Now that you know why you need a blog for your business and the basics of setting up your blog with WordPress, we’re going to look at the most important part of your blog. The part that will make it succeed or fail. And that is your content. In this post, we’re going to look at how you can create a successful content strategy.
Analyzing Your Competitors
As the old saying goes, there is no point in reinventing the wheel. Chances are, you have plenty of competitors that have a business blog. Your first goal is to look at your competitors’ blogs and take notes on what seems to be working and what doesn’t. In particular, look at the posts with the most engagement (social shares and comments) and see:
- What topics are popular.
- How often they publish new posts.
- How long are their posts.
- Who writes their posts.
- What tools they use (comment systems, social sharing buttons, etc.).
After you note these items for several blogs in your industry, you should start to see patterns of what works, what doesn’t, and what everyone (or no one) seems to do.
Finding Blog Topics
Next, you’ll need to start developing blog topics. The key is to think first about your blogging goals, second about your audience.
When it comes to blogging goals, are you looking to rank well for long-tail keyword phrases? Are you looking for lots of social engagement? Do you want to create content that converts readers into leads or customers? Do you want to become the go-to hub for a particular topic that interests your ideal customer base?
Once you’ve answered those questions, you’ll have a better idea on what type of content to product. From there, you’ll want to generate some specific topic ideas. One of the best ways to start this process is by using Google AdWords Keyword Tool. Simply enter a keyword, and it will give you about 100 keyword ideas based on that keyword or phrase. if you have a Google AdWords account, sign in with your account and you may get up to 800 keyword ideas.
This tool offers an option to download your keywords into a spreadsheet. Once you do this, you can add an extra column for topic ideas. Then next to each keyword, see if you can come up with a blog title that includes it. For example, the keyword phrase social media sites could be turned into 50 Social Media Sites for [Insert Your Industry Here].
After you’ve exhausted your list of keyword from GAKT, there are lots of other great ways to get content ideas. You can:
- Follow questions asked on Q&A networks like Quora to see what people in your industry want to know about.
- Subscribe to top industry blogs using RSS and Google Reader to keep track of the latest hot topics.
- Search for people asking questions about your keyword or phrase on Twitter by searching for keyword ? -filter:links.
- Ask your sales and support team what questions are asked most frequently by potential or current customers.
If you keep using these techniques, you should never run out of content ideas!
Determining Posting Frequency
Next, you have to determine how often to post. Think back to all of your competitors and how often they post. Now think about how much quality content production your business could reasonably do. Note that you should never sacrifice quality for quantity – if you can only produce one solid post a week, do that. Don’t try to do more unless you hire outside help which we will discuss in the upcoming Choosing Your Writers section.
Setting Up an Editorial Calendar
Once you have determined how often you would like to post, start an editorial calendar that everyone involved in your blog (writers, editors, marketing team, etc.) can access. If your writers are all in-house, you could use your Outlook Calendar. If they are not, you can use Google Calendar. Basically, you’ll want something that lets you add in due dates, publish dates, topics, and who posts are assigned to so everyone can stay on track.
Creating Editorial Guidelines
Now think about how you want your blog content to be formatted. What rules do you want every post to adhere to?
What audience does your blog target? How long should posts be? Are there special formatting tags you want adhered to (H3 for headers, one bolded sentence per paragraph, etc.)? Do you need one featured image + one image per main section? Should images be grabbed from Creative Commons, your stock photography account, or limited to screenshots? How do you want sources to be noted?
Draft the answers to these and other rules into a document as your editorial guidelines. This will (hopefully) keep your blog’s voice and theme consistent from one post to the next and keep editorial headaches to a minimum.
Choosing Your Writers
Many companies start buy looking at their own in-house team for writers. But what if you want to produce more content than you have in-house resources for? In this case, you have two options.
First, you can invite other writers as guest bloggers. This is one way to get free content for your blog, but the catch is that the guest bloggers will expect to be able to promote themselves on your blog with a link back to their own website.
Second, you can hire freelance writers and bloggers. When you hire writers, you have the option of having them ghostwrite content for you which you can put your own name on as the author or you can have them write for your blog as themselves as if they were guest bloggers. To decide which option to go with, ask yourself if you want to build your own authority or if you want to turn your blog into a multi-author hub of experts.
Whether you choose an in-house team, guest bloggers, or freelance writers, make sure that the content they are producing is valuable and unique. If you are using guest bloggers, don’t be shy about rejecting a submission because it doesn’t meet your standards. If you are using freelance writers, expect to pay a premium price for good content. If you pay $5 for an article, you will get what you pay for.
Also guard yourself from publishing duplicate content by doing a Google search for a random sentence in the post. Some guest spammers (not bloggers, but spammers) will submit content that has been published on their own blog or even multiple times on article directories.
Finalizing a Pre-Publish Checklist
Last, but not least, make a pre-publish checklist for your content. This checklist should ensure that each post is grammatically correct, has been spell checked, follows specific formatting guidelines, has been optimized for SEO with keyword based titles and meta descriptions, and has a plan for social media promotion. If you run through this checklist with each post, you should have quality content that is search optimized and successfully promoted through the appropriate channels.
How do you handle your business’s blog content strategy? Please share in the comments!