I like to run our content ops lean, so the Content Marketing Tools I use are absolutely necessary for operations at our scale (approx. 40 blog posts per month). I’ll mention all the tools we’re using, from research through operations to writing and building links.
Tools for Content Strategy/ Keyword Research – Ahrefs Content Gap Analysis, Keyword Cupid
First of all – if you want to publish 40 blogs per month, you kinda need to know what you’re going to write about. I wrote about doing keyword research and creating your first content plan before, as well as creating content hierarchy – so I will just recap it in a nutshell here and focus on the tools.
If you want to create a good content plan, you need to find enough keywords revolving around your content pillars (the “hubs”), which should, in turn, revolve around the main pain points your product is solving.
Ok, you can type your main keyword into Keyword Explorer one by one, or you can…take a sneak peak what your competitors have already ranked for. After all – you want to outrank them.
Ahrefs Content Gap Analysis
To find relevant terms, go to “Site Explorer”, type in your domain, and then go to “Content gap” in the menu on the left.
You will find slots to add up to 10 domains that are competing with you (by default, Ahrefs fetches the keywords for the domain with all the subdomains, so it would include anything on the homepage, solutions pages, blog, lps etc.:
After you’ve done this, you will get a list of keywords the domains (at least one for each) are ranking for, and you’re not:
You can further filter them by the content hubs you’ve come up earlier (simply put them into the search box above).
There’s a range of filters you can use depending on your strategy or e.g. Domain Rating – you can filter the keywords that are too “difficult” by KD or have too low of a Search Volume.
Select the keywords you want to include in your content plan and add them to a list of keywords. Then, download the list, and run them through Keyword Cupid – a tool for clustering your keywords that groups them by content hubs automatically and removes the ones that are considered “synonyms” by Google – so you don’t waste your time producing content pages that will just compete with each other.
It kind of takes the hard work out of creating a keyword list…
Now that you have one, it’s time to come up with your blog post topic, and organize your content workflow in a Project Management Tool. I find Asana to be most effective for what I need to do…
Tools for Managing Content Operations – Asana
I have built out a pretty complex workflow in Asana, based on a Kanban board.
It consists of the main “Content – Blog” project, which in turn – consists of the following columns:
- To-Do: Obviously, this is all individual writing tasks assigned to writers. Each task card looks like this (which will tell you a lot about the other tools we are using already…)
- EPICs – these are all the “content hubs/pillars” with all the blog post topics based on keyword research listed in them as subtasks. You will need to click “Tab + P” and add each of these subtasks as the main task of the project so they show on the “TO-DO” column – this is critical for the Kanban to actually work!
- In Progress-Writing: this is where the writers move their blog post tasks when they have started working on them.
- Editing – this is where the writers move their blog post tasks when they are done – and where the content editor picks them up.
- Payment added – in editing. I have also built a payment system in Asana. So when the editor is ready with checking the posts for quality against the brief, before moving it to “proofreading” or “Interns Editing” (if the editor is not going to do the actual work, but outsource it to our interns” – they have to add a payment for the writer for the accounting to know. You need to create a “Freelancer Payment” board first, and then – hit “add a follow-up task” next to the task from the drop-down menu in the top-right of the post subtask:
- Proofreading and Publishing – this is the last column before publication. We have a separate role of proofreader who goes through our content after it has been edited for quality and brief compliance, and checks for:
- language, grammar, punctuation, style errors
- against our SEO checklist, including: inclusion of internal links, no-following vs. do-following of outbound links, H2s, alt texts and image file names etc.
- Finally, after publishing, the editor moves the post assignment to the “Published” column. And that’s it 🙂
Tools for Content Writing and Distribution – Notion, SurferSEO, StoryChief
As you’ve noticed from the details of the task – we are using 3 more tools to prepare the task for writers, optimize them for SEO and publish & distribute them:
Notion – for Content Briefs
We use Notion for writing elaborate content briefs. We have 3 types of content templates there. Without them, our writers wouldn’t be able to do a really good job, and our editors would be screaming blue murder each time they were editing a post.
Surfer SEO – for content SEO optimization & old content updates
We use mostly content editor – for writing new posts – it gives us a whole list of suggestions of keywords to include + the ideal keyword density, number of works, number of paragraphs, headings, and images – for optimal content score and highest chance to rank for a specific keyword:
And for old content updates – we use Content Audit. It tells us how we stack against our competitors in terms of content score, and what we can do to improve it.
StoryChief – for Content Publishing and Distribution
After we have optimized our blog posts in SurferSEO, we move them to StoryChief, add images, and – after the editor has checked them for compliance with the brief, and the proofreader has checked them for language – we then push them to our blog and social media via StoryChief. If there are any errors/ revisions needed – we leave comments for our content writers in StoryChief to review too. StoryChief also has a built-in SEO plugin like YoastSEO, which helps us double-check if the content is well optimized for a specific keyword. It’s a live-saver 🙂
Tools for Content Analytics – Google Data Studio
After we have produced and published our content, we want to make sure it actually ranks as it should for the keyword(s) we want it to rank 🙂 so we have built out dashboards tracking the position of those keywords month-by-month in Google Data Studio (I have described them all and how to build them earlier – here).
Based on the positions (this dashboard takes date from Search Console directly) – we can decide if we want to optimize the posts further in Surfer’s Content Audit, or build some links to them – for which we use BacklinkManager.
Last but not least – BacklinkManager is a tool for managing your link-building ops. You can create buckets with link building targets, set link-building goals, add the backlinks we’ve built, and…
monitor the status of the links we’ve built:
And that’s pretty much it. Let me know if you found this list helpful, and what other tools you use for your content ops!