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How to Develop an Effective Content Strategy

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How to Develop an Effective Content Strategy

Many experts will tell you that all you need for a successful online marketing strategy is to simply create high-quality content and the rest, like traffic and leads, will come.

Unfortunately, nowadays, things don’t always work out that easily.

Take a look at this research by Steve Rayson. It presents an in-depth analysis of over one million articles and was carried out to understand the correlation between shares and links as well as what type of content gets more shares and links. A randomly selected sample of 100,000 posts showed that more than 50 percent of these posts had two or less Facebook interactions (shares, likes, or comments), and more than 75 percent had no external links.

On top of this, the majority of highly profitable industries are extremely competitive when it comes to ranking in Google. That’s why you have to find less competitive niches in your industry and try to acquire a sufficient number of links. Otherwise, your chances of appearing in Google’s top two pages is next to zero.

In this article, I’ll share a step-by-step process for developing an effective content strategy that will guarantee that all your posts will generate enough links to begin receiving traffic from Google.

I’ve been working on improving and updating this process for quite a long time. This approach will help you avoid creating content that will never rank in Google.

1. Analyze the Competitive Landscape

When it comes to creating content that drives traffic from Google, there’s no silver bullet. Each industry has different target audiences that behave in a unique way and require a personalized approach.

That being said, I was personally involved in a situation where the research stage was skipped and a generic, elementary approach was used instead. I had a client who worked in education and was interested in acquiring more links for his website. Since content is my favorite way of building links, I like to perform in-depth research that can be effortlessly distributed among bloggers and journalists.

However, that’s not how things work in education. In this niche, influencers are teachers who have no clue what SEO is and see no sense in linking to external content.

We didn’t take into consideration the reasons why our audience would link to a particular page. That’s why we failed with our research, had to regroup, and were forced to return to the research stage.

Eventually, we came up with a solution. We conducted comprehensive research and found that a majority of teachers want to link to roundups and interviews they’ve taken part in because they see such activities as notable and they want to be recognized.

My story confirms that if you don’t want to waste your time, effort, and money on trial and error, then your best bet is to invest a substantial amount of time into researching information. Gathering data will point you in the right direction, and it will make it easier for you to create content that journalists and bloggers want to read and link to.

Typically, I use a combination of tools like BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, or SEMrush for this. With the help of BuzzSumo, you can get a list of the most shareable and linkable posts by any domain or search term.

For instance, here’s a list of the most successful posts for the search query “content marketing”:

List of most successful posts for search query “content marketing” on BuzzSumo

The reason you want to use Ahrefs or SEMrush in addition to BuzzSumo is because the latter doesn’t provide data about organic traffic. That’s a really important and, unfortunately, missing piece of BuzzSumo. You have to export everything from BuzzSumo and add two more columns with the URL’s number of keywords and organic traffic:

Exported data from Buzzsumo with columns for number of keywords and organic traffic

This data tells us that if you’re going to create a post that will include the keyword “content marketing” in its title, then you need to have approximately 24 referring domains linking to this post to begin receiving around 100 organic visitors on a monthly basis.

Also, about 40 percent of analyzed articles have 10 or so linking domains, but this won’t bring any organic visitors. However, more than half of those posts show up in search for at least one keyword in Google’s top 100 results. So there’s potential to get enough traffic if you get more links.

Furthermore, after looking at our dataset, I spotted a couple of features that all the successful pieces of content had in common:

  • All of these pieces have been published on well-established domains with strong link profiles. Here are the domains and their overall SEO performance, which includes their number of referring domains and organic traffic:

List of domains and their overall SEO performance, which includes their number of referring domains and organic traffic

Only a couple of domains have less than 10,000 linked sites, so it’s not that easy to rank for keywords related to the search query “content marketing”.

Analyzing the titles and the content revealed that the following types of posts seem to perform the best:

  • List-based articles that might cover the best or the most inspiring content marketing examples.
  • Predictions, trends, and statistics.

With the help of this quick yet powerful analysis, you can evaluate the real cost of each piece of content as well as how much effort and time you need to invest in it to begin receiving organic traffic. In our case, the topic “content marketing” requires no less than 24 referring domains per post, as well as having an authoritative domain as part of your backlink profile.

2. Strategically Link to Relevant Content in Your Articles

This step will help you distribute your content among desired sources and spend less time acquiring links.

You can use BuzzSumo to discover articles that are relevant to your future post and that have also gained enough links. But make sure you check what kind of sites refer to those articles.

Ideally, you need to find anywhere from 10 to 20 sites that you want to establish relationships with and eventually link to them.

In order to make things happen the right way, you need to reach out to them and let them know you have something they may be interested in publishing, but don’t forget to properly mention the selected sites in your article. If they’re interested in your offer, you’ll need to feature them in your article accordingly.

To make things a bit easier for you, here are some ideas on how to achieve this:

  • Ask to quote an expert, industry professional, or researcher.
  • Add a list of useful resources at the end of your piece.
  • Link to their posts where it’s appropriate.
  • Conduct a short survey and list all the experts who participated.

3. Prepare Your Outreach Strategy in Advance

If you spend a couple of days making a list of people you want to reach out to via social media or email, it’ll help you reach your goals much faster.

You need to gear up with a list of Twitter accounts and Facebook and LinkedIn groups that are relevant to the subject of your piece of content.

Also, when reaching out on Facebook and LinkedIn, you need to work on your introduction pitch because social media is all about captivating brevity.

When it comes to contacting bloggers, it makes sense to use a list of sites you’ve analyzed in your previous articles, but extend this list by including sites that publish content on related topics. For instance, if the topic you’ve selected is “content marketing,” posts that cover how to build links through content will work for you.

After you build a list of domains, you need to track down the person responsible for a specific article or blog.

BuzzSumo will usually display the author’s name. If not, then try LinkedIn.

Need to find someone’s email address? Try a tool called Hunter.io.

By collecting all necessary information well beforehand, you’ll be able to reach all of your goals, save a lot of time, and connect with a much broader audience. That’s exactly what you need to increase your number of social shares and links.

Summary

Yes, implementing this strategy requires a lot more than just simply writing high-quality content then promoting a couple of SMM shout-outs.

However, if you’d like to create and nurture your content the old-fashioned way, then you’ll have to wait more than two years for it to begin performing, and even longer for it to start driving traffic.

If you’re short on time, feeling impatient, and want to see traffic flowing in now, then simply follow the steps I described above, and let organic traffic find you.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Unsplash

In-post Images: Screenshots by Alex Tachalova. Taken May 2017.

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Alexandra Tachalova

Alexandra Tachalova

Founder at Digital Olympus

Alexandra Tachalova has worked in digital marketing for over six years. She is a digital marketing consultant, helping digital businesses ... [Read full bio]

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