You spent a lot of time researching content management systems (CMSs), digging deep into all the open source platforms. WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal for straight-up content.
Magento, SquareSpace, and PrestaShop for e-commerce. You finally settled on the most popular CMS that best suited your needs, figuring you’d be good to go for some time.
But for some reason, that time is up. Although you already have a content management system that handles all your online assets, you’re still scrambling to keep your content marketing flowing.
Here’s the thing:
A single CMS platform is not enough to conquer the world. Or even keep your marketing in the game.
While content management systems are certainly an integral part of creating, publishing, and organizing your online content, they’re not necessarily the end-all solution.
The truth is, most marketers also need a variety of additional web content management tools if they want to stay ahead of the game.
That’s where content technology, which we call contech, comes in.
With a cache of more than 220 tools in our ConTech Gallery, we know a thing or two about content technology web content management. And so do the experts we tapped for the WriterAccess Academy webinar upon which this article is based.
Marketing pros Andy Crestodina, Amanda Milligan, and Rand Fishkin weigh in on their favorite tools for making digital content management more effective, efficient, and fun.
Here you’ll get the lowdown on:
- What content tools they regularly use to save time (and money).
- Top uses and tips for each tool.
- How these tools can work for you.
You’re apt to leave this article itching for tools to help manage your digital content, even if you’ve shunned all tools before.
1. Tools for Topics
Web content management tools for topics can work when you’re looking for the hottest topic ideas. They’re also ideal for checking in on the ranking of your current topics, keywords, and web pages.
Crestodina is big on rewriting pages. It’s one of the fastest ways to get the biggest bang for the least amount of work. The overall goal is to make the page the absolute best on the web.
Rewrite Existing Pages or Topics
Check in on your keywords and page rankings to see if you need to take action to boost your search engine rankings. A highly beneficial action to take is to rewrite pages that feature keywords that are within striking distance of page one of Google.
- Google Analytics: Check the performance of your keywords and phrases in the Acquisition Search Console with a Queries report. Here you’ll get a list of all the phrases you rank for, as well as how high you rank.
- Find the “almost high” ranking phrases: Add a filter by putting the “average position” as “greater than 10” and you’ll get all the phrases for which you rank on page two. This gives you a list of phrases for which you are in striking distance of page one.
You won’t, however, get any indication of where these phrases appear on your site. You’ll either have to search through your pages manually to find them or use another tool.
- SpyFu shows the terms you rank for, along with the corresponding pages.
- SEMrush also shows the terms your rank for and their pages.
Rewriting pages also helps if you notice page views or search term rankings are on the decline.
- Google Analytics: Check the page rank by heading into the Behavior Search Console and hitting Site Content and Landing Pages. Click to make sure you’re reviewing organic sources, and you’ll see how much traffic you’re getting from search.
- Check for declining traffic: Reviewing the date range, comparing the last six weeks with the previous six weeks.
- Check your traffic champions: The organic traffic landing page report gives you a rundown on your top performers, or traffic champions. Keep an eye on them to ensure they remain champions with the search engines. Rewrite and revamp if they begin to decline.
“You don’t need 1,000 articles. You need 100 great articles.”Andy Crestodina | Orbit Media
Generate New Topics
When it’s time to come up with new topics for blogging or other new content creation, you want to ensure you’re choosing things people actually want to read about.
- BuzzSumo: This digital marketing tool provides a treasure trove of information and functionality.
- Shows you which content is getting the top shares on every social media platform.
- Compiles questions from around the web people are asking about a certain topic.
- This makes it an ideal digital content tool for:
- Generating new content topics.
- Drilling down into details about what people are asking.
- Viewing related themes, or the questions around the questions people are asking.
- Spotting trends.
- Researching information, with links that take you to the original source of the compiled content.
- This makes it an ideal digital content tool for:
“Nine times out of 10 in marketing, it comes down to answering people’s questions.”Amanda Milligan | Frac.tl
- AnswerThePublic.com: Another question-based tool, AnswerThePublic.com pulls all the questions around a topic found on Google. Topic generation is just one of its many uses. You’re sure to find others once you give it a go.
2. Tools for Writing
No matter how fabulous your writing is, it can get even better with a few select tools—including an article template Crestodina invites marketers to download and use as desired.
The template provides the framework for building out an article that contains everything you need to succeed. This includes:
- Article name, target publishing date.
- Name of author and editor.
- Channel, such as web page, blog post, guest blog post.
- Target SEO Keyphrase.
- Title, search-friendly, starting with keyphrase and containing no more than 60 characters.
- Meta Description, or single sentence summary with keyphrase, no more than 155 characters.
- Shortcut URL, or PermaLink.
- List of Related Words and Phrases.
- Social Promotion, both inside and outside your network.
- Tweets/Shares, including sharing with a link and mentions, hashtag, or quote.
- Internal Linking, with three linking options.
- Article outline.
Once you get to the outline of the article itself, you get a handy list of elements and tips for making it your best one yet. Tips start with the headline and extend to the call-to-action, hitting a variety of additional elements along the way.
Several digital content tools are mentioned throughout the template to help you with specific tasks.
- Target SEO Keyphrase: Use Moz to determine the popularity and difficulty of the keyphrases you want to use in your piece.
- Related Words and Phrases: Finding related words and phrases can be done in a couple of ways:
- Google: Type your target SEO phrase in the search field, then:
- Check out all the related phrases at the bottom of the page.
- Type the letter “a” after it, getting more ideas as Google auto-fills suggestions. Repeat with each letter of the alphabet, jotting down phrases that make sense for your article.
- AnswerThePublic.com: This tool comes in handy for keywords, too. Type in your keyphrase, then review the lineup of suggestions to find those that align with what you’re writing.
- Google: Type your target SEO phrase in the search field, then:
“Some time ago, SEO stopped being about finding keyphrases and started being about finding all the related phrases.”Andy Crestodina | Orbit Media
If you need to find writers to whip up your content, WriterAcess is the go-to platform for more than 40,000 agencies and brands. Perks include thousands of skilled writers, a platform stocked with advanced workflow and optimization tools, and a 14-day free trial.
3. Headline Tool
As one of the most important elements of your article, headlines deserve special attention. And their very own tool.
- CoSchedule Headline Analyzer: This free tool analyzes your headline for eight different elements and gives you an overall score. The elements are:
- Word balance.
- Headline type.
- Sentiment, or type of emotion conveyed.
- Word count, with longer headlines with at least 10 words the ideal.
- Character count.
- Skimmability to ensure it’s understood at a glance.
- Clarity, or if it can be simplified.
- Reading grade level.
Writing a ton of headlines for every single article helps to ensure the best one will come to the surface. It also gives you a variety of options, with the ability to use versions as an article header, title tag, social media header, and other functions.
“On average, 5x as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”David Ogilvy
4. Screen-Capture Tool
If you’re looking to include visuals in your blogging, web pages, or even an email, Snagit makes a handy screen capture and recording tool.
- Snag the specific area of the screen you want.
- Add markups.
- Save as image, video, or GIF.
Tools for Finding Expert Collaborators
One of the most obvious ways to get more traction out of your digital content is to collaborate with experts and influencers on the given topic. We’re not talking about finding a random quote and throwing it into the article as an afterthought.
You want to reach out to those who have know-how in the industry, then showcase their responses in a way that brings additional attention and value to your piece.
- Make your article more visual, more engaging.
- Get more social shares, as your contributor shares with their audience.
- Gain new connections and grow your network.
“A journalist would never write an article without including a source. Why do content marketers keep writing articles without contributor quotes?”Andy Crestodina | Orbit Media
Two tools can help you uncover a host of potential collaborators:
- SparkToro: This software crawls millions of web and social profiles to tell you who is talking about what.
- Quora: This platform is a hotbed of questions and answers on a massive range of topics. Plug in the subject you’re looking for—or ask your own question—then reach out to those with the most intriguing responses.
5. Tools for Content Promotion
Every piece of content you publish needs to come with a plan to promote it. Email is ideal for getting your message directly in front of your audience. Social media can work for driving a broader audience to your site.
Email Promotion Tools
- Mailchimp and other email platforms come equipped with campaign reports that let you review key metrics, like delivery rates, opens, and clicks. But they don’t tell you what happens on the website after the person clicks.
To get the full picture of how much engagement an email generated on your website, you need to add tracking codes to your content. That way the links will tell you what led the visitor to your site.
Social Media Promotion Tools
If you’re following the social media rule of thirds, your social media use consists of three different activities that should be done in equal measure:
- Sharing your content, promoting what you wrote: driving traffic.
- Sharing content from others, or curating industry news: networking.
- Interacting with people, or responding to comments and questions: networking.
Several tools can help with your social media promotion:
- CoSchedule: This platform lets you schedule social media posts in advance so you can set it and forget it. Ideal for sharing your content to drive traffic.
- Buffer: Buffer is another social media scheduling tool you can use for posting original content, curated content, or both.
- Camtasia: This screen-recorder and video editor lets you make pro-level videos you can easily share on your social media channels. Use the editing option to add captions to your video, as most social media users will be viewing with the volume off.
“It takes 10x the effort to make social video over a social post, but you get 100x the results.”Andy Crestodina | Orbit Media
No matter how many tools you have tried, nothing can replace real time interaction when it comes to responding to comments, answering questions, and otherwise connecting with your social media followers and fans.
- Real Time Interaction: The best way to respond is with real time interaction in the native app, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
6. Tools for Measuring User Experience (UX)
Several tools can be used to reveal how visitors are interacting with your website. Pricing ranges from free for Google Analytics, all the way to $10,000 or more for eye-tracking software.
- Google Analytics: One of the all-time favorite (and free) tools, Google Analytics is ideal for tracking page views and events from all visitors. The navigation summary is an insightful report for showing you how people are using your navigation.
- HotJar Recordings: This software records page views, clicks, and mouse movements of a random sample of people visiting your site.
- Eye Tracking: Eye tracking records eye movement as it moves across the screen. It can be applied to your website or anywhere on the web to track page views, clicks, mouse movement, audio and video use, and the position of the eyeballs on the screen. You’d need to set up focus groups to use the software for testing purposes.
7. Data Analysis Tools
When your content contains data that would be boosted by a graph, map, chart, or other eye-catching visualization, a number of data analysis tools are at your service.
- Tableau Public: The public version of this digital content tool is free, giving you the opportunity to create production-quality visualizations and dashboards to accompany your online content. Perks of the platform include:
- Extremely fast.
- Works beautifully with mounds of data.
- Free for public version.
One caution is the steep learning curve. For starters, users must have a solid competency with spreadsheets, plus an ability to pick up quickly on new technology as they move forward.
- Flourish: This data visualization tool has both free and paid tiers, letting you choose the number of features you need. With either version, you can create eye-catching visualizations with easy support for embedding and animation. Perks of the platform include:
- Free and paid versions available.
- Easily handles styling and layout.
- Truly eye-catching designs.
Cons with Flourish include its limited ability to manipulate data once it’s imported and its limited documentation, especially when compared to other tools.
8. Tools for Optimization
When it comes time to optimize and edit content, content marketers can get a big boost with a digital content tool called Clearscope.
- Clearscope: This tool is designed to help you create new content that’s extremely relevant to what people are searching for. It does this by:
- Providing suggestions and data for SEO keywords and related phrases.
- Grading content based on keyword use.
- Noting the average word count for your type of piece.
- Scoring readability level.
- Generating a number of reports for content editors to use.
Your new content can definitely get a leg up on the competition with Clearscope. While it gives you tons of suggestions for SEO keywords and mini topics, it still requires content editors or writers to make the final decision on which to include.
9. Marketing and Audience Research Tool
Market and audience research typically involves tedious surveys and research projects that take tons of time and money. Not anymore. Not with SparkToro, a tool invented by Rand Fishkin to solve his own marketing problems.
What he struggled with the most was figuring out where he could reach my audience without just throwing money at Facebook and Google ads.
SparkToro can provide data on tens of thousands of people who fit an audience. That data can fundamentally change how marketers reach their audience.Rand Fishkin | Sparktoro
And you get far better returns than with Facebook or Google. Better intelligence gives you a better advantage in the content marketing world.
You already heard how SparkToro can be used for finding expert collaborators. But the web content management tool actually does so much more. With the ability to crawl and access data from 10 social networks and the web, it’s basically a one-stop-shop for overall audience insights.
In addition to finding expert collaborators, the tool can be used for:
- Content strategy: Creating the buyer personas and the customer journey, and building a brand your audience wants to follow.
- Content creation: Crafting content that appeals to your target audience.
- Content planning: Researching topics, interests, and distribution channels.
You get a good look at audience members to get a sense of what’s working well with them.
- What words and phrases do they use?
- What content do they put in their bios?
- What do they post and share on social media?
Whether you’re seeking info on larger groups, such as general contractors, or segments within the groups, such as commercial builders, you can keep your ideal audience as broad or narrow as you wish.
The tool works well for all types of content marketers, including:
- Press and media strategists.
- Digital PR firms.
- SEO and content-focused marketers.
- Large, medium, and small businesses.
You may have very different, unique audiences. If you know them, you can break them down into groups to discover what’s working with each individual group.
It can also be used to create better content for your audience, content they want to read. How? By reviewing the kind of content they’re already paying attention to. Look at:
- The topics.
- The type of content.
- The style and tone.
- The formatting, the images.
- Where the content is published, whether it’s an academic journal or an image-heavy online magazine.
Then give them something equally captivating, based on what you know they like.
“It all comes down to speaking to your audience. You’re learning to speak the language of your audience by having a deeper understanding of your audience.”Rand Fishkin | Sparktoro
The Bottom Line on Web Content Management
With 8,000 marketing tools in the content marketing arena, it’s safe to say we barely scratched the surface on web content management options. But you did get a rundown on some of the most powerful tools expert marketers use when they want to super-charge their content performance and ROI.
Some of the digital content tools may be a perfect fit for you, while others may be way off-base. That’s not only okay, that’s the way it should be.
Just like your target audience has unique needs, so does your company. The best web content management strategies are all about customization. You want to find and use the tools that make the most sense for you.
Don’t forget you can check out more than 220 highly-rated digital content tools in our ConTech Gallery. And enroll in our program to earn Content Strategy Certification for an even deeper dive into successful content marketing tips, tactics, and techniques.