This post discusses the Content Strategy for SEO and Lead Generation course as part of Track 5 (of 7) for the Growth Marketing program from the CXL Institute. The course is taught by Andy Crestodina, cofounder and strategic director of Orbit Media Studios. It covers each step in planning a successful B2B content strategy, including keyword/keyphrase research, content search engine optimization, finding content influencers and collaborators, efficient content production processes, and how to measure and optimize content for better traffic.
Content Strategy Overview.
Content marketing is the opposite of advertising. Rather than relying on paid media to drive attention for a business, content marketing attempts to ‘earn’ the attention by creating online authority. This means actual website authority is the central goal of the entire content marketing machine.
Put Content On a Mission.
Crestodina emphasizes the importance of approaching content marketing strategically. It, of course, must align with any broader marketing and business frameworks, but a helpful content mission template is provided:
“Our content is where [audience x] gets [information y] that offers [benefit z].”
Example: “Our content is where retired expatriates get cryptocurrency insights that help them discover investment opportunities.”
Clear content mission statements can even double as calls-to-action for the related blog or website (at the very least, crafting a mission that could be a call-to-action provides clarity for internal teams who create the content).
Finding the Right Topics, Keywords, and Keyphrases.
With a content mission in place (and supported by business strategy), it’s critical to remember the intended outcome of domain (website) authority and relevance. With this in mind, there are three criteria for choosing keyphrases:
- Popularity – People are searching for it.
- Competition – There is a chance of ranking for it.
- Relevance – What you produce must satisfy what people are searching for. To be in the top 10 results (which is page #1 of search results) you actually need to make one of the ten best pages on the internet for that topic… are you able and willing to do that?
Crestodina points out several discovery tools and processes:
Search Keyword & Keyphrase Discovery.
- Using something as simple as Google’s main search window for autocompletion of longer queries based on top keywords for the relevant business.
- Using more powerful free tools like Answer the Public and Keyword Tool for a more expanded approach to the Google search.
- Using professional tools like SEMrush to conduct a detailed analysis of category words, and competitor keywords, and related high-performing content.
- Quora – Question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, followed, and edited by Internet users, either factually or in the form of opinions.
- LinkedIn (focus on groups and comments) – Where professional topics are organically discussed and popularly (sharing and commenting) are easy to gauge.
- Reddit (or other forums) – Where open discussion is easily searchable and quantifiable for volume.
- Crestodina points to various qualitative ‘listening’ opportunities from which to draw content ideas, focusing on customers/audience, sales teams, and customer services teams. Techniques for this sort of qualitative discovery have been covered at length in the Product Messaging Research course and the Growth Marketing Research Testing Course.
The Power of Creating Original Research.
The unfortunate truth is that most content gets no links and few shares. The Pareto Principle is in full effect, with a sliver of content creating the bulk of the results, and most everything else creating negligible outcomes.
The most valuable course direction, in my opinion, is to focus on research:
“…if you want to create content that achieves a high level of both shares and links then you should concentrate on opinion-forming, authoritative content… or well researched and evidenced content…if you want to create content that achieves a high level of both shares and links then you should concentrate on strong opinions, original research.”
Remember, the root goal of content marketing is to build authority. And authority is built by creating a trusted voice and source of truth. Original research unlocks the authority. It can anchor entire volumes of content.
Crestodina puts it simply: “What do people in your industry often say but rarely support?” Create that missing research, and the authority will follow.
Three ways to produce research.
- Observation – Pick a data set. Gather data.
- Aggregation – Combine data from existing sources.
- Survey – Mass outreach and analysis.
The Power of Content Collaboration.
Crestodina rightfully recommends having a ‘collaborative’ approach to content, creating interviews, roundups, and the like. As he puts it:
“An ally in creation is an ally in promotion.”
5 Ways to Collaborate:
- Quote and mention in an article
- Ask for a contributor quote
- Include them in an expert roundup
- Invite them to guest post
- Deep dive interview
Turn on the ‘Content Machine’.
Following the original ‘research = authority‘ mandate, extend out the value of the research investment by doing as many of the following as possible:
- Publish a piece of research that is relevant to your service
- Create a content upgrade to go with it
- Create an infographic version of the research
- Interview an influencer on the topic
- Write a guest post on a relevant publication
- Publish a set of related blog posts
- Link to everything!
Analyzing, Measuring, and Additional Resources.
A good portion of the back half of the course goes into more technical elements like how authority and relevance are analyzed and measured (Crestodina demonstrates the Google Analytics search console, behavior flow, applying dimensions, and other technical reporting).
For those that are unfamiliar with Google Analytics and other SEO tools, the overview is well-done. For more experienced digital marketers, the additional resources and templates below allow for deeper self-guided paths.
- Article Template
- Content Strategy Explained in 180 Seconds!
- Lead Generation Best Practices: 24 Steps That Make a Difference
- How to Create Your Content Marketing Mission
- A Guide For Repurposing: The Periodic Table of Content
- Content Marketing Collaboration: 5 Ways to Upgrade Your Content
- How to do a content audit in 7-steps
- Blog Optimization
- How to turn your email into high ranking articles
- Zero-Waste Marketing: How to get value from your next post
- Web Content Checklist
- How to Write a Headline That Won’t Get Ignored
- Headline Analyzer
- SEO Basics Tutorial and Video
- How to Research Keyphrases
- Semantic SEO Tutorial and Video