The 8-Step Content Strategy For 2019 [Template Included]

The 8-Step Content Strategy For 2019 [Template Included]

The 8-Step Content Strategy For 2019

Today you’re going to learn exactly how to create a content strategy in 2019.

In fact:

This is the same approach I used to grow my blog to 392,441 visits per month:

Analytics – Sessions

Let’s get started.

Step #1: Choose a Content Topic

Your first step is to find a topic.

But not just any topic…

A topic that your target customer is interested in.

Here’s exactly how to do it:

Competitor Blogs

First, head over to a popular blog in your industry.

Backlinko – Blog

And look for posts that tend to get lots of comments and social shares.

Backlinko – SEO Strategy

For example, a while back I looked at what content performed best on the Moz blog:

Moz – Blog

And I noticed that content about “site audits” tended to do REALLY well:

Moz – SEO Audit

So I created a blog post called: “The Ultimate SEO Site Audit”.

Backlinko – SEO Site Audit

Because this post was based on a proven topic, it was a huge hit on day 1:

Backlinko – SEO Site Audit – Social

And quickly cracked the first page for my target keyword:

Google:

Pro Tip: If one of your competitors has a podcast, check out their episode list on iTunes:

iTunes – Podcast

This can reveal some killer topics that you’d be hard pressed to find any other way.

iTunes – Podcast episode

Online Communities

Online communities are GREAT for finding burning questions that your customers have.

For example, when I head over to the Paleo subreddit, I notice lots of questions about dessert:

Reddit – Paleo dessert

Why is this important?

Most people ask questions on Reddit because they couldn’t find their answer on Google.

Which means there’s a HUGE opportunity for you to swoop in and answer that question with your content.

You can follow this same process using Quora:

Quora – Paleo

If you want to scale this technique, check out Answer the Public.

Answer The Public – Paleo

It’s a free tool that hands you popular questions that people have around your topic:

Answer The Public – Paleo Questions

Pro Tip: Check out conference agendas in your industry. People are literally paying (and traveling) to see these talks. So you KNOW these topics are in high demand.

PaleoFX schedule

Ahrefs Content Explorer

Ahrefs Content Explorer is very similar to BuzzSumo.

Ahrefs – Content Explorer

You type in a keyword…

Ahrefs – Content Explorer – Search

…and get a list of content that people recently shared and linked to:

Ahrefs – Content Explorer – Results

Nice.

Your Best Content

Here’s where you double down on what works.

First, log in to Google Analytics and go to “Behavior” → “Site Content” → “Landing Pages”:

Analytics – Landing pages – Menu

This shows you which pages on your site bring in the most traffic.

Analytics – Landing pages

Then, identify what those pages have in common in terms of:

  • Format
  • Topics
  • Author
  • Writing style

Finally, outline your next piece of content based on what you find.

For example:

Last year I noticed that definitive guides brought in a ton of traffic:

Definitive guide traffic

So I decided to publish more definitive guides:

Backlinko Guides

And those new guides helped increase my blog’s traffic by 29.63% compared to the year before:

Analytics – Organic Traffic

Which leads us to…

Step #2: Find a Keyword

Now that you found a topic, it’s time to find a keyword that people use to search for that topic.

Here are 3 easy ways to do it:

QuestionDB

QuestionDB is a free keyword tool that generates lots of question-based keywords.

QuestionDB

To use it, just pop in a topic that you found in Step #1:

QuestionDB – Search

And after a second or two, you’ll get a list of untapped keyword ideas:

QuestionDB – Search results

Pretty cool.

Google and YouTube Suggest

This an old school keyword research strategy that still works GREAT.

Just type your topic into Google…

Google search:

…and jot down the terms that Google suggests.

Google Search – Suggest

And I recommend doing the same thing on YouTube:

YouTube – Search

Bing:

Bing – Search

DuckDuckGo:

DuckDuckGo – Search

And if you run an ecommerce site, Amazon:

Amazon search

Google Image Tags

This is a cool little tip that’s GREAT for finding long tail keywords.

Just search for your keyword in Google images:

Google Image Search

And take a look at the tags at the top of the search results:

Google Image Search – Tags

These tags are terms that people search for when they’re looking for information on your topic.

And all you need to do is add these tags to the end of the keyword you typed in.

For example, look at what comes up when you search for “content marketing”:

Google Search – Content Marketing

All you need to do is add these terms before or after “content marketing”:

Create long-tail keywords from Google image tags

And you have a solid list of long tail keywords to create your content around.

Step #3: Choose a Content Structure and Format

In other words, here’s where you decide if you’re going to create a:

  • Blog post
  • YouTube Video
  • Native video (for Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter)
  • Lead magnet
  • Ebook
  • Infographic
  • Podcast
  • Interactive content

The key here is to choose the format that works best for YOU.

Are you an awesome writer? Go with a blog post.

Do you shine on video? Make a video.

Or maybe you’re an amazing designer. Whip up a piece of visual content.

I think you get the idea 🙂

In fact:

You can cover the same topic using multiple different formats.

And they can all do REALLY well.

For example, a few years ago I published this guide to building backlinks:

Backlinko - Link Building

Which did GREAT.

So I made a YouTube video on that same exact topic:

And it racked up 65,541 views:

YouTube – Link Building views

The big takeaway?

There’s no “perfect” content format for any topic.

So choose a format that you can CRUSH… and move onto step #4.

Step #4: Publish Something Amazing

Let’s face it:

It’s harder than ever for your content to stand out.

According to WordPress, there are 2.49 million blog posts published every day:

There are 2.49 million blog posts published every day

It gets worse:

Even though content supply is increasing, content demand is flat.

In fact, WordPress reported that pageviews are down for the first time in 12 years:

WordPress traffic

Bottom Line?

If you want to succeed with content marketing in 2019, your content needs to be AMAZING.

Here’s how to do it:

Awesome Design

There’s no way around this:

If you want people to read and share your content, it needs to look GREAT.

Which is why I go the extra mile to use high-res screenshots:

Screenshots

Visuals:

Visuals

And custom-designed guides:

Guides

Insanely Actionable Tips and Techniques

This is important.

No matter what industry you’re in, people want information they can use right away.

For example:

When I was doing research for this post, I read a lot of posts out there about content strategy.

And they were full of fluff advice like: “Develop Content Ideas”.

But they never showed you HOW to come up with ideas.

That’s why I went the extra mile to make every step in this post super actionable:

Backlinko post sample

Real Life Examples

When it comes to content, there’s one thing I’ve found to be true almost 100% of the time:

People looooove examples.

When you hear the words “for example” your brain breathes a sigh of relief. That’s because research shows that examples make learning easier.

That’s why I include TONS of examples in every post:

Collage examples

Does adding examples take more work than simply saying, “do this”?

Sure.

Is it worth it?

Definitely.

Written By an Expert

In other words:

Publish content from people that have actually done the things they’re writing about.

Or as I like to say:

“If you want an article about how to unclog a toilet, don’t hire a freelance writer.

Hire a plumber.” ( Click to Tweet this )

For example, Nerd Fitness quickly grew to be one of the most popular blogs in the fitness space.

NerdFitness

How?

Steve wrote about his personal experience of trying different diet and workout routines:

NerdFitness – Beginner's Guide

And he filled in any gaps in his knowledge with research from nutrition experts:

NerdFitness – Beginner's Guide – Experts

Content UX

When most people think “UX”, they think “Software”.

But content has a user experience too.

For example, look at this post:

Wall of text

The text is all squished together. Which makes it REALLY hard to read.

That’s bad Content UX.

On the other hand, this post uses big font with lots of white space:

Backlinko – SEO Hub

Which makes it easy to read and skim.

That’s good Content UX.

And Content UX isn’t just for text content.

If you have a podcast, good UX is clear audio.

If you’re making a video, good UX is that video’s production value.

In short:

Make it EASY for people to consume your content… and it will perform MUCH better.

Step #5: Optimize Your Content for SEO

Next, it’s time to optimize your content around a keyword.

Specifically, you want to nail the basics of on-page SEO:

  • Include your keyword in your title tag
  • Optimize your title tag for CTR
  • Use short URLs
  • Add internal links to other pages on your site
  • Use external links
  • Format your content for readability

Here’s a video that walks you through each of these steps in detail:

Step #6: Promote Your Content

There’s no two ways around it:

If you’re serious about squeezing every last drop of value from your content, you need to actively promote it.

And when I say “promote”, I don’t mean sharing your content on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

(Even though that can help)

I’m talking about strategically sharing your content in a way that maximizes traffic, backlinks and social shares.

How?

Let’s take a look…

Email Newsletters

This is HUGE.

An email list is the #1 content promotion tool on the planet. Period.

In fact, there isn’t even a close second.

Remember:

Your subscribers are made up of people that LOVE your stuff.

In other words:

They’re people that are very likely to spread the word about your content.

That’s why I share most of my posts with my email subscribers:

Brian email

As you can see, my email doesn’t look like a stuffy corporate newsletter.

In fact, my email looks like it could be from a friend.

This is EXACTLY how you want your emails to look.

So, how did it do?

That single email generated 14,067 total visitors:

Aweber email visitors

Nice!

Content Roundups

In case you’re not familiar with them, roundups are posts that curate (or “roundup”) awesome content from the week.

The best part?

There are roundups in almost every niche.

For example, this is a roundup from the wine niche:

VineSpring - Blog

Here’s why promoting your content to link roundups works so well:

Your pitch actually makes their life easier (yes, really).

I’ll explain…

Roundup curators struggle to find content to include in their roundup.

And when you suggest your new post, you deliver awesome content on a silver platter.

Which means there’s no arm twisting required to get a link.

For example, here’s a roundup that recently linked to me:

Blogger Roundup

This short video goes into the step-by-step process:

 

Paid Content Promotion

Specifically: Facebook Boosted Posts.

I’ve spent thousands on Facebook ads over the last few months.

And the #1 lesson I learned is this:

Retargeting is LEGIT.

For example, I recently boosted this Facebook post:

Facebook post

And because I targeted people that recently visited Backlinko, I only paid 67 cents per click:

Facebook post cost

Nice.

Step #7: Track and Measure Performance

Now it’s time to see how well your content strategy is working.

The question is:

How do you know if your content “worked”?

Take a look at these key metrics:

Traffic

At the end of the day, the point of content marketing is to get more traffic.

So if your content only brings in a handful of visitors, it’s time to switch things up.

That said:

Content marketing and SEO can take time to kick in.

For example, look at the traffic numbers from the early days of Backlinko:

Analytics – Backlinko early traffic

As you can see, it took about 6 months for things to really take off.

And if I gave up early on because content “wasn’t working”, I wouldn’t have seen the huge traffic spike that got me going:

Analytics – Backlinko early traffic spike

Backlinks

Sometimes you publish content for the sole purpose of getting backlinks.

(In other words: linkbait)

For example, last year I published this voice search SEO study.

Backlinko – Voice Search

My #1 goal with that post was to get more backlinks.

So even though that post doesn’t bring in much traffic…

Analytics – Voice search traffic

…it’s been linked to 1,280 times to date:

Ahrefs – Voice Search

Including some heavy hitters (like Forbes):

Forbes – Voice search

And these backlinks help boost my rankings for all of the other pages on my site.

Backlinks to a subpage improve ranking of all other pages

Speaking of rankings…

Google Rankings

This is pretty straightforward:

If you create content designed to rank for a specific keyword, it should rank for that keyword.

If it doesn’t, then something’s off.

It could be that the keyword is too competitive.

Or it might be that you don’t have enough links.

Either way, I recommend checking your rankings once a week.

SEMrush – Traffic

Social Shares

In some niches (especially in B2C), content is sized up based on how many people share it on social media.

Conversions

ROI.

Business goals.

KPIs.

Whatever you want to call it.

Basically, you’re answering the question:

Is content helping us get more sales?

Now:

You can directly measure conversions in Google Analytics:

Analytics - Conversions

And if you see conversions moving up, it’s probably a sign that your content marketing is working.

That said:

It’s sometimes hard to track content’s indirect sales impact.

For example:

My conversions that come directly from YouTube are super low:

Analytics - Conversions – YouTube

And if I ONLY looked at Google Analytics, I’d probably say: “YouTube is a waste of time”.

But when I dig a little bit deeper, I can see that my YouTube channel is a HUGE driver of subscribers and sales.

First of all, according to YouTube Studio, my videos reach 142,000 people every month:

YouTube viewers

Do you think all of those views help my bottom line?

Of course.

But more important than that: customers cite my YouTube channel as a main reason that they decide to make a purchase:

FPV survey – YouTube channel mentions

Which tells me that my YouTube videos are paying off.

And now it’s time for our last step…

Step #8: Scale Your Content Marketing

At this point your content is bringing in more traffic, leads, and sales.

So the logical question is:

How do you scale?

Well, I DON’T recommend pumping out a million blog posts.

Yes, the goal of scaling is to publish more content. But you want to maintain the same level of quality as you scale up.

For example, I’ve only published 63 total posts on the Backlinko blog:

Backlinko – Published posts

And those 63 posts bring in 392,441 visitors every single month:

Analytics – Sessions

With that, here are three ways to scale up your content marketing efforts… without sacrificing quality.

New Content Formats

Repurposing content into different formats is the easiest way to scale.

Why?

Because you don’t need to start from scratch every time you want to publish a new blog post, podcast episode or YouTube video.

For example, this video on my channel has racked up 355,187 views to date:

So I decided to repurpose some of the tips from that video into a blog post:

Backlinko – YouTube Subscribers

And it worked!

That post now ranks #3 for my target keyword:

Google search – YouTube subscribers

And has generated 15,748 visitors in only 3 months:

Analytics – YouTube subscribers

Organizing The Content Process

In other words:

Create a process that you can use over and over again.

You can just copy the exact process in this post.

Or tweak it to fit your company.

Either way:

The more organized you are, the easier it is to create awesome content.

That’s why I recommend writing down a repeatable, step-by-step process. You also want to have an editorial calendar to help plan your upcoming content.

Scaling Quality

Scaling doesn’t always mean MORE content.

You can also “scale” content quality.

For example, a few years ago I published this search engine ranking factors study:

Backlinko – Search Engine Ranking

This was a big departure from list posts and case studies that I was used to putting out.

Not only that, but I couldn’t do it myself. I had to assemble a team.

That team included a project manager, developer, data scientist, graphic designer, multiple software companies, and more.

And it was A LOT of work for everyone involved.

In the end, the study did really well.

Not only did it result in a huge traffic spike:

Analytics – Search engine ranking

But our study has been linked to from 2,650 different domains:

Ahrefs – Search Engine Ranking

Pretty cool.

Conclusion

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Which tip from today’s post are you going to try first?

Do you want to try repurposing content into new formats?

Or maybe you’re ready to focus on Content UX.

Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.

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