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15 free tools and resources to improve your content marketing

By Alexandra Gavril - May 15, 2018

Thanks to content marketing, small businesses can now compete on an (almost) level playing field with big brands. Because no matter the type or size of a business, the goal is the same: to use purposeful content to attract qualified customers.

Sure, you may not have a massive team or the time and budget to invest in content marketing. But what you do have is a plethora of free tools and resources that can help speed up the process and better your content marketing so you can see real results from your efforts more quickly.

Here are some great ones that you can’t be without.

Content research tools

You know what most business owners complain about when it comes to content marketing? That their content isn’t getting traction. While this can be a result of poor or lack of promotion (the content isn’t getting in front of the right audience), often it’s because the content isn’t valuable or doesn’t cover topics that the audience wants to read about.

So, the worst thing you can do is choose content topics based on your own experience or intuition. Instead, use real data to choose what to write about.

The following content research tools can help you get in tune with your niche.

  1. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is one of the most popular content research tools, and that’s because it’s not only useful but it can also simplify and speed up the research process.

We’ve recommended it many times on our blog for finding topics and ideas on what to write about.

BuzzSumo pulls in popular posts based on keywords and search queries. For example, if you’re a web designer, you can run a search to find popular and relevant topics that have already proven successful in your industry.

You can play with the filters on the left to refine your search. For example, you can look specifically for “how-to” posts or for content from a specific country or content that’s been published in the last 24 hours.

You can also sort it according to their reach in social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit.

  1. Ubersuggest

While intended for keyword research, Ubersuggest is a great tool for finding content ideas that will get your audience’s attention.

Simply enter a keyword and the tool will return suggestions from Google Suggest and AdWords Keyword Planner. In some cases, the results include long-tail keyword ideas that you can even use as content titles right off the bat.

Of course, there are lots of other tools you can use to research keywords and learn what your audience wants to read about. Read our guide to keyword research to learn what other tools to use to come up with a list of relevant keywords to incorporate in your content.

  1. Portent’s Content Idea Generator

This is a cool, lightweight tool that you can use to get interesting and unique content ideas in seconds. Simply enter your topic and the tool will return not only a catchy title but also suggestions and ideas on what to cover.

Here’s an example that is guaranteed to pique people’s interest:

  1. Quora

If you’re not familiar with it, Quora is a Q&A platform where you can find out what questions your audience is asking. You can then use these questions to write content that answers them.

So go on to Quora and type in the area that your business is in or a topic that you think your audience is interested in and find out what questions people are asking. That will help you shape what kind of content your blog posts should be answering.

Here are the top questions on web design from the past week:

  1. Reddit

Another fantastic tool that you can’t be without is Reddit.

This platform is filled to the brim with great content ideas shared by a massive user base. You’ll find discussions on everything from content marketing to plumbing.

  1. AnswerThePublic

This free tool is excellent for sourcing content ideas. It collects questions and displays them in a visual question, preposition or alphabetical form, which you can then export if you wish.

So, for example, if you search for “web design”, it brings up questions like “Which web design software is best for beginners” or “What are the key web design principles?”.

You can then use these questions to create content for your blog or hub pages.

Places to get free images

Content is much easier to consume when it’s broken up by eye-catching images. Add to that content with relevant images gets more traffic, more views and more comments when shared on social media than content without, and you know that your content shouldn’t be without relevant, catchy images.

But where can you get images that are not only free but also funny, heart-warming, odd or curiosity-provoking?

Here are the best places to get images that pack an incredible punch and entice visitors to keep reading:

  1. Pixabay

Pixabay has a fantastic collection of free photos, illustrations and vectors you can use with no restrictions.

You can download images with or without signing up for an account.

  1. Gratisography

 The images on Gratisography have a touch of humour and a lot of heart, and they’ll definitely grab your readers’ attention.

To find images, you can either run a search for a specific term or you can browse the categories. Although attribution isn’t required, it is appreciated.

  1. Negative Space

 Negative Space provides a nice collection of images with no copyright restrictions, which means you’re free to use them however you please.

You can either run a search or browse the categories to find the images you’d like to use in your next piece of content.

Now that you know where to find those great images, you might also want to learn a bit about how to use them in your content to get the best results:

Search engine optimisation tools

Search engine optimisation (SEO) tools are vital for helping your content to rank higher in the search results. You can use them for everything from keyword research to learn what (and how) your audience is searching online to ways to properly optimise your content to boost its visibility in the search results and make it easier to find by prospective customers.

Here are the top SEO tools and resources that you can’t be without:

  1. Google Analytics

This is an essential tool that no business should be without. Google Analytics is a free tool that’ll tell you everything you need to know about how visitors are interacting with your website – how they found it, what they look at while they’re there, how long they stay and what action they take, whether they buy a product, sign up for your newsletter or fill out a contact form.

There is a plethora of useful data and insights you can get from Google Analytics, so make sure you sign up for a free account, if you haven’t already.

If you want to learn more about it, how it works and what you can use it for to improve your visitors’ experience on your site, make sure to take our free course on Google Analytics and how to use it to understand your visitors.

  1. 123 Reg Search Engine Optimiser

Our 123 Reg Search Engine Optimiser tool will not only scan and evaluate your site’s SEO health, but also provide recommendations to improve your content. For example, it’ll let you know if you have pages with missing or duplicate titles and descriptions, which keywords to focus on to optimise your site, the backlinks you’re getting and more.

This tool is perfect for beginners as it doesn’t require much technical knowledge. You can start with a free report and then choose the package that best suits your needs.

  1. A beginner’s guide to all the SEO tools you need

We’ve written an in-depth guide that walks you through some of the most popular and effective SEO tools for specific tasks from performing keyword research to identifying pages on your site with duplicate content.

In it you’ll find the essential SEO tools you need to properly optimise new or existing content so it ranks higher in the search engine results and more people find it online.

Influencer tools

Influencers continue to be a powerful weapon in any brand’s arsenal. That’s because people continue to take note of what they’re saying, they click on the links that they share and they retweet their opinions to their followers.

In other words, influencers can entice your target audience to visit your site, read and share your content, buy from you and recommend you to others.

Here are the tools you can use to identify the right influencers that can help spread the word about your business:

  1. BuzzSumo

We mentioned BuzzSummo as a tool to research content ideas. But this tool has lots of other useful features, including the fact that you can use it to find influencers in your industry.

Simply type in a term, click on the Influencers tab at the top and the tool will return a list with the top influencers and their bio.

The bio includes a description of what they do, the links they shared, the number of Twitter followers as well as how often their tweets are being retweeted by followers.

  1. BuzzStream Discovery

BuzzStream Discovery is another fantastic tool for finding people in your industry that are considered influential. Again, this means that they’re followed by a significant number of people that take note of their opinions and recommendations.

It’s very simple to use. For example, if you sell running shoes, here’s what shows up when running a search for the term “running”:

Each profile includes lots more useful information, from the content that influencer created and shared to other brands and influencers they’re connected to. This is extremely useful for when you first get in touch with them and start to build a relationship.

  1. FollowerWonk

FollowerWonk is another tool that you can use to learn more about your followers and the content they enjoy most. But you can also use it to find new influencers that you can then contact to help spread your message.

Wrapping up

From researching topics for your content and finding stunning images to catch readers’ attention to identifying those influencers who can spread the word about your business, now you have the essential tools you need to improve your content marketing for free. Now all you need to do is to put them to work!

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