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
Niche Site Content Strategy Today
“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:
- Searching for answers
- 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:
- Use Google Alerts to monitor for new content in your niche
- 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?
- Subscribe to Blogs and News Sites in your Niche with an RSS Reader
- Create a Custom Search Engine to search Forums and communities for content ideas
- Make the use of Tools such as this great title generator from Portent or Ubersuggest.org for keyword ideas.
- 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
- 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
- Imitate and Iterate – all 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!