Content marketing is a curious beast. On the one hand you must have quality information that is both needed and wanted by your audience. On the other hand, you need LOTS of it. How can you affordably handle this dichotomy?
You need to create a river of content.
Creating a river means producing multiple supporting streams of content that reinforce the overall flow and volume of information online.
Each page of your website has value and search engine potential, including the primary categories, sub-categories, and individual pages; if you can connect each one, guiding the visitor from one element to the next, you can create a river of information that will keep them engaged and interested. Easy-peasy!
Not really that easy, at least at first. The goal is to create both basic and complex pieces of content that will allow you to backlink back and forth. This will help you create more information in a timely manner while also keeping people on your website AND helping you display your expertise of organization and intuitive interfaces.
A River in Action: Harvard Business Review
We analyzed the content flow of Harvard Business Review during the month of January 2021. The numbers of posts and content types were pretty staggering.
We then analyzed the top 100 ranked keywords for their website for average rank, estimated traffic, and potential traffic based on how many times each keyword was looked up per month. The numbers were equally staggering.
|Average Rank for Top 100 Keywords||11|
|Estimated Traffic Generated by Keyword Rank||5,083,942|
|Potential Traffic of Keywords||424,352,400|
This is just for the top 100 keywords, and HBR ranks for thousands.
How do they create the volume and quality of information needed to perform like this? The time, effort, and creativity to make this much information requires more than human resources, it takes a refined database to manage and control. Considering this, we went through their website and analyzed their content structure.
We found that their content was broken down into 152 primary categories which we organized into 17 macro-categories. Here’s the list:
|Currency||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Accounting||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Analytics||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Assessing Performance||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Auditing||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Balanced Scorecard||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Budgeting||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Entrepreneurial Finance||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Finance & Accounting||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Financial Analysis||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Financial Management||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|IPO||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Venture Capital||ACCOUNTING & FINANCE|
|Customer Service||CUSTOMER SERVICE|
|Receiving Feedback||CUSTOMER SERVICE|
|Economics & Society||ECONOMICS|
|Security & Privacy||HR|
|Human Resource Management||HUMAN-MANAGEMENT|
|Leadership & Managing People||LEADERSHIP|
|Mergers & Acquisitions||ORGANIZATIONAL-MANAGEMENT|
|Research & Development||PRODUCT-MANAGEMENT|
|Market Research||SALES & MARKETING|
|Marketing||SALES & MARKETING|
|Networking||SALES & MARKETING|
|Public Relations||SALES & MARKETING|
|Presentations||SALES & MARKETING|
|Branding||SALES & MARKETING|
|Sales||SALES & MARKETING|
|Sales & Marketing||SALES & MARKETING|
HBR doesn’t have a “blog,” it has a database of content. If you really want to commit to the amazing, long-term benefits of content marketing, you’ll need one too.
Databases Versus Blogs
You are not creating a “blog” if you’re content marketing. You’re creating a database of information that directly or indirectly supports your brand and your product/service.
The definition of the word “database” is pretty simple: a comprehensive collection of related data organized for convenient access
The keyword in the definition is “related.” While a blog may have a bunch of information in regards to the broad subject of your business, they don’t usually break that information down into organized chunks.
Your goal is to create a series of databases that somehow relate to your product or service, gently guiding people towards purchasing. In addition, you’re looking to become a go-to resource for a certain type of information.
We want people to come to our websites first, rather than going to a search engine to find the information.
Let’s say your business is local plumbing. Imagine a potential client is looking for information about fixing a leaky faucet. Rather than typing “how to fix a leaky sink” into a search engine, they know they can go directly to “bobs-local-plumbing.com” because he has so much useful content there. When they arrive at your SEO-targeted article, they’ll also find useful related content with potential categories being “common sink plumbing problems,” “quick plumbing fixes,” and “signs that you need a professional.”
Those categories do more than simply list other useful information, they show a breadth of knowledge and show evidence that the business doesn’t just post random stuff, they’ve considered the potential problems of their customers and addressed them. This all helps build Bob’s brand, traffic, and his customer’s perception of his expertise.
Better yet, when they can’t fix their leaky sink, they know that Bob will come do it for them (or refer them to someone who can).
Your Golden Goose is a Content Database
If you can structure your website in a content database you’ll have infinite content options without having to constantly answer the question, “what should I post today?” Once you create a short list of primary categories, your goal will simply be to fill them with useful articles, videos, and graphics on a regular basis.
The good news is that getting started is simple! I’ve used the following steps to help hundreds of businesses to start building their databases. Check it out.
STEP 1: List Your Top 20 Most Frequently Asked Questions
One of the biggest barriers to starting this process is thinking that it’s a waste of time. To combat that, I teach this step because the information you generate here will be useful for your customer service team and FAQ section of your website if nothing else. Simply write the questions and answers you here most frequently from your customers or talk to your sales team and ask them what their prospects are asking.
STEP 2: Categorize the Questions
Look at the questions you wrote and break them into 3-5 categories. These could be technical, feature-related, history-related, etc. Find a common thread for multiple questions and write it down.
STEP 3: Schedule the Creation of the Content
Time to get to work! Ideally you’ll create one piece per day, but realistically aim for one piece per week to get started. Ideally you’ll have at least three pieces per category.
STEP 4: Expansion
During the process of creating the content you’ll be required to innovate new ways of describing information. A particular point may need a chart, video, or graphic to expand on your topic. The creation of these elements will require templates that can later be used in future topics. Before you know it you’ll have a database of infographics, video tutorials, and industry-term definitions to explain your original posts. All of this can be categorized, optimized, and added on individual posts on your website.
This is a slight over-simplification, but the point is that turning content marketing into information database creation is not only possible, it’s required for long term development. Start now! Your competitors definitely are.