Running an ecommerce business means keeping track of a lot of moving parts. You have to choose what to sell, manage inventory and vendors, create product descriptions... That’s just the tip of the iceberg. With all those things going on, content marketing often gets left at the bottom of the list, if not completely forgotten.
Once you know what you’re going to sell, content should be your top concern. When it’s done right, content marketing is the easiest way to pull organic traffic to your site, establish your authority, spread brand awareness, develop a remarketing list, and drive sales from the top of your funnel. It’s also a powerful tool to cultivate your credibility in your niche and attract new clients. But keeping a steady flow of original, interesting content on your site is time consuming and mentally taxing. How do you stay one step ahead of the pack? What’s the secret to always having fresh ideas, getting your content out to the right crowd, and seeing more from your content marketing efforts than a hole in your bank account? Great content marketing starts with research. Specifically, knowing the right tools for every step of the content creation and promotion process. I’m not just going to tell you what the tools are, I’ll walk you through my exact process using a fictitious bedding/pillow site as an example. You’ll learn how to:
- Discover content and keyword ideas
- Figure out who might link and share your content
- How to come up with ideas for your own content
Using Ahrefs To Find Traffic Generating Content Ideas
Hands down, this is my favorite research tool. If there’s only one tool I would use, it’s ahrefs. I’m very old school in my approach to marketing. Everything starts with research. If you don’t research, you lose. Ahrefs helps you find topics proven to generate shares and links, which is absolutely critical in getting traffic to your ecommerce site. I also use it to figure out the marketing strategies used by competitors in my niche and discover keyword ideas. Saying it’s a powerful tool is an understatement. Big time. So how can you make Ahrefs work for you, even if you’re clueless or skeptical about SEO? Let’s take a look.
How to Use Ahrefs’ Content & Keyword Explorer
The point of using ahrefs content explorer is to discover topics that can drive potential customers to your website. You also want to focus on content that can amplify your brand reach. I measure this by looking at shares and referring domains. Step 1: Enter a keyword in the search bar. The search bar is at the top of the page in the Content Explorer. I usually start with a super broad topic like sleep. The default settings are sorted by relevance, but I also look at traffic, total shares and referring domains. I also recommend sorting by language. Step 2: Filter articles by traffic and discover keywords. The next step I usually take is to focus on articles that are driving a lot of traffic. Ahrefs comes up with this information by looking at the number of keywords a page is ranking for. I like to zero in on articles with at least 1K shares and 100 referring domains. It looks like a guide on sleep paralysis might be a good topic to zero in on. I love this tool because you can instantly turn content ideas into keywords. Just click on see all keywords to trigger the keyword explorer. Step 3: Use Keyword Explorer to find less difficult keywords around the popular topics. Once you find a few good content ideas, you want to make sure that there are some keywords there that you can compete on. To do this, I recommend sorting keyword difficulty by 40 max. You can read more about ahrefs keyword difficulty metric here. Find Sites That Might Link to Your Planned Content with Ahrefs One of the most important things to do in content marketing is finding industry websites that link out to sites like yours. Step 1: Find 3-5 articles that rank for your keyword in Google. Step 2: Pop each URL into Ahrefs link intersect tool. The link intersect tool will give you a list of all the sites that link to those URLs above. Step 3: Make a note of all the sites listed here. I see psychology, spiritual and paranormal sites are interested in this topic. We want to make sure when we create this content that it appeals to those groups in a specific way. If you use Buzzstream, you can right click and create a prospecting list to add the sites to your outreach/link building project. Buzzstream will collect contact info from those sites for you. You can read a full tutorial from Jon Cooper.
Using Buzzstream Discovery To Find Influencers
This app will help you find influencers in your space, cultivate relationships with them, and maybe even convince a few to share your content. Most customers aren’t powerful enough to amplify or increase links to your content. When an influencer shares your content, it gives you instant credibility points with your audience and lead to increased backlinks, traffic, and brand reach. If you aren’t already working on your influencer relationship marketing, it’s time to get started - and Buzzstream Discovery is built to help you do it. Step 1: Enter niche keywords you found along the way. Enter in some keywords related to your content in Buzzstream discovery. Step 2: Filter results to focus on top influencers. I usually focus on people with at least 10K followers that write on high domain authority websites. Step 3: Find their contact information and review their related articles. I generally avoid articles that are more than 2 years old. The author might not be as interested in the topic as they once were. Step 4: Engage with them in a non-pushy, non-promotional way. Influencers get a lot of emails with people asking them to do them favors. Try not to do that. Here are some common mistakes and influencer marketing tips from Zak Mustapha. What to do with influencers once you found them:
- Ask them to contribute to an expert roundup.
- Share their content and mention them.
- Comment on their posts.
- Email them about an article they wrote.
- Ask them if they want to check out your article.
How to Use Feedly To Keep Your Pulse On Popular Content
You might already know and love Feedly. It’s a great way to aggregate content you like to read by subject and stay up to date. It’s also a powerful content marketing tool. Here’s the deal. No one should EVER create content in a vacuum. No one. If you’re the voice of your company, or just very hands-on with the editorial calendar, you need to know what’s already been written and what topics are hot for your demographic. That’s a key step towards beating the competition. Keep an eye on competitor content, shoulder niches, and topics your demographic cares about by lumping them into feeds in your Feedly account. Program this content into Buffer, HootSuite, or Edgar from Feedly. Step 1: Set up a Feedly account. You’ll have to use a social ID or your Microsoft account. This can save you time in step 2, though. Step 2: Link your social accounts. If you only have one social ID, you can skip this step. Otherwise, add all relevant social accounts to help you save time later. Step 3: Look for your competitors, topics in your niche, and topics your demographic cares about. Skim the content for common topics and pain points. Feedly’s layout is intuitive. On the left-hand side, you’ll see all the information you need to get started looking for content by topic. On the top right-hand side, you can query a competitor name to find their RSS feed. Note: Not all companies have feeds, but those that do will show up here. Step 4: Set your content creation team into action, making better-optimized content that offers more than the competition’s. Yup. Feedly is easy.
Analyze High Performing Content With Buzzsumo
Running a content analysis in Buzzsumo gives you a deep understanding of what type of content will perform on various social networks. All you have to do is enter in your target keyword and run a content analysis. For example, our for our Sleep Paralysis guide we should focus our marketing efforts on Facebook. We would also want to create a how to, list post or why article vs a what article. Buzzsumo will also tell you when to publish your content and how long to make it. Our guide on sleep paralysis should be around 2K words.
Use CoSchedule To Refine Your Headline
Headlines are the most important factor in driving shares and clicks. They’re the first impression your content makes, and if you blow the headline, there’s a strong chance your content won’t be seen, let alone go viral. So how do you know if you’ve got the magic headline for that set of tricks? CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is a huge help for anyone who’s not sure how their headline will perform. Best of all, it’s free (although they offer a better version in the paid app). You should NEVER advise use a headline generator - some of the ideas they come up with a truly hilarious. (My personal favorite blooper from a headline generator: “How to Get Shared Like Bill Gates” - the topic I fed the generator was “how to write content that gets shared”. How Bill Gates got in there, I couldn’t tell you…). CoSchedule, on the other hand, doesn’t pretend to write your headlines for you. It tests the ones you feed it based on several key elements, including
- Use of power or emotional words
- Use of common vs. uncommon words
- Perceived sentiment (positive vs. negative - only in the paid version from what we’ve seen)
Big plus: The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer is VERY easy to use. Step 1: Just pop your headline into the analyzer with the keywords included, of course, and check your score. The score is a number from 0 to 100. Aim for as close to 100 as possible. In addition to the factors described above, it shows you what your headline will look like as an email subject line and a search result, as well as the first and last three words, keywords, and the sentiment it conveys. Step 2: Test several variations until you find the one with the highest number. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer not only gives you the score, it also teaches you how to write better headlines and what readers note most easily by providing tips for each aspect of the title that it measures. Step 3: Put that headline to work! Post your optimized headline and watch it perform.
Bonus: Use CanIRank to Improve your Search Rankings
A relative newcomer, CanIRank distinguishes itself from other SEO tools by focusing on providing specific, actionable recommendations for things you can do to rank better.
This comes in handy when you’ve just clicked “Publish”, eagerly awaiting the deluge of search traffic that somehow never comes. CanIRank will show you where your post falls short of the competition and give recommendations for things you can do to close that gap. To get our page ranking better for “sleep paralysis”, it looks like I’m going to need to improve my Page Relevancy, Page External Relevancy, and Page Strength. OK, so how do I do that? One of the best ways to do that is through link building. Fortunately there’s a tool for that as well. I just need to select my new content and one of 17 different link building strategies, like resource pages, Q&A sites, competitor links, or forums. Click “Generate” and in a few minutes, you’ll get a list of places where you can promote your content. To help prioritize, each one is scored according to its relevancy to the keyword you’re trying to rank for, how authoritative the website is, and how likely it is that you’ll be able to get a dofollow link there. You’ve worked hard on your content. It’s worth it to take a little extra time to ensure someone will actually read it. Using these tools to optimize and promote each new piece of content is the perfect antidote to the old “publish and pray”. You’ll get more mileage out of the same writing.
Using These Content Tools to Create Great Content
We just took a short tour of five of the most powerful content marketing tools currently available:
- Ahrefs - Discover topics that encourage shares and links, and refine your keyword strategy.
- Buzzstream Discovery - Find influencers, build relationships with them, and help your would-be audience find your content.
- Feedly - See what’s out there and read it daily, program curated content shares, and track top-performing content by subject.
- Buzzsumo - Discover the types of content to create that generate shares.
- CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer - Find out how your headline is likely to perform, even before you publish and test it.
- CanIRank - Get actionable insights on improving your SEO and link building.
Using research to hone your content marketing sure beats guessing which content will work for your business. Tell us about any content marketing apps you can’t live without in the comments. If you tried the tools or strategy tips above, share your experience below. Found the info useful? Give it a share.
About the Author: Darren has an MBA in Internet Marketing, but hangs his hat on a decade of experience in the trenches. Check out Ecommerce CEO to learn more about ecommerce. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.