Let’s get something out of the way. It is increasingly difficult to stand out online through content and inbound marketing alone; everybody’s doing inbound, which means the market is being flooded with content. Standing out means being special, and let’s be honest, not every business is going to.
But that doesn’t mean you can stop. Laying the foundation for a content strategy is vital for staying afloat, and a necessary step to move forward. You can’t stand out if you don’t try.
It’s not enough to simply have a blog. No matter what, if you’re going to try to compete in this space, you need to actually try to compete. And in order to compete, you need to develop a blog strategy. That’s not the same thing as a list of content, but your company’s plan for how this blog will operate and how you’ll measure its success.
- What’s your blog for?
You know how some people stay up all night wondering about the meaning of life? What they’re really wondering is what they’re here on earth to do. What their purpose is.
You need to make sure your blog never has an existential crisis by going in with a clear idea of what its supposed to accomplish.
Start at the beginning and ask yourself these basic questions:
- What is the purpose of my company?
- How are we communicating this to our ideal customers?
- How can we do that on a blogging platform?
This will provide you with a basic statement to guide your efforts and provide clarity to the entire strategy development process.
- Who is your blog for?
If you haven’t already, take some time to develop buyer personas. These short, fictitious profiles abstracting out your customer base are some of the best content creation tools you can have. Take the time to think through their needs, goals, and problems. And then you get to work.
You’re going to want to do some keyword research to find out what their questions are. What are they actually googling for? What do they wonder as they lie awake in bed? What are the furiously trying to solve but can’t get a handle on? That’s the space you want to fill. You can use keyword tools like SEMRush to answer these questions, or even use question and answer forums like Quora for more direct (but less reliable) answers.
- Who are your competitors?
If you’re in a market, you have competitors – and your competitors have blogs. Do a survey and pull together a list of 5-10 competitor blogs and conduct a content audit. What are they posting? Does it make sense for your market? Are they keeping relevant, or keyword farming? What are they doing that you can do better?
This is a game of oneupsmanship, and the only way to win is to keep informed. If you think your competitors are doing a better job at the basic task of being informative, then you need to match them. Go toe-to-toe, and be the better resources. Keep up with their content – and always do them one better.
- How often will you post?
There is some debate about how frequently you should post, and the consensus seems to be that you see the best results (from an SEO perspective) when you blog about 10-20 times a month.
Which is not a frequency many businesses can sustain.
But the truth is that the more you post, the more traffic your blog supports and sustains, drawing people in via frequent social media promotion and long-term organic search. It’s not just about your frequency, but about the speed with which you build up a quality content library for Google to index and serve up on demand; your total number of blog posts is the most important metric, because old blog posts drive 75% of your blog’s traffic; the more you have in the backlog, the more you benefit.
HubSpot did an extensive study on this.
Regardless, you need to agree to a frequency and stick to it. Regularity ensures you generate content, even if slowly, and it helps visitors see that your blog is not dead. Posting every few months does you zero favors; you might as well not have a blog at all. Commit to weekly posts at minimum, and more if you can sustain it.
- How do you measure success?
What does success mean for your blog? You need to decide that at the outset so you can figure out later if you achieved what you set out to. That gives you the means to construct a plan around meeting some basic numbers and having a set of evaluatory tools to analyze and improve your blogging efforts.
When defining a goal, ask yourself:
- Does this goal accomplish or contribute to our business goals?
- Is there a clearer way to define success?
- What metrics can we use to determine whether we’ve reached it?
There’s no single set of blog metrics you need to care about, nor any one right way to define success. That’s something you have to worry about on the qualitative end of things – and then figure out the data that helps you back it up.
In the End
Your blog won’t do you any good if you don’t commit. Putting a blog strategy in place helps you generate quality content on a regular basis that serves your customers – and consequently serves your business.