12 Essential Tools For Better Blogging
If you are looking for new ways to improve your blog, then read on.
This article outlines some of the most effective tools that can help you build and grow your blogging business.
1. A Tool For Generating Compelling Headlines
I recently wrote a post about how to write powerful headlines for your blog posts.
I only mention this tool here because I think it could help you get the creative juices flowing when it comes to crafting the perfect headline, but I wouldn't rely on it to produce the entire headline for you. That sort of thing requires the human element for it to be truly effective.
Having said that, the content idea generation tool from Portent.com can still help you get started.
All you have to do is to type in the topic or keywords of your blog post and it will produce interesting new titles for your post. Some of the titles that it spits out aren't very accurate, but they'd probably get heads turning.
If you're not satisfied with the headlines you get, you can get new titles by refreshing or trying new keywords.
2. Highlight Old Content
Your blog probably has at least a few evergreen posts that are as valuable and relevant now as they were the day you published them.
Highlighting content from long ago is a great idea because those posts may not be as visible to your readers as they used to be since they get pushed down every time you publish new content.
To revive those old posts, use a plugin for related posts.
YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin) is one such tool that can help you keep evergreen posts in the spotlight. It links to additional posts which are related to the current one that is being read by your blog visitor.
You can either choose to show a thumbnail of the related posts and pages, or you can use a list view.
It even lets you display your related posts in the RSS feed.
3. Tools To Improve Your Writing
According to some research, the most effective writing is actually at an 8th-grade reading level.
This means that as bloggers, we need to do our best to make our writing as uncomplicated as possible. But don't worry, you won't lose any credibility by doing that.
Your readers will grasp and retain your ideas more easily and you'll be more likely to reach a wider audience with your content.
This means that if they come across a lot of ten-dollar words, then they're likely to just stop reading altogether.
Your audience wants to consume content with simple, short sentences and words that they can easily understand so that they can obtain the information they need and move on.
The Hemingway Editor is a great tool that can quickly assess your writing and show you if it's not easy to understand.
Make sure your work is optimized for your readers before publishing by pasting it into the Hemingway tool and letting it do the test.
This tool highlights all the complex sentences in your content, as well as passive voice, and the words that have simpler alternatives. In fact, it's great for showing you all the things about your writing that could possibly slow down your reader.
It's not only what you know, but it's also how you write it, and if your grammar isn't as great as it could be, use Grammarly to check all your work before you hit the publish button.
This tool finds and corrects a whole lot more mistakes than your word processor does.
It also checks for plagiarism and helps you improve your word choices. There are free versions of both these tools, but if you want to use all their features then you need to sign up for their paid plans which have monthly, quarterly, or yearly prices.
4. Find Popular Topics In Your Niche
Giving your readers exactly the type of content that they want is the key to consistent targeted blog traffic.
But finding hot topics to write about doesn't always have to be hard.
You can use Google Trends to find the topics that are trending in search as well as on YouTube. You can also compare search terms if you want to see which one is better or more popular.
This tool lets you see the performance of certain topics over time, and how the interest in the topic varies across different regions. You also have access to the related searches, all of which helps you to hone your ideas about which articles will appeal to as many of your readers as possible.
If you've been there and done that, but you're still searching for something, then you could use a tool like BuzzSumo to help you find out what is working for others in your industry.
Simply type in the domain of the site you want to explore, such as your competitor’s site.
The tool will immediately show you that site's top-performing articles. You also get to see the number of social shares that each article received as well as the major influencers who shared the article.
If an article is very popular with your competitors' audience, odds are that your readers will find the topic just as interesting.
Just make sure that you put your own unique stamp on it.
5. Make Sharing Easier
Use your Google Analytics to determine where the majority of your website traffic is coming from.
You will probably find that it's from a major social platform, which is why your blog needs to have social sharing toolbars.
This is an important tactic when it comes to increasing your audience thanks to the organic nature of social sharing.
There are a lot of tools that can help you do this, but the app by AppSumo called SumoMe Share App is one of the best tools around. It provides lots of functionality at no cost. Plus, it shows you the pages where your clicks and shares are coming from.
6. Display Social Follower Counts
Arqam is a social toolbar from TieLabs which shows how many followers you've got on each of your social media platforms.
This handy tool provides the links to the relevant platforms, but it doesn't share your post.
What's really special about this tools is that it's dynamic, and shows the real-time follower count. It's priced at $15 and works very well on mobile sites.
Users can quickly see the number of followers a website has, and easily follow the site by clicking through.
7. Block Spam Comments
There are many options for blocking comment spammers but few are as easy to implement as the WP-Ban plugin for WordPress.
This tool lets you block people based on IP addresses. It even allows you to create a customized message for anyone visiting your site from the blocked IP.
8. SEO, Open Graph, Twitter Cards – All in one place
Many marketers are still struggling to conquer these things, and SEO by Yoast plugin makes it simple and easy to get them right.
It has grown to become one of the most popular plugins for WordPress, thanks to its ability to offer such a lot of functionality in a single place.
It allows you to see if your keywords are properly placed within your posts, and you can also use it to set up Twitter cards as well as Facebook Open Graph image and text for your blog posts.
The Yoast SEO plugin even lets you incorporate Webmaster Tools (Google, Bing, etc.) it also has a feature for bulk editing, which can prove to be quite useful for editing the titles and the metadata of your pages and posts in one place without having to open the articles individually.
9. Find Quality Images
But there are some other options that many may not have heard about such as Flickr, which has been around a very long time.
Another option is Pixabay, which offers stunning images that you can modify and use for free, even commercially. You don't have to ask for permission or to pay attribution – with a few exceptions.
10. Image Editing Software
Whenever you need to create or enhance an image but don't have access to Photoshop, Illustrator or similar software, don't worry.
PicMonkey is actually a lot of fun to explore.
There are tons of fonts available, but you can even upload one of your own to match the one that is associated with your business. This tool also allows you to add certain effects such as skin touchups, frames, and so on.
11. Image Optimizer For Quicker Loading Times
Most bloggers don't bother optimizing the images that they use in their blog posts.
Images can seriously slow down the loading speed of your web pages if they are not optimized. Slow loading pages affect your performance in the search engines and it's also a huge factor in whether your readers stick around on your blog or not.
Whenever you take photos using your mobile device or a digital camera, that file is big in both file size and dimensions.
You typically don't need an image that is bigger than 500 x 500 pixels (depending on the design of your blog). In fact, a lot of blog designs are actually better suited to dimensions that are even smaller than that.
When you upload full-sized images to your blog, the images have to be resized by the web browser to fit the space that they are in (your post) and this takes time. The best thing to do is to use image-editing software to resize your image before uploading it to your blog.
And don't just do this for your blog, do it for your social media networks too.
Each of them has optimum dimensions for images, and it's easier to just create one image for your blog and the social media sites instead of having your pictures cut off and their effect ruined.
You can use programs like Photoshop Elements to take out all that extra digital data that you don't need and shrink the file size of your photos so that they load much faster online.
When your images load faster, so does your site.
If you have not been optimizing your images this entire time, one of the things you can do to rectify that is to download a plugin that will reduce all the image file sizes on your site.
One of the best plugins to use is Smush.it.
12. Use Webmaster Tools
Google and Bing Webmaster Tools can help you keep everything running smoothly on your website so that you get found in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
The best part about these tools is that in addition to being super useful, they are also completely free. You can use them to identify issues on your site such as slow load time, broken links, and so on.
It's important to take care of these things as they could seriously harm your site's chances of ranking.
You can also use these tools to keep tabs on the pages on your site that are most popular with your visitors.
The amount of information that Webmaster tools provides you with is simply unbelievable, and it can serve to assist you in making better decisions for your marketing strategy.
A better strategy means more traffic, which means more leads and customers, which results in more sales – so get Webmaster Tools accounts for your site.
A few tools and plugins can help you to streamline your entire blogging process so that you become more efficient and effective when working on your blogging business.
Just remember, don't collect tools just for the sake of it. Only get the tool if it will actually help make things easier for you as you strive to achieve your business objectives.
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Updated: Originally published October 28th 2018