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Content Marketing

The 39 Best Content Marketing Tools, According to Expert Content Marketers

April 21, 2022
March 30, 2022
Camille Trent

There's a technical side to content marketing — especially if you want your content to rank in Google search. Here are the tools the pros use to research, optimize and distribute their content.

Table of Contents

There are now over 600 million blogs and almost 2 billion websites (and counting), but nearly 91% get no traffic from Google. 

Why? 

One major factor: Digital marketing leaders don’t always have the right processes and tools in place to create and distribute high-quality content. 

A seemingly simple SEO blog post takes more than just… writing. 

It takes keyword research, subject matter research, outlining, editing, optimization, image creation and a distribution plan.

And it takes a big picture content marketing and measurement strategy — otherwise, you can end up with SEO problems like keyword cannibalization. 

Or worse, content that doesn’t resonate with your target audience.

(Content marketing can encompass podcasts, videos, and organic social media too, but in this story, we’re going to focus mainly on blog posts.) 

This might all sound like a lot of responsibility, but the right toolkit helps. A lot. 

For this article, we asked experienced content marketers which content marketing tools they use at every stage of the production process to create impactful work.

Meet our sources. 

8 types of content marketing tools, explained

Setting up a successful content production workflow takes the right tech stack — one that encourages a scientific approach to content creation and distribution.

We can divide the tools these experts use into eight categories: 

  1. Content research tools help writers and content marketers understand what their target audience is searching for, and find relevant information to share on the subject. 
  2. Content sourcing tools connect writers with experts to help them tell a compelling and accurate story. 
  3. Content writing tools streamline the writing process. 
  4. Content optimization tools help content marketers drive traffic from channels like organic search. 
  5. Content design and video tools transform writing-focused content marketers into graphic design teams and videographers.
  6. Content management systems (CMS) let content marketers publish their written content without involving a web developer.  
  7. Content distribution tools help teams share their content — because content marketing doesn’t end when you hit publish!
  8. Content measurement and analytics tools let content marketers evaluate how well their content is performing against KPIs. That means traffic and page sessions, but also involves down-funnel metrics like conversions. 

The most skilled content marketers often use multiple tools per category. Let’s drill down into their favorites, category by category. 

Content research tools

Great content marketing helps your audience find answers they need — and it’s your company that provides them! You get to become a trusted source. 

So what answers does your audience need?

These tools help answer that question. Here are the nine most popular keyword and competitor research tools for content marketers.

1. Google. 

  • Ideal for: content marketers, writers, and SEOs
  • Cost: free
  • Typical use case: finding related queries and keywords

Google has somewhat departed from its roots as a directory of all the pages on the internet. Now, with featured snippets,sections, a search reveals more than just a list of competitors — and content marketers can leverage the new SERP details in their strategies.

For example: Content marketers frequently draw content ideas from Google’s auto-suggest terms in the search dropdown, “People also ask” section near the top of the search engine results page (SERP), and “Related searches” at the bottom of the SERP. 

“Google will tell you which related long-tail keywords to go after for free,” Oracle content and SEO marketer Lauren Pope pointed out in a LinkedIn post.

Source: Google

For example, if you sold… squirrels, you might target the keyword (or key-phrase) “what squirrels do all day,” from the “People also ask” section, in a blog post.

2. Google Trends.

  • Ideal for: all content marketers
  • Cost: free
  • Typical use case: topic overview

One of many Google freebies, Google Trends gives you a pulse on the search market by pointing to a search term’s relative volume and upticks and downturns in search trends. 

Are people actually Googling the topic you’re writing about? (If not, why are you writing about it at all?) 

Content marketers often use Google Trends to justify their content decisions with data. It bolsters an argument that readers care what they’re writing about — and can even be of use in the introduction. 

For instance, when working on a blog post about growth marketing, a content marketer might use Google Trends to find that “growth hacking” has been a consistently less-popular query than “growth marketing” in the history of Google searches.

Source: Google Trends

That data would strengthen an argument for targeting the “growth marketing” search term instead of “growth hacking,” but it could also spark a content marketer’s curiosity. What’s the difference between growth hacking and growth marketing? 

That’s a subject a content marketer might cover when repurposing or distributing their content.

3. BuzzSumo.

  • Ideal for: content creators, marketers and social media managers
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $99 per month
  • Typical use case: finding content inspiration and influencers

BuzzSumo shows you what content is trending in your industry and notifies you when competitors post new content, similar to Google Trends and Google Alerts. 

Source: BuzzSumo

It also goes a step further than other content trend tools, spotlighting  industry influencers behind the trending content.

Using this paid tool, you can see which content is most shared across social networks, run reports, get content ideas, review backlink data and plan your content calendar accordingly. It’s a great tool for creative and brand content inspiration.

4. Feedly.

  • Ideal for: content marketers
  • Cost: freemium, pro plans start at ~$6 per month
  • Typical use case: keeping up on industry news and trends

Feedly helps content marketers keep up with the news that matters to their industries without navigating to tons of different websites. You can curate RSS feeds for marketing, advertising, fishing — whatever your heart desires.

Content marketing tool example. How to use feedly.
Source: Feedly

In your custom feed, you can mark articles as read, read later or save to a board. You might create boards of competitor content, inspiration, and potential future sources.

5. Statista.

Statista pulls data from market research, trade publications, scientific journals and government databases that you might otherwise have to pay out the nose for if you subscribed to each publication separately. 

It’s not a free tool, but this is a subscription you should consider early on if you want to write high-quality marketing content.

Looking for credible sources and stats is a challenge for every content marketer. You’ll often run into aggregator sites crediting one another, making it near-impossible to find the original source.

Not so on Statista, which displays sourcing information right next to charts, making it easy to see where data comes from.

Source: Statista

6. Keywords Everywhere.

  • Ideal for: SEO writers and content marketers
  • Cost: free; pay per credit for keyword metrics
  • Typical use case: SEO keyword research

The free Keywords Everywhere Google Chrome extension embeds keyword trend data in your Google SERP.

Source: Keywords Everywhere

For example, Keywords Everywhere pulls Google’s Related Keywords, People Also Search For, and Long-Tail Keywords for your search term into separate panels on the side bar. You can even download those keywords to an Excel spreadsheet.

The catch? Keywords Everywhere doesn’t provide metrics to help you prioritize all those related keywords — like search volume, or a keyword difficulty score — unless you buy credits.

Content marketing tool example. How to use keywords everywhere (example 2)

7. Keyword Surfer.

  • Ideal for: SEOs, writers and content marketers
  • Cost: free; pay per credit for keyword metrics
  • Typical use case: SEO keyword research

Keyword Surfer gives you a list of related keyword ideas, their approximate search volume, and correlation charts every time you search. Like Keywords Everywhere, Keyword Surfer is a free Google Chrome extension that highlights keyword ideas and search traffic within the SERPS.

Source: Keyword Surfer

Keyword Surfer’s correlation charts are fairly unique among keyword research tools. They provide at-a-glance visualizations of how search engine rankings correlate with page traffic, word count and keyword count. 

Keyword Surfer’s content editor feature is “a SEO copywriter's dream tool,” content marketer Brynn Johnson told MarketerHire. “The content editor is the primary feature I use.”

Source: Surfer SEO

The content editor gives high-level recommendations for word count, headings and images. “It helps you as a writer keep your parameters clear so you can focus on being creative,” Johnson said.

8. SparkToro.

  • Ideal for: content marketing and teams
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start around $40 per month
  • Typical use case: persona research and building

SparkToro helps identify audiences that are already following accounts, using hashtags and posting about subjects related to your product. The tool crawls social and web profiles and gathers information about what people are reading, watching, following and sharing.

In addition to using it to find topics generating social chatter, content marketers also treat SparkToro like a distribution tool. It pins down the most influential people in your niche who can help your content get in front of the right people.

When SparkToro’s own VP of marketing, Amanda Natividad, Sparktoro-ed her own Twitter account for MarketerHire, she learned about five podcasts her followers tend to listen to.

Source: SparkToro

9. Google Search Console.

  • Ideal for: all content marketers
  • Cost: free
  • Typical use case: keyword research and site growth
Content marketing tool example. How to use Google Search Console.
Source: Google Search Console (screenshot)

Another free Google app, Google Search Console helps content marketers research keywords and track their content’s performance. 

It shows what keywords their site’s pages are currently ranking for, and also displays changes in SERP rankings. 

Google Search Console also makes it possible to exclude branded terms from organic search traffic reports, to get a better understanding of people discovering your content through search versus people typing your name in search after hearing about you on another channel. This can also act as a leading indicator of brand growth.

Content marketing tool example. How to use Google Search Console (example 2)
Source: Google Search Console (screenshot)


Content sourcing tools

Reaching subject matter experts used to require picking up the phone. Now, there are plenty of creative ways to do primary research — from sliding into subject matter experts’ social media DMs to joining niche Slack and Facebook communities.

Here are some of our favorite outreach tools for content marketers.

1. Google Forms.

  • Ideal for: content marketing consultants and small content teams
  • Cost: free
  • Typical use case: basic surveys and questionnaires for expert roundups

Google Forms is a free tool for survey creation — and it’s not just for content marketers. Anyone with a Google account can create a survey, form, or quiz using Google Forms.

Source: Google

But content marketers tend to use Google Forms to collect data to support content decisions. Sometimes that means gathering survey data to highlight in a blog post, but forms also have a place in developing a content strategy. 

Content marketers often start their work by talking to customers, to get a sense of the pain points content could address. Google Forms simplifies the collection of that information, so content marketers can get right to creating content that resonates and guides prospects through the funnel.

2. Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM).

  • Ideal for: content marketers and writers
  • Cost: paid plans start at $20 per month (free for up to 50 sends per month sans scheduling features)
  • Typical use case: expert outreach 

Reaching out to experts  takes some serious time if you  email each of them separately. Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM) is a Gmail add-on that lets you send mass, personalized emails — the same way you could with an email automation tool. 

You can create a template in Gmail and YAMM will pull from your mailing list in Google Sheets to customize the recipient name, subject line and more.

Source: Yet Another Mail Merge

YAMM tracks email performance after you hit send, too. Users can see a list of recipients who clicked on, opened, and unsubscribed from emails — as well as which emails bounced.

3. Rev.com.

  • Ideal for: content writers
  • Cost: $1.25 per minute for their most popular transcription service
  • Typical use case: transcribing interviews

Writers who rely solely on notes they take during interviews often end up missing essential information. Transcripts solve this problem — they make it possible to scan through an interview visually for important context and zippy quotes. 

But if you’ve ever had to transcribe an interview manually, you know that this essential part of the writing process is time-consuming. And many AI transcription services do sloppy work. 

Rev, by contrast, is beloved by writers, editors and producers for its accuracy.

Source: Rev

Rev offers two products — a 99% accurate transcription for $1.25 per minute and an 80% accurate AI transcription at $0.25 per minute. 

In finished transcripts, you can give speakers names, search by keyword, listen to audio play over the transcription, and edit any missed words.

4. Fireflies.ai.

  • Ideal for: content writers
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $10 per month
  • Typical use case: taking notes during your recorded meetings

As the name suggests, Fireflies.ai uses AI to transcribe meetings. But unlike other AI transcribers, this one integrates with video conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Meets, automatically joining your meetings as a participant so you don’t have to worry about taking notes. 

At the Pro level and above, Fireflies.ai can even tag your transcriptions with topics and help you search by theme.

Source: Fireflies.ai

While Fireflies isn’t as accurate as Rev.com or a human transcriptionist, it can keep you focused on the interview and save you from extra admin work on the backend.  

5. HARO.

  • Ideal for: content writers, journalists and PR specialists
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $19 per month
  • Typical use case: sourcing experts for articles

HARO, short for Help a Reporter Out, connects reporters — or content marketers and PR specialists — with the experts they’re looking for through daily email queries and Twitter requests.

HARO is a great tool for finding experts outside of content marketers’ usual networks. But it’s also possible to get replies from unqualified people. 

“[Y]ou get a lot of people that aren't really experts,” Josh Spilker, head of marketing at Friday.app, said. 

Content marketers who love HARO also tend to be very specific with their requirements.

To avoid low-quality responses, “I put it in something like… you have to have run your small business for 10 years,” said Maddy Osman, an expert content marketing freelancer. This, she says, helps set clear expectations from the start and reduces undesired responses.

6. Help a B2B Writer.

  • Ideal for: B2B content writers and strategists
  • Cost: free
  • Typical use case: sourcing experts for articles

Freelance writer Elise Dobson launched Help a B2B Writer as a verticalized alternative to HARO. The goal: to route B2B content marketers requests directly to actual subject matter experts. 

You just submit a request, and watch the emails from potential sources roll in. 

Source: Help A B2B Writer

Some SEO-focused content marketers have also found that they can volunteer as sources on Help a B2B Writer to source high-quality backlinks.

7. Typeform.

  • Ideal for: product and content marketers and researchers
  • Cost: starts at $25 per month
  • Typical use case: conducting large surveys

Typeform is a supercharged version of Google Forms content marketers can use to give their surveys a premium edge. 

Typeform makes it possible to build complex survey logic, so users see certain questions based on their replies to previous ones. It also integrates with Slack, the Google Workspace, Hubspot and Salesforce. 

Source: Typeform

You can upgrade and downgrade your Typeform subscription as needed. Hop up to Plus level for larger surveys (up to 1K responses per month), and scale back down to Basic for normal use — think, expert roundups and client collaboration. 

However you use it,Typeform creates clean data visualizations, Adrianne Barnes, messaging and audience expert at Best Buyer Persona, told MarketerHire. She can easily leverage those visualizations for webinars and whitepapers without hiring a graphic designer.

Content writing tools

So, keyword research and sourcing experts is great and all, but what about the actual writing part? Ultimately, it comes down to you sitting at a desk (or couch, or bed — no judgment!) until it’s done — but AI writing and video communication tools can help get the ball rolling. Here are six favorites from professional content marketers.

1. Google Docs.

  • Ideal for: content writers
  • Cost: free
  • Typical use case: outlining and writing blog articles

This list just won’t feel right without Google Docs. After all, that’s where content marketers spend a good chunk of their working lives — drafting, collaborating, editing and revising.

Source: Google Docs

You can stop flipping between your editor and content optimization tools with Google add-ons. Our favorite? Clearscope’s SEO content optimization add-on. 

Also, we may just blow your mind with this hack: you can create a new doc by typing “Docs.new” into the Google search bar.

2. Grammarly.

  • Ideal for: basic editing 
  • Cost: freemium; paid plan starts at $12 per month
  • Typical use case: grammar checks and cosmetic edits

Grammarly is a set-it-and-forget-it content editing tool. The free Chrome extension is a great gut-check for grammar, spelling and punctuation. The premium plans can also help detect tone, sentence variety and plagiarism.

Source: Grammarly

Grammarly is such a popular tool that some content marketers have developed theories for how it works best — for instance, some say the desktop app is more sensitive than the browser extension.

While Grammarly isn’t a replacement for a good editor, it can do a solid final check before you hit publish. 

Pro tip: Grammarly has a beta Style Guides program where brands can build their own dynamic dictionaries.

3. Notion

Notion is a productivity tool for remote teams, used by companies like Samsung, Tinder and The Wall Street Journal. It’s a platform for organizing and linking documents together, which is why many companies use it to host their team member directories, mission statements, and team stand-ups. 

But Notion has also gained traction among content marketers as a note-taking, editorial calendar, drafting, and project management tool — a bit like Google Docs and Trello combined.

Source: Notion

Because notes in Notion can be nested and linked, it’s a great tool for organizing interview notes and sources when writing a heavily-researched blog post. Plus, the drag and drop functionality makes it easy to restructure content.

4. Wordtune.

  • Ideal for: content writers and copywriters
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $9.99 per month
  • Typical use case: A/B testing ad copy or refining syntax

An AI content generator and optimizer, Wordtune is a free Chrome extension that rephrases sentences for you. Or rather, it highlights opportunities and provides update suggestions in a pop-up bubble. 

Source: Wordtune

Wordtune can suggest shorter, longer, more formal or more casual phrasing. And it all happens within Google Docs, so you don’t have to copy-paste text into another tab.   

5. Loom.

  • Ideal for: content marketing leaders and editors
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $8 per month
  • Typical use case: onboarding new writers and quick briefs

A screen capture and video tool in the form of a Chrome extension, Loom is a quick way to record a video of your face and your screen at once. It’s great for briefing new writers or walking an editor through a final revision.

Loom videos can also be embedded in blog posts, so you can share product walkthroughs with customers. 

Source: Loom


Loom videos are trackable, so you can record feedback viewers leave. That means it’s possible to view more engagement metrics than pageviews and time on site when you include a Loom in your content. 

Content optimization tools

Before you upload that article, you’ll want to make sure it’s primed for distribution. If you’re an SEO content marketer, that might mean optimizing content to include the right keywords, or compressing your images so they don’t bog down your page load time. These handy tools can help.

1. Clearscope.

  • Ideal for: content writers and marketers
  • Cost: starts at $170 per month
  • Typical use case: optimizing blog articles for search

What Ahrefs is to competitive research, Clearscope is to content optimization. 

This popular tool grades your article on word count and keyword density, headers, and gives it a readability score. Plus, it’s Google add-on lets you do all that within Google Docs.

Source: Clearscope

“[Clearscope] is honestly my favorite SEO tool because it's one of the few that's actually designed for writers, rather than analysts,” said content marketer Beth Owens. 

2. Frase.

  • Ideal for: consultants and small content teams
  • Cost: starts around $20 per month
  • Typical use case: SEO article outlines and keyword optimization

Frase helps on both the front- and backend of content writing for search engine optimization. 

Its AI copywriting tool pulls keywords and topics from Google to help you figure out how to structure a piece of content.

Source: Frase

Frase then generates an outline featuring a Clearscope-esque content grading tool that helps you include relevant keywords. It can even generate a first draft for content marketers to revise.

3. MarketMuse.

  • Ideal for: mid-sized content teams
  • Cost: freemium, plans start at $7,200 per year
  • Typical use case: briefing and content optimization

MarketMuse includes both pre- and post-production content tools. 

Source: MarketMuse

Its briefing tool uses natural language processing — so the briefs center on topics and search intent —  and MarketMuse claims it can produce a high-quality SEO brief in less than 30 minutes.

MarketMuse also has a drafting tool for AI-generated first drafts.

4. TinyPNG.

  • Ideal for: SEO content writers
  • Cost: free
  • Typical use case: compressing images for websites

Images can take up a lot of space on your website, and slow load times, which can hurt page experience metrics — an essential SEO factor. 

It’s considered a best SEO practice to compress images before uploading them. 

Image compression is often included in your website hosting. Alternatively, you can download Wordpress plugins, or use free tools like TinyPNG.

Source: TinyPNG

TinyPNG is what we use to compress all blog images before we stage articles here at MarketerHire. Why? It’s fast and free.

5. Yoast.

  • Ideal for: SEO and content marketers
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $99
  • Typical use case: optimizing web pages for SEO

A WordPress, Shopify, and WooCommerce plugin, Yoast provides keyword suggestions and alerts you when you need to update old content. 

It also offers an SEO checklist for blog articles and web pages, which helps content marketers remember finishing touches like internal linking and meta-titles. It’s great for double-checking your optimizations.

Source: Yoast

Content design and video tools

As much as content marketers love words, the best ones realize the importance of weaving in visuals. Whether you need an infographic for your blog or videos for your social media posts, these tools can make it happen.

1. Canva.

  • Ideal for: content marketers and designers
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start around $13 per month
  • Typical use case: designing social and website graphics

Canva is built for non-designers, making it a go-to for many content marketers needing to whip up a quick graphic, social media promotion or pie chart.

Source: Canva

Not only can you create visuals in Canva, but Barnes also presents webinar presentation slides directly from the platform. 

2. Unsplash.

  • Ideal for: content marketers and designers
  • Cost: free
  • Typical use case: website photography
Source: Unsplash

One of the best free image libraries out there, Unsplash’s archive hosts more than one million photos. It’s a great resource for sourcing photos for blog heroes, website photography, social media assets and more. 

3. Vidyard.

  • Ideal for: content marketers and producers
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $15 per month
  • Typical use case: streaming live webinars

Like Loom, Vidyard has a screen and video recording Chrome extension. But unlike Loom, Vidyard has a specific sales and marketing focus. 

Its platform is built for sharing videos via email, on websites or on social media. 

Source: Vidyard

Vidyard also integrates with LinkedIn and other platforms so people can stream your live webinars in multiple places.

4. Figma.

  • Ideal for: marketers and designers
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $12 per month
  • Typical use case: UX prototyping and designing for websites and apps

Figma is primarily a designer’s tool, but if your content team works on apps or website pages, it could be worth the investment. Figma has an extensive template library and lets you zoom out beyond a single webpage to see how a whole user journey fits together. 

Source: Figma

Zooming in and out and copying elements — it’s all pretty seamless within Figma. Friday.app and MarketerHire both use this tool to mock up website designs. 

“I think [the designer] likes it because it's really easy to share, too,” Spilker said. Content distribution tools

There’s no one right way to distribute content. It depends on where your audience is most engaged. Some brands are all over social whereas others dominate search or email. These tools don’t replace a distribution strategy — or quality content — but they can give you a boost. 

Content management systems

Nearly every marketing team has a website. And content marketers spend a good chunk of every week in whatever content management system (CMS) they use to publish blog posts and web pages. Here are the most popular, and why.  

1. WordPress.

  • Ideal for: semi-technical marketers on a budget
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $4 per month
  • Typical use case: hosting a blog or website

One of the more established CMS out there, WordPress is the “Swiss army knife” for website building. You can choose from a library of free and paid templates, and there’s a plugin for just about any widget you’d want. 

The cons? Those plugins tend to slow down your site, and they can be high maintenance. But content marketers like freelance marketer and writer Sammi Dittloff are impressed with WordPress’s block editor.

Source: Wordpress

“Between the plugins and themes, you can create any kind of page you want,” Ditloff said. “I love having control over every piece of my site.”

2. Webflow.

  • Ideal for: designers
  • Cost: freemium; paid CMS plans start at $16 per month
  • Typical use case: hosting a blog or website

Webflow works best for people “who need to design something special which isn't possible with the templated approach that WordPress has become famous for,” Nelson Jordan, head of marketing at Obodo, told MarketerHire.

Source: Webflow

Webflow’s interface is more visual and interactive — offering more flexibility with the design than WordPress templates, which gives WordPress sites a  more premium SaaS feel. 

Its editor is inferior to Wordpress’s, though, and it’s much more glitchy, according to MarketerHire editor-in-chief Mae Rice. Plus, you’re not able to preview blogs before publishing, like you can in WordPress.

Content distribution tools

There’s no one-size-fits-allway to distribute content. It depends on where your audience is most engaged. Some brands are all over social, whereas others dominate search or email. 

These tools don’t replace a distribution strategy — or quality content — but they can give you a boost. 

1. Quuu.

  • Ideal for: social media and content marketers
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $5 per month
  • Typical use case: promoting blog articles on social media

Quuu is like a social media pod — a network of people who agree to help promote other creators’ posts on just about every subject imaginable.

Source: Quuu

So, instead of just your company hyping up your new article on social media, you can leverage the followings of other creators. However, the content quality standards are high, Osman said. Self-promotional posts don’t get approved.

2. Hunter.io.

  • Ideal for: SEO and content marketers 
  • Cost: freemium; paid plans start at $49 per month
  • Typical use case: sourcing valid email addresses for outreach

Whether you’re looking to bolster your website and articles with quality backlinks or reach out to industry experts to inform and promote your content, Hunter.io helps content marketers find professional emails in seconds from a library of 100 million indexed emails. 

Source: Hunter.io

Users on both paid and free plans can download a Chrome plugin to search while browsing websites. The free plan lets users search for 25 email addresses per month. 

3. HubSpot.

  • Ideal for: B2B marketing teams
  • Cost: starts at $45 per month
  • Typical use case: CRM-powered email marketing and social media content

Including powerful email marketing automation and social media management tools, it's no wonder so many marketing teams use HubSpot to automate content distribution and measure content’s lead generation success. 

Source: HubSpot

This all-in-one marketing tool excels at distributing brand, thought leadership, and trend content to your email lists and followers. It even has a few simple SEO features built into its blog and landing page builder. 

Content measurement tools

1. Google Analytics

  • Ideal for: all content marketers
  • Cost: free
  • Typical use case: evaluating website traffic and behavior

A must-have tool for content marketers, Google Analytics is a marketing team’s command center for all things website-related. It offers real-time data on site sessions, page views, average session time, bounce rate and more. 

Source: Google Analytics

Sessions and pageviews tell you how you’re doing on distribution and bounce rate and session time tell you about your content quality. It’s also possible to set custom goals in Google Analytics for tracking down-funnel metrics and conversions. 

2. SEMrush.

  • Ideal for: SEO and content marketers and teams
  • Cost: starts around $120 per month
  • Typical use case: backlink and rank tracking

SEMrush has long been considered the gold standard of SEO tools, used for competitive and keyword research. But it’s also a tool content marketers turn to when they need to evaluate their SEO efforts. 

At a glance, SEMrush provides an estimate of the number of keywords a blog post ranks for, the amount of traffic it’s getting from social media sites, and even backlinks it’s accumulated over time.

Source: SEMrush

“Not only can it help give you an idea of where your website is performing in search rankings current[ly]... it also allows you to easily see what search terms your competitors are ranking for,” freelance content marketer Jessica McCune told MarketerHire. 

SEMrush is Ditloff’s SEO content tool of choice as well. “Even though I've used a lot of tools over the years, I keep coming back to SEMrush,” she said. 

3. Ahrefs.

  • Ideal for: SEO and content marketers and teams
  • Cost: starts at $99 per month
  • Typical use case: ranking and backlink tracking and content analysis

Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO and content tool known for its keyword and backlink data accuracy. It gives content marketers a robust estimate of how many backlinks their content has acquired, and can monitor keyword ranking changes over time. 

It’s also a great way to spy on a competitor’s SEO health and do content gap analysis by comparing their ranking content to yours. 

Source: Ahrefs

“With Ahrefs you're able to understand what your competition is ranking for, what their Domain Authority is, and which keywords are high enough volume and low enough difficulty to rank for,” Jordan said. 

You can then compare your competitors’ performance and site health to your own. 

4. StoryChief.

  • Ideal for: content and social media marketers
  • Cost: starts at $100 per month
  • Typical use case: measuring content distribution

An all-in-one content tool, StoryChief includes content optimization tools for SEO and readability and integrations that allow you to publish blog articles, promote to social media and email lists, and measure marketing campaign success, all from one app.

Source: StoryChief

“StoryChief is a great option for measuring content marketing if (like me) you aren't a Google Analytics pro,” said Mayfield. “You can use it to measure content impressions, reads and the number of leads driven from that content.”

Comparing the top content marketing tools

We’ve given you a comprehensive list of the best content tools in every category, but if you’re overwhelmed with options now — we’re here to help. This section pits popular content tools against each other, so you can better understand the benefits of each. 

Clearscope vs. Frase

Founded in 2016, Clearscope has been the go-to content optimization tool for the last few years. Recently, though, Frase (and its lower price point)  has given Clearscope a run for its money. The two tools have distinct strengths, according to content marketers. 

Feature comparison

While both Frase and Clearscope have competitor research, keyword research and SEO optimization features, Osman uses them for different tasks. 

“For me, Frase fits really well into that briefing stage where we're doing research. I think that's where Frase really shines,” explained Osman. 

However, she still uses Clearscope for SEO content optimization because she doesn’t believe Frase’s keyword research is as accurate.

Winner: Clearscope

Cost comparison

It’s nearly 4X more expensive to start with Clearscope than to start with Frase. That’s the primary reason Active Campaign growth content marketer Brendan Hufford says he uses Frase for personal projects. 

“The unlimited reports for 85% less cost make Frase the winner for me.”

Winner: Frase

Overall winner

If you’re more interested in using the content optimization features, choose Clearscope. If research and outline features matter more, or you’re on a tight budget, choose Frase. 

“We were deciding between Clearscope and Frase and selected Frase,” said Alessandra Colasi, VP of marketing at MailShake. “Both [are] great tools with similar features, but Frase seems to be adding really cool features often and is more cost effective.”

Winner: Frase

Notion vs. Google Docs

Notion may be 10 years younger than Google Docs, but it’s already impacting the tech giant’s word processing features. Google has now introduced features that mimic Notion, Fast Company reported — like interactive checklists. But the tools still have different advantages. 

Feature comparison

Working in Notion feels more like writing on the web than drafting in Google Docs, which is set up to mimic print, complete with page breaks. So for a digital-first marketing organization, Notion might feel more natural. 

But most content marketers have spent years in Google Docs, and those habits are hard to break. Content marketers love Google Docs because it’s so easy to edit and comment within docs. 

That’s where Notion falls a little short. While Notion has introduced comments, it doesn’t have a “suggest” feature, so it’s tricky to make collaborative line edits. 

Winner: Google Docs

Cost comparison

Both Google Docs and Notion are “freemium” tools when used in the workplace. While content  marketers could technically use both tools for free, especially in a freelance setup, both tools’ full sharing and editing functionalities require paid plans. 

Notion’s team plans start at $8 per user / month, while Google Workspace plans start at $6 per user / month

For two dollars less per user, Google Workspace users get custom email addresses and Google Meet access for up to 100 participants.

Winner: Google Docs

Overall winner

Google Docs’ intuitive “suggest” feature and lower cost bundled with other invaluable products make it a hard tool to replace. While web-first teams may love Notion, they might also end up paying for Google Workspace for email addresses and meetings anyway. 

Winner: Google Docs

Ahrefs vs. SEMrush 

Both well-respected all-in-one SEO tools, you can’t go wrong with either of these choices. However, each has subtle strengths and pricing differences worth considering. 

Feature comparison

“Ahrefs offers very comprehensive keyword research and backlinking data,” said Mayfield. “[W]hile SEMrush does a great job of offering tips to optimize content for SEO and research trending topics.” 

“I've tried both tools and while SEMrush has the same features as Ahrefs, I've found the latter to be more intuitive,” said Johnson. “The video tutorials for Ahrefs are the right amount of education and explanation. SEMrush seems to fit really well for agencies and Ahrefs seems to be a freelancer's tool of choice.”

Winner: Ahrefs

Cost comparison

At $119.95 per month, it’s slightly more expensive to start with SEMrush than Ahrefs. Ahrefs starts at just $99. 

However, SEMrush tops out at $449.95 for their premium plan and Ahrefs’ highest plan is $999 per month. That , $999 lets you add unlimited projects whereas $449.95 at SEMrush gets you 40 — so Ahrefs scales better for large agencies. 

Winner: Ahrefs

Overall winner

Ahrefs’ lower price and stronger keyword and backlink data make it a slightly better choice for most content marketers. That said, the two softwares are nearly identical. 

“Ahrefs for me is the ultimate.”  concluded Osman. “That's what I trust as far as numbers. The other [SEO tools] are more idea tools.”

Winner: Ahrefs

Content converts — with the right tools 

True content marketing pros can do it all, producing  everything from top-of-funnel blog posts to sales pages to distribution plans.

“To measure content marketing, you need to have your arms around the entire funnel — from the initial landing page to the final conversion,” said Johnson.

These content marketing tools help them tweak their production process so content creation runs smoothly, but you still need an expert to create and execute a sustainable content marketing strategy. 

If you’re looking to upgrade your content performance, hire an expert content marketer from our network of pre-vetted freelancers. Try MarketerHire today.

This story was originally published in June 2021 and was updated on March 30, 2022. Kelsey Donk also contributed to this story.

Camille Trent
about the author

Camille Trent is head of content at Dooly. A copywriter and marketing nerd, she's passionate about helping freelancers and creatives recognize their value and get the knowledge they need to win long term. When she's not writing, she's hanging out with her pup and two favorite redheads. Or she's trying to coach the Portland Trail Blazers to victory from her couch.

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