Content strategy is made up of several different stages. The most obvious and well-known part of the cycle is content creation. Although there’s a lot more to successful content strategy than this.
These are analysis, taxonomy and audit, workflow reviews and distribution parts too. In this article we will be considering each individually and gaining some insights into how to formulate a kick ass content marketing strategy that will blow your competition out of the water. Buckle up, here we go.
- Find out how your audience gets to your site and which content they they engage with the most.
- Create a mind map either online or using flash cards – the old-fashioned way.
- Check up on your competitors to see how they promote content.
Here are some pertinent questions to ask:
- What is my audience doing on site?
- And what are they (and my potential audience) doing off-site?
On-site and off-site analytics
At this point you should do some analytics. Although don’t get too granular and bogged down in detail. Look at your own analytics and wider web based analytics. Look at what drives social shares, links and traffic to certain pages on the site.
One good way of measuring this is by looking at categories. If the number of page views in a category exceeds the number of URLs in that categorym then you are onto a good thing and should prioritise more content in that category.
Organic traffic: Take a look at what keywords in the past few years have driven organic traffic to your site. This is a good way to gage the relevance of keywords for future articles. Here are a couple of content tools to help you.
Mind-mapping: with the data from your own site and the keyword data, you should be able to create a content mind map. Try mindmeister.com or Mural.ly as these can have multiple users collaborate using them.
Competitor analysis: Check out how your competitors fare in the content stakes. Look on SEOMOZ for tools on domain authority and inbound links. Check them out on social media to see how many connections they have and how frequently they post.
Soovle: A weird little tool that throws up useful long tail keyword combinations.
Taxonomy and audit
Taxonomy is another word for information architecture. This is what drives how easily people find your content and how the newest content is found. It’s really crucial that you nail this down.
- Align tags and categories to a heirarchy
- Audit, re-edit and optimise content that could work better.
- Ensure authorship markup is correctly implemented.
- Plan and create content
It’s now down to the phase where you can plan and create content, but before you dive into what many consider the most exciting phase, we need to go back to our analytics – particularly the mind map you produced in phase one.
Category flash cards: Put the titles of your published articles onto flash cards on a table. Then sort these titles into particular groups or categories. This will allow you to ponder the categories and work out which oens have been given the most emphasis.
Tagging audit: Some CMS have too much flexibility with tagging. This means that you could end up with potentially hundreds of tags used only once and that are redundant. This leads to unnecessary doubling up on tags and therefore duplicating pages under different categories.
One way around this is to have a general content or subject type for the categories, such as How to, Top Tens, News. And then have tags relating to a particular entity like David Bowie or Sydney Harbour.
Menu restructure: After auditing and sorting out categories and tags with an audit, it becomes easier to build heirarchical menus that allows people to find content easier.
Audit on-page SEO
- Ensure the title tags are keyword-rich and well-optimised.
- Ensure that all images have keyword rich file names and alt text
- Ensure that there are embedded relevant links in all of the articles to relevant on-site and off-site content.
Evergreen content audit
Evergreen content has a long shelf life. This is the best kind of content as it never dates and can be wheeled out for many different future scenarios. It can also be altered to suit the changing needs of a client. So it’s content gold really. See if you can spruce up evergreen content for re-use in a different channel or context.
Take the time to look over really popular content from the past. See if you can improve it with editing or do a follow up that will drive traffic and engagement.
The Importance of Authorship
This isn’t useful for SEO purposes yet, however it may become this way in the future. Use a photo to put a face to the copy and to give site users greater insight into the editorial. Make sure that this is linked with a Google+ profile or Linked In to build legitimacy.
- Distinguish between stock and flow content
- Consider page types of formats
- Set quantitative KPI/Benchmarks for your team
- Schedule content in an editorial calendar.
Stock and Flow
These are two different types of content.
Stock: The solid, meaty, interesting and relevant content created by a content team. This is evergreen content that will prove to build up a solid fan base in the months or years to come.
Flow: News items or a steady flow of pertinent information from partner or industry websites that is relevant to your audience but isn’t authored by the content team. It could be in the form of tweets
There should be a good proportionate balance of both stock and flow in a content marketing strategy. Allocate these to content producers in an editorial calendar and you will find it easier to keep track.
Page Types: Develop custom pages in WordPress using the Advanced Custom Fields option. This allows you to create different page formats to serve different purposes such as for product reviews, blog posts or feature articles.
Editorial calendar: Allocate your stock and flow content to various content writers in a calendar. Your weapon of choice could be Google spreadsheet or Excel.
These should be flexible and relevant and able to be changed according to needs. Score on metrics that you consider important i.e.
- Pageviews of content
- Average time on page
- Social shares
- Links built
- Words published per day (2,000 -3,000 is a good enough rule for maintaining a decent level of quality balance)
Headlines: These account for 80% of click through rates. So don’t rely on instinct for headlines. There should be some science behind it. Read the guide to writing headlines here.
Formatting: Conform to web conventions for content. Important elements such as writing content in bite-sized chunks for ease of scanning; the use of numbered and bulleted lists and so on.
This is all about being seen in the big wide world. This is a combination of link-building for SEO and online PR for your content through social media.
- Give your social media and e-newletters defined roles, beyond driving traffic.
- Create a network of partners within your niche.
- Use paid for distribution to give your content an extra push.
Distributable content: Ensure that you have enough high quality content. Blog posts and product pages are a dime a dozen. Instead think of infographics, videos, photo journals and long-form writing. Include this in the planning phase.
Social media: Consider creating several different social media accounts and drip feeding relevant information into these instead of creating an open slather on one account. This will avoid social media fragmentation.
Email marketing: Ensure that straight off the bat you define at what stage of the buyer cycle the recipient is in. Give your newsletter a purpose and what they should be used for instead of blatant selling.
Partner networks: Build up mutually beneficial partner networks where other parties will post your content and you will post theirs. This sort of relationship of trust builds over time and involves some nurturing, although it can be very beneficial and will mean double the exposure along with double the amount of relevant content.
Paid advertising: If you want to give your content a real push then promoted posts on Facebook could be the way to go. This provides links to your blog and therefore increases traffic to the website along with gaining you more followers.
Good luck with the process and I hope it reaps rewards for you, as it has done for me in the past.