How to create an effective blog content strategy

Thanks to their low capex requirement and long-term ROI potential, blogs have become one of today's most prevalent forms of content marketing. However, building a successful blog isn't as simple as it seems; while it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind and start writing immediately, doing so can lead to poorly optimized content, unintended keyword rankings, and missed key performance indicators (KPIs). In order to ensure you're creating consistent, high-quality blog content that supports your company's key business objectives, businesses should first develop what's referred to as a blog content strategy.

What is a blog content strategy?

A blog content strategy is a living, breathing document that outlines why you make content, how you make content, and when you make content. It's an invaluable asset that provides a company's content creators with a sense of direction — a battle plan that, if followed, can lead to some pretty incredible marketing results.

However, while most content creators do have a content strategy, most never document it. This can be a fatal mistake.

According to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute, "[62%] of optimal experience marketers have a documented [content marketing] strategy, while only 46% of all respondents do."

In other words, the best performing content marketers are those that document their content strategy.

Although creating and documenting a blog content strategy isn't by any means difficult, it does require entrepreneurs to take a long, hard look at their business and its objectives. Rest assured, however, that the hours you spend pouring over this strategy will be well worth it; in the end, you'll have an organized content creation process that not only supports the long-term growth of your business, but allows you to tap into the full potential of your creativity.

Six steps to creating a world class blog content strategy

1. Define your content KPIs

First things first: you'll need to define your content key performance indicators (KPIs). For those that need a refresher, key performance indicators are quantifiable measures that help companies gauge how effectively they are meeting their key business objectives.

There are two types of KPIs that content marketers commonly track: evidence-based KPIs (i.e. number of organic visitors, e-mail newsletter signups, sale conversions) and attitudinal KPIs (i.e. customer satisfaction scores). Evidence-based KPIs relate to your company's overall performance while attitudinal KPIs relate to how people perceive and feel about your brand.

When it comes to your blog content strategy, the vast majority of your KPIs should be evidence-based. While this doesn't mean that every single one of your blog posts have to be intended to drive sales (sometimes, it's worth posting an article that aims to build your brand's image), you should ensure that the content you create is geared around your business' key objectives from day one.

Your blog content cannot live outside your business' KPIs.

2. Define your audience(s)

Once you've established your content KPIs (aka "why" you make content), you'll need to more accurately define your target audience. While you probably already have a general understanding of who your target audience is, you should strive to have an intimate understanding of them.

You can do so by developing customer personas — fictional characters that belong to your target audience. It's important that you get extremely detailed here. How old are they? Are they married? What are their motivations and frustrations? Creating detailed customer personas will allow you to better understand the kind of content your target audience is looking for.

While granularity is the name of the game when it comes to creating customer personas, keep the number of personas between 1 - 5. Any more is likely overkill.

3. Brainstorm search intents and redefine them as keyword phrases

This is where the magic happens. Here, content marketers brainstorm search intents and conduct keyword research to find out what kind of content their audience is searching for, and how they can provide them with it. For example, if your target customer is a novice Western Shogi player, one of their search intents may be to learn how to play Shogi. When redefined as a keyword phrase, their search might be "best way to learn Shogi for Westerners" or "English Shogi tips."

While search intents tend to evolve over time, it's best to make your content as timeless as possible. Evergreen content always outperforms the latter.

4. Analyze the competiton

No matter how niche your market is, chances are you have competitors. In order to improve the chances of getting your content to rank in Google, use a tool like Ahrefs to see what keyword phrases competing blogs are ranking for. If you find the topic you were planning to write about is hotly contested, try rephrasing it in a different — but still search friendly — way.

5. Create a 1-month content schedule

At the end of each month, begin the content creation process anew and brainstorm blog topic ideas for the following month. This ensures that you're creating content regularly, not just when you feel inspired.

6. Review performance monthly, but be patient

Although you should be keeping an eye on how your content performs throughout the months (i.e. page views, average session length, bounce rates), remember to be patient — it can take 6 - 8 months of regular, high-quality content creation to gain traction in Google.

Every great blog has a strategy behind it

While it requires a certain level of committment, a well crafted blog content strategy can bring order to the chaos of content creation — enabling marketers to create better content and meet mission critical KPIs.

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