Today you’re going to learn exactly how to create a content strategy in 2019.
This is the same approach I used to grow my blog to 392,441 visits per month.
Let’s get started.
- Step #1: Choose a Content Topic
- Step #2: Find a Keyword
- Step #3: Pick a Content Structure and Format
- Step #4: Publish Something Amazing
- Step #5: Optimize Your Content for SEO
- Step #6: Promote Your Content
- Step #7: Track and Measure Performance
- Step #8: Scale Your Content Marketing
Step #1: Choose a Content Topic
Your first step is to find a topic.
But not just any topic…
A topic that your target customer is interested in.
Here’s exactly how to do it:
First, head over to a popular blog in your industry.
And look for posts that tend to get lots of comments and social shares.
For example, a while back I looked at what content performed best on the Moz blog:
And I noticed that content about “site audits” tended to do REALLY well:
So I created a blog post called: “The Ultimate SEO Site Audit”.
Because this post was based on a proven topic, it was a huge hit on day 1:
And quickly cracked the first page for my target keyword:
Pro Tip: If one of your competitors has a podcast, check out their episode list on iTunes:
This can reveal some killer topics that you’d be hard pressed to find any other way.
Online communities are GREAT for finding burning questions that your target audience has.
For example, when I head over to the Paleo subreddit, I notice lots of questions about dessert:
Why is this important?
Most people ask questions on Reddit because they couldn’t find their answer on Google.
Which means there’s a HUGE opportunity for you to swoop in and answer that question with your content.
You can follow this same process using Quora:
If you want to scale this technique, check out Answer the Public.
It’s a free tool that hands you popular questions that people have around your topic:
Pro Tip: Check out conference agendas in your industry. People are literally paying (and traveling) to see these talks. So you KNOW these topics are in high demand.
Ahrefs Content Explorer
You type in a keyword…
…and get a list of content that people recently shared and linked to:
Your Best Content
Here’s where you double down on what works.
First, log in to Google Analytics and go to “Behavior” → “Site Content” → “Landing Pages”:
This shows you which pages on your site bring in the most traffic.
Then, identify what those pages have in common in terms of:
- Writing style
Finally, outline your next piece of content based on what you find.
Last year I noticed that definitive guides brought in a ton of traffic:
So I decided to publish more definitive guides:
And those new guides helped increase my blog’s traffic by 29.63% compared to the year before:
Which leads us to…
Step #2: Find a Keyword
Now that you found a topic, it’s time to find a keyword that people use to search for that topic.
Here are 3 easy ways to do it:
To use it, just pop in a topic that you found in Step #1:
And after a second or two, you’ll get a list of untapped keyword ideas:
Google and YouTube Suggest
This an old school keyword research strategy that still works GREAT.
Just type your topic into Google…
…and jot down the terms that Google suggests.
And I recommend doing the same thing on YouTube:
And if you run an ecommerce site, Amazon:
Google Image Tags
This is a cool little tip that’s GREAT for finding long tail keywords.
Just search for your keyword in Google images:
And take a look at the tags at the top of the search results:
These tags are terms that people search for when they’re looking for information on your topic.
And all you need to do is add these tags to the end of the keyword you typed in.
For example, look at what comes up when you search for “content marketing”:
All you need to do is add these terms before or after “content marketing”:
And you have a solid list of long tail keywords to create your content around.
Step #3: Pick a Content Structure and Format
In other words, here’s where you decide if you’re going to create a:
- Blog post
- YouTube Video
- Native video (for Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter)
- Lead magnet
- Interactive content
The key here is to choose the format that works best for YOU.
Are you an awesome writer? Go with a blog post.
Do you shine on video? Make a video.
Or maybe you’re an amazing designer. Whip up a piece of visual content.
I think you get the idea 🙂
You can cover the same topic using multiple different formats.
And they can all do REALLY well.
For example, a few years ago I published this guide to building backlinks:
Which did GREAT.
So I made a YouTube video on that same exact topic:
And it racked up 65,541 views:
The big takeaway?
There’s no “perfect” content format for any topic.
So choose a format that you can CRUSH… and move onto step #4.
Step #4: Publish Something Amazing
Let’s face it:
It’s harder than ever for your content to stand out.
According to WordPress, there are 2.49 million blog posts published every day:
It gets worse:
Even though content supply is increasing, content demand is flat.
In fact, WordPress reported that pageviews are down for the first time in 12 years:
It doesn’t matter what type of content you create. If you want to succeed with content marketing in 2019, everything you publish needs to be AMAZING.
Here’s how to do it:
There’s no way around this:
If you want people to read and share your content, it needs to be more than “great content”. Your content also needs to LOOK great.
Which is why I go the extra mile to use high-res screenshots:
And custom-designed guides:
Insanely Actionable Tips and Techniques
This is important.
No matter what industry you’re in, people want information they can use right away.
When I was doing research for this post, I read a lot of posts out there about content strategy.
And they were full of fluff advice like: “Develop Content Ideas” and “Create a Process for Content Creation”.
But they never showed you HOW to come up with ideas.
That’s why I went the extra mile to make every step in this post super actionable:
Real Life Examples
When it comes to content, there’s one thing I’ve found to be true almost 100% of the time:
People looooove examples.
When you hear the words “for example” your brain breathes a sigh of relief. That’s because research shows that examples make learning easier.
That’s why I include TONS of examples in every post:
Does adding examples take more work than simply saying, “do this”?
Is it worth it?
Written By an Expert
In other words:
Publish content from people that have actually done the things they’re writing about.
Or as I like to say:
“If you want an article about how to unclog a toilet, don’t hire a freelance writer.
Hire a plumber.” ( Click to Tweet this )
For example, Nerd Fitness quickly grew to be one of the most popular blogs in the fitness space.
Steve wrote about his personal experience of trying different diet and workout routines:
And he filled in any gaps in his knowledge with research from nutrition experts:
When most people think “UX”, they think “Software”.
But content has a user experience too.
For example, look at this post:
The text is all squished together. Which makes it REALLY hard to read.
That’s bad Content UX.
On the other hand, this post uses big font with lots of white space:
Which makes it easy to read and skim.
That’s good Content UX.
And Content UX isn’t just for text content.
If you have a podcast, good UX is clear audio.
If you’re making a video, good UX is that video’s production value.
Make it EASY for people to consume your content… and it will perform MUCH better.
Step #5: Optimize Your Content for SEO
Next, it’s time to optimize your content around a keyword.
Specifically, you want to nail the basics of on-page SEO:
- Include your keyword in your title tag
- Optimize your title tag for CTR
- Use short URLs
- Add internal links to other pages on your site
- Use external links
- Format your content for readability
Here’s a video that walks you through each of these steps in detail:
Step #6: Promote Your Content
There’s no two ways around it:
If you’re serious about squeezing every last drop of value from your content, you need to actively promote it.
And when I say “promote”, I don’t mean sharing your content on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
(Even though that can help)
I’m talking about strategically sharing your content in a way that maximizes traffic, backlinks and social shares.
Let’s take a look…
This is HUGE.
An email list is the #1 content promotion tool on the planet. Period.
In fact, there isn’t even a close second.
Your subscribers are made up of people that LOVE your stuff.
In other words:
They’re people that are very likely to spread the word about your content.
That’s why I share most of my posts with my email subscribers:
As you can see, my email doesn’t look like a stuffy corporate newsletter.
In fact, my email looks like it could be from a friend.
This is EXACTLY how you want your emails to look.
So, how did it do?
That single email generated 14,067 total visitors:
In case you’re not familiar with them, roundups are posts that curate (or “roundup”) awesome content from the week.
The best part?
There are roundups in almost every niche.
For example, this is a roundup from the wine niche:
Here’s why promoting your content to link roundups works so well:
Your pitch actually makes their life easier (yes, really).
Roundup curators struggle to find content to include in their roundup.
And when you suggest your new post, you deliver awesome content on a silver platter.
Which means there’s no arm twisting required to get a link.
For example, here’s a roundup that recently linked to me:
This short video goes into the step-by-step process:
Paid Content Promotion
Specifically: Facebook Boosted Posts.
I’ve spent thousands on Facebook ads over the last few months.
And the #1 lesson I learned is this:
Retargeting is LEGIT.
For example, I recently boosted this Facebook post:
And because I targeted people that recently visited Backlinko, I only paid 67 cents per click:
(Which is dirt cheap in the B2B space)
Step #7: Track and Measure Performance
Now it’s time to see how well your content strategy is working.
The question is:
How do you know if your content “worked”?
Take a look at these key metrics:
At the end of the day, the point of content marketing is to get more traffic.
So if your content only brings in a handful of visitors, it’s time to switch things up.
Content marketing and SEO can take time to kick in.
For example, look at the traffic numbers from the early days of Backlinko:
As you can see, it took about 6 months for things to really take off.
And if I gave up early on because content “wasn’t working”, I wouldn’t have seen the huge traffic spike that got me going:
Sometimes you publish content for the sole purpose of getting backlinks.
(In other words: linkbait)
For example, last year I published this voice search SEO study.
My #1 goal with that post was to get more backlinks.
So even though that post doesn’t bring in much traffic…
…it’s been linked to 1,280 times to date:
Including some heavy hitters (like Forbes):
And these backlinks help boost my rankings for all of the other pages on my site.
Speaking of rankings…
This is pretty straightforward:
If you create content designed to rank for a specific keyword, it should rank for that keyword.
If it doesn’t, then something’s off.
It could be that the keyword is too competitive.
Or it might be that you don’t have enough links.
Either way, I recommend checking your rankings once a week.
In some niches (especially in B2C), content is sized up based on how many people share it on social media.
Whatever you want to call it.
Basically, you’re answering the question:
Is content helping us get more sales?
You can directly measure conversions in Google Analytics:
And if you see conversions moving up, it’s probably a sign that your content marketing is working.
It’s sometimes hard to track content’s indirect sales impact.
My conversions that come directly from YouTube are super low:
And if I ONLY looked at Google Analytics, I’d probably say: “YouTube is a waste of time”.
But when I dig a little bit deeper, I can see that my YouTube channel is a HUGE driver of subscribers and sales.
First of all, according to YouTube Studio, my videos reach 142,000 people every month:
Do you think all of those views help my bottom line?
But more important than that: customers cite my YouTube channel as a main reason that they decide to make a purchase:
Which tells me that my YouTube videos are paying off.
And now it’s time for our last step…
Step #8: Scale Your Content Marketing
At this point your content is bringing in more traffic, leads, and sales.
So the logical question is:
How do you scale?
Well, I DON’T recommend pumping out a million blog posts.
Yes, the goal of scaling is to publish more useable content. But you want to maintain the same level of quality as you scale up.
For example, I’ve only published 63 total posts on the Backlinko blog:
And those 63 posts bring in 392,441 visits every single month:
With that, here are three ways to scale up your content marketing efforts… without sacrificing quality.
New Content Formats
Repurposing content into different formats is the easiest way to scale.
Because you don’t need to start from scratch every time you want to publish a new blog post, podcast episode or YouTube video.
For example, this video on my channel has racked up 355,187 views to date:
So I decided to repurpose some of the tips from that video into a blog post:
And it worked!
That post now ranks #3 for my target keyword:
And has generated 15,748 visits in only 3 months:
Organizing The Content Process
In other words:
Create a process that you can use over and over again.
You can just copy the exact process in this post.
Or tweak it to fit your company.
The more organized you are, the easier it is to create awesome content.
That’s why I recommend writing down a repeatable, step-by-step process. You also want to have an editorial calendar to help plan your upcoming content.
Scaling doesn’t always mean MORE content.
You can also “scale” content quality.
For example, a few years ago I published this search engine ranking factors study:
This was a big departure from list posts and case studies that I was used to putting out.
Not only that, but I couldn’t do it myself. I had to assemble a team.
That team included a project manager, developer, data scientist, graphic designer, multiple software companies, and more.
And it was A LOT of work for everyone involved.
In the end, the study did really well.
Not only did it result in a huge traffic spike:
But our study has been linked to from 2,650 different domains:
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Which tip from today’s post are you going to try first?
Do you want to try repurposing content into new formats?
Or maybe you’re ready to focus on Content UX.
Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.