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For many of us, starting a blog concerns a passion or an interest. We write about what we love and blog growth isn’t the top priority. However, as a little time goes by and we start to realise that a blog can be more than the old online diary idea, those numbers start to become more important. Tools make the world go around and there are some clever ones that can help with blog growth.
Whether you are researching topics, keywords or popular formats, doing your homework is an important part of achieving blog growth. While you should always blog about what you love and not just what’s ‘on trend’ at any time, understanding what your audience may be looking for is also important. Therefore, tools that help you do this research are an important part of your kit.
Quora is often described as a question and answer website and you can certainly find out about a lot of stuff on there. You can also use it as a place to bounce ideas off others without connecting it to your blog or social media. If you think an idea might be of interest to people, ask a question relating to it and see what responses you get or the kind of comments people make. You can also work on establishing your credibility by answering questions on the site.
Curating content has two benefits – you find topics to share on social media to build your presence there and you find inspiration for your own articles. You can save topics as well as magazines from individuals so it isn’t always just from the big names.
Feedly is another great tool for content curation and idea gathering. It is a place to follow blogs that you find inspirational and to source content to share.
BuzzSumo is another way to do some research into what topics might be popular and also to do some spying on your competition. You can look at influencers as well when you want to start looking at spreading word of your blog beyond your own reach.
Keywords are still important, despite research suggesting this may be waning. If you want to research what keywords might be important to use within your articles or for a title, the SERPs is a good free tool to do this. It also allows you to check keyword ranks to help tailor those key phrases.
All the experts say that to achieve blog growth, you need to be organised in what you post and that means an editorial calendar. There are a few tools to use to achieve this depending on what you like.
I’ve mentioned before that I love Trello and use it for my editorial calendar because I can organise all of my blogs across it for no extra cost. I also like the format of it with the boards, lists and cards. I use the free version as the benefits of the upgrade version for a blogger aren’t quite worth it at this time.
I’ve used CoSchedule in the past and it is a very impressive piece of software, particularly if you only have a single blog. At first I wasn’t sure if it would work because I have multiple blogs but I’ve got a system now that works nicely. I like the social campaign element for remembering to share each post multiple times and the ReQueue feature is brilliant for repeatedly sharing content down the line and making sure there is always something going out on social media.
I use Asana for my freelance work to schedule what I need to do each day and I know a number of people use it for an editorial calendar. There’s a good course by Matt Giovanisci that goes into the different ways to use the software.
While graphics and images don’t always make for blog growth, they do make for a pleasant visual experience and also something that is share-worthy on social media, always an important step.
Canva is an easy to use piece of software that offers a score of templates to help inspire you and is great to use if you are useless at graphic design as I am. It is free to use though you can upgrade and save fonts, brand colours and organise your designs further.
If you want to create infographics to go with your blog posts, then Piktochart is an alternative website that specialises in them. It is a little more complicated than Canva but worth mastering if you are going to regularly make this kind of graphics.
Studying the blog growth figures
Once you have plans and an editorial calendar, you need to then start to monitor how efficient your efforts are. This means using analytics and there is still one big name for this:
- Google Analytics
If you are using WordPress, then you can use a plugin to get instant figures on your dashboard such as pageviews and users. Then you can visit the website to find out more information – and there’s tons of it to find. Channels is a handy one as this lets you see if your social media efforts are resulting in traffic. Landing pages is another one as you can see what page people arrive at your website through.
- Google Search Console
Also known as Webmaster, this is another free Google software that allows you to see how those search engine bots view your website. It includes problems such as crawl errors, duplicate titles and indexed content to spot problems that might be preventing your website appearing well in those search results.
Keeping the website working
If people turn up on your blog and it doesn’t work or it takes forever to load, then they will likely move on and not return. Therefore, plugins or tools that help the blog run well are important for blog growth and lowering that bounce rate.
This is the backup plugin I use on my websites and ensures that I have a copy just in case anything goes wrong. You can have a file sent to your email address so if something went wrong, you can easily restore your site and keep your visitors happy.
Another example of a plugin I use on my sites, Wordfence is a free and premium plugin that offers good security for free and more advanced features if you need it. You can see real time who is on your website and information about where attacks and failed login attempts are coming from. You can also block IP addresses of repeat offenders.