If your business has a website, (and in 2018, that was 4 out of every 10 small businesses) you need it to stand out from the competition. Almost certainly, this will involve using tried-and-tested methods to increase traffic and drive leads and conversions. One of the key ways to do this is with content marketing – creating and distributing attractive, engaging content. And to do effective content marketing, you will need a content strategy that works.
Content strategy isn’t just about identifying different types of content and then creating them. Your entire online visibility is woven together by page design, content, UX and SEO strategy. When developing your master plan, you will need to consider all the elements of your overall strategy. Here are the key things you need to do to create a rewarding content strategy:
Developing Your Content Strategy: The Basics
Developing a content strategy is best done in a similar way to creating a site map. Start with the main types of content and then break the content into refined groups. A content hierarchy helps to maintain control of the types of content you need to create, and how they will be used. Typically, your content will fall into a few main categories such as written (on-page and off-page), image, audiovisual and interactive. Within these categories, you can break them down further according to use and distribution.
Check out an example of a content hierarchy for an e-commerce website:
On page written content
“On page” content is content that appears on your own website or web pages. On page content needs to integrate with your SEO plan. Your written content should be well structured according to properly planned keywords, headings and word length. There are some excellent guidelines detailing how to construct an effective SEO piece here.
Even so, you should write for the audience first, and search engines second. After all, your target audience is made up of people, not web crawlers. There are lots of different types of written content you can promote on your site. Blog posts, articles, white papers, ebooks, client testimonials, product descriptions, how-to guides, and more.
Maintaining written content is as important as creating it. Ensuring that links lead to quality content at the intended destination forms part of your overall strategy. If you remove a web page or adjust the URL, make sure to implement redirects so it does not become a broken link.
Off page written content
“Off page” content is your content that appears on sites other than your own website.
Your web page is not the only place where your content assets will be featured. Off page content is extremely valuable too. Part of your strategy should include written posts on social media, cross posting to social media, and guest posting on forums and other websites.
Guest posting on high domain authority sites will help drive traffic to your site. It will also improve your page domain authority and page rank as a core part of your SEO strategy. This is an example of how the different parts of your content strategy are woven together.
According to Hubspot, 65% of people who see visual content retain the information after three days, as opposed to just 10% of people who will retain written information. Written content is no longer king. High quality images are highly engaging, can drive more traffic and help to reduce bounce rate.
An image draws the eye. Even when the reader is not specifically looking for information, images can communicate your message very quickly and effectively. Online images can take the form of photos, diagrams, drawings and infographics. Here are some guidelines to best practices when using images online.
There are a huge number of image resources online too. Many budding photographers provide royalty-free images at no cost in order to gain exposure for their work. Websites such as UnSplash and Pixabay provide good quality images free. These make an excellent resource for limited-budget web development that requires unique image-based content.
Slideshows posted in industry related blogs and infographics placed on high DA pages will increase the domain authority. There will also be a residual backlink growth. Piktochart is an excellent starting point to make free infographics.
YouTube is the second most popular website in the world, with over 500 million hours of video content watched every day on the site. Creating high quality video content is important, and with the help of video creation tools, it’s not even that difficult.
Including video content in your blogs, guest posts and web pages can enhance their effectiveness. Attractive video content will encourage other publishers to embed your videos into their web pages. Sharing videos via native ads or social media will drive even more traffic.
Any content that is user driven is interactive. Polls, quizzes and surveys are all examples. There are other ways to make content interactive, for example, the user may be required to click on a link on a video to move to the next step, or use an infographic as a map to find their way around the site.
Interactive content is highly engaging, and when used the right way, can drive higher conversion rates. You can start creating interactive content with sites such as Qzzr for polls and quizzes, and Veeroll for video promotion.
Bringing it all together
Building a content stack may seem like a great idea. However, if it isn’t organised and part of a greater strategy, it won’t be effective. Your strategy is your blueprint, and this is where the whole plan comes together.
Plan your content
Using a content planner is one of the best ways to ensure that content is created on time and used to its full potential. Larger outfits plan content seasonally or even annually and sometimes even beyond. Check out this example of a content calendar by CoSchedule:
Know your goals
The absolute worst way to create content is to just create it and see what happens. You may think you know what you want to achieve, but by writing your goals down, they become more tangible and focused. Once you have identified your KPIs, the type of content you need to create becomes much easier to identify.
Consistency and frequency go hand in hand. Decide how frequently you will publish content. Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Creating content often and on a regular, predictable basis will increase your profile in search engines and your image among your audience as a reliable source. Imagine the impact of a year’s worth of content creation, with over 300 pieces of content that reference your business – if it is high quality, it will certainly deliver authority.
Repurpose your content
Repurposing content is a popular strategy among digital marketers. If a content asset has worked before, it will work again. Sometimes it will need to be reworked in order to meet current trends or new contexts. There is a difference between duplicating and republishing, and knowing how to effectively repurpose content is part of an effective content plan.
Don’t leave your planning for Christmas until November, or your Mother’s Day content for April. Planning on a rolling annual or monthly basis means that you will be both ahead of your game and that of your competitors. Using a project management tool, such as Monday or Trello, will help you to do this.
Keep an eye on the competition
Your content strategy doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You need to take lots of external factors into account – the industry, vertical and competitor landscape. First, start by identifying your competitors. Examine what content they are producing and where they are publishing and distributing it. Get an SEO professional to explore which of their content is most successful and why. You can use this information to create killer competitive content.
Be data oriented
If you’re going to go to all the effort to develop a content strategy, it is vital to take the time to monitor how it performs. Obtaining a basic Google Analytics qualification only takes a few hours, and will enormously enrich your capacity to improve your online presence and reach your traffic goals.
Analyzing your website data puts you in the driver’s seat. You will notice how trends influence traffic clicking through to your site, and can then act on them appropriately and in a timely way. The relationship between content and domain authority will also produce better results in SERPs. If you stick to the consistency rule, backed by competent analytics, you should see a difference within 30 to 90 days depending on your industry. After a year, the direction your web results are moving will be clear.
Developing a rewarding content strategy can’t happen overnight. It’s a long term process that demands constant effort and patience to see results. Follow the basic guidelines above to kick off your best content strategy and start reaping the rewards.