What we used to build foundations for a new content development system without pulling our hair out in the process.
Engaging content is fun to create, but the beginning-to-end process can be time consuming and, well, even a little annoying at times. (Don’t tell my boss. 👀)
When we decided to invest more time and resources into content, we knew we had a big task at hand. First we had to define our organic content marketing strategy. In the past we had focused on traditional approaches to creating SEO content, but as search engine algorithms evolve, so does content marketing.
Now we’ve switched to a topic cluster model of content development. In a topic cluster model, we create content on large umbrella topics using a “pillar page” as the main hub. Then we create more niche content for specific topics that fall under the pillar page’s overarching focus. Making this change has required a content structure overhaul and forced us to reconsider our content development process.
Along the way, we discovered 4 helpful tools for building a strong foundation for our new content development process.
1. Search Insights Report
We got the inspiration for a Search Insights Report from Hubspot, and this tool helped us shape our initial approach to the topic cluster model. By using the Search Insights Report for the first time ever, we were able to identify relevant keywords and organize our content into topic clusters. With this tool, we learned how to create an outline for an organized, well-planned out content creation process. There is no doubt that Search Insights Reports will be a regular part of our content development moving forward.
2. Content inventory and audit
We recognized a blind spot in our content strategy while conducting the first Search Insights Report. Our team has created a ton of great content over the years, but we’ve been guilty of using content with a one-and-done mentality. The topic cluster model forced us to rethink how we’re structuring the content on our website, and part of that restructuring required updating the content we already have.
How can our blog posts be interlinked? How can we leverage existing content to strengthen our pillar pages? These questions led us to create a content inventory and audit where we have excelled in building content pieces, and where we can improve. Funnily enough, as I was creating a content inventory, I found an EmberTribe training video on how to create a content inventory. Now that’s a full-circle meta moment.
3. Editorial Style Guide
A style guide is useful for small and large marketing teams to make sure everyone is creating content that aligns with your company’s values and purposes. We created a style guide because we wanted to bring in freelance writers to help us scale content production.
By offering a style guide to our writers, we have been able to streamline the editing process because we've providedexpectations up front. On top of that, we’ve anticipated FAQs so that writers can focus on writing and not worry about getting red marks because they weren’t sure where to place commas. For our style guide, we followed an outline provided by Clear Voice specifically for creating a freelancer-friendly editorial style guide.
4. Content Management Calendar
This tool is a work in progress! And honestly, that’s kind of the point. The Search Insights Report gave us a great starting point for what sort of content we wanted to create, but when it came down to project management, we wanted to use a spreadsheet with a little more functionality.
We already use Airtable for a couple different reasons, so we explored using Airtable as a content management calendar. By using different elements of content calendar templates, we created a streamlined project tracking system to fit our needs.
If you’re interested in scaling your content development process, using these 4 tools can help you get started.
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