Content strategy. There’s a good chance that phrase sends a chill down your spine. And if it doesn’t, I’m guessing that you’ve never had to tether yourself to a content creation calendar. Those things can be brutal.
Content strategy is also a broad topic. There are plenty of articles that will tell you about the high level strategy of content creation. This isn’t really that article. As somebody who knows what it’s like to develop regular new content what interests me is how can I develop the best content that will be seen by the most people in the least amount of time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love writing about the topics here on BUX and learning about new things and talking them over with Newman and Jenna. But I live in the real world too where hours slip away and the deadline for the next article always looms.
As we near 100 weeks of doing this it’s worth asking the question, are we using our time wisely? Are we writing articles that people want to read? And can we do better?
This is more than navel gazing. This is a question of how we entrepreneurs spend our time. If time is the only resource we can’t get back, what sense does it make to write articles that waste our time and don’t get read?
What we’re really looking for are eyeballs. We want people to read our content. And that means creating content that gets visibility.
So who makes up your main audience? New or returning visitors? It’s almost never 50/50. So which is it?
If you don’t know the answer because you haven’t started your website yet, then you can figure it out by answering this one question. Will you be publishing new content on a daily basis?
If not, you’re going to be writing for Google and social. If you’re creating daily content, you should still write for Google and social but you can augment those articles with other, less viral and search-friendly content.
When you’re only creating content a few days a week, your repeat visitors will either bookmark you and check back periodically, follow you socially and read the links they find interesting, or will subscribe to your RSS feed. For the rest of your traffic, you’re going to have to look to Google.
I know that isn’t exactly a new idea: writing content for search engines, but follow me here because what we’re looking for here isn’t how to game Google. It’s to identify a method of writing that makes writing articles faster, makes them easier to read, and is ideal for passing around on social networks and being found in search engines.
Content Strategy By the Numbers
Follow these few rules and you’ll be on your way:
1. Look for the right topic. If you use Yoast for WordPress to help you with your SEO, you already know that they optimize for a phrase. So consider the phrase that you want to build your article around. Use online tools such as Google Trends to spend a few minutes looking at the traffic for different topics. Consider what’s hot in your community or part of the Twitterverse. Your community will lead you to some good and interesting topics. But don’t get bogged down looking for the keyword phrase. You’re not trying to find the phrase with the highest visibility, you’re trying to find a phrase with good visibility. So each topic is relative. Come up with a few phrases and plug them into Google Trends. By doing so you’ll get a better idea of what you should write about.
2. Have a point and know it before you write your article. This will focus your writing efforts and make it easier to write out your idea completely but succinctly.
3. Put the main point in your headline and turn the saturation up to 11 by using impactful words. Most people will decide whether or not to read your article based on the title, so make one that’s true to your article but that you really can’t resist clicking. If you want examples of titles that work, check out cracked.com. Their headlines are always amazing.
4. Keep your article to around 600 words or whatever’s appropriate. Sometimes an article has to be long, like last week’s article about former JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson. But I’d also argue that that article doesn’t fit our Google strategy well. It does better for our returning visitors and as a long-tail article. If you do a list article, like Cracked, you’re going to easily go over 600 words too, so consider that a guideline, not a commandment.
That’s it. Just be specific, keep it relatively brief, and have an eye-catching title. That will serve you well for both Google and social and will minimize the amount of time you have to spend writing in order to get ever increasing numbers of people to your website.