout Social is for outreach marketing. A lot of marketers immediately think of sending emails for outreach. But sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, which thrive on building connections and interacting, are great for outreach as well. Through Sprout Social, you can find influencers in your industry and keep a log of your past conversations with each person.
As you start to establish connections, Sprout makes it a lot easier for you to ask them to take a look at your new content. And hopefully, they’ll help spread the word about your blog posts too. Manually sharing your posts on each social network isn’t a good use of your time and it’s unnecessary. Start using Sprout Social to make your life a lot easier.
9. Email Marketing Tool/Autoresponder
In addition to social media, email marketing is another powerful way to spread the word about your latest blog posts. One of the most well-known bloggers, Neil Patel, has made it no secret that the emails he sends out to promote his new posts are one of his top sources of traffic.
Emails let you reach out directly to your audience and update them whenever you have new content to share. An email marketing tool or autoresponder gives you the ability to collect email addresses and send out emails just like Patel.
There are a lot of different email marketing tools available. Some of the most popular choices for businesses and bloggers include:
Once you set up your account and lists, get in the habit of sending emails on a regular basis and stay consistent to get the best results. Here are some amazing tips from a past #SproutChat on How to Attract & Retain Quality Email Subscribers.
10. Google Analytics
Your content is created and you’ve been promoting it through social media and email marketing tools. Now, you need to know the results of your efforts. Google Analytics is the most popular blogging tool to track the performance of your content. Google Analytics can get very advanced, but here’s a good guide for beginners that tells you the main areas you should start looking at, which are:
Audience: Who’s coming to your blog?
Acquisition: How are people finding your blog?
Behavior: What are people doing on your blog?
The more you log-in and check your analytics, the more comfortable you’ll become with the dashboard. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your blog, make it a priority.