29 Tools to Enhance Your Business Blog
Are you looking for cool blogging tools to enhance your business blog?
The right mix of blogging plugins and widgets can make it easier to blog and also help you achieve your business goals.
To help you keep up with the latest and greatest, we asked a group of blogging pros to share the favorite new tools they’ve recently discovered.
Here are the latest blogging tools adopted by these social media pros.
#1: Lucky Orange
I’ve been using it to watch fall-off and landing page activity. It has heat maps so you can see where people are engaging with your pages, and it even has live chat. You can proactively chat with someone who is on a page and let them know you are there to help or people can reach out to you directly when you have chat online.
I’ve found it very helpful in figuring out how people are really using our site, so you can make modifications to drive the behavior you want based on usage patterns.
Additionally, I love that you can offer live chat and proactively reach out to people. For many clients, when we identify an issue on a web page, it takes time to get it corrected. Now, we can intercept people before they fall off while we wait for changes to be implemented. Super-powerful data.
Nichole Kelly, president of SME Digital, a division of Social Media Explorer, and author of How to Measure Social Media: A Step-By-Step Guide to Developing and Assessing Social Media ROI.
#2: Social Crawlytics
The best new blogging tool I’ve found is Social Crawlytics. This free tool lets you see detailed stats on the most shared content from any of your competitors’ blogs.
You can also research your own blog to determine which posts have gotten the most shares across Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Delicious.
The data includes a breakdown of overall blog reader shares by each social platform and the top 300 or so of the most popular posts. The page-level results include the number of shares across each social network and are exportable to a CSV file. The reports also include the most shared authors along with the code to embed a badge on your blog recognizing these great contributors.
There are many ways you can use this information. If you’re looking for some great content ideas, just find the most shared (valuable) content from your competitors. Want to find out which social platforms are most active for a particular industry blog? No sweat.
Currently the tool is free but requires credits that you can earn by tweeting out links to their website.
Lisa Peyton, leader in the field of digital marketing, and editor at Thoroughly Modern Marketing.
I recently conducted a survey of my list asking them a simple question: “What is your preferred method for consuming content on the Internet?” The overwhelming majority answered “a combination of video and text.”
If you’re not using video on your blog, you’re missing out on an entire medium to communicate and connect with your readers.
With these survey results, I did two things: 1) I made sure all of my blog posts had videos and 2) I added a cool WordPress plugin called Leadplayer to all of my videos.
What is Leadplayer? Leadplayer allows you to add a skin to all embedded YouTube videos so a video blogger can add an opt-in box inside the videos at any time in the video.
If you’re blogging, using video and wanting to build your email list, this tool is essential.
James Wedmore, author of The YouTube Marketing Book, and founder of the 6,000 member-strong Video Traffic Academy.
My newest plugin is PhotoDropper.
I used to stick with just the standard stock photo sites to find the right photos to add to my blog posts. But PhotoDropper has been great to use as it’s right inside WordPress.
PhotoDropper has both free images and paid ones (at a reasonable price).
It’s great to have everything all in one place!
Jaime Tardy, Business Coach at Eventual Millionaire.
The image is the new headline. You have mere seconds to grab the attention of your prospects in the overcrowded social sphere, and one of the best ways to do this is by adding a compelling visual to your blog post.
Sure, you can go to Google Images and choose a funny cat or piece of bacon to grab attention, but why not get a bit more creative and create your very own custom illustration or mini-infographic?
Easel.ly is a great tool to do this.
Now I’m not saying that this will replace or even compete with a well-designed, well-thought-out infographic by a major design firm, but Easel.ly provides an easy tool to add a unique visual element to your blog.
Let’s not forget that a simple infographic can go a long way in supporting and clarifying your overall point.
Jason Miller, social media strategist at Marketo.
#6: Video SEO for WordPress Plugin
If you display video on your website from one of the video platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo, the content is not indexed on your site. This means that the search engines will not associate your website with the video when displaying search results.
The Video SEO for WordPress plugin will index the videos you embed on your site for you. Have a look at how this works in the image below.
The Video SEO for WordPress plugin creates a document known as a sitemap, which gives search engines the details of all of the videos on your site. Google reads this sitemap and indexes your video content on your website.
Another big advantage is that you see an image of the video in the search results which means you get a higher click-through rate.
Ian Cleary, a social media tools specialist, and the founder of Razorsocial.
This service makes it easy to quickly create a text link that launches a new tweet, prepopulated with text and a link of your choosing.
This is really useful when we want to add a Tweet This link within an article, right after a particularly share-worthy sentence in an article.
We often place Tweet This links inside block quotes to emphasize key points being made in the article.
Brian Casel, founder of Restaurant Engine.
List.ly is one of my absolute favorite new blogging and social media tools. I use it on all of my social applications: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and my blog. It’s so much more than a list builder or a social bookmarking tool.
I started using List.ly to create lists of resources for the audiences I was speaking to. I chose List.ly because it is easier to manage and more editable and shareable than Delicious or StumbleUpon.
But you can do much more with it. You can very easily embed List.ly inside your WordPress blog. Be sure to grab the well-viewed and shared lists you create, and pop them into your blog as posts. This gives you a useful and relevant way to share your resources with your audience.
Not only is it easy to add List.ly to your post, but other people can add their resources to your List.ly list. This is a great way to encourage engagement and massively increase your exposure. Because if audience members like it, they can embed your list into their own blog.
Of course you can create resource lists, Best Of lists that allow others to contribute and lists to use for research for yourself and for your clients.
I’ve played a lot with List.ly since learning about it and I also use it for lists to support my #LinkedInChat and a list that has all of my online mentions. (Like my Social Media Examiner articles!)
There are so many useful applications for List.ly. It’s so easy to use. And did I mention it was free? Try it out. You’re going to love it!
Viveka von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day, and known internationally as the “LinkedIn Expert.” CEO of Linked Into Business.
#9: Blubrry PowerPress Plugin
I’ve recently started hosting my own podcast and I’ve discovered the WordPress plugin Blubrry PowerPress!
It makes managing and distributing my podcasts to top directories so much easier.
The Blubrry PowerPress plugin allows you to manage the copy and image featured in iTunes from the admin area of your blog!
The best thing about this plugin is that it’s a huge time saver and so easy to use!
Krizia de Verdier, an entrepreneur, video show host, speaker and author.
My favorite plugin that I’ve recently discovered is called Elevatr. With it you can create email opt-in forms to display in different parts of your website, but it also offers webinar signup forms that integrate your email list with GoToWebinar.
The design form is easy to use and integrates with AWeber, MailChimp and iContact.
If you use GoToWebinar, you know there is not an easy way to import the webinar signups to your email list, which is critical to building your subscribers. It’s all done automatically with the Elevatr webinar signup forms.
Andrea Vahl, a social media coach, speaker and strategist and co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies. Also the Facebook community manager for Social Media Examiner.
#11: Photo Pin
I really like the concept of Photo Pin.
Photo Pin allows you to easily find a wide variety of images based on whatever search term you type in.
Then download the image you like at the size you need and grab the HTML code you need to ensure proper attribution is given to the photographer.
Free, simple, fair and powerful. It’s a nice tool.
Jim Tobin, president of Ignite Social Media.
#12: AuthorSure Plugin
Google Authorship is all the rage and for good reason. The little thumbnail headshots that have been appearing next to search results on Google have serious implications for content creators.
With Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt stating, “information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification,” bloggers and other content creators now have a powerful incentive to verify their identity on Google+.
For both single- and multi-author WordPress blogs, the AuthorSure plugin is a simple way to configure Google Authorship.
Russ Henneberry, a content marketing and analytics professional.
#13: WP Greet Box
I recently installed the WordPress Greet Box plugin, which presents new visitors with a greeting specific to the inbound referral source.
The plugin welcomes visitors to your blog and encourages them to subscribe to your feed.
It makes for a nice personal touch and presents a clear call to action, so it’s helpful for expanding the reach of your blog.
Barry Feldman, owner of Feldman Creative.
#14: SEO Auto Linker WordPress Plugin
Recently we added the SEO Auto Linker WordPress plugin to our blog.
Internal links are extremely effective for making your blog “stickier,” but setting up the links can be tedious, especially on old posts.
This plugin allows you to automatically link certain keywords, building links through your entire archive of blog posts automatically.
You can also use it to link to the products and services you sell, driving more sales for your blog.
Laura Roeder, founder of LKR Social Media.
My most valuable investment has been VaultPress.
VaultPress allows you to automatically create a backup of your WordPress site (database, uploads and theme files) multiple times per day. This way, whenever your site crashes, you click one button to restore it to the latest backup, which is typically no more than two hours old.
The basic plan including regular backups and support starts at $15 per site. Premium plans at $40 per site include security scanning and priority support.
If you don’t want to mess with doing backups and security monitoring yourself, then this is definitely a service to invest in for peace of mind to keep your blog content and engagement safe.
Kristi Hines, a freelance writer, professional blogger and author of Kikolani.
#16: Long Tail Pro
I’m a huge fan of blogging to answer consumer questions, problems, needs, etc. Although I feel brainstorming these questions as a company is always one of the best routes to come up with more potential topics and questions to target, sometimes tools can help in this process as well.
My favorite blogging keyword tool is Long Tail Pro. Essentially, Long Tail Pro is like the Google Adwords keyword tool on steroids.
After entering a few keywords into the tool, it spits out a massive amount of terms you might consider creating content around.
And it also lets you do a deep analysis of the current 10 sites that rank for the keyword on the first page of Google. This allows you to gauge the competition incredibly well and find major keyword opportunities.
Marcus Sheridan, founder of The Sales Lion.
#17: Magic Action Box
I recently discovered a fantastic plugin called Magic Action Box.
It makes it easy for you to add an opt-in box at the end of each blog post. It integrates with AWeber and MailChimp too.
All you need to do is create an opt-in box with Magic Action Box using the web form code provided by AWeber or MailChimp. After that, every time you publish a post you can effortlessly display the opt-in box above or below it.
Here’s a great tutorial by Nathalie Lussier on how to use this plugin.
The Magic Action Box helps you gather more subscribers at the end of every post on your blog. Install this plugin and watch your forms collect more subscribers.
Mitt Ray, founder of Social Marketing Writing and author of White Paper Marketing.
#18: Better WP Security
The Better WP Security plugin may not be as sexy as some of the other plugins on the block, but it’s probably one of the more important tools you can use to protect your blog.
More and more hackers are trying to exploit innocent bloggers by infecting their websites with viruses and malware.
Better WP Security is easy to install, a piece of cake to set up and packed with simple-to-use features that are designed to keep the bad guys out of your blog. This is a must-have plugin in my book.
Jamie Turner, an Atlanta-based social media consultant and the founder of 60SecondMarketer.
#19: Author Box Reloaded WordPress Plugin
An important blogging plugin that I added a few months ago is Author Box Reloaded.
I believe it is critical to watch changes Google makes that can impact search rankings. With the launch of Google Authorship, there is yet another key item to consider.
The Author Box Reloaded WordPress plugin helps you to integrate a very nice Author Box automatically within all of your blog posts.
The plugin pulls in your Gravatar image and your WordPress user profile information, allowing you to set up once and then automatically deploy the box for each post you write. Your name is linked to your Google Author URL tied to your Google+ profile, giving Google a easy means to identify content as yours.
The value includes the extra impact of your picture given in search results, enabling those searching to easily identify content linked to you. A boost in personal branding can’t hurt in this social media day and age!
Mike Gingerich, co-founder of TabSite.
I’ve been successfully using LeadConverter lately. LeadConverter gives you a way to listen to your audience and gather more insights from your visitors.
Without an audience you can’t build a business. But to succeed in building an audience, you need to know how you can help your visitors achieve their goals.
One way to do this is to ask your visitors the right questions at the right time—when they are most engaged with your content.
With LeadConverter, you can use small widgets and ask your audience for useful insights such as:
- What content they want you to write.
- What features they will want to see next in the products you sell.
- What stops them from buying your products.
These small widgets can be targeted to people after a specific time period, or when they visit a page you define.
And that’s not all. When someone leaves you a message, you can reply so they can see your answer when they come back to your website.
Plus, you can see how many visitors your website receives and how many of them convert into subscribers or customers.
Eugen Oprea helps you convert more traffic into loyal customers using proven techniques that grow your business.
#21: Inbound Writer for WordPress
The Inbound Writer plugin for WordPress is a helpful tool to empower blog contributors to create content that’s relevant and search engine–friendly.
Utilizing inbound marketing through channels like social media and the search engines will help pull in your audience rather than pushing your message out.
This plugin allows writers of all skill levels to utilize real-time search and social intelligence to easily create more discoverable and engaging online content.
One of the most exciting features is that you can use the Inbound Writer for WordPress plugin within a post you’re writing in WordPress. Start writing a post like you normally would and enter three keywords you’re thinking of including. The plugin will then research the best words and phrases to include in that post, pulling these recommendations into a list of options to choose from.
This research can help make your blog’s content stronger and more shareable, no matter your skill set.
Brian Honigman, digital marketing executive of Marc Ecko Enterprises.
Scribe is a blogging plugin that makes your blog content more powerful, while also speeding up the process for optimizing it.
Small businesses that do not have the luxury of an editor to check their work will gain valuable insights from using Scribe to check their work before publishing. This is why I think of Scribe as my digital assistant.
You can see in the video that Scribe grades your content. This includes everything from keyword usage, links, titles, meta descriptions and tags. Sometimes just one word in a title can make a big difference in the reach of that content. That’s the hidden value of Scribe.
You are investing a lot of time creating fresh and original content, so it only makes sense to do it well. Scribe can help you with that.
Jeff Korhan, speaker, trainer, coach and author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business.
You likely want to start creating online courses and membership sites to take advantage of the full potential of your blog. The best blogging tool and plugin I’ve discovered in the last six months to help create both courses and membership sites is Premise.
I wouldn’t say this is the most user-friendly plugin. I admit I sought out some help to get it up and running. However, once set up, it’s a dream!
Premise lets you create great landing pages and content pages, provide secure login credentials to members, sell products, tie into a variety of email service and digital product providers and let members pay for your products with PayPal or credit cards.
If you don’t want to produce courses, Premise gives you a way to have your blog readers become members of your “private” site, where you offer great free content in addition to what is on your blog. Later, you also can encourage them to upgrade to a paid membership site.
Premise helps you increase the chances that your blog readers become customers and clients.
Nina Amir, inspiration-to-creation coach, blog-to-book expert and author of How to Blog a Book.
#24: Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
If you want to increase the search engine visibility of your blog posts, I strongly recommend the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast.
Once installed, the Yoast box appears below each post you create. You can do some limited keyword research within the tool, uncovering the best keywords for a given topic. After you’ve written your post, you can rewrite the post title for improved SEO and create a keyword-rich meta description.
Yoast will also display a snippet, giving you a preview of how your post will appear in the search engines. It also gives you feedback on how well you’ve worked your targeted keyword into the post.
Yoast also offers more detailed feedback, giving you opportunities to improve the SEO of an individual post.
There are also site-wide tools for SEO, including the ability to create sitemaps, improve titles, create internal links and more.
Rich Brooks, president of flyte new media and founder of The Marketing Agents.
#25: WordPress Backup to Dropbox Plugin
I’m loving the WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin.
This simple plugin automatically backs up your blog on a schedule you set. It allows for a lot of configurations. And it’s a set-it-and-forget-it tool.
I set it up once, and now my blog is backed up every night to a folder on Dropbox!
Marc A Pitman, founder of Fundraising Coach and author of Ask Without Fear!
#26: Gravity Forms
One of my all-time favorite blogging tools is the Gravity Forms plugin for WordPress. Gravity is a simple contact form creator for WordPress that requires zero coding knowledge.
The visual form editor allows you to drag and drop the components of your form right into place on pages and posts, all within the back end of your WordPress site.
Gravity Forms makes it easy to do any of the following on your site:
- Set up simple landing page forms for lead capture.
- Create email newsletter subscribe forms that integrate with your email marketing service.
- Build order forms to sell digital goods or services on your site.
- Create user registration forms for your site (developer license required).
Out of the box, Gravity Forms integrates with both MailChimp and AWeber email marketing services as well as PayPal, Authorize.net, Freshbooks and more. Additionally, any information that you capture through your forms is also accessible and downloadable from your WordPress site itself.
The forms you create with Gravity Forms are nicely formatted to fit on your pages and posts in addition to any content that you might also wish to add to the page or post itself.
The cost of Gravity Forms will vary based on the type of license that you need. For a single site license, the cost is a one-time fee of $39 for the plugin. You can test drive the plugin here.
Of the various form creation plugins and landing page programs available on the market, I have found Gravity Forms to be the most reliable, intuitive and affordable.
Stephanie Sammons, founder of Wired Advisor.
#27: PopClip for Mac
PopClip for Mac is an amazingly useful productivity tool that works in the browser and native Mac apps. Similar to the iOS copy/paste menu, PopClip shows a menu of options anytime you highlight text.
It does more than copy and paste though. With a plethora of extensions available, you can use the highlighted text to create a new note or send a tweet, search for it in Google or on Amazon, create a calendar entry or task or even change it to uppercase or lowercase.
If you highlight an email address, you can immediately compose a new message, or if you highlight a link you can open it in a new browser tab with just a click.
Since blogging often requires a lot of copying and pasting and fact-checking, these shortcuts save me loads of time. The list of extensions keeps growing, and includes apps like Evernote, Buffer, OmniFocus, Google Maps, Wikipedia, Google Translate and Skype. The app is well worth $5, and it comes with a 30-day free trial that will almost surely have you hooked.
Alas, I was unable to track down a similar app for Windows, but I’d love to hear about it if you know of one.
Belle Beth Cooper, freelance writer and social media consultant who now spends her days wielding a pencil as Attendly’s resident Inbound Marketer.
The web is a double-edged sword if I’ve ever seen one… As useful as it is, it can be a huge time sink if you aren’t careful.
Online writers know this all too well, which is why many prefer to write offline and try to make things as distraction-free as possible.
One amazing tool that I’ve come across that is now permanently a part of my blogging toolbelt is ZenWriter, a full-screen writing tool that is worthy of the “zen” moniker.
With great typography settings, optional ambient music and sounds (to give you some background noise) and a beautiful interface, I haven’t drafted a new blog post in anything else since discovering it.
While you can still leave heavy editing for programs like Word, ZenWriter is the premiere writing tool for those long articles or projects that require all of your attention.
For Mac users, a great equivalent can be found in the iAWriter software.
Gregory Ciotti, founder of Sparring Mind and the marketing guy at Help Scout.
I have a confession to make. While I post my content and do the basics related to blogging and creating content, my webmaster, Larry Aronson, takes care of all of the technical aspects of my blog, HeidiCohen.com, so I don’t have to worry about them.
He’s taught me the value of backing up my database and WordPress theme and keeping my software up to date. Although his advice isn’t some new sexy blog tool, it’s one that many bloggers, myself included, overlook. However, it is necessary to keep my blog safe from hackers and others.
Technology and security matter for bloggers! Here are two important steps to protect your blog.
- Ensure your blogging software is up to date. For WordPress users, there will be a message at the top of your admin pages notifying you. Click on it and follow the instructions. Make sure that you back up your blog’s database and theme files. (Here’s the WordPress instructions for updating your blog software.) Note: Only users with admin privileges can see this.
- Use secure passwords and change them regularly. Secure passwords are at least eight characters including upper- and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Avoid common dictionary words that are easily hacked. This includes first and last names. For example, Mary123 is no more secure than Mary. Also, don’t call your administrator “Admin.” Even worse, don’t use “password” or “pw” as their password. To help you remember your passwords, check out LastPass.
Heidi Cohen, an actionable marketing expert and president of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
Have you tried any of the tools mentioned above? What do you think? What are your favorite blogging tools? Please share your comments below.
Cindy King is the director of editorial for Social Media Examiner. She spent 25 years abroad in international business development and then built her own international business using social business networking. Other posts by Cindy King »