Whether you are writing content alone or with a group developing a process which moves your content from the idea phase to completion is an important step in any content marketing campaign. While the terminology used may differ from agency to agency, the process is essentially the same and hopefully after reading this article will help you use the same methods used by agencies all over the country.
The first step of the process involves creating an idea. This “Ideation” or “Pitch” is used to kick off the process of content creation.
The pitch is a summary of the content idea. A good pitch will explain why a piece of content is relevant for your site, the SEO goals of the content and the sources that will be used. It could include images, video, or other collateral as well.
So, what makes a good pitch?
Starting The Creative Process
There is no wrong or right way to begin the process of putting together your pitch. However, it’s usually best to save the keyword research for later and instead, think of content that someone would want to read. Don’t be so focused on keywords that you miss an opportunity to create an engaging piece of content that will provide value to the person searching for your topic.
While keyword research allows you to identify what you want to get out of the process, and shows you what people are already searching for, it rarely provides insight into what will make someone engage with your content. In fact it can often make you too focused on specific keywords while missing opportunities to generate traffic from more general terms.
Authority is generated by the sum of the parts of your website. No single page, blog post or author is going to magically make your site an authority, by focusing on developing resources people will actually use rather than only the terms they are searching for you can accelerate the development of authority and trust for your domain.
Let’s take a look at how putting keywords first can drive limited results:
A local dentist is having problems finding new clients, and has contacted a number of local search optimization companies who are suggesting that he needs to improve the content on his website to increase the number of prospective clients finding his practice online. Up until now our friend the dentist has relied on word of mouth and a web page built by his son over a decade ago. When he searches his name online he finds out that his web site does not even show up. He is confused and unwilling to pay the large amount of money he is being asked to pay.
Thinking himself a clever fellow, our friend the dentist begins to poke around online. He reads a few articles and after spending a week studying the subject figures he must have it figured out. He sees that in order to rank on the internet your website must contain the keywords you want to rank for. Further he sees that by doing something called SEO he can make his website more effective than his competition. Certain about his new knowledge, our friend the dentist decides to put up a new WordPress site and write articles that contain the keywords he wants to show up for in search.
The dentist, having written many college papers figures there must be some set of rules he needs to follow, after all their always are. So he searches a bit more and finds that the first step to creating content is, choose your keywords.
And there friends is where our story takes a decidedly dark turn. Our poor friend the dentist has been misled, bamboozled, snaked, and possibly taken to the cleaners. Imagine the sound of a car crashing and hitting the wall as a hub cap rolls slowly past.
The story was going so well, what happened?
Content Creates Engagement, Not Keywords
I’ll be honest, I’ve followed the advice I’ve read online and listed out dozen’s of keywords I’d love to rank for. The reality is that unless I can drive traffic to my site, create engagement and perfect the process of producing content that people really want to read, I’m better off running paid search ads. Content Marketing is no longer a cheap alternative to Pay Per Click Ads. Content Marketing requires that you are an authority in the subject you want to rank for. Creating that authority means not only including the keywords you want to show for, but actually creating content someone will want to read.
Let’s take just a minute and open our browsers in incognito mode and search for “great dental care” in your location.
How many articles do you see with the same title as your search? Likely not many, excluding the paid ads.
First you see the local google business search results. In general, these are ranked according to user engagement and the proximity of the searcher to the business. Two things which are difficult to optimize for. However that term engagement keeps coming up, so there may be something of interest there.
After the Google business listing, local review sites such as yelp and other directories display prominently. The value these sites provide to the searcher is that they more likely to provide unbiased information about a business. A subject for another day, but this is rarely actually true.
However, in principle it’s somewhat apparent why Google is ranking these sites higher than some random person who know he can make money if he ranks for a certain keyword. This always reminds me of the “Discount” vasectomy sign I always see on the highway outside of Tampa Florida. Do you want a cheap Dentist in charge or your dental health?
You may also see some sites that would appear to prove what I’m saying to be wrong. You may see sites with keywords in the domain, sites with thin content and sites which seem completely devoid of any value. Sites which for all intensive purposes don’t deserve to rank.
For me this shows exactly how difficult it is for an algorithm to understand human intent when searching. These are the mistakes that search engines are trying to avoid. It shows a clear indication of the problem search engines are trying to solve. More on this in later posts…
That’s the problem with looking at keyword’s first. If your content doesn’t rank then it just sits there, with no one looking at it. Oh sure maybe there is some technical value, it improves some keyword weight or metric somewhere on your site that might increase your visits by .05%. Largely however, it’s going to waste because no one wants to read it, no one is seeing it and therefore no one can engage with it.
What is Engagement? How Do I Get It?
Engagement is a measure how home many times someone clicks, reads, likes, shares, pins, forwards, prints or interacts in any way with your content. And the key to a great content marketing campaign is to get as much engagement as possible. This means that your content must rise above the crowd and make people want to interact with it. Your job is to use any means possible to deliver interested eyeballs to your website. Don’t leave them on Facebook or Twitter. Get them to your site!
This is how our friend the dentist could have started his content marketing campaign.
- Ask yourself what is controversial about your topic?
- Ask yourself what is new about your topic?
- Ask yourself how you can provide a unique perspective on your topic?
- Ask yourself if this is valuable to someone who is searching for an answer?
Maybe our friend the dentist just got back from a conference where he learned about a new pain free root canal method. Maybe he one an award, or joined a local organization, or gave a talk at a local school. Maybe he provides pain free dentistry without drugs.
The point is you have to come up with an idea that is going to drive user engagement. No one wants to read a page focused on keywords. We want to see what to expect, we want to connect with people and yes ultimately engage with their content. Sometimes the news provides us with ideas, maybe a new discovery or a problem in our field that we are uniquely capable of addressing. Perhaps our content would be interesting to other dentists.
If it seems like a lot of work, it can be. But figuring out how you are going to engage people, how your going to get them interested, how your going to hook them is the most important part of content marketing. And so when it comes to writing the pitch working out the hook is as important as choosing the topic, identifying the target persona, and optimizing for keywords. Without the hook and the engagement it brings, your content will fall flat.