13 of the best free online tools for content marketers
Content marketing is a complex discipline that involves varied skills and resources.
Because of the workload involved, it helps to use some tools to get the job done!
These tools can be used to simplify the task in front of you, help create content or provide insights to boost your content marketing efforts.
There are literally hundreds of tools out there, but these are some of the best and most popular ones to help make your life a little easier. The best part is – they won’t cost you a dime!
Before you start any task it’s imperative to do your research first and outline your goals. These tools with help you identify things like your audience’s interests, trending topics and hot news stories.
Given that Google is the most popular search engine on the planet, it’s a good place to start for insights into popular search queries.
Google Trends allows you to enter a topic you want to explore, then refine results down by location, time period, category and type of search (image, news, shopping, or YouTube). The results displayed will show you the interest over time for that topic and the location of users that are performing the search. You can also view related topics and queries, to see what else those users are interested in.
It’s really helpful for gauging what topics will help your content perform well in organic search, and the related keywords, phrases or questions you can include in your content. You can also compare topics against each other to gain even more insight.
Similar to Google Trends, Answer The Public can show you the interest in certain topics refined into user locations.
This tool works a little differently, however, in that it gathers together all of the search queries that have your chosen topic included in them. You can choose to view the data in visual format or in list form and it is split into three main categories: questions, prepositions and alphabetical. The questions are divided into groups such as those including ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘when’.
This tool really helps to build an understanding of the myriad of queries related to a given topic. This helps you craft great headlines and become a whiz at answering your audience’s questions – both of which are powerful cards for user experience and SEO.
BuzzSumo has a couple of different functions, but one of its best uses is finding out what content has performed well on social media.
You enter the topic, then BuzzSumo will provide a list of the most successful pieces of content containing that topic with the number of likes, shares and other engagement metrics that it received on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+. You can drill right down into the data to see information like who shared the articles and what other sites have linked to the article.
BuzzSumo is also helpful for influencer marketing, as you can see which influencers are prominent in your space and the types of content they typically share.
Just be aware that only certain functions within BuzzSumo are free for use – if you want access to the whole site you’ll need to sign up for a payment plan.
To keep up to date with what’s going on in your field it’s necessary to read from a lot of different sources. Feedly can keep them all in the one place for you!
It works by collecting RSS feeds and aggregating them in the one place. You can subscribe to RSS feeds from your favourite blogs or news sites and sort them into topic lists. Rather than visiting all your favourite sites, you can just go to Feedly to see all the latest content.
Articles will be sorted chronologically, but the most popular will show at the top. This helps you to identify the most popular topics and news stories, so you can keep up to date and create your own content around breaking news.
Even the best writers and content marketers need help creating content. Whether that’s support for editing or proofreading, or generators that help you build unique content, you can find helpful tools here.
This is a tool that has saved me from editorial blunders many a time. Grammarly is a plugin that you install in your browser which checks all of your written content.
From social media posts to emails to blog articles, Grammarly will highlight any errors for you and provide suggestions for the correct spelling, punctuation or phrasing. It’s similar to the spellcheck function in Microsoft Word but far more advanced. It doesn’t just pick up on misspelt words or misplaced commas, but other points like weak adjectives, words with the wrong intent and words that have been incorrectly repeated.
Canva is a drag and drop builder that can help you create a variety of different graphics. It has a range of stock images to use, as well as filters, icons and different fonts.
Ideally, you always want to use professional graphics for your blog, but if you need to create something quickly then this is the tool for you. You can create graphics for social media posts, presentations, flyers and collages.
Canva will help you build your creation step by step, you just need to decide on the style and the wording. You can also get the app for your Ipad so that if you do need to whip up something in a hurry you can do it on the go.
Apester provides the ability to create unique and interactive content to help engage with your audience.
With Apester you can create polls, quizzes, videos and countdowns. If you are getting a bit bored with the same old methods for creating content, this tool will help add something a bit more exciting to it.
Like Canva, it’s also a drag and drop builder, so all you need to do is enter your text and choose the design and layouts.
Tackling social media management can be tricky at the best of times, so it helps to have a little bit of support in managing your accounts and keeping abreast of changing trends in a fast paced world.
Super handy for saving your time and keeping organised, Buffer will let you schedule your social media posts in advance. You create your posts like you normally would, but choose the day and time that you want them to post. You can sync most of your major social media accounts to Buffer; including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Some sites, like Facebook, already offer the option to schedule posts, but Buffer keeps all of your social activity in the one place. You can also pull reports on the engagement and reach of each post and channel to see comparative data and analysis.
Like BuzzSumo, Buffer offers paid plans but also has a free version. The free plan lets you connect one account from each social platform and schedule ten posts for each at any given time.
Sumo has a really great tool that lets your readers post highlighted sections direct to Twitter or Facebook.
You can install the plugin for your browser and it will automatically offer any visitors the ability to tweet or post text that they highlight. Once someone has shared that section of content it will remain highlighted to alert other readers.
This is just really handy to help drive a little bit more traffic and increase your engagement as it automatically links the section back to your site.
Hashtags on Twitter change pretty rapidly, so if you want to stay relevant and get your tweet in front of as many users as possible you need to know the most current hashtags.
Enter Hashtagify. This tool will list the most popular hashtags on Twitter, how long they have been trending and whether they are moving up or down in ranking.
If you want to get a bit more specific, enter a hashtag that is most relevant to your content and it will list all the related hashtags, trending tweets including the tag as well as top influencers using that hashtag.
At the end of the day, you want to see results for your content marketing efforts. You can see the insights for each of your social media accounts within those networks (or on Buffer), but the most important source you want to analyse results for is your website.
The Search Console basically aims to ensure that your site is Google friendly. It looks at things like where your pages are appearing in search results, what queries returned results from your site and where your external links are coming from. You will be sent alerts if the Googlebot finds any errors while crawling your site, such as faulty page redirects or broken links.
This tool is essential for checking that you satisfy Google’s criteria and your pages are appearing in relevant search results. It offers different tests to ensure this such as the ‘Fetch as Google’ feature which will determine whether Google is able to ‘access’ your site, and the robots.txt tester which makes sure the pages you don’t want crawled cannot be accessed.
12. Google Analytics
There’s no way I could write a post about the best tools for content marketers without mentioning Google Analytics – it’s absolutely essential for measuring your site traffic and activity.
You can pull data for everything from how visitors are entering your site, what device they are on, the amount of time they spend on any given page and the path they take to navigate through your site. This sort of information is vital for updating and improving your user experience, as well as understanding what blog posts and landing pages perform well in comparison to others. You can gain even more insight into your data by linking your Google Analytics to Google Search Console.
If you don’t already have it set up I would highly recommend it!
Clicky could well be a worthy adversary to Google Analytics. It provides a very similar range of data from your site, but with a few extra features.
Clicky enables you to drill down to every single visitor on your site so you can analyse individual activity – such as how many actions they have taken on the site, which source they entered the site from, how long they have spent on the site and where they are located.
One of the more exciting features Clicky has are the heatmaps (Crazy Egg also offers this but after the 30 day free trial they require you to sign up to a payment plan). A heat map allows you to see exactly where users are spending the most time on your page and where the majority of the clicks are. With Clicky you can also see heatmaps for individual visitors and segments of visitors, not just everyone that comes onto your site.
In addition to these features, all of the data sets in Clicky are updated in real time.
It’s important to note, however, that Clicky is only free if you just have one site and it only receives under 3000 pageviews per day.