In the highly competitive world of blogging, you need tools that help you stay ahead of the competition. Here are 8 of them:
1. Google Analytics: Google’s free analytics suite is, by far, the most comprehensive suite of tools to gauge and measure each and every aspect of your blog’s performance. From traffic numbers, to traffic sources, conversions, AdSense statistics, bounce rate, visitor demographics, search engine optimization, search statistics, content statistics, keyword statistics… it’s all here! In fact, there’s so much information that it can even be a bit overwhelming for the new user. Nonetheless, an invaluable tool, especially considering that it comes for free! Use it to your advantage by monitoring your blog’s vital stats and tailoring your SEO strategies accordingly.
2. MaxCDN: CDNs or Content Delivery Networks give your blog a nice speed boost by distributing its content to various parts of the world. MaxCDN works precisely on this principle; it delivers your blog’s static files through hundreds of servers present all across the globe, instead of putting load on a single server every time someone access your blog. This means that content is distributed to your readers through the server that is closest to their location, decreasing access and load times and greatly increasing your blog’s speed, which is beneficial from an SEO perspective as well. Signing-up takes seconds, and the service is fairly simple to use as well. The service is not free, although their plans are quite cheap and everyone should be able to find one that suits their needs and budget.
3. W3C Link Checker: Broken links are not only bad news from a visitor’s perspective, they are one of the worst thing that can happen to your blog in terms of SEO. For a blog that has a fairly large amount of content, and is being run by a single person, it is an impossible task to manually check all links to see if there are any broken ones. That’s where W3C Link Checker comes in. The web-based tool will take anywhere between a few seconds to a couple of minutes to check your entire blog for broken or dead links, and report back with all such links and their location.
4. Google Alerts: Google Alerts is a tool which allows you to ‘monitor the internet for interesting new content’ by setting up alerts for any keyword or key phrase out there. You can enter a search query, which then presents you with options on what kind of results you’d want back – results from blogs, news, videos, books, discussions or all of these. You can also choose how often you’d like to receive the email, and how many results you’d like. You can set up alerts for as many queries/keywords as you want. It is an invaluable tool to find articles, pages and resources that you might otherwise never be able to find.
5. CloudFlare: Blog security is essential, however it remains one of the most ignored aspects of blogging out there. Hacking into a WordPress or Blogger account, using common alphanumeric password is pretty easy, and those who have had their accounts hacked would know what sort of danger this poses – you can lose your content, have it stolen and posted on some other website or simply have your website destroyed. CloudFlare, which also acts as a Content Delivery Network, greatly enhances the security of your blog by protecting it from hackers, spammers, DDOS attacks, and other forms of malicious web-bots and attacks. The service comes with tons of features, and for new bloggers, you can even get basic-level CDN and security features for free!
6. CreativeCommons: Images are the life and soul of any blog. Images, graphics and photos greatly enhance the content of your blog, and every blog post should have at least one or two (relevant) images added to it. However the problem that most bloggers face when it comes to images is that (a) it is nearly impossible to know whether images off a random Google Image search are free to use and reproduce on your own blog or not, (b) people might not have the resources (or might not want to) pay for images, and (c) creating your own images can be a time consuming task (unless you are a Photoshop expert or an experienced and talented graphics designer). Creative Commons gives you access to all sorts of ‘free to use, reproduce and distribute’ images from all across the internet. You can choose from a lot of sources, and use a ton of filters in order to get free images.
7. Watermark Tool: The name probably gives it away, right? Watermark Tool lets you do precisely what its name implies – watermark your images and videos easily. Putting a text-based watermark on your images (for free) protects them from being stolen, and prevents someone else taking credit for your original work. With the Watermark Tool, you can put a customized text-based watermark on your videos before uploading them on Youtube, and on your images before you upload them on your blog. Text color, size and of course its position can be changed, and you can even put an image-based watermark by paying a small monthly fee.
8. Fast Blog Finder: Personally, I’m a big believer in blog commenting as being one the best, most Google-friendly way of SEO and getting a valuable (at times, a do-follow) backlink to your blog. Posting a comment or two on a relevant blog is an immense source of getting some much-needed exposure, promoting your content, spreading the word, and of course, networking with other bloggers in your niche. However it is not an easy job, and often a time-consuming one, to be able to find blogs that are relevant to your niche. Fast Blog Finder is a software that analyzes your blog, and returns with a list of relevant blogs for you to comment on. Google only rates backlinks that are relevant, so this is a great way of generating relevant backlinks, and it is also an immense time-saver. It also allows you to keep an eye on blogs that are similar to yours.