How to Kickstart Your Content Strategy

Laughing Samurai - How to Kickstart Your Content Strategy

Content strategy is more than just putting words on a website – it’s about creating content that delivers the voice of your brand and caters to your audience. If you’re just starting out and building brand awareness, it’s imperative that your content appears in Google Search results.

While the team that built your website might be proficient at technical SEO, most times all they have done is given you a strong foundation to publish on. Getting your message right is just as much an art as it is science, and you won’t get the traffic you’re looking for unless you start publishing quality content.

How to Build a Content Strategy to Satisfy Your Target Audience

Building a content marketing strategy that pleases your target audience as well as the search engines, while also staying consistent with the visual style and tone of your brand, is not a thing that happens without making a plan. There are a lot of moving parts that go into any publication, and if you want editorial to be consistent, you will need to take the time to figure out what direction you’re moving in.

When you’re relying on content, you should package it in a way that sparks joy in your consumers. Would you rather have your specialty coffee delivered in a plain, unlabeled USPS package when you could have it delivered in a well-designed, aesthetically pleasing box that includes a mixtape? Either way, the coffee will be delicious, but the experience of drinking coffee will be elevated in the second example. It’s the same with how a customer experiences your brand, so when you’re writing content for your website, think about your audience and how they engage with your content. Then build a strategy to reach your target audience and meet your business objectives.

1. Research

Whether you’re just starting out or you have a trove of content you need to improve, understanding what content is currently available will set you up for success. If you already have content on your site, look at your analytics reports to see what pages perform well, and review Search Console data that tells you how your content performs on Google Search – your winners will have high clicks, high rankings in the SERP, and high impressions. When you’ve identified what works, decide whether it is on brand and how it can be improved; this is the basis for understanding what you need.

Next, review the websites of your competitors and identify what works for them. What are they doing? The audit process will help you identify where gaps exist in your content marketing so that you can build a strategy to remedy this.

Now pull a list of the keywords you’re currently ranking for, as well as the keywords your competitors are ranking for, and get it organized. We’ll need this in the next step.

2. Build a Strategy

After auditing your content and uncovering the gaps, you will be able to build a strategy for how to improve your content marketing by consistently creating content that matters. Start by identifying content types and how you’re going to distribute content, spreading it between your own channels and social media.

Next, create a vocabulary and content style guide so that future content written by different members of your organization will stay consistent and on-brand. A person, or a group of people, will act as the editorial team and review all content before it is published to verify it follows this guide. Use your list of important keywords and separate them into subcategories. This will help when writing content, and be useful during the ideation process.

Finally, your strategy should include a list of tactics for amplifying your content and extending your reach. Identify the places you will promote your content and how the content will support your business objectives, and consider creating processes for identifying opportunities that are unique for each piece of content. You’re now ready to start planning.

3. Establish a Plan

You need a way to create, publish, and distribute your content. Start with creating a list of deliverables, the tasks needed to achieve them, and put hard deadlines on them so that you can start consistently putting out content. Determine who in your organization is responsible for creating what kind of content.

We have found that kickstarting your content strategy works best if you match this plan to people’s availability and skill level. If your employee has never written content before and you ask them to start producing 2 pieces of content a week, you’re going to create a lot of resistance, and it might feel like pulling teeth to get what you need. Be mindful of this when delegating. Writing is a muscle that is built over time, so start small when getting in the habit of publishing content and build from there.

Alternatively, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have the time to do it or should be doing it. Writing good content takes time, typically 7-10 hours for a well-written article and half that for a short blog post. If you need someone to write for you, you will have to create the space in their work schedule to do it. If your time is better spent elsewhere, consider hiring a person or agency to produce content for you.

Finally, make sure your editorial team understands the content management system (CMS) that will house your content and manage your teams. If you’re using other tools to manage your content promotion, you’ll want to discuss those as well. Make a plan, get everyone on board and aligned on the objectives for implementing a content marketing strategy, and then roll up your sleeves.

4. Create Great Content

It’s time to create your content and its derivatives. Whoever is managing the team should be delegating or approving topics to make sure that the work is consistent with your brand and hits all the requirements in your content plan. At this stage, you could be working with collaborators on guest posts, publishing the commissioned work of influencers, or writing long form articles and other website content. The Content Marketing Institute has a useful guide for the creation of long-form pillar content.

Content should be optimized for search engines, which means a tactical use of keywords, title tags, and meta tags. You should also actively be experimenting and publishing content with market schema mark-up so that it has a greater chance to be included in different search engine features.

Develop supplemental content that broadens the platforms a piece of content will reach; a blog post can also become an infographic, a social post, or the basis for a video on YouTube. Whatever you do here, consistency is more important than quantity. You want to create consistently, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.

5. Maintain Your Work

So you’ve put your content out in the ether, but that doesn’t guarantee success. You should have someone heavily involved in the promotion of your content, and make sure you have a great website that will ensure people trust your organization and enjoy the experience of consuming your content.

To measure how well your strategy is working, use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to reveal key insights into what is effective and then improve what isn’t. Then begin the whole process again from step one, audit your content, and keep your content fresh!

Great Content Relies on a Great User Experience

There are a lot of variables that go into search engine optimization whether that is writing great content, improving PageSpeed metrics, or achieving a solid catalog of high profile backlinks. When it comes to creating a content strategy, your focus should be on how the user interacts with your content on your website, which means improving your UX and UI.

How the user experiences your content and website determines the perceived value of your website and trust in your brand. Work with your design team and developers to improve your website’s Core Web Vitals whilst maintaining a great visual style to your website. A smooth experience, with well-considered interface design and elements that put the user at the heart of the interaction, will improve your brand impact; lengthen time spent on pages because the user is enjoying your content; and increase your chances of conversion and repeat visits.

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