There are many reasons blogging should be part of your content strategy. Blogging can help you generate more leads, foster trust with your readers, and improve your rankings on search.
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 blogging efforts.
In this post, we'll look at tools that help you write better, publish faster, and rank higher on Google so that 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'll need to double check 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 of these 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
Below we'll look at a wide selection of tools that can help grow your blog. To help you find the tools that will meet your specific needs, we'll categorize them by purpose. After hosting, we'll cover planning, SEO, images, and promotion.
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 blog. Let's look at three options below.
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 — and more. You can use the robust blogging and landing page tools to create search engine optimized content, based on best practices. You can run A/B tests and add live chat to the front end of your site. And you can create personalized content based on specific criteria you have stored about your contacts.
WordPress.org is a highly flexible platform for blogging. With a drag-and-drop block editor and over 50,000 WordPress plugins and 30,000 WordPress themes, you can create a highly customized blog with the exact look and feel you want. Just make sure you have the time and resources to invest in purchasing, downloading, and maintaining these third-party tools and templates.
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 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 planning your blog 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 buyer persona.
Buyer 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 buyer 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 you have the best chance of ranking for organically.
You can also use the tool to advance your search engine marketing efforts and out-rank your competitors on the 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, you can use Keyword Planner. This SEO tool from Google 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. For example, Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, increased his site’s organic traffic to 282,762 visits per month with the help of this tool.
Keyword Planner is free to use, but you are required to have a Google Ads account to use it.
Many bloggers use Keyword Planner in combination with Google Trends. Any keywords identified by Keyword Planner can be run through Google Trends.
You'll see how its search volume fluctuates over time, how it performs in specific regions, and what are related topics and queries. 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 is not 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.
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.
These are just 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, including the title and any additional notes. You can then assign them to writers, add a due date, create checklists for each assignment, organize them into categories with color-coded tags, and more. 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.
Now that you've identified some keywords to target, it's time to start writing. Below are some tools that can help you optimize your headlines, strike the right tone and style of your blog, and ensure your content is free of grammar and spelling mistakes.
Now that you know your target audience and some keywords 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 type up to five nouns 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 five 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. The best part is this tool is completely free to use.
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 potential 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% can help your blog posts stand out in SERPs and social feeds. Take a look at the results of the headline 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 will highlight 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 buyer persona's level of education.
You can write in the app's distraction-free interface or simply copy and paste your text into the editor.
In tandem with the Hemingway App, you can use Grammarly to write correct blog posts. The premium version of Grammarly will not only check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation to flag any irregularities like repetitive words, missing verbs, faulty parallelism, or incorrect adverb placement — 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 help 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 your grammar, sentence structure, reading level, and more.
What sets Yoast SEO apart from these tools is its SEO analysis. This tool will offer suggestions for adding keywords, optimizing your 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 out-of-the-box 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 sites, 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. Using 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 action. 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 in one place. Rather than waste 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 performance.
That 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.
21. Check My Links
Because all search engine algorithms take links into account, link building 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 check both external and internal links on your blog, try Check My Links.
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 on average, 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 blog.
22. 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.
24. 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 you can use as inspiration or download and customize 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, which can help drive traffic to your blog. In fact, using image templates was one best practice that helped HubSpot octuple their 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 their paid plans for more templates and advanced functionality.
You 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 you get your content in front of the right people at the right time so you can turn 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.
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.
The idea of uploading your blog posts to multiple social media platforms after hours of researching and writing 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 the process.
Buffer allows you to schedule your blogs 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
Using the tools above to create image-rich content, optimizing your on-page SEO, analyze your site, and promote it on social will help you increase your website traffic.
So make sure you're using a CMS platform that integrates with these tools and comes with some SEO functionality out-of-the-box. By investing in blogging in this way, you'll be 13x more likely to see positive ROI than marketers who don't.
Originally published Apr 10, 2020 12:00:00 AM, updated May 20 2020
Topics:Content Management System