As dedicated content marketers, my team and I write hundreds of online articles every year, producing insightful guides on how to deal with duplicate content to looking at topics such as B2B vs B2C Video Marketing, as well as creating sales copy for clients ranging from eLearning software providers to decontamination shower suppliers.
Being able to discuss such a broad variety of subjects with authority all comes down to thorough research, and we use a number of online tools to refine our processes and ensure we make the most of every single word.
Here’s eight of the best tools we use on a daily basis, and notes on how you can use them to step up your content marketing efforts:
- Answer The Public – “What on earth are we going to write about?”. I’m sure you’ve found yourself asking this very question in moments of desperation, but thankfully ATP is on hand to generate ideas on your behalf.
You simply enter a few keywords related to your line of business, and the bearded searcher presents you with a spider graph of real-world questions people are physically typing into Google.
As an illustration, here’s what we get when searching for “digital marketing strategy”:
Clicking the green dots on the live page takes you to the Google results for each question, allowing you to judge how competitive they are and which would be the best queries to target.
Google is on a mission to deliver optimal user experience, so directly answering the very questions people are asking about your industry is bound to give you a leg up in the SERPs, ensuring you create valuable content that target audiences will find useful.
- Backlink Analyzer – Majestic SEO is a major player in the online marketing world, and their free browser plugin allows you to see the Trust Flow and Citation Flow of any website in the world.
In short, Trust Flow (TF) is a metric that rates the trustworthiness of any given website, and Citation Flow (CF) indicates how many other websites are linking to that particular website (giving scores from 1-100). Having this information to hand is essential for assessing the quality of sites during outreach marketing, i.e. submitting content to other websites.
Essentially, acquiring backlinks from high-quality websites is a surefire way of boosting your SEO, so long as you don’t fall foul of Google’s rules for guest blogging. The quality of a website can be gauged by them having a high TF in particular, so if you’re scouting for great guest post opportunities, it’s wise to bear this metric in mind.
- MozBar – Another metric that you should consider when looking to publish on third-party sites is Domain Authority (DA), a score that gauges the quality of any given website (again ranging from 1-100). The aim of the game is to publish on sites that have a high DA, and the number of inbound links you acquire from such sites will naturally raise the authority of your own website.
While DA, TF and CF are all third-party scores and Google doesn’t officially take notice of them, they’re a great measure of quality and are the best clues we have as to guessing what Google considers to be the most authoritative, trustworthy sites that you should target.
- Wordcounter – A reading experience can be somewhat hampered by dull repetition. If the words don’t flow and you fall back on dull use of language, you risk coming across as incredibly dull yourself.
Luckily, Wordcounter allows you to copy drafts into its calculator before generating a list of your most frequently used words and expressions, showing where you should dust off the thesaurus.
- Thesaurus.com – Inputting ‘dull’ returns numerous wonderful synonyms to spice up your words, such as ‘dismal’, ‘dreary’ and ‘dry’. Don’t bore your audience with tedious, tiresome copy; the thesaurus should be every writer’s best friend, always on hand to make amends.
- RhymeZone – There’s something innately satisfying about a rhyming couplet, and we often defer to the rhyming dictionary to add poise to our prose. It’s particularly useful when rounding off a paragraph or forming headlines and subheadings. If you glance at the entry above, you’ll see I’ve neatly rhymed ‘friend’ and ‘amends’ – a minor improvement on any alternative, perhaps, but it keeps me happy.
Don’t go into full Pam Ayres-mode and rhyme every single time, but the occasional line will make your words shine.
- Grammarly – The free browser plugin promises to follow you around, checking spelling and grammar on the go, even when tweeting:
It works at the speed of light and prevents you from making mistakes that risk sabotaging your entire business model (especially if you’re a content agency and copywriting is one of your key services!).
The plugin isn’t yet compatible with Google Drive, but you can download a free add-in for Word and Outlook, giving you a more substantial spell checker than Microsoft’s own.
- SERP Preview – SEO best practices should form the foundation of every content strategy, and this site allows you to see how your content will be displayed in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) before you hit publish.
This gives you an opportunity to edit your URL, page title and meta description until they’re optimised for both users and search bots.
For instance, Google only displays a maximum of 600 pixels in page titles, meaning longer headlines risk being truncated. ‘I’ is obviously thinner than ‘O’, taking up fewer pixels, but it’s unlikely you’ll take this into account when drafting your title. Thus, it’s hard to know where the cut off point will be, but SERP Preview removes the guesswork.
You should also look to weave variations of your keywords into titles, URLs and descriptions, enhancing your search visibility; the words that people search for will be highlighted in bold in the SERPs, so matching them will draw attention your way. While the meta description isn’t a ranking factor in itself, it undoubtedly influences searcher behaviour and a good description will earn you clicks.
If you have a strong content marketing and SEO strategy in place, these tools can elevate your output to another level, boosting your search performance and improving your word power in a manner that will naturally charm your target audience.