Developing a Content Strategy for your Niche Site

strategy-content

 

Once you have determined the main theme for your niche site you need to set out a content strategy for it. I am currently working on the design and content strategy for two of my new niche sites and as I want to make sure that these sites are both successful and profitable I am investing a lot of time right now in these early stages.

In the pre-Panda days it was very common place that after a bit of keyword research to determine the long tail and related search terms for your niche site thin, spun or cheaply outsourced articles would be generated to make it possible to rank your site for these search terms. Today I think it’s very important that people who are developing niche sites as a source of income develop a content strategy that puts the user first and not the search engines.

Niche Site Content Strategy 2009

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Niche Site Content Strategy Today

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“Content strategy is an emerging field of practice encompassing every aspect of content, including its design, development, analysis, presentation, measurement, evaluation, production, management, and governance.”

The idea is to create something valuable and BETTER than what is already out there ranking in the top 10.

Not surprisingly time and resources are the most challenging parts in developing a content strategy and this was shown to be the case in this survey by Lee Odden on the troubles bloggers had with their content strategy for their social presence.

The biggest challenges highlighted within the article are:

  • knowing what to write about

  • maintaining a consistent flow of good content

  • setting the right tone for the company and the readers

  • identifying a theme to focus on, given broad offerings or a complex brand


Within this article I will breakdown some of the key questions you need to ask yourself when developing your website’s content strategy and some of the decisions I have made for one of my new niche sites. I will also outline a number of ways you can combat some of the difficulties that many affiliate marketers face when managing their niche site portfolio.

What do you want your content to do?

As a niche site owner you need to really understand your sites goals, key metrics and monetisation strategy before you can sit down and truly answer this question.

It’s important to remember that content is more than just words, pictures or videos on your website. Your content serves a purpose, and the more accurately you define that purpose the more successful it can be.

Ultimately for my first niche site I want my content to persuade people to use my affiliate links to buy products.

Who is your audience?

As I pointed out earlier it is important to build your niche site around your users (audience), and the best way to do that is to aim your niche site’s content around two key areas of internet browsing:

  1. Searching for answers
  2. Sharing of information

By creating content that people will be searching for the answer for we will be able to position our sites as subject matter experts which in turn instills trust and increases the likelihood that they will carry out an action towards one of our goals.

If you create content  to  be shared it will generate extra traffic from links or social shares and in turn bring more potential visitors who share similar character traits as our target audience.

Carrying out some basic market research into your target audience you can begin to define your content strategy and also the design and presentation of your content. I like to define User Stories (or personas) to help me understand them better, keep me on track and to make sure my content is aimed at them and their needs.

My niche site is targeted at young people aged 16-24, most of them will be attending college or will have recently graduated, their personal income will be less than $35,000 per year and they are highly active on social media.

What actions do you want people to take?

The number 1 goal for a niche site is to make money, plain and simple but in order for people to move further into your sales funnel they need perform several smaller steps.

It is important to remember that:

1. Selling is a mutual exchange of value – remember this does not have to be just a financial transaction but could be an informational or action based transaction too
2. Selling isn’t something you do to people – it’s something you do with them, this is one of my biggest bugbears and no one likes being forced into making a decision.
3. Developing trust and rapport precedes any selling activity – don’t go in for the jugular straight away, building a relationship first can make sure that you are selling to the right person at the right time, and greatly increase their likelihood to carry out a transaction with you.

The first step in your Sales funnel may be to persuade an individual to follow you on your social networking profiles or to join your mailing list, this is the first step to developing a relationship and greater rapport, as it allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in your niche.

Other pieces of content may exist purely to generate traffic to your site and increase social shares and links.

What type of content are you going to publish?

Now that your are certain of your audience’s goals and your website’s goals it’s time to decide on the way in which your content will be consumed, what types of content you will be publishing and where it will be published.

Will you be using Social Media channels, a blog, email, data visualisations – oh and what about mobile?

You also need to consider things such as content length, design and voice/tone too. You can’t be building a well executed niche site around a bunch of $4 outsourced articles.

With my niche site I know that my audience are heavy social media users and will be highly likely to be accessing my website via mobile devices especially with informational queries.

Therefore I have a choice to make do I want to build a mobile app or build a responsive site, I also have to take into consideration the fact that I will need to develop content for Social Media profiles and there are character limits in place here too.

How Do I Come Up with all this Content?

If you are struggling to brainstorm new content ideas perhaps you could try the following:

  1. Use Google Alerts to monitor for new content in your niche
  2. Ask your Audience – this is quite a common tactic in the Online Marketing space that when you join someone’s mailing list one of the first emails they will send to you is what’s your biggest struggle right now?
  3. Subscribe to Blogs and News Sites in your Niche with an RSS Reader
  4. Create a Custom Search Engine to search Forums and communities for content ideas
  5. Make the use of Tools such as this great title generator from Portent or Ubersuggest.org for keyword ideas.
  6. Analyse content that your competitors created with Open Site Explorer, Topsy or Social Crawlytics to find out what types of content were linked to or shared the most
  7. Carry out Keyword Research to find what keywords potential visitors are using to find your site, you could use the Google Keyword Tool to determine volumes
  8. Imitate and Iterateall art is theft after all and researching what others are doing to make their content and websites more engaging is always a great idea.

Once you have a list of content ideas it’s a good idea to draft out an editorial schedule.

Depending on how many sites you plan to manage it’s important to be organised and if you do outsource your content creation to others in bulk, make sure that you schedule your content to go out at intervals and analyse when your audience will most likely be online.

Now that you’ve carried out these first steps in your niche site content strategy you need to work out how you are going to promote the hell out of it – which I plan to cover very soon!

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  • http://twitter.com/content_muse Anthony Pensabene

    Chris, what do you think about alt tags on links – I feel like not a lot of people clickz the linkz though writers go through the research of adding to the piece with supporting documents – do you think inserting tags, writing out the title, or doing away with anchor-text-devised links (just leaving the URL) would deviate behavior?

    Would like to see you writing more about psych if that interests you.. you come at content from a unique angle, and not many people explore psychometrics and related science behind marketing..

    • RootsWebSol

      Anthony, this is probably more from a personal preference and experience but when it comes to making sure my linkz get clickz in my posts I do a few things.

      I don’t bother adding alt-text as 1. I’m too lazy and b) I try to make sure the links are easy to understand for users.

      I try to link with nouns (or verbs and nouns) as anchors to make it easy for the visitor to digest, I find if I am reading an article that links just on verbs I might be less likely to click it?

      I also try to be descriptive with my anchors, as you can see in this post I link “Title Generator from Portent” and “survey by Lee Odden” which both adds social proof to the links that I have cited but also offers a clear description as to what the user expects to find when they click my link.

      I try to keep links to the end of sentences – I don’t always achieve this but I try!

      All my links open in a new tab so you can keep reading my awesome content and go off and read all the good stuff I recommend

      Finally – my links stand out from my content – I’m not talking neon colour schemes and crazy fonts, but they are distinctive from the rest of the content!

      • http://twitter.com/content_muse Anthony Pensabene

        I would like to see you explore those notions more so .. like I mentioned, whether it’s due to data you came across or a professional hunch, would like to know more about the mechanics behind practical applications like that..

        “I try to link with nouns” – haven’t thought about it like that .. in writing, would always tell students to ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’ which would spark more action in the prose, but right, would one be less likely to click just on verbs..?

        Def agree about opening text in separate window as not to turn away from immediate reading.

      • http://blog.paulgailey.com/ Paul Gailey

        links opening in a new tab. Then the user has to subconsciously differentiate between that precedent and navigational links which will be on same page. 9/10 i will middle click a link to force it open in a new tab and i used to superscript graphically annotate external links with css. but it seemed like a fad and now i just let all links open in same window messing with user convention just irks. $0.02

        • RootsWebSol

          That’s a good point Paul but it’s something I have always done, maybe it’s the rehabilitating affiliate marketer in me who wants you to stay on my site clicking more links!

          But it does depend upon which niche you are in especially less tech savvy ones but as more people use Mobiles and Tablets for web browsing might this become a normal best practise?

  • Julie Hume

    Enjoyed (and tweeted the article), thank you. Double thanks for the link to the title generator from Portent. It is a great little tool which I have not seen before. Even if the idea it generates is not immediately usable (How Metatags Changed the Way We Think ABout Death) it will raise a smile and give some new direction.

    • RootsWebSol

      Thanks Julie,

      That certainly would be a very clickable title!

      • http://twitter.com/arjun59 Arjun Maheshwari

        Hi Chris,

        Loved the post. Have shared it with few. I believe bigger problem is implementing the strategy at scale. I know even following for one it is difficult, but if one wants it to get it done on company level or even department level, it will be quite a challenge.

        Also, will love to have your opinion about Betaout.com. ( Sorry for shameless plug. Disclosure: I am the co-founder of Betaout.com)

  • http://www.nickeubanks.com/ Nick Eubanks

    Hey Chris – Are there any specific strategies you utilize to build rapport on your top-of-the-funnel sales pages? I’m personally a big advocate of combining personal stories with testimonials (with headshots), but I wonder if there aren’t more creative ways to establish at least initial foundational trust quickly with first-time visitors…

    • RootsWebSol

      I guess right at the top of the funnel you could use videos… especially video testimonials they are going to show that your website has a real person behind it.

      It’s going to stimulate more of the senses which is going to appeal to peoples different representational systems, I liked this article from Peep Laja on Video’s effect on Conversions

      http://conversionxl.com/how-to-use-video-to-increase-conversions/

      If you aren’t ready for video then I guess it’s about matching your style to your audience, for some niches it might mean that have to keep up a professional image yet at the same time try to be friendly and approachable in your content… other niches it might require you breakdown all barriers and give away all your personal feelings up front!

  • http://rankreconx.blogspot.com/ Mickel tutor

    tnx man, i just created a google alert after reading this amazing article. Keep up