Three givens about content marketing: it is the most effective search engine optimization (SEO) technique, it covers a lot of territory, and it isn’t easy. Few things are as intimidating as a blank canvas.
To make things easier on yourself in the planning & ideation phase of your content strategy, think about different pieces and types of content that can relate to each other and be presented as a package.
Not only does this approach create an SEO-friendly collection of content, you benefit your brand when you demonstrate your authority on the subject at hand by presenting it from every angle.
Because this process is so involved, we’ll be addressing it in two parts, starting with the planning.
“Content” is an umbrella that covers a variety of different media, so this becomes something of a chicken-and-egg question: Does the subject matter determine the format, or does the format determine the subject matter?
It goes both ways. While brainstorming, try asking yourself two questions:
- What could my content be about? This is the default starting point for most, but it’s also so broad, you’ll likely run into that same blank-canvas anxiety.
- What could I create a [blog post, whitepaper, video, etc.] about? You might find different ideas come to mind if you narrow that broad question down to specific formats and use those as launch points. For example, if you are a craft microbrewery, the video medium lends itself to a tour of your operation, while infographics might inspire you to document the history of brewing in your region.
2. Zoom In, Chunk Out.
Make your starting ideas go further by breaking them down into as many sub-topics as you can think of. Take a magnifying glass to each subject to identify its parts and the connections between them, and then group those sub-topics into manageable, and innovative, chunks.
This is especially relevant if you’re working with written web content like a blog. Unlike print media, the web may have unlimited space, but a common mistake in web content marketing is using that space to try to cover everything about a topic at once.
But in fact, the more pieces you have, the more pieces you can share (over and over – we’ll get to that), and the more shareable those pieces are – especially when they lead readers to other related content.
What distribution platforms will you be using? What types of content do best on those platforms? Which audience does each platform cater to?
Most media can do double (or more) duty across different channels – for example, YouTube, Pinterest, and Facebook all support video, but the audiences across each will vary significantly, so you might find you won’t need all three.
Consider, too, what resources you have on hand, including talent and time, to create this content. If you have relevant existing content, see how you can tie that into the package.
4. Define Your Terms.
Here’s where the nitty-gritty really begins. No matter where each piece in the package gets published, the key search terms attached to all of them should be consistent, with variations permitted depending on the platform and audience.
Titles, headings, descriptions, tags, categories, metadata, image alt text, thumbnails, and landing page URLs should reflect the desired search engine traffic you want to attract. It may be tedious, but it’s worth it not to skip this step – your rankings will thank you.
And you can’t talk about search engines and rankings without talking about Google. One component of its current Hummingbird algorithms is the ability to detect the searcher’s intent, not just the keywords. Challenge yourself to think of what queries a reader might use to arrive at your content beyond the obvious search terms.
In Part Two of this series, we show you how to assemble these pieces and present them to the world in a unified, integrated package. Make sure you’re following Mason on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn so you don’t miss it, and feel free to give us a shout if there’s something specific you’d like us to include.