As bloggers, we thrive on the tools we have available to us. An idea and a domain can only carry us so far. Sooner or later we're going to need tools and plugins to empower us, and grant us the ability to spread our content higher and farther than ever before.
When it comes to the tools and plugins you'll need, there are three categories that we'll cover today:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Blog Promotion and Social Media
- Design and Conversion
So, without further ado, let's jump into the best list of tools and plugins this side of On Blast Blog.
The Best SEO Plugins and Tools
Search engine optimization is an ever-changing world where the rules are never set in stone. Where once keywords were the holy grail of blogging, now things are moving towards high-value content that incorporates all kinds of topics (entities) and answers the reader's questions in the best way possible.
In your quest to find this perfect balance of long-tail keywords and incorporation of entities, consider these four tools:
1. WordPress SEO by Yoast
There are countless plugins among the 30,000+ options in the WordPress catalog that tell you they are the best for optimizing your content. They've all got bits and pieces of what you need, but WordPress SEO by Yoast has it all.
When we're talking about SEO, there's enough terms and tactics to make your head spin. Many of these things come naturally, but some are very specific. When using this plugin, you'll have a box at the bottom of your page that allows you to input the title tag, meta description, and main keyword for your post.
With this information placed into the plugin, you'll see an exact count of how many times your main keyword is used throughout the content. Beyond this, you will also be able to take advantage of several other features including the ability to generate XML sitemaps (a very useful tool for when your site is indexed by search engines) and configure robots.txt files.
Here's why you need this plugin:
- This plugin allows you to get a quick page analysis and see how your content stacks up.
- SEO goes beyond the page, with this tool you can also configure the behind-the-scenes aspects of your content
- It's all-in-one meaning you don't need to drag down your blog's code with multiple SEO plugins.
2. Keyword Tool
Google's method of searching websites involves “crawling” the pages and indexing them based on the content and many other factors. Keywords play a major role in this, not only as topics, but as jumping boards to push further into entities.
This free online tool allows you to input a subject and in turn provides you with 750+ keywords related to your topic. Other tools like Google Adwords won't show you everything you need, while a tool like this will look into Google's auto-complete suggestions and provide them to you in an easy to read format.
Why should you use this tool?
- Did I mention it's free?
- Provides keywords based on what your audience is searching for
- Empowers you to created content curated to your audience (big SEO points)
I look back on the days when I used to think that spell check was all I needed. Ignorance may be bliss, but that little tool doesn't cut it when it comes to proofreading and evaluating your content. Nothing beats a good pair of eyes, but in terms of simplifying and streamlining your content, Hemingway is the answer.
Contrary to popular belief, writing like a Shakespearean poet doesn't mean your content is high-quality. Writing like that with strings of eloquent diction and heartwarming vernacular just alienates readers who didn't get the best possible score on the SAT exam.
Hemingway allows you to paste your content into the online tool and see a breakdown of things like complex sentences, passive voice, adverbs, and problem words. It shows you what minimal grade education is required to understand your content
How can this benefit you?
- A free tool for keeping your inner poet in check
- A great virtual editor to help you catch errors
- Ultimately a way to make sure your content is easy to read
4. WP Rocket
You may not know this, but the speed of your website's loading actually affects your search rankings. This is all part of Google's attempts to maximize the user experience, so if you have a slow site, you're going to lose points.
With a host of features centered around page caching, image optimization, and a simple integration with your platform of choice, this tool will make sure that everything is organized in a way that helps your site load faster and improves the user experience overall.
Here's why you need this:
- Page loading speed affects your search ranking and your traffic
- A fast website = a better user experience
- Easy to use and more powerful than anything else out there
Social Media and Blog Promotion
Our next segment dives into tools and plugins that will help you spread the word of your content and maximize your outreach to new potential readers:
When considering a social media campaign, you'll need to factor in all the various platforms you want to reach. Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, you've got your hands full. That's where the BufferApp comes in for WordPress.
This tool integrates with all of your social media platforms and provides you a space where you can craft, schedule, and post all of your announcements without worrying about keeping up. Once you've scheduled the post, Buffer takes care of the rest. It also shows you how well those posts are performing.
You need this today:
- Social media is a key tool in promoting your content
- Handling it all yourself is time-consuming
- Let Buffer post your announcements where and when you want them posted
6. Share by SumoMe
SumoMe offers a number of great plugins from their marketplace, but for social media, you'll want their Share plugin. People could post links to your content on their own social media, but odds are they won't unless you make it easy.
With this plugin, you can provide a snazzy looking bar that floats along the side of your page of anywhere else you'd like it. When users finish reading, they can click on any of the social media icons on the bar to quickly share the post with their own connections.
Why is this important?
- Social media is how your content spreads
- An easy method of sharing encourages your readers to spread the word
- Shares lead to additional traffic for your site
Twitter is an absolute minefield of content. You can spend five minutes on your feed and probably see a 100 new tweets or more from those you follow. Needless to say, timing your tweets is massively important. Enter Tweroid.
This amazing tool analyzes both your tweets and your followers to find out when people are reading your posts. You can sign-up and receive a free monthly report so you can know when to post your tweets.
Why would you want this?
- Tweets come a mile-a-minute so timing is everything
- This free monthly report will show you when your followers are reading
- You can pay for multiple reports per month
8. Pinterest Automatic Pin
Sharing images is also important when it comes to social media, and this low cost tool will allow you to automatically post images from your blog onto your Pinterest account, saving you time and energy.
The low cost for this plugin can give you a huge boost in traffic as Pinterest continues to gain popularity among all manner of niches.
- Sharing images is as important as video and text content
- This plugin does it automatically for you
- Automatically posts and links images back to your blog
Design and Conversion
Our final stretch here is filled with tool to help you improve the layout and the conversion rates of your blog:
We're not all graphic designers, and that's okay. Still, unique images and infographics are very important when catching your reader's eye. Canva is a phenomenal and easy to use tool that allows you to create all manner of images and infographics for little to no cost out of your pocket.
So why would you need a tool like this?
- Unique images are great for optimization
- Readers will stay longer if the page is visually interesting
- Graphics designers are expensive
This is another great tool for making everything from banner ads, to infographics, and more. There are 40+ templates to choose from, or you can just start from the drawing board. You choose what kind of visual piece you're looking to make and you bring it to life.
There's even a button to animate objects. When you're downloading it, you can also choose from a variety of formats.
This is for you:
- Graphs and charts add credibility to your content
- People love visually engaging content
- The first three projects are free, after that it's $4.50 per month
11. Crazy Egg
Testing your design isn't difficult with a tool like Crazy Egg. With this tool, you can see where people are clicking and navigating on your website. This will allow you to understand which design elements are working, and which ones are not.
By testing and evaluating with this tool, you can better understand how your website's design can improve and better serve your readers.
- A simple and easy to use program for testing designs
- The first 30 days are free
- A massive savings over other methods of testing design
12. The Hello Bar
This plugin, designed by Neil Patel is a great way to catch your reader's attention from the moment they land on your website. It appears at the top of your blog and follows the page as readers scroll down.
It can be used in a number of ways: as an email capture system, a sign-up sheet, or a simple welcome message for your readers. In addition to these uses, it also keeps track of how many clicks and sign ups you receive.
This sounds good doesn't it?
- A quick sign-up and suddenly you've got this great tool
- Make people feel welcome when they arrive on your site
- Generate leads which raises your conversion rates
Before You go…
I want to thank everyone for reading this post by providing you with a final tip for rewarding your readers as well. It's a tool called Lead Pages, and it allows you create a landing page without unneeded complications.
If someone provides an email or other information, you can direct them to a page where they can download a free guide, e-book, or anything else you want to give them. Landing pages have a lot of options, but mostly they are there to thank you readers for engaging with you and your content.
It's always a pleasure to discuss blogging with other people in the field. Remember to use the tools at your disposal to maximize all the aspects of your content. Thanks for joining me today and don't forget to chime in with your own tools and experiences in the comments below!
Matt Banner is the founder and sole writer over at On Blast Blog. You can follow him on Twitter @BlastYourBlog and by signing up for his free blogging newsletter.