No doubt about it — content marketing isn’t cheap.
After years of working with clients in the healthcare industry and operating a small business of our own, the WriterGirl team is no stranger to running a content marketing strategy on a tight budget. Finding free content tools is a key to success.
Most free tools come with limitations, but they can help get your content marketing strategy off the ground. As you gain momentum you can leverage those efforts to justify bigger budgets and higher-priced resources.
To spread our budget-friendly knowledge, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite free tools for content marketing. Our list includes resources for:
- Keyword research and SEO
- Social media marketing
- Content research
- Content writing and editing
- Other tools we love
After you dive in, don’t forget to share your favorite free tools with us in the comments section below.
Keyword research and SEO
While the free version of SEMRush does have some limitations, we still find it incredibly useful. The Keyword Overview tool (limited to 10 keywords per day) helps provide important keyword research metrics like volume, competition, cost per click (CPC) and related keywords. You can also track up to 10 keywords with the free version and crawl up to 100 pages on your website.
The free SEMRush is also a great way to test out this powerful software before investing in a paid plan.
TheHoth has a slew of free SEO tools that can help get your strategy off and running. We especially love the Rankings Checker feature that will check existing Google keyword rankings for any website (including your competitors’ sites). The Keyword Density tool is also handy for looking at how many times a particular keyword appears on a webpage.
SEOQuake is a free browser plugin that can perform an instant SEO audit on any webpage you visit. The tool provides details like the number of internal and external links, Google rank, social shares, keyword density and more. You can also create real-time SEO comparisons for several different webpages.
Traffic Travis has been a staple in the SEO community for years. This tool helps you monitor your keyword performance as well as your competitors’ rankings, so you can figure out which keywords to target. It can also help you find reputable sites where you can try to build backlinks and provide insight into your pay-per-click (Google AdWords) campaigns.
While Traffic Travis does have a paid version, the free version still offers plenty of benefits.
Diving in to all the Google tools can be overwhelming and, frankly, they’re not all user-friendly. If you’re brand new to the SEO world, we recommend starting with Google Trends and Google Search Console.
Google Trends provides useful and interesting information on search trends. You can look into the popularity of certain queries, or compare different search terms to see which one is more popular. Google Trends also allows you to look at search trends all over the world.
Google Search Console is another handy tool that can help you track how your website performs in Google search results. You can see which search terms bring users to your site and monitor how those terms are performing, so you can find places to optimize content.
Search Console will also help flag issues with your website that may affect search rankings, like indexing problems, site speed and mobile usability.
Social media marketing
As one of the most popular free social media tools available today, it’s no surprise Hootsuite made our list. Yes, the free version has some limitations, but it’s still one of our favorite social media management platforms. With the free version, you can link up to three social media accounts, unlock some basic analytics and schedule posts in advance.
TweetDeck is another go-to free social tool for managing Twitter profiles. It helps us stay organized as we track various hashtags, searches and accounts. We find it especially useful when monitoring Twitter chats.
This free tool helps you search for related hashtags or find popular hashtags based on the text of your tweet. You can also use hashtagify.me to find influencers for specific hashtags.
Quuu is a content curation tool that scans the web for stories that may be relevant to your followers or readers. The content suggestions are based on keywords and interests you fill out, like “marketing,” “social media” or “wellness.”
When Quuu finds recommended content, you can read the article, bookmark it for later, or send it directly to your social feed in HubSpot, Buffer or Hootsuite.
Buffer is another great tool for scheduling content on multiple social profiles. Plus, it schedules the posts for a time when your audience is most engaged.
We also love Buffer’s handy browser extension that allows you to create a social post from any article or webpage.
Answer the public
When you enter a keyword into Answer the Public, it generates a list of questions, prepositions or comparisons that you can use as inspiration for an article topic or headline. For example, when we entered “blogging” into the search bar, it produced 150 possible questions related to that keyword.
Buzzsumo helps generate content ideas and identify influencers based on a keyword or a domain. Once you enter the keyword, it generates a list of top-ranking articles on that subject, as well as the article’s engagement on various social channels. The free version limits you to just a few results, but it’s a nice resource to get the creative gears turning.
Google Analytics (GA) is an extremely powerful platform that tracks traffic, engagement and performance on your website. We couldn’t possibly scratch the surface with everything Google Analytics can do, and would recommend checking out this guide from Moz for more information.
GA can inform your strategy by giving you details on which content performs best across your site and individual channels (social media, organic search, email etc.). You can also hook it up to your site’s search function and find out what users are looking for when they’re on your website.
Content writing and editing
The Hemingway Editor is an online resource and desktop app that checks your content’s reading level and gives suggestions on where you can improve your writing. It highlights adverbs, passive voice and hard-to-read sentences, so you can write more concise, patient-friendly content.
While we always advocate for editing done by humans, Grammarly can be a useful back-up if you need it. Depending on your settings, it can sometimes be too strict (or not strict enough). But, it will find critical grammar and spelling mistakes as well as check for conciseness. Plus, we love the weekly emails with a recap on how we’re progressing and common mistakes we need to look out for.
Readable.com is another free resource you can use to check for reading level and clarity. Aside from reading levels (Flesh-Kincaid and Gunning Fox), it also highlights long sentences, complex words, adverbs and clichés.
Even writing pros need a little assistance from time to time! Power Thesaurus is a crowd-sourced thesaurus that we find incredibly helpful. It’s easy to navigate and includes handy tools that help you sort by synonyms, antonyms and parts of speech.
Here at WriterGirl, we’re huge fans of Canva. This free design tool gives you the power to create infographics, email headers or social media graphics in a matter of minutes. If you’re short on graphic designers or need an image in a pinch, Canva is a great resource.
Poster My Wall
Poster My Wall is another great design tool we like to use to make quick social media graphics, videos and flyers. With more than 125,000 templates to choose from, it’s easy to get started and create something fast.
Although the free version comes with a small watermark, we love using Kapwing to create videos and GIFs for our social media channels. The tool automatically formats the video to fit the channel you need, and it also includes tools for adding subtitles, trimming and looping.
Other free tools we love
Whether we’re looking for client or employee feedback, SurveyMonkey is our go-to tool. We also find it incredibly useful when working on a physician bio project — online surveys make it easy to gather information from busy clinicians.
Keep in mind the free version of SurveyMonkey limits the number of responses you can gather, but it works great for smaller projects. If you need it, a paid plan is an affordable investment.
Zamzar is a free file conversion tool that we often use to convert documents, videos, audio and images to a new format. The tool supports more than 1,200 formats and most conversions take less than 10 minutes.
IFTTT, which stands for “if this, then that,” is a tool that helps connect different apps and devices. We like to use IFTTT for searches and alerts related to our business. Whenever one of our keywords or searches pops up on the web or social media, IFTTT emails an alert.
When it comes to free tools for content marketing, Trello is near the top of our list. There are so many great use cases for Trello, a Kanban-style organization and collaboration tool. Whether you use it solo or share boards with your team, it makes a great editorial calendar or project management tool. You could also use it for campaign planning and customer journey mapping — honestly, the options seem endless!
What do you think of this list? Are there any tools you would add (or remove)? Don’t forget to share your ideas and questions in the comments section below.
Content marketing support for any budget
Whether you’re a large health system or a small practice, the healthcare experts at WriterGirl have experience developing custom content for any size project or budget. Give us a shout if you’d like to learn more.