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If you’re just taking your first dip into the waters of content marketing, odds are it all seems a bit overwhelming. We’ve all been there at one point or another, and having a step-by-step process to make sure you’re doing all the essentials to get the most out of your content marketing can make all the difference.
Let’s dive in and see how you can improve your content marketing, in just 5 simple steps.
1. Planning and SEO research
Writing can feel daunting to even the most skilled content creators. That’s why it’s so important that you start each and every content piece with thorough planning and SEO research.
1. Use tools like Ubersuggest, Quora, and Answer the Public
As appealing as a topic might seem to you, remember: you’re not writing for yourself, but your readers. So always keep your audience in mind and look up the highly searched topics that are most important to your target reader.
Leverage tools like Ubersuggest, Quora, and Answer the Public to see what people are predominantly looking for in your niche and find your next topic.
There’s been a lot of buzz around Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest lately, and we have to admit it’s one of our go-to tools too. You can start with a broad topic idea and get tons of valuable insights in return, including:
- broad keyword suggestions
- the top articles ranking for that particular keyword
- lots of content ideas based on high ranking pages.
You can also peek into your competitor’s content marketing and see what their top-ranked pages are and what keywords work for them.
Quora and Answer the Public are two other excellent places to see what readers are searching for in your particular niche. You can type in a keyword or topic you have in mind, and see people’s questions around it.
2. Niche down on longtail keywords
You might start your SEO research with a broad topic in mind, but you’re unlikely to rank for high-level keywords early on, so you need to think more broadly.
Instead of trying to rank for a keyword like “content marketing” for example, which has nearly 3 billion results, try to find a smaller niche where the search volume is high , but the competition is relatively low.
3. Make sure each post has clear keywords attached to it
Keyword research should be the starting point of every blog post you write. Not only will it help you with SEO, but it will also keep you focused on the topic at hand and help you create more valuable, on-point content.
4. Create a watertight outline
We’ve all made this rookie mistake at some point – have a topic in mind and then just start writing, only to pause hundreds of words later to see that you’ve drifted from the original idea.
Start by creating a sound outline to help you put your thoughts and ideas in order before your fingers start typing. Make it as detailed as possible and include SEO-optimized headings and subsections.
As bulletproof as your content marketing strategy may be, it will live and die by how good the actual writing is. Here's an easy-to-follow checklist that will take your content from good to great once implemented.
1. Craft an effective headline
Your content piece might be packed with value, but how do you reach the right audience when your blog post likely floats amidst 70 million new posts each month (and that’s considering WordPress users alone!)? With 8 out of 10 visitors not even reading past your headline, it’s essential that you catch their attention before they get a chance to bounce.
Crafting a strong headline is not something you’ll nail from the first try, but with enough practice, plus additional research into some of the headline best practices, you'll turn into a headline master in no time.
Whenever you find yourself in need of a creative nudge, or you can’t find the time in the day to craft your headline copy too, our Random Headline Generator will give you plenty of suggestions to pick from.
Optimizing for SEO starts with the headline, so remember to include your keyword phrase in your H1.
2. Add SEO-optimized subheaders to make your post scannable
We’ve already mentioned the great role headings and subsections play in structuring your content, but we wanted to take a moment to stress just how important they really are.
Take your time and revise subheaders where necessary and optimize them for SEO. Subheaders will make your post more readable and scannable, making it easier for your readers to follow along , retain information, and keep their interest and attention piqued.
Remember to organize your subheaders in H2 and H3 format and include your keyword phrase wherever it fits. Don’t force it though; make sure it flows naturally.
3. Keep paragraphs to 2-3 lines each
Nothing can make a reader lose interest faster than being in front of a massive chunk of text that seems to have no beginning and no end. Having clear headings and subsections will help, but make sure you keep your paragraphs short, too.
If you find yourself going over 100 words per paragraph, pause and re-read your text. Perhaps you’ve included several ideas that can be broken into multiple paragraphs, or maybe there’s too much fluff in your writing.
Keep each paragraph to 2-3 lines each so that your readers can quickly digest what you’re trying to say.
4. Include visuals
As content writers, we strongly believe in the power of the written word. But without visuals, even the most valuable information risks perishing in a distant corner in your reader’s mind.
Words are still the central element that tells your stories, but visuals can turn your blog posts into compelling, engaging pieces of content. It turns out, people following directions with both text and visuals do 323% better than those following directions without illustrations.
Information paired with visuals will have a much higher retention rate. Visuals will also make your content more skimmable, help highlight relevant takeaways, and make your message clearer.
5. Use bullet points and other breakers
Another trick to help your readers to move through your content more easily is to break it down into digestible chunks.
You can use bullet points or other breakers that you see fit for your particular content. Just make sure the text and white space on the screen are well-balanced.
6. Link to high-value resources
The internet is filled with average-quality content. You’ll want your reader to stumble across your content and find it reliable, trustworthy, and valuable.
You can achieve that by linking to other high-value resources that are contextually relevant to reinforce what you’re trying to say. Emphasize or analyze information from these high authority sources in your content piece to give added depth.
7. Interlink to your own content
Linking between your own content is one of the best ways to boost your on-site SEO. Try to find 5-10 relevant internal sources (and use the Pillar and Cluster methodology where you can to support this).
8. Write a meta description that includes your keywords
Right next to the title, the second element that will draw readers to your blog post is the meta description.
Take the time to write a clear and compelling meta description and remember to include your keywords. It can make the difference between a reader clicking on your link or scrolling past it.
9. Aim for blog posts between 1,500-2,000 words
When it comes to blog posts, long-form content is likely to perform better, be more comprehensive, and help you position yourself as an industry expert and thought leader in your niche.
Crafting pieces that aim toward the 2,000 words mark will also help your SEO efforts, as longer content is (usually) better perceived by Google and search engines too.
However, make sure you don’t fill the space with unnecessary fluff, just for the sake of word count.
10. Include your keyword(s) throughout the post
The days of keyword stuffing your blog posts are long gone, but using keywords where they fit is still relevant. Just make sure you include them throughout your post so that the content flows naturally, without looking forced.
3. Make it shareable
Content is born on your website, but it’s meant to live across the internet. It’s therefore vital to implement certain measures to ensure your content is highly shareable.
1. Create a visual to accompany your post
We’ve already highlighted the role visuals play in the success of your blog posts, but the benefits go beyond information retention and grabbing attention.
Create a visual that comprises the main points in your blog post in the shape of a checklist or infographic. Visuals are much more shareable, plus, infographics are insanely popular these days. According to HubSpot, infographics are the fourth most used type of content marketing.
2. Increase engagement time
The time your readers dedicate to your content matters considerably. By embedding other types of content into your blog posts, be it videos, social media posts, or shareable snippets of your blog posts, you'll increase engagement, and make it more likely for your readers to share your content.
The work of a content marketer on a blog post continues beyond your website. Writing blog posts that are packed with relevant information and bring value is key, but if no one ever reads them, their success ends before they get a chance to thrive.
Promotion is vital in content marketing, and there are various ways to do it:
1. Include your post in your newsletter
One of the easiest ways to get eyes on your content is through your newsletter.
Once your blog post is ready, make sure you include it in your newsletter. Top tip: highlight the most relevant and interesting points from the blog post in the newsletter snippet that your subscribers see the value in clicking through to learn more.
2. Share on social platforms
Social media can be another great source of traffic and engagement, as long as you share your content on the most relevant platforms for your niche.
If you’re in the business of landscaping, for example, Twitter might not be the best place for you, but Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest can be great channels to reach your target audience.
3. Share on Quora / Medium
Publishing your content on multiple sites will help you get as much out of it as possible. Sharing the same content on sites like Medium or Linkedin is possible without getting penalized by search engines, so long as you remember to use a canonical link or use a relevant import tool.
Quora is another website with a fast-growing, actively engaged audience. It can be a great tool in connecting you and the knowledge you have in your niche with those in search of answers.
Quora allows its users to start a personal blog where you can republish your content and bring some additional buzz to your blog posts.
4. Reach out to other relevant sites
Don’t shy away from reaching out to other websites, big or small, as long as they’re relevant sources in your niche. The ultimate goal is to put your content out there and share it as much as possible.
5. Ongoing optimization
A content marketer’s job is never done, just like your content is never “done.” Go back over it every few months and make sure it is still relevant.
Update the text where needed, add pertinent information, or take out what’s no longer accurate or current.
There you have it - a simple, but insanely effective content marketing checklist to bolster your content marketing efforts.
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