With a HubSpot report suggesting marketers who prioritise blogging efforts are 13 times more likely to see positive ROI in 2019, it’s fair to say content is still king.
Your on-site content is a hugely powerful tool for attracting and converting customers, especially as consumers increasingly expect more value from brands than just their product alone.
If you can nail a content strategy that delights and informs consumers at the right time, it won’t be long until they’re your customers.
Put your audience first
One of the biggest pitfalls for brands when creating content is narcissism; jumping to talk about themselves without considering the audience.
When brainstorming your key content focuses, step inside your customer’s shoes. Go beyond the product or service you offer and think about the people who buy it: their interests, their questions, their pain points.
Don’t be afraid to cover topics that aren’t directly related to your business; instead, find topics your customers are interested in and find ways to refer back to your products in a relevant and helpful way.
This more holistic approach to blogging will go a long way to driving more traffic.
At this point, most of us can agree that traditional keyword targeting is old hat, but researching your keywords is still essential for content planning.
Forget targeting and stuffing, today’s keyword research is all about context and user behaviour.
Mining your keywords tool for related queries to your main keyword reveals related questions and topics that people are searching for, which you can use to inform what you should be including in your content.
Take this example from a client who sells fitted kitchens, where we used Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer tool to develop a blog content plan covering a range of kitchen design topics.
One keyword we identified with significant volume was ‘small kitchen ideas’; using this as the overarching topic of the blog, we then drilled down into related keywords to find specific topics people were searching for.
These related terms gave us a whole host of ideas about what we should cover in our content, with certainty that we’re answering the questions users are actually asking. And while we still avoid any keyword stuffing, mentions of the terms are likely to happen naturally.
We can also get a sense for what terms customers are searching at different stages in their buying journey, to cover all stages of the funnel.
Using this approach for one of our ecommerce brands, we saw:
- 99% increase in organic traffic
- 191% increase in traffic to category pages
- 32% increase in organic revenue
Use a hub & spoke approach
Let’s talk interlinking! Not only do relevant internal links provide a good user experience for visitors, but they also make it easier for Google’s web crawler to discover your new content and signal to Google that the linked content is important.
If structured well from the start, your blog is a huge source of interlinking opportunity.
- Related reading: Internal Link Optimisation with TIPR
We often adopt a ‘hub and spoke’ approach for content planning - identifying a large overarching topic that touches on many subtopics in a ‘hub’ post, and links to more long-form, detailed ‘spoke’ content on each sub-topic.
Imagine you’re a supermarket brand doing a range of content on how to cook steak. We might start with a ‘hub’ piece on steak briefly outlining the different cuts, cooking methods and equipment or ingredients needed, and link to more detailed ‘spoke’ posts on how to cook different cuts, etc.
Set yourself apart
With an estimated 4.4 million blog posts published every day, competition is stiff to climb to the top of page 1.
Your chance of ranking highly will increase significantly if you already have a powerful domain, but even so, you should ensure that your content is the most useful it can be, offering something new and different, or ideally both!
Ahrefs’ Keyword Explorer SERPS overview will show what pages are currently on page 1, and any other content such as knowledge cards, image packs and ads.
We highly recommend analysing the SERP of a target topic to see what kind of content Google values. If Google’s ranking 10 commercial results, your informational content isn’t going to stand much of a chance…
There’s no rule for how long content should be, but you’ll stand a better chance of ranking with one long-form post that covers all parts of a topic, rather than multiple pieces of thin content.
It’s worth auditing your existing content to see if there are any blogs you can merge into one larger post.
Optimise for featured snippets
For those not in the know, a featured snippet is a summarised answer to a search query taken from a web page, presented in a large box above the search listings. As the most eye-catching listing on a SERP, it’s a pretty great place to be.
While almost all featured snippets are taken from content in the top ten, Google doesn’t automatically use the first place listing for a featured snippet, so how do you get there?
You can optimise for featured snippets by including the search query as a heading and answering directly below in a short paragraph, or formatting your answer in steps with <ol> or <ul> list tags.
Optimising for featured snippets will also give you a head start in voice search, as more than 40% of all voice search answers come from featured snippets.
- Related reading: How to Find and Steal Featured Snippets (to Get More Search Traffic)
Make it readable
Not everyone would publicly admit to this, but it turns out 43% of people only skim read blog posts. When information is everywhere and time is a precious commodity, users want their questions answered fast, and if you don’t deliver, they’ll quickly bounce to somewhere else.
Formatting is key in making your content easily digestible; keep paragraphs short, use headings and bullet points where possible, and break up copy with images, videos or visualisations.
The more engaging and skimmable your content, the more likely users are to stay on the page and keep scrolling.
Don’t let them go
So, you’ve got your content ranking, persuaded people to click through, and got them scrolling down the page - now what?
Remember to give readers an actionable next step, whether it be more content, product suggestions, or a purchase CTA.
On a basic level, text links can suffice for this, but it’s advisable to have more visually appealing CTAs.
Consider adding a ‘Recommended’ panel of other relevant content with images and headlines, or a button to link to a product or form.
Shout about it
Ever heard the proverb about the tree falling in the forest?
The same is true of content; even the most useful blog in the world might never be found if you don’t promote it. Make sure your content, social and email teams are all aligned with your content strategy, so you can promote relevant content at the right times.
Having high quality content to share with your audience also helps to build your brand and drive more traffic and engagement, which adds extra value to your efforts. By creating clickable content you can help boost performance in other areas, and make your content budget ROI even stronger.
You could also consider an outreach strategy to experts and influencers in your industry, who might want to link to your content.
Consider creating a visual asset to offer such as an infographic or video, to add extra value and encourage backlinking.