Simply having a blog is not a content strategy. While maintaining a blog plays an important role in the overall content strategy, an effective and sustainable strategy is much more comprehensive than that.
Don’t get me wrong. Blogs are great, and arguably the most important place to start when launching a content marketing strategy. After all, it’s about attracting and engaging a target audience. And the proper use of keywords within relevant content can be an effective way to do so. Where’s a better place to include keywords than a blog post? But it goes much farther than that…
Your audience will engage with high quality content. Great content will also earn you authority and social capital in the form of links, likes, shares, and mentions. In order to be successful in today’s search and digital marketing landscape (i.e. rank high on search engine result pages or SERPs), you have to attract visitors with relevant and “sharable” content. Google’s algorithms are mirroring human engagement factors now more than ever. When determining page rank Google is looking at:
- Quality of content: Useful information with relevant links. (By far, the most important factor.
- Social signals: Likes, shares, blog comments.
- Authorship: How much influence the author has.
- Referral traffic: Are other sites linking to you? Better yet, are high-trafficked sites linking to your site?
- Page traffic: This includes bounce rate and time on site.
- Link structure: Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
So you know why having a well thought out content strategy is important, now what?
7 Key factors For Building a Successful Content Strategy
Start with your audience: Already know who your target audience is? Perfect. Now ask yourself why they care what you have to say? Get to know them. Really work to identify their needs, goals, interests, and behaviors. Then think of how you can fulfill those needs while relating to their behaviors. Try using tools like Google Trends to discover what people are searching and related keywords to topical searches. Most importantly, remember you are writing for people. Make your content conversational and easy to understand, without seeming like you’re “dumbing it down” or talking down to them.
Produce high-quality content: Ask yourself – would I share this? Better yet, ask someone in your target audience what they’re interested in learning more about, then do your research. If your content is deemed useful, moving, or entertaining, it’s going to get shared — and if it’s really good, it will spread like wildfire. Define a clear purpose for each piece of content and stay focused. Check against that purpose as you develop the content. If you’re all over the place, you’re going to lose your audience.
Think before you link: Pay attention to anchor text and only link to relevant content. Try to find industry experts to link to – then let them know. I am sure they’d be more than happy to share your story! And don’t be afraid to link to your own content. This will keep visitors on your site, and extend the shelf life of previous material.
Don’t stress over frequency: Quality ALWAYS comes before quantity. Don’t stress if you’re only posting once a week or two, as long as its quality content. As with most things in life, it will get easier with time and experience. Before you know it, you’ll be hammering out two posts a week. Until then, get your team involved. They’re all experts about something, and passionate about one area or another in your industry. Ask them to draft up a post. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you or your editor can help polish it off. Editorial calendars, which warrant their own post entirely (spoiler alert), can also be extremely helpful in remaining organized and focused in your content strategy.
Another solution is to bring on guest bloggers. This can be incredibly valuable in generating new, high-value traffic to their site. Choose a respected expert in your field with authority and influence. As a bonus, they’ll help share the content they wrote for your blog with their own networks!
Share, share, share: First off, make your content shareable. Install a plug in for social sharing, making it convenient for visitors to spread your content. Then share your posts across all your social channels, business and personal. You don’t necessarily have to tailor the accompanying text for each individual audience, but I suggest doing it. This is also a great way to test what type of language works on different channels, for different groups.
REALITY CHECK: Once is not enough. Share the post in different ways. Maybe once with the title, another with a key point, then a quote or teaser. But be careful, it’s much more appropriate to share one piece of content on Twitter multiple times than it is Facebook or LinkedIn. Use your discretion, and try not to be obnoxious about it. Also, if you’ve featured other people, companies, or tools in your post, don’t shy away from letting them know on social — as long as it’s a positive (and well written) reference, they’ll love it.
Repurpose: Think you may have missed some of your audience with a blog post because they don’t have the time to read lengthy tutorials or anecdotes? Then turn it into a podcast and video. In addition to posting it to your YouTube and/or Vimeo channels, repost the video version to your blog. You could add it to the same post, or even create its own announcing that the post is now available in video or audio!
Take a few key points from the post and turn it into an edition of your e-newsletter and link to the original content. Or expand it into an eBook. If you have the resources, turn one of your most popular posts into an infographic and then share it with publishers. There’s no way every one of your audience members saw the original blog post, don’t be afraid to reuse the content in as many ways as possible. And if a few people do see it more than once, it’s highly unlikely that they’re going to chastise you over it.
Measure, improve, and repeat: Pay attention to analytics. Look at number of visitors for each post, time on site, click-throughs, social shares, etc. See what type of content is most popular and repeat it. Check out the metrics on your social sites, see how well posts promoting your content did, and think of different ways to package it. This is the best way to determine what your audience wants, short of asking them directly.
These are just the basics of getting a content strategy started. I’d be happy to dive deeper or answer any questions you may have. Feel free to leave them in the comments below!
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