A version of this article first appeared on Spin Sucks.
It doesn’t matter whether a company is B2B, B2C, local, or global—they often fall prey to similar assumptions about content creation.
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For example, most organizations believe they need to have a blog where they constantly churn out articles in order to be successful. This mentality is understandable. Blogs have become incredibly popular in the last decade. And between conferences and conversations with other marketers, we’re inundated with reminders that everyone—brands, friends, celebrities—has a blog.
But this saturation also makes it challenging to be found in the SERPs and stand apart from your competition. Instead of relying on quantity-focused blog posts, you need to shift your thinking to the type of content that’s best for your users.
Below are few tactics to help you create strategic, purposeful content that can live in many places throughout your website.
Conduct User Research
Having a deep understanding of your users is a vital part of creating an effective content strategy. If you haven’t already, set aside time to do user research. Many people have the misconception that user research is expensive and time-consuming. It certainly can be, but that’s not always the case.
I am a big proponent of getting on the phone with customers, giving them gift cards for participating in surveys, or visiting with them in-person. This is a great way to get to know your target demographic and learn first-hand what they think of your brand.
Pro tip: You won’t know what users want if you don’t ask. Conduct user research and make those insights part of your content strategy moving forward.
Discern what kind of content users prefer, what they dislike, and then make those insights part of your strategy moving forward. But remember, user expectations change with time.
Maybe your mobile app failed to include content important to your users. And ultimately, that aesthetically pleasing design everyone was proud of didn’t result in more conversions. You won’t know what users want if you don’t ask.
Help Users Find Your Content
Another key factor in developing a blog or an overall content strategy is SEO. Purposeful content or otherwise, your customers need to be able to find it. And without at least a basic understanding of Google algorithms, you won’t be able to help them.
I often work with clients who publish a lot of broad, generic content on their blogs and expect it to rank among top-tier websites automatically. And when it doesn’t, they’re confused and frustrated. So I encourage them to dive more deeply into their industry and figure out which niche topics have low keyword volume and low difficulty. Even though these topics see less coverage, it doesn’t mean they’re less relevant. Rather than trying to be a catchall, aim to be the place where consumers know they’ll find specific answers addressing real questions.
Rather than trying to be a catchall, aim to be the place where consumers know they’ll find specific answers addressing real questions.
It’s important to take Google updates into account when creating content. Google now makes quality content available to searchers without requiring them to leave the search engine. Brands that best answer user questions and incorporate relevant keywords in rich, unique content are rewarded with featured snippets. And the more general topics are lost among larger competitors.
Now, with the growing popularity of Alexa, Siri, and similar household assistants, voice recognition technology is advancing to a degree which allows it to replace online search altogether. A customer may ask Alexa a question while they’re cooking dinner or doing other tasks. Instead of looking at search results and deciding where to click for an answer, the device responds directly.
Some customers still value the insight of a full blog post, but making sure you have succinct answers to questions is much more important than previously.
Conduct an Audit
If you’re pushing out content and have no idea why it is or isn’t working, you should conduct a content audit. First, pull a full inventory of all the content produced. Next, look at what performs well, what customers engage with, and dig into why. You’ll also want to look at the other side. Are there patterns in the data that shed light on why certain types of content don’t perform well or what you should focus on instead?
For example, you might determine you’re publishing five blog posts a month, but people spend more time in the resources section of your website. This can indicate you should focus your efforts there instead.
Dig into the data to discover patterns in the type and scope of content that performs best with your audience.
If you realize your blog has a lot of generic content users can get anywhere, consider paring down your posts and refreshing old content to make it more relevant. Shorten long-form pieces, add infographics and other visually interesting elements to break up long blocks of content, and take a less-is-more approach to the new posts you create.
Identify the value they’ll bring to your blog. And make sure you’re creating high-quality content that’s going to be impactful. Map this to keyword research and find gaps in your content. What keywords are you not targeting that you should be? How can you use that knowledge to refresh these posts?
Create Content Hubs
If you want to build authority around a particular topic, consider creating a content hub. Content hubs are structures of content connected through links, with all authority signals pointing toward a focus page.
Let’s say you sell dog accessories and want to rank for “dog collars.” Instead of focusing solely on creating blog content about dogs, create a main hub for “dog collars.” Then create blog content, evergreen pages, social media posts, and other types of content that all link back to your central hub page. This sends a signal to Google that you’re an authority on dog collars.
Content hubs show Google you’re an expert on a topic and improve your overall UX so users can find the content they need to convert.
Content hubs are also excellent for UX. Instead of keeping resources all in one place, users can easily move throughout the hub and find the content they need in order to convert. Make it as easy as possible for people to find what they’re looking for, and you’ll likely see an increase in time on site and conversions.
The creation of impactful, beneficial, and purposeful content can be an ongoing challenge for any company and must start with a strategic content planning process. Publishing as much content as possible is no longer the best strategy for brands. Now more than ever, users are expecting a superior experience and more personalized, intuitive content.
Less Is Oftentimes More
Blogs are still a wonderful tool for interacting with customers, answering questions, and providing helpful insights, but they aren’t your only option. Like everything else, your blog strategy can’t remain static. And by shifting it to a less-is-more approach, your brand has the potential to improve the customer experience significantly.
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