Blogging is good for business. Actually, scratch that. Blogging is great for business. In fact, among a slew of fabulous statistics about just how good blogging is for your business is this: Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website. And you know what that means? More traffic. Thought leadership. Being seen as an industry expert in the eyes of your customers.
Anyone who has started blogging for business can probably tell you that the hardest part of blogging is actually figuring out what exactly you're going to write. And what you write about is extremely important, especially now that Google has placed such a high emphasis on quality content. While it takes a bit longer to write great blog posts, Google has made it clear (in their own words) that it is absolutely rewarding to do so:
"If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic."
To ensure that you are putting out good quality content consistently, you need a plan. You need a Content Strategy. While many marketers have fully fleshed out processes for creating in-depth strategies from hours and hours of research, I'm going to guess you don't have time for that. If you want to create a quick content strategy (something that only takes a couple hours versus 20), these are the foundational elements you'll need to get started today.
1. Set Your Goal
If you've read any of our other blog posts, including the Smart Marketer's Guide to Blogging for Business or Why GPCT Should Be in Every B2B Marketing Plan, you know we are a stickler about goals. Everything you do as a marketer must be in service of accomplishing your goals.
But, what are those goals? Most likely yours relate to one thing: conversions. You are looking to either convert visitors into business leads, or you're looking to convert visitors into sales (e-commerce). Most of our clients (because we work primarily in B2B) have the goal of generating more leads for their business through inbound marketing. They use their blog to attract more visitors to their site, and then they use gated content to convert them into leads.
Let's assume that your goal is to generate new leads through your blog. Your articulated goal may be something like,
"I want to generate 30% more leads through blogging this year."
Great. Who do you want those leads to be?
2. Identify Your Ideal Reader
That brings us to the next part of your content strategy, identifying who you want reading your content. Your readers are (or should be) prospective clients. In order to write for them, you'll want to figure out who exactly they are first.
This is where your buyer persona comes in. A persona is a fictional character that acts as a representation of your ideal customer. This persona typically contains the following information:
Typically you'd find out this information from surveying people in your target audience, talking with current clients and doing research. But this is a guide to creating a quick content strategy, right? For your persona, answer the above criteria by thinking about characteristics of the type of client you work with the most.
For example, if you're a commercial real estate broker, you work directly with business owners to secure leases. Who are those business owners: Are they typically men or women? What kind of company do they typically run? Do they have kids? Where do they live? What do they look for in an office? and so on.
These questions and your resulting buyer will help you figure out what to write and how to write. Most importantly you'll know:
- Who am I talking to?
- What challenges do they face for which I can provide a solution?
- What are some factors that affect their buying decisions?
Here's an example of a complete persona from HubSpot:
3. Compile a Keywords List
Based on the persona you create (and you may have more than one depending on how varied your client base is), the next step is figuring out what keywords they are searching for. Based on your knowledge of the niche you work in, think about topics (longtail keywords) your customers come to you for. To get a better idea of what exactly people are searching for, take that longtail keyword to Google and see what Google suggests.
Continuing on that commercial real estate example earlier, let's say one of your topics is "signing a commercial lease."
With this topic, you can see there are a couple ways to take it. Based on Google Suggest (those suggestions that show up in the dropdown as you type), you could use "signing a commercial lease" or "signing a commercial property lease" as target keywords in your content. But be sure those keywords are actually relevant! Drop them into Google and see what comes up. If they align with what you'd be writing, you're on the right track. If it's completely off, you may want to tweak your keyword choices.
Obviously, this is the light version of keyword research, but it will get you to where you want to go right off the bat. To get you started, choose five target keywords using this method. These will form the basis of your editorial calendar.
4. Create an Editorial Calendar
What good is a content strategy without a plan to actually put it in place, right? The editorial calendar will help you organize your blogging efforts and ensure that you are consistently publishing articles that align with your keywords.
Let's take a second and talk about finding inspiration for blog articles. Consistently coming up with great content ideas is really only 25 percent inspiration met with 75 percent research. That "inspiration" is really about taking a moment to look at questions you answer over and over again for your clients, those FAQs you seem to get emails constantly about. Then look at the information requested or talked about during your sales meetings -- I bet there are tons of topics to explore there.
For the "research" portion, there are a couple tactics for coming up with great content ideas:
1. Keyword Research: You've already identified some keywords that your buyer persona is looking for that align with what you provide. These are a great place to start when developing content ideas.
For example, with the keyword "signing a commercial lease," you could write several different articles:
- 10 Things to Know Before Signing a Commercial Lease
- Questions to Ask When Signing a Commercial Lease
- Signing a Commercial Lease: A Guide to Negotiating a Better Deal
2. Google, Buzzsumo Search & Ninja Outreach: Why reinvent the wheel? Give your target keywords a search to see what other people are writing about. Articles that come up on the first page are usually ones that have had a good number of visitors and probably social media shares -- so they're good topics to consider.
You can also use a tools we love like Buzzsumo and Ninja Outreach, which allows you to search for a keyword and see all the top performing articles for that topic across the web based on social media shares. Ninja Outreach lets you automate your outreach to the influencers you find.
When you find a topic you'd like to write, think about how you can improve or add to the conversation beyond what those people on the first page have written. Perhaps it's a matter of adding a couple more points or taking a different approach to the topic.
Rand Fishkin of Moz calls this "10x" content. He says getting to content that is 10x better than what is already out there comes down to asking the question, "what's missing?" Finding the gaps in what is being written about versus what you could write about is where the prize lies.
Now, get to writing!
You're Done! You should be able to get through this light version of a content strategy in a matter of an hour or two.
Some other elements that you may consider adding in if you have more time are:
- Voice & Tone Guidelines: how do you want to sound?
- Governance Strategy/Workflow: If individual departments are publishing content but it's all in one blog, how will you control the quality and the workflow?), and a promotion plan (where do you promote content once it is published?
- Promotion Plan: Where and when are you going to promote your content to get the most visitors possible?
With these basics, you'll be able to set forth a solid foundation for your content program and maximize the opportunity for organic search down the line.
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