How To Create A Blog Content Strategy & Scale Your Traffic
Blogging without a clear strategy is a bit like driving without directions. There’s a chance you’ll get to where you’re going – if you’ve been there before – but there’s also a good chance you’ll get lost.
That’s why it’s important to have a clear blog content strategy that’s documented to guide you in the right direction throughout your journey.
In this article, we’ll help you establish a unique blogging strategy to focus your efforts and scale your traffic. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is a Blog Content Strategy?
- Why You Should Be Blogging
- How to Create a Blog Content Strategy
- Monthly Blogging Process
- Characteristics of a Successful Blog Strategy
- Measuring Blog Performance
- Blogging Resources
- Is Blogging Worth It?
Let’s get started.
What Is A Blog Content Strategy?
A blog content strategy is a formal set of processes and principles that guide you through the blog creation process. It ensures blogs are consistent, resonate with your target audience, and align with your business goals. A good strategy ensures you are moving in the right direction.
Why Is It Important To Have A Blog Content Strategy?
All successful blogs have a documented strategy that guides the direction of each piece. A blog strategy will define the steps you need to take, the order in which to take them, the people and resources that need to be involved, the processes to follow, the ingredients to include along the way, the tactics to use in specific scenarios, and much much more. A strategy not only makes blogging easier but ensures better outcomes.
Importance Of Blogging
Before we get into how to create a blog content strategy, let’s first discuss why you should be blogging in the first place.
- Bring in New Traffic: Blogging drives website traffic, attracts new visitors, and expands on existing content, similar to social media and paid advertisements. It addresses new pain points, covers relevant topics, and targets keywords related to your business.
- Address Pain Points: Effective content addresses customer pain points by offering solutions and guiding them toward products or services. For instance, a blog about what to do after a power outage not only provides helpful tips and safety precautions but also leads to a potential solution – a home generator as a reliable power backup.
- Target Long-Tail Keywords: Long-tail keywords – specific phrases with three or more words – help target a niche audience with higher conversion potential. Blogs are great for targeting these keywords and providing comprehensive answers, making them an excellent way to rank for long-tail keywords.
- Establish Authority in your Industry: Blogging establishes industry authority by showcasing expertise and providing valuable insights. As you consistently contribute and gain a following, your authority and influence in the industry grow.
- Give your Organization a Voice: Blogs offer the opportunity to lend your voice to the conversation. Whether it’s a hot topic, the latest trend, a controversial issue, or evergreen questions potential customers always have – blogs are avenues for having an opinion. So, have one. Keep your customers up to date, answer their questions, offer solutions, and establish credibility and trust for your organization by creating valuable content.
How To Create A Blog Content Strategy
Now that we’ve covered what a blog content strategy is and why you need one, let’s dig into how you can create one. This follows our approach to blogging here at Intuitive Digital.
First up is to establish goals. Goals orient everything that follows. The goals you choose determine the content plan you’ll take to achieve them. For example, here are three goals and what to focus on to achieve them:
- Increase traffic: Focus on topics with high traffic potential and optimize blogs for SEO.
- Grow your following: Focus on your writing style and crafting a voice and tone that resonates.
- Increase conversions: Focus on bottom-of-the-funnel content that helps customers convert.
Whether you’re looking for more traffic, more sales, or something in between, by clearly defining what you’re looking to do, you’re able to hold yourself and your content marketing efforts accountable to those goals.
It’s also important to be specific about what you’re trying to achieve. “Increase Traffic” is a good start, but by how much? Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. and measure your efforts according to your goals.
Understand Your Target Audience
With goals set, it’s important to move on to your target audience. Conducting audience research is critical to make sure you understand what your customers care about, and what will resonate with them. From understanding your customers, you’ll be able to set up buyer personas to better guide your content marketing. When researching your audience, you’ll want to know:
- Online behaviors
- Social media use
- Information sources
- Brand perceptions
- Media consumption
In understanding this, you’ll be able to discover what their pain points are, the key questions they might have about your product, where they find their information, and even the voice and tone to write your content. Not only will audience research lead to better blogs, but it’ll also give you loads of content ideas for topics to cover.
Craft A Voice, Tone, & Style Guide
In order to resonate with your audience, your blog post needs to be written in a specific style that does two things:
- Connects with your readers
- Stays true to your brand
Voice, tone, and style guides – otherwise known as writing style guides – help you do just that. They ensure that blogs, regardless of who writes them, remain consistent.
Good copywriters are hard to find. It may take a few to really find the one for your business. You might even try your hand at writing them yourself. Whatever the case, having a style guide anchors you and prevents you from inconsistent content or straying too far from your brand voice
In your style guide, you’ll want to define:
- Tonal elements – Ex. conversational, enthusiastic, humorous, inspirational, playful, professional, sassy, witty
- Voice – Ex. extremely informal, everyday informal, business casual, business formal, journalistic
- Style – Ex. grammar, punctuation, abbreviations, slang, jargon
- Terminology – Ex. words to include or exclude, brand terms, competitor terms, vibes to give off, etc.
- Format & structure – Ex. bulleted lists, headings, paragraph length, FAQs, intro, conclusion, quotes, etc.
Your writing style guide should be a pillar of your content marketing strategy and accompany all blogging assignments to ensure consistency across writers and topics.
You’ve figured out how your writing will sound, and who you’re going to write for, now it’s time to figure out what you are going to write about. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of topics for any business to cover in blogs. The hard part is choosing which topics are the most important to prioritize with limited resources.
When finding topics, you’ll want to refer to your goals. Are you looking for something to drive conversions? That would be more bottom-of-the-funnel content. Or are you looking to increase brand awareness with more top-of-the-funnel content? Maybe you’re looking to provide informational content to grow your authority and attract backlinks. You’ll want to cover topics that are working towards your goals.
There are a number of places to find topics:
- Google SERPs: Search on Google for a few ideas and look for things like related searches, people also asked, and what’s currently ranking.
- Existing Content: Browse your current content inventory to see what you’ve covered and what the next related topic might be, or what you might be missing.
- Keyword Research: Take a few keywords and use tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to see what the volume and difficulty are, and find new terms that might connect.
- Competitors: Look at your closest competitors to see what they’ve covered in blogs. Find what you can emulate, and what they might have missed.
- Audience Insights: Refer to your audience data to see what interests, key questions, or pain points your customers might have.
When coming up with ideas, it’s important to think in terms of clusters. Blogs perform better when they support and connect to one another. The topics you cover should relate to an overall topic but cover individual subtopics.
Perform A Content Audit
As you formalize a blog strategy it’s important to account for what’s already been written. Maybe you’ve done some blogging in the past, but never had a formal content marketing strategy. It’s worth the effort to revisit your current blogs in some capacity when formalizing a blog content strategy.
A content audit might entail auditing all past blogs for quality, engagement, traffic, conversions, keyword performance, SEO-friendliness, timeliness, and more.
A content inventory might just be taking a look at existing blogs and categorizing them to ensure you don’t overlap with new topics.
The purpose of a content audit is to identify:
- What’s working and what’s not
- New opportunities for topics that haven’t been covered
- Blogs in need of minor optimizations
- Blogs in need of full rewrites
- Blogs that are out of date or rely on old information
- Related blogs that can be linked to form clusters
- Overlapping blogs that can be merged
- Poor-performing blogs that don’t add value and can be removed
A full blog content audit can take a while, depending on how big your content inventory is. Still, it’s worth it to get the full picture of what’s working, what’s not, and what you should do next.
Research Your Competition
At some stage, you’ll want to take a look at what your competition is doing. Whether to uncover new ideas or simply to see how to keep up, researching your competition can provide a wealth of knowledge and help push your blog content strategy to the next level.
There are two types of competitors when writing blogs:
- Business competitors
- Content competitors
Business competitors are those you are competing with directly for sales, leads, market share, etc. These are ones that offer the same or similar products and services, in the same target market as you and are competing for the same customers.
It’s important to audit your business competitors first as these are the ones directly affecting your business. You’ll want to keep an eye out for them to make sure you are keeping up with, if not exceeding what they are doing.
Content competitors are those competing for the same terms, keywords, and search traffic as you. Content competitors and business competitors may overlap, but not always. For example, as a small credit union, your business competitor might be another local bank, but your content competitors might be someone like Forbes or Nerdwallet.
Content competitors are important to understand as they can offer more ideas for topics to write about. They can also help you realize your potential for ranking for a given topic. For example, as a small credit union, trying to outrank high-authority sites like Forbes or Nerdwallet might not be worth it. Instead, you’ll look to find your piece of the search results through more niche terms that are lower in difficulty to give yourself a more realistic chance of ranking.
Create A Content Calendar
At this point, you’ve figured out the what, who, and how. Next is defining when you are going to create it.
Content calendars are critical for keeping a regular production cadence and achieving your blogging goals. They serve to keep you and your team accountable for creating new content and establish a plan for when you are going to create it.
Note: It’s essential to understand how long your blog process takes in order to plan your calendars accordingly.
Content calendar templates are fairly easy to find online, but also can be created in Excel or Google Sheets. The key is to outline what topics you are going to cover and when. One easy way is to take your topic research and combine it with your content calendar so that you can visualize all blog ideas for a given topic within the same document.
Follow A Monthly Blog Process
With a big-picture blogging strategy in place, now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of producing blogs on a monthly basis. In this section, we’ll discuss what that process looks like.
Create A Blog Brief
With your topic in place, you’ll want to create a brief for your writer to get started. In the brief, you should include your topic and keywords, title, outline, questions to answer, calls to action, and instructions for the writer. Google Docs is the easiest way to create a brief and share it with writers, as well as keep track of edits and comments throughout the process. Every brief should include your writing style guide and audience details for the writer to know.
Prepare An Outline
Craft an outline based on the topic you want to cover in the blog. Be specific with the subheadings and instructions for the writer in each section. A good outline will cover all the necessary subtopics to rank for the target keyword. A good way of thinking about outline sections is to pose questions for the writer to answer within that section. This steers the direction of the blog while allowing the writer to use their skills of blending the copy with the voice and tone requirements.
Use A Copywriter
Writing is hard. Just because you are an expert on the topic, does not make you a good writer on the topic. Professional copywriters are there for a reason. Although AI and the advent of chatGPT have turned the content creation world on its head, AI as a full replacement for good quality copywriters is not there yet. Copywriters can save you the time, energy, and hassle of trying to DIY your blogs only to get a subpar end product. Work with copywriter contractors or copywriting agencies to produce your blogs.
Loop In Topic Experts
Part of what Google grades quality content on is expertise. It’s the first “E” in E-E-A-T. Incorporating subject matter experts into your blogs is truly what’s going to help them stand out and rank on SERPs. It’s critical to involve experts in your process.
Before you write a piece, interview them and ask questions. Have them leave notes about a topic for the writer. Utilizing experts ensures that not only is the blog accurate, but more comprehensive because they know the ins and outs of the topic.
The trick with looping in experts is doing so in a way that is manageable for them. Often, they have other priorities than being a source for your blog post. Try to find a way to add their value without turning them into a bottleneck for content creation.
Optimize For Search Engines
Once you’ve received a draft from the writer, optimize it for SEO. No use writing an expert piece of content if it’s not going to rank. Here are some tips for things to do:
- Make sure keywords are used appropriately
- Include links to relevant content
- Optimize the title, meta description, and URL
- Add alt text for images
- Add structured data
From here, you’ll want to incorporate all feedback and suggested edits from stakeholders to get the final draft approved.
Publish & Promote
Last up is to set your blog loose into the wild. Publish your blog and be sure to promote it on your social channels. Use your audience research to figure out where you should be promoting it.
After publishing, you can also submit the URL to Google on Search Console to expedite the indexing process. Another pro tip is to go back into your other blogs that are already published and link to the freshly published post. This will help give them a little boost as they wait to rank.
Characteristics Of Successful Blogging Strategies
The details of a successful blogging strategy matter. Not all blogging strategies are the same, however, the successful ones tend to have certain things in common.
Bake SEO Into The Process
SEO needs to be involved in every step of the way. It’s not something that gets done at the end. Involve SEOs in the research phase especially, but also during outline creation, writing, editing, and publishing.
Use Visual Content
Getting creative with visuals, images, infographics, charts and graphs, custom designs, etc can be a game changer for creating more engaging blogs. Supplement your text with unique infographics or charts. Craft unique blog headers to stand out in image SERPs. Make your content more shareable with unique graphics that convey important information. It’s important to establish a process for supporting blogs with visual content.
Establish A Regular Cadence
Think of that HBO show you love. When does it get released? Are you desperately waiting for Sunday night? TV shows are content too, and episodic content performs better than sporadic content. Your content plan should establish consistency in the amount and time you publish blogs.
Think In Terms Of Topic Clusters
Forget one-off, siloed content. You need to think in terms of topic clusters. Content performs better in clusters, so that’s what you need to create. Ditch the sporadic, blogging about whatever comes to mind approach, and be more intentional about comprehensively covering a topic with multiple blog posts.
Balance National vs. Local Topics
Should local businesses care about getting traffic from halfway across the country? Our argument is yes. As “national” blogs start to rank, there’s a higher potential for traffic and backlinks than more niche local blogs. It depends on the goals and specific industry, but it may be worth it to try and get some traction with broader blogs, then hone in on local topics as your domain authority rises.
Utilize Schema Markup
Schema is the language of search engines. It conveys core details to Google in a language it understands. It is used to explicitly tell Google what your content is about and can even lead to winning rich results like FAQ drop downs which increase click-through rates. Article or BlogPosting schema should be used in combination with FAQPage schema.
Measure Blog Performance
As you create content, you’ll also want to measure its performance to make sure you are on the right track. Here you’ll want to look at metrics like:
- Organic sessions
- Engagement rate
- Time on page
- Bounce rate
- Keyword performance
- Social shares
These metrics in Google Analytics can help you understand how many visitors your blogs are receiving on a monthly basis. If they are growing or declining in traffic. How long people are staying on the page? If people are viewing other pages. If they are taking actions on the page… etc.
By measuring performance you can also identify blogs that aren’t performing to their fullest potential. For example, if you see a blog ranking in 5th position, maybe it’s time to add some additional content or FAQs to the post that might be missing. Perhaps you can change the content format to try and win a featured snippet. By allocating time to reviewing blog performance, you’ll have a clear idea of what you should keep doing, and what you should adjust.
How long do blogs take to rank?
Blogs tend to compound in traffic over time. Blogging is a long-term approach to growing traffic and it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months for a blog to start ranking. This depends on your industry, the timeliness of the topic, and your authority as a website.
Resources Required For This Blogging Strategy
To implement this blogging strategy you’ll need a few things in addition to time, expertise, and money. Here are some of the tools you might wish to use:
- Google Analytics
- Google Docs & Sheets
- Audience Research Tool
- Keyword Research Tool
- Competitor Research Tool
- Project Management Tool
- Content Calendar
In addition to tools, you’ll also need to factor in the experts. To be successful, you’ll need a copywriter, SEO expert, and subject-matter expert. The latter you may be able to handle yourself, if it’s your business or industry that you know, but the first two will likely require help.
How much does blogging cost?
In general, a copywriter for a 1,000-word article can range from $150 to $800 and depends on the copywriter’s level of expertise and the subject matter of the blog, with technical topics costing more than lifestyle or general ones.
Adding an SEO Content Strategist to handle the strategy, research, facilitation, revision, optimization, and publishing process for a single blog can range anywhere from $500 to $1500 per post, but is typically part of a monthly digital marketing retainer that involves other areas of SEO, not just content.
The cost per post tends to decrease as content production increases. The time requirement per post is a big factor in the cost of a blog and is typically impacted by the technicality of the subject matter.
Why This Blogging Strategy Is Worth It
The beauty of blog posts is that they compound over time, and when they hit the top spot, the returns you can see from a single blog post are incredible.
While it’s true not all blog posts are destined for first position, a comprehensive blogging strategy improves the chances of your content ranking dramatically.
We’ve seen returns for our partners time and time again using this strategy. With consistency and a little bit of patience, you too can make blogging worthwhile for your business.
Looking To Use This Strategy For Your Business?
Whether you’re looking to start from scratch or need help scaling content, we’ll tailor a strategy to your needs. Reach out to set up a free content consultation.