The thing is, you can’t just write a great blog post, stick a link to it in twitter and sit back and watch your bottom line grow. It won’t, as many businesses who saw the content marketing boom of the last few years and added a blog to their site in an effort to cash in will tell you.
Even if that blog delivered valuable content to your customers and other people who might want to read it, if they can’t find it or discuss it – or you ended it with a ‘so please buy my stuff’ CTA – it’s well-nigh useless.
Now listen well. When it comes to content, let this be your first and last exhortation: I shall deliver value to my user! And what follows in this article should be closely on the heels of the above.
Onsite Content Strategy
First, Clean House
Resist the urge to run out and hire fifteen third-world writers at $4 per blog post, and take a close look at what is going on at home. Your content strategy should begin with the content that’s on your own website, where your focus should be on optimizing the user experience.
And I’m not talking about how trendy, clean or aesthetically pleasing your website is. User experience describes how easily the user can find whatever they’re looking for on your website. This means you’ve got to develop a logical flow to your content; your ideas, arguments, evidence and CTAs (i.e. your funnel) should be really well thought through. People’s attention spans are already rivalling goldfish, and they’re only going to get shorter. Your content should be prominent and accessible, while delivering the information that the user wants.
Don’t underestimate how much a badly-ordered site can detract from your business. With mounting user frustration comes more user inclination to react negatively, publically and loudly on social media. Venting is only a click away – hell hath no fury like a wasted lunchbreak.
Intention, intention, intention
Location, location, location goes the estate agent’s mantra. Your users know where your website is, but do you know what they expect? Intention-based content refers to developing and arranging your content in a manner which reflects what your typical user might do on your website. Would he or she click ads? Probably not, so if you think that, you’re doing it wrong. User intent plays a vital role in how your onsite strategy works. To do it right, you have to think about what a user wants when he or she arrives on your website.
Think, then link
When you’ve got a quality piece of content, chances are it’s going to have something to do with other content on your site and other sites in the same niche. There is no horror in linking out from your site if that link genuinely provides a value-add to what you are saying. Your users will appreciate the extra info. Linking to other quality content on your own site should be a no-brainer. Apart from keeping users on your site, it builds trust in your authority and in your brand.
Be the one-and-only you
Unless you’ve invented something completely original, there are other people who do what you do. What separates you from them? Why are you unique and special, and more to the point, why should people spend their hard earned cash on you? Developing a style and a voice which sets you apart is important.
Marathon or Sprint?
Throughout discussions and analytics of content and readability, long-form content has consistently outshone short-form content. Two things are clear: One, people do read and convert better with long-form content. Two, Google prefers it (but it’s go to be valuable, smart and of a high quality).
Even if you’re a salesman, stop selling
Try to avoid naked selling with your content. That turns your work into something resembling direct advertising and marketing. Things have changed a lot on the web; people are smarter, more discerning and less inclined to believe things just because you say them. Provide as much value as you can, and people will more naturally want to buy.
Offsite Content Strategy
Know your audience
A simple Google search will tell you that there are lots of blogs, websites, and communities that cater to the same audience you’re targeting. It’s easier and more productive to identify your target audience and understand what’s on their mind through what they are really talking about, rather than trying to make ‘educated guesses’. This is one of the true values of guest posting, actually: instead of picking topics at random and pitching them to publishers, you’re getting into the field and researching something that will really help. And often enough, you’ll see direct responses from members of your potential target audience.
Really now, stop f#@$%&* selling!
The same onsite rules apply for offsite strategies. In fact, they apply even more strongly. Never take a piece of marketing copy and attempt to pass it off as a guest post or an offsite publication. It’ll probably backfire, and you’ll lose the trust of your audience.
All your content must be good content, period
Here is a simple rule for online publishing: if you don’t consider a particular piece of content to be high quality, don’t publish it anywhere. Invest instead in a dedicated writing/editing team to ensure that all your content is of the best possible standard – then you can publish without worry.
Connect, chat, repeat
Once you’ve distributed content make sure you check back to it regularly to participate in whatever discussion follows. This signals to everyone that you’re available and a real person; it puts a face and a voice behind the valuable information and makes people more inclined to trust you.
Build authority: Identify other key players
Link-building (in its proper form) has really become an Internet term for relationship building. These days people offer email templates to send to website owners. It’s a lot more powerful (and not that much more work) just to be natural. Identify the key players in your field (they might even be your competitors), and build a really solid list of the people who’re trying to do (almost) the same thing you are trying to do; the folks who are, say, trying to build traffic, authority, brand, etc., within or near the same niche as you are.
Then, reach out to the competition
Once you build a huge list of such people, make friends with them. Not everyone is going to be helpful, but it’s interesting to note that on the Internet, some of the people who compete with you directly actually make great friends as well, and are often more than ready to help you out. Once you build such relationships with other key players, a few things become easier. For instance, publishing on others people’s websites, getting a link-back or a natural mention (which is worth way more than a paid listing), and so on.
Hang out with other key players
You also want to find out where your niche players are discussing things on the web. Not just about what is going on in your industry, but about the core area of your target market. This gives you an edge, for example, over other players who just stick to their independent sources. And you get opportunities to meet more people you can build relationships with. Sites like Meetup are great for this.
Help me Rhonda
Even if your name isn’t Rhonda, keep the focus on one thing: helping others. You only get out whatever you put in; so put in tons of value (in the form of helping others) and you’ll get it back exponentially in return.
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