13 Actionable Tips to Create A Killer Content Strategy

blog content strategy leannewong
April 2, 2018 Leanne Wong 21 Comments

Bonus Content: Download my Free Content Strategy Templates that are jam-packed with some of my best blogging tips and start creating impactful content today!

We’ve heard it – content is king.

But what makes content, GREAT?

First rule: content that sticks. 

It makes you go, “this is great, I’m coming back for more.” or “love this content, lets check out their other products.”

That’s the outcome of content that sticks. Your readers become your fans and become your customers.

Businesses that grasp this powerful content strategy can turn ice cold traffic into their most loyal fans.

Second rule: content that has high search traffic potential.

Content on the web is unlike content in a bookstore.

You are not writing for yourself, you are writing for an audience. Not just any audience, but a sizeable enough audience that is looking for that information you are producing.

Not validating the search demand of the topic you’re writing about is very costly.

You might risk spending days or even months writing about something nobody is searching for.

Topics that have high search traffic potential are poised to attract huge traffic to your site.

This is determined by how much search demand your niche has, and the scope of your keyword universe.

One of the lessons I teach in SEO Demystified walks you through how to find a niche with search demand, and the exact steps to write content that ranks well on Google.

What I’d like to do today is share a list of content ideas that weaves in SEO concepts, storytelling and blogging tips in one massive guide.
second-rule-seo
With that, here are the strategies you’ll learn today:

Why SEO is key to consistent traffic

As a blogger or small business, we need to deliberately put our content in front of people for it to be seen.

And there are several ways to do this: (i) paid through ads or sponsored posts, (ii) community participation through forums and social groups, (iii) investing in SEO and ranking on Google organically.

Out of the three options, we pick the 3rd.

Let me explain why.

Usually you’ll notice that shortly after publishing your articles, there’s a sudden increase in traffic – The Spike of Hope. Such traffic spikes happen after a new piece of content is published and you promote it across your email list and social platforms. (options 1 & 2).

But all this traffic to your blog soon fades away when you stop promoting it. This happens when there isn’t a pipeline of referral traffic that’s consistently driven back to your site.

Or as Rand Fishkin first coined the term – ‘The Flatline of Nope’.

traffic flatline of nope marketing content leanne

This is where the advice, “keep publishing new content regularly” comes from. If you keep publishing and promoting new articles, your traffic would seem to grow.

But this means as soon as you stop publishing new content and promoting it, the traffic results you’ve acquired wouldn’t last. It’s almost as if you have to be actively hustling for traffic everyday if you want to maintain constant growth.

But this shouldn’t be the case, or at least – it’s not the goal.

So the question is, how do you maintain consistent traffic to your blog without bleeding out (in paid ads) every month?

The answer: SEO.

The traffic from organic search is incredibly valuable for two reasons: (i) billions of search queries are made on Google everyday and (ii) websites that rank highly in organic search results are able to drive massive free, natural traffic to their site consistently.

This makes organic search traffic one of the most sustainable sources of traffic for your blog and business.

First Rule: Create content that sticks.

Why do some ideas stick and others don’t?

In the book, Made to Stick, Chip Heath defined stickiness as;

Sticky ideas are understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact – they change your audience’s opinions or behaviour.

Think about these two statements:

“Increase return on invested capital.”

“Put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade.” – John F. Kennedy, 1961. 

Which one do you remember more? Probably the second.

In the digital age, where information is consumed at anywhere, anytime, creating stories that stick in the minds of our audience will keep them coming back.

There’s plenty of great articles about SEO copywriting, blog posts optimized for search engines, but at the heart of content that ranks well on search results, is helpful content.

Tip #1: Content that sticks is ultimately, helpful content.

What’s your blog’s purpose and who is it writing for?

Sometimes its hard to set clear parameters for your blog’s purpose, because blogging is essentially a creative and boundless process (i agree), but!

If your product/service serves everyone, then it serves no one.

Try to ask these 2 questions when you’re brainstorming your next piece of content:

  • Who do you want to help? Try to visualise an actual person, with a profile – age, occupation, fears, etc.
  • What is the area they are struggling with that you believe you can help?

For example, let’s say the target group I want to help is women and the topic area is yoga. Break this down further to get more specific answers.

You’re not helping just any group of women, but working women. And you’re not just helping them plan yoga exercises, but yoga workouts in a corporate work environment. Now we’ve got a very specific direction for our content angle.

Use this statement to inject specific answers for your blog’s purpose:

I educate/entertain/inspire who want to [           ]. I show [           ] how [           ] by [           ].

The key is to make your blog purpose statement simple and compact.

Remove complex details and stick to the simple – try to fix 1-2 issues in your content. Then, dive deep.

The key here is to be thorough and answer all possible questions a user might have regarding the topic you’re writing about.

If you’re using Yoast plugin for WordPress, then check out the Flesch Reading Ease Score. So general rule of thumb is to write content that is easily understood – write as if you’re writing for an 11-year old!

Tip #2: Use your blog as a change enabler

LEANNE WONG BLOGGING KEYWORDS CONTENT SRATEGY

The end goal of any reader is to improve their current situation. Your blog helps to enable this change, which can be a solution to a tangible problem or just to ease their fears.

Any search query on Google is someone trying to solve a problem.

Think about your blog as their answer to a problem, better yet – your blog should help empower them.

For example, my audience are small businesses with lean budgets, and they’re struggling with low rankings on search engines. By teaching them practical SEO with free content, they can improve their organic visibility without increasing marketing spend.

Your target audience’s ‘before’ position is the current struggle they are facing. This is where you’ll find:

  • seed keywords
  • queries of problem statements

Your target audience’s ‘after’ position is the goal of your readers, why they’ve been scouring the internet for. These are positive outcomes such as:

  • happiness / joy / confidence
  • solutions, easy fixes to a frustrating problem

Your blog is the bridge to bring your readers from their current state to a better one. Now you can approach creating content with impact.

Come up with 5 problem statements your target audience is having. Don’t guess, go out there and find out. Here’s how:

  • Physical: talk to people you already know who fit into your audience persona, ask them these specific questions:
    • “what are you currently struggling with in (topic/industry/niche)?”
    • “what methods, solutions have you tried to solve (issue in your niche)?”
    • Find out what’s not working from existing solutions and that’s where you come in.
  • Online: if you don’t already have an existing customer base to gather primary data, there are plenty of free tools in the market to research your target audience at great depth.

(i) Buzzsumo: find the most popularly shared articles in any subject matter

(ii) Ubersuggest: generate hundreds of long-tail keywords and content ideas from your main keyword/topic

(iii) AnswerThePublic: aggregated list of auto-suggest results from Google and Bing

After gathering your data, put your findings and ideas in a spreadsheet or Evernote.

Now, the next few sections will dive deeper into sticky content and how we can use conceptual frameworks with actionable blogging tactics. Let’s dive in! 🙂

Tip #3: Make your content relatable by adding ‘hooks’

A sticky content piece can multiply hooks in a particular niche or idea. – Chip Heath.

When you come up with a blog post topic, think about your potential reader’s interests and fears.

Pain is more effective than benefit.

What are the problems they are trying to solve by reading your article?

What frustrations and pains are they struggling with in the subject area you’re familiar with?

For example – I write about content strategy and blogging for businesses.

My audience struggle with producing quality content so they jump from blog to blog, from one Quora thread to the next hoping to find answers.

The goal of my blog is provide clarity and reduce confusion. So they can have a focused, clear strategy to write remarkable content for their business.

I can make my content relatable by adding ‘hooks’ that they are familiar with.

Do this by thinking about concepts that your audience are used to. Outline your blog posts with ideas and themes that they are already familiar with.

Let me give you some practical tips below.

Tip #4: Effective tactics to hook your audience in your next blog post

  • Call up generic categories in your main subject/niche
    • By calling up familiar themes about SEO, I can teach you the concept of keywords and user intent much faster than if I had mechanically listed the attributes of keyword research.
    • By calling up your understanding about cocktails, we can teach your the Mojito or Margarita much faster than if we had listed all the characteristics of a cocktail.
  • Spy on your audience to create attention-grabbing headlines
    • Join Facebook groups where your target audience are hanging out. Type in the “search this group” search bar within the group: “need help”, “question”, “recommendations for” (keep the quotation marks).
    • Use Buzzsumo to find the popular articles for your topic and monitor your audience’s comments. Use those clues to create headlines and post openers that resonate with their thoughts.

By using pre-existing content hooks, you help readers associate your content with ideas that they already care about.

Tip #5: Reel in with the problem, tease with a solution

Now that you’ve connected with your audience, take a step further by liberating their confusion/pain point with a solution.

But you need to tease them with a solution they are familiar with. People like a challenge if they can solve it, make it too complicated and it becomes a chore, huh?

Try these simple title examples:

  • X things experts don’t tell your about [your niche/subject matter]
  • What the best [            ] know about [            ] that you don’t.

familiar sticky ideas

Anyone a fan of Game of Thrones? 😉

The global blockbuster Game of Thrones was a monster hit for many years because audiences enjoyed the experience of anticipating what would come next.

Every season or episode was a dance of anticipation. The story played into viewers generic schemas of conflict over power, social class, strength, love. It then caught us off guard when any major character can be killed off.

By wrapping your content in a familiar environment, you can liberate your audience’s painpoints with more impact.

Tip #6: Start with structure, then break into creativity

Have you wondered how some blogs are unique in their own brand voice?

Content that is original and creative stands out from the crowd.

These types of content go against the grain. They reflect your unique view point and break down widely held norms in your niche.

Blogs that are able to master this technique attract millions of monthly views and consistent subscriber traffic.

Creativity starts with structure and templates.

First, work within the confines of the rules that have allowed other ideas in your niche to succeed, then invent new ideas from there.

Tip #7: Finding what works in your niche

Buzzsumo: the best free tool to find the most shared content.

  • Type in your topic and use a handy tool like Linkclump to copy all the URLs from those articles into a spreadsheet.
  • These articles have proven to work and should have a similar success pattern. Dissect their structure and create content that further adds to the conversation.
  • Take note of the title, meta description and sub-headings.

Ahrefs Content Explorer: a premium tool by Ahrefs to discover the most popular content in any topic, by organic traffic, backlinks and social shares.

  • It’s practically an all-in-one suite for content research. You can try signing up for their 7 day trial for $7 just to see the comprehensive results for your research.
  • Semrush or Spyfu: Steal your competitor’s best keywords and content that currently ranks well on Google.

 

Tip #8: Create content buckets for your reader’s journey

Your blog is a network of content pieces that belong to a specific niche, that targets a specific audience.

Creating content buckets help you organise your content pieces that helps your readers get from one point to another.

This could be getting them from their current state (problem) to a better state (solution your blog provides).

content buckets for SEO writing

 

No one can become an expert in a particular topic after reading 1 article.

You need different types of content mapped to different intents. A person visiting your site for more information might be looking for a resource article or tutorial post, whereas someone searching for a solution is more ready to make a purchase.

Having content buckets enables your blog to act as a sales funnel that turns visitors into leads and into paying customers.

But your reader gets there step by step. Through multiple blog posts and content formats, at different touch points with your blog.

Each category is a content bucket, derived from a single problem statement.

You can have up to 3-4 core content buckets. These cover major frustrations, fears and pain points in a particular topic that your audience struggles with.

Within each content bucket are smaller buckets (sub-categories) that will hold your blog posts.

BLOG content categories SEO

For example, search engine optimisation is a core content bucket on my blog.

How do you enable readers to become more proficient in this category?

Break it down further by listing sub-categories that your readers need to know such as:

  • sub-category 1: Link building strategies
  • sub-category 2: How to increase organic traffic

Next, create blog posts for each of these sub-categories.

Sub-category 1: Link Building Strategies

Blog posts:

  • 11 broken link building strategies you can try today
  • How to find guest posting opportunities in 5 simple steps
  • Should you pay for backlinks in 2018?
  • 13 ways to pitch to influencers for outreach
  • Here’s why you’re missing out on high quality inbound links

Sub-category 2: How to increase organic traffic

Blog posts:

  • 13 Actionable SEO Tips to Increase Organic Traffic
  • How to Increase Organic Traffic using Google Analytics
  • New Solutions to Increase Organic Traffic Through Localization
  • 7 “No-BS” Ways to Increase Organic SEO Traffic (with Real Case Studies)
  • SEO 101: How To Increase Organic Search Engine Traffic

The possibilities for your blog posts are endless. Once you have a content bucket to guide your blog post ideation process, you can start filling in ideas, titles, keywords and content angles that fit into the bucket.

Don’t worry if your headline is not perfect. It shouldn’t be at this point.

Just focus on churning out as many blog post ideas and scribble them down on a notebook or Evernote. Quantity is the goal here.

Finally, review those ideas you’ve listed by process of elimination. Ask yourself if those blog post ideas fit into your content bucket.

Second Rule: Create content that has high search traffic potential

Tip #9: Target the right keyword for your blog

The best keywords are able to convert visitors to customers.

It’s traffic potential lies in its ability to drive the right traffic to your website and business.

You can analyse the traffic potential of a keyword with two metrics:

  • search volume: the higher the avg. monthly search volume, the greater the search demand.
  • commercial intent: the monetization potential of a keyword.

Start with search volume of a keyword 

The best keyword research tool is from Google itself – google keyword planner.

But it is primarily used for advertising, which means you’d need paid adwords promotion running before you can get exact search volume numbers.

The free version allows you to get a range.

An alternative is Ubersuggest.

Before your conduct your research for search volume, make sure to:

  • come up with 5-10 seed keywords first.
    • brainstorm search intent and your potential customers’ micro-moments. Come up with topic ideas from here.
    • brainstorm your top 3 main content categories.
    • Once you’ve done the above, you should have a list of seed keywords to plant into keyword planner.
  • set your target location
    • your business or blog should be targeting a specific market (country).

#10. Analyse the commercial intent of keywords

Keywords with commercial intent are words and phrases buyers use to search.

When you use those keywords to get your site in front people, it’s easier to turn leads into sales.

In this section, I’ll show you how to find high-converting keywords for your business.

Bottom-Of-The-Funnel keywords fall into this category. They are users who are past the brand awareness stage and are ready to buy.

There are 3 main classes of BOFU keywords:

  • Class A: “Buy now”
    • deal
    • coupon
    • discount
    • buy
    • price
    • cost
  • Class B: “Consider Before Buying”
    • top 10
    • review
    • comparison
    • alternative to
    • affordable
  •  Class C:”Need more info”
    • free trial
    • download
    • free
    • …for free
    • …free alternative to

Use these different classes of commercial intent keywords to find those with high converting potential. But research on their search volume and competitiveness to rank.

Tip #11: Optimise your article for maximum search traffic

To optimise your article for maximum search traffic is to answer every possible question your reader might have with a single keyword.

You want your article to rank for the many different variants of the same keyword query.

A specific question can be asked in a hundred different ways. You can’t guess it all.

Let’s use the keyword “learn photography” as an example:

keyword query semantic context

The possibilities are endless!

But you can boost your chances by writing your article by being comprehensive and brainstorm semantically related keywords and possible questions your readers might ask.

A useful tool to help you find these semantic keywords is the online LSI Graph.

Of course, you’re not Prof. Xavier from the X-Men to know what people are thinking of when they enter a search query. But you can cover all your bases by writing in-depth and super relevant content that satisfies their question.

You can do this by:

  • include synonyms, keyword variations, semantic context
  • write long-form content with at least 2,000 words

Change your focus from keywords to context

When we target a keyword for an article, we think about optimising that keyword by including the exact-match phrase or keyword-stuffing it into every paragraph possible hoping we get Google’s attention.

But Google is way ahead of you. It’s technology stack is smart enough to understand relevance. It is able to determine if your article is relevant to user’s query even if your article does not contain the exact-match keyword query itself.

Useful read from Moz: What are Exact-Match Keywords

Definition: Exact-match keyword originated from Google Adwords where you can advertise on 100% specific exact-match keywords of users search query.

For example, if I search for “cheap flights to bali”:

exatch match keyword query

As you can see, airline businesses have advertised on the exact keywords that matches the search query.

This also meant that SEO previously focused heavily on inserting exact-match keywords in their content to rank well on Google.

But after the Hummingbird Algorithm update, Google could understand context and related phrases without having the exact keyword spelled out to know its relevance.

Example: 

When I search for “sushi class Singapore”, the top ranking pages on Google does not even contain the exact-match keyword for sushi class or sushi class Singapore.

Google returned the most relevant pages that answered my query such as “prepare sushi”, “sushi academy”.

It could do so because Google now understands semantic context – what the searcher wants.

seo semantic search

 

In other words, content shifted from keyword to context focus.

Beyond context, we will also look into searcher intent. If you can nail the searcher’s intent with your content, half the battle for keyword optimisation is already won.

Tip #12: Understand The Query Behind The Query

To understand searcher intent, we need to look at the why behind people’s query. Behind every search is a person trying to solve a problem.

What are they really looking to solve by googl-ing this phrase, why are they typing those words?

We can understand people’s “why” by looking at intent-based keywords. Getting this right will certainly help your blog attract relevant traffic that converts.

Let’s dive right in to find the query behind the query.

Think in the shoes of your customers by understanding your potential customers’ micro-moments.

Micro-moments are about building customer connections before they’re at the purchase stage.

Google introduced the concept of micro-moments to illuminate the changing expectations in consumer behaviour. Users are searching with intent-rich moments based on their path to purchase.

This changed keyword research frameworks and how content was mapped to conversion paths.

Nobody wakes up in the morning with a credit card in their hands.

The shift to mobile has empowered consumers to find any information they want within their fingertips. If you provide helpful content in their “I-want-to-know” moments, they’ll likely remember you during their path to purchase.

Serving up a checkout page during the “I-want-to-know” moment is an example of responding with the wrong content.

For example, somebody interested in buying a professional camera may also search for:

  • how to take landscape shots
  • best camera for night time photography
  • how to use prime lens
  • camera angles for portrait photography

These are moments your customer might be having and are perfect for researching the right keywords.

Tip #13: Use traffic building strategies to get your content seen

When we’re starting out as a new blog or small business, we have sub-zero visibility.

As is the case for most startups, think of your blog as a startup.

In its initial phases, your blog startup lives in near obscurity. To get it noticed, you need to have it placed in front of an audience larger than your own.

A brilliant article without any paid promotion, lies in an obscure corner of the internet goes unread, a fantastic movie script without a distribution deal goes unnoticed, no matter how amazing.

To get your idea and content to your audience, you have to use the power of distribution.

Do this by finding the right medium inside of your niche market who can act as your content proxy.

3 Effective Traffic Building Strategies:

(i) Guest blogging: A time-tested method to get published on another website that already has an existing audience.

(ii) Social distribution: Distribute your content in Pinterest group boards and Facebook groups.

(iii) Collaborations: Work with other bloggers and micro-influencers in your niche, by participating in roundup articles, be featured in each other’s email newsletters, work on a podcast together, etc. The possibilities are endless.

In blogging + digital age, content needs to be deliberately promoted to be seen.

There you have it, my entire guide to creating sticky content and getting viral, repeat traffic. What do you think?

Leave your comments below!

21 People reacted on this

  1. Hello there.
    Good to read. In my own opinion, guest post on sites like HBR, Killer Startups or Blogr can bring lots of benefits to your name as an author and boost up your online presence.
    Kindest Regards: Chris

    1. So glad to hear that, Olle! Please keep me updated on your results, would love to hear how the strategies have worked for you 🙂

  2. Wow I am still so lost on SEO after 4 years of blogging..it is so so much to understand and study…It seems by the time you write, take photos, edit, promote , site maintenance etc…there is hardly time to dive into this stuff…I know this is why my page views still suck after 4 years- even though my content is good… I need to spend some time on your site!

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Valerie! I feel you, SEO is not an easy topic to grasp – so many components and technicalities make it incredibly overwhelming. But patience is key! I also have an SEO course that puts together the fundamentals of SEO and how to increase traffic in 90 days, if you’d like to check it out: https://leannewong.teachable.com/p/seo-demystified/ Keep me updated on your progress and if you have any questions please feel free to drop me a note.

  3. Wow, I love the level of detail and the specific examples! So many posts on this topic say “create great content,” but you break down what that actually means. I also like your tips about targeting reader’s pain points and understanding your reader on an intimate level. There’s one person I follow who makes YouTube videos and it’s amazing because I always feel like his videos are reading my mind!

    1. Thank you, Kate! Soooo happy you enjoyed the article (took me almost 2 weeks to write this massive piece), but it’s so worth it 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions along the way, would love to hear how the strategies have worked for you.

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