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Guides & Advice

Creating an effective content strategy for SEO

By Chris Worthington / October 19th 2017

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There is more to content marketing than simply picking a topic or service area and writing about it.

To be creative and effective you need to have a plan. This is where a content strategy comes into play – but what goes into creating an effective plan for your content marketing? We explain.

Research

The first step in building any strategy is to understand what you are strategising for.

In terms of content, this means you should have an understanding of a number of areas:

  • Your audience – their needs, problems and relevance to your industry
  • Your industry – its issues, expectations, terminology and products
  • Industry keywords and long-tail search phrases:
    • What they are
    • Your current search rankings
    • Competitor rankings
  • What your competitors are producing

This data gives you a wealth of information to dive into when building your strategy. It’s important that you establish a baseline ranking position to start from, so you know where you are on search engine rankings. This helps massively in assessing the direction and success of a content marketing campaign.

It also never hurts to look at what your competition is doing, especially if it is working, as this gives you a benchmark. What do you have to do to be better than them? What can you bring to the table that differentiates you from the competition? Answering these questions can help guide your choices of content type, tone and style, giving you a leg up on the competition.

Quantifying opportunities

The keyword data you gather gives you an insight into what opportunities are available to you. For instance, what terms are you ranking well for? What areas of SEO could use some attention to help you improve your positioning?

Answering these questions will give you a list of keywords and phrases you should be targeting.

For a content writer, this data is invaluable. It gives you a starting point for ideas and titles and also an idea of how broad a topic is in terms of search. This gives you a clearer indication of just how much you could cover on one topic.

Balancing types of content

Once you know what terms you’ll be targeting, you need to ascertain which sorts of content will be best suited to capitalise on them.

Blogs, guides, longer features, research pieces, white papers, or video – they all have their own unique strengths and present different opportunities to provide information to an audience.

However, not all types of content are relevant to your business. For instance, a video or guide might not be as useful as other content. If the majority of your content is made up of news stories, for example, a single guide probably won’t sit right on your site. This is why finding the most effective mix of content for your business or client is crucial.

You should also consider the additional time and budgetary constraints to put together longer pieces. Is it better to do a load of small articles or put all your eggs in one basket and do a couple of big pieces?

Once you’ve decided on your types of content and the quantities of each, you can move on to coming up with the actual titles that will flesh out your content strategy.

Illustration of a person stood infront of some giant balancing scales holding three big boxes

Ideation and title generation

This is one of the more enjoyable aspects of putting together a content strategy.

Using your keywords and long-tail phrases as a starting point, you can begin to look for the pertinent questions associated with them. Answer the Public is a great online tool that can help with this. As well as determining the questions your customers are asking, you’ll also need to consider what the current issues are in your industry, and what service areas you want to focus on.

Using these you can begin to build titles based around search intent, meaning you aren’t clutching at straws or producing content that will have no value.

This is where all your research and analysis pays off as it ensures the content you produce in the long run is much more relevant. It will also have a clear benefit to search, your audience and your brand’s level of authority.

It’s a good idea to produce a list of titles – not just what you need but as many as you can think of. Also, cover topics from multiple angles, consider the different types of content and categorise your ideas by the sort of content they will be. For instance, looking at the titles you have and deciding what will work best as guides or blog posts.

You can then refine the list you have and select which pieces you’ll work on first. This helps to define your workflow. It’s important you don’t discard the other ideas you had – they can be revisited or refined, if necessary, at a later date.

Approval and production

Once you have the strategy in place, the next step is to get your proposed titles approved. This, essentially, just means running them by your team and making any necessary tweaks.

After the titles have been approved you can shift from strategising to producing content by delivering the pieces you’ve outlined.

Keep in mind that there should be a degree of flexibility when doing this. This is because having a title that fits with your keyword data doesn’t necessarily mean that piece will be straightforward to write. There might need to be subtle changes to the title to make writing the article easier.

Creating your content doesn’t mean you can’t keep developing new ideas. For instance, your research for a blog might highlight another angle for that topic that could quite easily become another blog post. You should keep a record of such ideas, as they can be a valid starting point when you next come to developing content titles.

Monitoring and review

Once your content has been delivered, the next step is to assess its performance. What has worked well and what hasn’t? Has it reached the heights you intended?

You should then look into why this has happened, and ascertain what changes need to be made to your strategy to improve the results. It might be that you need to adjust the balance of content types. You could write fewer guides and more general blog posts, for example.

The information you gain from reviewing your content allows you to adjust and refine the next iteration of your content strategy.

Every time you finish a round of content you should assess and revisit your content. This way your strategy can constantly evolve. This can lead to a continually improving strategy, which delivers increasingly effective results.

Illustration of a person arranging boxes into two separate piles, one pile labelled 'working' the other labelled 'not working'

Create a content strategy that works

Consistently producing great content requires planning, effort and time. The insight that a content strategy can provide will go some way in making this easier, making your content creation much more productive, efficient and effective. This then helps make you appear more of an authority to your customers, improves your reputation and drives sales.

We’d love to explore how our content marketing strategies could deliver results for your business. To arrange a brief telephone conversation with one of our team, call 08447 550 350 or get in touch to find out more.