The most effective content strategies begin by identifying your target audience then understanding how to bring your brand’s expertise and unique value proposition to that audience.
When dealing with SEO-based content strategy, it’s important to understand the difference between keyword-focused content and audience-focused content strategy.
Audience-Focused Content Strategy vs. Keyword-Focused Content Strategy
Keyword research is a great tool that can help marketers learn how potential customers are talking about the topics related to their brand.
But there’s a drawback to only using keywords to drive content strategy: it limits your ability to understand your audience because not all your audience’s content can be captured in a keyword search alone.
Keyword research without an audience focus may also lead to creating content that isn’t as effective for your brand and audience, even if it does convert well.
Audience-focused content strategy, on the other hand, asks key questions regarding the audience that will help understand how that audience would interact with your brand. These questions include…
- Who is my target audience?
- What types of content do they consume?
- What channels are they currently using to communicate?
- What are they talking about when they do communicate?
- What problems/opportunities are they seeking solutions for?
- How can we match our expertise to our audience’s needs?
Answering these questions as you’re developing your content strategy in tandem with your keyword research, will help you develop an effective content strategy around SEO.
Your unique content angle
The key to connecting with your audience lies in developing a unique content angle that finds the intersection between your brand’s expertise and your audience’s pain points. The Content Marketing Institute defines this intersection as the “content tilt” because it tilts a broad topic toward a specific area(s) of expertise.
How to Build your Content Strategy
- Establish goals
What is the ultimate goal of your content strategy? Are you trying to increase leads? Are you looking for more newsletter subscribers? Do you have a dollar figure or percentage increase in sales in mind? Or, are you trying to maximize results in all the above areas?
Whatever your goals, it’s important to document them and make sure they’re measurable and quantifiable. Doing this will help you determine what type of content to create and what CTA’s (calls-to-action) will be most effective.
- Identify your target audience
Once you’ve established clear goals, you’ll need to identify the target audience for your content. To do this, you’ll need to ask questions such as:
– What’s your target audience demographics (i.e., age, sex, location, hobbies, etc.)?
– Where does your audience spend their time both online and off?
– What social platforms do they frequent and how often and how much time do they spend on those platforms?
– What are your target audience’s pain points and how can your content address and resolve them?
- Determine how your brand’s area of expertise intersects with your target audience’s pain points then develop a unique angle for your content.
Once you’ve identified your target audience and its pain points, spend some time figuring out what makes your brand unique. This often means breaking down a larger topic and segmenting it in ways that highlight your brand’s expertise.
How can you solve a common problem for your target audience in an uncommon way? How does your expertise address your audience’s pain points? How can your content add value to the information that’s already out there?
- Generate a content topic list based on your target audience and area of expertise
Armed with the knowledge of your goals, target audience, and area of expertise, it’s time to generate a list of potential content topics. This is the brainstorming stage, so it’s good to get as much feedback as possible from areas of your organization that relate directly to creating your brand’s products and services.
Every department, from sales to customer service, can provide valuable ideas regarding the types of content your target audience will be interested in.
- Start Your Keyword Research
Remember how I said that audience-focused content was the beginning of creating content strategy around SEO?
Well, long-tail keyword research still plays an important role in content strategy, and once you’ve used audience-focused strategies to brainstorm your content topic list, it’s time to find the keywords that will generate the right traffic to your website. There are several keyword-finder tools that can help you with this, including:
Google Search Console‘s tools and reports help you measure your site’s search traffic and performance and fix issues. It isn’t a traditional keyword research tool, but it features The Performance Report which lists pages on your site that get the most clicks from Google.
SE Cockpit returns thousands of profitable Google Keywords in a matter of seconds. And, in addition to keyword ideas via Google AdWord and Google Related Searches, keyword ideas are also available via Amazon and YouTube Suggest.
Moz Keyword Explorer analyzes keywords by search volume, generates and saves keyword lists, and predicts how much search volume a keyword will receive with more than 95% accuracy.
- Create your content calendar
Once you’ve created your content list and narrowed your keyword findings, you’ll need to create an editorial calendar for when and where you’ll share that content. Hubspot offers a number of free editorial calendar templates.
- Create your content
Now you’re all set to create content based on a strategy that takes your expertise, target audience, and keywords into account. At this stage of content creation, it’s important to keep SEO content creation best practices in mind. These include:
– Using keywords early on in your posts
– Creating unique, optimized titles and descriptions
– Using optimized images
– Using internal linking
-And, of course, publishing creative content that addresses your audience’s pain spots.
The final piece of building your businesses’ content strategy around SEO deals with monitoring performance and measuring success to ensure that your content is meeting the goals you established at the beginning.
There’ll be a lag between launch and results, but be sure to have a system in place to monitor progress and alter your course if your goals aren’t being met. [Hint: Google Analytics is a great tool for this!]