When it comes to romancing Google in the bid for better rankings, a solid content strategy is the digital flower you need in order to woo the search engine giant.
While the platform keeps information on its algorithms largely secret, the company openly states that fresh, relevant and quality content will do your website plenty of favours. However, this content cannot be ad-hoc or slapped together without thought. It needs to be strategised, carefully planned out and ready to nurture the eyes it lands in front of. It must meet the criteria of absolute quality. And let’s face it, there’s a lot of it out there these days that isn’t quite hitting that benchmark (or even coming close).
First of all, before you can sell your brand, you need to know your own brand. And I mean really know it. You must understand how it ticks, what makes it weak, what makes it strong and what gives it that ‘oomph’ over competitors. Then you need to identify the personality, tone and overall image. Only then can you begin to translate this all into a content strategy. A picture paints a thousand words, but words will paint a million more if you know the vision you’re reflecting.
Secondly, you need to know your customers and your target audience like your life depends on it. I’m talking right down to the nitty-gritty of what motivates them or drives them insane; what makes their fists curl and what brings a tear to their eye? To develop content that is going to hook them in, you first need to know what fuels them. You also need to know how this audience consumes their content on a daily basis, so you can distribute through the correct channels and ensure you are reaching your audience.
And finally, you need to assess whether you have the resources available to create this level of content on a regular basis, or if you need to outsource to the professionals (holla!)
How to know what kind of content to create
You can get a good idea about what format of information or material your audience is consuming by assessing their behaviour on social media. By searching the highest-trending authors in your industry, you can find high-authority influencers, what content they are creating and which articles are generating the most engagement and online chatter. Really sit down and spend time assessing what’s giving them their success and then try to replicate their formula. This approach will also give you a blueprint as to what topics you should focus on.
As a rule of thumb, there are three primary types of content that you should be producing. They are:
- Hero content: This is your bread and butter material that is designed to educate and inspire your audience. It could be about a major launch, a new product, new innovations – anything new is the key here.
- Hub content: Here is where you can express your personality. This is routinely published content that invites feedback and a two-way dialogue with your consumers. This kind of content includes podcasts, newsletters, blogs, etc.
- Hygiene content: This is your evergreen content that can be used as a resource or republished at a later date. It includes how-to guides, FAQ lists any other guides or demonstrations that establish you as an industry leader. It’s designed to be helpful to your audience.
Understanding your distribution options
When you have content ready to go, it is time to examine which channels are best for you. In this field, there are four main types of channels to consider:
- Owned: Where you have complete control over the platform – like your website – to a certain degree. This also includes your social media accounts.
- Earned: Traditional channels like television, print media and radio where your content is floated to them through PR campaigns. You will not have editorial control over the final product.
- Paid: Essentially a form of advertising space, but this includes sponsored social media campaigns.
- Partner: This is a great channel. If there is common ground in your article with another business, tag them in it or link to their website, and have them do the same. Get them to publish the article as well and share the publicity together.
Remember, due to social media algorithms, only a very small part of your audience will organically see your posts. Paid distribution will need to be budgeted in and included here.
Can your business sustain regular content creation and management?
First of all, if you are considering adding content creation and management to the existing duties of a staff member, then you are heading down the wrong path. You can go lean and mean with content, but it needs to be a single-focus operation.
Essentially, your business can run a content hub with a three-man team: one marketing guru, one actual content creator and one person in charge of distribution and publishing. But there is a process to this, in order to get anywhere:
- Pre-planning: the brainstorming session where content ideas are discussed.
- Planning: Creating a content map with objectives, KPIs etc and then the actual production.
- Distribution: Getting the content published across multiple channels. This can even be on amplification platforms like Outbrain or Taboola.
- Monitoring and management: Ensuring all customer feedback is responded to, undesirable comments are handled correctly, and measurements are tracked.
- Measurement: Analysis of how well the content performed.
That final step is perhaps the most vital, as without measurements you have no idea how the content has performed, leaving you throwing darts in the dark. Tracking and monitoring is the pinnacle to content marketing success, ensuring you’re performing and improving over time. If you’re sitting stagnant after months and months of hard work, something’s wrong. Very wrong.
However, for smaller businesses and operations, this level of investment into content production and management is not always viable. In this instance, we recommend investing in a third-party agency (like us), who can take care of the end-to-end process for you.
Not only will you be able to set your spend, but your content will be delivered by professionals and in a time frame that is much shorter than your in-house team is likely to be able to deliver. It’s a win-win.
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