Content strategy: building out your content with articles

Welcome back!  Today we’re continuing our discussion of content strategy, namely, how to develop and leverage our content by writing articles.  As you may recall, an essential part of our ongoing content strategy is to reach our prospects in the research phase of their buying cycle, when they’re actively gathering information about our product or service before honing in on their final purchase decision.

The research phase of the buying cycle represents a HUGE content marketing opportunity!  By building out our content, we can capture our targeted customers at this pre-purchase, “window shopping” phase.  So let’s turn our attention to writing articles.

Articles:  Pros and Cons

You’ve heard it time and again, “content is king.”  Yes it is, and especially fresh content.  It is elemental to a well trafficked website.  Informative articles are a simple and highly effective way to provide your target audience with the content they’re seeking in the research phase, and ideally will also lead prospects to your site!

An important point to keep in mind is the tone and feel of your articles – they should match that of you site.  If your site “sounds” and “feels” warm and easy-going, then so should your article.  And if your company doesn’t blog, then publishing articles is the most powerful strategy available to you to add fresh, ongoing content and capture targeted traffic.

Article Pros:

  • Like FAQ pages, well-optimized articles can generate incredible search engine rankings.  If your research shows that your target audience is searching for “massage therapist advice,” then show off your expertise and give them that content!
  • You can break into the article creation process slowly.  You needn’t overwhelm by thinking you have to produce x number of articles per month. (Depending on the size of your site and your SEO ambitions, your fresh content strategy could be as modest as adding a few new pages to your site each month).
  • Link love:  folks like to link to well written, informative articles.  Not only can these quality links to your content translate into higher rankings and brand exposure, the lovely person who linked to your article is introducing your site to their readers and sending new traffic your way!

Article Cons:

  • You may find it difficult to commit to your “continually produce fresh content” strategy. After setting up your editorial calendar (outlining what articles will be written for the month, by whom, and when they’ll be published to the web), you’ll find that a hundred fires have started that need putting out before you can get to that article, guaranteed.  Do it anyway.  Remember that the only thing worse than having no articles is having the “latest” article dated from three months ago.

How to Structure an Article

This is easy:  you’ll follow the same process you did when writing your sales pages.  You’ll craft a compelling headline, including your main keyphrase and a benefit to the reader.  That brings us to the second step: ask yourself what the target reader would want to know, and simply structure your article around that.  A few specific tips are:

  • Stuck for article ideas?  Try the tools we used to generate keyphrase ideas:  Google Insights and Twitter.  As you did then, brainstorm some basic ideas, enter them into the search box and see what folks are discussing!
  • Remember to hyperlink your readers back to your site’s product or service pages whenever possible.  Of course it’s great when someone lands on your article pages, but it’s even better when that person takes the desired conversion step.
  • Are you creating a PDF whitepaper that you want readers to download?  While it’s true that search engines can’t read images, they can read the text in a PDF document.  For greatest success, open your PDF and click File > Documents > Custom.  This will open a dialogue box that allows you to create an optimized Title, “description” (Subject), and meta keywords tag.

And voila, a well-optimized PDF white paper!

That’s all for today — thanks for dropping by!  Check in again next Monday, when we’ll discuss blogging as part of our evolving content development strategy.  See you then!