Marketers are all about high-quality content in today’s fast-paced, highly competitive world of search engine rankings. At the end of the day, everything comes back to content. Your social media presence and search traffic, PPC campaigns, SEM strategy, and more all hinge on having great content on your website.
Since 77 percent of Internet users read blogs, your goal should be to create articles that will bring people to your website. In addition, the average company with an active blog generates 55 percent more site visitors. We are also finding that longer blogs tend to perform better in search engines, and the average word count for top-ranking content in Google is between 1,140 and 1,285 words.
For these reasons, you need to be creating content for your website. Since it isn’t always easy to get started, Rank Fuse’s guide to website content creation will walk you through all of the steps for generating content for your website.
Here are the steps you should take to create high-quality content:
- Key Content Roles
- Develop a Content Strategy
- Create a Content Calendar
- Implement a Content Creation Process
1. Key Content Roles
A successful content team needs a few key players in it. In some cases, you might not have a large staff, and one person might need to take on numerous roles, but here are the key roles that you will need to assign to a team member.
- Content Manager: A content manager is responsible for developing the content calendar and holding others accountable for their part in the content creation process. Additionally, the content manager needs to be able to work with the content strategist to determine opportunities to improve organic traffic. This person needs to be fluent in both SEO and keyword research, as well as the content calendar that is in place.
- Content Strategist: A content team needs someone to take charge of the strategy behind content creation. Your content strategist needs to be able to identify goals, review competitor analysis, understand the brand and any style guidelines, and perform audits.
- Content Creators: These roles could include a content writer, graphic designer, photographer, video producer, and more. However, not all companies have the bandwidth or ability to have so many people on their team. If this is the case for your team, you may just want to hire a content writer and purchase stock photography. You can also incorporate freelancers onto the team for any of the categories in which you don’t have a dedicated person.
- Editors: Editors will take the creatives and make sure that everything looks and sounds their best. You might want to have an editor for each different type of content that you create. For example, a content editor will ensure that grammar rules are followed and style and voice stay consistent in a written piece, while a video or photo editor can help with the production of your visual elements.
- Digital Marketing Specialist: One of the most under-utilized members of a content team is the digital marketing specialist. This isn’t just a person who publishes your content on your website. They can also help develop posts and means for sharing and advertising, using the content the rest of the team creates. Your digital marketing specialist should also be responsible for posting and engaging on social media. This team member might also handle publication outreach.
- Content Analyst: A content analyst is responsible for looking at analytics data and creating reports based on this data. Using this information, the content strategist and manager can determine if the strategy needs to be adjusted.
Remember, for smaller teams, one person might fulfill numerous roles in the content creation process. For example, your strategist might also be the analyst.
2. Develop a Content Strategy
Establishing your business goals is the first step in developing a sound content strategy. We always recommend that your team decides upon a clear, well-defined objective before getting into the heart of creating a content strategy. It is important to define a goal before you get started. Because different types of content align with different goals, you want to be sure all of your creative assets to be developed with your goal in mind.
For most companies, there are three general categories for content goals: lead generation, SEO, and thought leadership. Lead generation is often the top concern for most companies because it helps identify and cultivate potential customers, however, this isn’t the case for all companies.
After you have established a clear goal for your content, you need to start thinking about the following:
- Audience: Who is going to see your content? Get some insight into the demographic information for your target audience, as well as the motivations, values, buyer behavior, and more of your target audience. Knowing this key information will allow you to better reach and engage with your audience.
- Keyword and Topic Research: Choosing topics and keywords to target can be a struggle. When you are in this phase of content development, you will want to start looking at broad subjects that will interest your target audience (you’ll come up with more specific topics later on in the process). Dig deep into your website to see what your audience already engages with, perform audits, and research keywords and topics that you could delve into for your customers. Keyword research allows you to determine what your audience might want to know about your business.
- Competition Analysis: No matter the industry, it is important to know your business’s competitors and understand what they are putting out on the Internet. In some cases, you may want to rank for the same keywords as your competitors, but that isn’t always true. The real goal for your competitive analysis is to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and your own business to see where you can make improvements.
- Workflow: Editorial workflow is going to be critical in getting content live on your website. It’s at this stage that you should start putting together a system to get your content created, edited, published, and shared on social media.
Once you have determined your strategy, it’s critical that you put it on paper—either physically or digitally. Your strategy will make everyone on your team aware of what needs to be covered over the next few months. When you are working in a large team, your editorial workflow will be useful. This workflow will tell everyone on the team who is responsible for each piece of the puzzle and when those pieces need to be completed.
Content Research Tools
Using various tools can provide a lot of insight during the strategy process. These tools can help you come up with topic ideas, understand the keywords you should be using, and create the best possible content for your website. Here are a few of our favorite tools:
- SEMRush: SEMRush is a great tool for performing website and content audits on your website. On the site, you can also research keywords and topics to see what your pieces should focus on. There are also SEO writing tools to help with the content creation part of your strategy.
- Moz: Moz offers free search engine optimization tools that allow you to explore keyword and outreach opportunities for your website. Moz has a lot of local SEO tools that can be beneficial as well.
- BuzzSumo: With BuzzSumo, you can browse high-performing blogs, articles, videos, and more to see what trends well and analyze your current marketing strategy to see how you can improve. You can also find influential people to help you boost your brand.
- Answer the Public: Enter a keyword into this website, and you will receive numerous ideas for topics that answer questions that real people are asking. When you enter a keyword, you will see a chart with branches of questions to answer the who, what, when, why, where, how, can, are, which, and will questions that get typed into search engines.
3. Create a Content Calendar
Once you have completed the strategizing, it is time to create a content calendar. With your calendar, you can show everyone their responsibilities and prioritize assignments. A calendar also allows team members to more effectively budget their time throughout the year. Implementing your content marketing strategy starts with a content calendar.
How you generate your calendar is up to you and your team. In most cases, calendars are monthly, but if you want to create more detailed weekly calendars, that might work better for your team. Additionally, you can include whatever information you would like.
At Rank Fuse, we create our yearly calendar by month with content title, publish date, author, and other fields that work best for our team. You might want to include the following information in your calendar:
- Content type
- Content name
- Completion date
- Approval date
- Publish date
- Call to action
- Interlinking opportunities
- Share date
- Content URL
Now, you might be asking, “Where do we create a content calendar?” Truly, that is up to you. At Rank Fuse, we prefer to use Google Sheets because we can share the calendar easily, and it doesn’t cause us any hassle to create a new calendar each year. However, Trello, DivvyHQ, and HeyOrca are three platforms that are incredibly popular among content teams for this purpose of a shared calendar, and there are many other options out there for you to choose from as well.
Where and how you create a content calendar will be determined by your budget and needs. Larger companies are likely to need a more extensive content calendar for their team, while a one-man operation will probably just want something super simple and inexpensive.
By implementing a calendar, you are ensuring that everyone is aware of when content is going to be written, edited, published, and shared. If you are a manager, then a content calendar will help you hold team members accountable for the work they are supposed to deliver.
Choosing Content Topics
This is the stage where you start thinking about the research that you have already done. Are there keywords you need to target? Are there topics that lead to frequently asked questions for your customers? Working as a team, you are likely to come up with some creative ideas for pieces to produce.
During this process, you can get inspiration from customer service or sales associates to see what customers are asking and get insights into any potential gaps in your website’s content. In addition to this, put all of that research you performed to good use to identify the topics and keywords that you want to start targeting. You should implement them into the content on your calendar in a way that doesn’t overload your audience with specific topics.
Creating a roundtable discussion or talking to others within your company can be a great place to get started. We like to call this process knowledge sharing. When you do this, you can start by talking to the thought leaders of your company. Who is an expert on what topic? How can you work with the thought leaders in your company to create pieces that feel like an expert created them? You can start by asking these thought leaders questions that allow them to share their personal experiences as well as their professional knowledge in the topic you want to pursue.
This is also the time you can start thinking about the kind of content you want to create. Are you thinking about creating a blog post, case study, video, page, infographic, e-book, or some other type of content? What type of piece will help you reach the goal you set way back at the beginning of this process? Your goal should influence the type of piece you decide to create.
Some of the content you gain in the knowledge sharing process might not go directly into your next blog post but hold on to this information. It might lead you to develop new topic ideas or come in useful in another piece of content later.
4. Implement a Content Creation Process
By implementing a content creation process, you can help your team overcome hurdles and get started on creating the assets you need. Fortunately, by the time you have reached this phase, you have done a lot to make this process easier. Here are your next steps.
1. Choosing Authorship
The first step to producing content is to determine the author of the content. Previously, we discussed having experts provide input on the content that is created for your website. These industry thought leaders may or may not be writing the content, but you might decide that they are the best person to be listed as the author. Having another member of the team ghostwrite the content is a fairly common practice, but some people want to create their content themselves. Either way, you need to find a way to incorporate the thought leader’s expertise and opinion into the article to provide readers with more detailed, unique information.
2. Creating Outlines
The second step is to create an outline. An outline will let you visually map out the article you are working on before you get started. If you are creating an infographic, your outline will let you see where you can put different elements of the design. For video production, this is the time to develop a script to be used in the video and a storyboard. If you are writing for clients, providing an outline can guarantee that the entire team and the client are all on the same page about the direction in which the article is going.
3. Content Development
Here’s where things get exciting! All of that work you put in is about to culminate in your newest piece of content. As you start researching and writing (or creating if you are doing an infographic or video) your piece, it is important that you remember how to speak to your target audience. Customize the message of your content to your target audience and where they are in the purchasing process.
4. Content Editing
No matter how long you have been writing, you still need to put your pieces through an editing process. During this process, it’s a good idea to have someone else look over your work. Editing can not only catch any errors or problems with your work, but it can also help you become a better writer and editor as well.
Put each piece of content your team creates through at least one round of edits. Small content teams might not have the ability to go through more than one round of edits; however, if possible, shoot for two rounds of edits to ensure that the piece is polished before it goes live.
When it comes to edits, come up with a system that works for your team. It might take your team a little practice to get into the flow of your editing process but stick with it. You will be glad you did in the long run.
A huge part of the content creation process that doesn’t get discussed much is the approval process. If you are writing for your company’s website, you might not have much of an approval process. However, if you write for different clients, they will probably want to see everything before it goes on their websites.
During the approval process, you might have to perform some revisions, rewrites, and additional rounds of edits. This process allows you to make sure that your clients are pleased with the work you have done for them.
Once you have completed the editing process and your piece of content is just right, it is time to publish it on your website. This process is generally easy; it requires uploading the content, adding images, including metadata, and checking it over before hitting the publish button. If you have the content ready to go early, you might want to schedule it for publication on the date listed in your content calendar for consistency.
Any content created for another website, such as a guest post, should now be pitched to the publication of your choice. The posting date will likely be up to the publication, so your next steps are to wait to hear back.
You might think that publishing your content is the final step, and many companies do stop here but don’t forget about social media.
If you are going to create killer content, you need to share it! Leaving content to sit, unfound on your website should be considered a crime. When you take the time to develop great content, be sure to share it with the world in a proactive manner instead of sitting around passively hoping that it will magically rank on search engines and people will click on it.
5. Analysis and Measuring Content Success
After you put your content out to the world, someone on your team needs to track how it performs. Your analyst should be measuring content success based on the goals you made way back at the beginning of this whole process. Here are a few things that should be considered in your analysis:
- Top Organic Landing Pages: Seeing where your visitors are landing on your website can tell you a lot about the topics that people are expecting and wanting from your website.
- Pages Earning Referral Traffic: When you produce high-quality content, other websites might start to link to it. Earning these links from other websites is proof that your content is relevant and useful to readers on the Internet. Plus, these links send even more traffic to your website.
- Traffic: While you have other goals, people putting their eyes on your content is always the first step. Is traffic increasing? When you keep a record of your monthly traffic, you hope to see a steady increase. If you see a few months where you did exceedingly well, go back to see what you did differently that month, and reincorporate similar tactics in the upcoming months.
- Pages Per Visit: Successful content will lead visitors to other pages on your website. Internal linking supports other pieces of content and directs visitors from one page of your website to others to keep them on your website.
- Returning Visitors: When prior visitors come back to view your website, they are telling you that they value the content you have created. In Google Analytics, you can see the percentage of traffic on your website that comes from new and returning visitors. You want both types of visitors, but returning visitors are incredibly valuable to your content team, as they are validating your efforts. Looking at a couple of different traffic segments can help you determine how your returning visitors are making their way back to your website: direct, social, and email. Direct traffic occurs when people type your URL directly into the search bar. Social traffic mostly comes from those who follow and engage with your social media accounts; people who click links that others have shared might also find your website through social traffic. Finally, email traffic is most likely going to bring in returning visitors since they have already subscribed through some channel on your website.
- Time on Site: One of the best gauges of quality is how long people stay on your website after arriving. The thought is that the longer someone stays on your website, the most content they will consume. This metric is called “Session Duration” in Google Analytics.
- Social Sharing and Engagement: Great content is more likely to be shared on social media. The things that get the most shares deliver the most value to customers. The same goes for engagement metrics. Catchy headlines, intriguing photographs, and worthwhile content will get more comments and likes on social media as well. Social media can also be beneficial for SEO.
- SERP Ranking: One indicator of your content’s performance is the SERP ranking it receives for your targeted keywords. You can see where your content ends up simply by searching key terms in search engines. Over time, you are likely to see some of your pages increasing their rankings.
By performing an analysis of your content after a few months of being on your website, you can see what type of content is working best for your site and then readjust your content strategy.
Perfecting a content strategy and implementing a solid plan for your company or agency could take a few months of trial and error. However, once you find a system that works for you, your content team will be in a good position to work through your content needs without a hitch.
If you need help with your content strategy or getting content written, Rank Fuse Digital Marketing is here to help. Our team of content experts produces high-quality, SEO-focused content for clients in all kinds of industries. You can reach us at 913-703-7265.