You’ve probably all heard the saying “Content is king.” It’s all over the place these days. As trite as it might be, I think it’s true. Content creation has always been important, and its importance is only growing these days as Google continues to place emphasis on user experience and searcher intent through changes like keyword (not provided) and Hummingbird.
We’re entering a new era. SEO and content marketing are continuing to converge, and the search engines are moving beyond keywords. If you’re ready to start creating content but are intimidated by the scope of the task, take a deep breath. I’ve created a list of five basic steps to help you kickstart your content marketing efforts, and I’ve given it a Beatles theme because… why not? So, roll up for the Mystery Tour and get by with a little help from your friends. Here goes:
1. “Help!” — Generate Ideas
The first step in the content creation process is coming up with ideas. This is much more easily said than done, and sometimes you just need some help (ba dum dum). If you’re struggling, there are a ton of tools and resources that can help you generate topics. Dig through the Behavior reports in Google Analytics to see which types of content are performing well and use Google Trends or Google Alerts to stay on top of the latest news and trending topics. You can also search through trending topics in Twitter to come up with inspiration for relevant content. If you’ve got a search feature on your site, mine user search data to produce content that answers your visitors’ questions. See #2 in this Kissmetrics post if you need help setting up site search tracking in Google Analytics.
2. “Eight Days a Week” — Create a Calendar
After you have a list of content ideas, you should create an editorial calendar and schedule your content. When and how often you post will be determined by a number of factors, including work schedules and when visitors interact with your site, and it will probably take some time to find a pattern that’s effective. Your calendar should be flexible, meaning that if something important comes up, you can easily bump content to make room for something else. Also, keep in mind that you should only post when you have something to say. More content ≠ better content.
3. “Paperback Writer” — Designate a Content Owner and Get to Work
Every editorial calendar should have an owner that is in charge of updating it and overseeing content production. This person is usually your primary editor or content marketer. Whomever you choose, they need to be invested in the content. This means creating, editing, and publishing as much as necessary.
4. (Don’t) “Let It Be” — Keep Working and Promoting
This step has a two-part explanation. First, when you commit to content creation, you’re committed. If you post blogs or create infographics, you need to keep doing it. Fresh content gives your brand a voice and authority, and search engines love it. Create your own content machine.
Second, when your content is live, you need to let people know it’s there. Good content does nothing for you if people don’t see it. Get on social media and post about it or link to it from your monthly newsletter. Spread the word however you can to make your new content visible.
5. “Hello, Goodbye” — Engage
Finally, use your content to engage with your blog readers, social media followers, and site visitors. Talk with these people, not at them. Encourage commenting on blog posts and respond when you receive them, ask questions on social media, or start a contest. You’ll be amazed at how content can build a community around your brand.
Bonus Track: The Long and Winding Road
Above all else, it’s important to realize that content creation is a process. It requires thought and strategy, time and resources, and a serious commitment. Returns can be slow, and that can sometimes be frustrating. You might not see a spike in traffic or engagement tomorrow, but you probably will a month or two from now. Nothing good in life (or content marketing) comes easily, and it will take time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. With a little persistence, though, your content will pay off in improved visibility, a stronger community, and better engagement with your brand.
There you have it: my Magical Mystery Tour of content creation basics. If you have a question or want to share some insights from your own content process (or if I left out your favorite Beatles song), please let me know in the comments!