If you've been blogging for a little while it's time to step things up with advanced blogging tools. In this post I show you why you should consider stepping your blog up a little, and the 6 tools that will help. And some of them are free!
DONNA MORITZ | 29 JANUARY, 2018 | CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS
Now, don't panic. When I say “Advanced” I don't mean “Difficult”. I mean that these tools will take your blog and blog traffic to new levels. Some of them I have mentioned before in this post, and many are new.
In a sense it will put a jet-pack under your search results. True Story, I'd love to try a jet pack as much as I'd like to try a hover-board.
I've been blogging for a while now. Since 2011 (seriously… strictly 2010 was the year I had a blog “on” my website but no idea what to do with it!).
So, I've written a lot of posts and the early ones were NOT good. But a lot has changed since those posts and I found my groove with writing. I'm grateful to you, my readers for sticking with me as I transitioned to the helpful, fun, award-winning posts you see on this blog today.
But I want you to NOT do what I did. When I started writing I had no idea about things like:
- writing headlines so that they are attractive for readers and Google
- how to add images to my blog with all the correct bits and pieces added – title, alt-text description, links etc.
- knowing that I should link to other posts on my site to tell Google that there is a hierarchy of importance
- setting up categories, tags etc properly
- writing with SEO in mind. I didn't even think about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) until… well.. it's embarrassing, so let's just not go there. But I can say that since I have thought about SEO I now get most of my traffic from search, not just social shares. So… it's never too late!
- and more! Long story short, I hope this post helps you avoid doing the same.
It's only now I can confidently write a post about advanced blogging tools as I had to make mistakes first! Hopefully it can save you from the mistakes.
Let's jump in and take a look at some blogging tools that are helping me out right now and that have helped this blog immensely over the past couple of years.
6 Advanced Blogging Tools (to put a JetPack under your results!)
I am still in the middle of a site audit for all my posts and pages… and an eventual refresh too. But it's much easier to get SEO right in the first place, so it's better that YOU know about these things now!
Important: Note that you don't need to use all of these tools at once. You'll see that some of them are more affordable than others and they all achieve different purposes. I suggest you start with one tool, depending on your needs and see what works for you.
#1. Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer
This FREE tool is a no-brainer. It will save your bacon when it comes to writing headlines that work. In short, I put every blog post headline through Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer until I get a score of 70 or above but if I can get an 80 or above then that's the Holy Grail!
In this case, 71 is a great score but I can make it even better by tweaking the headline to include the words “that will”. I know from past experience that it should move the needle on the score… and it does. 77 for the win! Anything above 70 is acceptable. 75-85 is a winner:
It gives you a score based on grammar, structure and readability of your headline, as well as power words (like emotion) to draw readers in. It also takes into account the length of the headline in terms of word or character totals, and the type of headline (ie a list headline, like this one).
Here's some tips from Co-Schedule for the right types of words to use in your headline. No list of “Advanced Blogging Tools” is the same without it!
#2 Monster Insights
Confused by Google Analytics? Then you need Monster Insights! I've only hooked it up to my site recently but it is saving me so much time checking my traffic and seeing what the most popular posts on my site.
Here's a taste of what Monster Insights is all about:
On the FREE version you can see page views, top posts and pages, top referral sources and top countries for views by region. I would say that loading up the free version of Monster Insights is a no brainer.
Or you can upgrade to a paid version of the plugin, ranging from $39 per site per year to $199. This gives you a lot more information (depending on level of subscription) including:
- access to a more complete version of Google Analytics in your wordpress dashboard including more detailed stats. It literally does break down Google Analytics into the most important parts!
- who is using your site, how long they stay and more.
- see where your visitors are coming from and where they are going.
- the ability to set up enhanced link attribution (this is on the $99 version) where you can see which “call to action” buttons on your site are performing best in terms of clicks to a destination page. It lets you see how people are behaving on your site.
- and loads more – if you are an e-commerce site the $199 version of this plugin has some some pretty wicked features like woo-commerce and e-commerce addons, digital download tracking, and loads more.
I suggest you start with free and then go from there! Even the free version takes the pain out of Google Analytics! Along with #4 on this list, it's the newest addition to my advanced blogging tools toolkit!
#3. Yoast SEO Plugin – Premium
I am SO glad I decided to upgrade. I talked about why I loved the free version of Yoast SEO Plugin in this post, and how it has been the best friend of my blog for a few years now.
Yoast = helped me to “start” SEO – it helps you check that you have a good headline, slug URL, sub headings, keywords, and more!
But I recently realised that their premium plug-in offers a whole lot more and, in my opinion, it's worth the annual purchase, even if you are a new blogger. It will help you start out right.
Here's a run-through. It's 8 minutes that will change your blog!
Some of the advanced features I love are:
- suggestions for internal linking – Yoast gives you a live update of links on your site to link your post to… as you are writing it!
- you can optimise for multiple keywords or keyword phrases which is great if there is more than one to target.
- it comes with a redirect manager so you can easily redirect old or out-of-date posts
- it has social previews so you can see what your images will look like on the various social media platforms.
Here is a video from Yoast explaining the multiple keyword feature:
You should also read this post titled Why Should You Buy Yoast SEO Plugin. The team at Yoast wrote this when they were constantly getting asked “Why should I buy Yoast SEO Plugin when the free version is awesome, already?”.
If you can stretch your budget to getting the premium plugin, do it – it will save you loads of “fixing” your blog (like I am doing) later.
At $89 per year it's on the expensive end of the premium plugins. I got mine in a Black Friday sale so it was significantly reduced. I still think it's 100% worth it though. If not, then the free version is an absolute must. Don't blog without it. It's a key ingredient to your advanced blogging tools kitbag.
#4 Tasty Pins
I am so excited about this Word-Press Plug-in I am literally writing about it just days after installing it. You can find Tasty Pins here.
Tasty Pins is new for me, but it was recommended to me by some pretty savvy Pinterest users, so I am going to go out on a limb and say that I love it already.
Here's the problem with my current Pinterest situation. I have relied on the Alt-Text description on my image for a Pinterest description, as that is what Pinterest will pull in as the description. For the most part my Alt-text descriptions are about the image and provide helpful information to Google, which is how they should be.
However, it doesn't always work that way:
- Pinterest now supports and promotes hashtags, so adding a few of those to the Alt-text of my images is not really “Google friendly”.
- Sometimes you want to write a description for your pin that is more detailed and perhaps talks about some of the content of the post – or the advantages to the reader vs just what the image is about. When you start using your Alt-Text in this way, you start to make the image text about something other than the image. This is not so Google-friendly.
Tasty Pins allows you to fix that, by:
- Allowing you to add a separate pinterest description (and keep your alt-text too!)
- Giving you the option to disable pinning for a particular image, so you can put your best images up front and centre
- Letting you select an image to hide from your page BUT showing it as an option to pin. I currently use Social Warfare for this function, as it is the tool I also use for my social share buttons, but I believe both of these plugins will be worth purchasing, moving forward.
That's it! It's simple and easy to use. It's just $29 per year, which for me is worth it. If you have a PInterest strategy (which I think you should!) then it's definitely a plugin that should be on your must-have list.
If you want to find out more, Kate Ahl from Simple Pin Media did a podcast episode with the creators of Tasty Pins and you can listen to it here:
#5 Buzz Sumo
Buzz Sumo is my secret weapon when finding the most shared content on the web, finding out who the influencers are that either write or share that content. It's like a crystal ball for content. As Buzz Sumo says with their tagline, it helps you “Analyze what content performs best for any topic or competitor”.
Once you have that intel, it's easier to write content that “flies” in terms of engagement, shares and traffic. Here are the main ways you can use Buzz Sumo:
- Find the most shared content on any social media channel (from your own website or another website). Use this to plan your blog content or even to tailor social media posts so that they perform better.
- Discover the influencers who rank highly for particular topics – either in terms of what they are or in terms of the content they write (hint: you can use this to find great writers too!)
- Get immediate alerts based on your brand/company name, keywords, links, author name or domain.
- Track your competitors and analyse their content… so you can create better content and rank higher for it!
Here's an example of Buzz Sumo in action when I search for the keyword phrase: Visual Content Tools:
If I could take back time, I would have used SEMrush earlier. It's an awesome tool that helps you analyze and optimize your website for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation.
It has a lot of awesome functions (too many to mention here) and I am honestly only using a small number of them, but here is a video by SEMrush showing you through the basics of the tool in a 101 Walkthrough:
SEMrush is great for things like keywords, what your site ranks for, what your competitors rank for, what backlinks your site have (or other sites have) and more.
I have used the paid tool (courtesy of the SEMrush team) but you can get started and get some awesome information just on a free trial, which you can do here. SEMrush starts at $99 per month.
Even when I was asked to check out the tool, over a year ago I was reluctant as SEO optimization seemed like a whole new world (I mean I was just getting used to using Yoast!). But I am glad I did follow their advice and check it out as this list of advanced blogging tools would not be the same without it. If I hadn't I would have missed a lot of things on my site like:
- broken links and problems with the site or articles that were possibly impacting the performance of my website on Google Search.
- keywords that my site was ranking for, their main competitors ranking for those same keywords.. and how I could improve my posts based on what the competitor's post are like.
- the best performing articles on my site and how to improve them
- awesome links to my site from awesome websites (that I didn't know about!)
- the awesome reports I get on a regular basis telling me how my site is performing, what needs fixing and so much more!
You can also use it for in-depth keyword research and SEMrush will send you suggestions for improving your ranking. Even if you can't afford the paid version of SEMrush on a monthly basis I would recommend signing up on the free account and doing a trial.
Then if you like it, set aside some time to subscribe to SEMrush and do a full site review – it's worth the money, and is the King Pin of Advanced Blogging Tools as far as I am concerned!
Over to You
Are you using any of these Advanced Blogging tools? Which tool will you add to your blogging arsenal to put a jet-pack under your blog for more traffic?
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