It's no secret that the future of SEO and internet marketing is going to be "content marketing," certainly the buzzword of the year. So how can you put out content fast enough, high enough in quality, and targeted enough to see results? These five steps can help you manage your online content strategy, streamline it, and boost your consistency.
1. Start With a List of Needs
What problems would your potential customers need solved? Content that doesn't fulfill a need of some kind rarely gains any kind of traction. When we say "needs," we're not necessarily talking about things your consumers couldn't live without. A need could be a solution to a problem, a desire to be entertained, an interest in surprising facts, or anything else along these lines.
In addition to more traditional market research, you can identify some of these needs with a bit of keyword research. The most popular tool is, of course, the AdWords Keyword tool, which can help you identify things that people search for often. Choose keywords that are fairly popular. Identify the needs behind the keywords, not just the words themselves. Meet that need better than anybody else on the web has.
On top of a list of keyword phrases and the needs they indicate, it's a good idea to build a list of more broad needs, and try to fit each piece of content into this more broad strategy. Identify a conversion goal for each broad need, so that you will immediately know how to approach each piece of content in the future.
2. Follow the News
The best blogs provide more than just news, creating exceptional pieces of content that stand the test of time. That said, giving your blog a news element means you will never be out of ideas.
Subscribe to raw news feeds so that you are the first to get breaking news on subjects. Give the article a unique slant and perhaps a somewhat controversial tone, provided you have the knowledge or experience to back up what you are saying.
Try to be the first to submit an article on the story to social networks where they can gain exposure. You will likely have the most success with this if you submit a piece of breaking news just after it is reported during off hours.
3. Add Value
In addition to news, you will want to produce content that adds value to the web as a whole. This is best accomplished by going straight to the source. For example, an interview with a respected authority can bring with it a great deal of credibility, and information that isn't available anywhere else on the web. Other possibilities include bringing in information from print books, paid magazines, peer reviewed studies, and other forms of "raw data."
This is the type of content that takes a long time to produce, but offers value that lasts for a long time. These are the posts that take a week or a month to put together, and sit at the top of you front page under a "featured" section. This is the kind of content that brings in the most links and social activity. In many ways, it should be approached the opposite way news is. It's not about rushing out the door as quickly as possible before anybody else. It's about making sure you have information that nobody else is going to produce in the first place.
Make this content prominent so that it is clear to new visitors that these are the articles that truly identify your site as a unique source of information.
4. Harness Creativity
Great content isn't always about being the first to get news onto the social networks, or even about providing information that hasn't been seen before. In many cases, it is about taking a unique approach that causes you to stand out more than the alternatives.
A creative approach mixes together subjects, media, formats, and styles in a novel and appealing way. For example, you might take a big piece of news from another industry and ask what the implications are for your customers. Using analogies and conclusions from more distant industries and applying them to your own spices things up and keeps them fresh.
The best way to accomplish this is to occasionally pull in information from non-typical sources, allow your mind to wander, and realize that there is more than one way to solve a problem. Of course, once you have the idea, it takes focus to follow through on it.
5. Study the Successes
Using tools like FollowerWonk or the Open Site Explorer, you can find out which social profiles in your industry are getting the most engagement, and which blog posts in your industry are getting the most links. Learn from the content that is getting the most attention, and try to emulate it.
It's important to realize that this isn't about copying the successes. Instead, it is about seeing what kinds of content are most likely to go viral, and why. It often comes down to some of the following:
- Surprising information
- Adorable pictures
- Reputation and authority
When you are looking at successes others have made, it's the how and why questions you should be paying the most attention to, not the what.
A successful content marketing strategy relies, first and foremost, on meeting specific needs sooner or better than anybody else, and doing so in a novel and unique way. Focus on meeting a specific need with every piece of content and you will see better results more frequently.
How else can you improve your online content management?
Image credit: Joel Montes de Oca