Picture this scene: You’ve come up with the perfect blog post topic or idea for a new addition to your website. So you sit down at the computer and start writing. And before you know it, you’ve been on a typing rampage for an hour and the piece is complete. But you’re probably missing one thing…
Are you sure this is what your audience wants to read? And if so, how are they going to get there?
With search engines being such an important part of people finding information in today’s world, you have to write with not only the reader in mind, but also the search engine as well. SEO (search engine optimization) is important, and you should be doing your due diligence in research before writing anything that’s going online. (For a quick recap, check out our previous post, Why SEO Can Make or Break Your Inbound Marketing Strategy.)
You need a content strategy
Okay, so even though that idea you had was brilliant, you still need to have a content strategy before you write! Actually, I’m fine with writing down all your thoughts first before you forget everything, but that just means you might be doing a little extra work.
Think about the purpose of your piece. What story is it telling? How will it help the reader? Make that clear in the headline, subheads, body copy, and any supporting visual assets. (For a refresher, see our post on content marketing and content strategy.) Then, it’s time to think about what language to include that your target audience will identify with.
Define your target keywords
Let’s consider the topic of “how to train a puppy” for this example. What does the outline of your story look like? Are you covering a list of common questions people have in regard to dog training?
Think of a list of words and phrases people might associate with or wonder about the topic and write those down (tip: be sure to consider synonyms and related questions!). The next step is to back up that list with research.
Find out what people are searching for
Type your topic, and variations of that topic, into Google and look for similar pieces. This might include phrases such as “how to train a puppy,” “training a puppy,” and “train my puppy.” What’s on page one of the search engine result pages (SERPs)? What else are people searching for?
When you’re looking for related terms, pay attention to long tail keywords. These are phrases that are typically two or more words and tend to be conversational. In this step, you want to find out what other related terms people are searching for. Your keyword research might turn up the following phrases:
- facts on how to train a puppy
- how and when to crate train a puppy
- how can I train my puppy to walk on a leash
- how do you train a puppy not to bark
- how do you train a puppy to sit
- how long to kennel train a puppy
- how to crate train a puppy
- how to train a puppy heel
- tips on how to train a puppy
- videos on how to train a puppy
Use tools like Keyword.io and Ubersuggest to find related keywords to your topic. Start with a short list of related keywords and find ways to incorporate them into your writing. This might mean your original topic or story could shift a little—but that’s okay! You might even find you have enough content to extend your piece into a series, or enhance it with a spin-off infographic or video...or perhaps turn it into a different type of content altogether.
Be sure to keep a list of running ideas and keyword research; your work will help inform future content ideas.
It’s not over...even after you hit “publish”
Don’t stop once you publish your content! It’s important to review analytics and understand how your piece is performing. You may want to make adjustments if you’re not getting the results you want. Keep your content fresh, especially if it’s performing well.
So if that blog post about training a puppy goes live without a video, but you decide to shoot one, add it in! It’s always a good idea to find ways to support your content with visuals that can be shared across a number of channels.
Oh, in addition to optimizing the content once you do hit publish, it’s time to start on your next topic! 😉