When it comes to blogging, it should be all about the content. Write great posts and the rest will take care of itself, right? Generally speaking, that’s true. But that shouldn’t keep you from wanting to make your blog even more awesome with the use of some totally sweet tools and utilities to take your blogging to the next level and maybe, you know, engage your readers and synergize the new media or something like that.
Zemanta – I’ve talked about Zemanta before, but having used it for a while now I need to recommend it again. Working as either an extension in your web browser or a plugin to your blogging software, Zemanta looks for relevent content (both media and links) in both your own sources (Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, etc) and the internet at large. Add in tag recommendations and auto-linking features within your content, and you’ve got a great tool to bolster up your content and make it sing. Not literally, of course, but you never know what future versions will bring.
Clicky – If you spend any time in the blogosphere, you’re going to become traffic-obsessed. What’s the point of writing if nobody is going to read it? (Don’t answer that.) But the fact is, most bloggers would love to expand their readership. And to do so, you need metrics on WHO is reading your blog and WHERE they are coming from. Clicky is a great tool for real-time web analytics. Add a couple lines of code to your blog (or install a blog plugin), and Clicky will instantly start tracking all user activity. The paid version adds some additional features (like the ability to track multiple websites), but even without spending a dime, you can get some great use from Clicky.
Google Analytics – If you’re ready to move up to more robust activity logging and analysis, this free tool from Google is for you. It’s not real-time like Clicky, but it’s reporting capabilities are way more advanced…plus, if you use AdWords to promote your blog (or AdSense to monetize it), Google Analytics will put all those statistics in one nice package. Be advised – it can look VERY intimidating at first (Clicky is way more new user friendly), but if you’re serious about analyzing user behavior and your traffic, GA is a must. I personally use both Clicky AND GA.
Cornify – Chances are that unless you are Action-Squad, your blog is VERY light on unicorn-related content. In fact, it might not have any at all. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to rectify this gross oversight, which is to run all of your pages through Cornify. A simple snippet of HTML code will instantly add wonderful unicorn rainbowosity to your entire blog, which will result in a guaranteed five percent increase in conversion.
Lijit – This is one of my new favorites. WordPress has a pretty decent search engine built into it, but I found it just wasn’t as awesome as I’d like to it be. Given that my blog has over 2,500 posts, search is REALLY important. Enter Lijit. It’s a free service that enables a powerful search engine for your blog, but even more than that, gives you super cool statistics on the searches your users are performing – both ON your blog, and to GET to your blog. If you know what people are looking for, you can focus like a laser on the topics that your readers are interested in. Plus, my friend Doniree just announced that she is the newest member of the Lijit team, so I kind of had to toss out a shout-out today.