We know that strategic SEO content writing is crucial to a successful blog. But the driving force behind any publishing effort relies on a winning content strategy.
The goal of this article is to help you:
- Maximize your time and money resources by writing with a plan.
- Maximize the profitability of your blog.
- Gain the ability to evaluate the business value of any piece of content relative to your goals.
I’m confident to say that every mental model you need to publish intelligently is discussed here.
What makes an effective content strategy?
To answer this question, we’ll have to ask a broader one: what makes an effective blog? And by effective, that means it ranks well, converts leads, builds authority, and generates referrals for your business.
We’ll mainly be discussing the qualitative aspect of content writing and strategy in this article. I wrote a complete guide that also includes quantitative evaluation – click here.
In 2021, an effective and profitable blog is the following:
- Up to date
How to make your blog comprehensive
The Silo Technique
The Silo Technique is an optimal way to organize your content. ‘Parent topics’ are ‘filed’ into their own silos, and each ‘parent topic’ is then broken down into ‘child topics’ that make up the rest of the silo (don’t worry – I’ll give an example and provide a visual).
This is why there’s something called ‘orphans’ – these are child topics missing a parent topic and are seen by blogging platforms like WordPress as something you need to ‘fix’.
If we wanted to write content for a legal services website, then ‘parent topics’ might include personal injury, immigration, family, business, real estate, etc.
Each of these parent topics have their own silo. Under the Personal Injury Silo, we could write about construction accidents, vehicular accidents, medical malpractice, etc.
Under the Real Estate Silo, we can write about mortgage issues, construction disputes, title and boundary disputes, etc.
The idea is to write one general article for each parent topic and more tightly scoped articles for each child topic.
Here is a sample visualization of the silo technique for a legal services website:
Depending on the business, we can niche down even further. If we’re writing for a website that provides Personal Injury services specifically, parent topics would consist of construction accidents, vehicular accidents, medical malpractice, etc.
Under the Construction Accidents Silo, we’d write about crane accidents, falling object and scaffolding accidents, third-party claims, etc.
Why is it important to organize content this way?
The Silo Technique assists both readers and search engines in understanding the scope of your website and evaluating whether you provide the most relevant and informative content for a specific topic.
It just makes sense that someone who is an ‘expert’ at Personal Injury Law would also have content on its subtopics – like car accidents, for example.
To connect child articles to parent articles, create internal links (links that point to other pages of your website) between them within the content.
You can link them subtly in the body a la backlinks, or you can be more direct by using CTAs (calls-to-action) to create a pseudo-navigation for your readers to dive deeper into your content.
How to target content verticals
‘Content verticals’ have the same idea as ‘business verticals’, wherein we cover topics that are related by industry but are on different stages of the value chain.
For example, if we’re writing content for a CRM service that helps with lead retention and customer follow-up, we could target topics like newsletters, lead generation, content marketing, etc.
These topics aren’t primarily related to CRMs, but they are part of the same value chain of ‘Marketing Services’ albeit at different stages. Lead generation is in the early stages of marketing while lead retention operates at the final stages.
Here’s how to do it:
Target ‘Low Business Value’ Keywords
As I discussed in my previous article, ‘low business value’ keywords generate articles where we can either pitch our product very subtly (almost like an afterthought) or we can’t pitch it at all.
If we were writing content for a CRM service, it’s a bit difficult to pitch it as a solution when writing about content marketing or even lead generation.
However, and again as previously discussed, low business value keywords and topics have the advantage of a wider and more diverse reach.
A technique I often use to visualize content opportunities is the Prioritization Matrix with axes for Business Value and Search Volume:
There’s only so much you can write about CRMs, but there’s a lot you can write about CRMs, content marketing, lead generation, newsletters, etc. You also gain the ability to reach prospects who have no idea what a CRM even is, but after learning about it could potentially decide they need it for their business.
Project Business Trends
To be used in tandem with low business value keywords, keep your eyes PEELED for signs of industry disruption that can basically cause vertical content to fall in your lap.
For example, the real estate industry has been completely disrupted by technology – particularly, and in light of recent global events, in virtual sales and virtual reality.
In the case of virtual sales, real estate agents and marketing agencies can write about selling on Zoom, using Facebook Live for virtual tours, social media marketing, cloud documentation, etc.
In the case of virtual reality, we could write about virtual reality products, virtual staging, planning for virtual events, etc.
The keywords for this type of coverage shoot way up in volume at the beginning of the wave.
Revisiting The Silo Technique
Okay, I know it’s only been a few paragraphs – not enough to warrant a throwback, I get it. But I just want to reiterate the efficacy of this technique.
Search engines will consider you an authority if you have comprehensive content on a topic and all its subtopics. There’s no excuse not to do it… If you know your stuff.
Backlinks are where articles from other blogs link back to your article within their content. The purpose could be to quote you, reference something you said to strengthen their argument, or reuse an asset (like an infographic or image) from your article while giving you credit.
In all instances, the blog that is getting backlinked to plays the role of a credible subject matter authority. After all, other blogs consider your content to be of value to their own readers and are directing them to gain more information via your website.
This is what search engines consider a vote of confidence.
I dive into the essentials of backlinking in my SEO content writing article, but this is roughly what the workflow would look like:
- Collect backlink prospects via research. Take a look at blogs that have content that are relevant to yours. The easiest way is to look at your value chain and connect with websites that are at different stages. For example, if you write about CRMs, find websites that write about lead generation services.
- Collect backlink prospects via competitors. Another way to prospect for backlinks is to find the websites that linked to your competitors. You can use tools like Ahrefs’ Free Backlink Checker or SmallSEOTools’ Backlink Checker.
- Pitch your topic ideas to the right people. You’re going to want to look for the content manager or marketing head of the business you want to pitch to. A pitch is traditionally in the form of an email, but businesses known to link out usually get tons of pitches everyday. Figure out how you can stand out – starting with the subject line.
Our ultimate goal is to provide real value to the other blog’s readers.
Utilize Guest Posts
Guest posts are another great way to build authority within your niche and keep your writers busy. There are two types of guest posts:
Inbound Guest Posts
Allow other writers to post on your blog where they can link back to their own website. I suggest having a dedicated page with a form where content writers can pitch topics. I have a similar page on my website for writing commissions. It’s also a good idea to invite industry experts to share their knowledge with your readers.
Outbound Guest Posts
Your writers or yourself can find websites of vertical businesses that are accepting guest posts. You can also find PR sites that write about businesses in your industry. While most links are no-follow when it comes to press releases, it’s good to get your name in circulation.
Unscrupulous individuals try to game the system by performing a blackhat technique called a backlink exchange. There are also amateurs on Fiverr promising mass backlinks from their own ‘curated sources.’ Not only are search engines relentlessly hunting these crooks down and penalizing offending websites, but blackhatters also threaten the health of the online economy. If you somehow encounter these instances out in the wild, REPORT them to Google with no hesitation. Let’s work together to keep our community organic and productive.
How to keep your blog up-to-date
Thanks to market maturity, content marketing and SEO experienced a recent flight to quality.
Businesses are trying their best to maximize the resources at their disposal and are refining their strategies because doing content wrong can be expensive… But doing content right can be very lucrative.
Here is the rule of modern content marketing: an article on your website is either generating money or losing money. Having useless or even harmful articles decreases your ability to rank and can even flub a conversion – or likely, a lot of conversions.
Slapping on ‘2021’ at the end of your blog titles isn’t going to cut it. I suggest a quarterly UCD Audit – Update, Consolidate, Delete.
In 2019, Facebook changed the way businesses can target prospects in compliance with Facebook’s Non-Discrimination Policy. Just like that, a tsunami of case studies and how-to articles got thrown out the window and completely lost their value.
However, an equally sizable tsunami of content opportunity flowed in for those who were ready to adapt.
See what articles are outdated and preempt upcoming industry disruptions.
On a simpler note, you can update articles older than a year in publication if there are new developments in your field.
This step is all about eliminating the redundant.
Let’s say you’ve just inherited a massive, unkempt database of random articles. Maybe they all cover the topic you’re targeting but there’s no hierarchy. Maybe you’ve got a bunch of 300-word articles that don’t really cover enough ground to give the reader a clear picture of the subject.
And likely, a couple of articles are targeting the same keywords and are not optimized for the conversion journey.
First of all, 300-word articles have never been enough to explain a topic comprehensively. While it’s not a strict metric for Google, you can be sure that your time-on-page stats aren’t going to be that great and you’ll have visitors bouncing around to blogs with more information.
It’s better to merge these short articles into more comprehensive guides – most serious blogs that accept guest posts require at LEAST 800-1000 words.
In the case of keyword cannibalization, which happens when two articles are competing for the same keyword thus decreasing the ranking power of both, the recommendation is to merge both articles to better your chances of ranking.
For the sake of blog maintenance and optimal content structure, refer back to The Silo Technique.
If an article really isn’t generating any meaningful traffic*, has no backlinks, and cannot be consolidated, don’t be afraid to delete it. Ahrefs recently did a case study on this that reported a 7.57% increase in traffic after deleting 31.7%% of their content (expect your rank to fluctuate a bit until crawlers fully reevaluate your website).
*Meaningful traffic is defined as traffic that can be turned into business either by direct conversion, referral, or ambassadorship.
So… that was a lot. But this is what it takes to elevate your content performance in today’s climate and the payoffs are even greater than they have ever been. As is always the case, those who fail to adapt will die out completely but those who rise to the challenge will flourish.
Now, the right way to manage your content strategy is to tie all of these up into a dashboard with a content calendar.
You can at least start with a content calendar since you now know how to project the most profitable content for your business (you’re welcome). There are tons of cool examples online.
As for the dashboard, I’ll show you how I do mine in another article. If you want to get notified when it goes up, sign up to The Content Medic newsletter using the form on the left. 👈