By now, you probably already know how to pick the right SEO keywords and how to write a blog post that generates organic traffic and converts — but what about your content marketing skills and strategy? Are they as strong — and targeted — as they should be?
We’ve been studying and honing the craft for years, and we’ve seen content marketing work ROI wonders for all of our clients, from the national brands to the small businesses. If you’re interested in making a career out of content marketing, you don’t need a degree to do it — you just need to start by reading the right articles and putting them into practice.
We’ve rounded up the articles we’ve found most insightful and the tips at tactics we use every single day. Wait until you see what they can do for you! Open your Evernote and save this blog post, because you’re going to want to go back to these articles over and over again as you implement your updated (or new) content strategy. And if you took one look at this list and immediately started having a panic attack — don’t worry.
We realize content marketing isn’t easy, and it does take a lot of time, research and testing to get it right. If tackling the content marketing beast solo doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time and you’d rather outsource content marketing, we’ve got you covered — contact us for details.
For those of you who are still with us, here’s everything you need to know about content marketing (via the leading experts in the industry):
How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy — 9 Articles to Read Before You Even Get Started
- It's Time to Treat Content as Part of the User Experience. In the words of Ian Lurie, “Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience.” To create a successful content marketing strategy you’ll need to start thinking of it that way, instead of focusing solely on your site’s blog. With plenty of real-world examples, this article shows you how to integrate your content to bolster your marketing efforts and create a better overall user experience.
- A Blueprint to Jumpstart Your Content Marketing Strategy. It’s not uncommon for brands to decide they need to do more content writing, and then to just jump in with two feet and start churning out blog posts. Before you do the same, pump your brakes and read this article first — in it, Michele Linn teaches you how to define your goals and create a mission statement to build a solid content marketing strategy from the ground up.
- Why Good Unique Content Needs to Die. We’re sure you’re thinking, “Okay TCF folks, now you’re just being crazy.” We know, the title of this one throws you for a loop but take a minute to check out this Rand Fishkin Whiteboard Friday video for Moz (side note: this is a great series, and we never miss a week. If you're serious about SEO, these videos are a must watch). In the video linked above, he explains how everyone is aiming for “good unique content,” how this bar is actually pretty low, and what kind of content you should try to produce instead.
- 5 Ways to Translate Your Content Marketing Goals into KPIs. Sarah Goliger says, “First, never create content for the sake of creating content – or because you “know” it’s important. You must understand what you want your content to solve.” This article suggests some common goals (like increasing brand awareness or driving more traffic to your site) and offers KPIs for each one to help you measure the success of your efforts.
- How to Create a Successful Blog Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guide. Whether you’re building a blog from scratch or overhauling one that isn’t pulling its weight, this guide is for you. From analyzing your competitors’ blogs to choosing your distribution platform, the steps laid out here will help you optimize every aspect of your blog by showing you how to make conscious and informed choices every step of the way.
- 13 Simple Questions to Help You Draft a Winning Content Strategy. Still not sold on the importance of crafting a content marketing strategy? Consider this: not even half of B2B small business marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. The rest have either only talked about a strategy (47%) or admit they have absolutely no strategy at all (12%). This article comes with a handy worksheet you can fill out to get a clear picture of your own goals and what you should do to achieve them.
- What I Learned About Content Marketing by Analyzing 614 Posts. It can be hard to tell which content writing and marketing tactics work when you only have a handful of blog posts on your site to analyze. Lucky for you, Neil Patel combed through the data of 614 articles he posted on QuickSprout. He learned some pretty interesting things, like the fact that you can increase traffic by 229% just by linking to the most popular posts within your sidebar.
- Quality vs. Quantity: A 6-Month Analysis of the Age-Old Blogging Debate. As you’re creating your content marketing strategy, you’ll probably find yourself asking, “How often should I publish blog posts, and how long should my blog posts be?” A deep analysis of HubSpot’s blogging strategy and resulting traffic showed some interesting findings. We also find the way they break down their “types of posts” very useful. There isn’t a simple answer to this question, but in general keeping post frequency constant and spending time on “deep tactical posts” while also adding in posts with a more general appeal can help optimize results.
- Content without Strategy Is Just Stuff. This piece from Joe Pulizzi is a short read, but it makes some important points you’ll need to keep in mind to shape an effective content marketing strategy. Namely, that you need to use content to link your “corporate stuff” to customers. Simple, true, and often overlooked.
15 of the Best Articles on Creating Website and Blog Content That Converts
- Statistically Proven Blog Post Title Types. Will framing your title as a question result in more clicks? Should you focus on a broader or more specific topic? Does choosing less common adjectives make a difference? HubSpot did A/B testing for 11 questions like these and some of the results are pretty surprising! For instance, you probably already know that phrasing titles as questions draws more clicks, but did you know that choosing unique adjectives in your title can have a similar effect?
- A Simple Formula for Writing Kick-Ass Blog Titles. Now that you know which types of titles work better, how will you create titles for that long list of blog posts you’re working on? HubSpot also offers this great step-by-step guide you can follow each and every time you need to write a title. After a while, you’ll be whipping out awesome titles to blog posts without even having to think about it.
- The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool. What makes for truly engaging content? According to Keith Quesenberry it’s because people, are social creatures and we’re attracted to stories because of our desire to relate to other people. This works for Superbowl ads and closing statements, and it can deliver the same results for your content — and as a bonus, it makes it the content much more fun to write!
- Writing Tips: How to Come Up With 50 Topic Ideas in 30 Minutes. Choosing topics can be one of the most challenging parts of content writing — especially if you’re working for a client whose industry isn’t exactly thrilling (we’ve had our share, and can tell you horror stories about writing hundreds of blog posts about asphalt). Even if you’re lucky enough to work doing cool things in an interesting industry, you may occasionally run out of ideas and need a little help. This step-by-step guide includes prompts and questions that will help you to generate new ideas in a snap.
- Creating Viral Content? The Secret Is Get Contagious. Our favorite aspect of this article by Derek Halpern is that he breaks down seven “high-arousal emotions” that you can evoke in your readers to get them to read (and share!) your content. These emotional reactions are what make the difference between good content and viral content. Most content writers don’t think about them when they’re coming up with topics — so you should!
- How To Marry Keywords & Compelling Content: In-Depth & Step By Step. We’ve all come across pages online that are clearly targeting keywords but that are doing it in such an obvious and disingenuous way that we immediately click to somewhere else. How can you choose the right keywords and build content that really helps you rank without sacrificing quality in the process? This guide can get you there.
- 4 SEO Tactics for Content Creators. If you’re looking to share a super-brief outline on how to “do” SEO with one of your content creators, this is a great link to send their way. It outlines some of the most important pillars of SEO, and is targeted to those who may be new to the concept.
- The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research. This article includes research on social media posts as well (apparently the ideal tweet length is 100 characters — who knew?), but it’s also a great template to keep in mind for things like the ideal length of a blog post or headline.
- How To Optimize Content for Prospects and the Media. Are you looking to get your blog content featured on other websites? Hoping to write a guest post for a major media outlet or industry resource? The folks at Cision have some great tips on how to optimize your content to make it happen.
- 4 Practical Tips to Win With Evergreen Content. If you want content that will continue to drive traffic to your site over months and even years (like our pricing guide for outsourcing social media and cost of website content posts), it needs to be evergreen. But just because you aren’t blogging about a current event doesn’t mean your post will stand the test of time. These tips can help, but it’s also important to make sure that you periodically check in on your content and update it as necessary.
- 12 Sensational Content Marketing Ideas For Boring Industries. Not every agency is lucky enough to have clients like Astroglide and Fairtrade America. In the world of content writing, you’re much more likely to find yourself blogging about colonoscopies or window treatments. When this happens, turn to this guide for ideas on how to spin content marketing gold out of a topic that’s, well, let’s just say “not gold.”
- The Ultimate Copy Checklist: 51 Questions to Optimize Every Element of Your Online Copy. Aaron Orendorff says, “Optimizing your own copy is a bit like scaling Mount Everest without a Sherpa. It doesn’t matter if you’re in shape; if you go it alone, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up a crumpled human popsicle.” Luckily, he’s not leaving us out in the cold. Use this guide to squeeze the most ROI possible out of every single page.
- 7 Steps That Will Hook Your Audience through the Magnetic Force of Fascination. According to The Kelton Fascination Study there are seven basic facets to fascination including things like alert, mystique and passion. “Oh yes,” you’re saying, “I’ll just throw some woo woo mystique into these blog posts about lawn care. Thanks for nothing, TCF.” But here’s the great thing — you actually can! And the real world examples provided can show you how.
- How to Double Your Writing Speed Without Lowering Its Quality. Have trouble squeezing enough writing into your workweek? You’re not alone. Contently found that 41% of businesses struggle to create enough content. This is another killer article from prolific blogger Neil Patel, and in it he’ll show you how to start churning out more articles without impacting the quality of your copy.
- The Content Marketer’s Toolkit: 35 Tools You Can’t Blog Without. Blogging is a lot easier (and less frustrating) when you’re using the right tools. From finding worthwhile topics using tools like Buzzsumo to creating your actual posts and promoting them, this list of sites and apps is a great go-to for any content writing pro.
Everything You Need to Know About Actually Marketing Your Content, in 8 Links
- The 80/20 Rule for Building a Blog Audience. Derek Halpern is one of our favorite sources of content marketing information, and in this post he references his (in?)famous “80/20 rule” — he talks about this rule frequently in his articles and videos, and for good reason. Here he explains why you should spend only 20% of your time creating your content, while spending 80% of your time promoting it — and how doing so is the key to creating a “fan base” for your blog that will convert to real business.
- How to Promote Every Piece of Content You Create (In Less Than an Hour a Day). We’re not disagreeing with the 80/20 rule by following it up with this post. To be clear, you should still spend the majority of your time promoting your content. These content marketing tactics are so quick and easy, you’ll have no excuse not to work them into your efforts.
- 6 Linking Techniques That Will Help Your Content Get Ranked, Found, and Read. Here’s something you may not realize: how you use links inside your content might be even more important for your rankings than how you use keywords. Even “co-citation” (which is just a fancy phrase for mentioning brands, sites etc. without linking to them) has an effect on search results. Although we wouldn’t make co-citation our main linking strategy, it is worth throwing into the mix. Google’s algorithms have gotten a lot smarter when it comes to ranking articles — and you should too!
- 10 Proven Ways to Make Your Content Go Viral. If you’re a bit burnt out from reading all these articles, this infographic will be a nice change of pace. It includes tips like the best day to post your content (Tuesday) and what type of article is the most likely to go viral (list form does the best).
- The Day After: 11 Things to Do After You Publish a Post. Once you publish a post and share it on your social media platforms, your work isn’t done. This article shows some great steps you can take to make your article part of the discussion and to eventually position it as the go-to resource for a specific topic.
- The Science of Social Timing Part 3: Timing and Blogging. What time of day should you publish your blog post if you want to get the most traffic? What about if you want to reach a mostly male audience? This infographic provides some quick and easy answers, though you should always do your own A/B testing to see if these times work for your particular audience.
- Complete Guide to Content Remarketing: How to Win Friends, Influence People & Double Your Leads. We’ll admit, we’re partial to any article on content marketing that manages to incorporate a Borat meme. With that said, we’re including this article in our list for its actionable advice on how to reduce your bounce rate and increase return visitors by using the right content promotion strategy.
- Content Promotion: The Difference Between Brands with Fans & Anonymous Content. In this post, Larry Kim of WordStream shares how one content promotion project generated over 10,000 press pick-ups and over 10 million unique visitors. While those are hard numbers to replicate, these tactics are worth trying no matter what industry you’re in.
Our 5 Favorite Sites for Content Marketing Tips
If you checked out some of the links we shared you might have noticed we have a few favorites. What can we say? When we find a site that “gets” content marketing, we tend to keep an eye on them and pay attention to what they have to say. If you’re looking for experts to follow both on your RSS feed and social media, we recommend starting with these:
- Social Triggers. Derek Halpern is like that straight-shooting cousin everyone has who can occasionally come off as a know-it-all until you start taking his advice and realize he’s right. Every. Single. Time.
- SEMrush. SEMrush articles have well-researched, actionable advice and the company’s webinars are never a waste of time. In fact, watching SEMrush webinars has become a company-wide practice over here at The Content Factory.
- MOZ. The Moz Blog focuses on the analytical side of content marketing, and is constantly sharing the latest research along with tips on how to optimize and analyze your content marketing efforts. Their Whiteboard Friday video series is a #MustWatch.
- HubSpot. You can subscribe to one of the three categories in the HubSpot blog (marketing, sales and agency) but we’ve found great content marketing ideas in all three. Fair warning: be prepared for them to contact you, because they’re going to put your contact info to use.
- Content Marketing Institute. Updated about once a day, this blog is easy to stay on top of and is always worth checking out, especially if you’re already well versed in content marketing but are looking for ways to improve your efforts and results.
If you’re the head of a content marketing team, we hope you’ll use this page as a primer for your new recruits — we know we will! (Truth serum time: it was a major reason we decided to compile this blog post in the first place.) We did our best to choose guides that aren’t only useful until the next algorithm change, but are tried and true practices you can use for years to come.
That said, we’d love to collect more articles and publish a part two! So if you have any links that you’re glad you bookmarked, share them in a comment!
Other Content Strategy and Marketing Guides Worth Reading:
If you got value out of this content, you might also want to check out the comprehensive guides below, which we’ve developed based on our experiences with content writing and and marketing. We’ve written and promoted over 30,000 pages of content for our clients — and we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t (as well as which tools to use to get the job done). If you know of any marketing managers or small business owners who could use help with content or content marketing, consider sending them one — or all — of these guides.
Still have questions? Interested in hiring TCF to take care of this for you? @ContentFac on Twitter or contact us, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.