top of page

13 Tools Every Content Marketer Needs To Use


When I started out in content marketing, I thought it was all about creating a few fluffy blog posts and service pages. How wrong I was.


Whilst writing engaging content is a big piece of the puzzle, it is just one piece. Content marketing is a well-oiled machine made up of many components — and there's a tool for every component.


Whether you want to write the perfect headline, see how your article's ranking, carry out keyword research or avoid formatting issues when you publish your content, you have tools at your disposal that can help you do that.


Here are 13 tools I can't live without — and that every content writer and marketer should be using.



1. SEMRush


This is my favourite overall tool.


I do just about everything on this — keyword research, content cluster creation, content analysis, editing. You name it. It's the crème de la crème. And it's super easy to use.


I love so many of its features, but my personal top three are:

  1. Keyword Magic Tool — this is my favourite feature and probably the most popular feature of SEMRush. It shows you a range of keywords related to your search query, which you can filter by Broad, Phrase Match, Exact Match, and Related. You can also look at keyword volume, difficulty, and intent.

  2. Keyword Gap Analysis — this shows you the keyword rankings of your competitors in a matter of seconds. All you do is enter the URLs, and it shows you which keywords your competitors rank for, which keywords overlap across multiple competing sites, where your best ranking opportunities are, and more.

  3. SEO Content Update — this generates a suggested outline for your content based on the keyword you plug into it. It'll make recommendations on your page title, headings, subheadings, the length of your content, and the semantically-related keywords you should use.


2. Surfer

This tool is best for creating outlines for your content. It's also great for content audits and keyword research.


One thing I like about Surfer is the fact it uses NLP (Natural Language Processing) to extract the entities (relevant words & phrases) related to your main keyword. These guidelines help you figure out which terms you should use, where, and how often, to let Google know your content is relevant to your target query. And they're 100% compliant with Google standards.



Surfer is very similar to the SEMRush Content Writing Assistant in many ways — although it usually recommends a much higher word count for your chosen keyword!


You just have to use your judgement as to which tool you trust more, although I generally favour a higher word count. If you're a good writer who knows what the reader wants — the more insights you provide, the better chance you have of ranking and converting, right?!



3. Ahrefs

Most people use it for backlink analysis, as I have in the past. That's one of its major strengths if you want to analyse your site's backlink profile (and the profiles of your competitors).


But I also use it for keyword research, and it has some unique and awesome features that set it apart from other tools, like being able to analyse 'word count' and 'traffic potential' when analysing specific terms.


This particular feature is a game-changer for content marketers like me. Long-tail keywords with clear user intent, low difficulty, and high potential are the sweet spot. The unicorns, if you like. So, being able to view all of this data in one place is invaluable.


You can also group keywords into topic clusters (or Parent Topics, as Ahrefs calls them), which helps me no end when I'm creating content plans for clients.


You can read more about this particular feature in point 7 of this article.


4. Google Search Console

Content marketers and SEOs use this tool for all manner of purposes, but I use it primarily to monitor click-through-rate, impressions, average position, and high-traffic keywords. Here's an example for a specific set of URLs based on content I've written for a client:



You can monitor all of this data over specific time periods up to 16 months, so it gives you a comprehensive overview of how your content is performing. You can also compare data from one period to the previous one, i.e., the last six months versus the six months prior. So, if you want to show your client the difference your content has made since you started working on it — voila!


5. Google Analytics

Like Google Search Console, you can use this tool for a whole gamut of things. It has so many uses that I don't want to go into them all in this article.


I mostly use it to analyse metrics like:

  • Page views (the ultimate vanity metric)

  • Assisted and last-click conversions

  • New and returning users

  • Conversion rates

  • Pages per session

  • Site search (which can act as a mini-form of keyword research if you look for the right queries. Try it if you don't believe me).

Unlike Google Search Console, you can track the above data over many, many, many, many... many years. Handy if you have a long-term client or are observing the bigger picture.


I also quite like the Audience segment, which shows you who your users are (in a very broad sense). I would always favour detailed psychographic analysis obtained through surveys, customer interviews, widget feedback, and focus groups over the data Google Analytics presents — but it's a good starting point if you're trying to paint a rough picture of who's reading your content.


6. HTML Cleaner

If you're uploading written content to a client's website, you NEED to use this tool.


It'll help you avoid any embarrassing formatting issues when you hit 'Publish', like unnecessary spaces and lines, lack of adequate spacing, text that's too big or small, and so on.


Here's an example of a blog post I featured on my website about the biggest mistakes I made in my career — I just copied the text from the Google Doc, placed it in HTML Cleaner, and below you have the before...




... and after, once I clicked on Clean HTML on the bottom right.



Clean HTML not only improves the user experience but also makes it easier for search engines to understand and index your content.

7. TinyPNG

This tool is a godsend if you're uploading images. And it's adorned with an illustration of a big, fluffy panda. What's not to love?


It's an image compression tool (which compresses both JPEGs and PNGs), and I've saved as much as 70% when I've uploaded images to it, without a visible loss in quality.


And as we know, the smaller the image, the faster the load time — and the happier your visitors will be!


Here's the cute panda I was referring to...



8. Coschedule Headline Analyzer

This tool is in my top three, along with SEMRush and Grammarly. Without it, many of my articles wouldn't be read.


It analyses EVERYTHING in your headline — even details you wouldn't have previously considered. The main elements it focuses on are word and character count, sentiment, clarity, and word balance.


It likes when you use power words such as 'best', 'amazing', and 'perfect', and when you include numbers and years in your headline. For example: 13 Amazing Content Marketing Tools — And Why You Need To Use Them [2023]. This headline has the optimal word and character count, is skimmable, and uses a power word early on.


Some of my recent blog posts for clients are averaging a 4-5% click-through rate from tens of thousands of impressions since I started using this tool.


9. Grammarly

Where do I start with this tool?


I thought I knew everything about how to write, but Grammarly showed me how wrong I was. It's probably proven a few other content writers wrong along the way!


This AI-powered writing assistant delves into every essential element of your writing, including spelling, grammar, style, tone, clarity, punctuation, and delivery. You can also get it to look for instances of plagiarism. It's been invaluable to my professional development.


I wouldn't recommend that you need to accept ALL of the suggestions it proposes, as some are subjective. But nine times out of ten, Grammarly is spot on.


It even corrected that last sentence to add a comma between 'ten' and 'Grammarly'!




You should aim for a score in the high 90s.


10. Hemingway App

We can't all write like Ernest Hemingway, but this app allows you to emulate his style. Unlike other copy editing tools, it's free.


What I love the most about it is that it cuts down long sentences. There's a time and place for them, but you don't want to overuse them. And this app is perfect for cutting the fluff.


It also shows you how many times you use passive voice, adverbs, and complex phrases. If you want to keep things simple and effective, use this tool.


You want to aim for Grade 5 to 8 when you use it. Anything below Grade 8 is ideal. Anything below Grade 5 is difficult to attain.


However, here comes a humble brag....



I got a 4 for this excerpt. For the record, I very rarely get a 4 on this, if ever, so let me enjoy my moment!



11. Readable

I tend to use this tool once I've used Grammarly and Hemingway to polish off any last remaining parts.


In addition to spelling and grammar issues, Readable shows you cliche and adverb count, sentences containing more than 30 syllables, syllables per word, and words per paragraph.


It's an all-encompassing tool packed with unique features, and it's practically free (I spend around £4/month on it and get access to everything).

12. LinkedIn


As we know, promotion is one of the pillars of content marketing — and I've reaped the rewards of promoting my content on this platform.


I've been able build a community, connect with like-minded people, and educate myself.


I've done this by:

  • Checking out trends that are relevant to my industry and reading the tips my peers have posted (such as #contentwriting, #contentmarketing, and #contentstrategy)

  • Watching webinars

  • Contributing to discussions

  • Joining groups

  • Simply paying attention and observing

I've learnt more about content marketing, life, people, and the world over the last 12 months on LinkedIn than I did in school (or for most of my adult life).


13. Google Docs


I'm showcasing some bias here, as I'm a Mac user.


When I first started using a Mac, I preferred Microsoft Word. Now, I couldn't ever imagine going back.


There are many reasons writers prefer one over the other, and this point may sound simplistic — but I love just being able to share people into a doc rather than emailing it as an attachment!


I couldn't live without this tool, and it's all I'll ever use to write copy.



Honourable mentions


If I had an infinite amount of hours in the day, I probably would've covered 15 or 20 tools. But, I have a life, and these are the tools I use consistently.


However, there are some tools I either use occasionally or have used frequently in the past which I think are worth highlighting, such as:



Hotjar


This tool gives you insights aplenty on the user experience.


Using Hotjar, you can:


  • Integrate heatmaps to see how far the user is scrolling once they land on a specific page and what links they're clicking on the most.

  • Set up recordings to see where they're going and when they're exiting your page.

  • Embed widgets to get user feedback on your content.

I used this daily in a previous role (and hope to use it again as it's a great tool).



HigherVisibility


It's very annoying when you conjure up a punchy headline, but it's so long that it gets truncated (in other words, cut off) by Google on the SERP (search engine results page). Like so...

The optimal length of a title tag is between 50 and 70 characters, but most people don't know what this looks like, so have no clue whether their title is any good or not.


Thankfully, HigherVisibility is your friend if you find yourself in this position.


It shows you what your headline and meta description will appear in the SERPs so that you don't have to worry about truncation ever again.





TinyURL


A URL shortener, basically. I use this tool if I'm writing social media content for clients and want to end my post with a short URL instead of a gargantuan link.



I hope you enjoyed reading this article!


For more tips like these, check out my LinkedIn, and if you'd like to work together, fire me an email at fourninemarketing@gmail.com.

Comments


bottom of page