Website content and copywriting, despite being almost always secondary to technical efforts such as search engine optimisation (SEO) for years, is increasingly coming to light as the core of the endeavour to provide a quality experience to website visitors. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates triggered genuine change that may have hurt many, but had rightfully enshrined website content in the pedestal it deserves. Now, if webmasters, business owners, and marketers only start focusing on content strategy and not simply copywriting, they could probably make better profit.
After all, content strategy is not just copywriting – this is the fundamental lamentation of many content strategists online. Entrepreneurs and marketers aplenty cannot seem to differentiate between the two, or simply do not have a firm grasp what content strategy even means. Consider this: in the vast industry of Internet marketing, content marketing is one of the subfields that encompass several others (online PR, social media, blogging, etc.). This means that a strategic, planned, and goal-oriented approach to content makes more sense compared to simply focusing on copywriting.
The Lack of Strategy
We do not wish to undervalue copywriting as the art and science of writing excellent website copy is in and of itself an endeavour that needs to be planned out – from the outline to the keyword research to the actual writing, editing, revising, and finalising processes. There is, however, a clear lack of a top-down strategy applied to content in terms of being aligned with marketing or other endeavours. Most of the time the “strategy” is half-baked, such as merely making sure keywords appear within the article for SEO purposes.
Let’s break it down into clearer levels for better perspective: let’s say there is a strategic and tactical level of content planning. In chess, your overall strategy dictates how you go about cornering the opponent’s king and winning, while your tactics in-game help achieve your strategy. There are several different tactics you can use depending on what pieces you move.
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The same applies for content planning. Tactical level planning includes how to craft the content, which includes, among others:
- the writing process itself
- the keyword research
- the editing and revisions
- the calls to action
- the internal and external linking
All of this, however, should be aligned with a strategy that in turn should correspond to your marketing objectives. For instance:
- the writing process itself – should be aligned with where you wish to use the content (blogs, social media, landing pages for hard selling, etc.)
- the keyword research – should be aligned with your keyword targeting efforts and latent semantic indexing (LSI)
- the editing and revisions – should be aligned with your high quality standards and style guide
- the calls to action – should be aligned with which target demographic you wish to call to action, among others
- the internal and external linking – should be aligned to your link building goals (e.g. whether you’re after boosting your internal linking structure or trying to reciprocate links naturally)
The tactical level planning should tie in nicely with your strategic content plans, and these in turn should correspond to your marketing and branding efforts in other fronts. Your grand strategy combines all your marketing vehicles into one hulking clockwork of separate parts that all help to achieve one goal.
Sample Content Strategy
It would be best to launch ourselves to into an example to put things in better perspective. Remember: tactics aligned with strategy, and goal-oriented approach. Say for instance you have a website dedicated to the latest news and developments in smartphone apps. Now you need a content strategy that will go with your latest feature article that you will be putting up on a webpage about a new app you are trying to market. You need to cover SEO, blogging, and social media.
Goal: keyword targeting for better organic traffic
Secondary goal: Quality article with high relevance for better link building potential
Keyword research – using data mining and keyword tools, seed and cull keyword ideas until you have one or two main keywords, a few secondary keywords, and LSI and long-tail variants. Ensuring even densities of main keyword appearance as well as proper text formatting (some bold keywords, some that are anchor text) combined with off-page SEO will increase your organic traffic, while ensuring good LSI and mentioning secondary keywords will ensure your content is seen by search engines as highly relevant to truly relevant keywords, which makes it a good target for link building. Long-tail variants of your keywords also drive traffic but also target people who are more easily converted.
Goal: Create a blog post about the website content with standard SEO
Secondary goal: Create a bit of social buzz for new app
Repurpose the original website content or use some its parts and rewrite them for the blog post. Consider writing a series of blog posts for better traffic generation. Put in the necessary links especially to the main webpage using highly relevant keyword anchor text which helps internal link building. Use standard off-page SEO along with solid keyword targeting, though not as robust as your original article as for blogs you will be relying on social media support (via sharing and syndication in sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc.). Open the comments section and respond to enquiries and feedback. Consider guest blogging on related blogs. Consider pushing for subscriptions for lead generation and nurturing.
Goal: Target a few social outlets to create buzz centered around your website or brand
Secondary goal: Spread links for the blog post and the main article
Repurpose parts of your original content and blog post to turn into social content, keeping in mind which social networks you want to create a buzz in. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and SlideShare are some of the most common outlets, and each have different sorts of content dictated by their functionality or by the following you have in them. Tweak your copywriting to match the needs of the outlet (by social network functionality and your following). Drop relevant links whenever possible and convenient to circle back to the original content or blog post. Use great images for association whenever applicable. Engage in discussion with your fans and followers. Reward participation.
Through this three-channel strategy, you create sources of organic and referral traffic that can be converted or turned into leads as well as creating a buzz around your blog posts and social profiles (and your new app, of course). Without the overall, top-down strategy, you would only consider how well the copywriting was done.
Content strategy is as significant as any other facet of your other marketing ventures – maybe even more so than others. Make sure you pay attention to it.