We all know that content marketing is a big deal right now and that it is a powerful way to gain traffic, build links (or should I say “earn” links) and just generally become a king of SEO within your niche. Google loves good content, and so do your customers (probably).
But content marketing is easier to get wrong than to get right, so in this post I thought I would give you some pointers on how to ensure that your content marketing strategy actually makes sense for your target audience.
Deciding What To Write About
Really, content marketing all comes down to deciding what content you will actually produce, and then producing it, making sure it is good enough to achieve your goals (ie, worth actually reading) and then promoting it and getting eyeballs to see it (that’s the “marketing” part).
If you are not writing about the right things, one of two things will happen:
- Your content will flop because it doesn’t appeal to your audience
- Your content will do well, but it will attract the wrong type of traffic
By the wrong type of traffic, I mean visitors who aren’t very likely to want to engage with your business or buy whatever it is that your selling. Obviously traffic is only helpful if it is the right traffic…
Understanding Your Customers
This is where using customer personas comes in handy, I talked about that earlier this week, so check out that post for a catch up if you haven’t already.
Getting to know your customer personas is important because if you want to attract those people to your blog you need to write FOR THEM. You will probably have more than one persona of course, and possibly different actions that you would like each persona to take, so when generating content ideas, think about WHO you are writing it for.
It’s fine to write content specifically for one or more of your personas, so long as you remember to make your next piece of content for a different persona.
Ranking For Useful Terms
One of the tricky things about content marketing is that as a business you will often want to rank for phrases with commercial intent – but a content page will never rank for such queries because it’s not relevant.
For instance, if you search for “vacuum cleaners” the top results are likely to be pages selling vacuum cleaners rather than pages full of information about vacuum cleaners.
If you sell vacuum cleaners then you will of course want your shop’s home page to rank for “vacuum cleaners” and if your content marketing is successful then over time that may happen. But for the time being you want to use content marketing to rank for related phrases which are likely to be searched for, so you might quickly brainstorm these ideas:
- How to clean a vacuum cleaner
- How to fix a vacuum cleaner
- Making your vacuum cleaner last longer
- Which vacuum cleaner to buy
- How to choose a vacuum cleaner
- Features to look for in a vacuum cleaner
- How do vacuum cleaners work?
Clearly, all of these queries are likely to have some traffic available, and they are all basically relevant. But some are more relevant than others.
- The queries about maintenance and repair could attract people whose vacuum has broken, but who want to save money by repairing it. They might well decide that it’s not worth it and then decide to buy a new one instead, so this traffic has some potential value. Although I would expect that this traffic might on average have a tighter budget.
- The queries related to buying a vacuum / features are likely to be used by people actively looking to buy a new vacuum cleaner, so I would say that this could well be the most valuable traffic.
- The query about how vacuum cleaners work is a great example of a post that seems relevant, but in reality could very easily be searched for by someone with no interest in buying one. Certainly it could bring in relevant traffic, but the overall quality is likely to be lower.
These are all obvious examples of course, but hopefully they illustrate my point – if you were to publish a really lengthy, in depth guide to how vacuum cleaners work, and market it right, you might end up ranking for that query, but the reality might be that the traffic generated would not be the right type to actually benefit your business.
How To Approach Content Marketing
Now that I have explained my thinking, let’s explore a better method for approaching your content marketing strategy:
- Start by analyzing your user personas, what are they looking for, what information might they want or need and how will they approach finding it? For each persona, brainstorm different queries and types of queries they might have.
- Refine those ideas into keyword phrases that they might use to search for that information. This is how you will create a keyword list that you can target with your content – remember that these will probably not be queries with commercial intent, ranking for those comes later.
- For each keyword phrase, research the potential traffic, competition (that’s something we’ll discuss in another post) and also rate the quality of the traffic that you think it can generate – for your business.
In this way, you will be ensuring that your content ideas are not just vaguely relevant but are actually written for your target audience. This is one of the most often neglected elements of content marketing and if you want your content to hit the right spot and get shared and linked to, this is a crucial step.