9 Tools to Help Every Content Strategist
So you’ve got a bunch of content ideas, you know your target audience and you know what sites you want to outreach to. You think you’ve got this content business down to a tee. Yeah right! If only it was that easy. Rewind a few years and I dare say, content marketing was probably a lot easier than it is today. Imagine the days when a simple infographic would suffice and you’d at least know that someone would look at your email and probably reply to you. If only. Fast forward to 2016 and bam! We are knee deep in content overload and my job just got a whole lot harder.
You need the right content, to reach the right people, at the right time, for the right reason. Remember that old saying “content is king”? That’s a questionable statement don’t you think? There are some terrible examples of content on the internet that really don’t deserve that title - and that’s usually the type of content that’s written without a good strategy behind it. Good content stems from a good content strategy - and there’s a number of tools to help you come up with a good content strategy.
It usually starts with a bit of keyword research. It’s important to dig into the behaviours of users and discover what they are searching for and for that Google Keyword Planner does the trick. It shows you traffic estimates for keywords, which ultimately gives your content ideation a kick in the right direction. Having a list of keywords is all very well, and can come in particularly useful when thinking of blog post ideas but unfortunately, that alone is not going to cut it. While it’s very new and we’re still playing with it, the new keyword explorer tool from Moz is also very useful and will allow you to get keyword data from a bunch of sources, not just Google.
The point of every content strategy boils down to one question “what should I write about?” and that’s where Buzzsumo comes in handy. We’re all looking for that angle within content that will help set us apart from the rest. Something new, something unique, something innovative - It’s not too much to ask, is it? Well with Buzzsumo you can find just that. Buzzsumo is “a platform for content marketing and SEO agencies to discover engaging content and outreach opportunities.” You can search content by different topics and it tells you how well those pieces of content are performing online. Just type the topic, domain or keyword into the search bar and Buzzsumo brings up a big list of the most shared links from that search - and bingo, your job is done!
Okay that’s a lie, there’s more to it than that but it’s definitely a starting point. All the content is listed by total shares, and then broken down by shares across different networks. There’s also advanced search options so you can filter the search by date, country etc. Remember, when it comes to content creation, you don’t have to come up with something completely new. It took me a while to get my head around that but I soon realised everything (and I literally mean everything) has been covered before. It’s just about finding an idea and thinking “what can I do to make it better?” Don’t forget to take note of who it is that’s sharing the content too. Click on the “view sharers” button to find the most influential people on social media who have shared that content. These users may become very valuable in the near future. Why? Well it’s clear they are open to sharing content in that niche and therefore could come in useful when you get round to the outreach stage.
An equally good feature of Buzzsumo is that you can search for competitor content. Just like searching for topics, you can dig up the most shared content from your competitors and see if there’s anything that you can take away. It’s also a good way of finding out if there’s any gaps in the market too. You can also do a bit of snooping to find out what websites are linking to their best performing content (all very secret detective). There is so much more to Buzzsumo than just that, but the more I write about it, the more I think it deserves a whole blog post just for itself so I’ll leave that one for a later date. For now, I’ll just link to this post by Paddy on Moz which goes into a lot of detail on how we use Buzzsumo at Aira, including how we pull data into our in-house tools.
Google Trends is another useful tool. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that content marketing is heavily dependent on trends and Google trends lets you check what people are searching for based on category, location or keyword.
It also shows the most popular searches, and shows whether those searches are rising or falling. It’s a great little tool for discovering what’s ‘hot’ at the time.
Feedly can also come in useful. It’s a good tool for keeping you at the forefront of all the latest news. It pulls together all of your saved websites into one place and provides you with all the latest content so you get immediate updates on all the latest news. Why does this help me with my content strategy? Well next time there’s a breakthrough or revolution within the industry, I can jump on that bandwagon and get my “two cents in” as they say.
Next on the list is Quora. Quora can be a bit hit and miss when it comes to content strategy usefulness but it’s definitely worth a mention. For anyone that doesn’t know, it’s a question and answer forum open to absolutely everyone on the internet so you can imagine the weird and wonderful things that get posted on there. I’ve come across some good uses of Quora questions and answers that have been turned into articles (Buzzfeed and Mashable do this a lot). It’s really easy to use. All you have to do is start searching for a keyword and Quora will list the questions asked that relate to that keyword.
The thing I like about Quora is that you can start a revolution yourself - so next time you are stuck for content ideas, you can ask a question, start a debate and see where it goes.
Brandtale is also worth a look at as it could provide a bit more of that much needed inspiration. Brandtale lists campaigns from some of the major advertisers. It’s probably unlikely you will have the budget to do anything on the same scale as some of these companies but you never know, it might just spark off an idea.
Other content strategy tools I have used in the past are Uber Suggest, which can help you find more keywords, Answer the Public, which is more of a visual tool that presents you with keyword suggestions and Keyword sh*tter, which basically does what it says on the tin!
And finally, if all else fails, set up a brainstorming session with your team. After all, it was a brainstorming session that got one of our clients in Forbes!