Five Tools That Can Take Your Efforts to the Next Level

tools to make blogging useful
Some blog for fun, others do it for a living. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, there are certain things you must do if you want your blog to grow and start delivering results for the time you put into it. There are also tools available to make your path to success an easier road to travel.

Here are five tools that can be used to take any blog to the next level.

1. Googe Analytics

How are readers to responding to your blog efforts? There is activity to be measured beyond comments and a tool like Google Analytics can help you identify it. With Google Analytics, you can find out where your traffic is coming from, how they’re interacting with your posts, and much more. This tool is easy to implement and best of all, totally free to use. There are many tracking tools out there, but Google Analytics holds it own against the best options on both the free and paid market.

2. Facebook
facebook plate
Say what you want, but the power of Facebook cannot be denied. This social network is used by so more than a billion people, that you are almost certain to have an audience just waiting to be engaged. What makes Facebook so powerful outside of sheer size and reach is all the great features it gives you to work with. For example, you can set up a regular profile or a brand page. You can include links to your blog posts and if they garner interest, fans can like them or share them with friends. Integrating Facebook into the mix is all about creating more exposure for your content.

Although it has a set of unique qualities to call its own, you could easily place Twitter in the place of Facebook. Both tools offer unlimited potential for improving your blogging efforts.

3. Google Alerts

Here’s another of several Google tools that can help take your blog to that next level. Google Alerts allows you to set up email notifications that are delivered to your inbox based on your chosen keywords and phrases. This is perhaps the most versatile tool on the list and thus, one that can be used in a wide variety of ways. Following are just some of the many ways bloggers can use Google Alerts to power their efforts:

- Stay on top of the latest breaking news in their niche

- Generate ideas for fresh topics and content

- Identify similar blogs and websites

- Expand their individual network

- Watch competitors

- Research keywords

- Discover new sites to include in their link building strategy

- Monitor their brand name and reputation

Like many Google products, this one is absolutely free to use. If there is a must-have blogging tool on the list, Google Alerts would be it.

4. CloudFlare

cloudflare logo

If you have a blog that is making noise in the way of a lot of traffic and comments, your content could be at the mercy of unscrupulous thieves who want to steal and use it for themselves. This is why a tool like CloudFlare comes in handy. CloudFlare is a cloud-based platform that can protect your blog from content crooks, hackers, spammers, and a host of other threats. It also offers features that can help you improve performance and understand more about your traffic.

CloudFlare offers three premium packages, but many bloggers will find that its free plan provides adequate protection for their needs.

5. Creative Commons

Every blogger needs a tool like Creative Commons in their arsenal. Creative Commons gives you convenient access to a huge selection of images that can be used for commercial purposes and published on your blog. Of course you can pretty much nab images from anywhere, but you are taking a huge gamble with anything you have not been given permission to use. What makes Creative Commons so valuable is the fact that it allows you to retrieve content from other popular image libraries, including Flickr, Fotopedia, and Google Images

Don’t Go to Work Without Your Tools

Every blogger needs a set of tools they can rely on to simplify what can often be a very grueling process. The internet makes these applications and services easily accessible, so there really is no excuse for going to work without them. You have an endless pool to choose from, but these are a few you can never go wrong with.

What’s your favorite blogging tool these days? Don’t be a Scrooge. Share with the group!

Author Bio

Francis SantosThis is a Guest Post by Francis Santos is a writer for Benchmark Email, a best practices email marketing company .

Changes and Issues with Blogger

changes issuesIn the Past 39 Days there has been no new post and I sincerely apologize for that . Since I have started using Blogger again , I have come across some changes and issues that I would like to share with everybody.

1. Old Interface Shelved
This happened around 20th September. Old Interface has now become fully inaccessible even if you are using direct links to it. This is what is shown instead

no more old ui
This change has been well planned as the New Edit HTML Editor ( which came under the most fire from the users ) is now pretty stable and allows editing at par with the old one. This force upgrade also came in wake of the one-UI-all-across-policy of Google so that every Google Product has a kind of uniformity.

If you are Old Interface fan like me then there are still some glimpse left of it here and there. Like when Uploading Images in the HTML mode of the Post Editor. After you press the Upload buttons , the confirmation screen has Old Interface styles (Screenshot below)

old interface screenshot

2. Extra Control over Link Structure
The ability to change the Link Structure has been around for a couple of months in the Draft Blogger interface but it has been rolled out in the Main interface as well. So now you can easily reword your links and they no longer depend on your post headings alone.

link structure

A more advanced version of this feature would be ability to omit the year and month from the structure as well. But none the less its a step in the right direction

3. Mobile Custom Redirect Issue
This issue was experienced while using a mobile device (This requires that your User Agent is a mobile device like a Android , iPhone , Symbian or any other similar device). Also you must have a Custom Redirect setup to test this. When a user clicks on a custom Redirect URL , they are redirected to the Custom 404 Error Page. This happens because to serve the mobile version of your blog , Blogger attaches a query parameter ( ?m=1 ) which gets directly appended with the custom redirect and  Blogger thinks of its as a URL itself

For example check this URL - ( I have a redirect in place which redirects /contact to /p/contact.html )

4. Comment Avatar Image and JS File Size and Issue
With the advent of the New Threaded Commenting System in Blogger , it became clear that Blogger comments were second to none when comparing them with third party services like Disqus or IntenseDebate . But while observing some things in the threaded comment system closely , I came across some shocking facts.

Firstly the Avatar Image size of users who had integrated their account with Google+ was of the order of 512X512 px . This led to a lot waste in the bandwidth from Blogger side as well as it slowed down the loading of pages. In extreme cases a single image was wasting 200KB+ . I filed a request with the Blogger Dev Group and got a positive response but no action has been taken till yet. You can see the thread here

Secondly the size of the JS file included inline as well as externally to make to Threaded Comment system work is a whooping 390KB+ as compared to the 15KB file that was included for the old comment system. After discovering this fact I am seriously considering to shift to a third party comment system which are way lighter.

5. Naked Domain Redirect Issue
In the past 2-3 days there was been a widespread issue across Blogger where the non-www version of the Blog has stopped redirecting to the www version of the blog . Blogger team has released a step to step guide to solve this issue . You can check it here

Stay tuned as I will be resuming my daily posting of helpful tutorials and tips

If you have experienced any other change or issues while using Blogger , feel free to share them in the comments
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