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5 Simple Steps to an Effective Content Strategy

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As a creators, you will most likely run a personal blog or website. You may be active on YouTube or Instagram. Your audience loves what you do and you see more and more followers and subscribers on your accounts. But as a creator, you also want to see those fans coming to your website. This is the place where you can take full control of the whole user experience. You can build the best possible place to interact with you and your brand.
Maybe you already have a profitable website, and you’d like to get more visitors. You need to start building an effective content strategy. This way, you keep your current readers close and bring in new audiences.  
High-quality content encourages people to come back to your blog for accurate answers. Also, it helps you rank higher in search engines, as Google’s artificial intelligence tools are now able to identify relevant information among thousands of websites and blogs.
An effective content strategy improves the quality of your posts, making them easier to find online. You’ll become an authority in your niche and your website will be a credible source for others to use in their research.  
Check out these five steps to create a content strategy that boosts your website’s performance.

#1 Get to know your audience

This is the first step on the way to becoming a successful communicator, both online and offline. You can’t craft an efficient content strategy (or a simple message) without knowing to whom you’re talking.
To write the right message for your audience, you need to create your buyer persona. Simply, you must define your target audience by knowing the following details about your current visitors:

  • Who are they – age, gender, education;
  • Where do they live – urban, suburban, rural;
  • Where do they work – industry, company size, job role;
  • What are their skills – administrative, coordination, management, emotional intelligence, diplomacy etc;
  • What is their income – high, average, low;
  • What are their hobbies and interests – outdoor activities, games, photography, art, movies.

HubSpot, for example, offers a free tool to help you make your persona. But various other free online persona templates are available on the internet. All you have to do is fill in the information about your public, and you’ll receive a profile to start with.
To give accurate answers, conduct some basic marketing research and check your analyticsGoogle analytics  gives you useful information about your audience:

  • Where they come from,
  • What languages they speak,
  • The average time spent on your blog,
  • How many of them are returning visitors,
  • How often regular visitors come back to your page.  

Google provides a lot of useful information. In fact, you may need some professional help to see the facts behind these numbers. But once you know your public and their interests, you can put together a content strategy.

#2 Decide what content to use

Blog posts and short articles alone don’t make an effective content strategy. Enrich your blog or website with new types of content to engage your readers and invite some fresh traffic to your site.
Depending on your niche, you can try various types of content:

  • Interviews. These work well if you have access to specialists and leaders in your domain. As each interview is unique, you’ll get to provide content that has never before been published online. This brings in a lot of new visitors and helps you grow your reputation among visitors. Ask relevant questions and highlight all the important points of your conversation.
  • “How-to” articles (or “How-do-I”). These are among the most popular types of online content because they solve problems. Telling people how to make things happen is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your blog or personal website. If your article is highly informative but still easy to follow, you’ll see visitors coming back to your website for more.
  • Lists are still very popular online, if a bit overused. They attract consistent traffic, as they’re what most marketers call evergreen content. To get the most out of your lists, the information you publish must remain relevant to your niche for a long time. Research well and build your article using trustworthy sources. Update information periodically, to keep your website fresh and accurate.
    • Videos. Video content will make up 80% of the internet traffic by 2019, so get ready to start recording. Making high-quality videos requires a second person to help you record and edit. But, if you wish to keep costs low, experiment with your smartphone and some free online editing tools.
  • Infographics. Like lists, they’re everywhere, so you’ll need to invest in high-quality visuals when choosing this path. This content is great for domains like health, science, entertainment, business and social media. Infographics are less popular among people interested in cooking, traveling, politics, and finance.
  • Podcasts. According to Forbes, podcasts are the future of storytelling. And they cost way less than videos, as you only need a microphone and a sound editing software. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips is an example of how podcasts can make you famous, even when you post on less engaging topics, like grammar.  
  • Reviews. These bring in new visitors who are interested in specific products in your niche. Write about your personal experience with the product, mentioning both pros and cons. It’s essential to remain honest with your readers and keep an authentic voice.

When you reach a higher number of visitors, you can try with more complicated content such as ebooks, webinars, case studies, opinion posts, complete guides and personal research.

#3 Master SEO in your content strategy

Most marketers recommend writing without even thinking about SEO. But they all pay attention to keywords and invest resources in content optimization.
So, always write with your human readers in mind, but try to keep your content SEO friendly:

    • Great content, which solves real problems and gives useful information about a topic.
    • Easy to read structure, with short paragraphs, bulleted lists, headings and relevant images.
  • Short sentences – between 15 and 20 words.

If your website gets linked on other credible sources, you’ll rank higher in search engines. To gain these links, you need to post great content that people want to share online. All other methods have no long term results and, in some cases, will get you penalised by search engines.  
Try building relationships with websites or blogs that can help you grow your list of backlinks. Don’t spam authors with link exchange proposals, though. Stay professional and choose wisely when compiling websites to work with.  

A note on keywords

An important part of your strategy refers to keywords. Find the most relevant for your niche, using tools like Keyword Tool or Google’s Keyword Planner. Target the long tail keywords, instead of the most popular ones, for more chances to guide useful traffic to your website.
If you’re writing about photography, for example, don’t target “photography” or “family portrait”. These are mainstream keywords, for which it is hard to compete online. Instead, choose less used combinations: “photography composition tips”, “photography smartphone tips and tricks”, “weird photography tricks that actually work”, or any other combination of words you think could be relevant.
Research the keywords that already bring audiences to your personal page, too. Google’s Search Console tells you what words bring organic traffic to your website.

#4 Sharing is caring, especially on social media

Even the best content needs marketing to get noticed. Use social media to expose your website to a larger audience and to get some new backlinks to your site.
Social media allows you to interact directly with your readers. This way, you get fresh ideas for you blog right from the source. By listening to your audiences, you’ll learn what topics get more attention and how you can improve your content to get more views. Every time you get inspiration from your followers, remember to credit them.   
Choose social media channels according to your target public.

    • Facebook drives more traffic than any other social network and targets all types of audiences. Twitter is also an efficient tool to share website content.
    • Instagram and Pinterest, on the other hand, generate less traffic, being visual networks. You can use them to promote your short videos and infographics.
  • LinkedIn is a professional network. It helps you build authority, especially if you write industry articles.

Don’t waste your time with all the social media channels you read about. Focus on those that can make a difference for your blog. If you don’t know which one is best for you, test them one or two at a time and, based on the results, leave them or use them.  
Build a social media content strategy within your content strategy – what you post, at what hours and on which channel. Check out similar websites and see how they grow their social media. Use their methods if you like them or improve them if you think it’s necessary.

#5 Create a content calendar

Organize your work to be more efficient when it comes to your content. A content calendar helps you plan your posts way ahead of time. It’s also a good tool for deciding how to distribute content among various channels.
The calendar gives you a clear image of your future posts. It shows you gaps and gives you time to fill them with quality content and maintain a consistent flow of material.
Include in your content calendar detailed information about your future posts:

    • Blog/article title
    • Targeted keywords
    • Content type
    • Social media channels
  • Publishing and distribution dates

Spot all events in your domain and fill your calendar with posts that mark these occasions. This way, you get to mix the evergreen content with some fresh information about what’s new in the niche. Events and celebrations are good moments to get new audiences for your website.  
In your content calendar, set some measurable goals for each piece of content. Count number of shares, views, comments or any other relevant data you wish to improve.
If you decide to get some freelance help, a content calendar helps you keep all your writers on track. Use Google Drive or any other free app, like Trello, to write down everything about the content. This way, you and your assistants can access information from various devices, at any time.

Before you go…

Your content strategy is an essential part of your marketing plan, no matter what topics you follow on your website. So, define your purpose and start building a long-term plan.
Focus your efforts on customizing content to fit your audiences. Then, always improve it to keep up with your public. You should keep a balance between publishing and sharing posts using the right networks.
Ranking high in search engines doesn’t happen overnight. You need hard work, a little inspiration, and the right keywords to make a website successful. And remember that everything works as long as you deliver high-quality content consistently. 

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    Thanks for the insights. Great read! I was reading a lot about the importance of a content calendar and regular videos for growing a Youtube channel. I’m trying to plan my videos ahead but to be honest, I’m struggling with sticking to my deadlines. For me it’s very hard to estimate the time I need for videos from idea to rendering. I’m trying to stick to a one video per week schedule and also upload at the same day and time each week. however a lot of times I’m running late on uploading. any advice on how to deal with content schedules and video planning for a Youtube channel? better tell the subscribers that videos won’t be uploaded regularly?

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