Building Out A Content Marketing Strategy From The Ground Up
Coming up with an effective content marketing strategy is a must if you want to drive more search engine traffic, get more conversions, attract new customers or even retain the existing ones. Your strategy must be detailed enough because sometimes it’s the subtle differences between what you and your competitors are doing that make all the difference in results.
While some steps involved in developing your content strategy may in some ways overlap, a lot of precision in what each part of the strategy aims to achieve is important. Take the most practical approach and make sure the content strategy you create is well documented, targeted, unique, malleable (taking into account shifts in the market), ubiquitous (shared on multiple channels) and measured to track progress.
Market Research – Identifying Your Niche
This is the first and perhaps the most important step that should never be skipped. Market research will help you to identify and learn more about the audience you intend to engage with your interesting content. You are definitely not going to be writing your content for just anyone because your efforts will go nowhere. Your audience targeting efforts must be deliberately more specific and should go beyond simple demographics. For that reason, you will need to come up with your reader persona. For example, you could decide to specifically target men in 30s working in Miami. Such a persona helps specify the gender, age, socioeconomic status and location of your target audience. Create a reader or buyer persona that is detailed enough to capture every relevant detail needed to clearly identify your ideal user of content.
You also have to find out where in the buying cycle the users of your content are supposed to be at. A clever content marketing strategy takes into account the buyer’s journey. Content that is suitable for users at the discovery phase may not be suitable for those near or at the purchase phase. In fact more content efforts should be focused on users near or at the end of the buying cycle. That’s where the buyer decides on whether to accept the solution you have to offer for their problem or not. If you have focused on targeting the right niche and your content provides all the answers, you are definitely going to win more buyers.
But your targeting efforts cannot be complete without choosing the right type of keywords for your content marketing campaign strategy. That takes us to the next critically important step for uncovering the most valuable keywords to target.
Keyword Research And Competitive Analysis
In order to target an audience more effectively, the process of choosing and refining keywords is extremely important. Proper keyword research and selection must be done to come up with the most appropriate keywords based competitiveness and relevancy.
Searchers have their intent for every search they do on Google, so understanding the search intent is critical to help choose the right keywords. For example, with broad keyword terms like “trendy fashion”, it’s not so easy to understand the real intent of the searcher. That is a head term that a user could use to search for many possible reasons we can’t guess. It could be for purposes like researching to write an academic paper, or simply to get informed. But a keyword phrase such as “buy trendy fashion denim jeans for teen girls” tells you that the searcher is almost if not yet at the end of the buying cycle. The second type of keyword is known as a long tail keyword. It applies in transitional type of queries that users often perform when they have already decided on exactly what they want to buy.
Long tail keywords aka the low hanging fruit, in most cases contain 3 or more keyword terms. The user’s intent becomes clearer with these types of keywords. That’s why they are considered as highly converting keywords, indicating that a buyer is now at the bottom end of the buying funnel. The best SEO practice is to always start optimizing for the long tail keywords first as they help you rank faster than broad generic keywords.
You may think that everyone is smart enough to optimize their content with the long tail type of keywords, but you will be surprised to find out that most of your competitors aren’t doing that yet. The process of uncovering those kinds of keywords is not for the lazy SEOs or content marketers. It also requires knowledge and use of various keyword research and competitive analysis tools. But if you take the time to learn and use most of keyword tools like the pros, you will certainly end up unearthing the most profitable long tail keywords. You must do that to get more conversions with your content strategy.
Mobile voice search popularity continues to drive Google’s shift towards a conversational search model. Long term keyword growth is surging and now accounts for more than 70% of search queries. So you have to find out which of those keywords your competitors are missing out on.
Uncovering long tail keywords may require use of one or more of the following tools:
– Google Keyword Tool
– Google Analytics
– Bing Keyword Research Tool
– Google Trends
– Google Related Search
– Google Suggest (the auto complete function)
– Promediacorp Suggester Tool
All the different tools available aren’t definitely made equal, so some will give you more than others.
With the Google’s Keyword Planner tool, you should grab your competitor’s landing page URL and enter it into the field “your landing page” and click “get ideas”. You should get a list of keywords that will most probably include some long tail keywords. The keywords you get this way should be more targeted than what you could get if you just entered a broad keyword into the tool like most people do. The procedure should be repeated, entering URLs at least for each of your top 5 competitors.
When you enter a generic keyword such as “trendy fashion” into Google Search, the Google Suggest auto complete function gives you some keyword ideas as shown in the following screenshot. You may consider “trendy fashion boutiques” as good seed keyword you can use in other keyword research tools in order to uncover long tail keywords.
A quick search in Google also shows you the sites currently ranking for “trendy fashion boutiques”. You can copy and enter the URLs of the sites ranking for that keyword into Google Keyword Tool to get ideas for more keywords that may include the long tail terms you are looking for.
With the Keywordtool.io, you can enter the seed keyword “trendy fashion boutiques” and as shown below that gives you 58 unique keywords. The tool gives more keywords than the ones you can get with Google Autocomplete and because we choose a seed keyword we end up with a good number of long tail keywords.
As you can see from the above Keywordtool.io screenshots, we can easily create a list of keywords that better indicate the searcher’s intent near the end of the buying cycle. Taking the keywords you list and entering them in Google Keyword Planner is also a nice idea if you want to check their metrics on “competition” and “suggested bid”. With more advanced keyword research tools such as SEMrush, you can even see which specific keywords your top competitors are ranking for. That helps you to unearth the long tail keywords they may be missing out on.
Goal Setting And Creating Content
Before you start creating any content, you must be clear on what goals you want to achieve. Content may be written with one or more priorities taken into account. You may choose to prioritize creating your content for increasing conversions, driving more search engine traffic, attracting or retaining existing customers. Putting out more content is not what matters the most. Users today are demanding more engaging content than ever before. Your brand must have an interesting story to tell because customers have become extremely discerning. Content quality demands have never been high as they are now, so you have to produce content 10x better than your competitors. Utilize multiple channels while targeting the right audience to solve their most pressing problems.
How to Find Topics to Write About
Keeping your target audience engaged means you have to continuously look for interesting and fun stories. A lot of free online tools can help you discover topics that have value to your audience. Of course great skills are necessary to give existing stories a new spin that makes them interesting enough for your readers to share.
1. Google Trends
Google Trends is one of the most useful sources of trending news stories on the internet. You can make it one of your tools for ideas on interesting or trending topics. It helps to visualize how search terms have performed over time with great displays that make it easier to understand what you need to do with it.
Many SEOs and content pros have discovered that BuzzSumo provides a great tool used to find out which type of content has done well in the past. You can use it to check popular content from the last month, week or any other desired period of time. That helps you to figure out how you can produce your own unique content around the ideas you discover. BuzzSumo does offer premium services but the free part of the tool for content ideas is a great one. If you want to analyze content that performs on any given topic or even competitor, make use of this professional tool. Now that BuzzSumo has partnered up with Majestic to incorporate link value and analysis- Buzz Sumo is primed to be even more of a beast in this front.
Popular content always rises to the top on Reddit because the platform allows upvoting or downvoting of posts. It’s a great source for almost all types of content from serious topics to fun stuff like memes that originate there.
Majestic is my favorite of the content marketing opportunities. Use their Clique Hunter to find out where your competition is getting links from. You can see a pattern if they are all getting links from a common source. If there are a few that they all have in common, Clique Hunter will tell you. Then go and build links in the same places.
5. Other sources
There is no shortage of sources for content marketing ideas on the internet. Hubspot Blog Topic Generator, Hacker News, Google+ What’s Hot, Facebook Trending, Twitter Trending, Quora and many others are great sources as well.
How to Link to Your Previous Articles
Interlinking the pages on your site like a spider’s web has many benefits. Sometimes visitors will not read an entire article but a link placed at the right place with the right phrase easily lures the reader to see more content. That helps them spend more time on your site and increases the chances of converting them eventually. Search engines can also easily rank each page on your site if they are properly interlinked. The internal linking of your pages should not however be everywhere as that can be a turn off to visitors.
How to Do Proper Email Outreach
When you are building out your content marketing strategy, you have to think about your outreach strategy as well. You can reach out to influencers and thought leaders using a variety of tools. Pros use a variety of tools including BuzzSumo, and my personal favorite-Majestic for that. There are many other tools that can help you with email outreach strategies.
You have to reach out to others to promote your content via email outreach the right way to succeed. Keep your messages short, precise and use a friendly but professional tone. You want to increase the open rate and chances of getting more responses for the emails you send out. Many tools can help track that data for you, so you should try out different formats of emails and compare performance.
Including a photo that shows you doing something fun, placing it just below your email signature, is one way of boosting trust. Make sure the reader doesn’t have to scroll to see the photo. It’s a trick that can significantly increase responses for your emails so that you may achieve your objectives. You can get most influencers adding their voice on your content and helping share it widely. Just make sure in your outreach strategy you clearly define the value you want to offer others for promoting your content. Offer something of value – infographic, video, animation, ebook, a cause, research data and so on. Boomerang is a browser plugin that greatly helps to keep track of email activities. Testing is key to improving results for your outreach efforts.
About the Author: Stephen Twomey is an Entrepreneur and the Founder of MasterMindSEO. When he is not saving his client’s sanity, he is often found lifting things up and putting them down. He loves spending time with his wife and three young sons.