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Yes, you need a content strategy for your blog. In fact, I would say that creating a content strategy for your blog is the important thing you can do before setting up your website.
Although, to be fair, if you’re already a fair way into your blog and you’re struggling with traffic, you can implement a content strategy from here on out.
The reason I push new bloggers to have a content strategy is that it encourages them to continue when the traffic isn’t happening. You see, with my methods, the traffic starts at 0. For like, three months. Then the views start trickling in. By month 9, if you’ve done everything properly, a flood will be coming your way.
A content strategy will keep you on track for your blog. The reason that X post didn’t go viral is that is needs y post to complement it. You don’t need backlinks – you need interlinks.
And you can’t have an effectively interlinked site until you have the right content. And in order to make sure you have the right content, you need a content strategy.
You know how many articles I had on my website before I hit 20K views a month?
But all of my time was spent on creating that content, which is what I love to do. No Facebook, no Pinterest beyond the bare minimum.
What is a content strategy for a blog?
In its simplest form, a content strategy is a list of the articles you’re going to write. It can be as simple as that. All of my blogs begin with a single line of A4 paper with numbers down the margin, and a list of articles I need to write.
How much of a content strategy really depends on your overall strategy. Are you intending that this become an authority site from the beginning? Then may think up 30 blog posts to get you going.
On the other hand, if this is going to be a niche site to be added to an existing portfolio of blogs, then maybe you can plan the entire site before you start it: fifty articles that span the entire niche. Spend a couple of months writing the articles and then leave it. Repeat the process.
How to prepare your blog’s content strategy
Firstly, you need to decide whether this is going to be your main authority site, or a niche site. Either way, I like to begin the process in the same way.
Do your keyword research. You’re searching for search term that a human being would enter into a search engine to find out information about an area of your niche.
Those of you that are doing the content strategy for an entire blog, you need to make sure that everything your target audience is looking for can be found on your site.
Don’t worry if you miss something out – your content strategy is not being written in blood, and more importantly, you can control how your site is consumed with your interlinking strategy.
Only a small proportion of your traffic will read your articles in chronological order. And (and I mean this nicely) no one will be reading in the beginning. You have plenty of time to fuck it up and fix it.
Create the spreadsheet I go through in the next paragraph. Keep this spreadsheet with you as you write your content, so that you can update the spreadsheet as you go.
Start writing your content. If you get stuck on keyword research after you’ve got a few search terms, start writing your content. You’ll probably find after writing a couple of articles which other big keywords you need to target.
Use Google to narrow down these big keywords so that you have search terms that you could rank for.
What to include in your blog’s content strategy
As I said, the content strategy for a blog can be as simple as a piece of paper with a list of article titles.
I would recommend creating a spreadsheet though – to be honest, mine’s handwritten, but you can do it however you’d like.
What to include on your content strategy spreadsheet:
Column 1 – URL – fill this in after it’s published. It’s be invaluable when you turn this spreadsheet into a Pinterest strategy spreadsheet.
Column 2 – Article title
Column 3 – Articles that this article to link to (if you’re doing this by hand, assign each post a number)
Column 4 – Articles that this article will be linked from
Other relevant keywords: if you’re new to content writing, you might want to make a list of relevant keywords. To be honest, I don’t think it’s necessary for most of us to do this.
Google’s latent semantic analysis means that as long as your content is relevant to the keyword, and there are a tonne of tips that I teach that will help your SEO.
Outbound links – this is a useful column to have if you come across an article that would be perfect to back up an article you haven’t linked to. I store these articles in Google Keep, but it does make sense to store them in your content strategy spreadsheet.
I plan on writing a post all about linking strategy, but i will say this: don’t try to hack link building. I don’t care if the website you’re linking to is a tiny Blogger blog with five articles – if it helps your user find the information they’re looking for, it’s worth it.
Why you should keep your blog’s content strategy flexible
In my experience, the whole blogging game is a process of trial and error.
I like to be extremely organised. I’m naturally very lazy and if I have to think about what to do next, I’ll just go and watch crap on Netflix. I always need to know which article I’m meant to be writing, and exactly when I have to have it written by.
But sometimes you get a brainwave. Those ten articles you had planned to write this month can be pushed back if you have a few ideas that really light a fire in you. We don’t know how long that fire will last, especially if the inspiration particles hit at 2 am. Write down those ideas on your phone, and add them to your content calendar at the next available time.
On the other end of the spectrum, you may have articles that either you don’t feel qualified to write, or you don’t think are relevant. Delete them from your content calendar and put them somewhere else.
Don’t delete them entirely – you might end up regretting it.
This is where a spreadsheet would really come in handy. Ugh. I’m gonna have to make one, aren’t I?
If you refuse to abandon your handwritten preferences, then can I suggest both notebooks that allow you to add pages, and most importantly – erasable pens. You can get them on Amazon. Life changing.
When to change your blog’s content strategy
There are times when you feel it’s necessary to change your blog’s content strategy, such as:
- Something happens that affects your niche.
You know, like a pandemic. Adding relevant, timely articles can give you a Google boost, especially if you get there first.
- One of your articles takes off, and gets a tonne of traffic.
Switch up your content strategy so that you can quickly write either relevant articles that you’d planned to write in a month or two, or articles featuring keywords you previously put to one side because they were tough to rank for.
The interlinking juice could be all it takes,
- You redo your keyword strategy
Keyword strategy is a skill that takes time to learn. It can be a good idea to revisit it if you don’t feel confident with your first attempt. You might not need to completely change your content strategy, but don’t be afraid to tweak it.
- When it’s not working
If lack of traffic is the issue here, then don’t change anything until your articles are at least six months old. New sites take an average of 8 months to really get going on Google. However, if you feel like you’re not attracting the right audience, maybe find out where your audience is hanging out and see what you’re doing differently.
Don’t go crazy and delete all your old articles. Just start implementing changes from here on out. You never know when a couple of major competitors are about to throw in the towel and leave that SERP wide open.
How to identify problems with your content strategy
Why isn’t my content being found on Google?
A lot of bloggers, especially new ones, think that Google has something against them. But Google is only interested in the most relevant information.
With literally millions of websites out there, it will take time to rank you. Google doesn’t know who you are, and what your area of expertise.
You need to tell it, and a handful of articles won’t do. The more articles you have about your niche, the more outbound links to create to sites in your niche (or adjacent to it), the more websites in your niche that you comment on, the faster Google will learn about what you’re trying to do.
So don’t write that article on blogging on your garden website. Is the affiliate commission really worth it? Google will be super confused – are you a garden blog or a blogging blog?
You’ve automatically ranked yourself below every other gardening and blogging website that sticks to it’s specific area of expertise.
If your content isn’t being found on Google, then chances are, it’s either not old enough, or it’s not good enough.
Google analytics metrics to track
A lot of people may disagree with me here, but the only metric I really care about is the average time on page. That shows me that people are reading the information.
I try not to dwell on session duration, and I pretty much ignore the bounce rate.
Only take note of your bounce rate if it’s 100%. Mine is about 85%. The thing about my approach to SEO is I’m answering people’s questions. If they have a question, and they find the answer on my site and leave, the bounce rate is high, but my job is done. That’s why I think that that average time on page os a more useful metric to look at.
In terms of tracking analytics, I just keep an eye on page views, sessions, and users (they should be going up), and that at least some of my users are returning. Past that, I’m not really bothered.
How to fix problems with your blog’s content strategy
If it’s been a year or so and you’re still not getting traffic, then you need to find out why. Firstly, check it’s not one of these reasons:
- You’re writing content that can be found on a plethora of websites.
Is your content actually unique? Are you bringing useful content to the table? This sounds obvious, but how many blog posts have you read that rehash the same tired ideas, like how to niche down, how to get traffic from social media, and how to start a blog.
Ironically, that’s why this site will be hard to rank. But I’m confident that I’m providing useful information. I don’t expect you to be starting a blog and be sharing it with your 10K instagram followers. I’m happy for you not to be on active on social media at all.
This can be tough to do, but it’s so important. The good news is, these posts can still be lucrative once you have traffic – they just won’t attract it. Focus on ranking for smaller keywords.
- You’re not interested in your niche
I spend a lot of time on blogging subreddits, and it’s ridiculous how many people pick a niche based on the return they think they’ll get.
It’s a great strategy if you have blogging skills and plenty of time, but if you’re new, you’ll get bored and burn out.
Pick your niche based on your interest and/or expertise. If you’re interested but not an expert (and vice versa) the way you position yourself as an authority is different, but no less useful or potentially lucrative.
In fact, being a beginner is great when you’re doing keyword research – you can use your own Google history, and you’ll know exactly what information and resources you struggled to find (and then create them).
- Your niche is hard to rank for
The most important niches are YMYL ones, which means your money your life. Basically, if you’re doing anything purporting to personal finance or health, it’ll be a bitch to rank for.
You’ll need to spend a lot of time on your keyword research, it’ll take you longer to rank, and if you accidentally publish inaccurate information, Google will shut you down.
So please consider this before starting your health and wellness blog. It’ll be a bugger to rank for.
If you’ve found an angle that you think could work – for example you’re doing a B2B blog, or you’re a nurse that’s blogging to teach other nurses non-medical nurse-related stuff, then you could be sitting on a gold mine. Don’t give up. But if you’re publishing diet tips, fitness tips, or personal finance tips, and you don’t have AT LEAST a related qualification or are an SEO expert, you’re in for a long, arduous journey.
- You’re plugging MLM products
Just…no. Google views MLMs are predatory organisations for good reason. I don’t care how successful you’ve been, plenty of people have been conned. I once went to an Arbonne meeting and was staggered by how easy they made it seem. Pick another niche.
So how do you fix your content strategy?
Check your Google analytics for posts that perform well, Make more similar content. Why is your badly-performing content not getting the views? Is it just a matter of time? Does it need more content, more links?
In a nutshell, make more content like the content that’s doing well, or go back and revisit your keyword strategy.
Final thoughts on creating a content strategy for your blog
You absolutely don’t need a content strategy for you blog. I mean, it’s your blog. But personally, it’s the only way I can stay on track.
Knowing exactly what I should be doing really helps my productivity, which is something we writers can really struggle with. I kind of wish I’d been a writer back when it was all about drinking two bottles of rum and reading your manuscript aloud to your rapt inner circle.
Alas, those days are gone. In my experience, the quickest way to attract a rapt audience is to create a content strategy that ensures I don’t miss out a topic of my niche, so I can best serve my users, and it keeps me accountable.