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Blog Content Strategy 101

Content strategy might seem like the domain of giant content sites and big-brand online publishers. But if you run a blog, you’re a content publisher. And a solid content strategy can help you to more clearly define your goals, and identify how you’ll achieve them.

For those for whom content is a business, a content strategy can help support, and achieve, the goals set out in your business strategy.

What is Content Strategy?

A content strategy is a plan that helps your users achieve their goals, and helps you to achieve your own goals, through your web site’s content.

Content strategy treats content as an asset that can be used, or combined with other informational or interactive tools, to help users achieve their aims on your site. Content strategy prevents you from seeing your content as mere tactical executions that — hopefully — support some distant business goal. Content strategy frames content as a tool.

Kristina Halvorsen, content strategy guru and founder of content strategy consultancy Brain Traffic, defines content strategy as including editorial strategy, web writing, metadata strategy, search engine optimization, content management strategy, and content channel distribution strategy.

Stepping Toward Strategy

I see the creation of a content strategy as involving these steps.

  1. Set content goals.
  2. Conduct content inventory and identify content gaps.
  3. Review and amend, where appropriate, site taxonomy or labeling, content tagging, and categorisation so that your current treatment of content reflects the goals you’ve set.
  4. Identify content-related tasks and responsibilities.
  5. Set a plan for:
    - filling content gaps
    - the direction of future content
    - recycling or reusing evergreen content to achieve the greatest possible ROI

    Let’s look at each step in turn.

    1. Setting Content Goals

    Every good blog meets a particular need for a given audience. Your content goals are the place where, on paper, your audience members’ needs can be aligned with your business needs.

    For example, imagine I run a blog on chicken keeping, and my audience is backyard poultry keepers — families and others who aren’t exactly poultry enthusiasts or breeders, but want to have a few hens scratching in the backyard. And let’s say I want to generate an income of $1000 per month from my blog six months from now.

    The only way I’m going to achieve my goal is through content: by providing my audience with the information they need. Whether I join affiliate programs, conduct paid product reviews, sell ad space or sell ebooks about chicken keeping, if I don’t publish the content, I won’t have an audience, and I won’t generate an income.

    Content translates to pageviews, audience growth, engagement and loyalty — all the things that bloggers need to monetise their blogs. So my content goals might cover:

    • publishing frequency
    • per-post, per-month, or per-category traffic objectives
    • topic emphasis, post type, or media used
    • the quantity and quality of comments, discussions and feedback

    Even if your blog isn’t a financial concern, content goals will help you stay focused on your blog’s unique advantage — its point of difference — and make the most of that with every post you publish.

    2. Conducting a Content Inventory

    A thorough content inventory involves listing each piece of content on your blog, and noting its publish date categorisation, tags, and any other metadata associated with it.

    Through this process, you’ll find outdated posts, incorrectly categorised or tagged posts, broken links, spam comments, typos — all kinds of issues! Once you’re finished, you’ll also have a clear idea of the strengths of your existing content assets, as well as the weaknesses. And by considering your content inventory in light of your content goals, you’ll quickly be able to find content gaps: areas in which you lack the content that will be required to achieve your goals.

    If one of my goals is for my chicken keeping site to be the recognised authority for backyard hobby poultry keepers, I’ll need the content to back that up. My content inventory will undoubtedly reveal some areas in which my content is lacking, incomplete, amateurish, or fails to represent best-practice approaches. They’re my content gaps for this goal.

    3. Reviewing and Amending Content Treatment

    The information you collected on your content’s metadata during the content inventory also needs to be analysed in light of your goals. This might reveal other gaps — perhaps you’ve overlooked some important tags, or the tags you’ve used don’t reflect the terms audience members usually search for. You’ll want to identify those issues and address them, creating additional tags, making sure your content is categorised as logically and intuitively as possible, and ensuring that the mechanics of your content are closely aligned with your content goals.

    One of my chicken keeping blog goals was income, and I’ve decided I’ll use good organic search placement as one technique to build my readership. My content inventory shows that I’ve tagged all my content about poultry housing with the tag “hen houses”, but my research shows that searchers most commonly search for the term “coops”. I might add that tag to my site — and all related posts — to boost my position in those search results. I might also change the navigation label on my blog that leads to specliaised content about hen houses from “Housing” to “Coops” so that when the users I’ve attracted reach my blog, they see exactly the thing they’re looking for.

    This step is really about looking at the ancillary information that allows users to find and contextualise the information you present, and making sure it’s optimised for your user and blog goals.

    4. Identifying Content Tasks and Responsibilities

    If you’re a solo blogger, the second part of this step will be easy: you’ll be responsible for everything! But just what is “everything”?

    How often will you publish new content? What tools will you use to publish it? Where will you source it and what requirements will you place on every item published on your blog? Who will follow up on any copyright issues and check the factual accuracy of each post? Who will run the spell check? Who will schedule the posts and who will hit the “publish” button? How will you work out, or know, when you need to add a category or tag to the site? And how will you populate that new category with content?

    If your blog is time-relevant, you might need a plan for retiring old content, but every blog contains some content that will become outdated in time. How will you manage that? Where will you redirect users who try to access retired content?

    These are just some of the questions about tasks and responsibilities that you’ll want to answer through your content strategy. The guidelines you’ll want to set at this point will depend on the nature of your blog, and where you want to take it in future. For example, in developing my authoritative chicken keeping blog, I might decide to request guest posts from well-known breeders. This decision has implications for copyright, publishing schedules, consistency of style and voice, and so on. I’ll need to try to anticipate and answer those questions in my strategy.

    5. Setting Your Plan

    The work you’ve done so far forms the basis for your content strategy. You’ve defined a focus, audience and goals, and reshaped your blog (and its underlying process and management) so that it’s in the best possible position to achieve your goals as you move forward.

    The final step involves setting out action plans to implement strategies and tactics that will help you achieve those goals over time.

    That might involve tasks like:

    • filling large-scale content gaps
    • trying new content-sourcing tactics, post types, and media
    • recycling, reusing or repackaging evergreen content to achieve the greatest possible return on your investment in it

    When you work with content all the time, it can be difficult to step back and see your blog as a whole. That’s why comparatively few bloggers have developed content strategies for their blogs. But a good content strategy can help you to focus, and build your offering strategically using content assets that appreciate, rather than devalue, over time.

    Do you have a content strategy for your blog, or are you winging it?

    Continue reading this series of articles on questions surrounding blog content.

    About the Author: Georgina has more than ten years’ experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. She now blogs for WebWorkerDaily and SitePoint, and consults on content to a range of other clients.

    About Georgina Laidlaw

    Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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    Comments

    1. Josh Garcia says:

      Hey Georgina,

      Thanks for putting this together. We need to get reminded of this once in a while. Creating content sometimes can really get frustrating if you don’t have a plan. With what you just put together will relief some of that frustration if followed.

      Have a great weekend…
      Josh

    2. I definitely don’t have any content strategy, based on what I just read. Haha. I never retire old blog posts and I can’t say I follow a schedule. I know these are all things I should do sooner or later though.

      I’ll get to it at some point! haha

      CJ

    3. Great article! It’s very helpful to start thinking about building and maintaining content in a systematic way. I’m working on upgrading my blog from a hobby to something more serious and I use Problogger all the time for help. Thanks!!
      Sophie

    4. Typhoon says:

      Planning up properly your article is really important and useful. If you don’t plan properly then you will surely get annoyed in-between your writing on something that will ultimately create a messy article which is not good for your blog & which is completely a waste of time..

      So plan before you write as said by Georgina..Nice post dear.

      Regards,
      Typhoon a.k.a Sushant
      http://www.smartbloggerz.com

    5. G-lish says:

      Funny, I spent most of last week working on just this issue. I was reading some of the free online guides for blogging as well as the 31 days book from here(!) and developed my own system for organizing and strategising content.

      I developed a set of icons to represent the ideas needed throughout the structuring process so that, when scanning a large document, I could see visually what needed to be done on content development, quickly, instead of having to read word by word.

      This ended up at more than 20 icons representing ideas like “do now” “Needs more consideration” “dependent on the task after it” “strategy” “tactic” “Must write” “Must research” etc, which has somewhat revolutionised the entire process. So much simpler. Also set targets for each “feature” post, as I call the big ones.

      This post will add to that. Thank you!

    6. Hi,

      Planning is very important in content. A plan and strategy can work wonders.

      Thanks for sharing this, as many of us do need to be reminded on content strategy.

      Kindest,
      Nabeel

    7. Julie Myers says:

      Thanks so much for putting this together. It can be so easy to just try to do this off-the-cuff – thinking that you’ll just sit down and write when you need to. Without a plan it just makes it easier to have more and more time in between posts. Before you know it, you’ve gone a couple months without anything new. Having a plan and sticking to it will make it less frustrating and more enjoyable.

    8. Amanda Music says:

      This is fantastic! It’s a good idea to be prepared.

    9. Having a strategy is key to success in blogging.

    10. Michelle says:

      Wow, what a great post- I really needed this. I have been going through old posts and refining keywords, updating old content and recycling content but I haven’t given enough thought to a content strategy. I have some of idea of my content, but I need to make an actual strategy for content. Can’t wait!

    11. Whether you are a blogger, or responsible for writing a blog for a company, you need to have a plan and strategy for your blog, and know exactly what you will write.

      I don’t think you need to outline exact blog titles, must at least clearly understanding what topics or business areas need to be covered and when.

      I am curious about the concept of “retiring old content”. What kind of blogs would need to retire or delete old content? I’m racking my brain and cannot seem to think of any…

    12. Brenda Ross says:

      Excellent post! These are the same basic guidelines I offer new clients; especially small business clients who want to start a blog.

      Unfortunately, not everyone will take the advice. I give them a basic content blueprint to follow and try to help my clients stay on track.

    13. Marsha Stopa says:

      Georgina,

      Thanks for this. I’ve just spent the last three days brainstorming, mind-mapping and outlining my site content, partly so I can determine what will go in upcoming classes and workbooks, but also to eliminate the “content gaps” you described.

      in the process I discovered a quick, reader-focused way to create user-friendly content. I wrote down 20 common questions I expect my readers are asking based on Google searches that bring them to my site.

      Then I listed at least two bullet points under each question that tie into a key element of my content I can use to answer the question, and one suggested call-to-action or takeaway for the reader to answer their need for an “immediate fix.”

      Now I have a quick outline for myself when I sit down to write. These solution-based posts will also be useful for guest posts.

    14. Sinea Pies says:

      Newbie to blogging! This information is so helpful–and challenging–to me since everything in online writing is new to me. I will definitely hold onto this one and revisit it often!

    15. I like to use a weekly goal list for content creation. I will set goals such as: Create 5 blog posts/emails, write 30 articles, comment on 30 blogs/day etc.

      I keep them on a sheet and simply check them off when I’m done. After I get through my goals, I know that I don’t have to worry about them for that week.

      If I want to increase my content exposure the next week, I tweak my little piece of paper a bit and off we go.

      -Joshua Black
      The Underdog Millionaire

    16. I’ve been winging it, but it makes sense to take a more conprehensive approach to content. Thanks for the informatation.

    17. It never occurred to me to consider “content gaps”. I’ve been somewhat intimidated by blogging however by looking for what I haven’t covered yet, I most certainly can come up plenty of ideas. Thank You.

    18. jason says:

      I am of the firm belief that a content strategy is as important as a monetization strategy, and the tips that you have laid out are great points to make these goals realized by many online bloggers.

    19. Jimmy says:

      My blog doesn’t have a plan, and believe me I’ve been paying the price.

    20. Frank Adams says:

      This is really useful. Thanks for sharing this post. Setting up a plan is the best way to mold the path to blogging success and also a little practicality, common sense and a good nose for opportunities.

    21. You’re so very right Georgina.

      Spending time on content strategy is an essential, yet often overlooked, step in the blogging world.

      I’d like to add just one insight – a successful blog delivers a wholistic experience.

      The intent and goal of content strategy should also be to deliver the experience that is expected by the audience.

    22. Love the idea of keeping a content inventory. I have been going back through my original posts and refining categories and tags etc, and find it to be a tedious process. Keeping an inventory will simplify the process and will help to track my blog and its direction. Thank you.

    23. Setting goals and applying them properly is very important. Though sometimes it becomes hard to do so!

    24. Chris says:

      Blogging is such a great way to make an online income. However, you have to know exactly what you’re doing. Lots of people make the mistake of starting up a free blog only to realize that they should have gone with a professional platform like WordPress. I think many people shy away from it because they think it will be costly and complicated.

    25. I have never planned out what I am going to post on my blog in advance like you suggest, but after reading this I will be taking your advice and using the content planning you mentioned.
      It just go to show that you can learn so much from a well thought out blog such as yours

      Thanks
      Garry
      http://homeeasyearn.com

    26. I like this post alot. My blog is a bit random at the moment and I really need to have more of a plan for what I am going to post about. I tend to just post on what is in my head at the time! I guess this does not fill those gaps in my blog that need filling.

    27. Tech Maish says:

      Content is asset and for content strategy is very essential. Thanks for these useful tips.

    28. Sean Supplee says:

      Solid information and things I can use to keep pumping out quality information for my readers. Also picked up your pro blogger book from B&Njust started reading it this weekend. Thanks!

    29. Kamal Hasa says:

      Content can be created for a specific group of people or for a certain community. The fact is that content has to speak for itself.

      I generally tend to write articles in a way that the users feel that they read something what they wanted to :)

    30. Jacque Eken says:

      This is an amazingly good blog and thanks once again for posting this kind of information! This is good stuff!

    31. I am just in the beginning stages of rolling out my blog, and I was planning to “plan” this weekend around things like frequency, topics, post types, etc. This post is very timely for me, and I’ll definitely keep it on hand through my planning process. Thank you!

    32. Dave Folkens says:

      Great topic for sure. It’s easy to get off track when working on a blog and not sticking to whatever goals you started with in creating the blog. Every so often it’s really helpful to look back at what is or isn’t working and if you’re happy with the direction.

      If it is, keep it up and layout some ideas for the future. If it’s not working, it’s time to go back and build a new content strategy that’s realistic and will help you remain on track to where you want to go.

      Thanks for the post-
      Dave
      @dfolkens

    33. Hi,

      Content strategy is something I’m working on my blogs. Whether is for financial gain or hobby, you need to put targeted content for your audiences. Blog twice a week with great value is a must for your blog.

      Thanks for this post.

    34. Cindy Lavoie says:

      Content strategy is a topic I’m seeing more and more in blog posts about blogging. And with good reason. Blogging takes a lot of time & effort and deserves a solid plan to make that time & effort worthwhile for your business. Most of my clients are not looking to make money from their blog directly, but are looking to build leads, increase search rankings, and develop an online reputation. These things can only be accomplished over time, working toward specific goals, and structuring content to meet those goals. A good blogger really needs to think and act like a combination marketer/editor.

    35. This is a wake up call for many. A few years back I used to aimlessly post content that I found in random places roughly related to my target audience, but found that it really didnt get any traction.

      Since then I really think long and hard about what to post and try to add value to my readers.

      I have seen some bloggers who post once every 2 months, but when they do it is mind blowing stuff.

    36. Great Article. This is a good refresher course on planning content.

      I really appreciate it!

    37. bulbul says:

      Content strategy is a topic I’m seeing more and more in blog posts about blogging. And with good reason. Blogging takes a lot of time & effort and deserves a solid plan to make that time & effort worthwhile for your business. Most of my clients are not looking to make money from their blog directly, but are looking to build leads, increase search rankings, and develop an online reputation. These things can only be accomplished over time, working toward specific goals, and structuring content to meet those goals. A good blogger really needs to think and act like a combination marketer/editor.

    38. English is my only obstacle when I’m running an English blog, but when I’m writing for my Indonesian blog, there is no problem.

    39. godlark says:

      Thanks ;)
      I must start developing content of my blog. I didn’t have any content strategy :/

    40. Thanks Georgina,

      Excellent post. I have many posts on my blog of which I have no idea what they are at this stage.

      I have been thinking for quite a while how to get to them and how I should organise them.

      Your post just gave me the right ideas to apply. I am sure there are some links in there which are not valid anymore or some post which are outdated at this stage.

      Just have to do some house cleaning.

      I would like to change the category names on my blog, would that create problems for my rankings, Your ideas would be helpful.

    41. Paul Reimers says:

      Thanks Georgina,

      This post was extremely helpful. My blog is really new and one thing that I learned from this post is to look for content gaps in my blog. It is so easy to overlook something like this!

      Thanks!

    42. POG says:

      Hey

      Content strategy is something I’m working on my blogs. Whether is for financial gain or hobby, you need to put targeted content for your audiences. Blog twice a week with great value is a must for your blog.

      Thanks so much

    43. Eric Roth says:

      Thank you for this detailed, long, and illuminating post that provides step-by-step guidance to doing what I’ve never done – and should have done – long ago to become a successful blogger.

    Trackbacks

    1. [...] Well, sort of. That approach might be fine in the early days of a blog, when you feel the need to cover every topic in your niche, and you want to write about everything. But that kind of scattergun approach can be less than appropriate. Knee-jerk writing might get content onto your site, but it won’t necessarily meet the long-term strategies you’ve set for your blog. [...]