Can’t get your content marketing program to work?
When you think about it, the internet should make reaching out to your consumer base easier than ever. Despite this, most small and medium businesses appear to struggle with how to properly use the internet.
Although it appears that investing in digital advertising is a must, not all small businesses have the financial means to do so. The answer is to learn the secrets of successful content marketing. Here are some tips to help you improve the effectiveness of your content marketing.
If you’re a marketer today, you’re probably thinking a lot about how to express your brand’s narrative in a captivating and engaging way. You’re essentially considering content marketing, which is the art of presenting your brand’s narrative to new and existing customers.
While the premise of content marketing hasn’t evolved much since 1732 when Benjamin Franklin first published his yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack to advertise his printing firm, the methods in which brands may now tell their stories to appear to be unlimited.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70 percent of B2B marketers and 86 percent of B2C marketers employ some sort of content marketing. It’s not surprising.
If done well, an effective content marketing strategy can grow brand awareness, bring in new customers, drive revenue, and most importantly, help guarantee brand loyalty, conversions, and growth.
Fret not. Here’s a list of 17 tips that’ll improve your content marketing and help you get more visitors, leads, and sales:
1. Know who you’re creating content for.
A conversion rate optimization (CRO) firm publishes articles on the subject and attracts other CRO experts. CRO professionals, on the other hand, do not require CRO services. As a result, the agency’s blog generates no viable leads, and the firm declares that content marketing is ineffective.
It would have been evident what kind of content the CRO agency needed to develop if it had taken a step back and written down who it was seeking to reach. “How to improve your webpage to obtain more leads,” not “advanced CRO strategies.”
That’s why determining who you’re developing content for is the first step in any content strategy.
If you already know who you’re targeting, make sure to get it down in writing and share it with your entire team. Otherwise, use the template below to figure it out for your business.
2. Target topics with search traffic potential
Traffic from email or social media is a great boost, but it is short-lived.
However, if you create content around topics that people are constantly searching for in Google, then there’s guaranteed continued interest. For as long as your article ranks in Google, you’ll receive consistent, passive search traffic.
Here’s how to find these topics:
- Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
- Enter a topic relevant to your industry.
- Go to the Matching terms report.
- Switch to the Questions tab.
Here, you’ll see over 300,000 potential topics you could target. Look through the list and pick out those that are relevant to your website.
3. Tackle your competitors’ best-performing topics
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew which of your competitors’ articles got the most traffic so that you could replicate their success?
Well, good news. You can.
- Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
- Enter a competitor’s domain
- Go to the top of the report
You’ll see all the pages ranked by organic traffic, plus the keyword that sends each page the most traffic.
For example, we can see that Beardbrand’s article on beard styles gets an estimated 105,000 organic visits per month. The keyword sending it the most traffic is “beard styles.”
If we owned a competing eCommerce store, we could tackle this topic too.
4. Prioritize topics using “business potential”
Search traffic alone is a vanity metric. If it doesn’t improve your business (i.e., more leads or more revenue), then getting more search traffic is pointless.
At Ahrefs, we score topics using “business potential.”
Pairing “business potential” with “search traffic potential” keeps us focused on creating content that actually drives growth.
This is why our blog revolves around SEO and content marketing and not topics like “reverse image search.”
Even though it is a popular search query (~1.5 million monthly searches) and has the potential to drive tons of traffic, it has nothing to do with our product at all (“0” business potential).
5. Match the 3 Cs of search intent:
Google’s aim is to provide its users with the most relevant search results for any search query. So, to rank high on Google, you need to show that you’re the most relevant search result.
That means matching search intent—the why behind a search query.
We can look at Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) to figure out search intent. Do this by searching on Google for your target keyword, then analyzing the top-ranking pages for the three Cs of search intent.
A. Content type
Content types usually fall into one of five buckets: blog post, product, category, landing page, or video. For example, if we search for “how to learn Hangul,” we can see that the top few results are mostly videos.
If you want to rank for this keyword, you’ll likely have to create a video.
B. Content format
Content format applies mostly to blog posts, as they’re usually either how-tos, listicles, news articles, opinion pieces, or reviews.
For example, the top-ranking results for “best home workouts” are mostly listicles:
Whereas the top results for “how to learn Korean grammar” are mostly how-tos and guides:
To stand the best chance of ranking, follow suit.
C. Content angle
The “content angle” refers to the main “selling point” of the content. For example, people searching for “how to make sangria” want the recipe to be easy.
6. Create a content calendar
We keep track of all our publishing efforts using a content calendar:
Each calendar entry also lists information about an individual content piece, such as:
- Due date
- URL slug
And so on.
This keeps everyone aligned on the entire content management process. The editor and every contributor know what stage they’re at when the deadline is, and what needs to be done next.
This is the reason why we have been able to publish two or more blog posts every week for the past few years.
Even if you’re a solo content marketer, a content calendar keeps you honest about the process. No more writing only when inspiration strikes. Commit to a schedule and publish.
7. Promote your content
If you don’t put your content in front of people who care, your newly published content will be practically invisible.
At Ahrefs, we promote every piece of content we publish. At the minimum, we:
- Send new blog posts to our newsletter subscribers.
- Share it on all our social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).
- Reach out to the people we mention in our content.
- Run ads (Facebook, Twitter, Quora, etc.).
8. Design shareable images
One of our unique photos.
They also create fantastic content to share on social media. Images like this can go viral even in a “boring” sector like SEO.
Our in-house illustrators generate all of our images. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune just to create them. To be shareable, custom photographs don’t have to be museum-quality.
After all, the popular site WaitButWhy solely utilizes hand-drawn cartoons and stick figures. It’s also simple to make one with tools like Canva.
Give your article a once-over before publishing. Identify areas where a bespoke picture might offer “value,” such as better illustrating an idea, moving the narrative ahead, keeping the content entertaining, and so on.
9. Repurpose your content
Make your content go the extra mile—turn it into multiple formats and share it on different platforms.
For example, we turned our guide to influencer marketing into a video and our video on getting more YouTube subscribers into a blog post.
- Turned a blog post into a Twitter thread.
- Turned YouTube videos into tweets.
- Turned blog posts into Instagram posts.
As content marketer Ross Simmonds puts it, “Create once, distribute forever.”
10. Add “link triggers”
Links are one of Google’s top three ranking factors. If you want your content to rank highly, you need links.
One way—besides link building—is to bake “link triggers” (the reason why people link to a certain piece of content) into your content when writing. Not only will this make it easier to reach out and build links, but it can also help naturally attract them.
Here’s how you do it:
- Visit Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to learn more.
- Scroll down to the SERP overview after searching for your chosen term.
- Look for a similar article with a large number of referring domains.
- In the Backlinks column, click the number.
- Look for commonalities in the Anchor and Target URL columns.
For example, if we do this for Backlinko’s (aka Brian Dean) post on SEO copywriting, we will see quite a few people linking because of some unique tips Brian wrote about—the APP method, bucket brigades, etc.
If we write about the same topic, we’ll have to create our own unique SEO copywriting tips too.
11. Update your content
Content can go “bad.” Information can become outdated, your target keyword’s search intent can change, and your rankings can drop.
When that happens, you’ll have to update your content.
Do you update everything? No, especially if you have hundreds of blog posts like us. Instead, you’ll have to prioritize. Do that by following this flowchart:
Alternatively, you can also use our free WordPress SEO plugin to check your site for underperforming posts. Then follow the guide below to learn the best way to republish your content.
12. Do blogger outreach
Blogger outreach is the process of sending targeted emails to relevant bloggers and journalists to promote your product or content.
The goal is to get influential people to talk about you and connect to your website.
Blogger outreach is no longer considered spam. It’s not okay to scrape the emails of everyone in your sector and send them a request for a link.
Instead, it’s a long-term project. Sure, you’re contacting them because you want something from them. However, you should network, stay on their radar, and befriend them.
Rather than burning bridges for the sake of a tweet, you should work to strengthen the relationship so that it can lead to more in the future: a collaborative effort
So how do you do high-quality blogger outreach?
We wrote a start-to-finish guide on how to do it (and do it at scale too), so I recommend giving it a read.
13. Be opinionated
We all want our content to rank on Google and generate search traffic. But you can go too far in that game. And unfortunately, many websites do. That’s why the SERPs are littered with pieces of content that look exactly like each other.
Don’t forget: Ranking is merely one part of the equation. Eventually, the reader needs to consume your content and buy into what you’re selling. If you’re just one of many, then there’s no reason to sign up for your email list, try a free trial, or purchase your product. You have to stand out.
Standing out means sharing an opinion. Wirecutter stands out from all other affiliate websites because it shares opinions, e.g., here’s the best non-stick pan, the best wireless earphones, the best DSLR camera, etc.
We regularly share our opinions on our blog too. For example, my colleague, Michal Pecanek, confidently stated that there are some popular SEO metrics that just don’t matter:
14. Shine a new light on your industry with other lenses.
Finance isn’t my strong suit. Despite this, I’ve read practically every piece written by Morgan Housel, a finance writer. If you read his articles, you’ll agree:
He’s writing about finance, but it’s not a dull recitation of Wall Street jargon. He teaches you about history, psychology, biology, space, and conflict from a number of perspectives.
Finance is only the canvas on which he paints; his brushes are the various perspectives through which he introduces you to the subject.
Your sector could be “boring,” but your content shouldn’t be.
Find a new perspective on your industry by using a different lens. Animals, for example, write about content marketing through the eyes of a black hole.
As Morgan puts it: The key to persuasion is teaching people something new through the lens of something they already understand. This is critical in writing.
Readers want to learn something new, and they learn best when they can relate a new subject to something they’re familiar with.
15. Don’t obsess over word count
Reading a recipe page today means finishing the equivalent of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” before finally learning how to cook that three-minute dish.
Google’s ranking bias for recipe sites that share the chef’s entire life story via an Ayn Rand novel-length of content prior to the actual recipe knows no bounds. Esp on mobile just gives us the recipe I’m trying to shop not learn the history of the universe.— Adam Singer (@AdamSinger) October 2, 2019
This happens because of the popular belief that longer articles mean more organic traffic. But according to our study of 900 million pages, there is a moderate negative correlation between word count and organic traffic for posts longer than 2,000 words.
In other words, the average 10,000-word post gets less search traffic than the average 2,000-word post.
So stop obsessing over word count. Nobody wants to read longer content. Cover as deep as needed, cut out the unimportant aspects, and get to the point.
16. Manage a portfolio of content
You cannot expect each piece of content you create to hit all your content marketing goals. Just like in finance, you need to diversify.
Depending on the goals and priorities of your business, you may need the following:
- Search-optimized content
- Sales enablement content.
- Thought leadership content
Even though ranking on Google is important to us, content designed for ranking isn’t the only type of content we create. We also publish data studies (for thought leadership and links), product updates (for retention), opinion pieces (for thought leadership), and free tools (for generating direct leads.
17. Create content hubs
We recently organized our best free guides into one main starting point for all our readers.
This is known as a content hub. Content hubs are interlinked collections of content about a similar topic. Here’s what it looks like in theory:
Since our blog is displayed reverse chronologically, a hub page like this helps our readers discover more of our content in an organized manner.
If you have tons of amazing content, consider creating hub pages to link all of them together.
I hope you’ve walked away from this post with a handful of actionable content marketing tips you can apply to your business.