Perhaps you’ve heard that “content is king.” Maybe you’ve even heard of inbound marketing.
But what does it all even mean?
You’re aware that change is afoot when it comes to how people make purchase decisions. Authenticity is everything.
People don’t want to be sold to. They are wary of over-inflated promised and outright lies. They want to do their own research and make their own informed decision.
So, how do you connect with ad-shy prospects during the decision-making phase?
You serve them the content they’re searching for, when they’re searching for it. This allows publishers to control the sales conversation so that readers purchase from you instead of your competitor.
One of the most effective ways to control the sales conversation is through content development.
This article explains the basics of content development, then dives into Junto’s proven 7-step content marketing strategy.
What is Content Development?
Content development is the process of creating content for a website from start to finish. You may have also heard of content developers. The term “content developer” is also used to refer to web developers, but in this article, we’re concentrating solely on the development of content – not design or programming.
Content development includes:
- Optimization (SEO)
Content development is interchangeable with content marketing.
Web content can be anything from blog posts to infographics to videos.
Some agencies and online content producers only handle one or two steps of the content marketing process. For instance, they’ll manage the writing, but don’t strategize or publish or promote.
However, an effective content development strategy is much more than just writing or just SEO.
Good content can only get you so far – without the right strategy, or with the wrong promotion methods, no one is going to see the webpage you spent weeks developing. At Junto, we provide a turn-key content development solution focused on long-form blog content designed to increase search traffic.
It’s hard work, but the benefits of content marketing are undeniable.
If you’re looking for a DIY solution for content marketing, here’s a peek at our seven-step process for content development.
1. Gather Information
The first step in content development is always to collect as much information as possible.
When we’re working with companies, we compile information on:
- Target demographics
- Key competitors
- Past site performance
- Site goals
- Other information unique to the individual client
We’re kind of data crazy, so the more information and stats, the better.
Google Analytics and Search Console are great tools for looking at on-site data. SEMRush is our go-to tool for keyword analysis. And it’s hard to beat Ahrefs when it comes to backlink analysis. Moz is another useful tool for looking at domain authority.
We also ask questions about brand voice, marketing goals, expectations and more.
The reason behind collecting so much information is so we can make data-driven decisions about what topics to cover.
2. Blog Topic Analysis
Once we’ve gathered as much information as possible, it’s time to break it down into actionable information.
One of the most useful pieces of information to look at is competitor performance. We look at what pages on a competitor’s site drive the most organic traffic. We’ll look at the backlink profile, length, and quality of those pages and determine if we can outrank the competition.
In the above example, we plugged in “site:thebalance.com” to Ahref’s content explorer to see their top-performing pages.
You’ll notice that the top piece of content is 943 words, which is not that long (by our standards). But the domain rating is 89 (out of 100), and 614 domains are linking to this page, which would make it very hard to outrank. If we were trying to outrank thebalance.com, we would look for other opportunities.
From there, we use a handful of other methods to find additional topics to write about:
- Solution-centric keyword research
- Indirect competitor topic analysis
- Quora topic analysis
Our team specializes in what we refer to as Top of the Funnel Content. However, there are many other types of content that we encourage businesses to write about as well.
Once we’ve built a list of keywords that would make for relevant articles, we plug them into a spreadsheet to analyze them further. We assign a “keyword score” based on a variety of factors. This makes step 3 of the process much faster.
During the strategy phase of content marketing, we build out the content strategy and editorial calendar.
The exact deliverables vary by client industry and growth goals. However, our default choice is to write two or more 2,000-word articles for each client every month.
Competition and search volumes will vary from one industry to the next, and every keyword research tool has its own system for determining competition. As a starting point, we look for keywords that receive 50+ searches/month and have an Ahrefs keyword difficulty score of 0-10.
Having an easy time finding dozens of blog topics? Narrow that down to 100+ searches/month and a keyword difficulty score of 0-5.
What would be considered good search volume and low competition? It really varies on your industry. For small industries, a search volume of 500 is excellent. If you’ve got bigger fish to fry, look for terms with over 2,000 monthly searches.
Start with those topics and work to build your backlink profile and domain authority.
Once you’ve built up a decent backlink profile, you can start targeting those higher-value keywords. Ahrefs has an excellent guide to keyword research if you’re new to this area of content development.
Depending on client goals, we might also decide to work on a link-building campaign to maximize the impact of our content.
Related: should you hire a digital marketing agency to scale your business?
The writing stage is pretty self-explanatory. Here is where you write the most kickass piece of content possible.
If you want to rank well, your content needs to be better than every other result on the front page of Google.
That means the longer, the better. Longer content ranks better and attracts more backlinks, probably because it is more informative and covers more related topics.
Try not to focus on keywords or other ranking signifiers during the writing stage. Remember, you want people to read and enjoy the content first and foremost. Search engines should be an afterthought during the writing process.
Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Think about why they would search for a topic, and what they would want to read in response to that search query. Then produce a piece of high-quality content that satisfies search intent and that will entice the reader to share.
If you’re new to blogging, read this guide on how to write your first blog post.
5. Optimize & Publish
Once the writing phase is complete, we move on to search engine optimization and publishing.
It’s here that we consider things like readability, word count, related keywords, and more to make the content more attractive to search engines (and people!).
If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, learn about TF-IDF, one of our favorite optimization methodologies. It sounds complicated. And it is. But it’s super effective in helping Google identify whether or not you’re covering all relevant topics in your content.
During the optimization and publishing phase, we’ll also craft title tags and meta descriptions designed to increase click-through rates.
For more super actionable optimization tips, check out this list of SEO techniques to boost rankings.
There are hundreds of ways to promote quality content, but the most obvious is social media. You can also consider republishing platforms, and don’t forget about good ol’ email outreach.
The reason behind promotion isn’t just to get more eyes on the article; it can also lead to more backlinks, which are as good as gold in the SEO industry.
That said, never pay for backlinks. It’s not worth it, and you will get hit with a Google penalty.
7. Review & Repeat
Content development is never “done .” It’s a continuous process that starts as soon as it ends. That’s why we review our content marketing efforts for every website on a monthly basis.
If our efforts are working, we’ll continue down the same path for future content. If we do not see results, it’s time to pivot to a new content development strategy.
If you’re not sure what to analyze, this guide to analyzing your marketing strategy should be helpful.
Essentially, during this phase, it’s time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t, putting us back at the “Gather Information” phase of the process.
The main takeaway here is that the best content development process is continuous and ever-changing. It’s not something you can do once and say you’re done.
So there you have it, our constantly evolving content development strategy designed to increase organic search traffic through the power of Kickass Content.
Ready to kickstart your content development efforts? Download our content marketing playbook for a step-by-step guide.
Not interested in the DIY approach? Send us a message to see how we can help grow your organic traffic.