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16 Jan 2017

How to Create a Content Strategy

by Lizzie Benton 0

You didn’t start your business without a structured plan, so why would you do the same with your blog content?

A blog may seem like a ‘fluffy’ thing to do to generate a few visitors, but if this is your thinking you need to quickly realise that your blog is a vital business asset to your marketing efforts.

If you want to take yourself seriously, and truly gain visitors and engage with your audience, you shouldn’t be posting out any old blog as and when. You my friend need a solid, data-led content strategy.

 

First of all, you may be wondering ….. What is a Content Strategy and why do I need one?  

In layman’s terms, a content strategy is an action plan consisting of topics and deliverables that you can follow to ensure you are consistently posting relevant content on a regular basis.

This is essential in gaining new visitors and establishing yourself as a trusted brand in your industry.

If you can’t be found for the key terms your audience are searching for, and provide your audience with useful and informative content; you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll be on your competitor’s website instead.

It’s well documented that a thorough content strategy will benefit your business by driving organic traffic to your website, improving your search visibility, and make you stand-out from your competitors. No matter how you look at it, it’s a win-win situation.

In this blog post, I will show you step-by-step how you can create your own content strategy – and above all – stick to it.

But before we begin the step-by-step process ensure you’ve got the tools to get the job done in the first place. After all, there’s nothing worse than discovering what you need halfway through a recipe.

Tools You Will Need:


Step 1) What’s Working?

Before you can begin to come-up with any shiny new ideas, you need to know what’s worked for your blog already. That way you have a frame work to build from and know which content will be attractive to your audience.

Of course, if you haven’t previously been blogging (tut tut) then you can skip this part and head to Step 2.

Teacher’s pets stick with me.

By accessing your Google Analytics, and selecting Site Content. You can view all of your previous content along with the page views and the average time spent on the page.

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Note down your most popular blog posts from the past six months. And don’t forget not just to look at page views but to also look at the time people have spent on that post.

Too short and you’ve not given them what they needed; too long and perhaps you’ve made it hard work.

From analysing your previous content, you should begin to see a pattern emerging around the topics that are popular with your audience. This will now provide you with a starting point, and I’m sure your mind is probably already filling with ideas for new blog posts.


Step 2) Who are you targeting?  

There are a number of reasons why you need to personify your audience and know who you’re targeting. Not only will this give you full insight into the types of topics they engage with, but it will also enable you to make your writing style appropriate to them.

After all, sometimes the writing bit of blogging can be the most daunting, and by envisaging your audience sat listening to you speak, it will immediately enhance your writing and make it more relatable.

There are a number of ways that you can find out about audience.

Firstly, Google Analytics has a wealth of data available. Simply go to the Audience category on the left hand-side of your Google Analytics dashboard.

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Here you will find key information such as their age, gender, and interests.

For example, from this website data we can see the following;

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This can help you build up a profile of your audience, and enable you to quickly identify the type of content they’re going to be interested in.

To cement this information further, you can also analyse your audience on Facebook using their insights option on your Facebook page.

Again, you can see that the audience is primarily male, and between the ages of 18-34.

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This wealth of information can feel quite overwhelming, so to help you put this data and information into a context and keep it sealed in your mind every time you go to write a blog post; create a persona page in your content strategy with images of these people and their interests.  This is a template of mine. I sometimes even add a few different personas to mix it up and get my head into their way of thinking.

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Always remember, that everything you’re writing about is for these people that feature in your content strategy.

Ask yourself someone questions about these people;

What are their needs?

What are their concerns?

The more you can learn about them, the more useful content you will create for them, and the more relatable your writing style will be.

Once you get going, this process can be so much fun, and you will instantly feel in control of your content and the direction it needs to go in.


Step 3) What are they searching for?

Now that you can put yourself in your audience’s shoes you probably feel quite confident about what they may be searching for, so it’s time to get to grips with this and find some starting topics.

Using specific keywords surrounding your niche, type them into google and see what comes up. Are these sites that are listed relevant to your target audience? And are there any related search terms that Google is suggesting?

For example, my ideal keyword may be cooking apples.

So for starters I could come up with the following;

10 Recipes for Cooking Apples

The Different Types of Cooking Apples

Looking at Google search terms the list could go on and on.

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There are so many ways you can find topics for your audience that this blog post could go on forever, so I’d highly recommend finding some inspiration from this great post by Social Media Examiner.

Get the list going, and you’ll have more ideas than you can handle.


Step 4) What’s already popular?

You may also be wondering what type of content around your business is already popular, after all, if you find a piece of content that sits at the top of google but actually looks quite useless, you could make a better version of it using your knowledge and expertise.

Another great way to find popular content is using Ahrefs.

Select Content Explorer, filter the search, and you’ll be left with a plethora of results that show you the most popular content that’s currently ranking for that search term.

Again even more ideas that can help you to create informative and useful content for your audience.

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Step 5) Get organised

You don’t need to read my bio to know I’m slightly obsessed with organisation. But being organised is being in control. And aside from my giddiness over lists, plans and keeping things tidy; it’s proven that consistent blogging helps to drive traffic and continuously improve your organic search visibility.

Now you know your audience and you know the topics you want to write about, it’s time to commit your time to your blog and assign a date to each of your posts.

But before you start panicking that you have to blog every single day of the week and live under your desk; let’s have a reality check – how much time can you realistically commit to your blog?

The truth is, you don’t need to blog every day, or even every week, you just need to remain consistent.


The Finale

Now that you have a working document you can refer to and keep you on track, you will be well on your way to making your website a success and earning the trust of your audience.

Stick with it, and remember to review your blog every three months to ensure your topics are remaining effective.

Content Strategy School is out!

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Lizzie Benton

Content Marketing Manager at Datify