16 Oct 2020 - 7 mins read
Everyone has heard the phrase ‘content is king.’ Often heard in marketing strategy meetings up and down the country, and met with eyes being rolled throughout the room just as frequently.
I doubt anyone within the SEO industry would doubt that high-quality content is still a vital aspect of achieving results for clients, but is it still fair to describe it as ‘king?’.... And if it is still so important, how do you create effective content strategies that aren’t just made up of incredibly basic article titles, most commonly Top 5’s and Top 10’s?
Google, and it’s understanding of websites, has developed at an incredible rate over the past decade with the days of keyword stuffing and link volcanoes well behind us now.
Google has constantly made attempts to improve its understanding of content, and whilst there are still some shortcomings on Google’s front, it is more apparent than ever, that in-depth, engaging content, which adds value to a users experience is held in high regard and increases the likelihood of the site in question ranking more efficiently within SERPs.
Whilst there are many other factors which are vital for SEO, content is still definitely the base for success, and any effective strategy needs to address the type of content the site needs. So just how do you create an effective content strategy?
One of the most common issues when sharing your content strategy with a client, is receiving the response ‘What search volume does that have?’ or ‘How much traffic will that drive to the site?’
Whenever I’m pulling together a content strategy, I feel it is most effective to have several pieces of content designed purely to drive traffic to the site, with slightly more generic titles, alongside those which may not drive traffic directly to the site, but can be used as a tool to link through to key pages on the site, providing the site with more structure, and allowing you to sculpt the site to help indicate to Google which pages are key.
Emphasis is often placed on obtaining links to your clients site from external sources, however ensuring your own internal linking structure has been considered can be equally important.
When devising the strategy, make sure you are considering how the titles being suggested can be linked back to the key pages on the site. It’s also incredibly important you don’t just add a load of links to one page on the site, all using the exact same anchor text.
This looks unnatural, and exact match anchor text should be used sparingly. Aim for varied anchor text, which reads naturally….
Ask yourself whether it makes sense for a link to be there, if you weren’t adding the link for SEO purposes, would you still add it?
When creating a content strategy, whether it be for your own site, or a clients, it’s important you include as much detail as possible.
Blog articles/landing page content, is often the most ‘tangible’ thing you can provide your client with when it comes to SEO and it’s vital the strategy you provide is detailed, so they are aware of exactly WHY you are suggesting the type of content you have.
When creating your strategy document, i’d recommend including the following:
- Proposed Article/Landing Page Title
- URL of New Page
- Landing Pages to Be Linked To
- Rationale Behind the Content
- Proposed Date for Publishing
Including this information not only gives the client something to refer back to, but also the copywriter.
This information will help the copywriter produce effective, potent that is aligned with what you need from an SEO point of view.
Most potent content is time-sensitive, and often discusses events taking place at a specific point within the calendar year.
Obviously if you’re planning on writing content which discusses Christmas for example, you need to analyse historical data to determine the best time for this to go live.
It is no good just sending content live on a hunch, take some time doing some industry research, and studying your own historical data to determine the best time to send out these date-specific posts.
Ensuring the content is being pushed live at the right moment will help increase traffic to the site, and the likelihood of the content actually adding value to the user.
There is no point pushing a piece of content live which discusses Halloween on the 1st of November.
I find it’s best to work 2-3 months in advance, have your Christmas content written by October at the very latest, especially for clients where there may be a longer turn-around for getting things signed off, this way you won’t be panicking and there is more than enough time for the client to approve the content prior to uploading, and publishing.
In terms of organisation, I just have one tip. As soon as content is signed off by a client, get it uploaded and scheduled.
Almost all CMS’ allow you to upload content and schedule it to go live at a later date. It’s simple really, get it uploaded ASAP and schedule it to go live, even if that is 3 months away, then it’s done!
During my time in the industry I’ve seen a lot of people list the keywords/phrases they are designing a piece of content to rank for, with the way that Google has changed over the last 5-10 years, I really don’t feel like this is the most effective way of writing content for SEO.
By all means, provide your copywriter with some phrases to consider including within the content, but don’t ‘force’ them in, as this is not only going to make it harder for the copywriter, but also increase the likelihood of the content appearing spammy, and potentially cause keyword stuffing.
Rather than tell your client that a post/article/landing page is going to rank for a specific term, make it clear the page/article will be relevant for a ‘topic’ and you’re aiming to help build up the domains value for this topic/entity, not just a specific keyword/phrase.
Rather than report on where the article/landing page ranks for a specific term, report on how much traffic the page has driven, or if there has been a noticeable change in overall traffic to the site, since it was published. You are doing yourself a disservice if you’re only reporting on one/two keywords!
This will vary by industry, but it is important to consider your users' journey, and the purpose behind the content you’re producing. Is the content there to purely provide information to a user, or maybe it’s being produced for users who are nearer to a conversion, and need a final ‘push’ by something like a review/product details.
When creating a content strategy I like to split the users up into three groups, which are:
- Those who are not aware of the product/service
- Those who are aware of the product/service, but require more information
- Those who want/need the product/service, and are comparing prices/reviews etc.
Splitting the target market up like this means you can cater for each step of the funnel, whilst also then making sure that content is linked to the next part of the process, preventing content from becoming a ‘dead’ end for users.
For example let’s say you were pulling together a strategy for a provider of snowboarding instructor courses, you may do the following to cater for each stage of the journey:
Title 1 - What Can I Do On A Gap Year?
Rationale - So as aforementioned, this title is catering towards people who may have a question/issue, and they’re not aware that the solution for the problem is the service/product your client provides. In this case, you may discuss different options for gap years, with reference to becoming a snowboarding instructor.
This then needs to link through to a page with more information about becoming an instructor, don’t leave the user at a dead end!
Title 2 - How Do I Become a Snowboard Instructor
Rationale - Now the user is aware of the possibility of becoming a snowboard instructor, discuss how exactly it can be achieved, linking in to a contact form or another landing page about pricing for example, keep the journey structured for the user, ensure you keep showing them to the next ‘stage’ of the funnel.
Even if they don’t immediately move on, they’re now aware that the information is there.
Title 3 - Snowboard Instructor Landing Page
Rationale - Now include all the information on one page for a user, display reviews, pricing and exactly what the programme would include.
Ensure there are clear CTA’s so that conversions are more likely!
For any help with your content strategies, or any aspect of digital marketing, get in touch with us today and we’d be more than happy to help you!
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