How to Build a Content Strategy From the Ground Up
Content is the currency of the web, and for good reason.
However, a lot of people expect to see instant results once they publish their first post. Content marketing is truly a long-term game. But, when done properly it can help send you traffic for years to come.
It’s the cumulative impact of each piece of content you publish that truly gets your business the results you’re looking for.
It takes some work to build a content strategy from the ground up, but it’s a much better plan than pressing publish and crossing your fingers. Below you’ll learn how you can create a stellar content strategy from the ground up.
Why Content Marketing Is Important
Face it, a lot of advertising is invasive. Today’s consumers are bombarded with advertisements more frequently than ever before.
Most other forms of marketing and lead generation are focused on the short term. Sure, you might see more instant results with other means, but when it comes to long term business goals, your content will help you get there.
Plus, the content you create can help to improve any other existing marketing strategies you might have in the works. For example, content can help to improve your search engine presence, give you something to share on social media and bolster your existing brand.
Benefits of Content Marketing
Beyond enhancing existing strategies content marketing also has certain benefits all on its own. Remember, it’s a long-term strategy, so you won’t experience these benefits right away, but if you stick with it they’ll start to show up.
- Greater search engine presence. The more high-quality content you have the more indexed pages you’ll have in Google, thus giving you a larger online presence.
- More targeted traffic. Every piece of content you publish has the potential to generate traffic for you. Whether that’s from your own posts ranking, or referral traffic from other sharing and linking to your content.
- Increased brand visibility. When people read and engage with and share your content you’re not only growing your online presence, but cultivating a positive relationship with these readers at the very same time.
- Improved customer relationships. The relationships with your customers are everything. By producing high-quality content that solves their problems you deepen your relationship and show that you can be trusted before they even decide to buy.
- Decreasing costs over time. The great thing about content is you only have to pay once, and it can continue to generate traffic and revenue for your business for a long time to come.
How to Build Your Content Strategy
Every great content strategy starts with a plan. The plan highlighted below might seem like a lot of work. But, it’s work you only have to do once and can base your entire content strategy around.
1. Organizing and Building the Backbone
A great content strategy starts with understanding your market. You need to know who your audience is, what their interests are, what kind of questions they want answered, and how they like to consume content.
Some of your best ideas will come from things that are already successful. It’s hard to create content from scratch that’s guaranteed to be a hit. However, you can take ideas and strategies from players in your niche that have worked and put your own spin on it.
This helps in two ways. First, it gives you the certainty that what you create is going to be successful, no need to reinvent the wheel. Two, it immediately positions you as an authority as you have a well-crafted piece of content that puts you in the running.
To seed your idea bank ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there a specific form of content my audience likes?
- How long can I spend on each piece I create?
- Do I have any existing data or content I’d like to utilize?
1. Competitor and Market Understanding
Studying your competitors is a surefire way to see what is and isn’t working in your niche. This will help you differentiate from what’s already out there in your space, so you can avoid treading the same path again and again.
The best way to truly position your content as unique is to find the holes that are already out there in your market and fill them. This will help your content become immediately useful, instead of contributing to the noise that already exists online.
Here’s a few helpful methods to help you find those gaps:
- Navigate to Amazon.com and find the bestselling books in your niche. Mine the negative reviews to see what problems tend to arise again and again. These needs aren’t being met by what’s currently out there and you can create a piece or series of content to address this.
- Study the most successful content using Buzzsumo. Put in your target keyword, or a website that’s popular in your space. With the free version you’ll get the top ten or so results. With any of these pieces of content do you see any trends? Or anything you can put together that’ll blow it out of the water?
The more time you spend getting familiar with the existing content landscape the better you’ll be able to position yourself and create content that helps to achieve your goals (which we’ll get to below).
2. Choosing the Right Keywords
Keywords are incredibly important. There are over 3.5 billion searches conducted every single day on Google alone. Visitors who find your site via search are incredibly valuable as well.
The presence of certain keyword volumes also helps to indicate the size of the market. If there’s no search volume for specific keywords phrases, then people don’t care about it. The worst thing you can do is spend time and energy creating a piece of content that no one cares about.
From analyzing existing content and knowing your market you probably have a list of seed keywords that are related to your business.
You can use a free tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to check overall competitiveness of and general volume of each keyword on your list. There are a variety of paid tools that can give you much better data, but this is a good place to start.
If you’re looking to take your keyword research to the next level, then check out this post from Backlinko for a primer on the topic.
3. Creating the “Right” Kind of Content
You should look at each piece of content as an asset that will help to further the goals of your business. There are multiple different kinds of content you can create:
- Long-form ultimate guide posts
- Slideshare presentations and YouTube videos
- Content upgrades and other digital downloads
- Even social media posts
Your overarching content strategy goes well beyond your blog posts. You need to think about how each piece of content relates to whatever else you created. And how those can be used together to provide value and further the goals of your business.
If you’re still looking for more ideas on what to actually create, then try some of the following sources:
- Browse popular subreddits, to find content that’s very popular and see if you can create something similar.
- Use Google Trends to put in keyword ideas to see if any keywords are growing in popularity. It can be worthwhile to get in the ground floor on an upcoming trend.
- Look at Quora, and see what common questions tend to arise in your space consistently, then create a post that answers these in depth.
4. Planning Your Content
Now that you know what you’re going to write, it’s time to make a plan about how you’re going to organize and publish this content. This can be as complex or straightforward as you’d like it to be. This depends upon what resources are required to produce each piece of content.
There are a ton of tools which can help to keep your content production on track. If you’re using WordPress there’s a great tool called Editorial Calendar. If you’re looking for something more robust that’ll help with social media scheduling as well, then check out CoSchedule. It’s a paid tool but can save you a lot of time.
Another good option is using Trello. With Trello you can create specific boards where you can keep content ideas, keep track of production and deadlines, and add files to each card. If you have a team, or multiple writers, behind you this tool is invaluable.
2. Content Marketing Goal Setting
The goals of your content strategy will influence the type of content you’re creating. For example, are you trying to build a larger social following? Drive readers to your email list? Get press coverage? Improve your authority?
A sound strategy will work on two fronts. Achieving your business goals while providing your readers with a ton of value. In fact, the only content that will actively build your business needs to operate on these two fronts.
Luckily, the core of addressing both of these elements begins with the research you just conducted above.
Since content marketing has a long-term focus the general goals you’ll be looking at will be hard to quantify, like build brand awareness, increase our authority, etc. However, you can break these down into easy-to-quantify metrics that’ll let you know if your strategy is working or not.
Some growth-related metrics could be:
- Improved social shares per piece of content
- Increased engagement or total number of comments
- Increased search engine rankings for targeted keywords
- Steady website traffic growth
- Email list growth
3. Creating Epic Content
The success of your strategy will rest solely upon the kind of content you’re creating. You can’t get away with simply creating content that’s good enough.
The association is simple. Produce crappy content and people will think your business is awful. Create incredible, useful, free content that helps people and they’ll be more likely to buy your paid offerings. You can’t build a business on the back of low-quality content.
One stellar example of this is Ramit Sethi. The content he produces across all of his verticals is some of the best information out there on the given topic. His free content is better than what most people charge for. This helps to build an insane amount of trust and people know who they’re going to turn to when it comes time to buy.
Since we mentioned keywords above a lot of people still think this gives them carte blanche to write keyword-stuffed posts that provide no value. Remember, we’re dealing with real people here. You only have one chance to make a first impression with your content. Use this wisely.
Write content that truly provides lasting value for your readers and the rankings will follow.
4. Promotion Is King
Once you press publish on a post your work has only just began. In fact, Derek Halpern of Social Triggers suggests you spend only 20% of your time creating content and the remaining 80% promoting it.
There are probably hundreds of ways you can promote your content (link maybe), but the list below will give you a great place to start:
- Share your posts on any existing social media accounts you might have. Make sure to mention any other companies or individuals you highlighted in the post.
- Use relevant content syndication sites to upload a version of your post, or the post in its entirety. Some existing platforms include Medium and LInkedIn Pulse.
- Head back to Quora and find any relevant questions related to your post. Answer the questions and add a link to your post for more information.
- Email any influencers you mentioned in your post and let them know you mentioned them in your most recent blog post.
- Find any related posts to the one you just published, and run them through tools like Open Site Explorer, or SEOProfiler to see what sites linked to that post. Then, reach out to the site owners and tell them you published a similar post, if they’re interested.
Effective outreach will help to give your post wings. If you’re looking to take your outreach even further, then take a look at this great infographic from Hubspot
5. Test, Then Test Some More
Measuring the success and metrics of each post is the only way you can tell if what you’re doing is actually working. Once you’ve created your goals from the step above you can track your metrics via a simple tool like Google Analytics, or your email marketing software to see if your content is working for you.
With this data you’ll be able to see which kinds of content perform the best for your readers, which style of post leads to the most social shares, and if your content is actually growing your email list or your revenue.
Over time, this data will help to point your strategy in the right direction, so you’re never left guessing what kind of content to create next.
The only way to fail at content marketing is to stop producing content.
Since content marketing is a long term strategy the sooner you invest in it, the sooner you’ll start seeing results for your business. Even though the ways we consume content will change over time, it will remain necessary as an effective inbound marketing strategy.
Now over to you. What questions do you have related to your content strategy? Please share in the comments below.