Content marketing is a powerful marketing tool for a few reasons.
For one thing, it’s an effective way to add combinations of keywords to your website to boost your SEO, building awareness. For another, it’s a great way answer questions and educate people about why your products and services are the best option for their needs, generating leads. Content lets your brand personality shine, which ensures people have a positive experience while interacting with your business.
Content marketing comes in lots of different forms, but for the purposes of this post, we’re going to talk about nailing the humble blog. Blogging may sound a bit silly at first – after all, how is an article tucked away on your website going to boost your business? Truthfully, it’s an essential component of an inbound marketing strategy, and when it’s done well, it will work hard for you for a long time to come.
If you’re new to writing, it can be a bit intimidating. The truth is that you can follow a really simple formula. It’s a bit like a recipe – if you know what ingredients you need, you can just mix them together and know that you’re creating something that will work. Here’s a five-step method that we use for all our own blog posts.
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Step 1: Know your goal
Every piece of content should serve a specific purpose, so the most important thing is to figure out exactly what you’re trying to achieve by writing the blog post. This will make sure you stay on track. For example:
- Are you trying to build awareness of your brand and attract a new audience?
- Do you want to win people over to your viewpoint or opinion?
- Are you promoting your product or service?
- Are you educating people or raising awareness?
- Are you reporting on a new and important piece of news that is relevant to your industry?
- Are you answering questions and looking to increase your reputation as an expert?
Having a clear goal will also help you choose a topic that addresses a specific issue. This is really important for SEO purposes, but also readability, because it will stop you from rambling and losing people’s interest.
Read more: Seth Godin is still right, content marketing is the only marketing
Step 2: Define your audience
Once you know what you’re trying to achieve, think carefully about the target audience. This will impact the way you present your information, because you’ll need to identify the tone and style of content most likely to resonate with them. Think about things like location, age, income level, education level, and pain points.
Read more: What are buyer personas and how can they convert leads?
Step 3: Research
There are three key components to researching a new blog post: competition, keywords and facts.
Research your competition
What are your competitors doing? Scope them out before you start to write your piece, so you can see what’s already being done and look for gaps in the market that your content can fill. Regurgitating content everyone else is doing is essentially a waste of time, because it will be really hard to make your content stand out in order to build your brand and start driving traffic to your website. Instead, look around and see if you can find a niche, and use this as the basis of your content marketing strategy. If people are looking for information on that topic, and you’re the only one providing helpful information, you’ll start capturing attention for all the right reasons.
Research your keywords
Once you’ve identified your goal, defined your audience and found your niche, it’s time to research the most popular search terms on that subject. This will make sure people can find it when they’re looking for answers on this subject through search engines such as Google. There are lots of tools available to help with this. Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are the obvious ones, but we also recommend SEM Rush and KeywordTool.io. They’re also a good way to identify any topics that are trending in your industry.
Read more: Pump up your SEO efforts in 2020 with these simple tricks
Research your facts
Check, and double-check, every piece of information your share on your blog. One of the biggest challenges of content marketing is the abundance of false information available online, and it will be really embarrassing if you’re ever called out for accidentally relying on a “fact” that isn’t actually true. Do your homework and trace facts back to their source. You can even link to them in your blog post, so people can check for themselves. Always make sure you’re sharing high-quality information. A little bit of research at this stage will go a long way to building your brand’s credibility and establishing its authority as a thought-leader in your field.
Step 4: Write your post
Now that you’ve assembled your ingredients, it’s time to follow the recipe.
Google’s reputation depends on its ability to fine high-quality content that quickly answers search queries. As such, there are a few simple things you can do to improve the chance the algorithm will find and rank your post.
- Use the goal you identified in Step 1 to make sure your content stays on track. Convenience is important in attracting and sustaining the interest of modern consumers, because they have a wealth of information available at their fingertips. They want answers quickly, so it’s best to get straight to the point.
- Use the keywords you identified in Step 3 to provide structure. You should aim to find 3-5 related keywords to incorporate into your blog post, to maximize its chance of showing up in search results. The most popular search result should form the title of your blog, while the next few will form the subheadings, and then you’ll color in the gaps in between. See what we mean about following a recipe?
- Keep sentences simple. You’re not trying to write an award-winning novel, you’re trying to help the good folks of the internet, so make sure your writing is clear. When it comes to structure, you might find bullet points to be a helpful aid (like what we’re doing here) to help break things into bite-sized chunks.
- Aim to write about 1,200-1,300 words on your topic. Search engine algorithms are programmed to favor longer posts, because these are more likely to answer search queries in sufficient detail.
- Always run a spell-check to make sure your copy is sparkling clean.
Read more: Starting a blog (an expert guide to content marketing)
Step 5: Build your funnel
Great, you’ve written your blog post! You’ve picked a topic that meets your goal, optimized content for your target audience, found a niche in the market and packed it with searchable keywords, and created well-written copy. You’ve done all the hard parts, but it’s not time to put your feet up just yet. You need to incorporate that blog post into your sales funnel to ensure you maximize its value over time. Put that baby to work!
- Share the post on your social media channels, and promote it through Facebook Ads and Digital Ads. This will build awareness of your brand. It will also educate clients about why they need you.
- Link back to your post in future blog posts, to help educate customers about certain topics and explain why you can help solve their problems. This is really persuasive in the consideration phase.
- Always incorporate a strong call-to-action that makes it clear exactly what next steps are required to proceed to the conversion phase of the path to purchase. For example, ask readers to schedule a free consultation, or direct them to a dedicated landing page that invites them to proceed.
- Finally, keep blogging. Consistency is an essential part of every content marketing strategy, because each blog will build upon the good work of the last one, to create a comprehensive long-term strategy.
Blogging isn’t a “build it and they will come” scenario. Yes, a stream of fresh content will help your website rank higher in search; yes, keyword-optimized posts are likely to boost your spot on Google’s results page.
However, it’s capable of doing a lot more to help you. Integrating your content marketing strategy into your sales funnel will ensure you get the maximum impact for the time you invest in creating each post. This will go a long way toward building awareness, generating leads, and ultimately converting sales to grow your business.
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