If you are a new blogger or are struggling with a blogging issue, I might be able to help you.
Please send details of your problem to kp.nd.2008@gmail.com. Pl do not make generic queries (e.g. how can I start a blog or why am I not getting traffic on my blog). Please do not spam with many queries.

Best blog design is one that shows your best content on top

Topmost blog design advice ever!

When you think of design of your blog, or any other type of website, what comes to your mind? Its appeal? Colors, backgrounds and fonts? Columns and their content? Widgets and plugins?
  1. I think, the best web designing advice anyone can give you is that Your blog or website must have great navigation: visitors should be able to easily find what they are looking for.
  2. Its topmost content must come on top: it must show up at the first opportunity.
In this post, I will deal with the second advice. 

The design and layout of any website should be such that people are served this main content when they visit the website. On the web, visitors do not have the patience to visit the bottom of the web page to look for the content and then select the best. It is the top 8-10 inches of space on your blog's desktop version and top 2-3 inches on its mobile version.

During our review of blogs and compilation of blog directories, we look at thousands of blogs every few months. Our experience tells us that bloggers do not make the best use of the opening screen of the website or individual pages. They either clutter it with too many elements or put a big image there. On many websites and blogs, the first page has almost nothing and the real content shows up after clicking on the homepage.

Many big companies use this space with their latest product, a prestigeous award they recently received, an important announcement or an impressive image that displays their core strength. These help in brand building or serve some other purpose. In such cases, the space is productively utilized for showcasing the best thing of that time.

On blogs, the most important content mostly is the posts - the refreshing content. So, in most cases, the top should be simple, with the latest post coming soon after the title space.

Menu bar is one item that greatly helps navigation within the website/ blog. When you give it a prime place in the top of the screen it makes use of both the topmost principles of web designing (as given above: good navigation and showing top content).

Blog and website design ideas for the top portion


Let me take the discussion one step forward and give you some elements that should occupy the top part of the screen:
  • A well-composed title, within a thin title bar.
  • Pithy and SEO-optimised description (about the company/ blog/ blogger). 
  • An appropriate background in the title space, or no background.
The above elements make the title area. These together should brand you/ your website/ a product.
  • Menu bar. The menu bar can be above, below , upon or on the side of the title. There should be provision to collapse it or customize it for mobile devices.
  • Something great to announce (e.g. the latest product, a discount sale, upcoming webinar). 
  • If something is not there to announce, think of something that will do great branding.
  • On the blog, display the main content just under the title.
  • On mobile version of the site/ blog, ensure that the best content shows up in one column.
  • If your website or blog has one or two sidebars, let their top portions show the best widget. On blogs, the most important category or latest posts or something that you want to promote through the blog can come here. 
Do not clutter the blog with too many elements placed together or their weird coloring and arrangement.  Take special care that the top portion is not at all cluttered even if you cannot avoid having some clutter in the lower part.

If you monetize the website or blog through advertisements, put just one ad in the top portion of the blog. The idea is to get visitors' attention to the ad so that they click on it, and at the same time, the ad should not clutter the prime space on the website.

Website design and attention map

    
blog design idea using attention map
Website attention map

I have put on the linked post an attention map of websites, as shared by Google. The attention map given above shows which areas of a website are looked at by website visitors more than other areas. In this picture, orange color shows the greatest attention, yellow lesser and white low attention received from visitors. 

Notice that the top, center and left of the top portion of the website invite the most attention. (When the visitor happens to scroll down, the footer part also gets good attention.)

not a good blog design

The above image shows total waste of top portion of a blog. Half of the screen is covered by a big image on which the title and description are written. If the image represented the core business of the blog, that would give some justification for that image but that is not the case; the blog is on cinema. In fact, even the lower portion of the screen should have a picture and not an ugly placeholder for a movie.

In contrast, look at the screenshot of a news blog below. The design is simple and the top portion has title, description, menu bar, the top news of the day and a collage of other news items. Next to the title, there is even an ad. To accommodate other categories of news, there is another menu bar (in yellow color) under the main news area - these less important news items do not take prime space and yet are accessible in one click. 

news blog design idea

If you carefully look at the topmost professional websites, you will find their web design simple - and their top portion very functional and yet clean. If they are colorful and experimental, there must be some purpose that outweighs other considerations. In any case, no professional website wastes the prime space at the top portion of the screen. 

If you look at the top blogs, you will find the same principles of design applied to them.  Even when these blogs need to have many widgets, they accommodate the most important ones in the top part. 

I will like to offer this very blog, Top blogs, exposed to scrutiny. I have kept its top simple to the core, with just the title and description. These are followed by a menu bar and then the latest post starts. There is a strip of advertisements just under the title. This is an experiment I am running on AdSense and these ads have been placed there by Google. Please note that even after Google has placed this (rather unappealing) ad strip just below the title, the description and menu bar are still visible to the visitor.   

blog web design ideas


Blog themes that give a clean web design


On Wordpress as well as Blogger, there are many themes that have an appealing design and efficiently laid out top portion. I advise that you go for a theme that gives easy navigation, display of top content in the top portion of the screen and clean (not cluttered) overall look.
Also don't forget to check the mobile version of the theme for same attributes.

How to make money with Google Adsense

When you start a blog, you do so either as a hobby - just to put your thoughts into it OR you make the blog to earn money out of it. Earlier, most people created blogs for the first reason, but now the trend is towards trying to make money out of blogging. 

Bloggers and small website owners can make money with AdSense without knowing any tech, even with a free blog and without spending a penny on web hosting, web designing, etc.

In this post, I have tried to simplify things for bloggers who don't know the subject of making money from AdSense. The tips given here will work well in 2021 and beyond. 

Because the post is an all-in-one post on AdSense, it has become quite big. So, I have divided it into two parts. If you do not know how Google Ads work on blogs and websites, you would want to learn as much as you can: if so, continue reading the rest of the post. If you already have AdSense on your blog or are interested only in tips to make more money with Adsense ads, jump to this section: What must be done so that AdSense really earns dollars for you.

AdSense meaning, and how AdSense works

AdSense is an advertisement network run by Google, through which advertisers can place their ads on websites. AdSense is the biggest web ad-network.

Let me tell you how advertisements are placed through AdSense and how bloggers and other website owners make money with AdSense :
  • How AdSense ads are placed on websites: Advertisers register on AdSense site and tell it to serve their ads on different websites. They also set their budget for the ad campaign and tell AdSense how much it should pay to the website owner/ blogger when someone sees or clicks on the ad.
  • Making money with AdSense: Bloggers and website owners register on the same AdSense site for placing advertisements on their blogs/ websites. Once AdSense approves his application, the blogger specifies what type of advertisements he wants on webpages (advertisements are available in different shapes, sizes, colors, choice of picture, etc) and in which places (top, bottom, sidebars). When the ads are published on webpages and visitors click on them, Google pays to the blogger/ website owner at a rate that is determined based on many factors - the most important being how much cost the advertiser has fixed for one click. 

Let's talk more on these topics one by one, but before that: What are the requirements for having an AdSense account? 

AdSense requirements


You have to apply for AdSense approval for your blog or website. Once Google approves your application, it gives you some code that you can put on your site. After that, it keeps giving you money whenever people click on your ads.

When you apply for AdSense, it is usually approved by Google within a day or week. But a number of bloggers see their applications rejected. The main reasons for rejection of the AdSense application are :

  • technical reasons (e.g. not filling the application form properly or not putting the AdSense code on the blog)
  • very new blog or website (in some countries, Google approves accounts only when they are 6 month old)
  • not enough content on the website or blog
  • content on the website/ blog is of very poor quality

Even when the blog is initially approved for AdSense, Google can reject the blog later if it finds that the blog is not following Google's policies. The common actions disliked by Google on AdSense are:

  • using improper means to bring traffic to the blog 
  • clicking on own ads
  • asking people to click on the ads
  • using copy-pasted content from others' websites/ blogs
  • putting inappropriate content, e.g. pornographic material
Don't worry. If your blog is not getting approval or has been rejected later on, you can take corrective actions to get your blog approved. On the linked post, I have given tips on what to do so that your application for AdSense is not rejected, and what to do if your AdSense application has been rejected. Please visit this Top Blogs link for more details: Google AdSense sign up: fixing issues

Please note that you can use AdSense only when you have the permission to alter the HTML code of your blog. Blogger platform allows that very easily (details below). You can put AdSense ads on Tumblr blog too. Wordpress, Medium and LiveJournal free blogs do not give this facility. Paid blogging platforms such as Ghost allow AdSense because you can modify your blog's HTML. You can put AdSense ads on any blog or website that is self-hosted (= created through any content management system (CMS) such as wordpress.org, Joomla, Drupal; or through website builders; or through HTML tools and then hosted on a web host).

Steps for Google AdSense sign up

  • Go to this site: AdSense: start
  • Open your account; signup by filling all the required details. [If you already have a Google account, you can use that for AdSense also.]
  • Copy code and paste it in the <head> section of your website/ blog. Follow these steps for this:
  • On Blogger blogs, it is very simple: on the dashboard, go to Theme, then open theme editor. Search </head> in the HTML. Just before this closing tag, paste the code. 
  • Go to Layout and put the desired ad either between blog posts or as a gadget (=widget) anywhere on the blog.
  • Since Blogger and AdSense both belong to Google, the ads will appear on your blog after AdSense is approved.
  • On other websites/ blogs, after you have placed the code before </head> tag, you need to go to your AdSense account. Go to 'Ad units' and create new ad units of whatever size, shape and color you want. Then you copy the given code and past it on the HTML of the website/ blog at the location you want.
  • If your blog is not on Blogger platform and you do not have the confidence to manipulate the blog's HTML, look for a plugin that might be there for placement of AdSense or HTML or Javascript on the blog. Most website builders, CMSs and premium Wordpress plans have plugins for this purpose.

AdSense has a system of automatic placement of advertisements using the Auto ads facility: if you opt for this, you do not have to bother where the ads will appear on the blog because using its artificial intelligence tools, Google will decide the best placement for AdSense ads on your blog. This option is available in the AdSense account: 'Auto Ads' is just below 'Ads' on the dashboard.  


how adsense works
Ads can be posted at different places on the blog.

Tips for making good money with AdSense

AdSense advertisements are everywhere, but not many people earn handsomely from their blogs or other websites by using AdSense. There are many reasons for that, and if you are an established blogger and still not earning well from AdSense, you must pay attention to the minutest detail of your blog and the way ads have been placed on your blog and take necessary corrective actions.

Carefully read the following sections:

How AdSense works: it works only when you take the right actions


For great AdSense earnings, you need good traffic and also people clicking on the ads. If you can crack both, you have the key to success. But if you lack in one, the other one cannot compensate for that. Mind it, the second one is more important than the first!

Good traffic would mean that a large number of people who are interested in the blog's content visit the blog. There are a dozen ways to get good traffic. You need to:

  • Have the blog in the right niche, i.e. choosing the subject that gets good amount of traffic. If your blog talks about a very narrow subject, not many people would come there naturally. So, a niche with good to high traffic is the first requirement.
  • Write quality content. If  you have a photoblog, have your best photos there. If your blog is a curation of others' content or is a news blog, showcase the most interesting things on top of the blog. This may not help too much in getting traffic directly, but it gets indirect traffic as visitors bookmark and share the blog/ post and refer it to others. When the quality of the content is good, visitors stay on the blog for a longer time, and the chances of their clicking the ads increases.
  • Optimize the blog for search engines, i.e. SEO. For better search traffic, each post has to be optimized for keywords that get good traffic but do not face too much competition. A bit of research is required here because high-traffic keywords have already been optimized to the hilt by others. 
Many SEO experts suggest that if you are not getting much search traffic, you should go for extra long keywords and target small audiences - this way, you come on top of at least some search pages and get traffic from them. In addition, getting good references from others (e.g. back links on other blogs, sharing on social media) is necessary for a blog for its moving up on the search pages.
  • Cross-post on social media. You must re-purpose your posts' content on social media. Do not copy-paste but make 2-3 tweets out of each post, make a short post for Facebook, one for LinkedIn (or whichever social platform suits your type of blog) and give links back to the main post. 
However, do not expect enough traffic from social media unless you are quite active there and have many followers. Social platforms often try to serve promoted (=paid for) posts more than organic ones and Facebook does not even serve your page's posts to all your followers if you do not promote the post.
  • Offer feed or subscription so that people regularly read your blog. Send regular emails to people who subscribe to your blog. Promote the blog's individual posts among your acquaintances who would be interested in that content.
  • Go for paid promotion. If nothing else works, advertise your blog on social media and websites. Ads served by Google, Facebook and Twitter are among the easiest methods to publicize the blog/ website on the web.

There also are many ways to make people click on the ads. Consider these:

  • Make visitors stay longer on the blog. For this, your headlines need to catch attention, and the content needs to be engaging.  As said earlier, good content not only attracts traffic, it makes people read it and thus stay longer on the blog. You can increase the time of stay also by putting images, videos and infographics.
  • Induce people to click on ads. Asking people to click on ads is not allowed, but you can induce visitors to click on ads by putting focused content. This will also increase the probability that visitors are served relevant ads. 
Suggest an action that would encourage them to check out the ads. For example, on a post on cameras, visitors can be told to check the latest offers from different brands and compare them according to the sensor size. There is a good probability that the post would get AdSense ads on cameras... and the visitor might feel that he should check the sensor size of the cameras being advertised.
  • Don't go overboard with advertisements. Placing too many ads and from many advertisers may invite AdSense penalty. Even if that does not happen, visitors might get irritated and may decide not to stay longer on the blog.
  • Optimize ads. AdSense itself has many options (Go to dashboard and click on 'My ads'). You may want to avoid ads of certain types. You can think of placing large ads at prominent locations on the blog. You could also think of running A/B test [You let AdSense serve different ads at different places on your blog to different visitors and after some days, it would tell you which ones were clicked more.]
There are other options worth checking on the AdSense dashboard and optimizing the blog for AdSense. AdSense site also also lists best practices for making the best use of this ad platform.
  • Go for Auto ads. This feature does the work of proper sizing and placement of ads on your blog. So, if you do not want to manually experiment with the size and placement of ads, this option would suit you.

Google AdSense earnings: how good are they?


If you have your blog in the right niche and you take the right actions for traffic, optimization, content, etc as well as proper placement of AdSense ads on your blog/ website, you can have good earnings from AdSense. 
 
Google does not allow sharing earning data, so I cannot share how much I am earning from the present blog. But if you search for AdSense income on Google, you will find some reports of bloggers earning over $10,000 a month from their blogs! Even if you discount exaggerated claims, there seems to be a good scope of making money with AdSense if you take the right actions. 

You should start with the target of more than a thousand dollars a year only if your blog/ website is in a well-paying niche, you have properly optimized it for paying keywords, you have a good social media presence and you use that for bringing traffic to the blog, and AdSense ads are properly optimized. 

Can you make big money with AdSense alone?


That depends on many factors, but in most situations, you will need to add more ways of earning than depending solely on AdSense earnings. 
 
If the blog/ website is only a supplementary source of income, AdSense alone may make some money for you. However, many successful bloggers who earn their livelihood from blogging have reported that they do not depend entirely on AdSense, because it cannot earn you beyond a point however much you optimize your blog for it. 
 
If you want the blog to earn enough like a full-time enterprise, you must also think of other streams of making money, e.g. affiliate advertisements, product reviews, etc. In fact, the top bloggers do not depend upon the blog fully for earning. They make the blog the center of all their earning activities and add non-blogging activities such as selling courses to supplement blogging income. 
 
So,  go for a couple of earning streams together and don't depend only on earning from AdSense. In the linked post I share experiences of some bloggers on making money blogging

Remember that
  • AdSense is not the only way to make money from blog/ website; there are many other streams for making money through blogging.
  • Blog itself is not a stand-alone entity for making money online; you should add activities that make synergy with blogging.

    What Google "mobile first indexing" means for SEO, and what changes from March 2021?

    In March 2021, Google implements 100% mobile first indexing. Are you prepared? What all should you do to be up-to-date in terms of SEO?

    Just from a knowledge point of view too, a number of queries arise: Does 'mobile first indexing' mean that Google now has two types of search bots and it maintains two types of search indexes of websites? Is mobile first indexing a sudden change? Does it impact our websites or blogs from SEO point of view? What happens to the desktop versions of websites on Google search?

    What is mobile first indexing?

    Mobile first indexing means this: For ranking websites and web pages for search purposes, Google (or any other search engine) gives precedence to the mobile version. When a mobile version is available, that one is assessed for indexing. 

    Does Google maintain a separate index for mobile websites?

    No.

    Google has clarified this recently: ... there isn't a separate mobile-first index; Google Search continues to use only one index. Google Search continues to show the URL that is the most appropriate to users (whether it's a desktop or mobile URL) in Search results.

    Is mobile first indexing a sudden decision by Google?

    Google started taking mobile search more seriously than desktop search as early as 2016. In a blog post in that year, it announced: To make our results more useful, we've begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site's content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we're going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.

    The experiment continued in the following years. Starting July 2019, Google started 'mobile-first' indexing on all new websites by default. It wanted to take it to all webpages by September 2020, but postponed it to March 2021 because of Covid-19 pandemic.

    There is no mobile only indexing yet. But whether you like it or not, Google is forcing all website owners to move towards giving a better user experience on smartphones. Most websites that care for search traffic would have fallen or would soon fall in line; those who do not will suffer. 

    Is my website or blog crawled by Google's mobile bot or desktop crawler?

    Google has said that by this time, over 70% of websites are being crawled by its mobile crawler.

    Go to Google Search Console and open your website/ blog. Under Settings menu, you will have information on whether your website is already being crawled by Googlebot Smartphone - which is the crawler for mobile sites (see the screenshot given here).

    mobile-first indexing

    Why mobile first indexing?

    Google says, web search is now carried out more and more on smartphones. Of all the search traffic on Google, over 60% came from mobile devices in 2020 and the number is on the rise. It is natural that to serve people who make searches on mobile phones, Google would like to rank the web pages higher if they have more value for users of these devices. 

    What should a small business owner or blogger do so that his website or blog does not lose?

    Google itself has come out with details on how mobile first indexing can hurt websites that have different websites for desktop and mobiles, and what the best practices are. For a layman, these could be confusing, but don't sweat; just take some actions that are given here unless your website or blog is very old highly customized (but in that case, you will hire a techie, won't you?)

    So that your website or blog does not lose in terms of SEO because of Google's new search crawling norms in favor of mobile sites, you should ensure the following. 

    • If you are a blogger on a progressive blogging platform (including Wordpress and Blogger) or your site is mobile-ready by design (it does not have a separate mobile site), you need not take a major action
    • Have a mobile version (in addition to the normal website). Modern themes/ templates on blogging platforms and website builders have this as a default feature. If you are not sure, you can check your website by typing the URL of your website or any of its webpages on web browser and adding ?m=1 at the end like this:

    www.example.com >> www.example.com?m=1

    • Ensure that the mobile site has the same content as your desktop version, otherwise some of your content will not be indexed by Google. Since the mobile version has to be mobile-friendly, some information is presented in a different way and some is hidden or not displayed at all. For example, the top menus of the desktop versions may disappear altogether. That is all right if your users on mobile phones do not lose in terms of navigation, engagement, etc, but the website would lose in terms of SEO if the mobile version is deficient. 

    Therefore, look closely how the website renders on desktop, tablet and mobile versions. If the menus and sidebar of the desktop version disappear altogether in the thinner versions, you are losing big in terms of discovery of content by visitors. On many website/ blog themes, developers have taken care to give placeholders for hidden menus (in the form of dots or lines) or adjusted the menus on top or bottom of the screen. However, when that is not provided (old theme not updated for mobile-friendliness), one must manually place the menus by tweaking the code for the mobile version. (On Wordpress and Blogger, the code of the theme has to be changed where mobile version's features are coded.)

    • Also check whether the mobile version is as good in terms of user experience. If the mobile version has all the content that is available on the desktop version but the text is rendered in small size and is unreadable, or the speed is slow or a popup covers the entire screen and does not show how to close it, it will have a very bad impact on the ranking of the website though the desktop version might look fantastic.
    • Related to the above is to ensure that you have not made manual changes to the site in a way that they will not automatically apply to the mobile site. For example, if you have marked some internal webpages as noindex or nofollow, they might not apply to the mobile version. 
    • Have the metadata about the website same on both the versions.

    If your website or blog needs a big change, look at the detailed technical details on the mobile-first indexing best practices page on Google (link given in the previous para)

    Take note that mobile-friendliness has to do with display as well as other features. Though Google has not directly told it anywhere, webmasters should also think of changes in the content so that the webpages are mobile-friendly. For example, 

    • Since it is not easy to read long chunks of text on mobile devices, shorter posts give a better user experience. So, it would be better to break long posts into a series of posts.
    • Images pose a problem when their width is not set in percentage terms or responsive for different device widths. But they have another problem when they are squeezed to fit the width of the smartphone: things become smaller, and embedded text can become unreadable. So, it will help to edit images having embedded text, keeping smartphones in mind.

    With mobile first indexing, does Google show mobile version on desktop search?

    Google tries to show you the web pages that render the best on your device. It will show you the mobile version of search results on the mobile device and desktop versions on desktops and laptops. 

    So that the version that shows up and that is indexed do not confuse you, let me show how mobile-first indexing works, with this example: 

    Earlier Top Blogs (the blog that you are reading) used to be crawled by the legacy crawler but it is now being indexed by its smartphone crawler. The display of the website and its web pages happens to be exactly the same as earlier: a 2-column display on laptops and a single-column display on smartphones.

    What has changed it like this: The desktop version of a web page (e.g this relevant page on search engine optimization: What is SEO) was ranking based on Google's ranking parameters, say with a value x. Now, the smartphone crawler does not crawl this web page but its mobile version and may rank it higher or lower than x depending on its ranking parameters.

    Top 40 free tools for bloggers, website owners, authors, SEO, designers in 2021

    We bring you the updated list of 40 useful websites, apps and tools for bloggers, web writers, authors, newspersons, photo and video editors - all those who create and modify content for the web or elsewhere. Some of these are excellent tools for other purposes such as Search Engine Optimization, web security, and checking whether someone has stolen your content.

    Each of these free tools/ apps have been used by me and my friends and blogger friends. I have only included websites and software when I find them safe, stable and really useful. 

    Tools that do not install well or are reported to install junk on your computer, those with useless features in their free versions, and tools/ apps that are not found totally safe in my and others' reviews have been rejected. 

    Some of the entries in this free tools' list are freemium tools - these have free as well as paid versions.

    Repeat: all these great tools/ sites/ apps are FREE!

    Free writing tools for bloggers, writers

    A magnificent spelling and grammar checker for English, which checks passages online, integrates with MS Word and has browser extensions too. (Has paid plans also.)

    Another fantastic free online grammar and readability checker. Hemingway app also tells you how good or bad your writing it, suggesting ways to improve it. (It also has a paid desktop version.)

    If you are a blogger writing in English, I strongly recommend that one of the above two should be your essential blogging tool.

    This alternative to MS Office and other office suites is a workhorse and integrates well with other Google products such as Google Sheets. 

    This comes in this list because of its versatility for web use. In addition to being a good word processor like Word, Google Docs is available to you wherever you go if you have an internet connection. You can collaborate with others, go back to history, share the document with access control, etc.   

    Google Docs, Sheets, Form, Slides and Drawings are all FREE apps and the documents you create through them are stored in your Google Drive.

    A very comprehensive dictionary cum thesaurus that is available offline and also online. The offline app integrates well with all Windows programs. 

    Wordweb is free forever if you declare that you are not rich enough to buy it!

    If you need typing in languages other than English, this tool (has web and app versions) is a must for you. With intuitive word formation, it can type in 121 languages instantly as you type in English. 

    Though your blogging or website platform might have option to input different languages, I recommend that you bookmark this tool on your browser and use it as an independent language blogging tool if you work in languages other than those written in Roman script.

    You can translate between a number of languages instantly online. However, there is a character limit. You should do a check before you use the translation, because some expressions might not look good. If you are signed in through Google, it also stores earlier translations! 

    Helps you create and test headlines that attract attention and perform well on the web and elsewhere. 

    Because headlines act as a hook for drawing readers' attention, I recommend this tool to bloggers and other content creators.

    Free plagiarism checking tools 

    We have not come across any completely free tool that we can recommend. However, these are good freemium tools, though with limitations. Also note that even the best premium plagiarism checkers cannot check plagiarism 100 percent.

    Has online 'plagiarism checker' tool and a tool for comparing two articles. You should use this tool when you want to check whether an article has copy-pasted text.

    The free plagiarism checker comes with options (URL, text chunk) to check duplicate content.

    Free image, audio and video tools

    image editing tools
    Inkscape and Gimp are the best free image/ photo tools.

    Gimp is the best photo editing app available free, and is equal to the industry standard - Photoshop. It has almost all that Photoshop has, a bit less here and a bit more there. 

    With Gimp free image editor, you can make all types of images for any job including making graphics for blogs and websites. You can touch up photos, make computer graphics, apply numerous effects... The learning curve is steep, but you can take help from web tutorials.

    This free image tools is as good for drawing and making vector graphics (images that do not pixelate when enlarged) as Gimp is for photographs and other normal images. 

    Inkscape is not only a free alternative to Illustrator, the industry leader, but is one notch above that in some respects. It needs some learning before you can master this tool, but there are thousands of tutorials available on the web.

    • Snapseed

    If you need to do image editing and photo touch-up on a smartphone, snapseed is presently the best free image editing app. It is almost as good as the professional programs available for the desktop.

    If you do not want a feature-heavy but difficult-to-use image editor, go for this simple online image editor.

    A dependable storehouse of license-free images. There are some other nearly as good (e.g. Pexels, Unsplash, Creative Commons), but Pixabay alone would serve your purpose if you need stock photos for free for your blog, website or social media account. 

    Earlier called Picasaweb, this Google entity is free storage space for images. You can decide to share images stored on Photos through a link because each image has a unique web address. If you are on Blogger blogging platform, all your images are saved here automatically. 

    There are other alternatives such as Flickr. Since Photos is integrated with Google and Blogger, we have included this one in the list.

    This is the top free audio editing software. Besides editing almost all types (some with the help of plugins) of audio files, it has a configurable audio recorder. 

    Audacity is a  must-have tool if you are a podcaster or have a music blog. You can also use it for preparing audio lectures to go with screen-captured video (e.g. for tutorials).

    YouTube needs no introduction. For blogs with videos (vblogs), it can be used as free storage space, which not only allows linking but also embedding videos on any website/ blog. You can visit this article on why YouTube is so great as a secondary web host for videos.

    If you want to regularly post videos on the web, you should open your own channel on YouTube for free, and post videos on it. If it gets popular, YouTube pays you for the traffic that you get on the channel.

    This is a topnotch free online design tool. It comes with numerous free templates for making quick graphics for social media, especially with embedded text. You can use their free photos, make infographics and charts, and other designs. 

    This is another, equally good, website that allows the creation of beautiful graphic designs in a jiffy, using available free (and paid) photos and design elements, for all types of web media and other formats.

    A wonderful software for screen-recording. It sits on a side of your desktop, and you can invoke it from there for screen capturing and recording the movements on the screen. You can use this program for making video tutorials.

    Though Camstudio is another free software as good as Screenrec, it installs third-party software and asks private questions at the time of installation, so not recommending it.

    A near-professional free video editing software, even in its free version. You can edit videos easily and apply many filters. Then you can export videos in many formats. It has too many video-editing options, and therefore it needs some learning before you can master this tool.

    Free social networking tools

    There used to be many free online tools for scheduling, follow-unfollow, analytics, etc. However, the social networks keep changing their APIs and the tool providers often shift fresh features to their premium versions. So, I am not recommending any third-party tool at present.

    Major social networking platforms now incorporate analytics within their settings menu. This is very useful if you want to know how your Facebook page, Twitter handle, Instagram account or YouTube channel is performing over time, how many times a post is liked or followed or shared, the profile of visitors, and so on.

    Twitter's own scheduling and management tool. Has a multi-column layout that makes it easier to deal with tweets, users, lists, etc.

    Free tools for SEO and keyword research

    There are many freemium tools available online and offline for SEO. However, in most cases, the free versions are very constrained. So, I am listing here free tools from Google itself and just two SEO tools that are good in many respects.

    Previously called Webmaster Tools, this toolset gives you deep knowledge about search on your website, including what has gone wrong and how to fix that. 

    If you are a webmaster, website owner or professional blogger, you cannot afford to not regularly use Search Console

    This traffic monitoring tool gives great insight into traffic on your website. Another must-have tool for bloggers and website owners.

     The daddy of keyword research tools, this is part of tools available under Google AdWords - the advertising platform of the search giant. Most other SEO tools use this data for further analysis and making recommendations.

    In its free version, this keyword research tool gives many aspects of SEO for a limited number of domains per day. It analyzes a domain, suggests keywords, tells which keywords and pages are ranking on Google search, etc.

    This SEO extension gives you a glimpse of traffic and monetization potential of any keyword you type on Google, and also suggests related keywords and their data.

    There are many other SEO extensions for Chrome, Mozilla and other browsers. But the ones tested by me take a lot of resources and slow down the browser. Some of them have data overkill, which does not help. So, going with this simple, focused one.

    • Rank Math SEO plugin for Wordpress

    One of the most popular SEO plugins for Wordpress, with a useful set of features in its free version.

    Though Yoast is reported to be the most popular SEO plugin for Wordpress, its free version has big limitations.

    Other free tools for bloggers, web users

    A great website that teaches you bits of HTML and CSS in very simple ways and explains why a code on your website/ blog is working the way it is. You can test sample codes then and there.

    Web writers, columnists, thinkers, newspersons and bloggers need updates in their area of specialization, and nothing beats Google Alerts in giving alerts on any number of topics. It sends alerts on your Gmail account at a regular interval as set by you.

    Not to forget this most popular cost per click (CPC) program from Google, which allows bloggers to make money by placing AdSense advertisements on their blogs/ websites/ YouTube channels.

    A fine automatic email sender and opt-in form generator, with enough resources in the free account. 

    You can create copyright license for any creation (text, audio, visual) for free, so that others know how much copying of your content is permissible.

    A free security certificate for websites. If you have a self-hosted blog or website, you need not go for paid security certificate (unless you allow financial transactions through the website).  

    Creative Commons has free images, copyright license tools
    Finally,

    Top free blogging platforms

    This list will be incomplete if I do not mention the three top blogging platforms here. For a detailed discussion, let me refer you to the relevant page on Top Blogs: Blogging Platforms: features, strengths and limitations, and comparisons.
    Wordpress is the most popular free content management system or website/ blog creation software. 
    Wordpress.com is a free blogging platform, but it comes with many limitations. It excels in looks and readability.
    Blogger is a free blogging platform that allows lots of customization. It also allows putting ads on the blog.
    Medium is a free blogging platform that allows very little customization and concentrates on quality of text content.