76% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing investment this year improve blog post search engine results.
But, does this increase in budget guarantee success?
There is a tremendous data explosion every minute on the internet. For example, Facebook users share 2.5 million content pieces every minute.
You have to develop a blogging strategy. Define how you’ll take your idea to a published blog post.
Then, distribute your content piece on the right channels and ensure that your website is optimized for nurturing and closing leads. This marketing effort is a content strategy for optimal search engine results.
It can be overwhelming.
Leverage marketing technology. There are tools to facilitate every stage of digital marketing and make your life easier.
Altimeter Group has stacked them across 8 categories.
As per Curata, 56% of marketers use tools like these to manage their content workflow and blog post distribution.
I don’t want you to drown in the huge pile of disparate content marketing tools.
So, in this post, I list only 23 essential blogging tools to aid your content marketing. They are used by professional content marketers to streamline their marketing.
Have I listed your favorite tool?
Let’s jump in and find out.
New ideas for writing are your means of living, right?
And, what about building relationships? My guess is that you’d be happy to connect with an industry influencer to help build great content?
Then, meet an explosive content marketing tool that makes it easy to perform these two tasks – BuzzSumo.
Let me show you 3 nifty features of the tool.
1. Derive inspiration from a popular headline – Suppose I want to write a blog post on marketing strategies leveraging consumer psychology.
I’ll head over to BuzzSumo.com, enter ‘psychology marketing’ in the search bar and press the ‘Go!’ button.
I am presented with the most shared articles on a social network.
I can now model a popular blog post and skyscrape it.
Example – 25 Psychology Studies To Take Your Marketing To The Next Level.
Or, I can also take inspiration from a popular headline and write on a different subject. This is commonplace in content marketing.
Example – 6 psychology principles to boost your Instagram marketing.
You can also plug in a headline phrase to gauge its popularity.
Let’s test headline formula ‘little known ways.’
Looks like little known ways headlines get shared a lot on social media.
So, you can use it to create headlines in your niche.
2. Curate popular content in your niche – Want to find high-quality content in your niche that’ll engage your social media followers?
Enter a subject related to your industry in BuzzSumo and sort the results based on your choice of social media.
3. Discover influencers – It’s helpful to discover individuals already sharing your type of content. They can get the ball rolling for your article.
Jimi Smoot identified influencers through BuzzSumo for promoting his growth-hacking tool – ShareWalla.
And, after reaching out to them, he managed to get 10,000 visitors in August 2014.
Finding sharers of your type of content is simple. Perform a BuzzSumo top content search for your search engine keyword. Then, click the ‘view sharers’ button underneath an article.
You can also do a direct influencer search for a keyword.
Once you get comfortable with these basic functions, you can try these other useful features of BuzzSumo.
Evernote is a powerful tool with over 100 million users.
You can perform the following tasks with it:
- Plan your content marketing strategy,
- Write your blog post ideas or outlines,
- Save articles to read later from the web using web clipper,
- Draft complete content pieces.
It’s available for multiple platforms and synchronizes your data automatically (you only need an internet connection).
So, you can pen your blog post ideas, even during inconvenient times, with the mobile app.
To organize your Evernote account – you can create multiple notebooks and add tags.
Here’s a detailed Evernote video tutorial to get you started:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk1eKDNmhq4]
Michael Hyatt has created a notebook in his Evernote account with many blogging templates. It saves him a lot of time in content creation.
Here is an example SCORRE (Subject, Central Theme, Objective Statement, Rationale, and Evaluation) template from this notebook.
You can also set up a scanner inside Evernote and go paperless, like Michael Hyatt.
Skitch is a neat Evernote add-on for taking screenshots.
It’s easy to use – Just click and drag the portion of the screen you want to capture. Then, save the snapshot in the Evernote notebook of your choice.
There are handy annotation features in Skitch, too. You can circle, point, blur and add text in a couple of clicks.
3. Editorial Calendar
Following a schedule is extremely important to produce your highest degree of creative work.
It can tremendously amplify your writing performance. Just look at the obsessive daily routines of some famous writers. Each has a specific editorial calendar they follow for any one project from start to finish.
For bloggers, publishing regularly is even more important. You’ve got to keep your audience engaged with new high-quality content.
Sitepoint lists some major reasons why you need an editorial calendar.
Still not convinced?
Look at James Clear.
He has a very successful career as a speaker and entrepreneur.
Do you know a chief ingredient of his success?
It’s his blog, where he shows up regularly with high-quality posts.
He has routinely published two blog posts every week on Monday and Thursday. This has helped him amass 200,000+ readers.
You also need to kick start a regular blogging habit and hold yourself accountable by using a plugin like the Editorial Calendar.
It has a simple drag and drop functionality. And, you can create, edit and schedule with a simple quick edit dialog.
You can also create a special calendar for custom posts like podcasts.
Here is a complete list of its features.
Looking for a more professional tool with collaboration options and social media integration?
Then, go for CoSchedule.
It brings planning, writing, publishing and social media scheduling all to a single place, helping simplify your marketing effort across several platforms.
Learn CoSchedule’s key features in the video below.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK3un3Wt_Qo]
CoSchedule integrates with major blogging platforms and tools – social networks, Buffer and Evernote.
Here is the process to integrate your Evernote ideas into WordPress blog posts with CoSchedule.
4. Google Keyword Planner
Keyword planner is the most popular keyword research tool, having 68% market share. Most marketers start with it to generate hundreds of digital marketing keyword combinations in less than 10 seconds.
To get started, you’ll need to enter information in any of the 3 categories below.
Here’s an explanation of the three categories by Brian Dean.
Below the 3 categories, you’ll see targeting and filtering options. You can use them to customize the results per your requirements.
The strategy most marketers employ to use the keyword planner is –
- Enter 4-5 seed keywords.
- Set targeting to your country and filter only high-volume keywords.
- Run the planner and go to the keyword ideas tab for 800+ keyword variations.
- Export all the keywords in an excel spreadsheet.
I’m not going to walk you through this process here.
Instead, I want to introduce you to 2 lesser used Keyword Planner strategies.
Strategy #1 – Spy your competitor’s keywords
This strategy will uncover hidden keywords that you can’t find using your simple technique of entering a seed keyword for content creation.
It’s simple to implement the strategy.
Plug your competitor’s blog URL in the landing page field and you’ll be presented with a list of keywords related to the website.
Here are the results for Quick Sprout. Have a look at the marked keywords. They are relevant targets if you write on internet marketing.
Similarly, you can also key in a blog post to find more specific hidden keywords.
Copy the relevant and interesting keywords in your excel sheet.
Strategy #2 – Structure your website and find niche markets on the ad group ideas tab. Content marketing does best with niche marketing.
Most SEOs ignore the ad group ideas altogether.
But, they are useful to find relevant categories for your blog and make your website structure user-friendly.
Suppose I want to build a blog around self-improvement. Let’s see the ad group ideas for the keyword.
From the results, I’ve found two sections that I can include on my blog: personal growth and improving self-confidence.
Sometimes, the name of the ad group can also spark a keyword idea for a blog post.
For example, you can target the keyword ‘improvement books’ if you’re building a self-improvement blog.
After collecting keyword ideas, you’ll want to refine the list by doing competitive research and revisiting your campaign goals.
Here are a list of categories by Beth Morgan to help you target the right keywords for content marketing.
5. Uber Suggest
Long-tail keywords bring more targeted traffic to your website. So, they have higher conversions than short-tail keywords.
Uber Suggest can help you find hundreds of long-tail keywords by scraping Google’s autocomplete results.
Let’s see long-tail results for the query ‘blogging tools.’
We got 128 results and an alphabet index to jump on long-tail keywords starting with different letters.
Here are long-tail versions of ‘blogging tools’ starting with the letter b and c.
I’ve already written how you can strategically integrate long-tail keywords into your blog posts to drive more traffic from Google.
6. Yoast WordPress SEO
Before you hit the publish button, you’ve got to ensure that your post is optimized for search engines.
Yoast is the most popular WordPress SEO plugin. It has comprehensive functionalities on optimizing your content, meta description, page title and permalink.
Take a look at the Yoast menu in the left sidebar of your dashboard after installation. It can build your sitemap, set templates for your titles and meta descriptions, add breadcrumbs and more.
Below every post you draft on the WordPress dashboard, you get a snippet preview and analysis of your post/page for your focus keyword.
Under this Yoast tab, you can tweak your SEO title and meta description to ensure that they are compelling.
Under Yoast’s titles and meta section, you can assign templates for your page titles and meta descriptions.
Your search results won’t get truncated like the result below.
Removing the “%%sep%% %%sitename%%” will make your post and page titles shorter.
The plugin also has a XML sitemap module. You can enable the functionality from the general tab.
When you publish a new post, the XML sitemap is automatically submitted to search engines, so that they index your content quickly, getting your new content creation to readers hopefully sooner than later.
In case you have trouble getting started, you can also watch this video tutorial to fine tune Yoast SEO.
The time spent on social media marketing per week is increasing consistently.
But, what is your ROI from social media?
Back in 2011, 41% of companies didn’t even track their social media marketing ROI.
You can accomplish more productive business tasks than logging into multiple social media accounts.
Yet, 31% of overall referral traffic comes from social media. So, you can’t ignore it either.
How do you strike a balance?
I’d suggest using an uber cool scheduling and monitoring tool like Buffer.
It allows you to manage major social media accounts (except your Google+ profile) from one dashboard.
After you connect your social media accounts to Buffer, it’s simple to schedule updates.
- Choose a social profile.
- Enter your social media update with links, if required. Your hyperlinks are automatically shortened as you type.
- Click on the “Add to the Queue” button.
You can then set your posting time from the schedule tab.
Want your updates to reach maximum followers on social media?
Then Buffer has got you covered.
It’ll help you find your optimal posting time.
Choose the social media account that needs optimization in the Buffer Optimal Scheduling Tool and click on the “Calculate times” button.
Within a couple of seconds, you’ll find your engagement plot and 5 optimal times.
A nice add-on to Buffer is Bulk Buffer. It can schedule 150 social media updates for you in 5 minutes.
First, you need to prepare an excel sheet with your updates. Then, upload it in Bulk Buffer.
Nate Shivar automated tweets and increased his followers by 28.6% in 6 months.
Do you know that reposting the same content on social media can double or even triple your traffic?
You hit multiple times zones and reach new followers.
Buffer has a Power Scheduler tab that makes reposting convenient. Watch their video tutorial.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASS2VDO9L3k]
On a business plan, you can even integrate Buffer with Google Analytics. You get to set your own UTM parameters and integrate your Google Analytics campaigns with Buffer Analytics.
8. Hemingway Editor
Do you know a writing sin that turns off your blog audience?
It’s low-quality content.
Even if you’re publishing value-adding content, don’t commit any of the following slipups. You look unprofessional.
- Typos and grammatical errors.
- Long-winded, complex sentences.
- Use of jargon and technical words.
- Irrelevant content that doesn’t add value to your target audience.
By writing more content, you become a better writer. Your chances of committing these errors declines.
But, you can always use some editing help, right?
Presenting Hemingway Editor.
This is a tool that can polish your new content creation to ensure a brilliant reading experience.
Here are some of its features.
- It grades your writing level. Unless you’ve got a technical audience, you should write at a six grade or lower level.
The top 10 blogs in the world were found to have an average readability of 67.73.
- It marks the sentences (via color coding) in your article that are passive or difficult to read. You can then work on them.
- You can copy your article from other document editors directly into Hemingway App. Or, you can even create an article from scratch.
The web is increasingly getting visual. Consider the rise of visual social media platforms – Instagram and Pinterest.
So, for effective social media marketing, you’ll need high-quality graphics in your content bank.
Canva can help you design beautiful original graphics for your blog posts and social media platforms in under 5 minutes.
It has pre-made templates, custom image sizes for different social media platforms and a simple to use drag-and-drop interface.
Are you on a shoestring budget?
Here are 80 free stock photo websites you can use to source images.
10. EMV Headline Analyzer
Headlines are a blogger’s bread and butter.
You can increase the chances of getting clicks on your article by crafting headlines that evoke emotions.
Look at the average emotional value score of most popular posts on Buffer, Upworthy and OkDork.
The Emotional Marketing Value Headline tool is a research-based application to help you write better headlines. Catchy headlines are imperative to successful a content marketing strategy.
Copy your headline inside the tool, choose a category for your headline and press the ‘submit for analysis’ button.
You’ll get a percentage score,
and a grade for your headline from one of the following 3.
Don’t overload your headline with emotional words. Shoot for a score between 30% and 50%.
11. Quick Sprout
This is a free website analyzer created by me.
You can quickly analyze your competitors, based on a number of different parameters:
Social media, number of backlinks, website speed, total indexed pages and more.
You can also dig thoroughly in your website’s social media and SEO performance,
or your page level performance for a breakdown of your most popular content,
and recommendations for improving your website speed.
Crawling your website with the free Quick Sprout grader will definitely give you a few areas requiring work on your website.
12. Email Marketing Software like Get Response or Aweber
Email is the cheapest and most effective marketing channel for businesses.
Start collecting the emails of your customers today (if you aren’t already).
An email list will go a long way in building traffic, increasing engagement and making you money from your website.
You can use Aweber – it is a widely used email marketing solution.
As per Datanyze, it has 14.1% market share.
Another easy to use solution is Get Response.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2Jzy7opOug]
Once you choose an email marketing software to use, here are 3 strategies you can implement:
- Build an autoresponder sequence for new email optins. It’ll take the prospects deeper into your funnel.
- Broadcast all your latest blog posts through email, like I do.
- Make announcements about your product updates.
13. Google Analytics
Are your business decisions data driven?
If you make it to the top 33% of your industry in making data backed decisions:
Your company will be 5% more productive and 6% more profitable.
So, install Google Analytics (GA) – it’s free, powerful and works well with most websites.
Here are a few questions that you can answer with the help of GA.
I’ll share 2 basic features to get you started with Google Analytics.
Feature #1 – Setting up goals
You can track critical website events like email signups and assign a value to the digital marketing goal.
After you’ve created a goal and GA has collected sufficient data, you’ll start seeing graphs on your conversions.
Here is a video tutorial to help you set up goals.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=241-CPPotXQ]
Feature #2 – Find the top performing content on your website
Head over to the Site Content section and check your All Pages report. You’ll find metrics on your most traffic-driving page with its bounce rate, average time on page, unique page views and more.
Once you find your top performing content, create more of it!
You will also find insights on your major traffic sources, behavior flow of your website users, mobile usability and more.
14. Hello Bar
Collecting email is a priority for you. Right?
I want to introduce you to a robust email collection tool – it’s seen millions of times every day.
Say hello to the Hello Bar.
Hello Bar distinctively appears at the top of your website. It’s eye-catching and it scrolls with the visitor as he reads the blog post. At one point, it accounted for 11% of my leads.
Full Disclaimer: My company Crazy Egg owns this tool. If you want proof of its effectiveness, see the case studies below.
Hello Bar has also helped tons of other websites.
- DIYThemes got an additional 1,180 subscribers in 30 days.
- Superflow saw a 116% increase in conversions from their blog.
You can install Hello Bar for free on your website and A/B test variations.
Give an incentive like subscribing to your blog updates, an eBook, a case study or even direct them to a landing page.
When DIYThemes offered their Non Verbal Website Intelligence eBook, it converted 28% better than “Don’t Forget to Sign Up for Free Email Updates!”
Do you want to remain updated with the latest happenings in your industry?
You can visit multiple blogs, but it’s time consuming. Subscribing to many email newsletters will clutter your inbox.
An easier solution is a RSS reader – Feedly. It helps you to discover updates from your favorite blogs and share the great content with your followers on social media.
Adding websites to Feedly is simple – Click “Add Content” in the left sidebar or search using the bar in the top right-hand corner.
You can also connect Feedly with 229 channels using IFTTT, to level up your social media marketing.
16. Click Funnel
A traffic spike is sweet. You feel ecstatic when a website page goes viral.
But, if your conversions don’t increase proportionally, the feeling is short lived.
To increase your sales:
You need to optimize your conversion funnel and keep A/B testing.
Click Funnel is a powerful tool that helps you design seductive landing pages from pre made templates.
You can A/B test variations and continuously optimize your pages to increase your conversions without any technical hassles.
Here is a video tutorial to create your first capture page and bridge page with click funnels.
This is a powerful project management tool based on the Kanban system.
You can use it to:
- Communicate with your team members and assign tasks to them.
- Create a checklist of things to do in a project.
- Write down blog post ideas.
Huge news sites like Mashable and ReadWrite use Trello to manage their editorial workflow.
WP Curve uses it for effectively managing their projects.
They have boards for administrative tasks, content marketing planning, managing guest writers and even their bigger business projects.
If you like WP Curve’s working style, then you can download their Trello Quick Start Kit for free.
Do you like working in short, focused bursts of time?
Then, convert your Trello cards into Pomodoro tasks with Pomello.
Building relationships is instrumental to your blog’s success. You’ve to perform an outreach for building links and promoting your content.
I add 100+ relevant external hyperlinks in every post here at NeilPatel.com.
After publishing a blog post, I perform an email outreach to all of the linked sites. It increases the social shares on the posts as the linked site owners share my content.
But, emailing so many people can get messy.
Buzz Stream enables you to research, organize and plan your outreach strategically. It helps you build relationships with influencers efficiently.
Look at Strategy Digital. They initially used excel sheets for planning their email outreach. It was messy and time consuming.
Then they switched to BuzzStream.
It helped them streamline their outreach and reduce the manual work by 90%.
As a marketer, you can never get enough data about your target audience. Can you?
Quantcast gives you insights on your audience preferences, demographics, general and political interests. Here are the audience demographics for Search Engine Journal.
You can also spy on your industry competitors and reverse engineer the platforms that work the best for them.
Your developer accidentally screwed up while installing a new plugin on your website. Or, you got attacked by hackers.
You contact your web hosting company. But, you’re shocked to find out that they don’t have a backup of your content and data.
What action can you take to get your website back online quickly?
Save yourself from the misery of data loss.
If you’re a WordPress blogger, use a backup plugin like UpdraftPlus.
It’s easy to configure.
You can choose the backup intervals and files to include in your backup.
The backup can be stored on the cloud – Dropbox, Google Drive and a host of other cloud services.
21. Cache plugin like W3 Total Cache
A one second delay in the loading time of your website can decrease your conversions by 7%.
It’s important to improve your page speed.
WordPress users can optimize their website speed by using a cache plugin like W3 Total Cache. It can 10x your site performance when fully configured.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkmrQP8S5KY]
Chris from RankXL achieved a 531% increase in his website speed by using W3 Total Cache with CloudFlare.
Infographics are still an effective strategy for generating traffic and building links.
But, designing them is a challenging task.
Introducing Piktochart – it has a wide range of customization tools for modifying color schemes, fonts and pre-made templates.
You can design a professional looking infographic in 15 minutes with its –
- Drag and drop interface,
- Grid lines to align your graphics and resize your images proportionally.
You can export your finished graphic in an HTML format and embed it on your website.
23. Click to Tweet
A passive audience can’t increase your bottom line.
You want your audience to interact with you and take action.
Interactive content can inspire your audience.
For getting started with interactive content, include “click to tweet” buttons in your posts.
Brian Dean uses such tweet calls-to-action regularly to increase the social shares on his posts.
You can get started with the free plugin by CoSchedule – Click to Tweet. It adds click-to-tweet boxes inside your content with a single click.
Kristina from Braintraffic puts it perfectly, “You can’t retrofit activities to the tool; you’ve got to align the tool with your activities.”
These 23 tools are the bare bones of a marketing strategy. But, you can choose your favorite ones based on your requirements.
You might want to use this checklist by Alimeter team to determine your tool requirements.
What part have tools played in executing your content marketing campaigns? Are there any of your favorite blogging tools that I haven’t included in my list?
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