Building a New Content Strategy: Experimenting Again

After taking a long, hard look at my own blogs, I’ve decided it was time to plan out a new content strategy. What I’m doing now is OK, but it’s just not being as effective for my own blogs as what I do for my clients.

So, I think it’s time to incorporate the two and see what I come up with.

I was going to write out this new layout in a notebook. However, I thought it would be good sample content on this blog so I can test various plugins and themes.

Besides, I like the idea of actually having a “blog” based on the original idea of what a “web log” was in the first place.

Building a New Content Strategy

In reality, a lot of this isn’t going to be all that new to me. In fact, a lot of the practices I put into writing content still hold true today. The biggest difference is how I implement those strategies and going deeper into competitor research.

Step 1: Decide on a Keyphrase

The first thing I’ll do is decide on a keyphrase that I want to cover. For this, I’ll use the Rank Tracker app that I came across recently.

I like the tool so much that I am seriously thinking about buying the premium version. For $149 per year, it’s way cheaper than some of the others that are on the market.

Don’t Settle for Less than 100 Base in Keyword Planner

In the past, I would grab just about any keyphrase and center the target around it. Even if Keyword Planner told me it would get 0 to 10 searches per month, I would still use the phrase.

Nowadays, I’m aiming for a keyphrase that is at a minimum of 100 searches per month. If I rank on the first page, that’s still quite a few more visitors than I would have otherwise.

Besides, lower-performing keyphrases are usually much easier to rank for while having far less competition.

Step 2: Competition Analysis

No matter how original you might think you are, there is always competition on the Internet. As such, you need to see how people are ranking for your search term and what they are doing to score well.

Type of Content Created

Is the competition using a listicle? Is the article a how-to? How are the top 10 search results being seen for the specific search term?

This helps signify search intent and how the top articles are effectively gaining the attention of searchers.

For this experiment, I’m going to use the “Underdog” approach. So, if there are 9 “how-tos” and only 1 “listicle,” I’m going to create a list.

Analyze the Style of the Post

What elements are the competitors adding to the article? How deep does each point go? What sections are included in the piece?

Obviously, they’re doing something right to appear higher in search results.

Take note of images used and any other element that sets it apart from similar articles in the top 10 of Google.

Analyze the Length of the Content

Now, length doesn’t always matter. I’ve seen a ton of posts that are ranking in the number one position with having fewer than 500 words. But, it all depends on the search phrase people are using.

Take a look at the length of each piece. I’m using the Word Counter plugin for Chrome, so it makes counting words quick and easy. It’s yet another tool in my new content strategy that has saved me a lot of trouble for article length.

Take a Look at Featured Snippet (If Any)

Aiming for a featured snippet can do wonders for ranking and traffic. If there is a snippet available from the search term, take a look at how the creator was able to get included.

Was it heading usage? Was there a table of contents? Perhaps the author simply bolded the snippet heading text.

Since I use Chrome Dev Tools quite a bit, I can inspect the page, use the Selection tool and hover over the headers and points to see how Google discovers the featured snippet data.

Step 3: Make the Post Better

Now comes the planning phase. What can I do to a post to make it better? What kind of information is it lacking that searchers may find interesting? How much more depth can I give the piece?

This is what’s known as the “Skyscraper Technique,” by Dean from Backlinko. And although this is a bit of an older practice, it still works relatively well today.

As long as you add further value to the article in terms of Search Intent.

Adding words for the sake of making it longer isn’t going to do anyone any good. Think about the value you can add and if anyone is going to walk away feeling more informed.

If it’s a listicle, perhaps there are a few more you can add to increase value? Maybe the post isn’t answering questions from the “People also ask” section of Google.

Remember, it’s all about adding value to the reader.

Step 4: Create the Outline

Next, it’s time to set up the outline of the article. Now, not everyone needs to do this. However, I find it easier to stay on topic and make sure I add everything I want to an article by outlining the headers first.

And these are subject to change as I write. Sometimes, I’ll remove or add headers that I feel are necessary depending on the context of the article.

So, if I was to write a listicle with this new content strategy, each subheading in the article would be its own point in the list. Then, I might add a few sections to answer further questions regarding the topic.

This element really isn’t part of a new content strategy. I’ve been doing this for years simply because I want to remember all of the points I want to make in the piece.

I have a habit of forgetting…a lot.

Step 5: Write the Article

Once the post has an outline, proper keyphrases chosen, and a solid idea, it’s time to write the piece.

All the while, keep in mind the visitor you’re trying to engage. What things do they want to know about the topic? Are you explaining elements well enough for your target audience?

Anyone can slap words up on a blog post and call it a day. But, it takes a bit of talent to engage a reader to the point where he or she wants to completely consume the content.

Well, at least skim through to find the parts he or she wants to read.

Experiment: How to Write a Blog

In this section, I’m experimenting with “how to write a blog” for WriterSanctuary.com. And I have my work cut out for me as it is quite a competitive search term.

On a side note, here is something a bit meta for you…I’m writing a blog post about how to write a blog post for the topic of how to write a blog post.

I’m going up against some big names. So, the backlinks alone make it far more difficult to show up on the first page of results. But, we’ll give it a shot.

I like the competition.

The Keyphrase

The keyphrase has an estimate search volume of 6,540 according to Rank Tracker. Which is much higher than what I normally go for. It’s probably also why it’s far more competitive.

The Competition

OK, let’s take a look at the competition. For this phrase, we’re looking at:

  • Types of Posts: 7 How-tos, 2 videos, 1 listicle
  • Styles: Incredible depth within all points. Most use a “Step” header format…like I did above. Many of the longer ones have been updated over time.
  • Length: 3765, 6050, 7667, 2875, 3256, 4573, 2250, 1868
  • Featured Snippet: *None.
    Although there isn’t a featured snippet of the primary focus, there is one for “write blog post” in which a listicle with 2250 words is in. It’s a “10 Proven Tips” article by OptinMonster.

Making it Better

Now comes the fun part…how do I make any one of these top articles better? I suppose I’ll start with one I want to compete with directly and go from there.

Of course, this all depends on how you want to set your own articles up. Everyone is going to be different with their new content strategy. But for me, I’m going to target the listicle. It seems to be the easier target.

I’ll start by seeing if there are some points the competing article isn’t covering in its list. Then, I’ll see if I can add some Q&As at the end to help the reader even further while trying to score in Google’s “People also ask” segments.

What would be funny is if this article actually outperformed the one I’m writing on WriterSanctuary.

What Happens After Six Months?

I track everything in six-month increments. This is because it can take 4 to 8 months to really gain traction in Google depending on the topic.

At the end of six months, I’ll add the Google Analytics and Search Console data to this post. That way, I can work through what changes might need to be done to outperform the direct competitor.

I’ll add a reminder in Asana to trigger after six months so I don’t forget.

Let the games begin…