Looking to captivate readers and rank at the top of search engines? Then you need a steady stream of well-written, interesting, and relevant content; however, that can be easier said than done. If you’re like most of us, you start out with a great deal of enthusiasm for your website, blog, or social media pages, but struggle after a few months (or years) to find new topics—or even the time to create new content.
Content, done well, is the cornerstone of modern marketing. It’s a prime way for your business or organization to drive readers and customers to your web pages and social media content.
Content, done well, is the cornerstone of modern marketing.
What you need to keep your content flowing smoothly and capitalize on the full potential of content marketing is a solid content plan. Having a foolproof content strategy won’t write your content for you, but it will divide the process of creating and posting content into manageable chunks. It will also let you know what needs to be done, by when, and by whom.
What is a Content Strategy?
A content strategy is a road map for the type, subject matter, and publishing frequency of the content you are going to post on your website, blog, and social media pages. It also assigns responsibility for each action and provides room for modification as your business plan and outside circumstances change.
Having a cohesive content plan:
- Reduce the daily stress of creating content
- Helps ensure your tone is consistent
- Outlines all the topics you want to address
A no-fail plan will also allocate time for content maintenance and analysing how well your content is performing.
Steps for Creating a Foolproof Content Strategy
1. Understand the basics of good content creation
For your content plan to be successful, you need to know a few basics.
Write for people, but be mindful of good SEO practices. While it’s essential to write content that is engaging, unique, and interesting, people will have a much better chance of finding your writing if you embrace the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO). Effective SEO will help your content rank well with search engines, making it easier for readers to find.
Whole books have been written about SEO. Some key principles include:
- Writing each piece of content around a single keyword or phrase
- Making sure the target keyword or phrase appears:
- In the title
- In the first paragraph
- In at least one header or subheader
- Three to four more times throughout a 750 to 1,000-word article
Find popular keywords for your topic using a free keyword rank tracker available online, such as Google’s Keyword Planner.
Have a consistent brand persona. You want to be consistent across all of your marketing channels. That means you want to have the same point of view on your blog as you do on your social media pages. But you don’t want to simply re-post the same text on multiple channels. Even if you’re sharing similar content, make sure the style is in line with the expectations of the platform.
Use the same tone. Your tone also needs to be consistent. This is true even if you use multiple content writers. Is your brand voice casual? If so, a chatty, informal tone is fine. If your brand personality is more upscale and elegant, you’ll want to adapt a more formal tone.
Although you want to keep your brand voice and tone intact, you may want to flex the style a bit to best suit the channel. For instance, social media tends to be less formal than a research article or even a blog post.
Have a clearly defined purpose and target audience. Another essential element of your content strategy is having a clear purpose for your content.
Do you want to:
- Boost sales?
- Encourage people to donate to your non-profit organization?
- Drive traffic?
- Increase readership to earn more revenue from affiliate marketing and Google Ads?
In addition, you’ll need to decide who your target reader is. Create buyer personas stocked with essential information, such as:
- Age and other demographics
- Education level, job, and position
- Reading habits, favorite sources of information
2. Set up a content calendar
Once you understand the basics and know who your audience is, it’s time to decide what to post. For most topics and most audiences, you’ll want a variety of short and long articles, videos, guest posts, image galleries, and shared posts from other sites that are relevant to your brand.
Seasonal topics, holidays, and national days of recognition can make great content fodder. For example, a cosmetic company might create a post around National Lipstick Day.
The possibilities are really endless when you start brainstorming. It’s also a good idea to save room for last minute topics. Give your calendar some wiggle room, especially if you’re outlining an entire year’s worth of posts in one fell swoop.
The beauty of a content calendar is manifold. Content calendars:
- Tell you what you’re going to post on any given day
- Help you maintain a regular schedule, whether you post content daily, three times a week, or weekly
- Prevent you from repeating your topics in a narrow period of time
- Give you an overview of all past, present, and future content
- Make it easier to mix up your content formats, interspersing videos and images amid your articles
3. Assign responsibility
Armed with a calendar of proposed content topics, you need to determine who is going to write your content, post your images, and produce your videos. You can assign these duties out within your organization, do it yourself, hire expert freelance writers, or find guest writers to diversify your content. Most companies will opt to use several of these options.
Make sure your writers have a clear idea of what you expect. If you’re hiring outside writers, give them examples of the style and tone you’re going for. It’s also a good idea to provide outside writers with a content brief or an outline so their vision of the article matches yours.
You can find guest writers from other blogs and websites related to your brand, among industry pundits, and even within your organization. You might even get your readers into the mix by soliciting user-generated content. Just make sure your guest contributors are informed of your content parameters and understand that your site manager will have editorial control. Using guest writers is a great way to diversify the voice of your website or social media content.
4. Monitor your progress and adjust as necessary
Once you’ve started using your content plan, you’ll want to keep an eye on your analytics to see what pages are the most popular and where your site visitors are coming from. You may want to add more posts about a topic that’s garnering higher amounts of traffic than your other content.
Most topics can be elaborated on. In general, the rule of 90/10 applies to digital content. That is, 90 percent of your traffic is likely to come from 10 percent of your pages. Take a good look at those high-performing pages to see if you can create more like them without duplicating content.
Just because you’ve set up your content plan doesn’t mean you can’t change it. In fact, the best content plans are flexible, with the ability to be modified for better results. Add time in your content strategy for reviewing your analytics reports, but don’t become a slave to them. Perusing them weekly should be sufficient.
5. Plan for maintenance
Even the most evergreen content will become outdated at some point. Links break. Websites become obsolete. World events and new technology create anachronisms. Allowing these outdated elements to remain on your pages can mar your readers’ experience and cause them to stop visiting your site.
Website maintenance can seem overwhelming as you accumulate dozens and then hundreds of web pages on your site or blog; however, if you use a separate calendar to divide maintenance tasks up into small tasks, you can keep your website looking fresh without sacrificing big chunks of time.
Creating a Content Plan for a Healthier Bottom Line
Creating an ongoing flow of interesting, on-topic content is essential for any modern marketer who wants to attract and keep readers and customers. Producing that content becomes less stressful and less laborious with a thoughtful content plan in place. The time you spend creating your content strategy will repay you many times over, boosting your marketing’s efficiency as well as your company’s bottom line. Want to boost your content to even higher heights? Start your WriterAccess free trial.