How to Build a Content Plan with Sheer Guesswork

How to Build a Content Plan with Sheer Guesswork

Here’s a story: When I started writing blogs for the industrial sector, I didn’t know much about OSHA. That was an issue, as OSHA is…well, kind of important in the industrial sector. 

To prepare for my first few blogs, I did research. I asked questions that might seem obvious: What’s the difference between OSHA and NIOSH? What happens if you violate OSHA guidelines? Who’s responsible for a compliance violation? Is OSHA run by lizard people?

Surprisingly, the internet was oddly silent (except on the lizard people issue, which took me down a rabbit hole). Getting the answers to some of these basic questions took some digging, so I started writing blogs addressing those types of topics — the types of things that an industrial audience would almost certainly understand from the outset.

I pitched those articles to our clients, they accepted them, and those pages started ranking.  Today, those first blogs are some of the most successful pieces we’ve written about the industrial sector, with several Featured Snippets and numerous top-10 SERPs. 

Not bad for guesswork.   

Building a Content Plan: Robot Eagles vs. Stupid Flying Beetles

You can pay a lot for content ideas. SEMRush doesn’t give you their Topic Research tools unless you upgrade to a premium account, to the tune of about $400 per month. Moz’s Keyword Explorer is an excellent alternative, but access costs at least $79 per month. MarketMuse uses AI to generate topics with strong growth potential; subscriptions start at around $400 a month and go up (and up) from there. You could make that investment. 

Or you could go with your gut. That sounds terrible, I know. We digital marketers like to present ourselves as laser-focused birds of prey, spearing our goals with deadly accuracy from 10,000 feet in the air, and data-focused strategies certainly have their place. 

But eagles aren’t the only animals that eat and lay eggs and generally do okay: So do June bugs. 

A Relay content expert. Credit: Egor Kamelev at Pexels.

If you’ve ever watched one of these bumbling beetles try to regain its footing after flying into your curtains, you might not think of them as inspiring. But they get the work of being a June bug done, even if that means reproducing through accidental mid-air collisions. (I am sure this is how it happens and will not listen to entomologists who claim otherwise.) 

June bugs succeed through the repeated effort of a first-timer, not by being the smartest bug in the room (that’d be spiders). They approach every task with the stumbling amateurishness of a three-month-old. And when I’m coming up with growth-focused topics for a content plan, and my SEO tools fail me? I try to think like a June bug. That is, I put my inner expert to sleep for a while.  

Beginner’s Mind in a World of SEO Experts

Boosting traffic through organic search boils down to one process: providing the best possible answer to the questions most relevant to your industry. There’s no trick. There’s no shortcut. You just have to a: uncover the questions your audience is asking, and b: create the best answers to those questions on the internet. 

If building an effective content plan starts with finding the right questions, a new writer’s perspective can be surprisingly useful in that effort. 

Why? Because content writers don’t know as much about your industry as you do. They never will. They’re also tired, generally, and a a little bit incompetent. Not as incompetent as a June bug, maybe, but often in the running.

That’s also typically true of your audience. Even if you’re writing B2B pieces at a fairly advanced level, a good portion of your readers will want key terms clarified, and some of them will visit your site to try to shore up their knowledge of the industry. Addressing the easy stuff — even if it seems fairly obvious to you — can significantly widen your reach.

Using What You Don’t Know to Connect with Your Audience

I’m not saying “the power of big data” can’t help you build leads through targeted content. I’m not saying that ignorance is a virtue, even, but I am saying this: Listen to your ignorance. 

If you’re curious about something in your industry, so’s someone else. If you can’t find an answer on the first page of Google, you’ve got a golden opportunity, SEO-wise — and those are rare. As you read industry literature, or conduct research, or talk to clients, take notes on everything you don’t know. Then search for answers. 

Worst case scenario, you learn more about your industry. Even better? You find your next great content topic. Like a flailing June bug tripping into a tasty houseplant, your ignorance can lead you backward to your goal. If you don’t have enough ignorance, hire a writer who does. 

I’m pretty sure I just claimed heavy ignorance as a value proposition, so it’s probably time to end this post. On the other hand…you found this page somehow. 

Anyway, here’s a gif of a June bug on its back. Ha ha, keep trying, little buddy!  

  

 

About the author

Brien Seyle editor

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St. Louis SEO Guide: Developing A Content Strategy For A Small Business – Relay Online MarketingPosted on5:12 pm - Mar 11, 2020

[…] about, assuming that they have no knowledge of how your industry works. As Brien pointed out in my favorite blog on this site (seriously, read it, it’s good), that involves a lot of sheer guesswork and listening to your […]

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