When it comes to the process of content creation, everyone has a different thought process and their minds work differently. That means the strategy and process of content marketing can be different by company or individual. I’ve been writing web content for over a decade and while my process has evolved with the changes of the SEO industry, my fundamental work flow has not because it is based on how I think and how my mind processes tasks and data.
I realize my strategy and process is not the same as someone else, but it works for me and my internet marketing objectives. Through trial and error I’ve learned what works and what does not work. I’ve also read a lot about SEO and I’ve adjusted my process over the years to accomodate the shift in algorithm changes.
What is your process for content creation? Do you have one?
Think about your process for writing website content and now compare your process to mine below. I may seem over the top with this list, but this is the process my mind travels through as I consider writing a new blog post or going after a new keyword phrase. This may or may not work for you and your industry, but it will give you a peak inside my crazy head and what I’ve used to drive traffic.
As you read through you’ll see I ask myself a whole lot of questions. Sometimes I have the answers and sometimes – not so much.
My Content Creation Process
What is My Content Objective?
- Do I have time to pursue a competitive keyword/phrase that needs nurturing or is time short and I can simply go after a long- tail phrase? I don’t have time for long-term nurturing so I’ll go after long-tail keyword phrase.
- Am I going to support an existing cornerstone content page* with this post or just focus on fresh content? If supporting an existing cornerstone page, do I have a page that needs nurturing?
- Have I been lazy and do I just really need some fresh content on my website? I have been lazy and I really need fresh content.
- I decide to focus on fresh content with a long-tail keyword phrase and not worry about supporting a cornerstone page.
* Cornerstone content page is a high value piece of content that includes a competitive keyword or phrase. It needs to have excellent content, strong on-page SEO, and on-going link building and social sharing.
What is My Content Focus?
- What is my overall topic? I will write about “gardening” as this is something I’ve wanted to discuss for a while.
- What keyword should I focus on? I might have one in mind already or on my to do list of long-tail keywords to focus on. Gardening is too broad for a long-tail keyword focused blog post. I need to narrow that down.
- Brainstorming, brainstorming. Go for a drive. Take a shower. Search the web. Letting my mind wonder and be free.
- Got it – “spring gardening”. Relevant to my overall website content, timely given it is spring, interesting to visitors.
- But what keyword should I focus on? Spring gardening alone is too broad.
- I need to consider my sweet spot for long-tail keywords. Everyone has a sweet spot. This is the range of search volume you know you can target and in a relatively fast process land on page one of search results. I know my sweet spot and I know it for my SEO clients as well. Everyone’s sweet spot is different.
- I review the Adwords tool and throw thoughts into the keyword tool and fine tune. I ignore Google’s suggestions and try to focus myself on lower volume long-tail phrases that are in my sweet spot.
- Spring gardening was good but search volume is above my sweet spot so I need to be more specific. Options included: spring vegetable garden, early spring vegetable garden, spring garden preparation, etc.
- I decide to go with spring garden preparation since it is within my volume sweet spot and I’m a planner so it fits my personality.
What are My Content Components?
- What’s my title? Need something keyword rich, interesting, and sharable. How about “Quick Spring Gardening Preparation”?
- Maybe I can score on two phrases. Let’s throw in easy.
- How about “Quick and Easy Spring Gardening Preparation”? Yep that’s good.
- Need to start writing. I know I can always edit title later and 90% of the time to figure out a better title* before the post/page is done.
- What are my key points of the blog post?
- What is my opening or introduction?
- What is my close and/or call to action?
- Does the planned content provide true value to the visitor?
- Writing, writing, writing.
*Why the heck is she so caught up on the title? Social media. It makes a difference. Snappy means sharable. Boring means ignored.
What is My Competition Like?
- I Google my title and look at results on page one (aka my competition).
- Is the title exact?
- Does the meta description have an exact match to my planned long-tail phrase?
- Is the content relevant to the title?
- Can I win against the existing websites on page one?
- Are they 100% focused on the niche (in this case gardening)?
- Are they credible?
- Do they have decent PR at home page level and/or page/post level?
- Feeling good. Moving forward.
Have I Double Checked My Post for SEO Goodness?
- Now I return to my post with a new set of eyes and I look specifically for nit picky things that help me rank.
- Do I have a snappy title that is interesting? See I told you I typically change it/
- Is my focused keyword in the title?
- Is my keyword towards the front of the title? This is preferred, but not always possible.
- Is the keyword in the URL?
- Have I shortened the URL and removed all unnecessary words?
- Is the keyword in first part of introductory paragraph text?
- Have I hyperlinked to content on my website that needs some link love or viewing by my visitors?
- Have I hyperlinked to any outside websites of authority?
- Do I have keywords variations in the hyperlinks?
- Do I have subheaders with keyword variations?
- Do I have a good mix of paragraph and bullet for readability?
- Does my meta description begin with the keyword and is it under the recommended character limit?
- All looks good. Let ‘er rip.
Have I Shared My Content Via Social Media Websites?
- As soon as I post any blog posts or new products, I immediately go and post it on the major social media websites. I focus on:
- Note to self – should have created a snappy infographic, custom image, or something visual so I could post to Pinterest. This is a great topic for Pinterest.
How Did I Do?
- Now I wait for indexing, which should take anywhere from an hour to about a day.
- I wait a week for the dust to settle and then I search Google for the keyword phrase I had focused on.
- I make sure I’m logged out of my Google account and my cache is cleared so I don’t get confused with personalized results.
- Am I ranking on page one? Nope. Now I need to figure out why.
- How far down am I? Who is ahead of me? What did they do better?
- Now I consider revisions to content or meta as needed. I go back over my SEO goodness list to see what I missed. It is easy to miss things.
- I consider building additional links to the post via content or additional social media shares.
- I consider potentially creating a follow up post that is a part two and link back to the original.
- Once this is all done, I restart at waiting for the dust to settle.
The Take Away
I know the above list may seem fairly drawn out and excessive and even boring, but it is necessary. Or at least it is necessary for my industry and that of the clients I work with in an ongoing basis. Content creation is more than just writing words and placing them within a web page or blog post. You have to have a process that is integrated with SEO and social media. You have to have a strategy and a bit of creativity. You have to be focused on objetives and tasks.
If you can make your content creation process systematic, you will do better with SEO. If you can make your content creative, you will do better in social media. If you can find the right balance between the two you will be a superstar.