Setting a big goal like “get noticed online with a content marketing strategy” isn’t necessarily something you can put on tomorrow’s to-do list.
It takes a little more effort than a one-off task.
Putting together a content marketing strategy to help you cut through the noise like Moses parted the sea is going to take some planning and getting used to (more on that later).
Whether you’re a mom, a college student, broke as a joke, or a creative team trying to get your online business to take off, these are the things you need to be doing as part of your marketing strategy.
If you’re trying to make sure you are:
- Producing stuff worth consuming
- Getting people to pay attention
- Arriving and saying “I’m here!”
Then there are four major points to touch, which I’ll break into subsections. These points are:
- How you set up your posts as winners
- Social media presence
- How to do outreach
- Three factors that govern your success in all three
Positioning Your Posts
At the risk of sounding cliché, “every house needs a good foundation.”
It’s the exact same with your blog and business, AmIright?
When you’re wondering how to create a content strategy in 2017 and want to go beyond sharing it on your Facebook page to dead silence you must take a look at (and do) a couple of things:
Perform basic SEO
Ever wondered how Google chooses the order of any given search result? The short answer is SEO.
SEO is the key to getting your content seen and shared by more people because it’s a huge factor in how high your content ends up in the search results.
To give you some perspective, only 8.5% of searches make it past the first page of search results and in that first page 91.5% of traffic goes to the very first result—and it decreases as you go further down the list.
It goes without saying that optimizing your content to get better rankings on Google is pretty important.
An easy beginner tool to use and help you check off your SEO checklist is the popular Yoast SEO app.
Once installed, Yoast will help you optimize your post for the best chance at getting ranked higher on Google’s search list. It lets you know your keyword density, allows you to clean up your URL’s, gives you a chance to edit the ‘snippet’ that goes under your post title when searched on Google, and other on-page factors.
Brian Dean, a total SEO wizard, has a complete post on optimizing your content SEO that you can check out and is easy to follow.
Is your site design up to par?
Maybe you’re already up and running with a domain name, affordable hosting like Bluehost, or even make sure your blog posts are at least free of embarrassing grammar mistakes with free tools like Grammarly, but—
You’ve got to ask yourself: Is your site designed to get readers to stay and read more?
Site design has a lot to do with how someone responds to your content, not just the content itself. With solid and responsive sites like WPZoom’s, you can easily get started on the right foot and give the best first (and recurring) impression possible.
Keep in mind that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive. (Adobe)
Take Melyssa Griffin’s blog as an example. It’s a clean design with a clear and easy to read font that doesn’t take squinting, isn’t cluttered, and doesn’t have a million ads popping out at you.
Another great content marketing strategy example is Brian Dean‘s home page and site. He uses a bright color to set himself apart with a sleek no-nonsense design:
Is it easy to leave a comment?
Making it easy for people to comment can increase engagement and will make it more inviting for people to do so. Putting up commenting barriers is the last thing you want to do.
An easy way to take care of this is to use a commenting app like Disqus.
Disqus is easy to use, easy to install, and it’s a great comment moderator that can increase networking (if you click on a commenter’s name you can see their past comments and site link if it’s public).
Make your posts easily shareable
This may be a “duh” point for some.
But in case you were born yesterday, adding social sharing buttons to your post increases the possibility of it getting shared from an audience who spends massive amounts of time online with a short attention span.
Having said this, using a plugin like Social Warfare can take care of that.
Strategically adding share buttons above or below your content allow easy access for anyone that would like to make a quick share.
As a bonus, with the Social Warfare plugin you can even add a “click to tweet” option which adds a nice pull out quote and makes your content even more open for engagement (it also breaks up the text and makes it easier to read).
I mean, who wouldn’t want a line of their own content tweeted out?
Make sure you include outbound links and interlinking
Linking within your post to other sites is not only great SEO practice, it exposes your readers to other helpful resources, and it’s plain good karma (if you believe in that stuff).
Interlinking, meaning including links throughout your text that link to other pages on your site, is equally beneficial to your site and can increase the amount of time people spend looking through your content.
Many bloggers constantly check for outbound links from other sites as a part of their content marketing strategy. Seeing you’re driving traffic to them can only work to your favor, not against it. Not to mention you can always send them a quick email letting them know you used them as an example/included them in your content.
Most of them appreciate it and many will go as far as going out of their way to share it with their own audience if they loved your content!
Add relevant shareable images
It’s a given that adding shareable images is going to boost your blog post to greater heights and help you create brand ‘eye candy’.
Blog posts that include images get a whooping 94% more views. (Jeff Bullas)
Images you can add to your posts to illustrate examples, make a point, or just add a nice intro are:
- Screenshot examples (like the ones I’ve included here)
- Nice free stock photos (there are plenty of them online)
Here’s an example of an image used within a SmartBlogger post that breaks up content and makes it more visually appealing.
Elna Cain also makes great use of branded images to break up text:
Now, what you do to the images is just as important as adding them. Naming your images with the keyword of your content, along with filling in the ‘alt’ information, can give you a nice SEO boost.
If you’re a WordPress user, you can easily do that by uploading a file and filling in the proper information before adding it to your post like so:
For example, if your image is about a day on the beach, your alt description could be day_on_beach and your image name can be the similar with the same keywords. Make sure your image names and alt descriptions include the keyword you’re trying to rank for on Google.
According to the Pew Research Center, social media is where it’s at. Or, more clearly, more than 69% of adults today use some type of social media.
This means social media is the best place to find and engage your audience. This also means mastering social media can bear a nice ROI (return on investment) for your business if you put in the time and effort.
When thinking about social media you’ve got to find your balance between engagement and automation.
With social media management tools like Tailwind paired with Pinterest, you can make sure that your blog content is getting traffic from day one. Why? Because it’s basically an automated content pinner, once set up, that displays your content to thousands of others that are frequently on the Pinterest platform.
Question is, how much are you purposefully engaging with your audience on a daily basis?
As part of your content strategy plan, engagement is just as important as being seen, and there are strategic times to make the most out of your social media efforts.
Facebook is by far the social media platform where most people spend their time.
It’s one of the best platforms for engagement and can optimize your content strategy if you learn to leverage it.
According to Hootsuite, the best times to post on Facebook are:
- Between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
- And on Saturday and Sunday between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.
Facebook groups are great places to gain visibility, engage with other people interested in your content, and be helpful to others by engaging in and answering questions.
Blogging Boost, a Facebook group with over 23,000 members, is a highly engaged page that posts ‘threads’ where you can freely participate in an engage with others.
On Facebook, you can take it as far as creating, managing, and growing your own Facebook group page that can bring even more exposure to your brand and business.
A huge part of making Instagram work for you is how much meaningful engagement happens through it, as opposed to simply posting beautiful images (which is also part of a great content marketing strategy).
The best times to post to Instagram is when people are less busy, specifically lunch time around 11am-1pm and evenings around 7-9pm. (Later)
Engaging on it daily, adding appropriate hashtags, and purposefully commenting on posts that resonate with you and your brand will inevitably grow your following.
Twitter has over 313 million active monthly users. (Twitter)
Can you wrap your head around that number?
It’s definitely a pool of prospects you wouldn’t want to oversee when thinking about maximizing your exposure.
If you’re on Twitter it’s always good to comment, share, and retweet other’s content as part of the engagement strategy. Being sure you are consistent is key in making the most out of this social media platform.
The best times to tweet? Between 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, which then peaks between noon and 1:00 pm. (Buffer)
Your twitter bio can be used as a gateway to your content or business offering. Here is a screenshot of how Meerah Kothand set hers up:
If your haven’t heard about it yet, Pinterest is a great platform for boosting traffic.
Though Pinterest isn’t necessarily the best place to be ‘social’ and engage, it can undoubtedly be priceless in your content marketing strategy.
Creating Pinterest pins through a Pinterest business account is a great way to position your brand and display it to new audiences constantly looking for content to consume.
A good basic Pinterest strategy is to pin throughout the day a minimum of 15 pins per day. (Tailwind)
Here is an example of how Obstacle.co uses Pinterest to drive traffic. Notice how the profile bio says exactly what he does and what he offers, along with a direct link to their blog.
These social media platforms aren’t the only way to gain traffic. There’s always LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Medium, Quora, Tumblr, and on.
It always helps to experiment to find out which medium works best for you.
Are you building your very own list?
As part of your content strategy marketing framework, it’s crucial to ask yourself this question. Really, what’s the point of doing all the things we’ve gone through so far, making ALL that effort, if in the meantime you aren’t building a list that solely belongs to you?
Think about it.
Recently many blogs that were doing well with their business traffic and selling their services or products have suffered from algorithm changes in Google, Facebook, or Instagram.
If your business solely relies on third party channels not directly managed by you, then it’s set up to perform at the mercy of the changes in those channels that are decided by ‘not you’—and thereby not always in your favor, unfortunately.
Create and constantly add to your own email list.
This way you can always, at the click of a button, communicate with the people that benefit from all the valuable content you create whenever you want…and no algorithm can take the scope of that ability away from you.
You might be thinking, ‘ that’s yet another thing I have to take care of in an already long list!’
I get it. But with software like ConvertKit, which is the easiest email manager to use in the world, it can be easy to maintain and grow your list even on autopilot. You might already be using ConvertKit, which means you already know how easy it is to use and how well it manages your list and opt-ins. If not, you can always try it out for free and see how you personally like it.
But it doesn’t stop there. There are also opt-ins to think about and use within your content. But that’s another story for another day. Right now, it’s all about making sure you are getting the basics down.
Like with everything else in life, building online relationships is a key part of building your online business.
While this may seem a little daunting at first, it’s not as hard as it seems once you break it down into key steps.
One of the best ways to get in touch with your favorite influencers is simply by emailing them. Yes, it can be that easy. But while you won’t always get a quick response (or a response at all), bloggers are usually good at responding to people that go out of their way to reach out.
This can be a good segway for more meaningful contact than commenting or retweeting allows.
Thoughtfully comment on their content
A great way to generate awareness of your online presence is through thoughtful comments on other influential blogger’s post.
This does two things:
- Gets the blogger’s attention and (usually) a response
- Gets other commenter’s attention as well
The part about making it work is ‘thoughtful.’ You don’t want to stop by and leave a comment saying, “Great post, bye!”
But something more along the lines of:
“ I completely identified with the third point as soon as I read it. The examples you give are spot on and illustrate a great blogger struggle some of us go through at some point in our journeys. I’ll definitely be sharing this post with my friends and bookmarking it for future reference. Keep the value coming! 😊”
Some bloggers go as far as leaving a couple of paragraphs to make their point. Either way, the more thoughtful the better. Everyone can smell spammy comments before turning the corner.
The blogging community at SmartBlogger know how to do it best:
Promote them as you’d like to be promoted
Egos. We all have them. Promoting a blogger’s content is a great ego booster and adds to their publicity.
Make sure you are sharing the content you find useful from bloggers you admire freely. They’re sure to take notice and, by extension, notice you and the work you’re doing.
It’s also a great way to start/build rapport.
The more you do it, the more it will boost your content traffic and put you on the map.
What is it?
Guest posting is when you agree to publish a blog post on another established blog.
Guest blogging is kind of like saving for retirement. It might not pay off instantly, but it provides three things to boost your content strategy for the long term:
- It provides a source of traffic your own blog hasn’t yet established
- Adds credibility
- Usually gives you an author’s bio and a link back to your blog
Here are two examples taken from The Write Life of what your guest blogging bio could look like:
Who wants a huge pool of traffic exposed to your content? You certainly do.
Guest blogging increases your page views, your exposure, rank on Google, and will ultimately sets you up to grow your audience.
It also adds credibility to you as a blogger in your niche. It shows others you are serious and know enough about your niche to get published on a more established site.
If you aren’t sure where you can guest post, download a list of more than one hundred blogging opportunities and pitching templates to expose your awesomeness to the world!
Three Major Keys
Breaking your strategy down into three major sections can be a great way to make it more manageable.
But whether you see results or “positive ROI” with your content marketing strategy heavily relies on four key things:
The amount of time and effort you put into making your posts ‘devourable’, optimizing for SEO, reaching out, and establishing your social media presence will determine how much of an impact your strategy has on your business. Your content marketing strategy is a bigger part of your business puzzle than most people might think.
The gist: Put real time in and you’ll see results.
Consistency is partnered with time. If you’re consistent over time (which will then lead to compounding) then you’re bound to increase your exposure ( and part the online sea like Moses, as we said).
Aaand finally compounding.
Doing all the things on a daily basis, compounded over time, is bound to bear fruit. Kind of like your savings account and compounded interest. The more consistently you add to it without withdrawing money, the better your return.
On average, compounding blog posts generate 38% of overall traffic. (HubSpot)
That means that your old content and your marketing efforts, added up over time, count—especially if it’s evergreen.
It’s time to define your strategy
Remember, if you want to grow your traffic, create awareness, and establish your brand credibility online, it’s important to follow through with each part of the content marketing strategy for every piece of content you put out there.
Now it’s time to go out and conquer your niche with a precise and consistent strategy.
P.S. Let me know about your own content marketing strategies below. Are there any I missed?