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The Ultimate Guide to Content Creation

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The Ultimate Guide to Content Creation

Content creation is what happens behind the scenes. It’s how Google can offer the perfect answer to your problem. It’s the videos you watch on YouTube after a tough day.

Content creation is also what helps people discover your business, brand, and products.

And that content helps you attract, engage, and delight prospects and customers. It brings new visitors to your site and ultimately generates revenue for your company.

In other words, if you’re not creating content, then you’re behind the curve.

Why is content creation important?

Content creation is the ultimate inbound marketing practice. When you create content, you’re providing free and useful information to your audience, attracting potential customers to your website, and retaining existing customers through quality engagement.

You’re also generating some major value for your company, as these content marketing stats show:

  • Almost 40% of marketers say content marketing is an essential part of their marketing strategy. 81% say their company sees content as a business strategy.
  • B2B marketers have data that says content marketing is a successful tool for nurturing leads (60%), generating revenue (51%), and building an audience of subscribers (47%).
  • And 10% of marketers who blog say it generates the biggest return on investment.

Content equals business growth. So, let’s get started with the types of content you can create and then review your content strategy.

Content Creation Ideas

1. Blogs

One type of content creation (the kind you’re consuming right now, actually) is blog posts. Blogs can educate, entertain, and inspire your audience through the written word. When someone types a query in Google, the posts that pop up are usually blog posts.

Content creation ideas example: Blogs;

Content Creation Ideas for Blogs

Blogging is worth the time and effort, and 56% of marketers say that blogging is their most effective content strategy.

But it can be tough to narrow your focus and start writing. In addition to opinion pieces and product announcement posts, these are some proven ideas for blog content creation.

Answer a Question

If you’re not sure which question to answer first, start with questions from beginners. These can create a foundation you can use to continue growing your blog.Content creation ideas example: Answer questions

Another way to use questions as a starting point is to think about the questions you had when you were a beginner. Even questions from your more recent experience can help someone else in your industry.

Once you’ve figured out the right questions, write a complete answer. You might want to skim over the details, but this is where you can add the most value for your readers.

People are often shy about asking questions because they don’t want to sound foolish. Anticipating and answering their questions can help you earn their trust. It can also improve your search engine results.

Compare and Contrast Solutions to a Problem

Another way that you can serve your readers is by helping them make a decision. There are answers online, but it can sometimes feel like there are too many answers.

If you are an expert in your niche, you can share your expert opinion and help out buyers who want to make an informed purchase at the same time.

As you choose what you’re going to compare, make sure that the products have more similarities than differences.

For example, you wouldn’t want to compare a project management tool with email marketing software.

When you’re writing compare and contrast blogs for a product or service, be as open and transparent as you can. List all the possible positives and negatives you can think of. Then, get into detail about how you came to those decisions.

Teach Something

Some of the most popular blogs are educational. If you want to use your blog as a teaching tool, there are a few things you’ll want to think about.

As you choose a topic, it’s smart to start small. So, instead of covering a broad topic, choose a niche topic that people in your industry might be asking about.

For example, instead of writing about website design basics, write about how to design the home page for an automotive dealership.

As you start writing how-to blogs, there are a few things to remember:

  • Use short sentences and paragraphs and create a clear structure. This will make your instructions easier to follow.
  • Avoid jargon and technical terms if you can, and use examples to make new information easier to understand.
  • Keep in mind that your directions should be easy for a beginner to follow, so don’t skip steps or offer shortcuts.

These tips should help your readers learn and bring you more traffic and interest in your educational content.

Daily, Monthly, or Weekly Series

Writing a series of posts can be useful for your readers, and it can help you grow your blog. A series will usually run for a set period of time. You can choose to publish the series every day or on a set day every week or month.

A series can generate content that you can easily repurpose for other channels. For example, if you run a blog about social media, you could turn a blog series about Instagram Reels into a podcast, ebook, or video.

This strategy makes it simple to fully explore a particular topic. It’s useful for building internal and external links, and for establishing you as a thought leader.

Quizzes and Surveys

Blog surveys are a great way to collect feedback from your audience. This can help with more than website traffic.

Responses from quizzes and surveys can also help you:

  • Figure out other types of content your audience likes
  • Choose which products to promote and sell
  • Grow your social media following
  • Go viral with interactive content
  • Anticipate customer service issues

For an effective quiz or survey, define your goals before you start creating. Keeping your quizzes short and offering incentives can improve response rates.

Curated Content for Target Audiences

While your blog could appeal to just about anyone, your goal is to connect with your ideal buyer personas.

Curated content will make your most important audience members feel important. This could mean that this audience turns into a group of promoters who share your content and encourage others to buy your products.

With this in mind, it’s a good idea to create curated content that’s specifically for this audience. For example, say you’re selling sandals. You’ll want to write different content for people who wear sandals year-round and people who only wear sandals at certain times of the year.

To curate your content, start with detailed buyer personas and competitor research. Next, create clusters of content that are just for that specific buyer persona.

Curated content is also where you’ll want to highlight quotes and insights from industry leaders. This content shouldn’t just inform a targeted audience. It should make them feel like they are part of an exclusive group.

If you’re looking for help curating your content, check out this useful list of tools.

Celebrate Wins

Most blogs are evergreen. This means that once you publish a blog on the internet, it can be a resource for many years. This makes blogs a great place to celebrate wins.

Whether you’re calling out top-performing employees or thanking customers, you can use your blog to celebrate.

Remember to celebrate the little things. Then use images, videos, and design to make celebration posts feel extra special.

2. Podcasts

Podcasts are like listening to the radio. But anyone can make and broadcast a podcast. This means that professional and beginner podcast hosts are competing for the same listening time.

But they also have a big audience, and 28% of Americans 12 years old and up listen to podcasts on a weekly basis.

Podcasts are extra interesting to listen to when the audience likes the host and wants to learn something from them. Keep reading for more podcast content creation ideas you might want to try.

Content creation ideas example: Podcast

Content Creation Ideas for Podcasts

Generally, a great podcast will center on a great idea and then expand on that topic with listener and expert feedback. Storytelling podcasts are popular, and so are educational podcasts.

If you are launching your first podcast, be sure to post with a consistent schedule. It’s also a good idea to follow the same structure for every episode.

Other than that, it’s about being your authentic self.

Thought Leadership

This type of podcast content centers on your professional experience. Be sure to include case studies and other real-life scenarios in this content.

Remember that your audience is listening in for different reasons and often have different levels of industry experience. So, offer insights for a range of listeners and share advice that you think your listeners could apply themselves.

Interview Influencers

If you want to add influencer interviews to your podcast, knowing who to interview comes first. Don’t just go for the biggest names. Instead, choose interesting guests who can offer value to your listeners.

Be sure to research your guests and ask original questions. For example, the success of the YouTube show “Hot Ones” comes in part from the well-researched questions its host asks each celebrity guest.

Other ways to get the most out of influencer interviews on your podcast include:

  • Asking for follower suggestions
  • Encouraging participation from your featured influencer’s followers
Discuss Trends

Trends are great content for a podcast. Whether you’re discussing a long-term trend or the latest fad, this is a smart context to show how your products are relevant to what’s new.

While many people listen to daily or weekly news podcasts, most podcasts are evergreen like a blog. Many podcast listeners will tune into a podcast years after the podcast was first released.

This means that you’ll want to tie trends to larger topics.

For example, Marketing Against the Grain covers trends like the creator economy on their podcast, but they talk about it as part of marketing as a whole. This strategy grounds what could be a fleeting trend into a topic with more staying power.

Contests and Giveaways

Contests give your podcast listeners a fun way to participate while also giving you a chance to grow your subscribers.

One way to launch a podcast contest is to post to social media about a prize or giveaway. Interactive contests where a listener can call in to be a part of the podcast are another option.

If you plan to offer a prize, make sure it’s unique and fitting for your unique audience.

3. Video

Whether you want to post videos on social media or YouTube, video marketing is a type of content creation that becomes more popular every year. Short-form and long-form videos both have their place in your content creation strategy. So, be sure to come up with ideas for both types of content.

Content Creation Ideas for Video

86% of video marketers say that video is effective for generating leads. This makes original video marketing an important strategy for anyone who is working on content creation.

Some solid video content ideas include behind-the-scenes or time-lapse videos. Let’s go over some other useful ideas for video content creation.

Animate Hard-To-Understand Ideas

Animation makes it easier to understand new or complex information. So, use video to show your viewers how your product works or to talk about the specific problem your product solves.

Choose scenarios that people can relate to that clearly connect to your product. Whether you choose to use digital animation or stop-motion, animation can bring a dry topic to life.

For example, tech products often solve problems that the average user doesn’t deal with every day, like a broken connection with an API.

But what about an animation of what happens when the wireless at home gets cut off? A video with this scenario could make that abstract idea easier for the average user to understand.

Repurpose Blog Content

Another quick video idea is to use the text from your most popular blog as a voiceover. Long blogs make great content for a video series.

You can also break up key points from blogs into bite-size videos for your social media posts.

Then, add your videos to your blog posts. This gives people who find your blog on search engines another alternative to get the information they’re looking for.

How-tos and Tutorials

How-to content is also very popular in video formats. To create a powerful instructional video, stick to short and specific steps. Don’t skip anything, but you also don’t want to overwhelm your viewers with extra information.

Use simple visual steps to help your viewers learn, and offer a clear call-to-action at the end.

It’s also a good idea to engage with the comments on these videos. This reassures your audience that you are available if they have more questions, and could help you come up with more video ideas.

Product Demos and Unusual Use Cases

Product demos can make it easier for potential customers to see how they can use your products. It’s also a chance for you to share some product design processes.

By sharing the problem you initially solved with your product, and how the solution changed through the process, you’re building a relationship with your viewers. This relationship builds trust and makes them more likely to engage with you and your products.

Show how your product works in an interesting way. For example, the “Will It Blend?” video series on YouTube was a winner for Blendtec because it didn’t just show the power of its blender.

They were inventive and asked for customer suggestions for each video. And the videos were blending objects you normally wouldn’t throw in a blender, like cell phones, golf balls, or glow sticks.

You can also personalize your video content. Video product demos are a great option for connecting individual customers to your products.

4. Graphics

In your blog posts, or in your social media posts, you might want to post original graphics. These can be infographics, photography, GIFs, memes, illustrations, or screenshots.

This type of content creation usually requires a graphic designer or a design tool to help you get the job done.

Content creation ideas example: Infographic

Image-based Content Creation Ideas

Photo and image-based posts are the content types businesses use most to increase audience engagement.

As you begin to create visual content, make sure you have a strong grasp of the basics. These include:

  • Choose the right subject to illustrate your idea
  • Think about composition
  • Use contrast and color
  • Keep it simple
Visual Storytelling

Visual content is great for quick storytelling. As you start to experiment with storytelling, remember to show, not tell.

For example, say you’re telling a story about meeting a tough sales goal. A picture of a sales rep talking on the phone won’t tell the story as well as an image of that same sales rep scaling a tall mountain.

Try to use setting, clothing, lighting, and motion to emphasize the action and drama of every scene in your images.

User-Generated Content

Fans of your products are often looking for ways to get involved. And there’s nothing like user-generated content to show your followers that you care about their opinions.

To get your users to create and share content for your brand, invite them to get involved. Try a custom hashtag or contest on social media to start. Email is also a great channel for collecting photos, quotes, and stories from your customers.

That said, don’t use content from users without asking for their permission. You also want to make sure you credit users for their contributions. Nothing can damage your relationship with a customer like using their images without consent.

Infographics

There is proof that data visualizations can decrease errors and improve learning and retention by as much as 80%.

If you want your content creation strategy to include infographics, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Choose the right data for your target audience
  • Choose the right graph or chart for your data
  • Do your research
  • Tell a simple visual story
  • Don’t add too much data
  • Make your main points easy to read and remember
Go Behind the Scenes

Sharing industry and product secrets is exciting and interesting for your readers. It’s also an interesting way to share information about how you make, package, and update your products.

To create visuals that take your audience behind the scenes, start with a plan. Whether you’re sharing photos from a tour of your manufacturing facility or documenting an average day on social media, make it cool.

Think about lighting, composition, and the little details. You don’t want a great product shot ruined by a big messy trash can or a warning sign in the background.

At the same time, make your images feel authentic. Don’t set up your photos in a space that feels too perfect to be real.

5. Content Offers

Another type of content is content offers. These are templates, whitepapers, worksheets, or ebooks that your visitors can download. This is gated content — meaning your audience will need to fill out a form and provide their email to have access to it.

Content creation ideas example: Content offer

Content Creation Ideas for Content Offers

67% of companies use lead generation as the primary metric for content success.

This means that you should combine any content creation efforts with content offers to draw new leads. The best lead magnets solve a problem for your followers. Usually, they solve urgent issues and offer lasting value to your target audience.

To be immediately useful to your users, a content offer should be specific and quick to use. It should also offer value that reflects your high level of understanding and expertise.

This will keep your audience coming back for more and help you convert more leads into delighted customers. These are some content offer ideas for you to start with.

Ebooks or White Papers

Long-form written content creation is where many businesses start for content offers.

Ebooks and white papers can give your readers a deeper understanding of a topic. They can also help them solve an urgent problem.

While ebooks can be intense projects, you can also use existing content, like blogs, to build your ebooks. A great ebook template can also speed up the process.

Original Research

Data drives many businesses, but not every business has the time or the resources to put together the data they need. You can use your knowledge and network to put together research that your visitors can use.

To create high-quality research you’ll need:

  • Goals for your research
  • A process for sampling and analyzing your data
  • Questions
  • A process for managing the project

It’s important to figure out how much time and what resources you’ll need to complete the research. A market research template can make it easier for you to organize and compile your research.

Then, you’ll want to decide the best format and channels to present your research to create a stellar content offer.

Tools and Templates

A great content offer helps your audience solve a problem faster than they could figure it out on their own. This makes tools like calculators, swipe files, and checklists invaluable. It means that your templates can be useful for your fans both now and later.

And these useful lead magnets don’t just give you a chance to help out your community. They’re also excellent resources for leads and to create advocates for your brand.

If someone uses one of your templates regularly, they’re more likely to tell someone else about it. This makes content offers a great way to grow your following by word of mouth. And word of mouth is one of the most trusted sources for consumers. This makes this type of content offer a win-win.

While some templates and tools need you to have advanced coding or technical knowledge, most are simple to put together. You can easily create a template with tools like Microsoft Excel or Google Docs, tools most people use every day.

As you start building, keep in mind that creating something useful is more important than making it look perfect.

Kits and Workbooks

Once you’ve put together a few of the resources listed above, you might be ready to create a larger content offer.

Kits and workbook content offers usually include a range of different resources that work together. For example, say you’ve made a few different templates for social media captions on different platforms. You can put these together to create the ultimate social media caption kit.

To keep your leads from getting information overload, think about structure. It’s a good idea to break your kit or workbook into bite-sized pieces. You’ll also want to use graphics and other media to break up dense sections of text to keep things engaging.

A workbook or kit might also include:

  • Worksheets
  • A Q&A
  • Checklists
  • Schedules
  • Journal prompts

Content Planning and Strategy

You wouldn’t start building a house without a blueprint, a sculpture without a sketch, or a company without a mission statement. So, there should be no content creation without a plan. Otherwise, you risk getting derailed from your objective.

A content strategy includes everything from brand and tone to how you will promote your content and eventually repurpose it. Let’s go over how to create your content plan, step-by-step.

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Set your content goals.

Similar to a traditional marketing campaign, your content strategy should be centered on your marketing goals (which should, in turn, be derived from your company goals).

Your goals could range from attracting more visitors to your site to generating more leads to anything in between — as long as they’re SMART goals. An example of this kind of goal would be to increase organic traffic to the blog by 25% in the next quarter.

Content creation strategy example: SMART goals

Once you determine that, each piece of content you create should be aligned with your goal and contribute to your desired outcome.

In sum, start with your goals, then create your content.

Create a buyer persona.

Building a content strategy is more than considering what type of content you want to create. You first need to know who you’re speaking to, how you want to speak to them, and where to find them.

Content creation strategy example: Buyer personas

The key to creating successful inbound content is to make each reader feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

The only way to do this is to get intimate with your visitors, leads, and customers — you need to know them like you know an old friend. You should be aware of their obstacles, their pain points, their challenges, and their fears. Similarly, you should understand their best possible outcome, their dream solution, and their biggest fantasies.

Always remember that you are marketing to humans that want to feel connected.

Ideally, you’d know and be able to speak directly to every individual that visits your website, but you can’t. The solution? Create a buyer persona.

Your buyer persona is the person that you want to reach with your content. This semi-fictional character serves as a representation of your target audience, i.e., the people who are most likely to benefit from your message and become customers.

Creating a buyer persona takes a bit of research, some guesswork, and tweaking. But the end result is a clear picture of the person you want to market to and someone who will happily consume your content.

Not sure where to start? Use Make My Persona to build out your buyer persona.

Rely on the buyer’s journey.

If you’ve ever had a headache, the first thing you likely did was try to figure out the cause. Perhaps you were dehydrated, or caffeine-depleted, or maybe you were sick. After you diagnosed the problem, you moved on to solutions — drink some water, grab an espresso, or take some medicine. Finally, you decide between solutions: Evian or tap water? Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee? Aleve or Tylenol? Hopefully, your headache then subsided and you were able to go about your day.

This is a representation of the buyer’s journey. Each of your prospects follows a path to a solution — that path involves awareness, consideration, and decision stages. But each of your prospects is in a different part of that journey, so it’s important to use your content to appeal to each stage.

Content creation strategy example: Buyer’s journey

By creating content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, you’re ensuring that no visitors fall through the cracks and that every individual that comes to your site feels like they are receiving relevant, useful information.

You also want to select a format for your content so that it’s tailored to each stage of the buyer’s journey. A new visitor in the awareness stage won’t want a live demo of your product, but they would read a quick checklist or blog post that helps them better understand their problem. A prospect in the decision stage doesn’t need to know about all the possible solutions, they need a consultation or demo that shows them that your product is the right solution. Always meet your audience where they are.

Here’s a guide to the best content formats for each stage of the buyer’s journey:

Content creation strategy: Content examples for stages of the buyer journey

Perform a content audit.

Whether you’ve been creating content for a while without any clear direction or you’ve been following a strategy all along, every marketing department can benefit from a content audit. Just because you didn’t start out with a clearly defined strategy doesn’t mean that the content you already have won’t fit into one.

A content audit is simply taking inventory of the work you’ve already done, then organizing it to fit under your new content plan.

The process might involve some re-writing, or it could reveal gaps that need to be filled with content that appeals to your persona and their journey stage.

Here’s how you’d perform your content audit:

  1. Gather all of your content in a spreadsheet.
  2. Create columns for target keywords, buyer persona, buyer’s journey stage, format, and main topic, then fill these in for each content piece.
  3. Add columns for your key metrics, like page views, shares, engagement, etc.
  4. Finally, categorize each post (using highlights or another column) by those that are doing well, need improvement, should be rewritten, or can be merged with another post.

While a content audit may seem tedious, all the manual labor will be worth the increased traffic and leads. Plus, you’ll have a verified plan moving forward.

If this process seems a bit overwhelming, check out this post for some more guidance.

Choose the right format.

Remember that buyer persona you created? You’re creating content for them. That means you should be crafting content in a format that is most easily and enjoyably consumed by your prospects.

The format you choose might be a blog post, video, Slideshare, graphic, ebook, whitepaper, podcast, or whatever your creative mind can conceive. As long as it serves your persona, you’ll be in good shape.

Also, you don’t need to stick to one format for every piece of content that you create. But you should be able to create content — in whatever format — on a consistent cadence. What I mean is, a podcast series might be a great marketing tactic, but if you lack the resources (and patience) to stick to it, then a blog might be a better route.

Digital content creation is the process of choosing the format (usually digital), and then utilizing the right tools to publish and promote your content online.

Use these questions as a guide when choosing your content format:

  • What stage of the buyer’s journey is this for?
  • How easy is it for your audience to consume this content?
  • Where does your persona spend their time online?
  • What format can you create on a consistent basis?
  • Are you able to produce this content at a quality level that’s competitive?

Choose capable content creators.

At this point, you’re ready to start creating content, but first, you’ll need to build a team of content creators. To get started, categorize the type of content you want to create and the type of content creator it takes to produce that content. Below is an example list:

  • Blogs — Writer
  • Social media posts — Social media coordinator
  • Podcasts — Podcast host/producer
  • Graphics — Graphic designer
  • Webinars/Lead Magnets — Lead acquisition expert (content offer producer)
  • Videos — Videographer/editor

As you can see, there are many different types of content creators you’ll need to either outsource or hire to produce high-quality content that converts your audience from viewers to customers.

In many organizations, there is one person responsible for a lot of this content, and that is a content marketing strategist. While having one content marketing strategist might make sense, expecting one person to be able to produce all of that content doesn’t.

The best way to go about content creation is to collaborate with freelancers, use influencer marketing to increase your audience reach, and hire a content strategist (or several preferably) to help you organize your content creation.

Promote your content.

What good is it to create all this great content if no one sees it? In a perfect world, herds of people would flock to your site every time you published a new post. In reality — especially when you’re just starting out — you’ll need to entice people to consume your content and even shepherd them into your online space.

Hence why content promotion is just as important to your strategy as whatever content you create.

Your promotion plan should be guided by your persona. Where do they spend their time online? What time of day do they use a particular platform? How often do they want to see content from you? How do they like to consume content? What email subject lines get them to click?

Content promotion varies by medium, and there are specific rules to follow for each.

Social Media

While social media is a relationship-building tool, it can be used to promote content. It’s all about finding the right balance between self-promotion, sharing useful information, and entertainment. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat are all great mediums to both create and share relevant content. The key is modifying that content to fit the platform.

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Email Marketing

Email is one of the best ways to reach your audience for any reason, especially to promote content. The reason is anyone on your email list has opted in to hear from you and you can guarantee that they’ll get your messages. Better yet, you can improve your open rates by sending relevant content to segmented lists, meaning they’ll be eager to read everything you send their way.

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Paid Promotion

Pay-per-click (PPC) helps you get your content in front of new audiences through targeted, paid advertisements. These ads can run on social media, search engines, or other websites. Once you define your buyer persona, you’ll want to go the paid route so as not to waste money targeting uninterested parties. Once you have your audience down, paid promotion can yield a great ROI.

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Syndication

Getting your content promoted through authoritative, third-party channels is a great way to build your audience. Syndication gets your brand in front of fresh eyes (and wallets) that you wouldn’t otherwise reach with your own efforts.

Repurpose your content.

When you repurpose content, you’re reusing something you spent a lot of time creating and transforming it in various formats so that it can be more widely consumed.

Think of it as recycling. You want to spend less time creating and more time getting your content in front of your audience. For example, that blog post that you wrote on marketing stats can also serve as a great infographic or even a video.

If you created something in one format, try to think of all the other ways that you could reuse that information that might be just as effective.

Creating a Content Plan

Content exists everywhere, but its success relies on your ability to adapt it to the medium on which it lives. One size does not fit all when it comes to posting on different mediums — or the platforms within those mediums, for that matter.

Social media content varies from blog content, which is different than website content. So, you need to know how to tailor your creation to reach your audience where they are.

Let’s dive into some guidelines for sharing content on various platforms.

Social Media Content

There is an art to creating content for social media. But it’s well worth your time since there are 3.96 billion users across social media platforms worldwide. Plus, someone who follows you on social media is like a warm lead — they already like you and are interested in what you have to say. So, you have an eager audience that’s ready to engage with your content.

Here are a few quick tips for creating content on some popular social channels.

1. Facebook

Facebook can be used to build micro-communities via Facebook Groups or to share to a mass audience on Facebook Pages. When it comes to sharing content, questions and videos reap the most engagement.

2. Instagram

Instagram is best for sharing high-quality imagery and short videos with brief captions. Hashtags work well on this platform as long as they’re relevant to your account and business. Instagram Stories has introduced a new way to engage with your followers, from quick polls to questions to real-time videos.

3. YouTube

YouTube has 1.3 billion users and counting. Users frequent this platform to watch content ranging from DIY videos to parodies. Some of the most successful content on this platform are how-to guides, vlogs, product reviews, and educational videos.

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4. TikTok

TikTok has become one of the most popular social media platforms of our time. It’s best known for fun, short-form videos. It can be used to engage with your Millennial or Gen Z audience.

5. Twitter

Twitter best practices include short messages, supporting images, relevant hashtags, and retweets. And, of course, replies go a long way to win over your audience.

Website Content

Website content should focus on three things: your persona, your target keywords, and your solution.

Like your blog content, the copy on your website needs to guide visitors to your solution in a cohesive and natural way.

Think of web content like a map to your product.

Be careful not to turn visitors away through social media feeds and other distracting elements. Once you’ve attracted a potential customer, you must do everything you can to keep them there, and that’s the key function of your website content.

Blog Content

The purpose of blog content is to support your business by attracting strangers and bringing in qualified leads.

Blog content is a free resource that’s not often directly tied to sales, but don’t underestimate the power of a well-crafted blog to ultimately generate revenue for your business.

Research shows that companies that blog more get more traffic and more leads than those that don’t.

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The Content Creation Process

We, marketers, are busy. We don’t have time to waste on inefficient systems. That’s why we create processes for everything we do. We devise a system, roll it out, tweak it until it works, then repeat that system over and over to generate the results we want.

Think about every marketing campaign you’ve ever done — webinars, autoresponders, surveys. Each of them had a process. Content creation is no different.

Follow these steps to create content, remove the guesswork, and allow for more creative mental space.

The content creation process

1. SEO Research

Creating your buyer persona likely gave you some ideas about what topics to write about and what questions your audience might have, which is a great start.

Now, you need to confirm if those ideas can apply on a bigger scale to a larger audience. Sure, it would be great to write a blog post directed toward a single person, but, boy, would it be a waste of energy.

SEO research — a.k.a. keyword research — will show you the search volume of a specific keyword phrase and whether it’s worth the investment of creating a piece of content around it.

A good way to go about keyword research is to write down some questions that your persona might have based on their obstacles and goals.

Then, perform some keyword research around those queries to see if enough people are searching for them.

Content creation process: Keyword research

A good approach is to target keywords that are attainable, meaning that they have a monthly search volume (MSV) and keyword difficulty that corresponds to your domain authority.

Trying to target high volume (read: highly competitive) keywords when you’ve just started blogging won’t pan out too well for you.

Before we go any further, let’s detour into a quick-and-dirty SEO explanation:

One important factor that helps you to rank in search engines is domain authority. You gain domain authority by how many external sites link back to your content.

In order for this to happen, you need to have a pretty large library of content that is valuable enough to cite.

That means, the longer you write high-quality content, the higher your domain authority and the easier it is to rank for highly competitive keywords that will put you on the first page of Google.

If you’re not quite there yet, the best thing to do is to target long-tail, low-volume keywords with minimal keyword difficulty (<50) — we’re talking 200-1000 MSV. This will give you the best chance at ranking for keywords and getting your content in front of more people.

SEO lesson concluded. Back to our scheduled programming.

There are a few ways you could perform your keyword research:

  • Use keyword research tools, like SEMRush or Moz Keyword Explorer.
  • Type your keyword into a search engine and take note of the auto-filled queries.
  • Check out the related searches section on search engine results pages (SERPs).

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2. Ideation

Now that you’ve determined which keywords to target, it’s time to brainstorm some content ideas.

HubSpot research shows that the best way to organize content is through topic clusters, meaning you create a long-form, comprehensive pillar page based on a keyword that then links to content you’ve created on related subtopics (think blog posts).

Content creation process: Topic clusters

To illustrate the point, it looks something like this. The topic cluster model makes brainstorming because it gives you a structure to follow.

You can use your main keyword to create a pillar piece that covers that topic in-depth, like … say a guide to content creation. Then, you can create shorter pieces of content like:

  • Infographics
  • Blog posts
  • Templates

These will help your audience dive deeper into the topic and target long-tail keywords.

If you’re stumped for ideas, you might want to consider looking for inspiration from books you’ve read, industry studies, your competitor’s sites, or related searches on SERPs.

Once you have all of your ideas down, you can develop your editorial calendar and start creating.

3. Writing

Your specific content creation strength might be videos or graphics or podcasts, but writing is the foundation of most content generation. Whatever content you make, the creation process follows some pretty similar guidelines.

Let’s go over some helpful tips for great content creation.

Write to your persona.

Use their voice, their euphemisms, even their humor to construct a piece that resonates.

Tell your audience why your content is important to them.

Use titles, meta descriptions, and other teasers to compel your audience to read your content. Put the benefit of your content right in the title to let them know why they should read it.

Create something unique.

Don’t just regurgitate the information that’s already out there. Infuse a unique style or cite new research to emphasize your points.

Stick to one idea.

Then, use your content to reinforce it. Don’t confuse your reader by going on tangents or trying to explain multiple semi-related topics in a single piece.

Stay true to your voice.

Don’t try to impress your audience with eloquent prose or an expansive vocabulary if they don’t speak that way.

Be clear and concise.

You want your audience to relate to you and derive value from your content. So, don’t ask them to sift through jargon or confusing metaphors.

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4. Editing

The way you edit your (or others’) work is a very subjective process. You may want to edit as you go, or you might wait a few days and review the work with fresh eyes. You might care a great deal about grammar, or you might aim for a more colloquial piece.

Either way, there are a few things that you should definitely look out for as you refine your content, like active voice, clear language, short sentences, and plenty of whitespace. Consider having a colleague or manager review your work, too.

Some tools that will help you cut down on your editing time are Grammarly and Hemingway Editor.

5. Uploading

Now that your content is ready, you’ll need to put it somewhere that people can access it. A content management system (CMS) is software that hosts digital content and allows you to display it on your website (or anywhere else on the web).

Content creation process: CMS upload

The benefit to a CMS is that it connects all of your content and stores it in one place. So, you can easily link to a landing page in your blog article or insert a content offer in an email.

Not only that, but you can analyze the results of all the content you created for a specific campaign (which can help with content audits). A CMS saves you from having a disjointed content marketing system.

For example, CMS Hub is home to our blog, where you get access to all of our great content and useful free offers.

6. Publishing

Publishing content is as simple as clicking a button. So, why include a section on it? Well, because it’s not always that simple.

You can publish your content immediately after uploading, or you can maximize its impact by waiting for an optimal time. If you’re just starting out, then clicking publish right away probably won’t impact your audience too much.

But if you have committed to a regular publishing schedule, like delivering a new post every Wednesday, your audience will expect to see posts published on Wednesdays.

Something else to keep in mind is to publish according to trends or time-sensitive events. For example, if you create content about national holidays or current events, then you’ll want to publish those at specific times.

A CMS will allow you to schedule posts for a future date and specific time, so you can click, schedule, and forget.

7. Promoting Content

Finally, it’s time to promote the content you’ve created. You can do this through various mediums including social media, email marketing, and even pay-per-click advertising.

To promote your content, think about what channels your audience is on. Are they on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube? Wherever it might be, it’s important to meet them where they’re at and promote your content on that medium.

Additionally, collaborating with influencers or other brands will help you promote your content and reach more people.

Analyzing Your Content

The final, and arguably most important step in content creation is analyzing your content. Without data, you can’t know what’s working or how to improve it.

There are several data points you could track when analyzing your content, so use your goals as a guide to set some parameters. Whatever you want to accomplish with your content will help you choose your metrics. (Remember that initial goal we talked about?)

What you analyze is completely up to you, but here are some ideas for metrics to track:

Page Views

The number of users that visit your content. For blog posts this page views, but for any type of content, there is usually a “views” metric that will let you know how many times your content has been viewed and by how many unique users.

Organic Traffic

The amount of traffic that comes from search engines. This is unpaid traffic that you get from ranking high on Google or other search engines.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of visitors who leave your site after visiting only one page. This is an important metric to track because it can let you know that people are interested in clicking your posts, but then the content is immediately unsatisfying.

Conversion Rates

The percent of visitors that engage with a CTA — whether it’s a content offer, or filling out a form.

Engagement Rates

The number of people that interact with your content through likes, shares, comments, or in other ways.

Audience Growth

The new subscribers or leads that are generated from a piece of content.

Time On Page

The amount of time a user is on your page, whether it’s a blog post, or a video (for video content this might be average watch time). It’s important to keep track of where users drop off. Do they stay on the page long enough to read the post or consume the content?

Paid Campaigns

The amount of traffic that comes in from paid campaigns. If you sponsor posts on social media or pay for search engine ads, it’s important to track how much traffic comes from those campaigns.

If you need more tips on analyzing your content, check out this free HubSpot Academy course.

Content Creation Tools

While a CMS will help you manage your content, it won’t help you create it. That’s where content creation tools come in handy. These are especially useful if you’re artistically impaired, like me, or if you don’t have the capacity to hire help. From GIFs to infographics, these content creation tools will help you look like a professional, regardless of what kind of content you’re making.

1. Make My Persona

MakeMyPersona is HubSpot’s own nifty tool that will walk you through the process of creating your buyer persona. You can generate a document to reference throughout your content creation process.

2. Blog Ideas Generator

This free tool from HubSpot can give you a full year of blog post ideas in just a few seconds. All you need to do is add a few nouns to get smart and relevant ideas for your blog. This is super helpful, especially if you get stuck while putting together your editorial calendar.

3. Canva

Canva will help you create beautiful designs for any platform, from social ads to Facebook cover photos to infographics. The software features aesthetically pleasing templates that you can customize with colors, images, and text … for free.

4. Giphy

Giphy The GIF has replaced emojis as a completely normal form of communication, and, therefore, an acceptable way to present content. Giphy allows you to search millions of pre-created GIFs in their database or even create your own.

5. Vidyard

Vidyard is a video hosting platform that was made for marketers. The software allows you to customize your video by adding overlays, text, or CTA buttons, split test, transcription, and it also has SEO features.

6. SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is a leading survey creation platform. Why might you need such a thing? Because a good marketer knows that customer feedback is critical to an effective marketing campaign.

7. Anchor

Anchor is a podcasting tool for beginners. It’s free, allows you to record and store unlimited episodes, and you can easily upload to any third-party platform.

This is far from an exhaustive list of all the great content creation tools out there — this list of content marketing tools is even better!

Content Creation Examples

Now that you’ve got a strong foundation for your content planning, strategy, creation, and analysis, it’s time to get inspired. These are some of our favorite examples of great content.

1. HubSpot Academy

HubSpot Academy offers free online training, teaching marketing, sales, and customer service. It offers a range of valuable certifications and its teachers are leading experts in their fields.

Many courses are short and self-paced, giving users a chance to learn topics in less than 30 minutes.

Content creation example: HubSpot Academy

Why HubSpot Academy is great content creation: If you’re new to marketing, HubSpot’s training is the top industry standard. These courses are also free, which makes them accessible for anyone who wants to learn.

Not every student will become a customer, but every student can experience the impact of these lessons. This means that every student has the potential to become a vocal advocate for the HubSpot brand.

2. Whiteboard Friday, Moz

For 10+ years, Moz has created content for Whiteboard Fridays. Rand Fishkin started this series, and members of the Moz team continue to teach weekly sessions about SEO and marketing.

In this video and blog series, an actual whiteboard takes center stage. The whiteboard features an outline of that Friday’s topic, and then the host breaks the topic down in more detail.

Content creation example: Whiteboard Friday

Why Whiteboard Fridays are great content creation: This series uses a simple and consistent visual tool to draw the audience in. They use that format to teach valuable ideas that a wide range of people can use.

This series also lends itself to many different formats. The whiteboard outline can become an infographic, the video narration can be broadcast as a podcast, and the transcript from the video can become a blog for people who’d rather read than watch.

3. Home Buying Stories, NerdWallet

Whether you’re in Seattle, Des Moines, or Madison, it can be tough to buy a home. Besides the initial investment, homebuyers have a range of personal and financial questions they need to process.

This blog series interviews first-time homebuyers in different cities. Each post asks the same questions, but also offers a unique window into the challenge of buying a home. They cover the surprises, challenges, and gifts that come with this intense process.

Content creation example: NerdWallet

Why Home Buying Stories are great content creation: Besides offering useful content with a personal touch, this series is an excellent strategy for growing traffic. The series offers a range of ideas to solve a common problem.

Content creation example: News example for home buying stories

At the same time, it’s a topic that’s a regular feature in local news, which means this content is often shared with new audiences.

4. Creative Routines, InfoWeTrust

This attractive infographic uses research to show the habits and schedules of creative thinkers from the past. It’s a stunning example of how an infographic can make data easier to understand and use.

Content creation example: Creative routines

Why Creative Routines is great content creation: Besides showing the value of InfoWeTrust’s services, this content teaches us something. It makes data that could be difficult to understand easy to consume and remember.

It’s also super shareable. People shared this infographic in the press, on blogs, and on social media. This kind of mass appeal is how brands go viral.

5. Trending Quizzes, BuzzFeed

Raise your hand if you’ve taken a Buzzfeed quiz. Quizzes are interactive, so they get your audience involved. They’re also games, and gamification is more popular than ever.

Past quizzes from this dynamic brand include:

  • Correctly Answering These 11 Logic Questions Means You Have A High IQ
  • If You’ve Read Over 28 Of These Books From Back In The Day, You’re A Proper Bookworm
  • If You Did 23/31 Things On This List As A Teen, You Were Definitely A Rebel

Each quiz is unique and appeals to a different buyer persona. At the same time, these quizzes are fun, quick, and easy to share.

Content creation example: Buzzfeed Quizzes

Why Buzzfeed quizzes are great content creation: They created design templates that made it easy for people to create and share their own quizzes. Not everyone is great with Photoshop, and these templates made quizzes great to look at. By appealing to both the mind and the eye, they broadened the appeal of their quizzes.

But what’s most important is that people talk about quizzes. When someone takes a quiz, Buzzfeed makes it easy to share the results, which continues to expand that conversation.

Start Creating

Content creation is an iterative process that pays off tremendously with your audience. Once you have the content creation process down, you’ll be able to generate creative work that not only delights your audience but also grows your business.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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MARKETING

How To Build a Communication and Implementation Plan

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How To Build a Communication and Implementation Plan

You learn about a C-suite decision that will have a transformative impact on your content marketing team. Perhaps, the announcement included one or more of these directives:

  • “We must produce more content and manage multi-platform distribution with greater agility. We plan to add ChatGPT to our editorial capabilities and implement a headless CMS.”
  • “We’re updating our three-year business strategy and need all teams to align their operations around achieving a new set of goals.”
  • “We’ve been acquired. We will be merging many of our business units and will need to relaunch our website so we can tell a more unified story.”

Or maybe it’s another substantive shift in strategy or operations. As a content team leader, whether excited or terrified, you must get your team on board and ensure the initiative succeeds.

Transformational changes are nearly impossible to implement without a clear plan that communicates the desired destination, the motivation to pursue it, and the path to reach it.

Jenny Magic, marketing strategist and professional coach, shares how to do that in a Content Marketing World presentation she co-developed with Melissa Breker.

You can watch the conversation (beginning at 2:30-minute mark) or scroll down to read her recommendations to gather support, clear obstacles, and keep efforts moving in the right direction.

5 sabotages that disrupt transformational changes

Every organization has unique conditions and challenges, but Jenny points out five common barriers that prevent the successful adoption of new priorities and practices:

  • Forced change. When workers don’t understand or agree with the change, they won’t invest in the process, especially if it requires a lot of effort or a long-term investment.
  • Misaligned goals. You can’t sell a change that benefits the company if employees don’t see how it helps them reach their personal or professional goals.
  • Group-speak. Your team may nod in agreement when the CEO says, “We’re all going to do this together, right?” But that enthusiasm might not hold when the boss’ eyes are no longer on them.
  • Rushed process. Team members already overwhelmed with responsibilities don’t give new tasks top priority. Jenny says if you can’t take something off their plate, communicate they won’t be pressured to rush it through.
  • Lack of team alignment. Everyone must be on the same page regarding the direction, intention, and actions required. Without this alignment, tasks fall through the cracks, and all the hard work may not lead to achieving the goal.

Forced change, group-speak, rushed processes can all disrupt transformational changes, says @JennyLMagic via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For your change mission to succeed, your communications plan should account for how you’ll address (or avoid) these obstacles. These details will minimize the friction, lack of participation, and flagging enthusiasm you could have experienced during implementation.


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Plan for the transformation journey

Jenny shares a three-part approach she uses to help her consultancy clients get big ideas off the drawing board, onto team members’ priority lists, and into the marketplace.

1. Establish the destination: What’s changing, why, and what’s involved

To get your team to join the journey of change, they need to know where they’re going. Create a change summary to help with that. The simple map summarizes the relevant details about the change, the phases of implementation, and the benefits gained when the goal is reached.

First, identify the most critical details to communicate. Answer these questions:

  • What’s the nature of the change? What is being done differently, and what does that mean for the business and team? What isn’t changing that might be the stability anchor?
  • Why is it happening? Why does the organization think this change is critical? Why is now the right time to do this?
  • Who’s involved? Who will the change affect? What will they be expected to do? What about their roles, processes, and priorities? Why would they want to participate, and why might they be reluctant?
  • When will it happen? Will the change occur all at once or gradually? What happens at each stage, and which ones will require the content marketing team’s involvement?
  • What are the expected results? What is the organization looking to achieve? What benefits or advantages will it bring? What will the company and team see when the goal is reached?

With these answers, you can build a change summary to share in stakeholder and team member conversations. Any spreadsheet or presentation tool will do, though you can create a template based on the document Jenny uses for her client engagements (below).

The summary of what’s changing appears at the top of the page and details of the most critical elements appear below it. Bulleted notes detail what to expect with each element and the benefits for the business and your team. Lastly, a general timeline outlines each project phase.

2. Load up the crew: Gather support and communicate benefits

To achieve the change goal, all players must agree to travel together and move in the same direction. “If our team is not aligned on where the heck we’re going, there’s literally no chance we’re going to get there,” Jenny says.

Team members who immediately see the value in the initiative might follow your lead without question. But some key players may need a little more convincing. Jenny offers a few ideas to get them on board.

Enlist the support of an active, visible sponsor: Social media shows putting the right influencer behind your pitch can move minds. The same goes for pushing through a big change within an organization. Research from Prosci finds projects with an extremely effective sponsor met or exceeded objectives more than twice as often as those with a very ineffective sponsor.

If you have the support of senior team leaders and high-profile company personnel, ask for their help socializing the change to others. They might seed relevant information in their newsletters and other content they share internally or help shape your change activities and messaging to improve their appeal.

Translate organizational goals into personal motivations: Some team members may reluctantly participate because they perceive an impact on their role. For example, workers may think the added work will strain their already demanding schedules. Others may be skeptical because of negative experiences with similar changes in the past or disbelief that the change might benefit them.

A series of stakeholder conversations can help identify the significant concerns and disconnects that might prevent them from engaging. They also can reveal specific challenges and motivations that you can address with more resonant and appealing messaging.

Translate organizational goals into personal motivations so team members can see how they’ll benefit, says @JennyLMagic via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Some marketing tools you use to influence an audience can help you facilitate those conversations. For example, Jenny says, personas can surface critical insights about who may be impacted by the change and what it might take to nurture them onto the path.

Her personas checklist includes these questions:

  • Who’s leading the change? Do any key sponsors directly relate to the persona’s role?
  • Will this persona be impacted more or less than others?
  • Will they need information more frequently or in greater detail?
  • What reactions will they have?
  • How will you approach training for this persona? What support will be provided?
  • At what phase of the change will they be most affected?

Jenny also recommends using your marketing communication and engagement tools. For example, the simple tracking sheet she developed (below) can help visualize the audience, delivery formats and channels, optimal messages, and approval and final sign-off requirements to mention in your stakeholder discussions.

Choose the right messenger – and a customized message: Sometimes, a disconnect occurs not because of the message but because of the message’s deliverer. For example, employees expect to hear about significant corporate initiatives from executives and senior leaders. But for changes impacting their day-to-day responsibilities, they may prefer to hear from a manager or supervisor who understands their role.

Other times, preventing a disconnect could require tailoring the message to the team’s needs. Jenny suggests focusing on the direct benefits once the initiative is activated. “Consider how it might help them further their career, address something they’re struggling with, or offer an opportunity to explore an area they’re passionate about,” Jenny says.  

Surface hidden issues with confidential interviews: Valid concerns can remain hidden, especially for team members who are reluctant to voice their objections in team meetings. Working one-on-one with a neutral or external moderator – someone with no stake in the decision for change – might help them open up.

Ensure they know the confidential interview results will be aggregated so no individual responses will be identified. “It’s really helpful to get that confessional energy,” Jenny says. “It can help you surface individual reservations, causes of their reluctance, and personal motivations. “

A confidential one-on-one interview with an external moderator can help surface concerns from reluctant team members, says @JennyLMagic via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Jenny shares in her checklist (below) some preliminary questions for a moderator to assess during a confidential interview:

  • How does the individual feel about the change?
  • Is it the right change?
  • Is it the right time?
  • Is it supported enough to succeed?
  • What risks do they predict?
  • Do they have ideas about how we could reduce obstacles and challenges?
  • What lessons from past change efforts can they share with us?
  • Could they become a change champion?

The process can fuel opportunities to shift messaging, positioning, or delivery approach to help the outliers see how the change can benefit them and get them more excited about participating. Jenny says it can also reveal valid concerns that need to be solved so they don’t hinder progress.

3. Hit the road: Position and prepare your team for success

Big changes are always risky. They disrupt the status quo, and if they involve multiple teams and business functions, some changes may feel like a win for some at the expense of others.

Taking a few extra steps before executing your plans can keep those issues from diverting the goal or leaving any team members stranded along the way. “This is where we establish commitment and accountability and think about what could go wrong and how we’re going to deal with it,” Jenny says.

Own up to what you do and don’t know: Ultimately, you can’t plan for every contingency. “You’ll lose trust rapidly if you pretend you do,” Jenny says. She offers a few communication tips to set the right expectations from the start:

  • Be clear and candid: Directly address what you do know, don’t know, and what is and isn’t possible with this change. Outline how you will communicate status updates and new information as they arise.
  • Be receptive: Don’t take resistance personally. Listen to your team’s questions and respond to their feedback with an open mind.
  • Be visible: Socialize progress across your team’s preferred communication channels, and make sure everyone knows how to reach you if they encounter a problem. You can regularly host town hall meetings, road-show presentations, or open forums to ensure everyone stays informed and has a chance to share their thoughts.

Position project requirements as opportunities and advantages: Jenny suggests exercising creative thinking to help concerned team members see the new responsibilities as a chance to benefit personally.

For example, if they need to learn additional skills to accomplish their tasks, provide in-house training or access to third-party educational tools. Position the opportunity as a chance to expand their capabilities to help them be more prepared for this change and to advance their careers in the long run.

You can also use the big change to rethink your org chart and rebalance team member responsibilities. “Every single person has work that they hate on their to-do list. I’ve found folks become more open if they’re offered an opportunity to do a task trade-off,” Jenny says.

Incentivize the journey – not just the destination: A lengthy and gradual implementation process should include incentives at regular intervals to motivate team members to stay the course.

Rewards can be specific and tangible, such as bonuses or loyalty program points. Or they can be intangible, such as shoutouts during monthly meetings or in internal newsletters. Arrange team happy hours or give comp time for extra hours worked. These appreciation efforts can make the added burden feel worthwhile.

Overcome obstacles in predictive planning: An element of science exists in the journey of change. You can’t reach your destination if the forces of resistance are stronger than the forces propelling you forward.

Jenny shares an innovation tool from a company called Gamestorming that can help quantify the balance of those forces at each phase. By working through this force-field analysis, you can take steps to ensure the winds of change will be in your favor.

An example of how it works is shown below. In the center, an illustration represents the change you want to implement – transitioning from hierarchical to more transparent hubs.

On one side, the forces of change – all the elements of the vision that characterize the importance of the change and how it works in your favor – are listed. In this example, those forces are:

  • Improve long-term revenue
  • Help meet market demand
  • Satisfies customer expectations
  • Addresses current unsustainable costs
  • Give a competitive advantage in the marketplace

On the other side, the forces of resistance – conditions and constraints that may prevent realizing the vision – are listed. In the example, these forces include:

  • Company culture
  • Time constraints
  • Viability of new tech
  • Client adoption
  • Current costs

Rank each element’s impact on the project’s success on a scale of one to five.  Then add the rankings on each side and compare the scores to see whether you have a stronger chance of success than failure and identify where efforts should be made to overcome obstacles.

Plan the journey for a smoother arrival

Convincing your team to jump aboard the organizational-change train is rarely easy. But with a clear operational plan, aligned support, and open communication, you’ll help them see the benefits of participating and get them excited to reach their destination.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Alternative Search Engines: Why They Matter and How to Rank on Them

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Alternative Search Engines: Why They Matter and How to Rank on Them

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

12 billion, 3 billion, 1 billion. That’s the number of searches made in some of the top alternative search engines monthly.

While Google still holds more than 80% of the market share, ignoring search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo can make you lose out on relevant traffic. So don’t limit yourself to Google’s algorithm as you plan the next year’s SEO strategy.

In order to grow in the digital economy, we have to diversify our efforts. What better way to do that than by making sure that you rank on all the top search engines relevant for your audience?

Generally, there’s two reasons why your audience would choose an alternative search engine over Google: geopolitical reasons and/or privacy concerns.

As such, I’ve categorized the search engines below by global market share and by data privacy.

Top alternative search engines by global market share

When analyzing the global desktop market share of search engines throughout the last decade, there are a few small but mighty search engines that stand out. These are:

1) Bing

2) Yahoo

3) Yandex

4) DuckDuckGo

5) Baidu

These are the engines you want to give extra consideration if you intend to expand internationally. They all have their own unique search algorithms that are in many ways as complex and developed as Google’s.

Why they matter and how to rank on them

If you’re like me a few years ago, a die-hard Apple fan remarkably repulsed by Microsoft’s products (I’ve now converted to the seamless team of PC), you might think prioritizing resources to optimize content for Bing or other engines is a waste of time. What I failed to consider then, and what you might be overlooking, is geographic segmentation.

Do you want to reach the American audience using voice search? Consider Bing.

Are you expanding into China? Check out Baidu.

Each search engine matters because of its unique user types. Regardless of how small that market share might look on a global scale, if there’s regional search volume from your target audience, it’s worth the optimization.

Let’s go through them one by one.

Bing and Yahoo

Screenshot of bing.com, November 2022

Since 2018, Yahoo is exclusively powered by Bing Search. So as long as you rank in Bing, you’ll rank in Yahoo.

Bing Search, in combination with Yahoo, is without a doubt the strongest player after Google. Together, they have more than 10% of the global market share for desktop.

Now, some say that Bing’s market share will increase due to mergers and acquisitions, while others argue for its decline due to the death of Internet Explorer.

Still, all Microsoft browsers, such as Microsoft Edge Legacy and Chromium-based Microsoft Edge, have Bing as the default search engine, making Bing Search the natural choice for Microsoft product users. Yahoo, which is powered by Bing Search, is the default search engine for Mozilla’s browser Firefox, adding billions of impressions to Bing’s search results each year.

If we look at the United States alone, Microsoft sites own over 18% of the market share.

This is much due to their partnership with Amazon, where all voice-activated searches on Amazon Echo and Alexa are made with Bing Search.

Microsoft also pushes Bing further by offering easy rewards for searches and more advanced image search capabilities than Google.

Although the algorithms differ, optimizing for Bing search results is not much different than optimizing for Google. With a bit of fine tuning, it’s more than possible to come up with a strategy that allows for high rankings on both.

To rank on Bing, and thus Yahoo, make sure to do the following:

Infographic by AS Marketing, December 2022


1. List your business on Bing Places

Bing Places is the equivalent of Google My Business and is the fastest way to get your business ranking for local seo. Many even consider Bing Places to favor small business owners as Bing puts their information more prominently on display.

2. Upload an XML Sitemap using Bing’s Webmaster Tools

While the debate on how much sitemaps really do matter for Google SEO continues, uploading one with Bing’s Webmaster Tool for XML Sitemaps allows the algorithm to better categorize and manage your content, making it more visible and relevant to the search audience.

3. Match keywords in your content

Check that the exact keyword match can be found in your page titles, meta descriptions and overall content. It’s known that the impact of on-page tactics as a ranking factor is much greater in Bing than Google.

4. Keep your social media profiles up to date

Go social! Bing considers your social media presence more than any other search engine. The Webmaster Guidelines specifically states that Bing considers social signals from third-party platforms to rank your content. Bing might even extract certain information directly from your Facebook company page to your Bing Places display.

5. Use high-quality images to enhance your content

Bing’s image search is much more advanced than Google’s. If you want your landing page to rank, add high-quality design assets to showcase your offerings. If you want your blog to rank, attach too-long-to-read infographics to highlight your points. Like the one above.

Yandex

Screenshot of yandex.com, November 2022

Second to Bing is Yandex, having a total of 1.5% of the market share in global desktop search.

While it looks a lot like Google, its algorithm is different in many ways. Most prominent is the way Yandex indexes pages. Unlike Google’s almost continuous indexation, Yandex indexes pages sporadically. That means that you might have to wait around for a while before your site shows up on Yandex.

Despite this, it is still possible to rank on Yandex. You just need to have a bit more patience.

While waiting for your site to be indexed, take a look at the following:

1. Focus on tags over internal site structure

According to The Ultimate Guide to Yandex SEO, your header tag, title tag and slug are way more important than your internal site structure. In fact, it was only recently that Yandex started to support hreflang tags. Before that, Yandex only allowed the <head> hreflang implementation.

2. Consider search intent to rank

Some argue that Yandex meets search intent better than Google. The modern ICS score, which replaced the Thematic Index Citation, is determined by how relevant a site is to the query. Yandex uses its own version of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) test to determine relevance.

3. Eliminate toxic links

Many do not know this, but Yandex was actually the first search engine to roll out a link-based algorithm. Already in 2005, 7 years before Google’s Penguin algorithm, Yandex introduced the Nepot filter, which specifically looked at the impact of toxic link exchanges and spam links.

Baidu

Screenshot of baidu.com, November 2022

With over 3 billion searches daily, Baidu is the Google of China. If you want to do business in China, it’s the place to be.

While the site is available worldwide, the site predominantly favors simplified Chinese. So before taking any other steps, hire a native speaker to help you along the way. To win at global, you have to ditch translations.

Here’s a few steps to get your content ranking.

1. Localize your keywords and content appropriately

As with all multilingual SEO, you need to work with a native language expert to ensure proper keyword localization and content optimization. If your site experiences high bounce rates, Baidu will tank your rankings immediately. As with any search experience, localization matters.

2. Position relevant content and keywords to the top of the page

Baidu favors a completely opposite layout than the Westernized one. The sooner you get to the point the better. Therefore, it is important to position your keywords as early as possible in the text and introduce all relevant content already in the top of the page to rank.

3. Obtain a verification level and get certified

By registering and paying a small fee you can obtain a verification level to improve your domain authority and rankings on Baidu. If you want to secure top ratings, you can get certified and obtain an ICP license, which is much more difficult than getting verified.

Top alternative search engines by data privacy

While most of the search engines mentioned above are tied to big corporations or political forces, global initiatives are setting the stage for more privacy-focused search engines. Among these is DuckDuckGo, the forefront runner with over 130 billion searches processed since launch.

Why they matter and how to rank on them

In many ways, the movement is a response to Google’s invasiveness on privacy. Many are fed up with how they are capitalizing on personal data and controlling the narrative with targeted search.

On a macro scale, the European Union continues to protect data privacy with strict GDPR regulations and the California Consumer Privacy Act indicates similar trends for Americans.

From a micro perspective, documentaries such as The Great Hack shine a light on how global companies monetize on personal data. As a result, privacy-safe search engines continue to rise.

If you’re working for an innovative SaaS startup, there’s a high chance your ideal customer persona is using one of these search engines.

Let’s go through how you rank on DuckDuckGo and two alternative equivalents.

DuckDuckGo

Screenshot of duckduckgo.com, November 2022

Screenshot of duckduckgo.com, November 2022

DuckDuckGo aims to make your search experience as simple and true to its cause as possible, i.e. no tracking for personalized search results and filter bubbles. Instead it uses semantic search to determine search intent for your queries from over 400 sources.

Consequently, this attracts tech-savvy experts with a lower bounce rate. Once they commit to a search, they stay.

Here’s how to optimize for it:

1. Sharpen Your User Experience

UX continues to make an impact on SEO, not to mention for DuckDuckGo. Make your content easily scannable and stay away from intrusive pop ups that harm your users’ experience and ease of navigation.

2. Focus on High-Quality Backlinks

As with any SEO, high-quality backlinks play a huge role for ranking. If you already have a solid backlink profile from your Google strategy, you should be good to go. If your backlink profile has a high level of toxicity, do some cleansing.

3. Rethink Local SEO

Since there’s no location tracking available for searches, location-specific searches such as “services near me” don’t work. If you like to rank for these types of searches, include a specific location in your keyword strategy. Otherwise, you won’t be able to optimize for local seo.

Startpage

Screenshot of startpage.com, November 2022

Startpage could be my personal favorite among the alternative search engines. It basically is Google without the tracking.

And while many consider DuckDuckGo to be the forefront runner of the privacy-focused search movement, many forget how Startpage ‘blazed the trail in 2006’. Offering a search experience without IP recording or tracking back when it was more or less unheard of. Now, it is the common denominator among all privacy-safe search engines.

So, how do you rank in Startpage? Simple. You rank in Google.

SwissCows

Screenshot of swisscows.com, November 2022

There are many more privacy-safe alternatives to search engines than the two mentioned above. Perhaps one without equal is SwissCows – a search engine that prides itself on being the only family-friendly, privacy-safe semantic search engine available on the web.

This means that any intrusive search results, like adult entertainment or offensive content, is naturally censored from the search results. At the same time, they never store any data nor track user specific information.

SwissCows SERPs bring up organic results and paid ads directly from Bing so in order to rank in SwissCows, you need to rank in Bing. Just make sure to omit any content that’s not PG-13.

What do they all have in common?

In the end, none of these alternative search engines can replace Google. As an SEO, I’ll never advise starting out with anything other than a Google strategy.

But when you are ready to branch out and extend your reach, give these alternatives a try. Analyze where your target audience hangs out and optimize thereafter.

Many of the privacy-focused search engines require little optimization as they pull their search results directly from other sources anyways. Simply do a quick check to see how you rank on each one.

And who knows, perhaps Microsoft will continue to steal more of the global search landscape. If that happens, you’ll be there — ranking in first position, ready to reap the rewards of your diversified efforts in an ever-changing search landscape.

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14 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

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14 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

For your team, screen recorders can be used for several reasons — from creating tutorials for your website to recording a recurring tech issue to sending your marketing team a quick note instead of an email.

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