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The best way to stand out from the competition!

How to create an awesome content strategy

A content strategy defines how you create the right content and make it visible to your target audience in search results and on social media. The goal is to target, attract, retain and convert visitors into customers.

Purpose

What’s the purpose and what business are you supporting with your web presence?

Audience

Who are the visitors you’re trying to attract, what do they care about and where will you find them?

Editorial Manifesto

How will your content stand out from the rest and what channels will you reach visitors through?

Everyone would like to have many visitors to their website. But what exactly is the plan to get visitors there? Why should they click on your link in the search results or on your posts in social media? What is it that they come for and how do you plan to retain visitors and convert them into customers once you’ve got them onto your site?

Regardless of your search ranking, your visitors will flee you’re site if you don’t have a good strategy to hang on to them. You probably also want to get the right customers into your store and not just shoppers that drop in and leave without purchasing anything. So how do you get the right visitors and not just anyone passing by your website or webshop?

That’s what content strategy is about and in the following section we look at how you create the right content strategy for your site. For it’s not just about having some text and page content, it’s about having the RIGHT content!

What do you want to achieve with your web presence?

Before you can begin creating content, it’s really important to define what you want to get out of your web presence.

So drop all the fancy words on competitive pricing, unrivalled quality and whatever else is available in marketing speak and create some content that

  • makes sense and enriches people with the knowledge they need
  • increases people’s confidence in you as a company or shop,
  • is memorable because your content has edge and meaning.

This can also easily be achieved, even if you have a shop that sells products. Here it’s about how you shift products over the counter – and that can be achieved using product texts and other content elements that set you apart from your competitors. This is especially true if competitors do not have much content.

Begin with the end in mind

It’s important to focus on the return on investment or profit you want from your web presence. The starting point must your organisation’s business goals or objectives. This exercise assumes that you define your web presence to help you achieve these goals.

So look at each of your business goals and imagine how a website or webshop can help you to achieve each goal. Your web presence might not be able to help you achieve all of your business goals, but where it makes sense, it’s important to define how your online presence can help and what resources it takes.

So look at each business goal and ask:

  • Can our website or webshop contribute to this objective?
  • How?
  • What content or online services must be used?

What kind of results do you want?

The most important thing for every business is to define the desired result in terms of concrete, measurable, time-bound targets for each online activity in order to support your business goals.

This means that you should set a target for the outcome of each business objective your online presence supports.

It’s important that the goal is specific and measurable. That is, it contains a very specific parameter with an outcome that can be detected and measured. It’s not enough just to say that you want to promote sales. You must indicate by how much – without it being a crazy, unrealistic growth.

At the same time it’s also imperative to set a deadline or set up a series of milestones that can be used as landmarks. This allows you to align the strategy or expectations along the way if you miss some of your milestones.

Define a clear objective

Once you have your business goals in place, the next step is to define the purpose of your web presence.

Yes, it is to make money. BUT how and by what means? Formulate a mission statement for your web presence, and revisit it whenever you are in doubt about whether this or that new online initiative will benefit your business.

This makes it easier to make decisions and stay the course – not only for management but for all who work on your website, webshop or other kind of online presence.

The objective must be the yardstick for everything you do and should preferably be formulated in a way that makes it easy to decide.

Taking a simple example, back in the 1980s American Airline’s mission statement was to be the cheapest airline in the United States. When the CEO had to make decisions, he simply asked himself whether that decision would contribute to making American Airlines the cheapest air company.

So any new expense that could only be recovered by raising ticket prices would be rejected. On the other hand if it had no effect on ticket prices or could lower prices there was a greater chance of it being approved.

Formulate a clear objective that meets your business goals and communicate it to all who work on your website.

Who is your target audience?

Now you have the objective for your web presence in place, the next big step is to clearly define your target audience. To do this it’s useful to take a closer look at your current customers. You can also benefit by drawing inspiration from your Facebook page if you have one.

You should cast your net wider than your current customer base though. There could be other segments that are a great fit with even more interestin your products or services. These segments might be harder to find, but it’s not impossible with a little help from Google and social media.

Geographics and demographics

By target audience we don’t just mean geographic and demographic segmentation, but we’ll get to in a minute.

Geographic location and demographic composition are obviously important factors for segmentation and you can get some good input from your Facebook page if you have one. Your existing customers can also provide lots of interesting data if you remember to collect them or dare to ask for them.

Geographic location is not just about country or regional location, it may well be more locally focused depending on what products you sell and where your presence is strongest – either physical presence or online.

Demographics is about gender, age, income, household size and so on. Facebook provides some simple geographic and demographic information, which you can view by clicking the People menu to the right of Insight on your Facebook page.

You can also gather some information from your customer database, but the more sensitive information on income and household size, etc. requires that you ask for it- and it is not always easy to get, especially as people can be reluctant about providing personal information if they do not see the relevance of giving it to you.

What is your target audience into?

What your audience is into makes all the difference when you need to produce content marketing and other page content. It’s much more relevant than geographic and demographic information.

What are they up to, what are their interests and – most importantly – what problems and challenges do they grapple with? What worries them and what do they dream about?

It’s also about their attitudes, their lifestyle and what expectations they have of companies like yours and the products and services you sell. What do they think about them and what importance to they attach to these products or services?

Again, this information and knowledge that can be difficult to collect. But you can get inspiration and insight into many of these areas by looking at the questions people ask when you talk to them about your products or services. You can also find out what they contact your customer services about when they first bought from you.

You will have to collect other information either by asking the audience directly or by studying market research data and others studies about your target audience.

You can also find great inspiration and knowledge by looking at what people search for on Google. We’ll come back to that later.

It’s all this “soft information” that is the most important part of audience analysis. It’s what is most needed when you come to define what kind of content you need to have on your site and what the approach to the content should be.

Where to find your audience

The next interesting parameter in audience analysis is to find out where your target audience hangs-out – and in relation to your products and services, whether this is a place where its interests, problems and the like will be catered for. If it does not already exist, you can perhaps create the place that is missing.

Often though there are already blogs, websites, Facebook communities or groups on other social networks or sections of some of the larger media websites dealing with the issues that are relevant to your target audience. Perhaps the individual subtopics are scattered around or they are all in one place.

Map out the websites and social media properties your target audience uses today. Later, we will look at how you can use these sites in your online marketing and how you can create your own media property that can attract and retain the target audience with relevant content.

Persona-building

Based on all the geographic and demographic information you have collected, it should now be possible to build one or more personas.

Personas are archetypes, more accurately describing patterns of behaviour, preferences and relevant characteristics of typical people in your target group.

It’s not just about hair colour, age and gender, but more about the brands they use, how their desks at work are organised, what TV shows they watch, where they get their news from, the way they use technology and so on and so forth.

Personas can be used when you need to develop content for your audience. It’s always easier to write with a specific person in mind than thinking about a bunch of statistics. It’s a bit like when you want to write something so even your gran can understand it.

In the same way, it becomes easier to write it so that persona can understand it. If the persona description is detailed enough you even know what examples you can use as references in your texts.

A word of caution though, it’s easy to over do persona descriptions and you can easily guess wrong or overly simplify. So use personas only to the extent that is necessary and makes sense. It’s not the Holy Grail but a practical aid.

Keyword Analysis

The next step is to find out which search terms the target user uses when looking for or researching about the topic of the products and services you sell, and what questions they have about them..

Keyword analysis is an essential modern marketing analysis tool. By looking at what keywords are most popular within your topic area and understanding what long-tail search terms are being used, you can gain invaluable insights into the content you could develop and what people call things.

Terminology usage

People probably use a special terminology within your industry. Things like trade terms, concepts and ways of saying things.

But this terminology is not always used in the same way by your audience. They may not have quite the same in-depth knowledge of the correct terminology.

Instead, they may use layman’s terms or more descriptive words to call things rather than using the exact terminology.

If you try to rank on the correct technical terms in your texts you may not generate significant traffic from the audience you’re trying to reach.

If they call things by another name when they search for your topics, products or services on Google they won’t find you. So even though you might think it sounds unprofessional it’s best to call a spade a spade and a shovel a shovel. You have to use use the words the target audience is looking for if you want to get traffic to your site.

You’ll find these words by doing keyword analysis. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest or Keywordtool.io to find them.

Long Tails – what else the audience asks about

Long-tails are a special group of keywords that consist of longer phrases, mostly in question form. The term comes from the long-tail concept that was popularised by Wired magazine founder Chris Anderson back in 2004.

Long-tails are interesting because they are relatively easy to rank on even though there are relatively few searches on them every month.

At the same time they are becoming more and more relevant now people are moving away from using only single words in their searches. Increasingly they use questions or natural language in their searches in order to better refine their search results.

Furthermore, the ability to use speech recognition features like Siri and the like on smartphones makes it more relevant to rank for long-tails. Here people use questions as keywords to trigger the search function in speech recognition.

Google usually provides you some of the most common long-tails as options as soon as you start typing something in the search box on Google.

You’ll also find related search suggestions with the most popular searches at the bottom of the first page of search results. You can also buy specific long-tail tools like Longtail Pro to dig out longtail searches on Google.

What competitors rank on

Another good place to find inspiration and knowledge about which keywords you can benefit from straight away is to look at what your competitors rank on.

Use tools such as Searchmetrics or SEMRUSH to peek at what keywords your competitors rank on.

With these tools you can find out how stiff the competition is within your industry and where you are positioned. You can also find out about which websites and media competitors are using to generate traffic by looking at which sites link to them.

Ahrefs is another useful tool to gain more insight into who is linking to you and your competitors. You can use this knowledge later when you need to build traffic channels to your pages.

Content and structure

Based on keyword analysis you get an overview of what keywords it would be interesting to rank on and what issues to address on your website.

You can use the list to build a structure for your website. To do so you have put the right emphasis on each keyword based on the rule that the higher the keyword is located in the page content hierarchy the more important it is for you.

Among other things this is how Google finds out individual keyword importance to your side. Other factors such as internal link building are also important for this.

At this point, focus exclusively on content items based on the keywords and rank them by importance.

How will you standout from the competition?

Armed with knowledge about your audience, the keywords they use to search for content related to your business, the topics to be covered by your site and the business goals of your web presence; it's time to discover how you create content for your page.

It should be content that at the same time:

  • Gives you the best search rankings
  • Attracts the right visitors
  • Makes visitors notice and remember and you

While the first point is primarily a matter of good search engine optimisation of the content that you develop, the other points require more thought and planning.

Why should your content standout from the competition?

How will you distinguish your content from the competition? Is forming opinions in your content – to have an attitude – the best way to go?

The answer to the first question is obvious enough: write in exactly the same way as all others, have exactly the same approach and the same opinions as everyone else and it becomes difficult to separate you from your competitors.

By saying the same thing in the same way as everyone else, then why would anyone choose you rather than one of your competitors?

What is it that sets you apart from all the others in the market and why is doing your way much better than the way the competitors solve the task?

While this is easy to agree on, it’s probably the answer to the second question which can cause most anxiety amongst business leaders. A commonly held view is not to write things in a way that might put people off. This is a perpetual problem for sellers. You’d better not form too many opinions or have too many views on what you sell.

But having an opinion is exactly what that tells people something about why you do things a certain way and what distinguishes you from everyone else. This does not mean being offensive – just writing things as they are.

For what is the alternative? A life in an indifference wasteland, where you’re just another company in the large grey mass that says the same thing as everyone else.

What it is, if anything, that distinguishes the largest companies in each industry from the rest? Yes, people have an opinion about them. They either love them or hate them. There are not really any leading companies that cause people stop and say: Well the good news, they are as OK, so …

Just OK is not good enough. So are you just one of the crowd? No, people have an opinion about you, you have put yourself on the map.

So it’s either or – there is no both / and.

You either love or hate the world’s largest brands. None are just OK, good enough, in between … Brands in that space do not mean anything to you!

What is your unique approach?

This does not mean that you should go out and challenge people about their attitudes. No, you must focus on finding your unique approach to the topic that you are creating content about. For knowledge and practices can be copied but the angle you put on it can’t be stolen without anyone knowing where it comes from.

Your special angle can come through the experience you have with a subject, your products and services or your customers. If you have special insight into the audience you write for, you’ll be able to find a unique or better angle that makes people remember you.

You’ll put your company on the map by creating compelling and unique content that can’t just be plagiarised by of the first teenage writer your competitors set on to write content for their pages. Experience and in-depth knowledge cannot be copied.

It might not be writing itself that sets you apart. It might be the way you present your unique approach like when Danish chilli aficionado Chili Klaus publicises chilli by challenging celebrities to eat tremendously strong chillies with him.

Editorial manifesto

When you have found your special content approach that gives people something to remember you and your content by, it’s important to formulate an editorial manifesto. Use it internally among the group of people who develop content for your site and share it with your target audience when you need to explain what it is you have to offer them.

The editorial manifesto should define:

  • Who the target audience is
  • The types of content you’ll create
  • The benefit for the target audience

For example we have defined this editorial manifesto for our website content:

“Webtextshop’s website is the place where online media and shop owners through articles, podcasts and videos can find useful information, inspiration, advice, insight and tools to produce quality content that gets good rankings in search engines and attracts, retains and converts visitors into customers”.

In this example:

The target group: Online media and shop owners

Content types: articles, podcasts and videos

Benefits: Knowledge, inspiration, advice, insight and tools to produce quality content that gets good rankings in search engines and attracts, retains and converts visitors into customers.

With the right editorial manifesto it will be much easier to decide what content to produce and whether to say yes or no now to things like offers for link-building, third-party content contributions or similar offers you may get or whatever challenges you might face around your content.

All ideas that come up can simply be assessed on whether the proposed content fulfils the objective set out in your manifesto or not

The journey from noticing you to becoming a customer

With the target audience, topics and editorial manifesto in place, it’s time to look at how to organise the content into that which will attract, that which will maintain and that which will convert customers.

Whatsmore, it’s time to establish a strategy for setting up paths to your website or webshop from the different places where your target audience can be found.

It’s partly a question of which media and channels you have access to beyond your website or webshop, which content types you will use and how you mix the content you have created into traffic generating campaigns. The goal is to give your audience a variety of ways to discover you and stay around once they land on your website.

What media or channels do you have access to?

The goal for all the journeys you create for your visitors when they land on your website is to be able to tell them more about your company and its products and services

These journeys begin with visibility in search results or by placing content on websites and other online media frequented by the relevant target group.

Traffic generated by links can be:

  • Earned
  • Paid or
  • Owned

Earned links are those that others have chosen to make to your site because you have created some relevant content that they consider high quality making it interesting for them to link to. You can’t control these links, they’re spontaneous. They can certainly create a lot of traffic though, and generate good link juice that boosts your ranking search results.

Earned links may also come from news or other online media that mention your company or your content. The common theme in all earned links is that they haven’t been actively acquired, except perhaps by the issuing on a press release.

Paid links are the ones that your purchase in the one way or another. This includes content that you deliver to another site in return for a backlink to your own website.

They can also include mentions of your products by bloggers or other influencers who receive your product as payment for testing and mentioning it. These types of “paid” links can backfire on your search rankings though if the blogger or online media outlet does not clearly disclose that they are sponsored.

Should you try this approach it might not provide much link juice either but can easily generate lots of focused and prosperous traffic back to your site.

Finally, there are the links coming from pages that you own. If no online media already covers the topics and issues that are relevant to your products or services, there is a great opportunity to create a blog or dedicated online media that covers it, and then link from there back to your website.

Again, this approach rarely has major impact in search rankings but can easily attract a lot of relevant traffic to your site or shop.

Resources

Once you have explored the possibilities for acquiring traffic from different media and channels, it’s time to look at what resources you need to create content for these channels, and the kind of content you need on the pages you’re sending traffic to.

The most common solution is to create some good marketing content content in the form of an infographic, video, podcast, white paper or landing page for example and then creating links to it from articles, blog posts or other types of content from other pages on the web.

Traffic can also be ensured through banner ads, affiliate links, Adwords or Facebook advertising or come from posts on social networks. There are many options and for each piece of content marketing content you create and it’s important to create several different channels that can provide visitors to your site.

Campaigns

The way you do this is to create different campaigns. Each campaign consists of a page on your website or webshop and different types of content that are placed strategically on various paid and owned media.

At the same time you can also bring the page to the attention of relevant websites, blogs and online media and hope that this earns you backlinks to it.

An example of a campaign could be to create a long-read piece i.e. an article of thousands of words – hitting many long-tail searches on the topic of the article. The long-form article is placed on your website and you now need to find link options.

For example, you could create a series of articles or elements from the long-read and publish them around the web, post some thought provoking submissions on different Facebook and groups and other social media or a blog or post on some of your leading staff member’s LinkedIn profiles.

All these links in various ways and in different contexts point to your long-read on your site. Your long-read in turn links to other relevant pages, blog posts or other content on your website.

Finally, you can create AdWords ads on relevant keywords for long-read or create Facebook ads that target the right audience for long-read.

Campaigns should be built all the time, but by constantly following a plan from the beginning and thinking about campaigns in the planning of your content on your site, you can create many different paths to it.

How do you keep them there once they land on your site?

One way is to create many paths into your website or webshop. Something completely different is to find a way to keep people when they first land on the site.

An effective way to do this is to harness relevant content that might also be interesting to read. It can be content that deepens what a visitor has already read, related content or content that you know is also interesting for the audience.

Write anchor texts in links that pique people’s curiosity by building interesting internal links from each individual page. It’s also about creating a catchy design on the pages, highlighting relevant content such as related posts on your blog or pointing on to handpicked articles which you know are relevant to readers of the page. You can hold people longer and perhaps even create a journey for them by pointing them around to the most important and relevant pages on your website or webshop.

SEO strategy

To rank each page in search results Google looks at all SEO factors on your site, so it’s important that you search engine optimise all the pages of the website or webshop from the start.

When planning your content it’s important to begin by assessing the value each piece of content can bring to your website or webshop’s ranking in the search results.

This can ensure that you use the right words, phrases and long-tails in the content and the text is written in a way that pays the utmost attention to the search results.

This not only applies to the wording but also to the use of synonyms and related words and terms that make it possible for Google to figure out the semantic context. Google uses this to find out the meaning of individual keywords and search phrases, so you have to show your hand.

Let’s look at a simple example. Say you’re writing an article about mercury. If you want to rank on mercury the planet you need to include words like solar system, space, planets, orbital period. If you want to rank on mercury the element you would need to include words like compounds, poisoning, toxicity or regulation.

Reading design

It’s also important to organise your text to make it as easy as possible for readers to quickly capture the main idea of a page. People hate reading online, so make it easy to skim the text.

Use the journalistic inverted pyramid to organise the text in a way that allows readers to get the main points of the article just by reading the headline and the intro text.

Also make sure that the headline captivates readers and provides the main benefit of reading the article. Write a good intro summarising the main points and messages aso that it makes people want to read more.

Divide the text into many short paragraphs using descriptive subheadings. If you can get the main points across just by reading the subheadings you make life easier for your readers.

Also make sure to build each section so that the first sentence contains the most important message or the most important knowledge – and the rest of the sentence provide the necessary details. So also apply the inverted news pyramid at the paragraph level.

Create a writing guide that emphasises these points and exemplifies how it is implemented in the content you have on your site.

Shall we help you with your content Strategy?

At webtextshop we have extensive experience building targeted content strategies that effectively result in people finding you in search results and on the social media sites where they gather.

Should you like us to create your content strategy contact us today using the form below or give us a call or send an e-mail to info@webtextshop.dk  We’ll get in touch to learn more about your content strategy needs.

Contact us about your Content Strategy

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