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When I started blogging over a year ago I had started a very basic blog page and just started writing posts. I didn't think that much into it.. and my blog was, for lack of a better word, terrible. I mean, it wasn't terrible in the sense of content. That part I was great with. It was more about the usability of my blog. It was horrible looking and hard to navigate..
I ended up changing platforms and realised how badly I went wrong in the beginning. I wasn't sharing content, I had a bad design, and noone was reading it. Now my blog is a lot better. So much better... and I want to share with you the best resources to help you improve and maintain your blog. I learnt the hard way, but you shouldn't have to! I hope this helps 😀
Alexa is the ULTIMATE analytics tool for website owners. There is a massive range of things you can check up on your site; a site ranking overview, site comparisons, most popular websites (globally and regionally), keyword analyses, and a site screener. Sounds great - but what's the downside? It costs money! Like most of these type of websites you only get a bitesize peice for free. It's enough to get you hooked though!
Why we love Alexa: You get access to for not just your own site, but any site, including your competitors. This includes but is not limited to your Alexa Rank, monthly unique visitors, site engagement, demographics, traffic sources and referring sites. And that is just the beginning!
If you haven't heard of Google Analytics, then you are probably not a blogger! This is the GO-TO analytics tool for bloggers. It easily integrates with your site and spits back metrics for your site on a daily basis.
Why we love Google Analytics: we have been using it since we became a hosted site. It has given us valuable information based on our users and their activities on the blog. You can get details on the age, interests and location of your users, in addition to their unique pageviews and sessions. Google Analytics is also widely known and recognised amongst companies who may be interested in sponsorship. The best part? It is completely FREE!
Tip: make sure you customise your analytics to disregard your personal IP address. If you don't you will pick up ALL of your views. Including when you preview a draft of a post.
Google Keyword Planner helps you search for keywords, get statistics, see how the keywords might perform.
Why we love keyword planner: this is a great SEO boosting tool. It helps you plan keywords to put in your posts, which in turn helps you rank higher in search engines when those keywords are searched. I am by no means an SEO expert though, so make sure you check out googles SEO Starter Guide.
Tip: Make sure to SKIP the AdWords Campaign section when you sign up. If you don't you will be stuck in this guide and unable to visit the planner.
Klout uses social media analytics to rank you according to your online social influence via the Klout Score. This is a numerical numerical value between 1 and 100; the more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score. The average Klout Score is 40; users with a score of 63 are in the top 5% of all users.
Why we love Klout: in addition to getting an insight in to your social media ranking which can help you figure out areas of work, you can also learn the best possible times for you to post to your accounts to gain interaction. This is when your followers are most active on social media. You can also schedule posts to go out at these times.
Mouseflow is one of our new favourite analytics sites. It records the activities of website users and provides the data, including a video, for you to see. Many paid packages exist, but there is also a FREE option which allows 99 recordings (99 individual users IP addresses), and access to these recordings, as well as heat maps, analytics (including site sources), time on pages, number of clicks etc.
Why we love Mouseflow: It records where your users click, where their mouse hovers, what lures them to click on things and generally how they interact with your site. The easy plugin embeds a code into the site whereby giving you real time access to your users behaviours.
Note: there is no way to turn off your own recording, so best to start it and not touch your site for a few hours to get some solid data.
PageSpeed Insights is another great tool by Google. It delivers you a report of the performance of both the desktop and mobile version of your website. You are given a score out of 100 for Speed and Usability for each platform; the higher, the better.
Why we love PageSpeed Insights: After you test your site it will give you options for how to fix the problems causing your site to load slower. You can easily install plugins which target these problems and your site will be back up to speed.
Peek User Testing is a great new site I only recently found. The idea is that you register your site details and email address, and someone will test your desktop and mobile version of your site. The test is voice and video recorded for you to see when it is complete.
Why we love Peek: this is a great way to get feedback from users of your site. Both those from your demographic and those who aren't. This is another great FREE tool as well!
Googles Webmaster Tools helps you to identify issues with your site, including if it is ever infected with malware.
Why we love Webmaster Tools: In addition to detecting issues with your site, you can also look at search rankings, add a sitemap for google crawlers to find, and look at keywords bringing in traffic. Just another great FREE tool by Google.
If you are blogging on something other than WordPress, it's time for a change. I seriously recommend you change your platform, and there is only one that I will vouch for. Honestly changing to WordPress was the best decision I ever made.
You may be perfectly happy blogging where you are now and that is totally OK! This is just my personal opinion.
For those of you who don't know, WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool. It's probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system (CMS) in existence. That is almost a direct quote, so you know I am not lying now! 😉
Why we love WordPress: The initial free blog that you can sign up for is great to begin with. When you're ready, you can register your own personal domain and start using an even better version of WordPress. You can be hosted, or self-hosted, and WordPress.org has all the information you need to get started. If you want to be hosted, you need to sign up with a host, and then integrate their system with your WordPress. I will have more on Host Providers on this same page!
Everything you need to know about starting an online business or blog.
Why we like ByRegina: It is an amazing online resource for those starting out at blogging. Seriously. She has EVERYTHING you could possibly want to know about. I created my business plan by using her awesome business planner. Every day I head to her site just to read a different post and learn something new.
SEO software, tools, and resources for better marketing; getting started with SEO and how to best maximise the potential of your social media platforms.
Why we like Moz: the Moz Blog has some invaluable tips and tricks to best utilise your social media accounts to get the most traffic. In particular, the post about Google +! So many people find G+ useless or just do not how to use it, and this post is sure to help with that.
SEO. Domain authority. Html and CSS. Backlinking. Digital marketing. Keyword ranking.
Luke will nut out what is important and what is not in Next Level Travel Blogging. Join the community on Facebook as well.
Why we love Next Level Travel Blogging: I have already mentioned Luke and his blog Backstreet Nomad, and this is the newest section of his blog. It is always great to learn from a fellow travel blogger what has worked, and what has not worked, when it comes to the blogging process. There is nothing better than a community of these people all helping each other out, striving to do better, for our readers.
Pro Blog School is all about turning your blog in to a profitable business; a guide for the first timer to monetising their blog, or starting a small business. If you are at that stage with your blog then you should definitely check this one out.
Why we like Pro Blog School: this was an invaluable tool when I decided to start monetizing The Heritage Travels. This resource has become my GO-TO guide for earning money from your blog.
ProBlogger is another great resource to help you learn how to monetise your blog. Blogposts, podcast, eBooks and so much more information is available for the newbie.
Why we like ProBlogger: It is not just for monetisation, in addition, there are great tips on blogging in general as well as how to get more traction with readers.
The Professional Travel Bloggers Association (PTBA) is a non-profit group made up of travel bloggers for the purpose of furthering the profession. The PTBA strives to provide education and resources so that more travel bloggers will be able to make a living via blogging, and also provide guidelines and direction to improve the overall professionalism of the industry.
Why we like PTBA: Like all careers, it is important to have an association devoted to the professionalism of the job,which also provides guidelines for your work. The Travel Bloggers Association gives you that, as well as unlimited access to the travel blogging world; resources and education.
Travel Blog Success is an online course and community packed with best practices and all the guidance you need to create your own indie travel blog.
Why we like Travel Blog Success: this course gives you a giant leap forward in the travel blogging world, with great tips and invaluable networking.
Creative Cloud gives you the best of Adobe's creative tools, always up to date.
Why we like Creative Cloud: You get access to Photoshop, Premier Pro, After Effects and so many other Adobe products. The first 30 days is free and then you can decide which plan you want to go on. I absolutely LOVE the Adobe products and recommend that EVERYONE uses it for video and photo editing. Especially if your blog is going to be primarily photos.
Easily create graphics with beautiful designs and professional layouts to create consistently stunning graphics.
Why we love Canva: After only recently being told about Canva, I have become seriously addicted. It is the BEST online graphic design tool that I have come across. You can easily create social media graphics, or graphics for documents and blog posts, just by using a simple drag and drop method. Great for Pinterest images.
One of the easiest ways to make slideshows, musical videos, lipsyncs, stop-motion and more, with millions of free music clips.
Why we love Flipagram: This is one of the best platforms to create videos which are supported by Instagram.. and it is a great way to show off your best pictures from the year.
PicMonkey makes creative tools for photo editing and graphic design.
Why we like Picmonkey: This is a great online tool for photo editing. I use it to create all of my featured images throughout my blog.
Launched this year is the newest mashup app Trio. It pulls content, such as GIFs, photos, movies and music, from your own phone and the internet in order to create a 30-second mashup.
Why we like Trio: Trio is the mashup app with a difference. In addition to your own photos and videos, Trio accesses media from third party sites, to create your own unique remix. The only downfall is that it is only available on iTunes. Hopefully they are working on an android version!
First and foremost, the most important thing you can do to kick off networking of your blog, is to join various Facebook travel blogging groups and join in their daily or weekly networking. There are a lot of groups out there but the ones I highly recommend would be: Travel Bloggers Social Media Sharing Group, Travel Bloggers Mega Share, and the Under 1000 Club. These groups have been invaluable when it comes to my social media and blog networking.
MailChimp is an email marketing service accessed through a web or mobile based applications.
Why we love MailChimp: After only recently finding the delight of MailChimp, we have become truly addicted to the style and ease of using MailChimp. This great service helps you create mailing lists and easily design email templates. It is seriously the best subscriber service that I have discovered to date. The great thing is that it is so easily integrated with your WordPress website, and your current subscribers.
TBEX is the Travel Bloggers Exchange. It is the largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, and social media travel industry professionals.
EVERY YEAR, TBEX PARTNERS WITH FANTASTIC DESTINATIONS IN NORTH AMERICA AND EUROPE TO BRING THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY’S MOST CREATIVE MINDS TOGETHER TO LEARN, NETWORK AND DO BUSINESS.
Why we love TBEX: It is THE place for Travel Bloggers to learn, network, and take their blog to the next level.
Injects any advert (e.g. AdSense) into your WordPress posts or widget area. Restrict who sees the ads by post length, age, referrer or IP. Cache compatible.
Monitors and prevents malicious clicks on Adsense ads. Could prevent an exclusion from your Google Adsense account.
Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from spam.
Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog.
WordPress itself is a very secure platform. However, it helps to add some extra security and firewall to your site by using a security plugin that enforces a lot of good security practices.
BackWPup Free can be used to save your complete WordPress installation to an external backup service, like Dropbox, S3, and FTP, etc. With a single backup .zip file you are able to easily restore your installation.
Check your blog for broken links and missing images, and get notified via the dashboard or email, if any are found.
Automatically place a link to your readers last blog post at the end of their comment, to encourage a community and discover new posts.
A simple, intuitive and elegant, fully documented Google map plugin that installs as a widget and/or a short code.
The external links plugin for WordPress lets you process outgoing links differently from internal links.
Display Google Analytics Reports and Real-Time Statistics in your Dashboard.
Generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better index your blog.
Makes your website multilingual and available to the world using Google Translate.
Provides fixes for selected WordPress bugs, so you don't have to wait for the next WordPress core release.
Imsanity automatically resizes huge image uploads down to a size that is more reasonable for display in browser, yet still more than large enough for typical website use.
Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users.
This plugin helps you add subscribers to your MailChimp lists using various methods. You can create good looking opt-in forms or integrate with any other form on your site, like your comment form or WooCommerce checkout.
Easy to use slideshow plugin which creates SEO optimised responsive slideshows.
The most popular gallery plugin for WordPress and one of the most popular plugins of all time with over 12 million downloads.
Create your own custom travel map, link locations on the map to blog posts, and share your travel plans.
See which plugins are slowing down your site.
A drag and drop, responsive page builder that simplifies building your website pages and posts.
Keeps track of what your visitors are searching for on your website.
Manage all your website redirection types easily.
Whether you want to get people sharing, grow your fans, make money, or know who's reading your content, Shareaholic will help you get it done.
Create a "Scroll to top / Back to top" feature in any post/page of your WordPress website.
Create a context specific index or table of contents for long pages,and custom post types.
Test your theme for all the latest WordPress standards and practices.
Sends HTTP PURGE requests to URLs of changed posts/pages when they are modified.
Add Google, Yahoo, Bing, Alexa and Pinterest meta tag verification codes to your site and gets ownership verified.
See all your posts, and drag and drop them into a calendar to manage your schedule.
WP Edit adds extensive, additional editing functionality to the default WordPress editor.
A very fast caching engine for WordPress that produces static html files.
Simple but effective plugin allows you to extensively clean up your WordPress database and optimize it without doing manual queries.
Make your WordPress website mobile-friendly with just a few clicks.
Displays pages, posts, and custom post types related to the current entry, introducing your readers to other relevant content on your site.
Considering I have only ever had my site hosted by the one company, and they have been incredible to me, there is only one company I am going to vouch for here...
DreamHost provides domain registration, web hosting and cloud services to 1.5 million sites, blogs and applications, and supports over 400,000 web designers, developers, content creators, small businesses and entrepreneurs with the power of the Open Web.
Why we love DreamHost: These guys are cheap, friendly, and extremely easily integrated with a WordPress blog. Every time we have had an issue (this has occurred often during our time learning), DreamHost Support has been so quick to fix the problem. They get our site back up and running so fast and it baffles me every time.
We receive a small commission from our affiliates if you decide to purchase from an affiliate resource. Please note that The Heritage Travels will only advertise for products and brands we know and trust.