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Content Strategy Template & How To Use It

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Content Strategy Template & How To Use It

Content is the backbone of marketing.

Whether it’s a blog post filled with keywords designed to help you climb search engine rankings, or a radio commercial intended to attract new leads, content is the touchpoint between your audience and your business.

To build your brand, establish trust, and ultimately generate conversions, you need high-quality collateral that accomplishes a specific goal.

But this is easier said than done, especially when you consider your overall branding and the need to keep consistency throughout all your marketing materials.

Maximizing your impact calls for a detailed blueprint of content that works toward achieving your short- and long-term goals.

In other words, you need a content strategy.

What Is A Content Strategy?

A content strategy is a tangible plan outlining how you will use content to achieve your business goals. It should include tactics to target your audience at every stage of the marketing funnel, from awareness to loyalty.

By ensuring you’re not just aimlessly creating content for its own sake, it lets you create more effective work that drives action.

For more information on how to analyze your existing content and build a strong content strategy, be sure to check out this content strategy webinar from Copypress.

After you’ve familiarized yourself with the elements of a successful content strategy, it’s time to get to work creating your own.

You could create one from scratch, but there’s no need to.

To save you time, we’ve created a downloadable template you can use. Available as both a spreadsheet and Word doc, it has everything you need to make your own unique content plan.

Download it now in your choice of format and let’s get to work filling it out.

How To Customize This Content Strategy

1. Define Your Core Strategy

Your marketing should tell a story about your brand.

Your content strategy is a roadmap of the plot. Before you dive into creating new marketing pieces, it’s important to define a few key features to ensure everyone, both internally and externally, has the same understanding of your brand.

Begin by listing your brand’s reputation and unique value propositions.

You should also research your competition and examine the type of content they’re using. If they’re having success with whitepapers, there’s a good chance that should be part of your strategy, too.

Once you have done all of this, you should describe the central themes your content will address. These could include:

  • Inspiration.
  • Tips, tricks, and how-tos.
  • Thought leadership.
  • Technology.

You’ll use this information to build the skeleton around which your strategy will take shape.

2. Identify Your Target Audience

Your content shouldn’t just promote your products and services – it should address a need in your audience. It should take their problems into account and explain why you offer the right solution.

But before you can do that, you need to know who you’re targeting. Customize your content strategy by adding information about your primary and secondary audiences.

You should include:

  • Demographics – Age range, job title, preferred platforms, etc.
  • Psychographics – Interests, hobbies, values, etc.
  • Challenges – Pain points, fears, and anything else you can help them with.

You may find it helpful to develop customer personas that describe archetypes for various segments of your target audience.

3. Outline Specific Objectives

The next step in customizing this content strategy template is defining explicit goals and how your content will help you realize them.

These can include both SMART goals and stretch goals – both of which should be as detailed as possible.

SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

These could include getting specific content featured in other publications, generating a certain number of leads within a set time, or producing a set number of new pieces of flagship content.

Stretch goals, on the other hand, are more ambitious. They are often quarterly or annual targets intended to push your team to achieve loftier goals.

In general, your SMART goals will contribute to your stretch goals.

For example, if your stretch goal is to increase web visitors by 150% in the next year, you would want to create a series of SMART goals to break it up into manageable tasks. You might create specific goals for identifying new keyword opportunities, updating existing pages, creating a certain amount of new content, and A/B testing social and ad copy, all using the SMART format.

Make sure to keep your marketing funnel in mind and set goals for each stage.

4. Identify Topics To Cover

Every piece of content you create and share should have value for your target audience. In this step, you should list everything you intend to cover.

Each piece should align with one of the themes you identified in step one.

This list of topics can be as high-level or as detailed as you like, just be aware that doing the work upfront can often save you on the back end.

5. Outline Your Content Mix

And just like no two businesses are alike, no two organizations will use the same content mix. Depending on your unique needs, you may employ formats like:

  • Blog posts.
  • Case studies.
  • Videos.
  • Podcasts.
  • Infographics.
  • Social media.
  • User-generated content (UGC).
  • Traditional media.
  • Direct mailers.

This is far from an exhaustive list of various types of content you can use to help you reach your marketing goals.

You may choose to use many different formats, or just a few. It’s up to you to determine what will work best for you and your needs.

6. Identify Distribution Channels

After you have decided which types of content you’ll be employing, it’s time to figure out where it will go.

Because the best content in the world won’t do you a bit of good if no one sees it, your content strategy will help you avoid this problem by defining which marketing channels you’ll be using – and which type of content goes where.

This helps target the right audience, and by finding the most important places in which your audience engages with your brand, you’ll be able to find new opportunities.

The content you release on each channel should align with one of the goals you listed in the previous section.

7. Determine Posting Cadence

To keep your brand top of mind and maximize your position in search engine results, you’ll want to regularly release new content.

Again, there’s no right answer to this.

Depending on your industry and the competition therein, you may find publishing one blog post per week is enough. On the other hand, you may find you get the best results by posting to social media three times per day.

Depending on your audience’s needs and desires, you may have one channel on which you post regularly, with another that is less frequent.

It’s important to walk the line between reminding customers you exist and annoying them by over-posting.

If you post too little your audience will forget about you. If you release content too frequently, you risk becoming an irritant, which will lead to unfollows on social media and unsubscribes on email lists.

8. Gather Feedback And Adjust As Needed

Everyone has blind spots and biases, which makes it incredibly important to get the opinions of others on your strategy.

Once you have completed filling out this template, send it to key stakeholders for feedback. If you work with a sales team, be sure to get their input.

Ask them if there are any key areas you missed or initiatives from other departments you can latch on to.

Even if you’re a one-person business, your content doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Ask the opinion of a trusted friend who knows your industry.

Obviously, you don’t want to share this too widely – this would allow your competition to undercut you – but it never hurts to have a second opinion.

9. Distribute And Measure Your Content

Okay, this step isn’t actually part of customizing your content strategy, but it’s the most important part of content marketing.

Once you have released your content across various channels, you can start looking into key performance indicators (KPIs) and different metrics to see how it’s performing.

There are four main types of content marketing metrics: consumption, sharing, leads, and sales.

Which metrics you use will depend on which channel a specific piece of content uses and what the call to action (CTA) was.

For example, the success of an outdoor display with a prominent phone number can be tracked using call tracking, whereas a display ad can be analyzed with clickthroughs.

Some of the most common KPIs used in content marketing include:

  • Organic traffic.
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS).
  • Qualified leads (QLs).
  • Cost per lead (CPL).
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA).
  • Social media return on investment (ROI).

Use the information you gather from these metrics to help you determine where your content strategy has been successful and where it has fallen short.

Wrapping Up

By now, you should have a good and coherent content strategy developed.

But there are a few more things to remember before you go on your way, namely:

Don’t Forget About Search Engine Optimization

Digital will most likely be a key part of most of your marketing initiatives, which means it’s important to keep SEO at the heart of your content plan.

Obviously, this will not apply to strictly offline content, but if any piece of content is going to appear on the internet, it should work with your SEO strategy.

Find content and keyword gaps and plan content based on them. Follow best practices in regard to linking, tags, and site structure.

Reuse Your Winners

If you have a piece of content that performed particularly well, you should get as much mileage out of it as possible.

Look for opportunities to change the format of a piece and republish it on another channel.

For example, you could add some graphics and release your most popular podcast on YouTube, or share your most-viewed blog post across your social platforms. This will help you amplify its reach.

Remember Your Content Strategy Is A Work In Progress

A content marketer’s work is never done, but that’s okay.

What you learn today will benefit you tomorrow.

Don’t be afraid to go off-script if the situation demands it.

With that said, you should stick to your content strategy as much as possible.

Using what you’ve created here will benefit you in the long run.

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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

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New Google Ads Feature: Account-Level Negative Keywords

Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin has announced that account-level negative keywords are now available to Google Ads advertisers worldwide.

The feature, which was first announced last year and has been in testing for several months, allows advertisers to add keywords to exclude traffic from all search and shopping campaigns, as well as the search and shopping portion of Performance Max, for greater brand safety and suitability.

Advertisers can access this feature from the account settings page to ensure their campaigns align with their brand values and target audience.

This is especially important for brands that want to avoid appearing in contexts that may be inappropriate or damaging to their reputation.

In addition to the brand safety benefits, the addition of account-level negative keywords makes the campaign management process more efficient for advertisers.

Instead of adding negative keywords to individual campaigns, advertisers can manage them at the account level, saving time and reducing the chances of human error.

You no longer have to worry about duplicating negative keywords in multiple campaigns or missing any vital to your brand safety.

Additionally, account-level negative keywords can improve the accuracy of ad targeting by excluding irrelevant or low-performing keywords that may adversely impact campaign performance. This can result in higher-quality traffic and a better return on investment.

Google Ads offers a range of existing brand suitability controls, including inventory types, digital content labels, placement exclusions, and negative keywords at the campaign level.

Marvin added that Google Ads is expanding account-level negative keywords to address various use cases and will have more to share soon.

This rollout is essential in giving brands more control over their advertising and ensuring their campaigns target the appropriate audience.


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Google’s Gary Illyes Answers Your SEO Questions On LinkedIn

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Google's Gary Illyes Answers Your SEO Questions On LinkedIn

Google Analyst Gary Illyes offers guidance on large robots.txt files, the SEO impact of website redesigns, and the correct use of rel-canonical tags.

Illyes is taking questions sent to him via LinkedIn direct message and answering them publicly, offering valuable insights for those in the SEO community.

It’s already newsworthy for a Google employee to share SEO advice. This is especially so given it’s Illyes, who isn’t as active on social media as colleagues like Search Advocate John Mueller and Developer Advocate Martin Splitt.

Throughout the past week, Illyes has shared advice and offered guidance on the following subjects:

  • Large robots.txt files
  • The SEO impact of website redesigns
  • The correct use of rel-canonical tags

Considering the engagement his posts are getting, there’s likely more to come. Here’s a summary of what you missed if you’re not following him on LinkedIn.

Keep Robots.Txt Files Under 500KB

Regarding a previously published poll on the size of robots.txt files, Illyes shares a PSA for those with a file size larger than 500kb.

Screenshot from: linkedin.com/in/garyillyes/, January 2023.

Illyes advises paying attention to the size of your website’s robots.txt file, especially if it’s larger than 500kb.

Google’s crawlers only process the first 500kb of the file, so it’s crucial to ensure that the most important information appears first.

Doing this can help ensure that your website is properly crawled and indexed by Google.

Website Redesigns May Cause Rankings To Go “Nuts”

When you redesign a website, it’s important to remember that its rankings in search engines may be affected.

As Illyes explains, this is because search engines use the HTML of your pages to understand and categorize the content on your site.

If you make changes to the HTML structure, such as breaking up paragraphs, using CSS styling instead of H tags, or adding unnecessary breaking tags, it can cause the HTML parsers to produce different results.

This can significantly impact your site’s rankings in search engines. Or, as Illyes phrases it, it can cause rankings to go “nuts”:

Google’s Gary Illyes Answers Your SEO Questions On LinkedInScreenshot from: linkedin.com/in/garyillyes/, January 2023.

Illyes advises using semantically similar HTML when redesigning the site and avoiding adding tags that aren’t necessary to minimize the SEO impact.

This will allow HTML parsers to better understand the content on your site, which can help maintain search rankings.

Don’t Use Relative Paths In Your Rel-Canonical

Don’t take shortcuts when implementing rel-canonical tags. Illyes strongly advises spelling out the entire URL path:

Google’s Gary Illyes Answers Your SEO Questions On LinkedInScreenshot from: linkedin.com/in/garyillyes/, January 2023.

Saving a few bytes using a relative path in the rel-canonical tag isn’t worth the potential issues it could cause.

Using relative paths may result in search engines treating it as a different URL, which can confuse search engines.

Spelling out the full URL path eliminates potential ambiguity and ensures that search engines identify the correct URL as the preferred version.

In Summary

By answering questions sent to him via direct message and offering his expertise, Illyes is giving back to the community and providing valuable insights on various SEO-related topics.

This is a testament to Illyes’ dedication to helping people understand how Google works. Send him a DM, and your question may be answered in a future LinkedIn post.


Source: LinkedIn

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Everything You Need To Know

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Of all the many, many functions available in Google Ads, I have a few that are my favorites. And sitelink assets – previously known as sitelink extensions – are at the top of my list.

Why? Because they’re so versatile. You can do almost anything with them if you think through your strategy carefully.

For example, you can use the mighty sitelink in your advertising to:

  • Promote low search volume themes.
  • Push lagging products out the door.
  • Maximize hot sellers.
  • Highlight certain product categories.
  • Answer common questions.
  • Handle PR problems.

And that’s just a start! Sitelink assets can almost do it all.

Best Practices For Using Sitelink Assets Extensions

If you truly want to get the most out of your sitelinks, you need to think about your intention.

To help you with that, I’m going to lay out a few sitelink guidelines.

1. Get clear on your objectives. Before you start, you need to think about your goals. What are you trying to achieve with these assets? Are you advertising products or services? Will the asset work well with both branded and non-branded keywords? Your answers to these questions will help determine if your sitelinks are versatile and useful to the searcher.

2. Use sitelinks as part of your larger strategy. Don’t think of your sitelinks in isolation. You should also consider the accompanying ad, landing page, and other assets. Make sure they all work together in service to your overarching strategy.

3. Use a mix of sitelinks. Sitelinks can serve multiple purposes, so make sure you’re using a variety. For example, you don’t want to use every sitelink on an ad to promote on-sale products. Instead, use a mix. One could promote an on-sale product, one could generate leads, one could highlight a new product category, and one could direct prospective clients to useful information.

4. Create landing pages for your sitelinks. Ideally, you want to send users to landing pages that tightly correlate with your sitelink instead of just a regular page on your website.

5. Track sitelink performance and adjust. It’s not enough to set up sitelinks. You should also track them to see which links are getting traction and which ones are not. This doesn’t mean that all sitelinks should perform equally (more on this below), but it does mean they should perform well given their type and objectives.

Why it’s Better To Use A Mix Of Sitelink Assets

Let’s dive deeper into this idea of using a mix of sitelinks by looking at an example.

In a new client account, we created four different types of sitelinks:

  • Two sitelinks are product-focused (as requested by the client).
  • One sitelink connects users with an engineer to learn more about the product (“Speak to an Engineer”). It has more of a sales focus.
  • One sitelink allows users to learn more about the products without speaking to an engineer (“What is?”).

The “What is?” sitelink is outperforming the “Speak to an Engineer” sitelink when we measure by CTR. While we need more data before making any changes, I predict we’ll eventually swap out the sales-y “Speak to an Engineer” sitelink for something else.

The fact that the educational link (“What is?”) is performing better than the sales-y link (“Speak to an Engineer”) isn’t too surprising in this case. The product is a new, cutting-edge robot that not many people are aware of, yet. They want more info before talking to someone.

sitelink extensions - performance exampleScreenshot by author, January 2023

By using a mix of sitelinks, and assessing the performance of each, we gained a lot of valuable information that is helping to guide our strategy for this account. So going with a mix of sitelinks is always a good idea. You never know what you’ll discover!

Sitelink Assets Examples

Now, let’s look at some specific examples of sitelink assets in Google Ads.

Example 1: Chromatography

Sitelinks extension - Chromatography exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

Application Search: This ad is for a highly technical product that can be used in a wide variety of applications. (Chromatography is a laboratory technique for separating mixtures.) So putting “application search” in a sitelink here might make sense. It helps prospective clients find what they’re looking for.

Sign up and Save Big: A good sitelink for lead generation and potential revenue.

Technical Support: I’m not a big fan of putting technical support in sitelinks. Tech support seems more targeted to current users rather than prospective users. But who knows, maybe they really do want to help current users get tech support via their advertising.

Guides and Posters: Again, this sitelink is a bit unusual, but it might be appropriate for this product. Perhaps people are downloading branded posters and posting them in their workplaces. If so, it’s a great way to build brand awareness.

Example 2: Neuroscience Courses

Sitelink Extensions - Nueroscience courses exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

I love everything about these sitelinks! The advertising is using them to reach people in all phases of the buyer journey.

For people not ready to commit:

  • Study Neuroscience: This sitelink is broad and informational. It’s helpful to people who have just started to explore their options for studying neuroscience.
  • Get Course Brochure: This sitelink is also great for people in the research phase. And while we mostly live in an online world, some people still prefer to consume hard-copy books, brochures, etc. With this sitelink, the school is covering its bases.

For people getting close to committing:

  • Online Short Course: This is the course the school offers. It’s a great sitelink for those almost ready to sign up.

For people ready to sign up:

  • Register Online Now: This is the strongest call to action for those ready to commit. It takes people directly to the signup page.

Example 3: Neuroscience Degrees

Let’s look at another example from the world of neuroscience education: this time for a neuroscience degree program.

Sitelink extensions - neuroscience degree exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

In contrast to the previous two examples, the sitelinks in this ad aren’t as strong.

Academics Overview: This sitelink seems more appropriate for a broad term search, such as a search on the school’s name. If the searcher is looking for a specific degree program (which seems like the intention based on the term and the ad), the sitelinks should be something specific to that particular degree program.

Scholarships: Just as with the above sitelink, “Scholarships” doesn’t seem very helpful either. The topic of scholarships is important—but probably doesn’t need to be addressed until the person determines that this school is a good fit.

Example 4: Code Security

Next, let’s look at two Google search ads for code security products.

Sitelink extensions - code security exampleScreenshot from Google, January 2023

 

The sitelinks in these two ads look like typical assets you’d find for SaaS, cloud-based, or tech companies. They click through to a lot of helpful information, such as product plans and success stories.

I particularly like the Most Common Risks sitelink in the second ad. It leads to a helpful article that would be great for engaging top-of-funnel leads.

On the flip side, I’m not a big fan of the Blog sitelink in the first ad. “Blog” simply isn’t very descriptive or helpful.

Still, there are no right or wrong sitelinks here. And it would be interesting to test my theory that blog content is not a top-performing asset!

Sitelink Assets Are More Than An Afterthought

I hope I’ve convinced you of the usefulness and versatility of sitelinks when created with specific objectives that align with your broader strategy.

So don’t create your sitelink assets as an afterthought.

Because if you give them the careful consideration they deserve, they’ll serve you well.

Note: Google sitelink assets were previously known as sitelink extensions and renamed in September 2022.

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