The quicker you can build authority, the better. But how do you prioritize content creation?
When it comes to prioritizing content initiatives, a lot of people go off their gut feeling, brand priorities, or search volume. But some alternatives can help determine the urgency and likelihood of success for any content opportunity.
Whether you’re creating new content or optimizing existing blog posts, an objective process helps to make the right decisions given limited resources. In this way, you can properly prioritize content initiatives that will have positive ROI.
In this post, we look at both a manual prioritization method for content marketers and an automated one. In the first part, we examine questions you can ask in order to determine what content has the greatest urgency. Use these to create your prioritized list.
In the second half, we look at prioritization factors used in an automated process that quickly analyzes massive amounts of data to arrive at an insightful conclusion.
Personally, I favor the automated solution as it’s faster and more objective. But I do offer the manual alternative for content creators that think otherwise.
Manual Content Prioritization
How Does the Intended Piece of Content Support Your Business Goals?
Content that doesn’t support clearly defined business objectives has no value. That means it has no priority.
Focus on KPIs that align with your plan since those are the ones that truly matter. Some common goals are:
- Driving qualified traffic (your target audience )to your site
- Generating sales leads
- Converting leads to customers
- Improving retention and driving upsell
Every company has unique goals, and your’s may be different. However, by aligning each piece of content to a specific purpose, you avoid creating content for content’s sake.
Certain goals often take precedence over others. So it may be advantageous to create content that supports those high-priority targets first. It all comes down to your content marketing strategy.
Do You Have Enough Expertise to Cover the Topic Adequately?
Proper topic coverage is critical to attaining topical authority in the eyes of your audience and search engines. Whether or not you’re an expert, MarketMuse’s platform can help create comprehensive content at scale using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
However, it’s important to focus your efforts on creating closely related content. Examining a topic from all possible angles is key to establishing authority. Avoid taking the shotgun approach in which you address a myriad of issues. Instead, maintain a laser focus. Create high-quality content focusing on one specific topic. Cover that in as many ways as possible, focusing on all aspects of the buyer's journey.
Is This a Topic for Which You Can Dominate Your Market?
Pick your battles wisely. Some topics are just far too competitive to have a reasonable chance of success.
Take for example the topic of content marketing. A quick look reveals a SERP that’s dominated by the likes of Content Marketing Institute, Neil Patel, Forbes, CopyBlogger, Wikipedia, and Moz.
That’s fierce competition, no doubt.
Content Marketing Institute has over 4,000 pieces of mainly evergreen content related to content marketing! Unless you’re blessed with an enormous amount of resources, you’ll find it difficult establishing your site as an authority on the subject.
In a case like this, you’re better off first establishing your authority on a related yet more specific topic. Only then does it makes sense to tackle a similar issue that is more competitive.
Do Your Competitors Suffer from a Similar Content Gap?
Creating content to fill existing gaps is always a good idea. It becomes a priority when your competitors are troubled by similar circumstances. Content that addresses a need not served by the competition is content marketing gold.
Unfortunately, these occurrences are as rare as Alexandrite. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in this situation, get that content produced as quickly as possible and enjoy the ride. It won’t last very long.
What Role Does the Piece of Content Play in Building Site Authority?
Building out a site’s content architecture is much like putting together a puzzle. The more you group individual pieces of the puzzle, the quicker it takes shape. Only creating pillar pages, or content hubs, without supporting pages, makes it difficult for search engines to evaluate your expertise. Likewise, if you just create supporting pages or spokes without a hub. Ideally, you should build both the hub and its associated spokes simultaneously to quickly gain authority for that particular topic cluster.
What Are the Associated Dependencies?
Content does not exist in a vacuum. Each piece created should have some relationship to existing site content. Understanding how these pieces fit together can help determine the priority. If a particular part of content belongs to a high-priority cluster, its creation should take precedence over that of another group. Pillar content, the most important page in a cluster, often get assigned the highest priority.
What Is the Impact of Not Creating This Piece of Content?
This is the litmus test for determining content creation priority. If nobody’s going to miss it, why bother creating it? Of course, there will be varying shades and nuances to consider in making this evaluation. Still, low-impact content should fall to the bottom of the priority list. Focus on creating content whose absence from your site is most visible.
How Much Interest Is There in the Topic?
Topics that generate large amounts of traffic shouldn’t always get top priority. Smaller amounts of traffic can be even more valuable if those visitors are closer to a purchase decision. Typically you want to have a balance of content that addresses all stages of the marketing funnel.
Where Does the Intended Piece of Content Fit Within the Marketing Funnel?
Focus too much on awareness-level content, and you’ll have a well-read blog that frequently fails to convert. On the other hand, a website loaded with bottom-of-the-funnel content will have stellar conversion rates on the rare occasion it receives visitors.
Where Does This Piece of Content Fit in the Editorial Calendar?
Whether you’re creating content for a website or any other purpose, there are frequently other interests at work. Those needs have to be factored into the content creation process.
Take our webinar on “How To Create In-Depth Content For Better Ranking And Happier Customers” for example. In the run-up to the webinar, we focused on publishing content related to the topic of content depth. The priority for the creation of that content was driven solely by the timeline of the webinar.
However, the webinar and associated blog content are closely related to our target topic of content strategy. So the publication of that content has a direct impact on the site authority as a whole.
How Long Will It Take to Produce This Piece of Content?
The challenge with producing comprehensive content is the amount of production effort required. Content that takes less time to build should typically receive priority as the payback period is shorter. Following this logic, it’s often more cost-effective to improve an existing piece of content than to create a new one.
Automated Prioritization Factors to Quickly Build Authority
The biggest downfall with a manual system for content prioritization is that the decision-making process is still subjective, unlike that of an algorithm. An automated system can quickly analyze vast amounts of data, assign a score to the various elements and combine those into a single numerical representation.
Think of this as your content strategy prioritization tool.
For users, it’s fast and easy to get a prioritized list so you can work on content initiatives with the most significant impact. While there are numerous factors one could take into account, in this post, we focus on search volume, relevance, current coverage, authority, competition and content quality.
Search Volume (Demand)
Search demand for a particular topic is another essential factor to examine. All things equal, topics that generate meaningful demand are preferred. However, things are never quite that simple.
Topics lower down the marketing funnel typically have less demand, yet possess more value. Simply put, there are fewer people closer to making a buying decision. But it’s people at this point in the buying cycle that have tremendous value.
You can’t build authority unless you create content relevant to the topic for which you want to be known. That’s why relevance is such an essential factor when prioritizing content creation. The key is to continually build authority by creating numerous content clusters-- related pieces of content all carefully linked together.
The amount of coverage already devoted to a particular topic is a key prioritization element. Subjects with extensive coverage on your site shouldn’t be a primary concern when determining what new content to create.
All things being equal, it usually makes more sense to create content on topics for which you’re an established authority. Blog posts like these are much easier to rank due to high topical authority. However, the authority of your entire site also plays a significant role, especially when creating content focused on tangential topics.
It’s always a challenge to establish authority on a topic for which there is extreme competition. If big players are dominating a particular niche, it’s often better to look elsewhere for content growth opportunities. You most likely lack the team members and the budget to create the required quantities of long-form content. In the words of Sun Tzu, “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
Don’t immediately write off highly competitive topics. Competition isn’t a predictor of content quality. If the quality is weak, you may still have a chance at establishing a dominant position. A competitive landscape filled with low-quality content can work in your favor as long as the work you produce is highly comprehensive.
It’s Your Turn
Content strategists don’t suffer from a lack of ideas. Instead, it’s the opposite. Their to-do list is a mile long. With so many possibilities, how do you ensure your team work on tasks that offer the highest potential?
You can use your gut, or you can turn it into science. The choice is yours.