The Top 10 must have tools every African blogger needs to have
There are certain must have tools every African blogger needs in his or her arsenal to optimise their blogs, ensure a happy reading experience for users and to gain useful insights into their readership and community. Here is Mark’s alphabetically ordered list of the ten local and international blogging tools we would not want to live without.
Afrigator & Amatomu
Afrigator & Amatomu are two African blog aggregators that each provides a one stop spot for viewing the latest stories posted by bloggers from across the continent. They drive traffic to bloggers and also serve as directories to find Africa’s best read blogs.
Afrigator has a significant footprint across the continent and lists more than 5000 bloggers of which about half are based in South Africa. It allows you to view content by country.
Amatomu has received much less press than Afrigator but I personally prefer its format of listing the best read South African blogs and blog posts along with the latest blog updates. It really does separate the wheat from the chaff. It is also handily broken into a range of topics including news & politics, business, entertainment etc. Its lists of top South African blogs by reads, posts, links and Technorati rating provides a good overview of SA’s blogging community. My only criticism would be its dominant South African focus though I believe this issue is being addressed.
Feedburner is the ultimate free RSS tool that allows you to create a feed for your blog. It promotes your content, builds subscribers and traffic and is very easy to use. See Mark’s RSS feed here.
Google Analytics is an excellent way to measure traffic, to see where it originates from and to track link-backs.
Muti is, in its own words, “an African Social Bookmarking Service dedicated to content of interest to Africans or those interested in Africa.” It is heavily biased to technology stories but does drive traffic and allows its community to decide which stories come out tops.
Pingomatic.com updates multiple services and search engines about updates to your blog content with a single ping. A ping reminds search engines and blog aggregators to crawl your site for updates. Pingomatic.com is free, effective and even pings Feedburner!
Technorati remains the premier ranking of international bloggers. All the other lists and aggregators use Technorati’s rankings at least in part to weigh your blogs ranking. I’m not sure I buy into this practice. You can be a very successful local blogger and find it near impossible to feature anywhere significant on Technorati. Still, it is considered the place to, and so it remains worthwhile to maintain a profile there.
Twitter is a micro-blogging services that drives quite a bit of traffic to MarkLives.com. It builds a community and reminds them of updates to your blog and serves as a valuable source of news, information and feedback. All in less than 140 characters per message! Join us on Twitter!
There are multiple platforms you can use to host your blog on but WordPress remains, dare I say, universally seen as the best of the bunch. The platform can be downloaded for self hosted sites or hosted for free at WordPress itself. It has spawned an open source community that provides it with themes, widgets and an assortment of fantastically effective tools.