By Kelly Whelan, Content Marketing Manager, Higher Logic
As an association marketer, keeping the pulse of your industry is essentially a job requirement – and probably one you’re pretty good at. But while it’s okay to use basic knowledge to brainstorm content ideas internally, you shouldn’t assume you know everything.
Instead, get rid of preconceptions by putting yourself in your members’ shoes. Determine where they are: Are members active in your online community? Are they on social media? Are they part of a particular group and do they follow specific people? What blog posts and web pages do they visit on your site?
Once you have determined where the members congregate, listen carefully to their conversations. You may see a lot of engagement with a blog post or social media thread indicating that you could produce additional content on this topic. Or, if multiple people in your online community are asking the same question, you can poll members who answer that question to provide an in-depth exploration of the topic.
Make a habit of checking in with your members and finding out what’s important to them. Monitor online community discussions and check your website and blog traffic. You can also research topics and keywords to find out what people are looking for and what questions you need to answer.
If you have a specific question, ask members or host focus groups to learn more. Not everyone will have time to get involved, but those who do generally appreciate the opportunity to tell you what they need.
Take advantage of SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is exactly what it sounds like: optimizing your website and content so that it appears in search engine results. In addition to ensuring your audience finds the content you’ve created, certain elements of an SEO strategy can help you focus on what your audience needs.
Keyword research, for example: you can and should monitor what people are searching for online, right down to the wording of their questions. Let’s say you work in an association of marketing professionals. You might research keywords and find that people often search for “How can I use SEO?” or “How to create compelling content?” To meet their needs, you can then create a guide on how to use SEO to create engaging content.
Additionally, consider on-page optimization: A process that helps ensure that the content you create to meet the interests of your audience is actually presented to your audience. At a basic level, having done your keyword research helps you determine which words and phrases you should include when writing or creating content.
For example, in my previous work with an association, we referred to a particular topic in an internal way, but later learned that others in the industry were using a different term. Because the words we used in our content didn’t match the words our audience was searching for, our content might not show up in search results and get the traffic we expected. Fixing this issue brought more attention to the content we had put so much effort into creating.
On a more technical level, be sure to create pages and content in a way that encourages search engines to explore, index and classify your pages. It can also make your content more user-friendly. Make sure the structure of the copy you write is clear and includes at least some SEO-supporting aspects. For instance:
- Use target keywords in your first paragraph.
- Organize your content in a way that makes it easy to consume: break up text with informative headings (try to incorporate keywords into these headings); keep vocabulary simple; use short sentences, use bullet points and lists, etc.
- Write skim headlines.
- Include visuals, but be sure to compress them and use alt text.
A 2020 post on the SEMRrush blog describes content marketing and SEO as “natural complements to each other” – and that’s a good way to think about it. SEO helps your content strategy, and good content improves your ability to show up in search results.
Even small organizations with limited resources can conduct short-form SEO-focused content strategies. A free google trends analysis, for example, provides insight into top search queries, while tools such as question comics, Also requestedand Respond to the audience allow you to explore the questions people are looking for.
Many tools exist on the keyword front. Browser extensions like the free version Keywords Everywhere Tool for Chrome are useful for quick SEO analysis and daily keyword research, including monthly search volume, cost-per-click information, and trending data. In addition to providing information on the search frequency of certain words, Google Keyword Planner shows how this research has changed over time.
Finally, tools like this on-page SEO checker help you optimize your site for better search engine rankings.
Remember to check keywords and audience behavior periodically. This is not a set and forgotten process: you need to regularly assess what the hottest topics are, what your members are looking for, and whether or not you are optimizing your site so members can find what you’re offering. . To that end, a little trial and error goes a long way.
Higher Logic Thrive is a member experience solution that offers a powerful yet simple approach to community, marketing, and member engagement. For more information on how Higher Logic’s years of experience, research and feedback can solve your problems, visit thrive.higherlogic.com.