Despite trying all the best practices, your content still hasn’t reached its potential.
The “experts” told you to:
- Write great content
- Do your keyword research
- Publish new posts a few times per week
- Promote your posts on Social
- And more
…but things just haven’t worked out how you expected.
Sure, your content generates some traffic and some leads, but you know it could be doing a lot better.
It’s like there’s a cog somewhere in your content machine.
If you could only find and remove it, you could unleash your content’s potential and finally see the consistent blog traffic and opt-ins everyone’s always talking about.
But how do you do that?
This, my friend, is the million dollar question.
I have good news and bad news. Which do you want to hear first?
The bad news is: there IS a cog in your content machine.
Something—how well your content is optimized, how it’s created, or even how it’s written—is holding you back.
The good news is: you can fix it.
Nearly every online business I’ve worked with has had the same problem in some form, and after evaluating their content strategy, we’ve been able to uncover and destroy the culprit.
And I wrote this guide to help you do the same.
Table of Contents
- What Is Content Strategy?
- Deadly Mistakes Most People Make with Their Content Marketing Strategy
- How to Develop a Top-Notch Digital Content Strategy for Your Online Business
Getting Started: What Is Content Strategy?
At a high level, a content strategy is a roadmap you develop that guides all future content creation. It’s connected to your business goals so that all content you create helps you move closer to achieving them.
It’s basically a blueprint that shows you how to develop content that brings in qualified leads.
It shows you:
- How to create your content
- What kind of content to create
- Why you’re creating your content
- The tone and style of your content
- How often to create content
- And much more
It’s a crucial part of your online business.
If you don’t take the time to develop a foolproof digital content strategy, you can end up wasting thousands of dollars on content that doesn’t increase your bottom line.
2 Deadly Mistakes Most Online Businesses Make with Their Content Marketing Strategy
Mistake #1: Creating content for their existing audience.
Driving consistent traffic and leads with your content requires you to make a major mindset shift when it comes to your digital content strategy…
You need to start viewing your blog as a marketing channel.
That means you need to create content specifically for target customers who don’t know you yet—not people in your audience.
I usually get a face like this when I tell this to online business owners…
They think such a drastic mindset shift will drive away their existing audience.
But it won’t.
Think about this…
The reason you create content in the first place is to get more exposure, traffic, and leads, right?
If someone already found you and likes your content, they’ve proven to you that they’re interested in what you have to say about your area of expertise.
They aren’t going to jump ship if you keep creating valuable content about the topic they like…
All this mindset shift really means is that you’re changing your approach to how you develop and organize your content so you can get more exposure, traffic, and leads.
The actual content doesn’t have to change at all.
Mistake #2: Creating content first and optimizing it later.
Most businesses develop content like this:
Step 1: Think of an interesting topic.
Step 2: Organize their content on that topic.
Step 3: Decide on the format (video, audio, or written).
Step 4: Create the content.
Step 5 (Sometimes): Optimize the content for SEO
This is backwards.
Optimizing for SEO needs to be Step #1.
This goes back to Mistake #1…
The purpose of your content is to get more exposure, traffic, and leads for your business.
You won’t be able to do this if your content isn’t optimized for SEO.
Without focusing on keywords and optimization FIRST, your blog post won’t rank in Google.
You’ll get a traffic spike after you send a blog promo email to your list, but after three days, your post will collect dust in your blog archive.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.
The rest of this guide is dedicated to showing you how to avoid these two mistakes and get consistent, new traffic with all of your blog posts.
How to Create a Top-Notch Digital Content Strategy for Your Online Business
Step #1: Develop your customer avatars.
Most businesses are quick to tell you who their target customer is.
(If you aren’t clear on who your target customer is yet, that’s totally okay. Stop reading this and go figure that out before moving on. Here’s a great customer profile template that can help you.)
- The general demographic they’re targeting
- What they’re interested in
- And how to reach them
And they’re probably spot-on.
But when it comes to writing content, that’s not enough information…
Creating great content requires you to know more intimate details about your target customer.
You need to be aware of their main:
(The section on value propositions in this guide to starting a successful consulting business from Consulting.com does a great job of explaining this further.)
Because great content solves your target customers’ problems and helps them reach their goals.
Content that does this well gets shared, goes viral, generates links, and ranks in Google.
How to Find This Information Without Being a Creepy Stalker
- Survey your current audience.
The easiest way to get some data right off the bat is by asking your audience what they’re struggling with right now, what you can help them with, and what their biggest roadblocks are.
I talk more about constructing a survey like this in a post on creating a digital product I wrote for the Leverage Creative Group blog.
- Look through Twitter conversations.
Did you know you can search keywords in Twitter and see all the recent tweets containing those words?
I didn’t either for a long time…
This is a little-known goldmine of customer insight.
As you comb through tweets around a topic, you’ll see common problems, roadblocks, and desires people have.
- Join niche forums.
Forums are also great places to figure out problems people have around a specific topic.
This generally requires more effort than Twitter, because you might need to join and participate in the forum to get the answers you want, but the effort is well worth it.
Regardless of what niche you’re in, there’s bound to be a few great forums you can join.
Step 2: In-depth keyword research.
Knowing intimate details about your target customers is crucial to doing great keyword research.
That list of problems, roadblocks, goals, and desires you created are the exact things you’ll do keyword research around.
Like we already talked about, great content solves problems for your target customer and helps them reach their goals.
Now that you know what those problems are, you can figure out how people search for them in Google (i.e. words and phrases they use).
This process has 2 main steps:
1. Keyword Generation
This involves getting a list of every relevant keyword you can possibly think of—both in your niche and closely related (“shoulder”) niches.
I already know what you’re thinking…
“Dude, that’s going to take a long dang time.”
Dude, you’re right.
Most people don’t do this. And most people also don’t rank.
But think about it…
Having a list of all the best keyword opportunities BEFORE you write content lets you pick the best keywords to create content for—which means your content will be well-optimized around a keyword you can rank quickly for.
So, yes it’ll take a long time, but it will be well worth the effort.
Create a Google Sheet and add as many relevant keyword phrasings, questions, how-to’s, long-tail, and broad keywords as you can find.
2. Checking Search Volume and Competition
Once you have a massive list of keywords, it’s time to check their numbers.
Why not Google Keyword Planner? It’s a tool for Adwords—not SEO.
The tools above will give you a much better idea of the true levels of organic traffic and competition.
This part is easy.
All you have to do is export your Google Sheet filled with keywords as a .csv and upload it to these tools (or just copy/paste).
They can get numbers for 100’s of keywords at a time, and you can then copy/paste them back into your spreadsheet.
Step 3: Create cornerstone content.
Here’s an unfortunate truth:
It doesn’t matter how good, how interesting, or how beautiful your content is…it’s not going to rank in Google if it’s not well optimized.
And Google is very particular about how it likes its content. It’s like a little kid who only wants to eat pizza and chicken tenders.
Since the Hummingbird algorithm update in 2013, cornerstone content (or long-form, in-depth content that targets a topic of keywords rather than just one keyword) has been CRUSHING IT in the SEO world.
Case studies have proven this, and I’ve seen it with every client I’ve worked with since 2013.
But for some reason, people aren’t focusing on it…
Most people still write blog posts on whatever topics come to mind and find long-tail keywords to “target” with them.
This strategy won’t work well for you unless your content has a short shelf-life (like a news site).
Everything comes back to the idea of looking at your blog as a marketing channel.
Regardless of whether you’re making a blog post or infographic, every piece of content you create needs to be designed specifically to rank in Google.
That means all the content you make needs to be:
- Incredibly valuable
- In-depth (1,500 + words)
- One of a kind
- Optimized for a group of similar keywords
I wrote an in-depth guide on how to write a blog post that shows you how to do this step-by-step.
Step 4: Doing the two things we both HATE to do…link building and promotion.
We both know we should focus more on content promotion, but we don’t.
- Takes a lot of time
- Can be really monotonous
- Is really uncomfortable
But here’s the thing: our posts won’t rank in Google (95% of the time) without links and shares.
I’m talking about sending 100+ emails for links and shares for each new piece of content you release.
As scary as it sounds, I promise it’s worth it.
My clients’ traffic has shot through the roof since I started doing this.
Here’s a screenshot of one of my client’s organic traffic after 12 months of heavily promoting new content:
Getting a crazy graph like this for your site is possible, too, if you give content promotion the quality time it needs.
Which is why I recommend baking content promotion into every fiber of your digital content strategy.
- Planning for it when mapping out your blogging schedule
- Deciding which tactics you’ll use (and when) before making content
- Creating optimized content designed to attract links and shares
Wondering which promotion tactics to use?
I’ve run a bunch of tests over the years and created these resources to help you out:
- How to Write Link Outreach Emails with a 15%+ Conversion Rate
- The 80/20 of White Hat Link Building: 5 Tactics That Work
A Digital Content Strategy Without Each of These Steps Will Generate Lackluster Results
Every content marketing strategy created to drive new, consistent traffic and leads from Google needs:
- A clear picture of your target customers’ biggest problems and desires
- In-depth keyword research (before creating any content)
- Optimized, highly valuable cornerstone content
- And heavy content promotion and link building
That being said, your content strategy will look very different from mine—as it should.
The specific tactics I use to write content and build links won’t necessarily work for you, but this framework will.
Fill in this framework with your content, your industry knowledge, and your insights, and you’ll start driving bookoos of traffic from Google.
Need help with implementing this content strategy framework?
I’d love to help.
Click here to learn more about how we can work together to get your content generating traffic and leads from Google on autopilot.