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How to Start a Content Strategy

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Posted by: Gabriella Sannino

Thanks to Anthony Verre

When writing for the World Wide Web, content developers have to remember to use Internet data to write for their readers. Quite simply, writing for the Internet isn’t the same discipline as writing for print; when writing for print, for example, you don’t have search engines to consider…so how does one start a content strategy?

A client came to us and asked us to look at their web content in terms of grammar, spelling, flow, SEO, etc. Like any project, we started with a discovery; if you don’t, you’re doing your clients/yourself a disservice.

The Discovery Sheet

The discovery helps you find out where your content is and what keywords you’re currently using. It helps you incorporate a strategy and campaign built around what you already have that’s working, and what you may need to change or add.

Even if you’re doing your own SEO and content, I strongly recommend filling out a discovery sheet. If nothing else, it helps you streamline your thoughts and better focus the creation of your content development and SEO strategies.

Write out what your issues are and what you’re trying to achieve with your strategy. Write down what social media sites you may be using, whether it’s YouTube, Twitter or other site. Mark your keywords and any place you already have content. Make sure you know which articles/blogs/pages are bringing the most traffic, and which traffic stays the longest (these are your interested visitors).

Before you even put pen to paper, you have to really know your audience. You have to know what they’re looking for, what their problems are and how your information can answer their needs. You need to answer questions before creating your content strategy, such as:

  • What are my goals?
  • What are my main keywords?
  • What would I consider a success metric?

It’s imperative to focus on marketing goals and metrics. Identify your key metrics, such as ranking, traffic, reputation and/or number of social mentions. Break these areas into your highest priorities. It’s important to bring all of your priorities into a comprehensive campaign, ultimately building a brand around the content.

Creating Your Strategy

A discovery can be used for any campaign, whether it’s for a content strategy, SEO campaign, marketing campaign, what have you. However, once the discovery is done, the actual campaign creation branches off to form the steps dependent on campaign type.

Step 1: Research

The first step in any campaign is research. Know your market; know your competitors. Learn what keywords your market is using to reach your competitors, and what keywords your competitors are using to reach your market.

Step 2: Define your goal sets

Why are you creating a content strategy? What is the purpose? A few reasons might be to:

  • Increase your authority
  • Increase your site visibility
  • Increase your traffic
  • Increase your ranking

Figure out what your main goal is, then create a set of complimentary goals. For example, if your goal is to increase authority, a secondary goal may be to post an article on four different highly visible industry sites. If you’re trying to increase your traffic, your goal might be to have an article pull in 100 visits.

Step 3: Choose your online avenues

“Online avenues” are a dime a dozen; your job isn’t to use them all, but to find the best ones for your purpose. Some online avenues might be:

  • Social media sites
  • Guest blogs
  • Your blog
  • Your website
  • Article sites
  • Industry sites
  • Industry blogs
  • eNewsletters
  • Industry eNewsletters
  • About.com industry site

Step 4: Lay out your campaign structure

The campaign structure answers questions like which keywords your content will focus on during the campaign. When you create your content strategy, you should set up how often you’ll be putting out content, where you’ll be putting it, a possible range of topics per online avenue and more.

What you’ll actually be doing is creating a web of information with your site at the center. You’re creating another website, if you will, but a site where each page is hosted by another site. The more focused your content strategy is, the stronger your final result will be.

Comments (8)

  • Avatar
    Eldad Sotnick-Yogev Reply

    What a super article!! I’m going to be pointing to this for clients and the few followers I have as this is spot on for a solid strategic approach to develop a content strategy to best take advantage of a company, its goals and what the internet offers.

    Glad we met through the Dojo and will keep reading your great material.

    December 17, 2010 at 3:04 am
    • Avatar
      Gabriella Reply

      Hey Eldad thanks for dropping by. Amazing at how many great people I have met through the Dojo. Looking forward to knowing more about you! Enjoy your holidays and stay warm wherever you are in the world!

      December 17, 2010 at 5:42 am
  • Avatar
    Jerrick Reply

    It just a beginning to start a content, but 4 step would not be enough. Meta tag need to include very early to make sure that where and which meta tag to put in .

    December 26, 2010 at 11:26 pm
    • Avatar
      Gabriella Reply

      I wanted to focus on writing strategies and not so much on SEO. We have plenty of posts about meta tags and their uses. Thanks for your input.

      January 7, 2012 at 7:31 am
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    Jayna Locke Reply

    Great post, Gabriella. This is excellent advice. I very often see businesses just start posting on various social media sites without a goal or a plan. The results from a planned content strategy are almost always a far cry better. Thanks for the great insights.

    Jayna

    October 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm
    • Avatar
      Gabriella Reply

      Thanks Jayna, I’m glad you accepted my suggestion on this post over at Scoop.it – Love that place. Enjoy your week!

      October 18, 2011 at 2:55 am
  • Avatar
    Kristina Bjoran Reply

    I know I’m late to this party, but I just wanted to thank you for posting this. All too often in the content strategy world, the big names are just talking themselves in circles by saying, repeatedly, “content is important.” Or worse yet: “Content is king.”

    Ugh.

    It’s nice to see an actionable plan here, even if it’s a little vague (for obvious reasons). Thanks again!

    April 9, 2012 at 11:27 am
  • Avatar
    Estela Silva Reply

    The title of this article caught my attention. I do not speak English, I speak Spanish, however, with the Google translator … I could read and understand, its content is what I understand to speak with authority about it. There are words that do not end up saying anything, generic, is concrete, specific, knows how to communicate what he wants a “content strategy” is that sometimes we lose the north of our blog will help me focus on my goals and avoid rambling. …

    Thanks for sharing,

    April 14, 2013 at 1:24 pm

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How to Start a Content Strategy