Creating a Content Strategy
Content is the fuel to your jetpack or the bellows to your fire, if you know what I mean. Your website may be beautiful, but without the right words, search engines won’t ever be able to find it and show it to searchers everywhere. Forging a content strategy that makes big strides for your site’s traffic is tough. You need to gobsmack searchers with relevant information that uniquely combines interesting writing and informational bulk with digestible concision. Essentially, you need to say the right words in the right way when the right people are searching for them. Here’s how:
1. Unearth Your Target Audience
No matter what industry you’re writing about, you need to constantly be asking yourself, “Who is looking for this information?” Who is that person searching for your content about roofing or gravel or archery targets or whatever you might be writing about that day?
Identify your target audience. You can do this by assigning strict demographics, e.g., 34-year old, male, single, one dog, drives a Porsche, lives in Detroit, etc. Or you can abide by a looser model, e.g., older woman who might be a mom and simply wants to know how to go about refinishing her kitchen floors. Both definitions can guide you, the writer, toward the approach you should take with your content. Make sure what you say and how you say it aligns with your audience. So when describing how to refinish hardwood, don’t go off on a great surfing analogy because it just might not click with who you’re writing for.
2. Be an Expert
It’s hard to craft a strategic content plan when you know zilch about the niche you’re writing about. As a content writer, you’re met with a cornucopia of topics weekly, and you can’t possibly be expected to be a pre-existing expert on, well, everything. But you can become an expert. And then you can become a trivia master on weeknights.
When traversing into uncharted territories, do your homework. Thoroughly researching your client’s business and industry will serve you in everything you create for them. Not only should you establish a broad knowledge, but you should also be doing some seriously in-depth research when you write very targeted or specific blogs, articles, etc.
Did you read that part about keywords above? Read it again. Knowing the industry you’re writing about means you’ll be able to pick out the best keywords you should be using. The more long-tail keywords you can base content around, the better for your client.
3. Content Cocktail
Words are great. Super awesome. I love them. I’m guessing you do, too. Or maybe you should if they’re a part of your career. However, being a veritable content mixologist is key to a memorable and effective content strategy. Blog posts are great and many websites ride the blog wave to keep traffic up and rankings high, but playing with and without words is fun, too.
Consider more than short-form blog posts. Regularly write long-form articles chockfull of pertinent info. Create learning and informative resources to appeal to your target searcher—guides, how-to instructions, top 10 lists, etc. Branch into videos, audio or visual aspects. Perhaps record a quick podcast discussing your subject or assemble an easily shareable infographic. Making content that works well with social is awesome and only raises visibility across the web.
Not only do readers like fresh content, but let’s get real, so does Google. Don’t let your readership dwindle or your credibility die off in search engine land because you throw a sloppy short blog up on your site every three months. If you truly want to start ranking for specific keywords and driving traffic to your site, look at posting at least once a month. Any less and you’ll hardly be treading water.
Create an organized content calendar that takes into account content mix and seasonality—for instance, you’ll want to start getting in the holiday spirit around October. By laying out what you’re going to write about when provides an easy way to make sure you’re sticking to your schedule and that your topics are on-point. Remember, though, that content calendars aren’t etched in stone. If one topic is doing better than others, maybe let that linger a bit more and keep creating content around that. Being flexible yet consistent is an important characteristic for any writer.