Ever since the term ‘growth hacking’ entered the marketing lexicon in 2010, it’s been a shining light for digital marketers around the world. From content marketers to SEO and paid media specialists, everyone wants to know how to speed up their journey to success.
Thankfully, there are many ways to do this, not all of which require equal amounts of effort, time, or money. If you’re running particularly short on the latter, there are several steps you can take to growth hack your content strategy and set yourself up for success. That said, it’s important to remember that SEO is a long-term process. While you can hasten your progress, there’s really no such thing as an overnight success.
Fact: Growth takes time and sustained effort.
With that in mind, here are 5 tips to build a successful, long-term content strategy without burning through your 2020 marketing budget.
1. Work out your strengths (and weaknesses)
The first step to building your content strategy is simply starting where you are and understanding your current strengths and weaknesses. You might not be able to allocate a huge chunk of budget to content marketing, but what other strengths and resources do you have? Do you have a strong community of fans that are talking about your brand online? Can you get inspiration from user-generated content? Do you have time to allocate to inexpensive content strategy tactics?
It’s also important to assess where your budget is currently going. Are you spending considerable resources on paid media? If so, are there any takeaways from your paid campaigns you can use when designing your content campaign?
On the flip side, identifying your weaknesses and shortcomings will help you decide the areas you most need to focus on to maximise the ROI of your time spent. Think about what you have tried in the past. What worked, and what didn’t? Is there anything that worked that you can try again?
All of these questions will point you towards your “quick-wins” or “low-hanging fruit” – in other words, the areas where you can quickly improve without spending too much of your time or resources.
Now that you’ve decided on your action plan, the last step is to set expectations and decide on the KPIs that are important to you. These are essential to measure the success of your campaign and put into place an accurate build-measure-learn loop that will help you fine-tune your content strategy moving forward.
2. Diversify your digital strategy
You may not have the biggest budget in the world, but do you really need it? Some of the biggest brands have grown from zero to hero without massive advertising budgets.
Take, for example, the action camera brand GoPro. While the company does use some traditional advertising, their success is largely due to the popularity of their YouTube channel. Since 2009, GoPro has been one of the most successful brands on the platform and built a profile packed with user-generated videos of customers surfing, skydiving, or even mountain biking.
As these videos began to attract a dedicated following, GoPros quickly became the most talked-about action camera on the market. Suddenly, purchasing a GoPro became more than buying a simple camera – it meant becoming a part of a community of extreme sports enthusiasts. And all thanks to their online content strategy, which cost $0 in the making.
If you’re not ranking well on Google (something SEO specialists will tell you is becoming more and more difficult with each algorithm update), it’s time to think outside the box and find other ways you can compete. Ask yourself:
- Can I compete on YouTube SEO?
YouTube is the second most-popular search engine after Google, and its results pages are significantly less crowded. If you’ve got talented film-makers on your team, this could be a great way to reach some of YouTube’s 1 billion monthly visitors by answering common questions, making engaging or funny videos, creating tutorials, or sharing some behind-the-scenes content.
- Can I compete on Amazon SEO?
If customers can purchase your product on Amazon, optimise your listing for Amazon’s search algorithm by figuring out the right mix of product titles, keywords, images, and reviews. Making all these elements work for you is a sure way to get your product in front of nearly 200 million monthly users around the world.
- Can I compete on the App Store?
If you’re trying to maximise downloads of your mobile app, following the best practices of App Store Optimisation (ASO) can both increase traffic to your listing and improve your conversion rate.
- Can I optimise images?
If competition is too steep on Google’s main SERP, why not aim for the image SERP? Simply by following a few best practices on image optimisation for SEO, you could gain extra exposure to potential customers.
- Can I do reputation management?
Online word-of-mouth and reviews of your business play an important role in consumers’ perception of your brand, and can affect organic search performances. Proactive online reputation management (like keeping an eye on your product reviews, or using blogs and social media to listen – and sometimes react – to what consumers are saying about you) is an inexpensive way to ensure potential customers have a positive perception of your brand.
If, after answering all those questions, your mind is still set on competing on Google’s SERPs, here are a few different ways you can dominate those:
- The Knowledge Panel: Setting up a Google My Business listing (and keeping it up to date) will help your business stand out and increase the real estate you own when customers search for your brand online.
- Featured Snippets: Optimising existing content for featured snippets could help your website appear in Google’s coveted “position 0”, which appears above all other listings.
3. Optimise your existing content
One sure way to save time and resources is to use what you already have instead of starting from scratch. If your business is already up and running, you most likely already have product descriptions, meta information, and maybe even some blog articles to work with. To start, we recommend taking the following optimisation actions:
- Fine-tune your meta information to increase CTR
Use Google Search Console to identify pages that have a low click-through-rate on popular queries. This may be an indication that the Page Title and Meta Description are irrelevant to the query or aren’t enticing enough.
- Rethink your targeted keywords
Instead of targeting generic keywords with large search volumes and overly crowded SERPs, you should target niche keywords that are highly relevant to your business by focusing on long-tail queries. Moreover, creating content that targets user intent (informational, navigational, or transactional, depending on where the user is in their buyer journey) can quickly improve your relevance on SERPs and attract qualified search traffic.
- Repurpose existing content
If you have existing blog posts, analysing their organic performance with Google Analytics will help you identify posts that may be in need of updating. Some posts may be too short (anything under 300 words should be reworked into a longer-format article), fail to fully answer the customer’s question, or relate to a topic that isn’t generating traffic. Instead of rewriting these posts from scratch, you could consolidate them by adding more information, rework their keyword strategy, or fine-tune them to make sure they follow search engines’ best practices.
- Use user-generated content
User-generated content can be a goldmine of content ideas (by pointing you toward trending topics, content gaps you can address, and questions your users want the answers to) and visual content you can re-share on your own platforms. Plus, giving a fan their 15 seconds of online fame by sharing their post will only strengthen their relationship with your brand. That’s two birds with one stone!
- Link reclamation
Acquiring quality backlinks can be a challenging part of implementing a content strategy. If your budget prevents you from working with publishers and publishing sponsored posts, keep an eye out for websites that are talking about your brand but not linking to your website. A simple email to the website’s editor could turn those unlinked mentions into valuable backlinks.
4. Undertake competitor analysis
As we’ve established, nobody has time to constantly reinvent the wheel. No matter what industry you’re in, chances are that a fair amount of your competitors have their own, very efficient, content strategies.
While we’d never recommend stealing articles or social media posts word for word, identifying topics and trends your competitors are choosing to take part in can be immensely helpful. You can even use content analysis tools like BuzzSumo to identify what content has performed best for your competitors and use this insight to help fine-tune your own strategy.
What’s more, you can absolutely get inspiration from brands that have great content strategies but aren’t necessarily within your industry. GoPro’s idea of a YouTube channel full of user-generated videos, for example, could be useful for everyone from a fashion or makeup brand to a hospitality brand.
Lastly, if your business is running search engine ads, we’d recommend learning from the paid media team. Analysing their best-performing copy will help you come up with meta information that converts. After all, they’re the ones with your budget, so you might as well make the most of it!
5. Strategise for the long term
Finally, it’s important to note that SEO progress doesn’t happen overnight. With Google’s complex and ever-changing algorithm, finding the right mix of updates and optimisations to drive progress can take some time.
Since you know you’re in it for the long run, think about sustainable practices you can put in place in your company to make sure nothing is lost over time.
- Can you educate your coworkers on best practices?
Use workshops and training sessions to involve your coworkers in designing your content and SEO strategy. That way, they’ll know both the end goal you’re working toward and small steps they can take to help you get there. For example, can the PR department ensure you get Dofollow backlinks to your website when you get press coverage? Can the events team remember to photograph their events for future blog posts? Can the paid media team share valuable insights with you?
- Can you document your processes?
It would be a shame to lose your SEO progress because of turnover and evolving job roles. Document best practices with the help of detailed spreadsheets, share content calendars with your team, and keep a list of ongoing opportunities you’d like to pursue.
Your content strategy shouldn’t rely on a big budget
While a big advertising budget can certainly help you build a winning content strategy, it’s not a necessity.
Instead, prioritise creative thinking and forward planning, both of which can spell the difference between a content strategy that sizzles and one that fizzles. The next time you’re tasked with developing a content strategy, follow our 5 tips set out above and you’ll be well on your way to success.
Taking a holistic approach to content marketing doesn’t just drive results in the short term – it also ensures sustainable, long-term growth. If you’re looking to build your brand over time without breaking the bank, get in touch with Yoghurt Digital today!