How To Build A Content Strategy For Your Small Business
How many times a day do you see webpages like this?
We see these lists all the time. The internet has a real problem with written content. There are so many great articles to find online, browsers can quickly jump ship and find a more exciting post, easier to read or more helpful. These list articles are an attempt to keep people reading. Everyone knows how hard it to click away when you haven’t seen the final tip.
The reason we’re seeing so many pages like this is because sites are starting to focus on Content Marketing. Nerdy tech-heads (like us) are always looking forward to the next Google algorithm update, trying to figure out what will change before it rolls out. The general consensus now is that the upcoming Penguin update will make Content Marketing stronger than ever. We’ll see more focus on quality content and penalty points for keyword stuffing.
As a result of this expectation, everyone wants content. The problem is, few businesses have a strategy. With so many options to choose from, figuring out a content strategy can be really difficult. Here’s a quick rundown of what to consider when building your content strategy, explaining all the technical lingo and choices to make.
What should people think of your business?
This is the first step to writing an online article. Think of your brand. Are you industry experts or the customer’s best friend? Are you a surging start-up or experienced veteran?
Keep your business in mind as you write. Let’s use this article as an example. It’s a guide, so we’re saying to readers that we know a lot about the topic. Our tone is informal as we’d like to seem personal, the sort of people you could chat to. We try to be “friendly experts,” that’s the rule in each post.
Think beyond the impression people get when reading your content. How often do you publish posts? Do you write about news stories or publish your own data? The lie we tell ourselves is that people read every single word of our content. A lot of the time, they’re only read the headline. So what does that headline tell them? Can someone scan across your content titles and understand your business? Every aspect of your content has to embody your brand message.
Lists vs Guides
David vs Goliath, Ali vs Frazier, Lists vs Guides. The great battle in the world of online content is whether to write expert guides or quick lists. Both have a place on your blog, though it’s probably best to favour one. We favour guides as they suit our industry.
We provide SEO, Social Media Management and Pay Per Click advertising, most businesses have a basic understanding of the terms but not too much in-depth knowledge. The idea with our guides is to show that we can explain tough topics in an easy to grasp way.
Lists appeal more to younger demographics, and to topics that your customers know a lot about. Buzzfeed are the masters. Their site churns out list based content, targeted at specific audiences. But how does this work for SMEs? Let’s pretend we’re running an independent cinema. Working on the assumption that most of our followers will be film buffs, we can base our content strategy on writing great lists. The Top 6 90’s Films You’ve Never Seen. I’d read that. Figure out what
Rules and Regulations
To keep a steady flow of fresh content, you need a few copywriters. Writers are great people (I declare an interest) but creative types have a tendency to go off-road. Your business needs a house style to keep your content consistent. It makes your site look professional, created by a team that works together.
It’s a bit of a pernickety job, but it matters. A simple list of rules solves everything. A few examples from our site:
- Every word in a title must be capitalised
- Optimisation, not optimization
- 1000 word minimum
Our blog has multiple writers, each providing a different perspective and area of knowledge. So we need a strict house style to keep those different voices in check. Our idea is that each writer is recognisably different, but still a clear member of Digital Media Team.
What are people doing on your site?
When writing your content, don’t lose track of what your website’s for. If you’re an online shopping site, you’ll want to provide content that encourages people to make a purchase. As an example, let’s say you sell coats. Write a Top 10 Winter Coats post, with buttons and links making a purchase easy for interested customers. You make your money from building conservatories? Show off your expert craft, your happy customers, your designer finish.
Use this test when writing for your site. Get in the mind of an interested customer. Can they find what they want in less than 10 seconds? If not, change it. Put a search feature on your site, or a buy button, or your contact details front and centre.
Outreach and Promotion
The big daddy. Outreach is vital to any Content Strategy. Right now, it’s a lot of hard work, though it seems likely that Paid Promotion will ease the process. Outreach involves contacting people in your industry, the influential voices that customers base their choices on. Google also listens to these influencers. A link from a well-regarded website is a big recommendation to search engines.
Outreach efforts tend to revolve around email campaigns. This is so obvious, but don’t send the same email to everyone. Look at the influencer’s site, figure out what they like. Put a few bullet points that explain why your article is worth sharing. This is a quicker process than you think, and the extra time put in provides better results. And above all, double check, triple check that you’ve got their name right.
Promotion will become more important, particularly for smaller businesses. With Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn advertising, you can place your content in your target market’s timeline. Social networks collect a lot of data from their users, allowing businesses to find the right people. With promoted articles, you’ll build an audience. If those customers are satisfied by their experience, they’ll share the post and they’ll follow your business’s social page. People that follow a business on social media are far more likely to use that company’s services.
Ask yourself these two questions when beginning an outreach programme:
- Who are you targeting?
- Where are they?
If they’re on Facebook, focus on Facebook. If it’s Snapchat, use Snapchat. If it’s on an obscure forum that most people haven’t heard of, promote it there. Getting through to the right audience is what matters.
Whitehat vs Blackhat
Terminology time. In the world of SEO, we have Whitehat techniques and Blackhat techniques. Whitehat is based on abiding by search engine rules. Provide quality content, use keyword research, get your page titles right. It provides long term results, rather than a quick fix. Blackhat is a bit sneakier. It’s about exploiting what we’ve learned about search result ranking. Stuffing pages with irrelevant keywords, writing hidden content, using link farms.
Google hates Blackhat techniques, they’ll stop your site from appearing in searches if they get the slightest whiff of dodgy SEO. As search engines continue to improve, Whitehat will become far more important. Quality content will improve your site’s ranking, much more than a page of spam. Good writing gets links from trusted websites, but above all, it’s for the reader. The single purpose of Google is to provide good results. People won’t use their service if Google gives them irrelevant sites. Focus on user experience, Google will see that visitors like you site and your ranking will improve.
Here’s a shot of the contents page for Google’s very own guide to SEO. Look at the titles.
We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what Google likes. This page of contents does it for us. Your long term strategy should be informed by Google’s long term strategy. Follow this advice and you can put your feet up when the new update comes. Your site’s ranking will rise, while all your competitors will be rushing to get their webpage relisted on Google.
These are the basics. For detailed content marketing strategies, you can contact Digital Media Team on 0800 808 9980 or email email@example.com. We provide bespoke content, social media and SEO strategies to businesses of all sizes, all industries. For all the latest updates and information about online marketing, subscribe to our blog using the form at the top, on the right.