Blogging can help generate more leads, foster trust with your readers, and improve rankings on search engines.
But, to reap these benefits, you have to invest time and effort into your blog strategy. The good news is that at every stage, from planning to search engine optimization to promotion, there are tools available to maximize your company’s efforts.
In this post, we'll look at some tools that help you write better, publish faster, and rank higher on search engines, so you can attract more visitors and quality leads to your blog.
Before we get started, it's important to note that we focused on tools that work with most website-building platforms, but you should double-check that they work with your specific platform before downloading them.
If you're using a CMS, you're in good shape. The best CMS systems not only support integrations with many of these tools — they come with some of this functionality built into their platform, so you don't have to keep purchasing and adding apps to your tech stack.
Let's start by taking a look at some blog- hosting platforms.
- Make My Persona
- Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Twitter Topics
- Blog Ideas Generator
- Portent's Content Idea Generator
- EMV Headline Analyzer
- Hemingway App
- Yoast SEO
- Google Search Console
- Check My Links
- Death to Stock
- Design Wizard
- HubSpot's Free Marketing Tools
To start, you need a hosting platform for your blog. Ideally, this platform will provide the page speed, SEO features, and security you need to create and grow a successful blog.
1. CMS Hub
With CMS Hub, you'll get a blogging platform that's fully integrated with HubSpot’s marketing, sales, and service tools — and comes with a built-in CRM.
That means you'll get the functionality you expect from other platforms like an intuitive blog editor with CTAs, forms, and an option to preview how your post will look on any device before you publish it.
You can also use the robust blogging and landing page tools to create search engine optimized content, based on the best practices laid out in HubSpot’s knowledge base. Additionally, you can conduct A/B tests and add a live chat widget to the front end of your site. These features can improve conversion rates by optimizing the look and interactive aspects of your website in measurable terms.
WordPress is a highly flexible platform for blogging. With a drag-and-drop block editor and over 80,000 plugins and themes, you can create a customized blog with the exact look and feel that you want. Just make sure you have the time and resources to invest in purchasing, downloading, and maintaining these third-party tools and templates. Better understanding of their functionality can lead to more successful execution that readers will enjoy navigating through in a professional blog.
If you're looking for a more lightweight CMS that's dedicated to blogging, Ghost is an excellent WordPress alternative. It offers an intuitive editor, built-in SEO tools, responsive layouts, and an out-of-the-box email subscription so you can easily create and manage a blog.
The following tools will help you define your target audience, find topics that appeal to that audience, and overcome writer's block so you can plan your blog strategy.
One of the first steps in creating a blog strategy is establishing who you're writing to. Make My Persona is a free tool by HubSpot that will walk you through the process of building a reader persona.
Reader personas are fictional representations of your ideal readers that you can use to plan and create blog content that addresses their goals, behaviors, and concerns. Creating reader personas will not only ensure you’re creating the right content for the right people — it will also help inform the tone and style of your blog as you write.
You can take your blog planning to the next level with SEMrush. SEMrush is a premium tool for keyword research, keyword rank tracking, site audits, and traffic analysis. With SEMRush, you can find long-tail keywords that have the best chance of ranking for organic traffic.
You can also use this tool to advance your search engine marketing efforts and out-rank your competitors on search engine results pages (SERPs). SEMrush not only allows you to discover your main paid search competitors and figure out which keywords they're bidding on — it also enables you to study their regional presence and composition of their ads. This information is essential to creating and managing your own paid strategy.
For a free, and simpler alternative to SEMrush, you can use Keyword Planner. This SEO tool can help you research keywords and plan your content strategy. You just have to enter a keyword and the tool will auto-generate the search volume of that keyword as well as related words and phrases.
While the tool is designed specifically for ads, many bloggers use Keyword Planner for their content as well. For example, Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, increased his site’s organic traffic from to 282,762 visits per month with the help of this tool.
Keyword Planner is free to use, but you’re required to have a Google Ads account to use it.
Many bloggers use Keyword Planner in combination with Google Trends because any keywords identified by Keyword Planner can be run through Google.
You'll see how its search volume fluctuates over time, how it performs in specific regions, and what topics and queries are related to this keyword. This can help you create a content strategy that incorporates seasonal trends, attracts a global audience, and includes related keywords that people are looking for.
Quora isn’t just a site for engaging with and building an online community — it's also a great place to find ideas for your blog.
Quora is a crowdsourced Q&A website, where users can post questions and get answers from anyone. Scanning this site will uncover questions that get asked most frequently by real people. This can be a great way to supplement your keyword research.
Quora is free to use — you'll just have to create an account.
You can implement a similar strategy on Twitter, using Twitter Topics. Launched in 2019, Twitter Topics is a new feature that allows users to select and follow trends they're interested in from a list of "Topics."
For example, say you follow the Topic "SEO." Then news and tweets related to SEO will start showing up in your Twitter feed automatically. This will help you stay up to date on the latest discussions around SEO, which can inform your blog strategy.
So far, we’ve listed a few of the many tools and platforms you might use to generate blog ideas. To stay organized, you can put them all in one place using Trello.
Trello is a visual collaboration platform that's ideal for task management. On Trello, you can create a card for every blog post which includes the title of the post along with any additional notes. You can then assign these cards to writers, add a due date, create checklists for each assignment, and organize them into categories with color-coded tags. Below is an example.
Trello is free to use, but there are paid plans available for bloggers that want to connect their board to Google Drive or need other advanced features like keyboard shortcuts or workflow automations for each board.
Now that you've identified some keywords to target, it's time to start writing. Below are some tools that can optimize your headlines, strike the right tone and style for your blog, and ensure your content is free of grammar and spelling mistakes.
Now that you know your target audience and have some keywords that you're targeting, you need to get started writing. If you need some help turning your keyword research into content, go to HubSpot's Blog Ideas Generator.
You can enter up to five words that represent topics you want to write about in the search bar. Then click "Give me Blog Ideas" to see an auto-generated list of five blog ideas. In the demo below, I typed in "blogging" and got the following headlines.
You can also fill out a form to access a year’s worth of blog ideas and details on how to advance your SEO strategy. This tool is completely free to use, so it’s worth giving it a try if you’re not sure where to start.
Like HubSpot's Blog Ideas Generator, Portent's Content Idea Generator provides headlines based on the keyword you type into the search bar. Designed to get both clicks and links, these headlines are intended to be"funny and shocking," according to the company site.
While this won't work for all brands, it might work for your blog, particularly if you're looking for a boost in social traffic.
Check out the attention-grabbing example generated when I typed in "blogging" below.
The EMV Headline Analyzer calculates the emotional marketing value of headlines. Emotional marketing refers to the practice of using emotion to make your audience notice, remember, share, or otherwise respond to your content.
After typing your blog title into the search bar, this tool will search for and analyze the emotional words in your headline. It will then give you a score based on its emotional appeal, with a brief explanation. Titles with scores between 30% and 40% will stand out in SERPs and social feeds.
Take a look at the results of this headline that was generated by Portent's Content Idea Generator.
13. Hemingway App
We know that it takes more than a catchy headline to create a good blog post. To keep your audience engaged from the headline to the conclusion, you need to make sure your text is readable.
Hemingway App is a free tool that analyzes your text's readability. It highlights any sentences that are complex or dense, use passive voice, or have too many adverbs, so you can edit accordingly. This editor will also calculate a readability score so you can ensure your writing aligns with your reader persona's vocabulary and comprehension.
In tandem with the Hemingway App, you can use Grammarly to write engaging and grammatically-correct blog posts. The premium version of Grammarly will not only check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but it will also recommend vocabulary enhancements and detect any instances of plagiarism.
You can choose to draft or copy and paste your blog posts into the Grammarly editor. You can also install Grammarly as a Google Chrome browser extension to offer suggestions as you write in Google Docs, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other sites.
We've already discussed a few SEO tools that you can use to maximize your blog planning efforts, including SEMrush, Keyword Planner, and Google Trends. Now let's look at some SEO tools that will help during the writing and publishing phases.
15. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is designed to improve your blog’s on-page SEO. Like the Hemingway App and Grammarly, Yoast SEO analyzes the readability of your text, offering suggestions to improve grammar, sentence structure, reading level, and more.
What sets Yoast SEO apart from other tools is its SEO analysis. This tool will offer suggestions for adding keywords, optimizing meta descriptions and URLS, and adding internal links.
Take a look at some results below.
While some platforms like CMS Hub will provide these SEO recommendations as you write, other platforms will require you to use Yoast SEO to optimize your blog. Yoast SEO is most frequently purchased and downloaded on WordPress websites, but it's also compatible with Magento, Drupal, TYPO3, and Neos CMS.
For more insight into how SEO-friendly your site is, you can ask Google. With Google Search Console, you can understand how your blog appears to search engines in terms of click-through rates, search queries, crawl errors, HTML errors, and backlinks.
Similar to Yoast SEO, Google Search Console highlights problem areas and opportunities for improvement to boost your blog's visibility in SERPs. And, it's free to use — you just need a Google account.
MAXG, short for Marketing Advisor for eXponential Growth, is a premium tool designed to help you turn data into directions. Unlike traditional analytics dashboards, MAXG uses AI to provide recommendations for improving the performance of your content, from blog posts to CTAs to landing pages and email campaigns.
These recommendations are paired with supporting data so you can understand why these improvements are necessary. You can then assign the action items recommended by MAXG to different users.
MAXG currently integrates with HubSpot and Google Analytics and is looking to incorporate data from SEMrush, AdWords, and other tools in the future.
Just as you can use Trello to keep all your ideas in one place, you can use Databox to view all of your performance data together. Rather than wasting time logging into multiple tools to see how your blog is performing, you can mix and match metrics from different sources in one Databoard for a more complete view of your site’s performance. This means less time spent checking data and creating reports and more time actually acting on data.
Let's say your data points to a problem with page speed. In that case, you can use a free tool like GtMetrix to analyze your blog's speed on desktop and mobile. Just type in your URL and GTmetrix will provide a score as well as ways to reduce your website page speed.
20. Check My Links
Because all search engine algorithms take links into account, link building is an essential aspect of SEO. That means you need to devote time and resources not only into adding internal links and getting backlinks to your blog, but also ensuring that those links are working.
To help automate this process, you can use Check My Links. It's a free Google Chrome extension that crawls through web pages to check for broken links. Registering and reporting all of the broken links on a site within 20 to 30 seconds, it's one of the fastest link checkers you can use.
Considering that blog posts that include images get over 90% more total views than those without, it's essential to know where to get quality images for your blog. Such images can make your content more engaging and memorable, and enhance the overall reader experience on your site.
21. Death to Stock
Death to Stock is an artist-owned co-op offering a premium subscription to high-resolution lifestyle photos. Every month, over 35 new photos are added to the library so you never run out of options. You'll also be able to access and search its full archive, which contains over 4,500 photos.
When writing how-to articles or other types of blog posts, it can be helpful to include screenshots and annotate them with notes, arrows, and icons. To create and add this type of media, you can use Skitch.
Skitch is free to download, but you will need an Evernote account to use it.
23. Design Wizard
If you'd like to create different types of media, like graphics or videos, then you can use Design Wizard. Design Wizard is a freemium tool that enables you to create visual content with no professional editing experience required.
Design Wizard has hundreds of design templates that you can use as inspiration or you can download and customize one for your blog for as little as one dollar. If you upgrade to a paid plan, then you can download up to 60 designs per month.
Canva is another great tool for creating branded images and templates. In fact, using image templates was one best practice that helped HubSpot octuple its image search traffic to the HubSpot blog in one year.
To implement a similar strategy on your site, you can use Canva. To start, you'll choose from a collection of professional templates, add an image from its built-in photo library or upload your own, and then layer in some text.
Canva is free to use, but you can upgrade to its paid plans for more templates and advanced functionality.
Another easy-to-use tool that offers multimedia editing options is Crello.
This online editor is a one-stop shop for static and animated graphic designs with over 650,000 stock photos ready to be put in your latest blog post. It features premade HD animations and video clips for you to optimize your web page according to your desired theme.
Crello is an amazing option for those who want to quickly make designs for their favorite social media platforms.
Build modern graphic designs from Crello’s wide range of templates images, or personalize it with your own. This service is free but provides budget-friendly pricing to those trying to work more extensively in a team or take advantage of online support.
Once the writing is done, you’ll want to promote your blog so that your target audience can find, read, and share it. After all, what's the point of going through the trouble of planning, writing, and optimizing your blog if you don't bother promoting it?
Below are some tools that can help get your content in front of the right people at the right time, so you can convert visitors into leads.
HubSpot's free marketing tools — including ads, email marketing, live chat, forms, reports, and more — are powered by the HubSpot CRM so you can convert more of your visitors into leads
With these tools, you can include CTAs to sign up for a blog newsletter and begin converting readers into subscribers. You can easily see which blogs are converting best, which need to be optimized, and which topics you should be writing about. And, you can promote your content in targeted Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google ads with the free ad tools.
BuzzSumo can help you decide how best to promote your content. You can monitor the performance of your own content to understand what are the ideal days and times of the week to post and what are the ideal lengths of your posts.
In addition to your content, you can also use BuzzSumo to track the performance of content in specific niches or around the web. Just enter a topic or a URL into the BuzzSumo search box and get back a wealth of information —including its share counts across the most popular social media sites. This can help you understand which topics and types of content perform best on different social media platforms.
Take a look at the performance of the HubSpot post, "45 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2020" below.
After hours of researching and writing, the idea of uploading your blog posts to multiple social media platforms can be overwhelming. If your blogging platform doesn't include built-in social tools, then you can use a third-party tool like Buffer to automate this process.
Buffer allows you to schedule your blog’s post to different social channels. You can even schedule them to send multiple times, using different headlines and images each time.
Start Growing Your Blog Today
Use the tools above to create image-rich content, optimize your on-page SEO, analyze your website’s performance, and promote your blog on social media will help increase your website’s traffic. Also, make sure you're using a CMS platform that integrates with these tools and comes with some out-of-the-box SEO functionality. By investing in blogging in this way, you'll be 13x more likely to see positive ROI than marketers who don't.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published Apr 26, 2021 7:00:00 AM, updated April 26 2021
Topics:Content Management System