Friday, 12 December 2014

A 5 Step Approach to Content Marketing

Content marketing has been one of the most important areas of digital marketing in recent years and it shows no sign of disappearing any time soon. With more and more companies placing a greater emphasis on content marketing strategies it’s becoming harder than ever to stand out from the crowd. This challenge is even greater when you in an extremely competitive online industry – something like travel, insurance, print or retail. These spaces are often dominated by the big players so how can you start to rank for those all important keywords?
Well the big thing you will need is patience, and lots of it. You also need to be realistic and methodical when it comes to planning your digital marketing strategy and central to this should be an effective content marketing plan. Below I am going to look at 5 key steps you must take if you want to have any chance of making an impact in a competitive online industry.



Every good content marketing strategy starts with research. We all want to rank for the most searched for keywords in our industry but sometimes this just isn’t feasible. You will need to carry out effective keyword research and competitive analysis to find the keywords that will give you the best chance for ranking. The best way to do this is to begin by creating your list of desired keywords. Use a tool like Google’s keyword planner tool and find out the search volume for that keyword.
Using Excel (or a similar tool), create a table of your keywords and rank them based on the average monthly searches. Now you need to see who your competitors are for these keywords. For this I recommend using Majestic SEO. Simply carry out a Google search for your keywords and run a crawl in Majestic (using their bulk backlink tool) to measure the link profile of the top 10 search results. The things you need to look out for here are the volume of back links and referring domains along with the citation and trust flow of these sites. The higher ranking websites will tend to have built up a good link value and trust flow and it will give you an indication of where your own website stands in comparison.
Majestic SEO - The Tomorrow Lab Belfast

Majestic SEO - The Tomorrow Lab Belfast
If your own link profile reflects positively against these top performing websites then you will have a chance of ranking for that particular keyword; if you don’t then it is best to avoid that keyword in the initial content stage. Create a list of 3 – 5 keywords that you have a chance of ranking on the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs) and make these the focus of your content strategy. Once you have these keywords in place, with fully optimised pages on your website for them, it’s time to start planning your content strategy.


Next up is your content creation session, perhaps the most important of all the steps I am going to discuss. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, more and more companies are investing in content marketing so you need to think outside the box to stand out. Content comes in many forms including blog posts, videos, infographics and white papers, so it’s important that you offer your customers something different – something they will not only want to read, but potentially share and link to.
To start creating your ideas get a team of individuals together from all areas of your business and talk about what your customers actually want to read about. I recently discussed how you can create over 100 content ideas in 30 minutes. Simply get your team (6 is perfect) and write down 3 content ideas each. Pass your ideas on the next person and add 3 more ideas. Do this every 5 minutes and by the end of 30 minutes everyone should have 36 ideas. These ideas can then be evaluated and turned into your content for the coming months. Your list of keywords should be the focus of this content creation and once you have created a list of content ideas, sit down and explore how you can really make your content stand out and drive traffic to your website.  Once you have article and content ideas in place, you will need to create a content schedule that includes work on your own blog and website, contributions to other websites, social media content and other types of visual content such as videos and infographics.


If we’ve learned anything from websites like Buzzfeed and Reddit it’s that your title is so important in content marketing. Not only is your title important from an organic SEO perspective, it’s also important in giving your audience an idea of what the content is about. Whether it’s a blog post, a video or even a podcast, the title will give your audience a first glimpse of what to expect when clicking on it. With so much content digested and shared across the web today, these 60 characters (try to stick to this) are perhaps the biggest part of any content you will be creating.
Before publishing your content, test different titles. See what sort of response your content will get. In a competitive industry there is likely to be reams and reams of fresh content on a daily basis so your title can help you stand out. Firstly, test different titles with your colleagues. See what works best and what gets the best response. You can also use a website like to get the opinion of other people on your piece of content. Find out which title or layout works best. Test, test, test to be sure you improve your content marketing efforts.
Five Second Test - The Tomorrow Lab
(Image from


While content on your own website is a big part of any content marketing strategy, establishing links from relevant websites will play a big part in how visible your website becomes over time. Forget about thinking about building volumes of links – those days are long gone. Look to establish connections with quality, reputable websites or blogs and try to share your content or ideas with them. Become a contributor to these websites and start to highlight the knowledge that you have, enhancing the online reputation of your own brand.
The content you create will also help you open doors for linking with quality websites. As mentioned previously, the sites that will be ranking highest for your desired keywords are those with a high quality link profile. This means that purely creating great content isn’t enough. You need to start engaging with other websites and start getting quality sites pointing back to your website. Use online channels like Twitter and Reddit to share your content and get it in front of the right people.
If you are looking to establish connections with the best blogs and websites in your industry, use tools like Followerwonk and BuzzStreamto find the best sites to start with and get their contact details. Monitor the sort of content these websites regularly share and try to engage with them and create content that will be of value to them. Something unique that will earn you a link. Outreach linkbuilding in 2014 and 2015 will be all about earning your links. Creating content that simply can’t be ignored.
Followerwonk - The Tomorrow Lab
(Image from


My final piece of advice is more about the mindset of marketers in any online industry but especially the more competitive industries. Don’t lose focus of your end goal. Be realistic about the timescales of your content marketing strategy and stick to it. In a competitive online space it can take 2 – 3 years at times to start to notice any real value in your rankings but you need to be prepared to spend the time in creating the content and building the links that are going to bring long term value to your site. If you want a quick return then look at paid advertising channels like Google Adwords but this will likely cost you more money in the long run. Never give up and never lose focus of your end goal, but remember to set realistic goals and who your competition is.
The keyword research carried out at stage one needs to be at the forefront of everything you do in your content marketing strategy. If your are patient and prepared to invest the time needed to get ranking for those keywords that will be easier to rank for, you will reap the rewards in the long run. It will also put you in a strong position to start ranking for the more competitive keywords in phase two of your content strategy.
Once you have established a high quality link profile and a site that has valuable content, you will find it easier to begin ranking for the tougher more competitive keywords. This will put you in a much stronger position to rank with the big players of your industry. Enjoying a good online presence in a competitive industry won’t happen overnight – it will take time but be sure to never lose focus of your end goal. The day you do is the day your rankings start to slip and before you know it you will be back to square one!


So there you have it, the big thing required to improve your presence in any online industry is patience. Create a list of keywords that you can realistically rank for and start to create unique content around them. Test your titles and earn links by targeting and engaging with the key online influencers in your industry. And remember, never lose focus.

If you liked this article you may also like: 

4 Content Marketing Tips for 2015 

5 mistakes that hold back your content marketing 

How to master the 4Ps of content in 2015

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