How to Create a Content Strategy in 2018
A business blog is an increasingly popular tool for attracting web traffic, as well as engaging with your audience and potential customers. Some business experts even claim it will be an essential ingredient of a modern business in the digital age.
Customers will come to expect a business website to have a number of articles that showcase their expertise, their specialism and even their philosophy and ethics. So, if you’re considering investing the time and resources in your online content, what are the main considerations? How can you ensure that your blogging efforts will be worthwhile for your business? And is there a formula for creating blog posts that your customers will want to read, share and act upon?
The good news is that with the right kind of content, and content marketing strategy, your blog posts can become a 24/7 Sales Team – driving a constant stream of traffic to your website, as well as building increasing brand awareness and loyalty for your business.
How to Create a Content Creation Strategy
- Step 1 – Don’t just write about what you think your audience wants, do your research to find a topic that will engage your readers & promote your message.
- Step 2 – Spend time on making your content the best it can be; that might not just mean great writing, but maybe images, infographics and video
- Step 3 – Even the best content needs to be actively promoted to ensure it does its job, so find the best channels and resources to get the word out
- Step 4 – Rinse and repeat, with tweaks; analyse your content’s performance to find out what works and where to improve its effectiveness
After 5 years of implementing content marketing strategies for our clients, we’ve developed a 4-part approach to creating the right kind of blog content.
4 Steps to Creating Powerful Blog Content
1. Choosing the Topic
The choice of topics the content covers can have a big impact on how well it performs. In our experience, we’ve noticed that some topics may be newsworthy and relevant to the business – but they don’t necessarily engage the readers, i.e. potential customers.
A more effective approach is to cover the sort of topics that do engage people and that are also appropriate for your business message and promotion. In this way, you’ll create content that gets more exposure and provides a benefit to your business, i.e., some sort of call to action or brand awareness. You know your business best, so you’ll be the expert in choosing the right content to reflect your experience and expertise. When you combine these stories and insights with an awareness of what your audience is asking or interested in, you’ll find the unique ‘sweet spot’ of blog topics for your business.
If you need help in getting started or getting clear on the kind of posts that will make great content for your audience, there are a variety of resources where you can see which topics are getting good levels of engagement.
For topical, ‘of the moment’ content ideas:
- Google Trends
This provides a host of information about the current trending topics that people are searching for.
If you explore the various categories in more detail, it can also help you find related keywords and queries to base your content on.
- Google Alerts
Setting up Google alerts based on key terms, or for new content posted on target websites (competitors, industry influencers, or simply popular news/lifestyle sites) is a great way to alert you to the sort of content that’s being published.
While this can provide some interesting ideas for new blog topics, there’s no measure of how engaging the content from the alerts will be, and whether it’s worth basing your new blog post on.
However, if you start to see a lot of content on a topic, this might be an indication that it’s something worth looking at.
- Follow the leaders
Every market or industry has its influencers; the people that are seen as the experts and whose content is always popular.
By finding and understanding who these people are in the niches/areas you’re thinking of covering, you can get ideas for what content their audiences might want to see more of, especially if you do it better.
For more ‘evergreen’ content ideas
- Survey customers
This may not be possible, but surveying your customers, or people subscribed to your e-mails, can be a good way of understanding what those already interested in your brand/service would be interested in reading more about.
- General surveys
To find out what a broader audience is interested in, Google Consumer Surveys can be a good way of getting ideas for new topics to cover.
- Analyse previous content
By looking at the performance (in terms of traffic and social engagement) of your previous posts and the pages on your main site, you may uncover some evergreen topic areas that might be worth developing into new content.
This is a subscription service which is primarily aimed at providing content ideas based on what’s already engaging people across the Internet.
With a variety of filters, you can fine-tune a search based on topic or websites, to see what was shared the most.
These results may give you ideas for creating similar content.
2. Writing the Content
When it comes to actually write the content, you need to ensure two things;
- Your content is based on a topic your audience is likely to be interested in reading about.
- You approach it with your key objectives in mind
These two strategies will give your content the best chance of ‘mass-appeal’, and help it to stand out from the rest of the ‘noise’ on the Internet. Here are some aspects to consider when planning your content.
- Keyword/search focused
Once the topic has been decided, the content should be written with a target keyword or search phrase in mind, so it can specifically answer that query and appeal to those who are asking for that information.
Longer tail keywords, and those in a question format, are typically best.
They may not have huge search volumes, but they will be less competitive and there’s more chance that the content will rank well and attract traffic.
- Long-form content is better
These days, longer content tends to perform better for a number of reasons.
Posts with 1200-4000 words provide plenty of information for the reader – and the search engines. If written well, they’re likely to provide some really good value, and they can demonstrate more authority and gain more trust, because of the investment in time and effort.
- The best content performs best
It sounds obvious but content that is the highest quality writing, authoritative, and packed full of information and value for the reader, is typically the kind of content that will engage and be shared the most.
- Authority is key
Google uses an acronym for what it considers the best content, EAT, which stand for expert, authoritative, and trustworthy.
To achieve this, and have you and your content seen as an authority, always use evidence, research, facts and statistics to back up whatever point is being made.
Good formatting is essential to make the content more easily readable, so using shorter paragraphs, headings and lists is a good idea.
Another way to enhance the appeal of the content, as well as to break up all the text, is to use a variety of media where possible.
Correctly tagged images, embedded videos and infographics all contribute to great content.
- Reference links
As well as linking to the other pages on your site, content that references and links out to other authority sources not only does a better job of providing value to the reader, but it’s also been shown to help rankings via ‘authority by association’.
- Optimisation is essential
Good quality content, that’s relevant to a particular topic, will often do a good job of being optimised for searches around that topic.
However, specifically optimising content once it’s written, to target a particular phrase or query, is essential to make sure it performs as well as possible.
This includes paying attention to the on-page content and the creation of bespoke and compelling meta tags.
3. Promoting the Content
Despite what some sources might have you believe, simply writing great quality content is not always enough if you want it to reach as wide an audience as possible. As well as optimising it for the search engines, the promotion of new posts is a key part of any content marketing strategy.
- Actively market content
Rather than just highlighting content on social media channels, you’re more likely to reach a wider audience if you actively market it, just as you might your website or your brand.
So rather than simply mentioning a new post on Facebook and Twitter, creating a mini promotional campaign will help you maximize your content’s reach.
- Be targeted
When marketing your content on social media platforms, being more targeted can help.
For example, we’ve found that the older demographics prefer to engage with longer form content on Facebook, and younger demographics are more likely to click on links from Twitter.
There are also different approaches you can take with the accompanying visuals for the different groups and platforms.
- Get others to promote you
If you’ve created a truly great piece of content, particularly if it’s something that’s based on what key influencers in a niche or market have written about, reaching out to these sites and individuals and asking them to highlight your content can be a great way of getting them to promote it for you.
- Use for SEO
Following on from the last point, great value content can be excellent as the foundation of a wider outreach campaign as part of the SEO project, attracting links as well as promotion.
Another way of getting others to promote your content for you is to use syndication services like Outbrain, which will get your content in front of the audiences that are most likely wanting to see it.
Similar services include Zemanta, SimpleReach, ARC and Taboola.
With the promotion of your content, it’s important to consider it from two perspectives. Firstly, you’re trying to achieve the maximum level of engagement for the new piece of content you’ve created. But secondly, and something that’s often neglected or overlooked, you’re building the audience for your future content, and in theory making the whole process easier and more successful going forward.
As with any process, it’s important to analyse the results, to fine tune the steps and improve future performance. This can be done using a variety of different metrics and tools.
- Google Analytics to track and analyse traffic to your content.
- Rankings monitor such as SEMrush, to track improvements in rankings for the target term/query.
- Content tools like SEMrush’s new Content Tool are a great way to track how individual URLs are performing.
- Share Tally is a quick and easy way to get a snapshot of a URL’s performance across social media.
In summary then, when done well, the content you publish can play a powerful supportive role in your business’s online presence, providing you are strategic with your content creation and clear on the role you want it to perform.
So, to help your blog become an asset to your business, keep in mind these 4 steps to powerful content creation:
- Choosing the topic
- Writing the content
- Promoting the content
- Analysing the performance
If you’d like more information on getting the most from your website and online efforts, or if you’d prefer to hand over the specialist aspects to an expert, Qik can help. Contact us to find out more about what we can offer.