In 2018, there’s almost no end to the amount of content marketing tools at a brand’s disposal.
Whether you’re an army of one or a well-established company, it pays to know which essential tools you should be incorporating into your strategy.
Especially considering that many of these resources are free – ideal for startups or aspiring entrepreneurs that want to reach a wide audience on a dime.
From keyword research to image creation, here are the content marketing tools that every pro should know about.
In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to be able to look back and see who’s actually in it.
Tools like Ahrefs are great ways to learn what your competitors are up to.
This includes where their traffic is coming from, how many backlinks they have, their keyword ranking, and more.
To make it even more insightful, you can also get alerts to find out each time they receive an online mention or climb the SEO ranks.
Do you know what kind of content your audience wants to see?
Buzzsumo is an excellent way to analyze topics (or your competitors) to get an idea for what performs best.
You’ll be able to learn what questions internet users are asking on forums like Reddit and Quora, and easily tailor your content to provide the answers they’re looking for.
Stellar images are a non-negotiable part of content marketing – after all, tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets than those without.
Even if you don’t have a professional photographer or designer on your team, you can fake it with tools like Canva.
This image tool was designed just for content marketers, delivering an easy-to-use (and did I mention free?) interface that lets you design eye-catching graphics.
4. Google Analytics
This is such a no-brainer tool that I almost didn’t even want to put it on the list.
But Google Analytics is a crucial tool for marketers to understand everything about their users.
You can create a myriad of reports that scrutinize everything from where your web traffic is coming from to which online campaigns are resulting in the most conversions.
5. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a great way to research keywords, see what its competition is like, and see how many times your word is searched depending on your chosen country and language.
While it shouldn’t be the only keyword search tool that you use, it’s a helpful one to have in your arsenal.
6. Google Trends
Are you trying to figure out which topics are trending in a certain area?
All you need to do is head over to Google Trends (preferably after creating a list of potential keywords) and plug in your search term.
You’ll learn where your keyword is trending, see who is talking about your topic, and get a visual representation of how popular your term is.
Of course, you can’t be everywhere at once – despite what the omnipresence of social media leads you to believe.
However, in order to engage with your audience and reach your followers when they’re actually online, careful planning is in order.
That’s where Hootsuite comes in.
This popular scheduling tool lets you set up your social media posts in advance.
You’ll appreciate having one less thing to worry about knowing that your audience has a steady stream of content to look forward to.
You might already know that guest posts are a great way to build backlinks to your site and help establish your credibility as a thought leader.
While content marketers should be constantly seeking out websites and blogs to contribute to, don’t underestimate the power of self-publishing.
Medium is one of the best places to find interesting, unique content that’s tailored to suit your tastes.
This means you’ll be reaching an audience that wants to see your type of content.
Want to establish yourself as an expert in your industry?
Take some time to weigh in on questions on online forums like Quora.
These websites are excellent places to share your brand’s knowledge with inquiring users, gain more traffic to your website, and learn what kinds of questions your audience is asking.
The latter in particular makes Quora a great place to gather ideas for future blog topics or which keywords to begin ranking for.
While every brand will have different goals when it comes to content marketing, some key tools remain an indispensable part of any outreach strategy.
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Raven Brajdic is a content writer and PR specialist for Article-Writing.co and freelance writer from Orlando, FL. When not writing or creating social media content for clients, she’s either going for a run with her dog or reading yet another book.