Blog Content Strategy

Despite peak buzz twenty years ago (per the image above), blogs have continued to demonstrate value to brands, particularly in creating impact in the realm of search engine optimization (SEO). When coupled with strategic keyword research and competent copywriting and optimization, blog posts have tremendous potential as an anchor to a brand’s content marketing strategy. This article outlines best practices that will empower your blog and related content strategies that enhance your brand’s visibility, credibility, and revenue.

Content marketing leverages various digital assets such as texts, images, audios, and videos to captivate and retain a (theoretically) well-defined audience. Rather than intrusive advertising, content marketing focuses on delivering value to consumers through entertaining and/or informative content. The highest life-form of content online is video, which continues to grow in popularity and impact. According to Allied Market Research, the global content marketing market size was valued at $413.2 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $2 trillion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 16.9% from 2023 to 2032. As a growing discipline, content marketing has become an essential component of digital sales and marketing programs.

Content Marketing Best Practices
With the growing adoption of generative artificial intelligence (GAI), it is tempting to lean heavily on platforms like ChatGPT to rapidly create content for your website or blog. Unfortunately, the temptation can be problematic, as Google recently updated their ranking system to penalize low quality (including GAI-based content). The March update aimed to reduce low-quality, unoriginal content in search results by 40 percent and this is likely only one of many steps search engines will take to mitigate abuse of GAI to generate content. The best way to stand out in a post-GAI world is to create unique, compelling content with the help of thought leaders and talented copywriters. Below are ten best practices to maximize the impact of your content strategy, with a focus on your blog.

Understand Your Audience
Clearly define who your target audience is so you can tailor content accordingly. Identify their interests, problems, and needs. Research your target audience, competitors, and related topics to inform your content. Platforms like SparkToro can shed additional light on existing or new audiences on which to focus future content. When it comes to driving brand awareness and preference for your products or services via blog content, I recommend prioritizing products or services with the greatest margin, highest volume, or largest growth potential first.

Define Goals and Set the Proper Tone
Before launching a blog, it is essential to understand your business, sales, and marketing goals, then distilling a content strategy accordingly. Common objectives for blog content strategy include an increase visibility and brand awareness in organic search for desirable phrases, increasing website traffic from blog posts and generating incremental qualified leads and/or new customers. Your brand values, and company culture should determine the voice of your blog and maintain consistency over time, regardless of the number of contributors.

Create an Editorial Calendar
To maximize efficiency and consistency over time, create a content calendar. Key elements to include in the content calendar include blog post topic, title, target audience, core keyword(s), content highlights, call-to-action, author, and deadline. Set a posting schedule, ranging from one to four times a month. To increase impact, expand your calendar to include optimization elements (title tag, meta description, and schema markup) as well as a social promotion schedule to track posts and related traffic.

Conduct Keyword Research
Conduct thorough keyword research using tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, and GAI platforms like ChatGPT to identify relevant keywords with high search volume and low competition. Incorporate relevant keywords organically into your content naturally, avoiding over-use which can create red flags for search engines (and humans). Utilize keyword research (especially GoogleTrends and BuzzSumo) to identify new or trending topics for forward-looking posts. This is easier if you have one or more thought leaders on your staff to provide insights and context.

Craft a Captivating Headline, Introduction and CTA
Ranking a blog post is only half the battle, the challenge is getting someone to click and read it. Crafting a catchy and intriguing headline helps grab attention and viewers. Use target keywords, coupled with “power words” and make it clear what the post is about and create a sense of intrigue. Begin the blog post with a compelling “hook” to capture readers’ interest and compel them to continue reading. Clearly state the purpose or benefits of reading the post early in the post, then deliver on the promise with actionable insights. Do not forget to include at least one call-to-action (CTA) within the blog post (i.e., contact us for an estimate or visit a product page). Additionally, ask for comments, shares, or subscriptions to boost reader engagement.

Focus on Quality Content (over Quantity)
Focus on creating high-quality content that solves problems, educates, informs, entertains, or inspires your readers. Writing should be clear, concise and include supporting visuals like images and videos (Google appreciates embedded media assets). Provide valuable and well-researched information and cite sources. Break content into digestible sections with subheadings. Use a conversational tone to connect with readers that resonates and demonstrates an understanding of your industry and customers. Do not cut corners with stock footage or silly clip-art. To differentiate from competition, consider using infographics, animated GIFs, and vertical videos.

Incorporate Best-Practice Formatting
Use clear headings, subheadings, and short paragraphs for light reading. Include bullet points and numbered lists to break up the body copy. This format is also favored by Google for use in the knowledge graph as rich snippets. Use an easy-to-read font and size to respect older readers. For additional SEO value and usability, link text in the blog post to relevant pages within your website, as well as external sources (which should open in new tabs), to improve website authority. Cross-link related posts within your blog and product pages, as Google values internal links to understand relationships and humans appreciate the convenience of linking to related content.

Optimize for Organic Search (SEO)
Before publishing the blog post, be sure to optimize the title tag and meta description for rank and click-throughs, respectively. Ensure proper use of headers (H1, H2, H3) for structure. This is made easier with the Yoast plugin for WordPress, for example. When optimizing the post, use compelling images, snippets, and relevant hash tags to improve visibility when shared via social media. Do not forget to leverage schema markup to maximize rankings and inclusion in rich snippets.

Promote Regularly
Actively promote your blog posts on your home page, via email newsletters and online communities. Leverage social media by sharing blog posts and engaging others within your industry niche. Participate actively in discussion forums (i.e., Quora and Reddit) related to your industry to gain visibility by including a link to your blog post, when appropriate. Consider repurposing content into different formats like turning blog posts into videos and related visuals and vice versa. Remind blog readers to subscribe to the blog feed and/or monthly newsletter to build a reader-base. The blog itself should also be promoted throughout the web, particularly to industry websites, forums, and publications to gain bookmarks and subscribers. To gain traction quickly, consider developing an ad campaign on Google and Meta to drive traffic, readers, and subscribers.

Analyze and Optimize
To maximize the impact of your content marketing efforts, measure and optimize current and future assets. Depending on your content marketing objectives, regularly track and act on insights monthly. Utilize Google Search Console to identify top ranking blog posts in search engines and Google Analytics to identify top performing blog pages (including traffic, time-on-site and conversions). Do not forget to analyze GA4’s keyword data to identify trending topics currently driving visitors to inform and refine future content. Also read comments and track shares or subscriber growth, as available.

By following these steps, you can create a compelling and highly visible blog post that resonates with your audience and attracts new readers. Remember, consistency and quality are key to building a successful content marketing strategy, with your blog as the foundation.

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