So you’ve decided to start a blog for your business – that’s great! Blogging is a great medium to keep in touch with your prospects and clients and to showcase your business and skills.
However, anyone who creates blogs regularly for their business knows how tough it can be – coming up with new and fresh ideas, regularly creating posts and crafting images to go alongside them all takes time and effort.
It can all seem quite daunting for a beginner, and can even put people off from starting a blog in the first place.
However, there are a number of great free tools out there to help new bloggers and content creators – and many of them are still used by more seasoned bloggers too!
Just to sneak in a little disclaimer: I’m not paid by any of these companies to big them up, I’m just a fan.
Answer the Public
Answer the Public is a helpful tool for those trying to either initially formulate ideas for blog posts, or alternatively those who have a topic in mind but want to see how best to word things for search effectiveness and to suit reader demand.
Behind the weird beardy bloke (you’ll see) is a fab keyword research tool; when you type in a topic idea, the site provides a unique visualisation of related searches that deal with the topic you typed in. It does this by aggregating real search suggestions from Google and Bing. These suggestions come from actual searches that have been made in the past relating to your chosen topic; providing an interesting insight into the needs of real searchers.
Spell checking tools are invaluable when you’re writing content in a professional context, and though most in-built word processor spell checkers are great, Grammarly goes the extra mile. First off, it picks up a lot of annoying errors that word processors generally miss – especially when it comes to mistyping a real word in the wrong context, for example typing “fro” instead of “for” – that one always catches me out!
Grammarly can also make suggestions for advanced grammatical errors and grey areas, rather than Microsoft Word’s infuriatingly vague “fragment – consider revising” suggestion. It also helps with the simpler stuff too, if you’re never quite sure which “there, their, or they’re” to use, Grammarly can help.
The tool also suggests vocabulary improvements, can help ensure your sentences flow nicely, and provides real time corrections as you type.
Grammarly is available as an in browser version at app.grammarly.com, and I find it provides a nice, distraction free medium for typing, whilst also providing suggestions and corrections on the fly. A Chrome browser extension is also available that provides Grammarly support to most typing fields within Chrome, such as browser-based email, forms, social media, and so on.
SEOBook’s Keyword Density Analyzer
I always like to quickly run my posts through this before I click submit. It analyses your text so you can see how frequently certain phrases and keywords show up in your text.
Without falling down too much of an SEO wormhole, having keywords show up too frequently within a piece of text can cause a page’s search ranking to drop, or be outright penalised in search results. This is because back in the day, people would take advantage of loopholes in search systems by stuffing their web pages full of the keywords they wanted to rank for, resulting in easy SEO top billing. Google saw how unfair this was, and put a stop to this behaviour around 2012 in their first “Penguin” update, penalising people who stuff keywords unnaturally into their pages, and the tactic is now heavily frowned upon. Therefore it is important to ensure that you aren’t mentioning your key terms too frequently within the text, lest you be bitten by the Google gorgons too!
When using the keyword density analyser, it’s important to bear two things in mind. Firstly, if you want to be in with a chance of ranking for a certain term, you need to make sure it’s near the top of the results shown here after you submit your text. Secondly – and in my opinion more importantly – you need to pay attention to the specific density percentages shown. Unfortunately, there is no magic ratio for “the perfect keyword density,” but my personal rule of thumb is to try not to exceed 2.5%, and certainly go no higher than 3% for any term.
Please note that though too high a keyword density may go against you, your keyword density is just one factor out of hundreds of different aspects that Google uses to place you in search rankings. A few posts with a marginally higher or lower keyword density are unlikely to make or break your site. For more information about keyword densities, head on over to this informative blog on the Yoast website.
Many freelancers and small business owners simply don’t have the cash to invest in expensive graphic design programs, but this is where tools like Canva come in.
Canva is a fab, free tool for easily creating great-looking images for a range of uses including blogs and social media. Canva lets you put together professional graphics without having to have any formal graphic design knowledge. It’s also all completely done through your browser, so no need to install anything on your machine, or faff with compatibility and updates.
When you first sign up and log in to Canva, there are a number of useful preset image sizes for you to use, appropriate to different social media platforms, print media formats and so on, or you can use custom dimensions if you’re after a non-standard size.
You can easily upload your own assets to use within Canva, and it also has it’s own library of photographs and vector assets for you to use.
It’s important to share your blog posts on social media, and make those posts as attractive and eye-catching as possible. If you provide a professional-looking image alongside your social media post, you’re much more likely to attract eyeballs compared to a plain text post.Check out these 4 free tools that all blogging beginners should know about. Click To Tweet
So, it’s over to you. Why did you decide to start your blogging journey? Have you come across any other free tools on your travels? More experienced bloggers – are there any tools you think would be useful to a novice that I’ve not covered here? Let’s have a chat down in the comments!