How to create an effective content strategy
When it comes to creating a content strategy that really works, there are several things to consider before you actually create your content.
Whether you are a small business looking to build brand awareness or an established company looking to grow your strategy, the same strategic approach to content creation can be applied.
What is content strategy?
Content strategy refers to the strategic thinking, planning and execution of digital content. Whether it is written content, audio or video; a comprehensive content strategy is vital in supporting digital marketing initiatives and to achieve wider business goals.
Why content strategy matters
A meticulously planned out content strategy is key to driving your business forward. Answering questions, providing value and expertise in your niche will help your audience along the user journey, and ultimately help them to convert.
Content strategy can be used as part of your SEO efforts whether you are a small ecommerce site or a large B2B software giant and everything in between.
Crafting your strategy
Consider your audience
Before you deep dive into creating your content, it’s important to take a step back and ask if you really know who you are creating your content for. Do you have existing buyer personas? Or perhaps you have some customer research with valuable insights.
Having deep knowledge of your audience can help pave a path for creating a content strategy. If you don’t have any insights like this to hand, general demographic and psychographic data available in Google Analytics can give you some guidance on what your audience is interested in.
Determine the purpose of your content
Every piece of content should be created with a purpose in mind. Often digital content creation is aligned with the top and middle of the funnel activity; this is especially important for SEO driven blog content.
From addressing awareness at the top to helping the decision-making process at the middle; the content you produce can help move users down the funnel. The content formats often used for these stages range from blogs or guides to ebooks and downloadables.
“What are luxury vinyl tiles?” – top of funnel.
“The differences between Laminate & LVT flooring” – middle of the funnel.
Utilise Seasonality Insights
It’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on seasonality data as external factors can often disrupt user search behaviour. Besides that it’s a great way to get a feel for when a particular topic is most popular in search.
If you don’t know where to start, begin by looking into the seasonality trends of your products or services – often you will find yearly trends. These insights can help you decide when it’s best to create content about a particular topic.
If you’re an online fashion ecom brand, it’s no surprise that bikinis are more popular during warmer months and leggings are more popular during colder months. This is a yearly trend that was only disrupted during the pandemic, as the graph above highlights.
Therefore it makes logical sense to ensure you are pushing relevant summer content during the summer months. When it comes to SEO seasonal strategies, timing is vital to help ensure you capitalise at the right time.
Dive into Keyword Research
Once you have gathered all your insights; it’s time to do some keyword research. This is arguably the most important step in crafting your strategy, especially if you want to use your content to drive organic traffic.
Apart from using Google search yourself, there are many tools you can use to accelerate your keyword research, including industry standard tools: Ahrefs and SEMrush. Both of these tools offer free trials.
If you don’t know where to start, take a ‘seed keyword’ which is a broad, general term and search around it to see what comes up.
It’s important not to pigeonhole yourself right at the start by being too specific, as you may miss out on some ‘golden keywords’ that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.
You can also look for questions to answers for blog or article content. Also Asked is an excellent free tool to use to find questions to generate blog post ideas.
Consider Search Intent
There are several types of search intent but when it comes to content strategy, you’ll most likely be looking at informational and commercial intent. Informational intent refers to content that is purely informative – the user is looking for information on something.
“What is a water feature?” – Would be an informational query as the answer to that query is information on what a water feature is.
“The best water features under £100” – This is an example of a query with commercial investigative intent – the user is looking to compare costs and features before they make a decision.
Matching intent is crucial for an SEO-based content strategy as your content should address only one type of search intent at a time.
Create Topic Clusters
Once you have gathered a list of keywords you can begin to cluster them.
A topic cluster is essentially a group of keywords that are related and cover the same topic. You can think of it like putting groups of keywords into buckets, based on their similarity.
You’ll want a range of keywords within each topic cluster that you cover. Topic clusters like the above are great for providing titles and structure to help you shape your content briefs when you get to that stage.
To make sure your content strategy is comprehensive, you’ll want to have several topic clusters in your back pocket, so you can plan months ahead.
When it comes to planning engaging content, make sure you backup your strategy with the insights from your research, as this will help when pitching your ideas.
Don’t forget to ensure your strategy adds something unique and provides value to your audience. You want to be an authoritative and trustworthy voice in your niche, but also don’t be afraid to put your own spin on it.